GERRARD, Sir Thomas, 2nd Bt. (c.1584-1630), of Bryn, Lancs.

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.1584,1 1st s. of Thomas Gerrard, 1st bt.* of Bryn, Lancs., and Cecily, da. of Sir Walter Manney of Staplehurst, Kent.2 m. (1) 1610 (with £1,500)3 Frances (d. c.1626), da. of Sir Richard Molyneux I* of Sefton, Lancs., 7s. (1 d.v.p.) 3da. (2 d.v.p.);4 (2) Dorothy, da. of one Moore, wid. of John Petre (d. Jan. 1623) of Handfield Hall, West Hanningfield, Essex, s.p.5 suc. fa. as 2nd bt. 16 Feb. 1621.6 d. 15 May 1630.7 sig. Tho[mas] Gerard(e).

Offices Held

Freeman, Liverpool, Lancs. 1620,8 Preston, Lancs. by 1622;9 commr. subsidy, Lancs. 1621-2;10 capt. militia ft., Lancs. 1624.11


Raised in a notoriously crypto-Catholic household, in 1610 Gerrard wed the daughter of Sir Richard Molyneux I, but gained nothing of the £1,500 marriage portion, which went instead towards paying off his father’s debts.12 By 1621, when the elder Gerrard died, these debts amounted to at least £7,000, and because of the way his estates had been entailed Gerrard, as he later claimed, ‘was left only tenant for life’.13 Disputes arising from his father’s debts dogged Gerrard throughout the 1620s, and were eventually referred to the Privy Council.14

The need for protection from creditors may have induced Gerrard to seek election to the Parliament of 1624. He was probably recommended to Liverpool corporation by his brother-in-law, Sir Richard Molyneux II*, the lord of the manor of Liverpool. He may also have secured the support of the chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster, Sir Humphrey May*, who subsequently defended Liverpool’s decision to elect him.15 Although Gerrard travelled to London, he did not take his seat when the session began. By 4 Mar. complaint was raised in the House that he ‘would neither swear nor receive [communion], being an obstinate recusant’, and he was summoned to take the oath.16 He responded on 8 Mar. by submitting a petition ‘showing he was chosen against his will’, and requesting to be discharged on grounds of ill health.17 At a time of heightened anti-popish feeling occasioned by hostility to the Spanish Match, this answer inflamed an already indignant Commons.18 William Mallory moved that Liverpool ‘might be fined for choosing such a man’, and Sir Robert Phelips declared that Gerrard should be ‘branded with infamy and incur a praemunire’.19 A search of Exchequer records to establish whether he had been convicted for recusancy produced no firm evidence against him, and May therefore argued that Liverpool ‘cannot take notice of his religion, and some of his near friends think he is yet to choose his religion’.20 Although Gerrard continued to evade the serjeant-at-arms, his servants and horses were arrested at a Holborn tavern, and rumours abounded that he himself was at Gray’s Inn (10 Mar.), Whitehall (12 Mar.), or the Spanish ambassador’s residence (13 March).21 Amid heated debates about how Gerrard should be censured, Sir William Bulstrode suggested that the king should be petitioned for a Proclamation; others wished him to be exempted from the general pardon, and Sir Henry Poole called for him to be committed to the Tower.22 A bill was drawn up, but eventually, on 16 Apr., it was rejected on the grounds that Gerrard could not be condemned unheard.23 He therefore escaped any punishment; nevertheless, his name appeared on a list of recusant officeholders circulated in May 1624, in which he was ‘certified to be captain of a company of the freehold band in Lancashire, and suspected to be a popish recusant’.24

More serious trouble followed a year later. On 2 Oct. 1625 the Council received information from the bishop of Chester that Gerrard had ‘sworn the death of the king’ and threatened two of the county’s magistrates, Sir Ralph Assheton and Thomas Standish*.25 Gerrard was consequently thrown into the Tower; however, the case against him collapsed after Assheton testified that he regarded Gerrard’s words ‘but as idle speeches uttered by Sir Thomas in his cups, when he knew not what he spake’, and Standish dismissed the alleged treasons as ‘spoken in jest’.26 Gerrard’s wife died during his imprisonment, which lasted 37 weeks. Upon his release he petitioned the king, the Council and the duke of Buckingham for protection against his creditors, and even requested to be permitted to remain within the Tower.27 His connection with Buckingham, who had procured a patent of tobacco pipes for his father, and offered to lend him money, may have helped him to obtain royal protection, which was granted in 1627 and extended in 1628.28 Further lawsuits compounded Gerrard’s difficulties, and the family’s financial straits remained unresolved until long after his death.29

In November 1629, Gerrard and his second wife, Dorothy, sister-in-law of the known recusant William, Lord Petre†, went on pilgrimage to St. Winifred’s Well, Flintshire, a notorious place of Catholic devotion that the Council had tried to suppress.30 Gerrard died intestate on 15 May 1630 and was buried at Wynwick. As a Crown debtor his estate was subject to a special Exchequer inquisition.31 His heir, Sir William Gerrard, a royalist, was governor of Denbigh Castle during the Civil War, while his only surviving daughter, Frances, became a nun at Gravelines.32

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Rosemary Sgroi


  • 1. DL7/24/77; STAC 8/122/15.
  • 2. J. Foster, Lancs. Peds.
  • 3. C2/Chas.I/G19/31.
  • 4. Lancs. and Cheshire Fun. Certs. 1600-78 ed. J.P. Rylands (Lancs. and Cheshire Rec. Soc. vi), 203.
  • 5. Vis. Essex ed. Howard, 71; Catholic Fams. of Eng. ed. J.J Howard and H.F. Burke, i. pt. 2.
  • 6. CB, i. 21-2.
  • 7. DL7/26/57.
  • 8. G. Chandler, Liverpool Under Jas. I, 241.
  • 9. Preston Guild Rolls ed. W.A. Abram (Lancs. and Cheshire Rec. Soc. ix), 76.
  • 10. C212/22/20, 21.
  • 11. LJ, iii. 395a.
  • 12. C2/Chas.I/G19/31.
  • 13. Lancs. IPMs, ed. J.P. Rylands (Lancs. and Cheshire Rec. Soc. xvii) 297-301; APC, 1627, p. 68.
  • 14. STAC 8/122/15; CSP Dom. 1623-5, pp. 303, 324, 327, 328; 1627-8, p. 590; APC, 1627, pp. 68, 406; 1627-8, pp. 308, 345.
  • 15. Chandler, 29-30.
  • 16. Holles 1624, p. 18.
  • 17. Ibid. 25; ‘Earle 1624’, f. 56v; Ferrar 1624, p. 66.
  • 18. History Today, Aug. 2004, p. 60.
  • 19. CJ, i. 679a; ‘Nicholas 1624’, ff. 56r-v, 62r-v.
  • 20. ‘Holland 1624’, i. f. 50v; ‘Nicholas 1624’, f. 62r-v, 76v.
  • 21. CJ, i. 681a, 735b, ‘Pym 1624’, i. f. 31r-v.
  • 22. ‘Nicholas 1624’, ff. 77, 88; ‘Pym 1624’, i. f. 28v; Holles 1624, pp. 34, 60; ‘Holland 1624’, i. f. 78v; ‘Lowther 1624’, f. 48v.
  • 23. CJ, i. 768a.
  • 24. ‘Earle 1624’, ff. 163v, 180v; LJ, iii. 395a.
  • 25. CSP Dom. 1625-6, pp. 115, 122, 145, 161; APC, 1625-6, p. 205; T. Birch, Ct. and Times of Chas. I, i. 58; Harl. 1580, f. 201v; Lancs. RO, QSC5.
  • 26. CSP Dom. 1625-6, p. 173.
  • 27. APC, 1625-6, pp. 349-50, 374; 1626, p. 135; 1627, p. 68; CSP Dom. 1625-6, p. 373; Harl. 1581, f. 376.
  • 28. APC, 1627-8, p. 308; CSP Dom. 1627-8, p. 590; 1628-9, p. 425; Fortescue Pprs. ed. S.R. Gardiner (Cam. Soc., n.s. i), 157.
  • 29. C2/Chas.I/G42/8; 2/Chas.I/G19/31; 2/Chas.I/G19/23; 2/Chas.I/G42/8; 2/Chas.I/G62/94; APC, 1628-9, pp. 338-9; 1629, p. 2; HEHL, HA 3432, 3433, 3434, 3436; C78/421/1.
  • 30. CSP Dom. 1629-31, p. 87.
  • 31. DL7/26/57; E178/5388.
  • 32. ‘Regs. of the English Poor Clare Nuns at Gravelines’ ed. J. Gillow, Misc. IX (Cath. Rec. Soc. xiv), 69.