WROUGHTON, Thomas (c.1540-97), of Broad Hinton, Wilts.

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. c.1540, 1st s. of Sir William Wroughton by his 2nd w. Eleanor, and bro. of James. m. Anne, da. and coh. of John Berwick of Wilcot, 4s. 3 or 4 da. suc.fa. 1559. Kntd.1574.1

Offices Held

J.p. Wilts. from c.1574, q. by 1576, sheriff 1576-7, capt. of levies 1588, col. by 1596.2


Of a family established at Broad Hinton since the mid-fourteenth century, Wroughton’s father twice achieved knight of the shire status, but although short-listed thrice for the office, he was never sheriff. Wroughton himself was returned to Parliament only once, for the small borough of Heytesbury, and his brother James was, so far as is known, the last of the family to sit in Parliament.

Before the general election of 1571, Hugh Hawker, the owner of the borough of Heytesbury wrote to Sir John Thynne:3

I promised you the nomination of one of the burgesses of Heytesbury ... and when I know whom you will appoint, I then mind to return the same.

In the event Thynne suggested Wroughton, his brother-in-law.

At his father’s death, Thomas Wroughton was aged 19, and his wardship was granted to John Berwick, who became his father-in-law. In addition to the manor of Broad Hinton near Swindon, Wroughton owned property at Beversbrook, a short distance from Calne, and a manor house at Kennett, five miles south-west of Marlborough and close to his wife’s lands in Wilcot and Stowell. He also inherited the manor of Bawdrip, Somerset. In 1573 he and Sir Giles Poole and his wife conveyed Broad Hinton for £700 to Henry Poole and John Polwell, but the property was entailed, and remained in Wroughton’s possession until he died: the transaction was probably a mortgage. The Somerset property caused litigation in the Star Chamber about 1577 over one Humphrey Willis, whom Wroughton had presented to the living at Bawdrip, and who in turn had appointed an ‘heretical and idolatrous’ curate at a salary of 20 marks. Nevertheless, most of the information about Wroughton shows him going about his official duties in Wiltshire, where from 1574 he attended quarter sessions regularly. In 1576 he was a subsidy commissioner, his own assessment being on £20 in lands. Though in general a satisfactory official, he was censured in 1596 for negligence in connexion with the local levies. Although he was one of the four colonels responsible for sending a detachment to the Isle of Wight, he had remained in London during the preparations, appointing no ‘sufficient lieutenant’, and his band, instead of reporting with the others at Salisbury, ‘went confusedly the nearest way to Southampton’.4

Wroughton was fond of hunting, and like other Wiltshire gentlemen was not too particular about the forest boundaries. The Earl of Hertford, warden of Savernake, wrote to Sir John Thynne in 1567 about ‘great abuses committed by your brother Wroughton in and about my forest’. William Darrell complained to the Wiltshire justices (September 1588) that the servants of ‘Mr. Wroughton’, possibly one of Sir Thomas’s sons, had attacked him, and that Wroughton himself was violent. A letter from Sir Francis Walsingham about the matter advised Darrell to ‘stay all proceedings against Sir Thomas Wroughton’s men, for that I am in hope to end all controversy between you’. It is unlikely that, considering Darrell’s own reputation, authority treated his charges seriously. However, Wroughton may have been partly to blame: at least one of his tenants sued him in Chancery for high-handed and illegal actions.5

He died 4 June 1597 and was buried at Broad Hinton, where the parish church contains a monument to him. His will, drawn up in May 1597, was not proved until nearly a year after his death. The bequests, which were mainly to relatives and servants, were in some cases considerable: one daughter, Mary, was to have £900. The will mentioned two married daughters, one of them ‘my sweet and well-beloved daughter, the Lady Unton’ (Dorothy, wife of Henry Unton), and four sons. Wroughton asked the executors, his widow and their son Giles, to make arrangements for the disposal of goods, including several satin suits and other clothing which he had left in London. Sir Henry Knyvet, Wroughton’s brother George and his brother-in-law Sir Henry Poole were to act as overseers. The heir, William, was 36 at his father’s death.6

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: N. M. Fuidge


  • 1. Wards 7/102/169; Wilts. Vis. Peds. (Harl. Soc. cv, cvi), 219.
  • 2. Harl. 168, ff. 166-9; Lansd. 63, f. 179; HMC Foljambe, 38; HMC Hatfield, vi. 506.
  • 3. Bath mss, Thynne pprs. 3, f. 252.
  • 4. CPR , 1560-3. p. 23; C142/249/81; Wards 7/102/169; Wilts. N. and Q. vii. 412; St. Ch. 5/W1/33; APC , ix. 157; Mins. Proc. Sess. (Wilts. Arch. Soc. recs. br. iv), passim; Two Taxation Lists (same ser. x), 78, 87; Lansd. 63, f. 179; HMC Hatfield , vi. 506.
  • 5. Wilts. Arch. Mag. vi. 209-10; liii. 199; C3/230/18, 252/72.
  • 6. Aubrey Topog. Colls. (Wilts. Arch. and Nat. Hist. Soc.), 336; C142/249/81; PCC 36 Lewyn.