COVENTRY, Thomas (c.1606-1661), of Croome d'Abitot, Worcs.; later of Canbury, Surr.; Dorchester House, Covent Garden and Lincoln's Inn Fields, Mdx.
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Family and Education
b. c.1606, 1st s. of Sir Thomas Coventry* of Croome d’Abitot and 1st w. Sarah, da. of John Seabright of Blakeshall, Worcs.1 educ. I. Temple 1623.2 m. 2 Apr. 1627,3 Mary (d. 18 Oct. 1634) da. of Sir William Craven, Merchant Taylor and alderman of London, 3s. (1 d.v.p.) 2 da. d.v.p. suc. fa. 1640 as 2nd Bar. Coventry of Aylesborough. d. 27 Oct. 1661.4
Member, Plymouth Venturers 1625.5
J.p. Glos. 1628-at least 1638, custos rot., Worcs. 1628-at least 1643, 1660-d,6 Glos. 1638-?;7 commr. oyer and terminer, Oxf. circ. 1631-at least 1642, Wales and Marches 1634-40;8 member, Council in the Marches 1633;9 commr. Avon navigation 1636,10 array, Worcs. 1642, Worcester, 1642, raise volunteers (roy.), Worcs. 1642.11
Coventry’s paternal grandfather was a distinguished judge under Elizabeth and James, while his father was a prominent London lawyer, who became attorney-general in 1621. In 1623 Coventry was specially admitted to the Inner Temple, where his father was then serving as treasurer. The latter took considerable pains over his son’s marriage. According to Sir Simonds D’Ewes†, he initially considered marrying his son to Anne Clopton, but he lost interest on realizing that his prospective daughter-in-law would not gain control of her inheritance until after her stepmother’s death.12 Eventually Mary Craven, the daughter of a deceased lord mayor of London and sister to the earl of Craven, was selected. Though Mary was wealthy in her own right, the elder Coventry made careful provision for the couple. The family seat at Croome d’Abitot was handed over,13 and £2,000 was put in trust for Coventry and his wife.14
Coventry was too young in 1621 to replace his father as Member for Droitwich when the latter was obliged to surrender his seat. He first sat for the borough in 1625, but made no impression on the surviving records. He was re-elected in 1626, when he was named to a conference with the Lords on 7 Mar. to discuss preparations for war.15 In 1628 he served for the county, and was appointed to the privileges committee.16 On 9 June he was named to a small committee sent to his father, now lord keeper, to examine the excise commission.17
In 1634 Coventry’s wife died in childbirth. According to a contemporary newsletter, her brother-in-law, (Sir) Percy Herbert*, tried to bring a Catholic priest into her bedchamber ‘to have perverted her religion in her greatest extremity’. It seems unlikely that Coventry himself was then present, as it was left to his father’s purse-bearer to prevent Herbert and the priest from entering ‘by main force’.18 It was possibly in memory of his wife that in 1636 Coventry set up a benefaction for poor children in London, to be administered by the Merchant Taylors, the Company to which her father had belonged.19
Coventry succeeded his father in January 1640. He initially supported the king but made his peace with Parliament in October 1642.20 In May 1643 he was granted permission to go abroad for his health, but he returned to England less than a year later.21 In 1651 he came under suspicion for supporting Charles II, and though cleared was imprisoned in 1655.22 He drew up his will on 31 Aug. 1657 and died at his house in Lincoln’s Inn Fields on 27 Oct. 1661 from gangrene in his toes.23 He was buried at Croome d’Abitot church, where a funeral monument was erected.24 A portrait of Coventry painted by Cornelius Jonson can be found at Croome.25 His second son and namesake sat for Droitwich in 1660.
Ref Volumes: 1604-1629
Authors: Glyn Redworth / Ben Coates
- 1. T. Nash, Colls. for Hist. of Worcs. i. 79, 262.
- 2. CITR, ii. 137.
- 3. GL, ms 4107/1, unfol.
- 4. CP; Oxford DNB sub Craven, Sir William; Nash, i. 161-2; Gordon, 41.
- 5. T.K. Rabb, Enterprise and Empire, 272.
- 6. C231/4, f. 251; Cal. Q. Sess. Pprs. ed. J.W. Willis Bund (Worcs. Hist. Soc. 1900), i. p. ccxxviii; C231/7, p. 10.
- 7. C231/5, f. 277.
- 8. C181/4, ff. 71, 162; 181/5, ff. 184v, 218v.
- 9. T. Rymer, Foedera, viii. pt. 4, p. 7.
- 10. Ibid. ix. pt. 2, p. 6.
- 11. Northants RO, FH133; R.H. Silcock, ‘County Govt. in Worcs.’ (London Univ. Ph.D. thesis, 1974), p. 327.
- 12. Autobiog. of Sir Simonds D’Ewes ed. J.D. Halliwell, i. 312.
- 13. VCH Worcs. iii. 314.
- 14. Worcs. RO, BA8965/6(vi).
- 15. Procs. 1626, ii. 216.
- 16. CD 1628, ii. 29.
- 17. Ibid. iv. 197, 205.
- 18. C115/106/8438.
- 19. GL, ms 7615(a); Early Hist. of Guild of Merchant Taylors ed. C.M. Clode, ii. 328.
- 20. LJ, v. 406.
- 21. Ibid. vi. 38; HMC 6th Rep. 5.
- 22. CCAM, 1363-9; Coll. of State Pprs. of John Thurloe ed. T. Birch, iii. 593.
- 23. Diaries of Lady Anne Clifford ed. D.J.H. Clifford, 154; PROB 11/307, ff. 125-7.
- 24. VCH Worcs. iii. 315.
- 25. Gordon, 40.