RUSH, Thomas (by 1487-1537), of Sudbourne, Suff.

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



Family and Education

b. by 1487. m. (1) by 1509, Anne, da. and h. of John Rivers of Ipswich, wid. of William Wimbill (d.1487) and Thomas Alvard (d.1504), both of Ipswich, 5s. 1da; (2) Christine, wid. of Thomas Baldry (d.1524/25) of Ipswich. Kntd. 1 June 1533.2

Offices Held

Serjeant-at-arms 1508; commr. subsidy, Suff. 1512, 1514, 1515, 1523, 1524, loan 1524, tenths of spiritualities 1535, survey of monasteries, Norf. and Suff. 1536; other commissions, E. Anglia 1525-d.; customer, Ipswich, sole 1515-21, jt. (with Thomas Alvard) 1521-9 or later; j.p. Suff. 1524-d.; knight of the body by 1533; sheriff, Norf. and Suff. 1533-4.3


Thomas Rush’s origins are obscure but there is reason to believe that he came of a Lincolnshire family. Early in Henry VIII’s reign he received a general pardon as of Lincolnshire and Suffolk; two of the domiciles mentioned, Eresby and Parham, are suggestive of a connexion with the influential family of Willoughby, and in April 1511 Rush was associated with John Willoughby in maintaining the sea-banks near Boston. It may thus have been under Willoughby’s patronage that he first went to court; he was already in the King’s service when he became a serjeant-at-arms, in which capacity he attended the funeral of Henry VII, the coronation of Henry VIII and in 1514 the marriage of Princess Mary to Louis XII of France.4

The last of these occasions must have brought Rush into renewed association with Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, who led an embassy to France at this time and who in the previous year commanded the vanguard of the army in which Rush served as a captain. In May 1515, some months after Suffolk had married the widowed Queen of France, Rush was one of those, among them the duke’s uncle Sir Robert Brandon, who were granted pardon for an unspecified offence, perhaps one connected with that daring marriage.5

Rush’s association with Ipswich perhaps dated from his marriage to the widow of two prominent townsmen there, but it was probably to his position at court that he owed the customership of the town. By 1517 he had become a freeman of Orford and had acquired property at nearby Sudbourne, where in 1524 he was assessed for the subsidy on goods valued at 200 marks. These local connexions notwithstanding, Rush was not a typical townsman Member for Ipswich, where he and his colleague Humphrey Wingfield appeared in person on the day of their election to the Parliament of 1523 and took the oath as freemen. Wingfield was a client of Wolsey, who almost certainly had a hand both in his election and in Rush’s. His seat in this Parliament may explain why Rush did not join Suffolk’s army in France; in the previous year he had been responsible with Thomas Hungerford for the supply of provisions to Calais. Among his local appointments at this time was the receivership of the 11th Lord Willoughby’s lands in Norfolk and Suffolk.6

Rush’s friendship with Cromwell must also have ripened during these years. In 1526 they acted together in two legal disputes in East Anglia, and they were soon to collaborate in the building of Wolsey’s college at Ipswich, Rush being appointed in 1528 the cardinal’s attorney for this purpose. In that and the following year he was closely involved in the affairs of local monasteries, including Bromehill priory which was suppressed, and he supervised the transfer of some of their lands to Wolsey’s foundation at Oxford. By 1529 Rush and his stepson Thomas Alvard were sufficiently close to Cromwell to be given legacies in the will he made in that year, Rush’s being £10. It was to Rush, too, that Ralph Sadler first turned when on the eve of the Parliament of that year Cromwell sought a seat in the Commons, in the mistaken belief that Rush could find him one at Oxford. Rush was himself re-elected for Ipswich, with his stepson for his fellow-Member. Of his part in this Parliament all that is known is that he was probably the ‘Mr. Ruse’ whose name is one of four on the dorse of the Act passed during the fifth session for the sowing of flax and hemp. It was, however, after the close of the first session in December 1529 that he rode home with Thomas Audley I as far as Colchester. Reporting to Cromwell Audley’s belief that the King would take the property of monasteries recently suppressed, so voiding all leases, he asked leave to ‘sue a remedy’, a request which implies that he himself was already a lessee. Six months later Rush was put on a commission to inquire into Wolsey’s Suffolk lands, and in December 1530 he took a joint lease with Alvard of the manors of Aldeburgh and Snape.7

By this time Rush was inseparably linked with Cromwell, whom he was to serve diligently for the last few years of his life and to whose favour he doubtless owed the knighthood which he received in 1533. He audited the accounts of priests in Ipswich and reported on offerings made to the Virgin Mary at Borne and Ipswich. In June 1534 he informed the minister about seditious words spoken in the county. The final phase of Rush’s career came with the dissolution of the smaller monasteries in 1536. In July and August of that year he helped to suppress the houses at Bruisyard and Butley. When rebellion broke out in Lincolnshire he was first called on to attend the King with 60 men but afterwards left to help maintain order in Suffolk: the ague from which he was suffering may have prevented him from taking a more active part. He was involved in the examination of some of those fomenting unrest and in May 1537 he was appointed one of the jurors to deal with the rebels.8

This was his last official duty: he probably died shortly before 13 June 1537, the day on which his son Arthur sent his will to Cromwell as one of the executors, only to die himself within a month. A summary list of Rush’s goods preserved among Cromwell’s remembrances gives some indication of his wealth. The plate was valued at over £180 and livestock at nearly £300; debts due to him came to £364, with a further £150 owed for corn and sheep. The total value of the assets was about £1,050, of which £424 went towards legacies and £448 to the payment of debts. A flock of 500 sheep and a herd of 20 cows, together valued at £48, were claimed by his wife and remained at Snape. Rush was clearly a man of considerable landed wealth but in the absence both of the will itself and of an inquisition post mortem the extent of his lands cannot be determined. In November 1537 Thomas Manning, suffragan of Ipswich, wrote to inform Thomas Wriothesley that his servants had been given a copy of the court rolls for the lands held by Rush at Chillesford, Iken, Orford and Sudbourne, these having passed into the custody of Wriothesley with the wardship and marriage of Anthony Rush, the grandson and heir. Rush was buried in St. Stephen’s church, Ipswich.9

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: John Pound


  • 1. Ipswich ct. bk. 8, p. 116.
  • 2. Date of birth estimated from first reference. N. Bacon, Annals Ipswich, 203n; Vis. Suff. ed. Metcalfe, 3, 63.
  • 3. CPR, 1494-1509, p. 605; LP Hen. VIII, ii-viii; Ipswich ct. bk. 8, pp. 41, 286.
  • 4. LP Hen. VIII, i, ii; CPR, 1494-1509, p. 605.
  • 5. LP Hen. VIII, i, ii; C67/62, m.2.
  • 6. Bacon, 198, 203; Add. 19147, f. 306; Suff. Green Bks. x. 269; LP Hen. VIII, ii, iv.
  • 7. LP Hen. VIII, iii, iv; Elton, Tudor Rev. in Govt. 77-79; House of Lords RO, Original Acts, 24 Hen. VIII, no. 6.
  • 8. LP Hen. VIII, v-ix, xi, xii; Elton, Policy and Police, 360.
  • 9. LP Hen. VIII, xii; Bacon, 203n.