HAVARD, Thomas (1495/96-1570/71), of Hereford.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Oct. 1553
Apr. 1554

Family and Education

b. 1495/96, s. of William Havard of Llandow, Glam. m. Elizabeth, da. of Thomas Monington of Sarnesfield Herefs., 3s. 4da.1

Offices Held

Steward, bp. of St. David’s manor of Llandow by 1522; under sheriff, Herefs. in 1526, sheriff 1554-5, Brec. 1544-5, 1550-1, 1556-7; feodary, crown lands Herefs. Apr. 1527; mayor, Hereford 1528-9, 1539-40, 1552-3, 1556-7, alderman by 1569; j.p. Herefs. 1538-64, Glos. 1539-45, Brec. 1543; commr. musters, Herefs. 1539, 1542, Glos. 1542, goods of churches and fraternities, Hereford 1553, for survey church lands, diocese of Hereford sede vacante 1559, 1560; other commissions 1535-62; escheator, Herefs. and the marches 1545-6.2


Thomas Havard came of a relatively undistinguished family which had several branches in Breconshire and Herefordshire: his namesake of Willersley, Herefordshire, who died in January 1547, made Havard one of the overseers of his will. It is not known why Havard settled in Hereford or whether he met his wife, who was of Herefordshire stock and related to both the knights of the shire returned in 1529, before or after his establishment there.3

His service as feodary and escheator, and his frequent membership of commissions of oyer and terminer, make it almost certain that Havard spent some time at one of the inns of court. He cannot be traced at any of them, but in July 1526 a John Havard, doubtless a kinsman, was admitted to Lincoln’s Inn, where the Member may have preceded him. Thomas Havard is first encountered in the administration of his shire in connexion with Wolsey’s great survey of 1522. Within a few years he became feodary, a post which carried the responsibility of delivering to the masters of the wards all those heirs to lands held of the crown by knight service who were under age. Its opportunities were obvious, and during the 20 years from 1537 Havard received grants of the wardship and marriage of at least seven heirs in Herefordshire and the marches.4

A considerable figure in the shire, Havard made his real mark in the city of Hereford. His four mayoralties and his aldermanship spanned more than 40 years, and his Membership of Parliament for the city was correspondingly regular. He is known to have sat for Hereford in five of the nine Parliaments summoned between 1529 and April 1554; he probably did so in that of 1536; and he may have added to his tally any or all of four more, those of 1523, 1539, 1545 and March 1553. Evidence survives of payment of wages to Havard for only one of these Parliaments: in or about 1549 he shared £24 with his fellow-Member William Berkeley for their ‘maintenance and expenses’. His record is the more striking in that, as a Catholic, he can have felt little enthusiasm for many of the measures these Parliaments were called upon to pass. The resulting situation can be glimpsed through the appearance of Havard’s name on a list of Members compiled by Cromwell in the spring of 1533. Thought to be a guide to those who opposed the bill in restraint of appeals, the list appears to bring together Members who did so on religious grounds and those moved by commercial considerations: Havard surely belonged to the first category. He travelled up to the seventh session carrying the subsidy return for Herefordshire for delivery to the Exchequer.5

Havard had to wait 17 years for the reversal of religious policy which brought him to the climax of his public career. The city which in August 1553 received the thanks of the Privy Council for its support of Queen Mary could be relied upon to elect him as one of its Members: it did so to the first two Parliaments of the reign and might well have done so to the third. On that occasion, however, Havard was recommended to Hereford, with his former colleague Thomas Bromwich, by Bishop Heath, president of the council in the marches; neither was re-elected, and although Havard was to sit in this Parliament as knight of the shire (his name being inserted over an erasure on the return) the episode marked the end of his perhaps unbroken run of 25 years as one of the city’s Members: he probably owed his return for the shire to the support of the sheriff, his friend and former fellow-Member Sir John Price. Whether or not the corporation resented the nomination, Havard’s own standing was unaffected—in 1556 he was again chosen mayor—and it may be that as he approached and passed his 60th year he was prepared to forgo his sojourns at Westminster. He was none the less present in the House when it was called early in January 1555, so that a deputy must have been executing his shrievalty of Herefordshire. By contrast, his summons in October 1556 by the Privy Council to pay his contribution of £100 to the forced loan, or in default to appear before that body, reveals him as less amenable to the crown’s demands for money.6

The accession of Elizabeth and the rejection of Catholicism did not bring Havard’s local career to an abrupt end but it revived the conflict of loyalties which he had earlier managed to resolve and made it steadily more acute. In August 1561 Bishop Scory named him to Cecil as one of the ‘popish justices’ who sheltered Catholicism in the city and three years later listed him among the justices ‘not favourable’ to the Anglican settlement. In December 1569, after his removal from the bench, Havard was one of three Herefordshire gentlemen reported to the Council for refusing to subscribe to the Act of Uniformity, and it was perhaps only his age and local esteem which spared him further harassment. His will of 24 May 1570 is a model of Catholic piety. He named his wife executrix and provided for his eldest son Nicholas, two other sons, and four daughters all seemingly unmarried. The will was proved on 10 Feb. 1571.7

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: A. J. Edwards


  • 1. Aged 44 in October 1540, Req.2/9/80. PCC 9 Holney; M. G. Price, ‘English Bor. Rep. 1509-58’ (Oxf. Univ. D. Phil. thesis, 1959), app. ii. 429; Vis. Herefs. ed. Weaver, 49.
  • 2. St.Ch.2/92/87-90, 143-4; LP Hen. VIII, iv, viii, xiii-xviii, xx; Duncumb, Herefs. i. 366; Hereford cath. archs. 5180; CPR, 1547-8, pp. 75, 77, 84; 1550-3, p. 397; 1553, pp. 339, 347, 416; 1553-4, p. 20; 1558-60, pp. 31, 271, 422; 1560-3, pp. 283, 438; 1563-6, pp. 23, 332.
  • 3. Williams, Herefs. MPs; PCC 36 Alen; C142/84/80,85/27; Jones, Brec. iv. 285 incorrectly, identifies the Brec. sheriff.
  • 4. LP Hen. VIII, iii, vi, xii, xiii, xvii, xix; CPR, 1547-8, pp. 57, 307; 1553-4, p. 84; 1557-8, pp. 88-89.
  • 5. HMC 13th Rep. IV, 301; LP Hen. VIII, vii; ix. 1077 citing SP1/99, p. 234.
  • 6. APC, iv. 334-5; vi. 8; HMC 13th Rep. IV, 319-20; Strype, Eccles. Memorials, iii(1), 245-6; Burnet, Hist. Ref. iv. 313-14; C219/23/59.
  • 7. CSP Dom. 1547-80, pp. 183, 353; Cam. Misc. ix(3), 13-15; PCC 9 Holney.