THORNHILL, Hugh (by 1525-58), of Saundby, Notts.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

b. by 1525, yr. s. of Hugh Thornhill of Walkeringham by Joan. educ. I. Temple. m. (1) Elizabeth, wid. of William Mering of Saundby; (2) by May 1558, Elizabeth, da. of Anthony Staunton of Staunton, wid. of Roger North (d. 9 Apr. 1557) of Walkeringham, d.s.p.2

Offices Held

Steward’s auditor, I. Temple 1550, 1553, 1557, treasurer’s 1554, 1555, attendant on reader 1557, 1558.

Escheator, Notts. and Derbys. 1552-3; feodary, Notts. and Nottingham temp. Edw. VI and Mary; commr. sewers, north-east region 1555.3


A younger son in a family which had taken no part in the affairs of its shire, Hugh Thornhill inherited some of his father’s lands at Walkeringham and acquired some of William Mering’s at Clayworth, but the foundation of his prosperity was a successful career in the law. His entry to the Inner Temple has not been traced but by April 1546 he was sufficiently established there to stand pledge at another admission. In the same year he joined his brother in purchasing for £1,400 monastic lands in four counties, the bulk of them being properties in Nottinghamshire formerly belonging to Worksop priory and Darley abbey. In 1553 he paid the crown more than £450 for the capital messuage of Beckingham and lands and tithes of the prebend of Southwell then held by Roger North, whose widow he was to marry. By the time of his death Thornhill owned a string of properties in north Nottinghamshire between East Retford and Gainsborough.4

Thornhill’s election to the last two Marian Parliaments was probably a reflection of his professional standing and in particular his connexion with the 2nd Earl of Rutland. By 1555 the borough of Nottingham had accustomed itself to the election of nominees, and the choice of Thornhill may have owed as much to the earl’s influence as to his own legal services to the town, especially as his fellow-Member, John Bateman, was Rutland’s secretary. His election as knight of the shire in the next Parliament was doubtless also to the earl’s satisfaction as well as being acceptable to the local gentlemen, with a number of whom Thornhill evidently stood well; one of them, (Sir) John Hercy, he named supervisor of his will. Of his part in the proceedings of the Commons all that is known is that he was not listed among the Members who opposed one of the government’s bills in 1555.5

The date of Thornhill’s will, 24 Oct. 1557, suggests that it was made under the shadow of the disease then widespread. If so, its premonition was to be fulfilled, for Thornhill died in the following year, although on what date and whether in Nottinghamshire or London is not known; the addition of ‘mortuus’ to his name on a copy of the official list of Members seemingly made for the second session may indicate that he died during the prorogation, that is, between March and November. He had asked to be buried at Saundby and had made bequests both to that church and to the vicar of Beckingham. With no child of his own, he made his cousin William Thornhill his chief legatee while also providing for his niece Dorothy and for his Mering stepchildren; his ‘abridgements and a book of entries’ he left to the Inner Temple library. The will was proved on 18 Apr. 1559.6

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: C. J. Black


  • 1. Did not serve for the full duration of the Parliament.
  • 2. Date of birth estimated from first reference. Torre ms, Walkeringham church 17; E150/765/15; Thoroton, Notts. ed. Throsby, i. 309; iii. 326; CPR, 1557-8, pp. 362-3.
  • 3. C. J. Black, ‘Admin. and parlty. rep. Notts. and Derbys. 1529-58’ (London Univ. Ph.D. thesis, 1966), 184, 451; CPR, 1554-5, p. 110.
  • 4. E150/765/15; Cal. I.T. Recs. i. 139; LP Hen. VIII, xxi; CPR, 1553, p. 194; C1/1272/20-21.
  • 5. Nottingham Bor. Recs. iv. 397; HMC Rutland, i. 67; N. Country Wills, ii (Surtees Soc. cxxi), 2-3.
  • 6. N. Country Wills, ii. 2-3; Wm. Salt Lib. SMS 264.