CLINTON, alias FIENNES, Thomas, of Warley, Essex and Horbling, Lincs.
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Family and Education
Gent. pens. by 1568; capt. in Ireland 1581-2.2
This Member presumably owed his seat at St. Ives to his relative by marriage, Lord Mountjoy, joint owner of the borough. Little has been ascertained about him. In a letter to Robert Cecil, written about 1600, he claimed that his father had settled lands worth £900 on him and his wife at their marriage, but no confirmation of this has been found. The conveyance was probably one of those to trustees, mentioned in the Earl of Lincoln’s inquisition post mortem; his will gave Thomas only a £50 annuity from property in Lincolnshire.3
Clinton apparently held no local office either in Lincolnshire or in Essex, where his wife brought him the manor of Warley and other lands. As a gentleman pensioner he presumably spent much of his time in London, but his exclusion from county administration was probably because he became heavily involved in lawsuits with his elder brother Henry, and was often in serious financial difficulties. Thomas claimed that Henry had defrauded him by declaring their father’s conveyance of land to the younger son illegal, owing to a former entail, and that he had deprived Thomas’s wife of the profit of the Tyrell inheritance. The younger Clinton was certainly heavily in debt by 1579, when Sir William Cordell, master of the rolls, paid more than £430 to his creditors. In 1581, possibly to help his finances, Clinton went to Ireland: the Privy Council asked the lord deputy to employ him, ‘so as he may have no occasion to mislike of his going thither’. However, he did not stay abroad long, being one of the ‘captains wholly discharged’ in July 1582.4
By July 1590 Clinton was on chronically bad terms with his wife, who thought she was ‘in danger of her life’. Though she had ‘brought a good portion of inheritance with her in marriage’, now that they were separated her husband was refusing her any maintenance. It seems probable that Clinton himself, and not his brother, had been responsible for alienating many of the Tyrell lands through sales and mortgages. In any case, by this time little was left, and the Council could only order the captain of the pensioners to see that Mary Clinton received £30 a year out of her husband’s wages. This did not finally settle the dispute: early in 1598 there was another charge against Clinton of trying to take away the Tyrell inheritance. He asserted that he had been setting aside £50 a year for his wife (with whom he may by this time have become officially reconciled), and once more blamed his brother Henry, by now the 2nd Earl of Lincoln, for the whole trouble.5
No will or inquisition post mortem has been found for Clinton, but he must have died by 1613 or the following year. About this time, according to a later Chancery case, his son and heir Francis Fiennes sold Horbling and other lands to the Earl of Lincoln, to whose house he had come in ‘very mean and poor estate’. Francis himself was now in debt, his position being further undermined by a rumour that he had been born to Mary Tyrell before her marriage, and so was not Thomas Clinton’s legal heir.6
Ref Volumes: 1558-1603
Author: N. M. Fuidge
- 1. CP, vii. 692; C142/211/184; Wards 7/21/223; Vis. Essex (Harl. Soc. xiii), 115; C21/G20/7.
- 2. E407/1/4; CSP Ire. 1574-85, pp. 389-90; APC, xix. 114.
- 3. Hatfield, CP 250, f. 89; C142/209/34 (1); PCC 26 Brudenell.
- 4. Hatfield, CP 250, f. 89; HMC Hatfield, ii. 287; APC, xix. 114; CSP Ire. loc. cit.
- 5. APC, xix. 291, 313, 437; xxiv. 35; HMC Hatfield, ii. 287.
- 6. C21/G20/7; A. R. Craik, Annals of our Ancestors, 11.