LYFIELD, Thomas (d.1596), of Stoke d'Abernon, Surr.
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Family and Education
m. by 1562, Frances (d.1592), da. of Edmund, 1st Lord Bray, sis. and coh. to her bro. John, 2nd Lord Bray, 1da.2
J.p. Surr. by 1569, sheriff 1569-70; commr. musters 1580, eccles. commr., j.p.q. by 1584, commr. subsidy by 1593.3
Nothing has been ascertained about Lyfield before his marriage. He must presumably have been of some social standing, but no Surrey landed family of his name is known. He may have been one of the Northamptonshire Layfields. More probably, however, the name was originally Slyfield. There was a manor of Slyfield not far from the Bray property at Stoke d’Abernon, and in 1562 the owner, Edmund Slyfield, brought a Chancery case against Lyfield and his wife for drawing off water from his mill stream.4
Lyfield’s marriage connected him with a number of important families, his wife being the youngest of six sisters, others of whom married Lord Cobham, Lord Chandos, and (on the latter’s death), Sir William, later Lord Knollys. Lord Chandos’s son married a daughter of Edward, Lord Clinton, the lord admiral, who was high steward, and often parliamentary patron, at Boston where Lyfield was returned after Christopher Hatton I chose to sit for Higham Ferrers. The corporation records show that Lyfield was a stranger to the town when he was returned as ‘one Thomas Lyfield, squire’, as it appears on Clinton’s nomination. Lyfield had other connexions with Clinton (who became Earl of Lincoln in May 1572) over Oking and Byfleet parks in Surrey, for which Clinton was responsible to the Queen. In June 1568 the Earl of Leicester instructed Thomas Browne, William More I and Lyfield to ‘take a view’ of Oking for the lord admiral, while in 1580 and 1582 Lincoln himself wrote to Lyfield on matters concerning the parks.5
In 1572 Lyfield became junior knight of the shire for Surrey. At first sight the fact that More, who had filled a county seat in 1563 and 1571, retired to his borough of Guildford for this Parliament, might suggest a contested election, but his amicable relations with Lyfield may indicate that he stepped down in the latter’s favour. It seems that Lyfield was also on friendly terms with the Howard family, since Reigate, for which he sat in 1589, was generally under their influence. His name appears twice in the parliamentary journals, on 11 Feb. 1589 as a member of the subsidy committee, and on 27 Feb. as one of those to search out precedents and examine procedure in face of the Queen’s dislike of the Commons’ bills about purveyance and the court of Exchequer.6
Lyfield’s brother- in-law John, 2nd Lord Bray, had died without children in 1557, and the division of the estate among a number of coheirs proving complicated, it was not until 1561 that Frances Lyfield was confirmed in her inheritance, which included Stoke d’Abernon, which the Lyfields made their chief seat. Frances also succeeded to property at Claygate, Chadsworth, Hedley, Mickleham and elsewhere in Surrey, and to other lands in Bedfordshire. Lyfield was involved in a number of lawsuits about the estates. He was an active county official until almost the end of his life. He was certified by More as ‘sound and well affected in religion’, and his name appears as a member of several commissions connected with religious matters. He was patron of several Surrey churches including Stoke d’Abernon. Numerous Council letters to him survive, instructing him to carry out various duties, such as dealing with unlawful hunting in the Earl of Lincoln’s parks. Lyfield and More were the only persons named to meet the Queen at Guildford on her way to sleep at Loseley. Not long after this Lyfield was one of those who signed the Bond of Association for Surrey. His subsidy assessment in 1593 was on £30 in lands. When More’s daughter Elizabeth married Richard Polsted, he provided larks, pheasants, geese, ‘puddings’, cheeses and other provisions for the wedding. The only daughter of his own marriage, born in 1549, married Thomas Vincent. Lyfield died 26 Jan. 1596.7
Ref Volumes: 1558-1603
Author: N. M. Fuidge
- 1. Did not serve for the full duration of the Parliament. The name is given by Browne Willis as Layfeild, and by the de Tabley list as Lichfield. In this case de Tabley is almost certainly wrong, as Lichfield sat for Aylesbury in both 1571 and 1572.
- 2. C3/158/27; C142/247/99; W. Berry, County Genealogies, Surr. 62.
- 3. HMC 7th Rep. 630, 635, 652; E163/14/8, f. 30; Surr. Arch. Colls. xviii. 200.
- 4. C3/158/27, 171/42.
- 5. Boston corp. min. bk. 1, f. 105; HMC 7th Rep. 620, 634, 637.
- 6. D’Ewes, 431, 440.
- 7. CP, ii. 288; C3/22/56, 142/5, 158/27, 171/42; 142/247/99; Manning and Bray, Surr. ii. 694, 723, 730; HMC 7th Rep. passim; CPR, 1558-60, p. 406; APC, xviii. 90; xix. 38; Surr. Arch. Colls. xviii. 207; xxxii. 124; Archaelogia, xxxvi. 37.