FARNHAM, Thomas (by 1527-62), of Stoughton and Quorndon, Leics. and London.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Oct. 1553

Family and Education

b. by 1527, 2nd s. of William Farnham (d. 6 May 1548), and bro. of John. m. Helen, da. of Roger Chaloner, 2da.

Offices Held

Steward and bailiff, Leics. lands of late bp. of Lincoln from 1549; teller of the Exchequer May 1552-60; esquire of the body at Q. Elizabeth’s coronation; clerk of liveries in ct. of wards July 1559-61; particular surveyor for the Exchequer in Leics. from 1561; j.p. Leics. from c.1559.


Farnham presumably acquired his lucrative Exchequer office through his elder brother’s court connexions and remained a government official for the rest of his life. His brother-in-law, Sir Thomas Chaloner, surrendered his tellership in his favour, and was no doubt helpful in securing his advancement. Shortly after Elizabeth’s succession, Farnham transferred to the court of wards, having been granted the profitable clerkship of the liveries there for life. By October 1561, however, he had surrendered his appointment, probably through ill-health, and retired to his Leicestershire seat, becoming particular surveyor of Exchequer lands and a justice of the peace. Less than a year later, on 4 Sept. 1562, he died, still comparatively young.

Between 1548 and his death he bought lands which yielded a total income of well over £100 a year, his major purchase after Elizabeth’s accession being Smith’s manor in Quorndon, the last remaining property outside his control in his native parish: it cost £200. He also speculated in land, and his inquisition post mortem testifies to the success of his activities, showing extensive estates in Quorndon, Stoughton and elsewhere in Leicestershire, several other counties, and a London house. His bequests came to nearly £1,000 and there is no suggestion that any of this was to be raised from the landed estate. His will is long, revealing his interests and friends in Leicestershire and London, and confirming the presumption, based on his appearance in the list of those who stood for the ‘true religion’ in the Parliament of October 1553, that he held radical religious views, for the beneficiaries included many of the leading puritans of the early years of Elizabeth’s reign. Probably 16 men who sat in the House of Commons during the reign are mentioned, most being puritans; nine were Farnham’s fellow-Members in 1559, when he was returned for Thomas Copley’s borough of Gatton. The principal heirs were his infant daughters Anne and Katherine (who married the son of Nicholas Beaumont), but he wanted most of his property to go to his brother John. He therefore left his daughters the third of his property which the law demanded, bidding them to surrender it to John when they came of age for 400 marks. The other lands went immediately to John. Many relatives and servants received minor bequests, and money was left for the poor of Leicester. Thomas’s wife Helen was to enjoy a life interest in Stoughton and was sole executrix and residuary legatee. Farnham was buried at Stoughton under a large tomb of carved alabaster, with full length figures of himself in armour and his wife.

Vis. Leics. (Harl. Soc. ii), 77. 171; LC 2/4/3, p. 134; Quorndon Recs. ed. Farnham, passim; CPR, 1550-3, p. 297; 1558-60, pp. 90, 281; 1560-3, pp. 250, 439; 1563-6, p. 89; E315/265; PCC 24 Streat; Bodl. e Museo 17.

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: M.R.P.


  • 1. Did not serve for the full duration of the Parliament.