WOLRYCHE (WOOLRIDGE), Thomas (1598-1668), of Dudmaston, Salop.
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Family and Education
b. 3 Mar. 1598, 1st s. of Francis Wolryche of Dudmaston and Margaret, da. of Sir George Bromley† of the I. Temple and Hallon, Worfield, Salop.1 educ. Trin. Camb. 1614; I. Temple 1615.2 m. 4 May 1625, Ursula, da. of Thomas Otley† of Pitchford, Salop, 7s. (2 d.v.p.) 2da. suc. fa. 1614;3 kntd. 22 July 1641;4 cr. bt. 4 Aug. 1641. d. 4 July 1668.5 sig. Tho[mas] Wolryche.
Freeman, Shrewsbury, Salop 1615, Wenlock 1621;6 commr. Forced Loan, Salop 1627, subsidy 1628-9, 1641;7 j.p. Salop by 1629-42; capt. militia ft., Salop by 1637-at least 1642;8 commr. Poll Tax, Salop 1641, Irish Aid 1642, assessment 1642, oyer and terminer, Oxf. circ. 1642;9 dep. lt., Salop by 1642, commr. array 1642;10 gov. Bridgnorth, Salop 1642-4;11 commr. association (roy.), Salop 1645, corporations, Salop 1662.12
The Wolryche family acquired an 800-acre estate at Dudmaston by marriage at the beginning of the fifteenth century, and provided an MP for Bridgnorth, three miles to the north, in 1435. By the end of Elizabeth’s reign they owned 4,500 acres, chiefly in south-eastern Shropshire but including the manor of Wroxeter near Shrewsbury. The family’s elevation to county status was sealed by a match between Francis Wolryche and a niece of the late lord chancellor, Sir Thomas Bromley†, in 1597.13
Orphaned in 1614 at the age of 16, Wolryche’s wardship was bought by his mother and her brother, the Exchequer baron Sir Edward Bromley*, who secured his admission to the Inner Temple in the following year. Under the terms of his father’s will, Wolryche’s uncles Bromley and Roger Puleston* were made trustees of his estates to pay off his father’s debts, being empowered to retain possession of the lands until Wolryche turned 30 if the debts could not be cleared earlier. The most intractable of these liabilities was a mortgage upon the estates of Wolryche’s recusant cousins, the Gatacres. Francis Wolryche had guaranteed their debts of £1,740 in 1611, and was granted possession of the 1,400-acre manor of Hughley under a mortgage as security for his undertaking. In 1623 Thomas Wolryche and Bromley undertook to clear this debt in return for the freehold of the manor, an offer which was apparently accepted.14
The acquisition of Hughley brought Wolryche not only a useful estate, but also an opportunity to participate in the politics of the nearby borough of Wenlock, where Bromley served as recorder from 1607. The parliamentary interest was shared between the landed families of the ex-monastic liberty: in 1614 the borough had returned Rowland Lacon as one of its MPs on the strength of his father’s ownership of the manor of Willey; but the family’s sale of this estate in 1618 left room for a fresh interest at the next election in January 1621. It was presumably Bromley who capitalized upon his position as recorder to push the interests of his nephew, who was made a freeman on the same day as his election.15 As a young man elected as a foil for his uncle’s ambitions, Wolryche was probably never expected to achieve much within the Commons, and he appeared in the Journal for his three parliaments only as a nominee to a handful of bill committees, none of which had any particular significance for him or his constituents. Somewhat curiously, he attended one of the committee meetings for a bill to confirm the title of Prees manor in Lancashire to Robert Wolverston*, although he had not been nominated to the committee and had no known interest in the measure.16
Wolryche’s parliamentary service ended in 1626, when he was replaced by another local man, Francis Smalman II. This return was signed by the usual mixture of gentry and townsmen, and there is no obvious evidence of a contest, which suggests that Bromley, who died only six months later, simply chose not to renew his nephew’s nomination. Wolryche made his last appearance in the borough records only a few months later, at the election of Bromley’s successor, and it is unlikely that he subsequently applied to the corporation for a parliamentary seat.17 Over the next decade he served as a Shropshire magistrate and was involved in a few minor disputes over common rights, and in 1632 lord president Bridgwater (John Egerton†), valuing his estates at £1,200 a year, recommended he be considered for the shrievalty of Shropshire. Fortunately for him, he was not appointed, thus escaping the onerous responsibility of collecting Ship Money.18
By the time of the Civil War Wolryche had some military experience as captain of the county militia company based in the Bridgnorth area. He was thus an obvious choice as a commissioner of array, and served on the grand jury which drafted a loyal address to the king at the summer assizes of 1642.19 He was probably nominated as governor of Bridgnorth by his brother-in-law Sir Francis Ottley (then governor of Shrewsbury), an appointment which probably persuaded him to draft a will on 21 Dec. 1642. Except for one brief excursion to the north of the county in support of an attack on Lichfield in March 1643, Wolryche apparently remained in post until replaced by Sir Lewis Kirke about a year later.20 The royalist war effort in Shropshire began to disintegrate after Naseby, but Wolryche was still active in August 1645, and although not present at the fall of Bridgnorth in April 1646, he probably surrendered only shortly before. His petition for composition was supported by William Pierrepont, Wenlock’s parliamentarian MP, and thus, to the annoyance of the county committee, he was fined only £730, a tenth of the assessed value of his estate.21
In his final will of 12 May 1657, Wolryche assigned his estates to Pierrepont and his third son, William, to pay off his debts, assigned life annuities to his six younger sons and portions of 1,000 marks each to his two daughters. A codicil of 2 Feb. 1663 reassigned the trust for payment of his debts to his wife and two of his younger sons, but while these meticulous preparations suggest ill health, he did not actually die until 4 July 1668. Having been predeceased by his eldest son, a lunatic, he chose to settle his estates upon his fifth son John, who secured a private Act of Parliament confirming his inheritance in 1673, and was later to sit for Wenlock in the second and third Exclusion parliaments.22
Ref Volumes: 1604-1629
Author: Simon Healy
- 1. C142/345/135; Vis. Salop (Harl. soc. xxix), 509-10.
- 2. Al. Cant.; I. Temple Admiss.
- 3. Pitchford (Salop par. reg. soc.), 12; C142/345/135.
- 4. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 210.
- 5. CB.
- 6. Salop RO, 6001/290, unfol.; Trans. Salop Arch. Soc. (ser. 2), vi. 275.
- 7. C193/12/2; E179/167/192, 201, 205; SR, v. 65.
- 8. HEHL, EL7443.
- 9. SR, v. 88, 107, 141, 155; C181/5, p. 218.
- 10. HEHL, EL7443; Northants. RO, FH133.
- 11. Trans. Salop Arch. Soc. vi. 63; viii. 247; Diary of Richard Symonds ed. C.E. Long (Cam. Soc. lxxiv), 248.
- 12. Trans. Salop Arch. Soc. (ser. 2), viii. 285-6; Bodl., ms Ch. Salop 146.
- 13. Vis. Salop, 509; C142/345/135.
- 14. WARD 9/162, f. 188; CITR, ii. 91; PROB 11/125, f. 110v; C3/389/9.
- 15. VCH Salop, x. 203-5, 450; Trans. Salop Arch. Soc. (ser. 2), vi. 275.
- 16. CJ, i. 568b, 583a, 766a, 778b; C.R. Kyle, ‘Attendance Lists’, PPE 1604-48 ed. Kyle, 207.
- 17. C219/40/228; Trans. Salop Arch. Soc. vi. 277.
- 18. CSP Dom. 1637, p. 386; C2/Chas.I/L46/42; HEHL, EL7114.
- 19. HEHL, EL7443; Northants RO, FH133; Trans. Salop Arch. Soc. (ser. 2), vii. 241-4.
- 20. Trans. Salop Arch. Soc. (ser. 2), vi. 63, 74-5; vii. 276, 329, 348; viii. 247; PROB 11/382, f. 287.
- 21. Trans. Salop Arch. Soc. (ser. 2), viii. 285-6, 302-4; CCC, 200; 1261-2; CSP Dom. 1658-9, p. 203.
- 22. PROB 11/382, f. 287; HMC 9th Rep. pt. 2, p. 20.