ROTHWELL, Thomas (d.c.1455), of South Moreton and Tidmarsh, Berks.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1386-1421, ed. J.S. Roskell, L. Clark, C. Rawcliffe., 1993
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

s. and h. of Thomas Rothwell by Alice, da. and h. of Roger Beamunde alias Jolyf of South Moreton. m. (1) by Oct. 1405, Joan; (2) by Nov. 1419, Elizabeth; (3) by June 1446, Isabel Changton (d. 13 Oct. 1477), s.p.

Offices Held

Commr. of sewers, Thames valley from Oxford to Reading, July 1416; to raise royal loans, Berks. Nov. 1419, Jan. 1416; of inquiry, Oxon., Berks. July 1428 (treasons and trespasses), June 1435 (escapes from prisons), June 1441 (felonies); to assess a tax, Berks. Apr. 1431; of gaol delivery, Wallingford castle, Nov. 1434; array, Berks. Jan. 1436; kiddles, Berks., Bucks., Oxon. May 1438, Berks. Dec. 1439, river Thames from Dorchester to Buscot July 1443; to treat for payment of a subsidy, Berks. Feb. 1441.

J.p. Berks. 14 Nov. 1417-July 1423, 20 July 1424-June 1449, 22 Mar. 1452-Jan. 1454.

Escheator, Oxon. and Berks. 18 Nov. 1427-4 Nov. 1428.


Thomas Rothwell’s father and namesake acquired the Berkshire manors of South Moreton and East Enborne through marriage. East Enborne was settled on the younger Thomas by the autumn of 1405, for he then transferred it to feoffees so that it might be entailed on his issue by his wife, Joan. Five years later, after his mother’s death, he formally relinquished to William Loveney* and his wife certain properties in Warfield and elsewhere which the Loveneys held by enfeoffment of his father. It is uncertain precisely when he took possession of South Moreton, which was valued at £20 a year for the purpose of taxation in 1412, but although his father was apparently still living in 1416 (since he himself was called ‘junior’ on the occasion of his first appointment to a royal commission), he did come into his full inheritance before his earliest return to Parliament in the following year.1

Both father and son were personally acquainted with Robert James* of Wallingford, for whom they witnessed a conveyance in May 1409. Indeed, such was the closeness of their relationship that, in January following, Rothwell junior was made a co-feoffee of James’s estates, in company with Thomas Chaucer*, John Golafre* and other of his friends. James, Chaucer and Golafre were all at that time about to attend the Parliament at Westminster in which Chaucer was to be re-elected Speaker and the prince of Wales and his allies, the Beauforts (Chaucer’s cousins), were to establish their ascendancy. Three months later, while the session was still in progress, Golafre’s feoffees of the manor of Tidmarsh (including Chaucer and James) conveyed it to another group acting on behalf of young Rothwell, who together with his father undertook to pay Golafre 26 marks a year for life. There can be little doubt, therefore, that our MP belonged to a group of Berkshire gentry who could look to the influential Thomas Chaucer as a leader. It may even be speculated that this connexion played a part not only in the promotion of his career in local administration, but also in his elections to Parliament in 1417 and 1420, Significantly, when, in the meantime, in 1419, he had made an enfeoffment of his manor of East Enborne, apparently in anticipation of its sale, the trustees he nominated included both Chaucer and Golafre.2

Having been appointed as a j.p. while his first Parliament was in session, Rothwell served regularly thereafter on royal commissions until his death 40 years later. Although on one occasion (probably before 1424) he was summoned to Chancery to answer the suit of a chaplain named John Hay for having ‘indroiturelment et saunz ascun cause resonable’ kept him prisoner at his house, he seems to have been law-abiding on the whole, and his name was high on the list of those whose oaths to maintain the peace were taken in Berkshire in 1434. Rothwell attended the parliamentary elections held in the county in 1419, 1427, 1432 and 1442, but although he lived on at least 35 years after his own second Parliament, he himself was never returned again. He acted as a feoffee of a manor in Essex on behalf of Robert Drew of Southcote, and long continued to assist Robert James in a similar capacity. In fact, he survived all his co-feoffees of the James estates without relinquishing his trust until, in February 1455, being ‘in grete age and impotent’, he made a declaration regarding the intent of the enfeoffment James had originally concluded 45 years earlier and expressed himself willing to carry it out by transferring his title to other trustees.3 Rothwell had ceased to sit on the bench in the previous year, and probably died shortly afterwards. He left no children. In 1446 he had settled on his third wife, Isabel, an interest for life in his manor at South Moreton. Subsequently, Isabel’s nephew, Alexander Browning, procured her marriage for John Lawley. She lived on until 1477, so it was not until then that Rothwell’s property passed to Robert Lenham, great-grandson of his sister Margaret.4

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: L. S. Woodger


In EHR, lxxii. 674 he is wrongly identified with the Thomas Rothwell who m. bef. 1440, Elizabeth, da. of Sir William Beauchamp* of Powick, and wid. of Sir Thomas Swynford of Kettlethorpe, Lincs., and held office under his brother-in-law John, Lord Beauchamp of Powick, as under treasurer of England in 1450-2. Elizabeth Beauchamp, who when unmarried had been bequeathed land worth 300 marks under Henry V’s will, also held for life certain of the Swynford estates in Lincs. and at Hanworth, Mdx. Her second husband would in fact appear to have hailed from Northants.: VCH Beds. ii. 248; CPR, 1422-9, p. 455; 1436-41, pp. 364-6; 1441-6, p. 428; 1452-61, p. 330; CCR, 1454-61, p. 454; PRO List ‘Exchequer Offs.’ 197.

  • 1. VCH Berks. iii. 499-500; iv. 171; CP25(1)12/77/22-24; CCR, 1405-9, pp. 68, 71; 1409-13, p. 95; Feudal Aids, vi. 400.
  • 2. Boarstall Cart. (Oxf. Hist. Soc. lxxxviii), 263; CAD, iii. D1328; VCH Berks. iv. 171, 434; Reg. Hallum (Canterbury and York Soc. lxxii), no. 492; E210/3138; CP25(1)13/81/26.
  • 3. C219/11/5, 13/5, 14/3, 15/2; CPR, 1429-36, p. 402; C1/5/192; CCR, 1435-41, p. 187; Boarstall Cart. 266-8.
  • 4. CAD, iii. C3624; C1/20/137; C140/61/24. Isabel’s own next heir was her nephew, Edward Changton.