THROCKMORTON, John I (c.1520-80), of Feckenham, Worcs.

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



Mar. 1553
Oct. 1553
Nov. 1554

Family and Education

b. c.1520, 7th s. of Sir George Throckmorton and bro. of Anthony, Clement, George, Kenelm, Sir Nicholas and Robert. educ. M. Temple. m. Margaret, da. of Robert Puttenham of Sherfield-upon-Loddon, Hants, wid. of one Dockray, 4s. 2da. Kntd. 1565.1

Offices Held

Attorney, council in the marches of Wales 1550-4; steward, manor of Feckenham 1552; master of requests 1553-9; recorder, Coventry 1553, Worcester from 1559, Ludlow, Shrewsbury by 1560; j.p. Warws. 1554; j.p.q. Chester, Worcs. Denb., Mont., Flints. 1562, Herefs., Salop, Warws., Mon., Brec., Glam., Rad., Carm., Pemb., Card., Caern., Anglesey, Merion. 1564; under-steward of Westminster 1557; justice of Chester, Denb. and Mont. 1558-79; member, council in the marches of Wales 1558-80; eccles. commr., diocese of Chester 1562; commr. piracy, Cheshire 1565; justice of Denb. 1566; vice-pres. council in the marches of Wales 1565-9.2


John Throckmorton was a younger son of a large though well-connected family. As such, his lack of patrimony could be compensated for by the influence of powerful patrons. His relationship with Catherine Parr introduced John and his elder brothers Clement and Nicholas to court, and during Edward VI’s reign his connexion with William Parr, Marquess of Northampton, served him well. But it was under Northumberland that Throckmorton rose rapidly, and it was he who was credited with drawing up the proclamation which named Lady Jane Grey as Queen, after Sir William Cecil had refused to do so.3

Throckmorton, however, was an opportunist of no deep convictions either in religion or politics. Losing faith in Northumberland’s success, he soon fled to join Mary at Framlingham and later received an annuity for his services there. As easily as he had accepted the Edwardian prayer books, he now returned to Catholicism and was soon in favour with the Queen, whose will he witnessed. Yet, in spite of the favoured position he occupied at court, Throckmorton did not sever himself completely from his former associates, and his career survived yet another change of ruler and religion. At the beginning of Elizabeth’s reign, he was confirmed as justice of Chester, a job given him by Queen Mary just before her death, and soon he became a prominent member of the council in the marches. He sat in Elizabeth’s first Parliament for Coventry, of which he had been the active recorder since 1553 and which he had already represented three times in Parliament. It was as recorder of Coventry that he received the Queen in 1565 and was knighted by her.4

After the accession of Elizabeth, Throckmorton was principally occupied as a councillor in the marches of Wales. In March 1559 he was granted an annuity of £100 for the good counsel he had already given there and in July 1562 his loyalty and conformity were sufficiently trusted for him to be appointed one of the commissioners to enforce the new religious settlement in the diocese of Chester. In spite of the ambiguous position in which he was placed by the recusancy of his family, Throckmorton himself seems to have accepted the Elizabethan settlement; one of his associates was Whitgift, no friend to recusants or crypto-Catholics. Throckmorton was, however, placed, no doubt optimistically, on a list drawn up in the interests of Mary Stuart in 1574. In the marches Throckmorton had some importance as one of the trusted lieutenants of the president, Sir Henry Sidney. Besides Sidney, he had as patron the Earl of Leicester, and when Sidney became lord deputy of Ireland in 1565, the two of them secured Throckmorton’s appointment as vice-president of the council in the marches, in which position he was not a success. In 1568 he claimed jurisdiction in Cheshire, of which Leicester was chamberlain. When the vice-chamberlain, William Glasier, pointed out that the county palatine was outside the council’s authority, Throckmorton called him a liar, but, upon Leicester’s intervening, he retreated, protesting that he had no intention of injuring the Earl’s rights. Next, when Sidney’s administration was under attack in 1576, Throckmorton was accused of slackness and corruption in that he diverted to his own use fines imposed by the council. Although the charges against him were not proved, his position thereafter deteriorated, the recusancy of his wife and son made his own loyalty suspect, and he finally lost Leicester’s favour. A lawsuit brought against his tenants at Feckenham, who had destroyed his enclosures, resulted in his being suspended as justice of Chester. He was accused of partiality towards his brother-in-law John Edwards of Chirk, at whose house Lady Throckmorton and her son were accustomed to hear mass. His final disgrace arose over a judgment he had given in favour of a relation, Edward Grey, concerning the disputed barony of Powys. Throckmorton was fined heavily in the Star Chamber and imprisoned in the Fleet. He may have died there, or in the Counter, for William Herle wrote to the Earl of Leicester, 24 May 1580, ‘God has visited me here in prison with a hectic fever, as he did Sir John Throckmorton’. Neither Throckmorton’s will nor his inquisition post mortem is helpful as to the place of his death, which occurred on 22 May 1580, two days after he made his will. Throckmorton instructed his executors to hold his lands, many of which had been mortgaged, to pay his debts. These amounted to more than £4,000, in addition to the unpaid fine of £1,000. He hoped that his executors would be able to find £1,000 for each of his daughters and two of his younger sons. The will was proved 8 Dec. 1580 by the heir Francis, who four years later was executed for treason. Another son, Thomas, was an agent of Mary Queen of Scots, and spent most of his life abroad.5

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: Irene Cassidy


  • 1. Nash, Worcs. i. 453; Vis. Hants (Harl. Soc. lxiv), 17-18; PCC 52 Arundel.
  • 2. CPR, 1549-50, p. 299; 1550-3, p. 236; 1553-4, p. 269; 1557-8, pp. 461, 462; 1560-3, pp. 280-1; 1563-6, pp. 41-2; APC, iv. 324; vii. 284; Coventry Leet Bk. ii. 806; B. Poole, Coventry, 384; Dugdale, Warws. i. 149-50; P. H. Williams, Council in the Marches of Wales, 359-60; Westminster Abbey Reg. 4, f. 10v.; Ormerod, Cheshire, i. 63.
  • 3. A. L. Rowse, Ralegh and the Throckmortons, ch. I; A. L. Browne, ‘Sir John Throckmorton of Feckenham’ (Trans. Birmingham Arch. Soc. lix. 123-42); CPR, 1547-8, p. 210; Stowe 57, f. 19v; Strype, Annals, iv. 487.
  • 4. Lansd. 156, f. 94; HMC 5th Rep. 309; APC, iv. 328; Narratives of the Reformation (Cam. Soc. lxxvii), 324; Coventry council bk. ff. 2415 seq.; Coventry bk. of payments, ff. 7, 9, receipts, 14; letters, i. 68; mayors’ accts. 1542-61, p. 539; Poole, 89-91.
  • 5. CPR, 1558-60, p. ???6; 1560-63, pp. 280-1; CSP Dom. Add. 1547-65, pp. 574-5; CSP Dom. 1547-80, pp. 604, 605, 609, 626, 627; P. H. Williams, 198-200, 253, 255, 260, 266-7, 268, 273, 290, 314; APC, vii. 246, 372-3; viii. 11-12; x. 363, 375-6, 399-400; xi. 25-6, 69-70, 98, 129-30, 135-6, 168, 188-9, 191-2, 193, 242, 299, 320; Cath. Rec. Soc. Misc. viii, 90; PCC 52 Arundel; A. L. Browne, 135-9; HMC Bath, v. 202; C142/191/114; DNB (Throckmorton, Francis).