WEST, Thomas III (1577-1618), of Wherwell, Hants.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

b. 9 July 1577, 2nd but 1st surv. s. of Thomas West II, and bro. of Robert educ. Queen’s Oxf. 1592; travelled abroad 1596-7. m. 25 Nov. 1602, Cecily, da. of Thomas Shirley I of Wiston, 9ch. prob. 3s. Kntd. 1599; suc. fa. as 3rd Baron Delaware 1602.

Offices Held

Gov. and capt. gen. Virginia 1610.


West’s family had been friendly with the Shirleys of Wiston for many years. Sir Thomas Shirley, his father-in-law, had been a sponsor at his baptism and it was with one of Shirley’s sons that West travelled to Italy after coming down from Oxford. Their expenses exceeded £1,600. West was back in England in time for the 1597 Parliament, a seat being found for him at Lymington, probably through the good offices of Sir Henry Wallop. There is nothing to suggest that he was other than a passive Member of the House. In 1599 he followed the Earl of Essex to Ireland, distinguishing himself in action near Arklow, and being knighted by Essex at Dublin. He adhered to Essex even during the revolt of 1601 and was imprisoned in the Wood Street counter. He was lucky to be granted the liberty of the prison before the end of February, and to be sent to his father’s house a month later on giving a bond of £2,000. On 28 Apr. and again in the following month he appeared before the Privy Council: he was fined 1,000 marks, but escaped indictment.

Within a year of his release he succeeded to his father’s title and to estates in Sussex and Hampshire. There was some difficulty about his entering into possession, and in May 1602 Sir Thomas Shirley petitioned Cecil that the Queen would grant West ‘those things which his father enjoyed ... for the young gentleman is left in a most broken estate’. In 1604 he complained that

through the improvidence of his ancestors he [was] left heir to a bare title, spoiled of all means to maintain the honour of the nobility.

In a letter to Cecil he described himself as ‘the poorest baron of this kingdom’. So he went to Virginia. As the first governor of the reconstituted colony he arrived at Jamestown in July 1609, the expedition being just in time to save the colonists from starvation. It was while on another voyage to Virginia that West died at sea 7 June 1618. Administration of his property was granted on 1 July 1620 to his widow. His eldest son, Henry, aged 14, succeeded.

CP; DNB; W. Berry, Co. Genealogies, Hants, 202-3; HMC Hatfield, v. 227; xvi. 71, 343, 379; PRO Index 6800, f. 527; CSP Dom. 1595-7, p. 326; Cal. Carew Pprs. iii. 311; APC, xxxi. 160, 188, 261, 314, 484; Folger mss 2007 i. p. 7; CSP Col. i. 10, 11, 16, 18, 19.

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: R.C.G.