EGERTON, Thomas (by 1521-90/97), of London.
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Family and Education
b. by 1521, 2nd s. of William Egerton of London and Wall Grange, Endon, Staffs. by da. of one Welbeck of London. m. c.1544, Anne, da. of one Langton of Herts., 6s. 2da. suc. bro. 1571.1
Under treasurer, Tower I mint 25 Mar. 1552-25 Dec. 1555; warden, Mercers’ Co. 1566-7, 1574-5; dep. gov., Russia Co. in 1572, 1575, 1587.2
Thomas Egerton came of a cadet branch of the Egertons of Wrinehill in Staffordshire which had settled in London. His father revived the connexion with Staffordshire by leasing Wall Grange in Endon from Trentham priory shortly before the Dissolution and by making it his final residence. A younger son, Egerton served his apprenticeship as a mercer and became a freeman of the Mercers’ Company in 1542. Of his progress during the next two years nothing has come to light, but as he was styled ‘the King’s servant’ when appointed under treasurer of the mint this did not mark his entry into crown service.3
Egerton’s tenure of office at the mint went some way towards repairing the debasement of the currency by producing better pieces. He and the ex-comptroller John Godsalve are credited with the design of the coins issued in September 1554 showing the ‘double face’ of Philip and Mary. In the previous March he had had his accounts audited and had received his discharge, but within two years he was dismissed and imprisoned in the Fleet on suspicion of defrauding the crown of more than £9,000: his plea that if he could buy silver at less than the price allowed he was entitled to the difference was not accepted. An unfavourable report by (Sir) Nicholas Hare and (Sir) Walter Mildmay on his employment of bullion received from the Netherlands was followed by consideration of how the deficit was to be made up. In July 1556 a commission reported that Egerton could pay just over £1,000; to help him to find the balance the Council allowed him to sell his house for £640 and released him on bond so that he could pursue his creditors, from whom he managed to raise a further £1,000 or more.4
Set against this background Egerton’s appearance in the Parliament of 1558 was clearly an attempt on his part, abetted by his family, to relieve his plight. If, as is likely, he was still out on bond when the election was held he could hope to invoke privilege against an order for his return to prison while at the same time keeping other creditors at bay. Unfortunately for Egerton, Parliament was prorogued after little more than six weeks, and in what looks like a punitive measure he was immediately recommitted to the Fleet. Unable to plead privilege when the House was no longer sitting, he enlisted the help of Speaker Cordell, who on 28 May 1558 was able to inform Treasurer Winchester that the Queen had agreed to Egerton’s release on bond for the purpose of further reducing his debt to her. He was thus probably again a free man when Parliament reassembled in the following November, although he may have thought it prudent not to attend. His name is omitted, with those of his fellow-Member Richard Hussey and of 15 others, from a copy of the list of Members, but whether this has any bearing on his position is not known.5
Although Egerton was to carry his burden of debt for the rest of his life, his commercial reputation was not affected. He held office in both the Mercers’ Company and the Russia Company, of which he was a founder-member, and he was appointed to commissions on trade and in 1575 to advise on the fineness of the coinage. He made his will on 10 May 1590, leaving a house in the parish of St. Pancras to the Mercers’ Company, and it was proved on 25 Apr. 1597.6
Ref Volumes: 1509-1558
Author: A. D.K. Hawkyard
- 1. Date of birth estimated from admission to Mercers’ Company. Vis. London (Harl. Soc. i), 17; (ibid. cix/x), 20; J.C. Wedgwood, Staffs. Parl. Hist. (Wm. Salt Arch. Soc.) i. 352.
- 2. Brit. Numismatic Jnl. xlv. 59; ‘List of mercers’ (T/S, Mercers’ Hall), unpaginated; J. Watney, St. Thomas of Acon, 194; T. S. Willan, Muscovy Merchants of 1555, pp. 16, 95.
- 3. Wedgwood, i. 352; E179/177/159; T. Pape, Newcastle-under-Lyme, 43; ‘List of mercers’, 158; CPR, 1550-3, p. 322.
- 4. Chron. Q. Jane and Q. Mary (Cam. Soc. xlviii), 82; J. Craig, The Mint, 113, 125; C. E. Challis, The Tudor Coinage, 11, 111-16; APC, iv. 96, 258, 340; v. 73, 210, 233, 300, 331; B. Winchester, Tudor Fam. Portrait, 296; W. C. Richardson, Ct. Augmentations, 203; CPR, 1554-5, pp. 229, 352; 1555-6, p. 23.
- 5. Challis, 114; SP12/146, no. 57; 46/8, f. 198, ex inf. Challis; Wm. Salt. Lib. SMS 264.
- 6. CPR, 1554-5, p. 56; 1569-72, pp. 353, 355; 1572-5, pp. 31-32 APC, viii. 160 ix. 43 CSP Dom. 1547-80, p. 697; Add. 1566-79, p. 429; Add. 1580-1625, p. 212 Challis, 137 PCC Tirwhite; Cal. Wills Ct. Hustings, ed. Sharpe, ii(2), 723.