WROTH, Sir Thomas (1518-73), of Durants, Enfield, Mdx. and London.
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Family and Education
b. 1518, o.s. of Robert Wroth† of Durants by Jane, da. of Sir Thomas Hawte. educ. St. John’s, Camb.; G. Inn 1536. m. 1538, Mary, da. of Sir Richard Rich†, 1st Baron Rich, 7s. inc. John, Richard and Robert I 7da. suc. fa. 1535. Kntd. 22 Feb. 1547.1
Gent. usher of the chamber to Prince Edward 1541-7; gent. of privy chamber 1547-9, principal gent. 1549-53; standard bearer of England Jan.-Nov. 1549; jt. lt. Waltham forest, Essex 1549-58; bailiff, manor of Enfield, Mdx. from 1550, manor of Ware, Herts. 1551-3; jt. ld. lt. Mdx. 1551, 1552, 1553; keeper of Syon House and steward of lordship of Isleworth, Mdx. 1552-3; steward, Elsing and Worcesters manors in Enfield, Mdx. 1553-9; master forester, Enfield chase 1553-9; steward, manor of Edmonton, Mdx. 1553-d.; j.p.q. Mdx. from c.1559, Essex from c.1561; keeper, manor of Elsing, Mdx. 1560-d.; special commr. to consult with ld. dep. on govt. of Ireland 1562; commr. to raise benevolence in Essex and Mdx. May 1564; woodward, Enfield chase 1564-6; custos rot. Mdx. by 1564.2
Wroth was a gentleman of the chamber during the reign of Edward VI, his services being rewarded by numerous marks of royal favour, notably lavish grants of land. He signed the letters patent devising the crown to Lady Jane Grey and was sent to the Tower after Mary’s accession. He was soon released, but early in 1554 was suspected of complicity in the Duke of Suffolk’s rising. As a result he went into exile, remaining abroad, in Italy and Germany, for the rest of Mary’s reign. Just over a month after Elizabeth’s accession he set off for England. Edwin Sandys, who reported his departure from Strasbourg (he left 20 Dec. 1558) noted that he travelled with Sir Anthony Cooke and ‘other persons of distinction’. As the Middlesex election return is dated 29 Dec. he was presumably elected knight of the shire in absentia, though he would have been in England in time for the opening of the Parliament in 1559. It is likely that Wroth was among those MPs who pressed for a more radical religious settlement than the Queen would allow. On 29 Mar. the bill for the increase of tillage was committed to him, and he was a member of the succession committee 31 Oct. 1566. He was one of 30 Members summoned on 5 Nov. 1566 to hear the Queen’s message on the succession. Wroth was also put in charge of a small matter of privilege in this Parliament, his report on 23 Nov. 1566 being the occasion of his only known speech in the House.3
The failure of the Marian exiles and their supporters to secure a more complete reformation of the Church than that of 1559 may have weighed heavily on Wroth’s spirits. Late in 1559 Peter Martyr, writing from Zurich, complained to John Jewel that neither Wroth nor Sir Anthony Cooke had written to him. Jewel replied:
... they are neither in the rank or position you suppose them to be, and in which all [our] Israel hoped they would be ... They have hitherto refrained from writing to you, not from any disinclination or forgetfulness of you, but [because they were really ashamed to write.] Both of them are now suffering most severely under an attack of ague.
Wroth served the government in a variety of capacities during the remaining years of his life. In November 1558 Sir Nicholas Throckmorton suggested that he should be sent to Germany to negotiate with the protestant princes. Elizabeth seems to have kept this advice in mind as, in July 1562, when there was concern about the course of the French civil war, Wroth was ordered to discuss with the German princes the possibility of raising an army to help the Huguenots. A month before, he had been appointed a special commissioner to consult with the lord deputy on the government of Ireland, though he did not arrive in Dublin until February 1564. In April the lord deputy, the 3rd Earl of Sussex, left for England and Wroth was nominated special assistant to Sir Nicholas Arnold, who was appointed lord justice during the deputy’s absence. But Wroth displeased the Queen:
We mislike so much of your remissness to satisfy us in this commission that except you can better answer to your doings we shall think it reason to cause you to make account thereof,
and was recalled in October.4
Wroth’s activities were not confined to the Continent and Ireland. In August 1559 he was one of the commissioners nominated to visit the dioceses of Ely and Norwich. In June 1563, he was appointed to a commission instructed to apprehend, examine and bring to trial persons suspected of murder, felony, counterfeiting or other serious crimes, and in February 1565, when another commission was nominated with the same terms of reference, he was again a member. In April 1565 he was among those Middlesex notables who received instructions to take special care in the ‘good assessing’ of the subsidy. In July 1569 he helped to muster the county. The Government’s confidence in him was reflected in his appointment as a commissioner to examine the circumstances attending the publication in England of the papal bull deposing Elizabeth. On 25 June 1570 the Council ordered him and the other commissioners to convey to the Tower John Felton, who was charged with having a copy of the printed bull, and with ‘speech with the Spanish ambassador’. Felton denying the accusations, the Council ordered him to be ‘brought to the place of torture and ... put in fear thereof’. If he still refused to confess he was to be made to ‘feel such smart and pains’ as the commissioners thought necessary. Wroth was given a rather less dramatic assignment in June 1573, a few months before his death, when he was one of six commissioners appointed to examine a man who was suspected of robbing New College, Oxford.5
Wroth, who was assessed at £100 for the subsidy of 1571, was a wealthy man when he died. His father had left him lands in Middlesex and Somerset, but it was his own service to Edward VI that established the family fortunes. Between 1550 and he obtained grants of ten manors, four in Essex, three in Middlesex, two in Sussex and one in Somerset. When he died, 9 Oct. 1573, he had lands in five counties. In his will dated 5 Oct. 1573, proved 26 Apr. 1575, he bequeathed £400 in cash to each of his four unmarried daughters and £500 to each of his six younger sons. His wife received a life interest in four manors, which were to revert after her death to his heir Robert, who received a direct grant of some of his other lands and the reversion of the remainder. His executors were his brother William, two friends, Peter Osborne and William Clerke, and a cousin, James Morice. The preamble to his will repudiated good works as a means to salvation, and he made no charitable bequests.6
Ref Volumes: 1558-1603
- 1. C142/57/7, 33; PCC 16 Pyckering; Vis. Essex (Harl. Soc. xiii), 132; D. O. Pam, Protestant Gentlemen: the Wroths of Enfield and Loughton (Edmonton Hundred Hist. Soc. occasional pprs. n.s. xxv), passim.
- 2. Lansd. 1218; LP Hen. VIII, xvii. p. 688; xxi(2), p. 86; APC, ii. 345; iii. 259; iv. 50, 277; CPR, 1549-51, pp. 329-30; 1553-4, pp. 325-6, 394; 1557-8, p. 211; 1558-60, pp. 299, 351; 1560-3, p. 266; 1563-6, pp. 122-3, 126; Somerville, Duchy, i. 612-13; CSP Dom. 1547-80, p. 40; DNB; Lambeth ms 614, ff. 143, 145, 149; CSP Ire. 1509-73, pp. 230, 246.
- 3. DNB; C. H. Garrett, Marian Exiles, 344-6; Zurich Letters (ser. 1) (Parker Soc.), 5; CJ, i. 71, 77, 78; D’Ewes, 126-7, 129, 130; Camb. Univ. Lib. Gg. iii. 34, p. 209.
- 4. Zurich Letters, 53; Read, Cecil, 247; Lambeth ms 614, ff. 143, 145, 149; CSP Ire. 1509-73, pp. 230, 235, 239, 240, 246; EHR, lxv. 95; SP63/11/10.
- 5. DNB; CPR, 1560-3, pp. 485, 523; 1563-6, p. 257; Lansd. 8, f. 79; APC, vii. 373; viii. 111.
- 6. DNB; Lansd. 13, ff. 67 seq.; C142/57/7, 33; CPR, 1550-3, pp. 6, 17, 188; 1553 and App. p. 240; PCC 16 Pyckering; C142/171/97.