BIGG, Sir Thomas (c.1554-1614), of Lenchwick, Worcs.
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Family and Education
b. c.?1554,1 1st s. of Thomas Bigg of Lenchwick and Maud or Magdalen, da. of William Hoby of Leominster, Herefs.2 m. by 1577,3 Ursula (d. 13 Aug. 1601), da. of Clement Throckmorton† of Haseley, Warws., 4s. (1 d.v.p.) 5da. (2 d.v.p.). suc. fa. 1581; kntd. 23 July 1603. d. 4 May 1614.4 sig. Tho[mas] Bigge.
Commr. to take the defendants answer in Sir Edward Hoby* v. Bartholomew Kighley et al. 1586;5 escheator, Worcs. 1592-3;6 commr. i.p.m., Worcs. 1593,7 sheriff 1593-4;8 j.p. by 1595-d., Evesham, Worcs. at d.;9 commr. to survey the tithes of Broadway, Worcs. 1597,10 eccles. causes, Worcs. 1598,11 subsidy, 1598, 1600, 1603, 1608, 1610-11, Evesham 1608, 1611,12 charitable uses, Worcs. 1599, 1600, 1601, 1605,13 to take surrender of letters patent from Sir Fulke Greville* 1601,14 to determine issue in Edward and Margaret Marsh v. Timothy Smyth, by 1604;15 alderman, Evesham 1605-d.;16 bailiff, Blackenhurst Hundred, Worcs. by 1606-8;17 commr. oyer and terminer for the Gunpowder plotters, Worcs. 1606,18 inquiry estate of Sir Philip Kighley*, 1609,19 gaol delivery, Evesham 1610,20 sewers, Worcs. 1611.21
Bigg’s grandfather, John Bigg, came from Sherborne in Gloucestershire.22 Bigg’s father enjoyed a successful military career under Henry VIII and married the sister of Sir Philip Hoby†.23 Hoby acquired most of the lands of Evesham Abbey after its dissolution, including the manor of Norton-cum-Lenchwick, two-and-a-quarter miles north of Evesham.24 Bigg’s father settled in Lenchwick, and by 1579 had acquired the manor from Hoby’s heirs.25 He served as escheator of Worcestershire in the 1570s, but does not seem to have attained more senior local office.26
By 1577 Bigg had married the daughter of Clement Throckmorton† of Haseley in Warwickshire, the grandfather of Sir Clement Throckmorton*. In 1581 he succeeded to his father’s estate, which, in addition to Lenchwick, included extensive property in Bengworth on the left bank of the Avon opposite Evesham. In 1593 he paid £500 for the reversion of those parts of his property in Bengworth that he did not own outright.27 He was clearly prosperous, and in the 1590s built himself ‘a fair house’ at Lenchwick.28 In the 1590s Bigg was involved in a feud with Thomas Tickeridge, a former bailiff of Evesham, which may have been related to the struggle for control of the borough between Sir Edward Hoby, (Sir Philip Hoby’s nephew), and the townsmen of Evesham. In 1585 Tickeridge’s son led a demonstration of the boys of the town against the authority of Hoby’s steward. Not only was Bigg related to Hoby, but also Hoby’s mother employed Bigg to oversee her property in Worcestershire and Gloucestershire.29
On at least one occasion Bigg was described as a puritan, and he was certainly a vigorous opponent of Catholicism.30 His father had been an early adherent of Protestantism and Bigg himself was among those who alleged that there had been malpractice by a Catholic faction at the 1604 Worcestershire election.31 Bigg and his wife were described in their funeral monument as ‘both zealous professors, earnest followers and maintainers of the gospel of Jesus Christ’.32 However not long before his death he contributed towards the building of a new organ for Worcester Cathedral.33
In 1604 Bigg was returned for Evesham, along with the Exchequer official Sir Philip Kighley*, for whom he was surety. Bigg was named first in the indenture, but he probably owed his election to Kighley, who had played a key role in procuring the 1604 charter.34 Named to nine committees in the opening session, Bigg was probably the Sir Francis ‘Bincks’ named to examine the grievances presented by Sir Edward Montagu on 23 March. Three of his appointments related to religion: one was to prepare for a conference with the Lords (19 Apr.), another was to consider the bill to prohibit the restitution in blood of recusants (30 May), and the third was to consider two bills against pluralism (4 June). He was also named to the committee for the bill to restore in blood the children of John Littleton (11 June), formerly an important Worcestershire landowner. His remaining committee appointments concerned bills to assign money for the Household (31 May), to encourage archery (7 June) to confirm a sale of lands in Norfolk (7 June) and to confirm letters patent (5 July).35
Bigg was named an alderman of Evesham in the revised charter issued in 1605, which fully incorporated Bengworth into the borough, and he subsequently became one of the town’s magistrates. The 1605 charter also granted the bailiwick of the surrounding hundred of Blackenhurst to the corporation, which appointed Bigg the bailiff.36 On resuming his Commons’ seat later that same year, Bigg was appointed to bill committees for the better execution of the penal laws (6 Nov. 1605), and observance of the Sabbath (29 Jan. 1606),37 but otherwise played no recorded part in the second session. In the third session he was required to help prepare for a conference with the Lords concerning the Union (29 Nov.), and was named to consider three minor private bills. These concerned the naturalization of James Desmaistres and his wife (10 Mar.), an agreement between Lord Bruce and Michael Doyley (12 May) and the restitution of the children of Edward Windsor (18 May). On 6 May he was granted parliamentary privilege, having been returned as a juror in King’s Bench.38 Bigg is not mentioned in the surviving records of the fourth and fifth sessions, and was certainly absent on 10 July 1610, when he attended a meeting of the Evesham corporation. He had become the senior alderman, and as such was obliged to sit in the borough court with the mayor. On 11 Jan. 1611 Bigg relinquished the senior aldermanship because it conflicted with his parliamentary duties, although the king had issued a Proclamation on 31 Dec. declaring his intention to dissolve Parliament.39
Bigg’s fortune suffered during the Jacobean period. In 1606 he was successfully sued in the Exchequer for having purchased undervalued Crown lands in the 1590s.40 Moreover as one of Sir Philip Kighley’s sureties, he also had to pay at least £150 after Kighley died in 1605 owing large sums to the Crown.41 Bigg’s position in Evesham may have deteriorated after Kighley’s death. On 26 May 1608 the corporation declared Bigg’s brother-in-law, Francis Dingley, and his family persona non grata for slandering their charter. The same day the recorder was appointed bailiff of Blakenhurst, supplanting Bigg.42
Bigg died on 4 May 1614, and was buried six days later in the north transept of Norton parish church, where there is a monument depicting him, his wife, and their nine children. The inscription incorrectly states that he died in 1613. In his will, dated 2 May, Bigg bequeathed money for the construction of a butchers’ row in Evesham. His eldest son Thomas sat for Evesham in 1614 and 1621.43
Ref Volumes: 1604-1629
Author: Ben Coates
- 1. STAC 8/201/17, f. 12. His funeral monument, however, states that he died aged more than 63, while the heralds who visited Worcestershire in 1582 said he was then aged 40: Nash, Worcs. ii. 196; Vis. Worcs. (Harl. Soc. xxvii), 16.
- 2. Vis. Worcs. 16; VCH Worcs. ii. 350.
- 3. Eldest son aged 17 when he matriculated in 1594, and 45 at his death in 1621. Al. Ox. (Bigg, Thomas); Survey of Worcs. by Thomas Habington ed. J. Amphlett (Worcs. Hist. Soc. 1896-9), ii. 216.
- 4. Survey of Worcs. ii. 215-17; Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 123; C142/341/45; PROB 11/123, ff. 494v-5v.
- 5. E112/49/Worcs./2.
- 6. List of Escheators comp. A.C. Wood (L. and I. Soc. lxxii), 188.
- 7. CPR, 1592-3 (L. and I. Soc. cclxxxii), 48.
- 8. List of Sheriffs comp. A. Hughes (PRO, L. and I. ix), 158.
- 9. CPR, 1594-5 (L. and I. Soc. cccx), 132; C66/1898, mm. 23d-24d; Evesham Bor. Recs. of Seventeenth Cent. ed. S.K. Roberts (Worcs. Hist. Soc. n.s. xiv), 15.
- 10. SP46/40, f. 279v.
- 11. C66/1478, m. 8.
- 12. E179/201/240; 179/201/239; 179/201/273; 179/201/274; 179/201/275; E115/134/113; SP14/31/1.
- 13. C93/1/35; 93/1/8; 93/1/2; 93/2/20.
- 14. CPR, 1582-3 (L. and I. Soc. cclxxxvi), 106, 112.
- 15. HMC Hatfield, xxiii. 206-7.
- 16. G. May, Descriptive Hist. of Town of Evesham, 459; Evesham Bor. Recs. 10, 15.
- 17. Cal. Q.S. Pprs. ed. J.W. Willis Bund (Worcs. Hist. Soc. 1900), i. xcix; Evesham Bor. Recs. 4.
- 18. C181/1, f. 132v.
- 19. SP46/69, ff. 75-83.
- 20. C181/2, f. 127.
- 21. Ibid. f. 143v.
- 22. Nash, ii. 198.
- 23. Survey of Worcs. ii. 216.
- 24. VCH Worcs. ii. 350, 417.
- 25. Survey of Worcs. i. 321; PROB 11/63, f. 251v; CPR, 1580-2, p. 80.
- 26. List of Escheators, 187.
- 27. VCH Worcs. ii. 396, 400, 403, 417; E112/132/157, 112/132/159.
- 28. Survey of Worcs. i. 321.
- 29. STAC 5/B46/22; 5/B51/11; 5/B65/27; 5/S49/34; 5/T5/24; 5/T7/4; 5/T23/26; 5/B74/14; E134/29Eliz./East.12.
- 30. APC, 1592-3, p. 148; HMC Hatfield, xv. 36.
- 31. STAC 8/201/17, ff. 12, 15.
- 32. Nash, ii. 196.
- 33. V. Green, Hist. and Antiqs. of City and Suburbs of Worcester, ii. app. p. xvi.
- 34. C219/35/2/143.
- 35. CJ, i. 151b, 178a, 228b, 229a, 233b, 236a, 252b.
- 36. C66/1614, mm. 16-24; May, 451-2, 455, 468, 478-9; Lansd. 166, f. 133.
- 37. Ibid. 257a, 261b.
- 38. Ibid. 326b, 351a, 369b, 372b, 374b.
- 39. Evesham Bor. Recs. 10; Stuart Royal Procs. ed. J.F. Larkin and P.L. Hughes, 257-8. The 1605 charter stated that the ct. was to be held before the mayor, recorder and senior alderman or any two of them; see May, 465.
- 40. E112/132/159.
- 41. Lansd. 166, f. 133.
- 42. Evesham Bor. Recs. 3, 4.
- 43. Soc. Gen. Norton and Lenchwick par. reg.; Nash, ii. 196-7; PROB 11/123, ff. 494v-5v.