WARRE, Thomas (c.1576-1617), of Taunton, Som. and the Middle Temple, London

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press



Family and Education

b. c.1576, 3rd s. of Roger Warre (d.1616) of Hestercombe, Som. and Eleanor, da. of Sir John Popham† of Wellington, Som. and Littlecote, Wilts.; bro. of Roger*.1 educ. M. Temple 1594, called 1601.2 m. (1) 12 Mar. 1606, Dowsabell, da. of John Bayley, and wid. of Alexander Popham of Huntworth, Som., 1da.;3 (2) 25 Feb. 1610, Dorothy, da. of Sir George Speake of Whitelackington, Som., 3s.4 d. 3 Apr. 1617.5

Offices Held

Steward, Marshalsea Ct. 1604-d.6

Commr. oyer and terminer, the Verge 1604-d.,7 charitable uses, Som. 1612,8 sewers 1615-d.;9 j.p. Som. by 1610-d.;10 recorder, Bridgwater, Som. 1610-d.;11 gov. Huish almshouses, Taunton 1616-d.12


Originally a Gloucestershire family, the Warres settled in Somerset in the late fourteenth century, when they acquired the Hestercombe estate, three miles from Taunton and six from Bridgwater. Warre’s great-great-grandfather, Richard, reputedly represented the county in one of Henry VIII’s Parliaments, though this cannot be confirmed from the surviving records.13 By the end of the sixteenth century Warre’s grandfather was attracting the very high subsidy rating of £30. However, as a younger son Warre himself could not expect a substantial patrimony, and it is unclear what provision was made for him; in his father’s will of 1612 he was bequeathed only a signet ring, whereas his fellow younger brothers were assigned annuities.14 By that time Warre was making a comfortable living as a lawyer. Steward of the Marshalsea Court from 1604, six years later he became recorder of Bridgwater, purchasing a house there and acquiring a half-share in the manors of Othery and Middlezoy, five miles from the town.15 Nevertheless, his main home by 1614 was Taunton. The children of his second marriage were born there, and he purchased the town water mill for £320 in 1616.16 The Taunton district was also where Warre carried out his duties as a Somerset magistrate, a role which evidently enhanced his local reputation.17

Warre was returned for Bridgwater to the 1614 Parliament, and was a leading canvasser on behalf of Sir Robert Phelips* in the latter’s contest with John Poulett* for one of Somerset’s county seats. Warre’s involvement with Phelips possibly arose from a connection with the 1st earl of Hertford, Sir Robert’s most powerful backer. Certainly a list of Hertford’s tenants who voted for Phelips included two Mr. Warres.18 In the aftermath of Sir Robert’s defeat, Warre was one of the Somerset magistrates who protested to lord chancellor Ellesmere that the poll had been rigged. He also conducted a survey of the voters, in a bid to prove that the Phelips camp had commanded a majority. While he correctly concluded that there was little chance of this exercise overturning the result, he believed that it had served to win local opinion over to Sir Robert’s side. His lists of freeholders revealed that he had personally procured 106 votes for Phelips, primarily from the Taunton district. This constituted the second largest contingent mobilized by any of Sir Robert’s allies.19

As a novice Member, Warre made little impact on the Commons’ proceedings. On 16 May he spoke on the bill concerning the Sackville family’s proposed almshouses at East Grinstead, Sussex. Noting that a problem would arise if the earls of Dorset ever failed in their duty to nominate the inmates, he suggested that some provision be made to address this. The next day, he supported the estate bill of Sir Warwick Hele*, and was named to the committee. His interest presumably arose from the fact that he was distantly related to the Heles, as one of Sir Warwick’s brothers had married Warre’s cousin, Jane Rogers of Cannington, Somerset.20 In the aftermath of this session’s controversial dissolution, Warre signed the protest by Somerset magistrates against the Benevolence introduced by James I as an alternative to parliamentary supply.21

In the meantime, Warre’s legal career continued to flourish. While not yet a leading figure at the Middle Temple, in July 1614 he was appointed to help provide the next reader’s feast, and in October 1616 he was selected to help arrange an entertainment to mark Prince Charles’s creation as prince of Wales.22 However, Warre’s prospects were abruptly terminated when he drowned in the Severn in the following April.23 He was buried nearly four weeks later at St. Mary’s, Bridgwater.24 By this time he had acquired two further Somerset properties, namely the manor of Langport Westover and Steveley Woods, in Neroche forest. The wardship of his son Thomas was sold to his elder brother Richard of Hestercombe for £50.25 Warre’s younger brother Roger sat for Bridgwater in 1621 and 1624.

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: George Yerby


  • 1. Som. Wills ed. F. Brown, ii. 8; Sales of Wards 1603-41 ed. M.J. Hawkins (Som. Rec. Soc. lxvii), p. xix.
  • 2. M. Temple Admiss.; MTR, i. 416.
  • 3. Som. RO, North Petherton par. reg.
  • 4. Som. and Dorset N and Q, xii. 159; Vis. Som. (Harl. Soc. xi), 103.
  • 5. Sales of Wards, 153.
  • 6. C66/1627.
  • 7. C181/1, f. 93v; C181/2, f. 235v.
  • 8. Som. Q. Sess. Recs. 1607-25 ed. E.H. Bates Harbin (Som. Rec. Soc. xxiii), 89.
  • 9. C181/2, f. 246.
  • 10. Som. Q. Sess. Recs. 59.
  • 11. Som. RO, D/B/bw 1598; St. Mary, Bridgwater par. reg., burials 30 Apr. 1617.
  • 12. E. Toulmin, Taunton, 220.
  • 13. W. Gibson, ‘The Warres of Hestercombe’, Som. Arch. and Nat. Hist. Soc. Procs. cxxxii. 181-3; Collinson, Som. iii. 259.
  • 14. E179/256/4, 171/321; PROB 11/127, f. 245.
  • 15. Sales of Wards, 153; Som. RO, DD/S/WH/18.
  • 16. Som. RO, DD/PH/216/98; St. Mary, Taunton par. reg.; Som. Enrolled Deeds ed. S.W.B. Harbin (Som. Rec. Soc. li), 205.
  • 17. Som. Q. Sess. Recs. 59-215.
  • 18. Som. RO, DD/PH/216/101.
  • 19. E. Farnham, ‘Som. Election of 1614’, EHR, xlvi. 579-99; Som. RO, DD/PH/216/95, 98, 106.
  • 20. Procs. 1614 (Commons), 258, 269, 275; Vivian, Vis. Devon, 464; Som. RO, DD/PH/216/106.
  • 21. W. Prest, Rise of the Barristers, 239.
  • 22. MTR, 582, 610.
  • 23. Carew Letters ed. J. Maclean (Cam. Soc. lxxvi), 99.
  • 24. Som. RO, St. Mary, Bridgwater par. reg.
  • 25. Sales of Wards, 153.