MOULSON, Thomas (c.1568-1638), of St. Christopher-le-Stocks, London.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press

Constituency

Dates

1628

Family and Education

b. c.1568,1 2nd s. of Thomas Moulson of Hargrave Stubbs, Cheshire and Alice, da. of John Aldersey of Spurstow, Cheshire. educ. ?Tarvin sch. Cheshire. m. 15 Dec. 1600, Anne (d.1661), da. of Anthony Radcliffe, Merchant Taylor of London, 1s. d.v.p. 1da. d.v.p.2 kntd. 1 June 1634.3 d. 6 Dec. 1638. sig. Thomas Mowlson.

Offices Held

Freeman, Grocers’ Co., London 1593, liveryman 1601,4 asst. 1613,5 3rd warden 1615;6 member, Eastland Co. by 1603,7 French Co. 1611;8 asst. Irish Soc. by 1615-at least 1623, by 1631-at least 1632;9 treas. Merchant Adventurers by 1616-at least 1617,10 gov. by 1624-d.11

Vestryman, St. Christopher-le-Stocks by 1606-at least 1636;12 common councilman, London by 1617,13 auditor 1620-2, alderman, Queenhithe Ward 1623-7, Broad Street Ward 1627-d., sheriff 1623-4, mayor 1634;14 gov. St. Bart.’s hosp. 1617-at least 1636,15 auditor (jt.) 1620-1;16 commr. charitable uses, London 1626, 1635-7,17 Forced Loan 1627,18 sewers 1629-at least 1632,19 archery 1632,20 repair of St. Paul’s cathedral by 1633-8,21 oyer and terminer 1634, gaol delivery, Newgate 1634.22

Commr. French goods 1626,23 enforce soap monopoly 1634.24

Biography

A Cheshireman who settled in London, by 1590 Moulson was involved in the cloth trade at Stade, perhaps as an associate of Lionel Cranfield*, sending kerseys to Nuremberg. He remained in northern Germany until at least 1600. On his return he married the daughter of a wealthy Merchant Taylor, settling in the London parish of St. Christopher-le-Stocks and continuing his overseas business through factors.25 He soon obtained the largest share of the export market in northern kerseys, dwarfing even Cranfield’s,26 and became a leading Merchant Adventurer, trading in fine quality Hamburg silks: 30 items offered for sale to the East India Company in 1625 were described by the latter as ‘very rich and of excellent colours’.27 A member of the Eastland Company by 1603, he helped to found the French Company eight years later.28 His many business interests included the import of gold, but this trade became unprofitable owing to a royal patent which created exchangers, as he later explained to the 1628 Parliament: ‘for before we did sell it at the best price to the goldsmiths and had the money presently, but now it must come hither and there stay a long while’.29 Wealthy all the same, he and the Haberdasher John Aldersey lent the rising lawyer (Sir) Thomas Coventry* £5,000 in 1610.30 His fortune naturally attracted the attention of the Crown, though not immediately, as he was asked to contribute only £10 towards the City’s loan of £10,000 to the king in 1604.31 In 1630 the Caroline regime owed him £500 in connection with the 1628 Ditchfield Contract.32 Two years after his death, Moulson’s estate was still owed £187 6s. 8d. for a £100 loan made to James I.33

On his return from Germany Moulson assumed a prominent position in his parish, joining the vestry and, until 1623, helping to audit the churchwarden’s accounts.34 However, in 1609 he declined to serve as churchwarden himself, preferring to pay a £10 fine instead.35 In 1615 he was named an assistant to London’s Company for the Plantation of Ireland, and two years later he was appointed to the City’s committee for letting corporation property.36 In November 1618 he and another member of the committee ‘did audit the account of the stone, oak timber, elm timber and boards and lathes’ of the Bridgehouse.37 The experience he thereby gained undoubtedly helped him subsequently to become City auditor.

In April 1624 Moulson, as governor of the Merchant Adventurers, testified before the Commons’ committee for trade that, following the disastrous Cockayne Project, the Company had been compelled to pay the king £50,000 to have its charter restored.38 Shortly after the 1626 Parliament assembled, he was appointed by the corporation of London to a committee for deciding what matters to lay before the Parliament, ‘as well concerning the monies disbursed by the City about levying of the soldiers as any other business whatsoever’.39 In 1628 he was himself elected to Parliament for the City, although he had not yet been knighted or served as mayor. London’s voters, infuriated by the Forced Loan, refused to elect the City’s Recorder, Heneage Finch*, but chose Moulson instead, even though he was a Loan commissioner.40 Once at Westminster, however, Moulson preferred to represent the interests of the Merchant Adventurers rather than London’s discontented Loan payers. On 9 June he announced that if Hamburg fell to the Imperialists, as seemed likely, ‘then is our trade of white cloths lost’, as only the Low Countries and the Levant would be left as main sources of commerce.41 Six days earlier he commented that ‘if Germany be lost with the Hanse towns they [the Imperialists] may have shipping against us’.42 Like many of his colleagues in the Commons, Moulson perceived a connection between the advance of Catholicism abroad and an increase in popery at home: ‘the emperor proceeds in Germany and every day takes cities and makes them turn their religion. We see how papists increase here in London’.43 Fear of popery explains Moulson’s nomination to a committee for explaining a bill against recusants in the following session (28 Jan. 1629).

During the 1628/9 sessions Moulson was named to one joint conference with the Lords and 18 committees, of which ten were concerned with trade. One of these was concerned with drafting a calendar of all the shipping lost since the outbreak of the war with Spain, to which he was appointed on 14 June, five days after speaking on the capture by the Dunkirkers of nine ships laden with masts.44 Another concerned the drafting of a petition to the king regarding Nicholas Clegate (2 May), a London Vintner who had refused to contribute towards the Ditchfield Contract. A member of the City’s committee to handle the disposal of the Crown lands acquired as a result of the contract, Moulson was well placed to explain the background of the Clegate case to the House (26 March).45 It also meant that on 23 Apr. he was able to challenge Sir Robert Mansell, who claimed that the Ditchfield Contract would deprive the king of his major source of ship timber and so oblige private owners to sell their timber stocks to avoid naval purveyance. Moulson replied that ‘care is taken’, by which he meant that the contract reserved to the king timber on Crown lands chosen by the City. He also disputed Mansell’s claim that the Forest of Dean was a plentiful source of ship timber, for the previous year royal commissioners had certified the woods there ‘as dry and dead timber’. However, he agreed that valuable timber trees were being destroyed, and suggested that the king should be informed ‘of the abuse of his officers’.46

One of the committees to which Moulson was named concerned a bill for suppressing unlicensed alehousekeepers (17 April). This appointment was typical of his concern to reform the morals of the lower orders, for during the 1630s he presented numerous cases of prostitution, bastardy and petty crime to Bridewell Hospital.47 Moulson regarded himself as a member of the elect, and during the mid-1630s he and his fellow vestrymen resolved to hold no meetings on the Sabbath, and to appoint a lecturer to preach on Sunday afternoons. He clearly felt strongly about the need for a lecturer, for in his will of July 1636 he bequeathed 40s. to ‘our lecturer’, Mr. Hood.48 However, he also regarded it necessary to help finance the upkeep of church buildings. During the mid 1630s he lent his parish £50 towards the cost of repairing its church,49 and he donated another £50 for the repair of St. Paul’s.50

When Moulson drew up his will he claimed to be in good health, but seven months later he reportedly declined the presidency of Christ’s hospital ‘in respect of his great weakness and infirmities of body’.51 He died in December 1638, and was buried in the vault of St. Christopher-le-Stocks the following month.52 Apart from those already mentioned, his bequests included annuities of £40 for a minister and £20 for a schoolmaster in the combined school and chapel which he had built at his own cost in 1627 at Hargrave, Cheshire, the parish where he was probably raised. He also donated to the poor of the various parishes within his ward and the four London hospitals more than £230, of which £100 was assigned to St. Bartholomew’s; a further £40 was to be divided up among 20 poor ministers. Moulson did not forget the companies to which he belonged, giving the Grocers £50 to spend on plate, and leaving both the Grocers and the Merchant Adventurers £200 for lending interest-free to their younger members. The bulk of his remaining estate was bestowed on friends and relatives, of whom perhaps the major beneficiary was his wife and executrix, Anne. They also included Sir Norton Knatchbull*, his uncle by marriage who, in the event, predeceased him.53 No other member of the family subsequently sat in Parliament.

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Andrew Thrush

Notes

Inhabitants of London, 1638 ed. T.C. Dale, i. 45.

  • 1. C24/505/15.
  • 2. Vis. Cheshire 1580 (Harl. Soc. xviii). 13; J. Stow, Survey of London, ed. J. Strype, bk. 5, p. 143; Hist. of Hargrave and Huxley ed. J. Whittle, 18-19; GL, ms 4423/1, f. 69v; 4412/1, unfol. (last ref. ex inf. Mr. J. Whittle).
  • 3. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 202.
  • 4. GL, ms 11592A, unfol.
  • 5. GL, ms 11588/2, p. 772.
  • 6. W.W. Grantham, Wardens of the Grocers’ Co. 24.
  • 7. HMC Hatfield, xii. 704.
  • 8. Select Charters of Trading Cos. ed. C.T. Carr (Selden Soc. xxviii), 64.
  • 9. CLRO, letter bk. FF, f. 80v; HH, f. 213v; KK, ff. 128v, 210; LL, ff. 90v, 180.
  • 10. HMC Var. viii. 13-14.
  • 11. ‘Nicholas 1624’, f. 127; APC, 1629-30, p. 301; SP84/143, ff. 170, 192, 201; L. Roberts, The Merchants Mappe of Commerce (1638/9), p. 235.
  • 12. GL, ms 4425/1, ff. 6v, 24v.
  • 13. CLRO, Reps. 33, f. 216.
  • 14. A.B. Beaven, Aldermen of London, ii. 57.
  • 15. St. Bart.’s Hosp., London HA1/4, ff. 88v, 117, 151, 183v, 219; GL, ms 12806/3, ff. 284v, 338v; PROB 11/178, f. 503.
  • 16. St. Bart’s Hosp., London HA1/4, f. 118.
  • 17. C93/10/21; 192/1, unfol.
  • 18. T. Rymer, Foedera, viii. pt. 2, p. 142.
  • 19. C181/3, f. 256; 181/4, f. 128v.
  • 20. Rymer, viii. pt. 3, p. 253 (name mis-spelt ‘Moulston’).
  • 21. GL, ms 25475/1, ff. 11v, 75, 109.
  • 22. C181/4, f. 188.
  • 23. Rymer, viii. pt. 2, p. 119.
  • 24. C181/4, f. 186v.
  • 25. W.-R. Baumann, Merchant Adventurers and Continental Cloth Trade, 352; HMC Sackville, i. 57; ii. 2, 136, 164, 168, 175, 197, 202.
  • 26. A. Friis, Alderman Cockayne’s Project, 130.
  • 27. CSP Col. E.I. 1625-29, p. 69. See also pp. 46, 59.
  • 28. Select Charters of Trading Cos. 64.
  • 29. CD 1628, iv. 429.
  • 30. LC4/197, f. 39.
  • 31. GL, ms 11588/2, p. 359.
  • 32. CLRO, RCE pprs. no. 20.
  • 33. Ibid. no. 8e.
  • 34. GL, ms 4425/1, ff. 6v-7; 4423/1, ff. 88, 91, 93, 94v, 99v.
  • 35. GL, ms 4423/1, f. 75v.
  • 36. CLRO, Reps. 33, f. 216r-v.
  • 37. CLRO, Bridgehouse cttee, materials sold, pt. 1, unfol. entry dated 16 Nov. 1618. For further evidence of his inspection of Bridgehouse property, see entries for 3 and 12 Feb. 1618, and 28 June 1619.
  • 38. ‘Nicholas 1624’, f. 127.
  • 39. CLRO, Reps. 40, ff. 94-5.
  • 40. R. Cust, Forced Loan, 309.
  • 41. CD 1628, iv. 200, 208, 214.
  • 42. Ibid. 75.
  • 43. Ibid. 67.
  • 44. Ibid. 216, 308.
  • 45. CLRO, RCE min. bk. 1627-32, f. 11; CD 1628, ii. 127; iii. 208.
  • 46. CD 1628, iii. 62. For the clause in the Contract, see CLRO, RCE cttee. min. bk. 1627-32, f. 7v.
  • 47. GL, microfilm, Bridewell Hosp. ct. mins. vii. f. 297; viii. ff. 81, 83, 176v.
  • 48. PROB 11/178, f. 502v.
  • 49. GL, ms 4425/1, f. 24; 4423/1, ff. 137v, 141.
  • 50. GL, ms 25475/1, ff. 2v, 57v, 75, 109; 25475/2, f. 11v.
  • 51. GL, ms 12806/4, p. 93.
  • 52. Smyth’s Obit. ed. H. Ellis (Cam. Soc. xliv), 15; PROB 11/306, f. 203.
  • 53. PROB 11/178, ff. 503-4v; N. Pevsner