WHARTON, Sir Thomas (c.1588-1622), of Wharton Hall, Kirkby Stephen, Westmld. and Aske, Easby, Yorks.

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.1588, 2nd but 1st surv. s. of Philip, 3rd Baron Wharton (d.1625) and his 1st w. Frances, da. of Henry Clifford, 2nd earl of Cumberland; bro. of George†.1 educ. Well g.s. (Mr. Anderson), Yorks.;2 Caius, Camb. 1602, aged 14, MA 1607; incorp. Oxf. 1609;3 travelled abroad (France) to 1610.4 m. 11 Apr. 1611 (with £6,000),5 Philadelphia (d. c.1654), da. of Sir Robert Carey* of Whitehall and Leppington, Yorks., and maid of honour to Princess Elizabeth, 2s.6 kntd. 25 Apr. 1611.7 d. 17 Apr. 1622.8

Offices Held

J.p. Yorks. (W. Riding) by 1614-d., (N. Riding), Cumb. and Westmld. 1618-d.;9 commr. oyer and terminer, Northern circ. 1614-d.,10 gaol delivery, Ripon, Yorks. 1615-d.;11member, Council in the North 1619-d.;12 commr. border malefactors 1619, member, High Commission, prov. of York 1620.13


Wharton came from a medieval gentry family that first produced a Member for Appleby in 1419. His great-grandfather was raised to the peerage in 1544 for distinguished service on the borders. His elder brother, who represented Westmorland in the last Elizabethan Parliament, and served James I in his privy chamber, was killed in a duel in 1609. Wharton’s marriage in April 1611 restored the family connection with the Jacobean Court, and enabled him to purchase Aske.14 He was knighted two weeks later, and in recognition of his brother’s service was subsequently granted the reversion of another Yorkshire manor.15

Wharton may have accompanied his wife, known as ‘la doyenne’ of Princess Elizabeth’s ladies in waiting, to the Palatinate in the spring of 1613 following Elizabeth’s marriage.16 If so, he had returned by the following August when, with his father, he negotiated a series of agreements, confirmed by Chancery, with 279 tenants on their Westmorland manors, who paid £2,440 to establish their entry fines at the equivalent of ten years’ rent.17 This represented a significant blow to the ancient custom of tenant-right, and may have bolstered his popularity among freeholders at the general election of 1614, when he was returned as the junior knight of the shire for Westmorland, together with his cousin and schoolfellow, Henry, Lord Clifford*. Wharton was among those ordered to consider a bill against clerical pluralism and non-residence (12 May 1614), and to report on the status of baronets (23 May).18 In the debate of 24 May on the Northumberland election he observed that, of the 19 signatories to the sheriff’s testimonial, seven were Selbys or Widdringtons.19 His other appointments were for a private bill promoted by Sir John Danvers* (31 May), and a conference with the Lords on the Sabbath bill, which took place on 4 June.20 On 7 June, shortly before the abrupt end of the Addled Parliament, it was noted that ‘Sir Thomas Wharton assenteth to those that have desired to sweeten the motion’ on impositions.21

Wharton was re-elected, again with Clifford, for Westmorland in 1621. He used his influence at Richmond in Yorkshire to help secure the return of William Bowes, from whose father he had purchased Aske; as a result, in a heated contest for the second seat Bowes bested two rivals including Sir Henry Savile*, who was supported by Clifford, and Sir Thomas Wentworth*.22 In the Commons, Wharton kept a low profile and may have been embarrassed by the prominence of his stepmother, Lady Dorothy, in the charge of corruption against the lord chancellor (Sir Francis Bacon*), once it emerged that she had offered £300 for a favourable ruling in Chancery.23 His only speech, on 4 May 1621, seems to have sought to avert precipitate action against Edward Floyd, a Catholic lawyer who had slandered Elizabeth of Bohemia.24 Wharton died intestate on 17 Apr. 1622, and was buried at Easby.25 His eldest son Philip succeeded to the peerage in 1625; Wharton’s younger son Sir Thomas represented Westmorland in the Restoration Convention.

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Authors: John. P. Ferris / Rosemary Sgroi


  • 1. CP, xii. 601.
  • 2. Ibid. 602.
  • 3. Al. Cant.; Al Ox.
  • 4. HMC Downshire, ii. 400.
  • 5. T. Birch, Ct. and Times of Jas. I, i. 110.
  • 6. Her. et Gen. iv. 45, 136; Mems. of Robert Carey ed. F.H. Mares, 68.
  • 7. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 151.
  • 8. C142/391/61.
  • 9. C66/1988; C231/4, ff. 67-8; C193/13/1, ff. 18, 31v, 34v, 102v; C181/2, ff. 221v, 222v, 336v-7; 181/3, ff. 10v, 11, 37v, 50v-1.
  • 10. C181/2, ff. 208, 333; 181/3, ff. 8, 57.
  • 11. C181/2, ff. 223, 337v; 181/3, ff. 11v, 51v.
  • 12. CSP Dom. 1619-23, p. 59; R. Reid, Council in the North, 498.
  • 13. T. Rymer, Foedera, vii. pt. 3, pp. 96, 173.
  • 14. VCH Yorks. (N. Riding), i. 611.
  • 15. CSP Dom. 1611-18, p. 104.
  • 16. M.A. Everett Green, Elizabeth, Electress Palatine and Queen of Bohemia, 18, 416.
  • 17. C78/505/10.
  • 18. Procs. 1614 (Commons), 217, 322.
  • 19. Ibid. 334, 337.
  • 20. Ibid. 395, 405.
  • 21. Ibid. 436.
  • 22. A.J. Fletcher, ‘Sir Thomas Wentworth and the Restoration of Pontefract as a Parl. bor.’, NH, vi. 89-90.
  • 23. CD 1621, iv. 173-4; v. 312.
  • 24. CJ, i. 608b.
  • 25. CP, xii. 602.