BOYS, Thomas (1502/3-63), of Calais and Walmer, Kent.
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Family and Education
Dep. comptroller to Lord Edmund Howard, Calais 1538; yeoman of the guard by 1540-53 or later; gen.-receiver, Guisnes 13 June 1541; j.p. Kent 1542; capt. the Evangelist Jude 10 Aug. 1545; master of the ordnance in the north 1546; victualler, Calais 1546-7, mayor in 1548; capt. Deal castle, Kent 20 Feb. 1550-11 June 1555.4
Thomas Boys made his career as a soldier, administrator and municipal official at Calais. His choice by the deputy and council as one of the first two Members returned for the town under the Act (27 Hen. VIII, c.63) of 1536 is to be attributed to his connexions, and in particular to his marriage with Malyn Leigh, a daughter of Nicholas Leigh and niece of Sir Nicholas Carew. The marriage had probably been arranged at Calais, where Carew had been for several years lieutenant of the castle, but its significance for Boys’s election was that Carew, who since 1529 had been the fellow-knight for Surrey of Sir William Fitzwilliam, was almost certainly reelected with Fitzwilliam in 1536, as was Leigh for Bletchingley. Fitzwilliam had been the chief architect of the reorganization at Calais, and was the man most likely to have determined the choice of its Members, the second of whom, William Pryseley, had enjoyed his favour during his visit to Calais in the previous autumn. Less clearly to Boys’s advantage would have been his connexion with Sir Edward Ryngeley, whose sister married Boys’s eldest brother and who was to name Boys an executor, although Ryngeley’s difficulties with the deputy, Viscount Lisle, might have been offset by his standing with Cromwell. That Boys himself had access to Cromwell is shown by his ability to engage the minister’s attention during a sitting of the House.5
Boys’s re-election in 1539 may also have owed something to Fitzwilliam, who had much to do with the choice of Members of that Parliament, and it was evidently unaffected by Carew’s recent fall. While attending the first two sessions Boys was called upon to compile a descriptive list of the heresies which were abroad at Calais, which he finished before the end of the second in June; about the same time he testified against his fellow-Member Thomas Broke. He could have sat for Calais again in 1542, when the names of the Members are lost, but he did not do so in 1545, and thereafter he may have returned to England and so disqualified himself; his last known service at Calais was as mayor in 1548. From February 1550 he was captain of Deal castle, and when in June 1555 he surrendered his patent he was granted an annuity of £50 for his services over a quarter of a century, including those against the rebellions of the Duke of Northumberland and Sir Thomas Wyatt II. During Northumberland’s regime he had been granted the manor of Helston, Cornwall.6
Boys made his will on 21 Jan. 1563. He left the bulk of his property to his wife, whom he made sole executrix, and gave the remainder in his lands to his elder sons John and William, with the proviso that his interest in the manor of Wickhambreaux, Kent, should be sold to pay his debts and any surplus divided equally between his younger sons and daughters. Boys was buried, as he had asked to be, in St. Leonard’s, Deal, on 13 Feb. 1563.7
Ref Volumes: 1509-1558
Author: A. D.K. Hawkyard
- 1. LP Hen. VIII , xi. 34.
- 2. Ibid. xiv(1), 1042.
- 3. Aged 60 at death according to MI, Mill Stephenson, Mon. Brasses, 225. Vis. Kent (Harl. Soc. xlii), 39; Vis. Surr. (ibid. xliii), 13-14.
- 4. LP Hen. VIII, xiii, xvi, xvii, xxi; The Gen. n.s. xxx. 22; Soc. Antiq. (1790), 170; LC2/2, f. 38v; SP, i. 811; APC, i. 549; ii. 36-37; P. T. J. Morgan, ‘The govt. of Calais, 1485-1558’ (Oxf. Univ. D. Phil. thesis, 1966), 301, 312; CPR, 1554-5, pp. 73-74. According to his MI Boys was ‘two years together mayor’ of Calais.
- 5. LP Hen. VIII, x, xi; Morgan, 220.
- 6. LP Hen. VIII, xiv; CPR, 1554-5, pp. 73-74; 1563-6, pp. 13, 15.
- 7. Kent AO, PRC17/38/29; J. P. Parsons, Mons. in Kent (1794), 349.