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MORE, Thomas II (1531-1606), of Hambleden, Bucks.; Barnbrough, Yorks.; Leyton, Essex and North Mimms, Herts.
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Family and Education
b. 8 Aug. 1531, 1st s. of John More by Anne, da. and h. of Edward Cresacre of Barnbrough. m. ?1553, Mary, da. of John Scrope of Spennithorne, Yorks. and Hambleden, 5s. 8da. suc. fa. 1547.2
Commr. for i.p.m. Yorks. 1571.3
Born at Chelsea on 8 Aug. 1531, Thomas More had for godparents his grandfather the chancellor, Thomas Lord Darcy and Margaret Roper. The last words written by Sir Thomas More before his execution asked God’s blessing on his godson and Augustine More, Thomas’s brother. At his confirmation Thomas was sponsored by Thomas Hungerford.4
It was More’s marriage, soon after his coming of age and entry upon his diminished inheritance, which set the pattern of his early career. His mother Anne Cresacre married again and retained her Yorkshire lands until 1572, after the death of her second husband, and it was at his wife’s home at Hambleden in Buckinghamshire that More spent his early married life and there that his first two children, both daughters, were born. The marriage may also have contributed to his election for Ripon. Marmaduke Wyvill, whose son was Mary More’s brother-in-law, sat for Ripon in the Parliament of October 1553 and Ralph Scrope, More’s brother-in-law, sat for Knaresborough, a borough likewise in the patronage of the duchy of Lancaster and the council in the north, in those of October 1553 and November 1554. On the other hand, More’s kinsman William Rastell sat for Ripon in the intervening Parliament and it may have been this relationship which was the most important factor in his own return. More was one of the Members who quitted the Commons without leave before the Parliament was dissolved: the fact that his prosecution in the King’s bench was to result in a fine of 53s.4d. implies that he was believed to have absented himself deliberately. By contrast, Ralph Scrope’s absence did not entail proceedings, and he was therefore acceptable as one of More’s sureties for payment of the fine, the other being another of More’s kinsmen, Richard Heywood. It is unlikely that More aggravated his offence by provoking an issue of privilege towards the close of this Parliament: the Thomas More whose attachment of Robert Massey servant moved the House to invoke privilege on 5 Jan. 1555 was probably his namesake the London merchant.5
Early in her reign Mary had done something to repair the forfeiture of Sir Thomas More’s possessions. On 26 Dec. 1553 she granted to Anne Cresacre and her eldest son the reversion of the manor of Gobions in North Mimms, Hertfordshire, which in March 1550 had been given to Princess Elizabeth for life or until she married; in 1566 Elizabeth leased it to Sir Ambrose Cave, and half a century was to pass before it came to More. His parliamentary dereliction may have cost him any further favours from Mary and he was given no appointment during her reign. By the close of it he was established at Barnbrough, which was to be his home for upwards of 20 years. Under Elizabeth it was now his Catholicism which stood in his way and he did not attain a place on the bench. Soon after 1580 he moved to Essex where he emerged as a leading recusant. A copy of Harpsfield’s Life of More bears the inscription, ‘This book was found by Richard Topcliffe† in Mr. Thomas More’s study among other books at Greenstreet Mr. Wayferer’s house when Mr. More was apprehended 13 Apr. 1582.’ There is other evidence to suggest that More’s move south was connected with the Jesuit press set up by Robert Persons. He was imprisoned in the Marshalsea and was still there in 1586. In a list of those reputed to be gentlemen drawn up before the Yorkshire visitation of 1584-5 More is described as in prisona, recusans. He was also regularly presented for recusancy at the Chelmsford quarter sessions and the Essex assizes. In June 1605 he appealed to Sir Michael Hickes† to save Gobions from consequences such as had deprived him of two thirds of his Yorkshire properties. Leyton, where More ended his life, was a copyhold and in 1601 he transferred it to one of his two surviving sons, Christopher Cresacre.6
More made his will on 22 July 1606 and died on the following 19 Aug. Although he does not seem to have inherited any of his grandfather’s property in Chelsea, the church there was one of four to which he left bequests conditional on his burial; the others were Barnbrough, Leyton and North Mimms, but it is not known where he was buried. His heir Cresacre was married to Elizabeth Gage of Firle, Sussex, his daughter Catherine to Christopher Byrd, heir to the composer, and another daughter, Grace, to Thomas Greenwood of Brize Norton, Oxfordshire, a grandson of Edward Napper; a third daughter, Mary, married Edward More of Haddon, Oxfordshire, who was not otherwise related to the chancellor’s family. More’s executor was his nephew Robert Wyvill of Great Burton in Masham, Yorkshire.7
Thomas More appears with his wife and sons John and Cresacre in a composite family portrait of the Mores. For Cresacre his father ‘was a lively pattern unto us of his constant faith, his worthy and upright dealings, his true Catholic simplicity, of whom I have a purpose to discourse unto my children more at large, that they may know in what hard times he lived’.8
Ref Volumes: 1509-1558
Author: Alan Davidson
- 1. Huntington Lib. Hastings mss Parl. pprs.
- 2. Date of birth given in D. Shanahan, ‘The fam of St. Thomas More in Essex’, Essex Recusant, i. 66. This biography draws on a series of articles by Shanahan and others in Essex Recusant, i. 62-74; ii. 76-85; iii. 71-80; vi. 96-98. N. and Q. (ser. 8), ii. 121-2; Vis. Yorks. (Harl. Soc. xvi), 212.
- 3. CPR, 1569-72, p. 198.
- 4. N. and Q. (ser. 8), ii. 121-2; Corresp. More, ed. Rogers, 565.
- 5. KB27/1176, 1177; CJ, i. 40.
- 6. CPR, 1549-51, pp. 238-9; 1553-4, pp. 49-50; 1563-6, p. 469; J. J. Cartwright, Chaps. Yorks. Hist. 149; Glover’s Vis. Yorks. ed. Foster, 388; N. Harpsfield, Life of More (EETS clxxxvi), 249-6; Lansd. 89, f. 117; W. Roper, Life of More (EETS cxcvii), 112-13.
- 7. PCC 67 Stafford; C142/299/150, 300/171; Vis. Essex (Harl. Soc. xiii), 366.
- 8. R. C. Strong, Tudor and Jacobean Portraits, 345-8; c. More, Life of More, ed. Hunter, 292.