WISE, Thomas (c.1605-1641), of Sydenham, Marystow and Mount Wise, Stoke Damerel, Devon

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



1640 (Apr.)
1640 (Nov.) - 18 Mar. 1641

Family and Education

b. c.1605,1 2nd but 1st surv. s. of Sir Thomas Wise* and Margery, da. and h. of Robert Stafford of Stowford, Devon.2 educ. Sidney Sussex, Camb. 1619, BA 1622; incorp. Oxf. 1622.3 m. lic. 16 Oct. 1629, Mary, da. of Edward, 1st Visct. Chichester of Carrickfergus [I], 3s. 3da. (1 d.v.p.). suc. fa. 1630.4 d. 18 Mar. 1641.5 sig. Thomas Wise.

Offices Held

Commr. inspect Catwater harbour, Plymouth, Devon 1636,6 sheriff, Devon 1637-8,7 j.p. 1639-d.8


Wise was educated at Cambridge, rather than the geographically more convenient Oxford, the choice of college reflecting his father’s puritan leanings. He was admitted to Sidney Sussex alongside his brother Edward, but stayed to complete his degree when his elder sibling departed in 1621 to Lincoln’s Inn.9 Wise may have been still under age when he entered Parliament in 1625. He was returned at Callington on the interest of his sister’s father-in-law, Robert Rolle, but left no trace on the Commons’ records.10 In the following year he secured election at Bere Alston, which his father, a local landowner, had represented in the third Jacobean Parliament, and received nominations to scrutinize two private bills concerned with naturalization and bankruptcy (28 Mar., 14 June).11 On sitting for the same borough in the 1628 Parliament, he was appointed to just one committee, to investigate the Westmorland commission for compounding with recusants (16 Feb. 1629). Despite the prolonged inquiry during the second session into the confiscation of goods belonging to his kinsman John Rolle*, he made no recorded comment on this case.12

Wise became heir to his father’s estates following his elder brother’s premature death. In 1629 he married into the Devon aristocracy, and the next year succeeded to his patrimony. He seems to have preferred his secondary seat of Mount Wise, near Plymouth, to his more remote ancestral home at Sydenham. Wise possessed little administrative experience when he became sheriff in 1637, and struggled to raise the full £9,000 demanded by the government in Devon’s third Ship Money writ. Around £1,200 remained outstanding in April 1639, of which half was never collected.13 There is some evidence of deliberate laxness on his part, and he was sufficiently popular in the county to be twice elected a knight of the shire in 1640. However, his parliamentary career was cut short by his death in March 1641. He was buried at St. Margaret’s, Westminster.14

Wise apparently enjoyed a lavish lifestyle, and in his will, made on 2 Jan. 1641, he estimated his debts at £3,000. He entrusted both the will’s execution and his son’s wardship to his kinsman and ‘best friend’, Francis Buller*, on the grounds that his wife lacked the necessary experience, and would lose control of her own affairs if she remarried. This foresight was rewarded. Buller proved the will on 24 Mar., and by the end of the year the widow had found a new husband, John Harris III*. Wise’s son Edward sat for Okehampton from 1659 until his death in 1675.15

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Authors: Tim Venning / Paul Hunneyball


  • 1. Age calculated from date of admiss. to Sidney Sussex, Camb.
  • 2. Vivian, Vis. Devon, 791; LI Admiss. (Edward Wise).
  • 3. Al. Cant.; Al. Ox.
  • 4. Vivian, 791; CP; PROB 11/185, f. 279; G.H. Radford, ‘Wyses and Tremaynes of Sydenham’, Reps. and Trans. Devon Assoc. xli. 136.
  • 5. C142/607/103.
  • 6. PC2/45, p. 419.
  • 7. List of Sheriffs comp. A. Hughes (PRO, L. and I. ix), 37.
  • 8. C231/5, p. 349; C66/2859.
  • 9. Al. Cant.; LI Admiss.
  • 10. Vivian, 654; C142/502/65.
  • 11. C219/40/150; Procs. 1626, ii. 385; iii. 444.
  • 12. CJ, i. 930b.
  • 13. Radford, 134-5; CSP Dom. 1637, p. 500; 1637-8, pp. 235, 456; 1638-9, p. 306; 1639, pp. 94-5; M.D. Gordon, ‘Collection of Ship Money in the Reign of Chas. I’, TRHS (ser. 3), iv. 157.
  • 14. M.F. Keeler, Long Parl. 398.
  • 15. Radford, 135-7; PROB 11/185, ff. 278v-80; WARD 9/163, f. 114v.