BURGES, Thomas II (c.1579-1626), of Truro, Cornw.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press




Family and Education

b. c.1579,1 1st s. of Thomas Burges I* of Truro and Honor, da. of Humphrey Sydnam of Tregony, Cornw. m. 27 Nov. 1598, Elizabeth (bur. 18 June 1626), da. of Anthony Pye of St. Stephen in Brannel, Cornw., 12s. (4 d.v.p.) 7da. (3 d.v.p.). suc. fa. 1623. bur. 7 May 1626.2 sig. Tho[mas] Burges.

Offices Held

Burgess, Truro by 1619.3


Like his father Thomas, Burges was a Truro merchant. In the early seventeenth century the family seems primarily to have traded with France and Spain, exchanging Cornish fish for salt, iron and vinegar, but the precise extent of Burges’ activities cannot be determined because the port’s customs records do not distinguish between the older and younger man.4 Thomas senior apparently entrusted his affairs to his son while he attended Parliament in 1604, since in April that year the latter allegedly assaulted men who were attempting to repossess livestock sequestered by his father in lieu of a debt.5

In 1614 Burges was elected to represent Truro at Westminster. Since even six years later he was only a junior member of the borough’s corporation, he presumably relied on his father’s local standing to secure his place. No evidence survives of his participation in the Parliament’s proceedings, but he was entitled as a port town Member to attend legislative committees concerned with such issues as the export of iron ordnance (11 May), the repeal of a fish-packing patent (24 May) and extortions by customs officials (25 May).6 By 1620 Burges had acquired a measure of personal status in Truro, and signed documents in connection with the borough’s Ship Money dispute with Plymouth.7 However, he is not known to have contested Truro’s 1620 parliamentary election, even though his father acted as returning officer, and did not again obtain a seat in Parliament until 1624, by which time he was the head of his family. On this occasion at least he agreed to pay his own expenses. As before, he was not recorded as speaking in the Commons, but he did attend two meetings of the bill committee discussing customs officials’ fees in April.8

Although Burges described himself as a merchant throughout his life, he in fact converted much of his capital into property. Early in 1626 he was assessed for subsidy purposes at £6 in land, the highest such valuation in Truro, reflecting an estate which now included two manors, two half-manors and almost 2,000 acres. A significant proportion of this lay in or near his wife’s home parish of St. Stephen in Brannel, which suggests that the acquisition process dated from her marriage settlement in 1598.9 Burges drew up his will on 22 Apr. 1626, by which time he had entered his final illness. In providing for his exceptionally large family, he specified legacies totalling around £2,000 for his children alone, though his second son John was required to serve abroad as a soldier for three years before receiving his share of £250. Burges died two weeks later, and was buried at Truro church on 7 May. His wife possibly contracted the same disease, for she outlived him by barely a month.10

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Paul Hunneyball


  • 1. STAC 8/190/5.
  • 2. Vivian, Vis. Cornw. 64, 387; Reg. St. Mary’s, Truro (Devon and Cornw. Rec. Soc.) ed. S.E. Gay et al. 154, 247, 259, 261, 265-6; PROB 11/149, f. 274r-v.
  • 3. Vis. Cornw. (Harl. Soc. ix), 285.
  • 4. E190/1024/8; 190/1025/3-4, 13; 190/1026/7.
  • 5. STAC 8/190/5.
  • 6. Procs. 1614 (Commons), 202, 332, 339, 450.
  • 7. Cornw. RO, B/T 294/11, 24.
  • 8. Cornw. RO, EN2469(c), f. 5; HLRO, Lords main pprs., 20 May 1624.
  • 9. Harl. 6243, ff. 24v-25v; E179/89/306; C142/783/8.
  • 10. PROB 11/149, f. 274r-v.