ELYOT, Thomas (by 1518-48/49), of Bramley, Surr.
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Family and Education
b. by 1518, s. of Nicholas Elyot. m. Elizabeth, 2s. several da.2
Thomas Elyot’s grandfather, a younger son in a long-established Surrey family, lived at Shalford and his father may have been master of the free school at Guildford. Reared in or near Guildford, Elyot is likely to have received his early education at this school and his career suggests that he may later have trained as a lawyer. He was first described as a servant of Sir William Fitzwilliam, who frequently resided at Guildford, when he was required to equip 22 men from Shalford at a view of the musters taken in March 1539. After Fitzwilliam’s death in 1542 Elyot was employed by his widow and his half-brother Sir Anthony Browne, probably as administrator of their property in Guildford and its neighbourhood. Browne died on 28 Apr. 1548 and when Elyot made his will in the following September several items of Browne’s business affairs were still outstanding.4
Browne was returned as knight of the shire for Surrey to the Parliaments of 1545 and 1547, and his servant Elyot was a Member for Guildford on both occasions. Browne, who had been joint keeper of Guildford park since 1527 and keeper since his half-brother’s death, must have had controlling influence with the borough electors, for Elyot’s fellow-Member in both Parliaments was the younger Anthony Browne, aged only 16 in 1545. Elyot’s claim to a seat was perhaps strengthened by his personal acquaintance with the mayor and approved men of the town: on 12 Nov. 1544, at their special request, he and others had granted a lease of property in the town, the profits of which were to be paid to the master of the free school. At a meeting of the Three Week court, held in September 1541, reference had been made to a tenement in St. Nicholas’s parish which had formerly belonged to Elyot. Nothing is known of any part he may have played in the proceedings of the House.5
Elyot may have acted as a local money-lender or as a financial agent for gentlemen in the neighbourhood. He noted in his will that his cousins Henry Polsted and Thomas Polsted owed him £40 ‘for money prest’ and Mr. Lee ‘the avener’ five marks for ‘prest’, and there were other debts, some unspecified. Between the list of debts there is an unconnected statement, ‘In ready money £50 or thereabouts and in old gold 36 after the old tale’, Among the papers of (Sir) Christopher More there is a privy seal receipt of Thomas Elyot for £20 advanced ‘by way of prest’ to the King by More.6
Elyot appointed as executors his wife Elizabeth, Henry Polsted, his kinsman Robert Elyot and a priest Richard Ambrose, and as overseers Sir Anthony Browne (the son of his former master), Sir Christopher More, William More II and William Heneage. He left the details of his funeral to the discretion of his executors, ‘praying them to use it without any pomp or superstition’. He bequeathed 40s. to the poor inhabitants of Shalford and Bramley, and 6s.8d. to their ‘common boxes’. Four servants were to receive a total of £6. His children were all under the age of 16 and his wife was pregnant: he directed her to treat the advowson of Shalford, which he had acquired in 1537, and the leases of Shalford Bradstone and Shalford Clifford manors as an estate of the children until the first son should reach the age of 21. Several of the executors, together with another kinsman Thomas Jones, were to be trustees of his other property and he instructed them to put aside 300 marks towards the preferment of his younger son or sons and the marriage of his daughters. Elyot’s elder son George was bequeathed ‘my best chain of gold worth £40 and my signet ring worth four marks’. He instructed his executors to divide the remainder of his goods into three parts, one for his wife and two for his children.7
Elyot must have died soon after making his will for it was proved on 31 Jan. 1549. His death caused a vacancy at Guildford either just before or during the session which ran from 24 Nov. 1548 to 14 Mar.1549, and added to the remarkable number of by-elections, six in all, which took place in Surrey during this Parliament: his replacement was Thomas Stoughton.
Ref Volumes: 1509-1558
Author: S. R. Johnson
- 1. Did not serve for the full duration of the Parliament.
- 2. Date of birth estimated from first reference. PCC 24 Populwell; Vis. Surr. (Harl. Soc. xliii), 25; Surr. Rec. Soc. xxiv. 8, 24.
- 3. LP Hen. VIII, xiv; PCC 24 Populwell; E. Stephens, Clerks of the Counties, 165; E315/236, f. 168.
- 4. Berry, County Genealogies (Surr.), 22-23; VCH Surr. iii. 124; Manning and Bray, Surr. ii. 111, 114; CCR, 1485-1500, pp. 224-5, 239, 242, 253-4, 306-7; CPR, 1485-94, p. 478; Surr. Rec. Soc. xxiv. 8, 24. LP Hen. VIII, i. xiv; C142/70/29; PCC 24 Populwell; R. E. Brock, ‘The courtier in early Tudor soc.’ (London Univ. Ph.D. thesis, 1964), 362.
- 5. C142/88/79; Surr. Rec. Soc. xxiv. 45; Guildford mus. BR/T/984/2.
- 6. HMC 7th Rep. 602; PCC 24 Populwell.
- 7. VCH Surr. iii. 58.