FROWYK, Thomas (d.1449), of South Mimms, Mdx.
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Family and Education
e. s. of Henry Frowyk† (d.1386) of South Mimms, esquire, by Alice Cornwall (d.1416). m. by 1416, Elizabeth (d.1455), da. and h. of William Ashe (d.1411) of Weld, Herts. by his w. Margery Somersham, 19 ch. inc. Sir Henry†.1
Commr. of array, Mdx. May 1418; to raise a crown loan Nov. 1419, July 1426, May 1428; of inquiry July, Oct. 1420, Apr. 1431 (persons liable for taxation); to arrest malefactors June 1428; of oyer and terminer Jan. 1430 (treasons and felonies); kiddles, Mdx., Bucks. Aug. 1433, Essex, Herts., Mdx. Oct. 1436; to distribute a tax allowance, Mdx. Jan. 1436.
J.p. Mdx. 14 Nov. 1418-d.
From the 13th century onwards, if not before, members of the Frowyk family were prominent as London merchants and Middlesex landowners. With a father and grandfather who had both represented the county in Parliament, it was inevitable that Thomas Frowyk would be called upon to play his part in local government, although he clearly lacked the driving ambition which made his younger brother, Henry†, such an important figure in the City.2 A minor at the time of his father’s death in 1386, Thomas eventually succeeded to an estate in and around South Mimms, where he spent the rest of his life. His marriage to Elizabeth, the grand daughter and eventually sole heir of John Somersham, took place before 1416, when the Hertfordshire manors of Sherlands, Winridge and Weld in Oakhurst, which formed her inheritance, had passed into their joint possession. From his mother, Alice Cornwall, who also died in 1416, Frowyk inherited the manor of Willesden in Middlesex, but he was too fond of the pleasures of the chase to keep on his father’s residence in the City, and appears to have sold off most of his interests there at an early date. We do not know when he acquired the manor of Brockham in Surrey, but it was probably in his hands by 1436, at which time his total landed income was assessed at £90 a year, or more.3
Frowyk appears to have been fairly inactive until May 1418, when he was appointed to his first royal commission. His close connexion with (Sir) Thomas Charlton*, the son of his mother’s second marriage, was already well established, however, and the two men remained on intimate terms for the rest of their lives, sitting together for Middlesex in the Parliaments of 1422 and 1427, as well as becoming involved in each other’s property transactions. Frowyk was often made a feoffee-to-uses by his brother, Henry, who invested a substantial proportion of his commercial profits in land: both of them also acted in the same capacity—many times with their half-brother, Charlton—for friends and neighbours, including William Waldern*, John Durham* and Richard, Lord Strange.4 Once, in about 1425, Frowyk faced an action in the court of Chancery for refusing to release his title to the manor of Yelling, which had been settled upon him by Thomas Hotoft as a feoffee-to-uses. He was at this time attempting to arbitrate in a similar dispute between members of the Lorchyn family, but on the whole he managed to avoid arguments over property.5
Frowyk’s career followed a conventional pattern: he sat for over 30 years on the Middlesex bench, and served on a creditable, if not unduly impressive, number of local commissions. Five times a shire knight for his county, and a regular attender at the Middlesex parliamentary elections (he was present on at least ten occasions between 1420 and 1442 to see others returned to the Commons), he was, none the less, a man of somewhat circumscribed political interests.6 The bequest of ‘my best courser’ made to him by his kinsman, John Durham, in 1420, and the eloquent testimony to his prowess as a huntsman contained in his epitaph, show him to have been a country gentleman remarkably like Chaucer’s franklin in tastes and character. If the verses allegedly composed by John Whethamstead, abbot of St. Albans, for his friend’s tomb are to be believed, Frowyk also shared his literary counterpart’s generous and hospitable disposition, being one of the county’s richest and best-respected landowners. His connexion with Whethamstead was no doubt already established by the summer of 1431, when he and other prominent local figures met the abbot and the bishop of Ely at Hertford during the aftermath of a lollard rising, ‘precepto regis in prioratu congregati pro sessione contra Lollardos et mutuo pecuniae’.7 At some point over the next three years Frowyk began a suit at common law for the recovery of £20 owed to him by a Hertfordshire man, who, after repeated evasions, was pardoned his outlawry for failing to appear in court. Understandably, in view of his status, Frowyk was among the Middlesex gentry ordered, in May 1434, to take oaths that they would not help persons disturbing the peace. He was again approached by officers of the Crown in February 1436, this time with a request for a contribution of 100 marks towards the war-effort.8
Despite his reputation as a moderate, peace-loving man, Frowyk was prepared to come to the assistance of his half-brother, Sir Thomas Charlton, who, in 1438, became involved in a dispute with Ralph, Lord Cromwell, over the enclosure of common land in the manor of Edmonton. In August of that year Frowyk and his neighbours assembled there in force to defend the rights which had been lost, but which, thanks to Cromwell’s conciliatory behaviour, they were soon able to regain. Frowyk was probably quite old by October 1439, the date of his first will, although he lived on for another ten years, during which he endowed a chantry chapel at the church of South Mimms with property from his estates.9 He and Abbot Whethamstead were still on close terms, for when the latter became involved in a disagreement with his successor soon after retiring in November 1440, he called upon his old friend to stand surety in £1,000 on his behalf. Frowyk added an extensive codicil to his will in March 1442, and two years later he was exempted for life by the Crown for serving on juries or holding any royal office. He none the less continued to act as a j.p. until his death, which, according to his memorial brass, occurred on 17 Feb. 1449. He was there depicted as having had 19 children, only four of whom evidently survived to adulthood. His eldest son and heir, Sir Henry, married Joan, the daughter of Sir Thomas Lewknor†, and was himself returned as a shire knight for Middlesex. Frowyk predeceased his wife, who died in 1455 and was buried beside him in the family chapel at South Mimms.10
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
- 1. F.C. Cass, South Mimms, 70-85; VCH Herts. ii. 155, 270.
- 2. Cass, 70-85; see also S.L. Thrupp, Merchant Class Med. London, 342-4 for an outline of the Frowyk genealogy.
- 3. PCC 13 Rous; VCH Herts. ii. 155, 270; Cass, 70-85; EHR, xlix. 638; Arch. Jnl. xliv. 74.
- 4. C143/448/26; CP25(1)152/89/40, 90/55, 66, 91/92, 98; CPR, 1422-9, p. 534; Corporation of London RO, hr 144/42, 154/3, 5, 71, 156/19, 33, 163/46, 166/24-25, 168/18-19, 178/1; Cart. St. Bartholomew’s Hosp. ed. Kerling, 1134-5, 1138-42; CCR, 1422-9, pp. 56, 58, 382, 389, 400, 438; 1429-35, pp. 124, 126-7; 1435-41, pp. 254, 273; 1447-54, p. 301.
- 5. C1/26/368; CCR, 1422-9, p. 209.
- 6. C219/12/4-6, 13/2-4, 14/1-2, 15/1-2 (in Dec. 1421 and 1429 he went surety, with his half-brother, Sir Thomas Charlton, for the shire knights elected).
- 7. Cass, 70-85; J. Amundesham, Chron. S. Albani ed. Riley, i. 64.
- 8. CPR, 1429-36, pp. 318 408; PPC, iv. 329.
- 9. Edmonton Hundred Hist. Soc. n.s. xxvii. 12; C143/450/30; VCH Mdx. v. 299; PCC 13 Rous.
- 10. Amundesham, ii. 279-80; CPR, 1441-6, p. 272; Cass, 75-80; HP, ed. Wedgwood 1439-1509, Biogs. 357-8.