LITTLETON, Sir Thomas, 1st Bt. (1595-1650), of Frankley, Worcs., St. Martin's Lane, Westminster and the Inner Temple, London; later of Hagley, Worcs. and Westbury, Bucks.
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Family and Education
bap. 10 Dec. 1595,1 1st s. of John Littleton (Lyttleton)† of Frankley and Muriel, da. of Sir Thomas Bromley† of Rodd Castle and Hodnet, nr. Oswestry, Salop.2 educ. Balliol, Oxf. 1610, ?BA Broadgates Hall 1614; I. Temple, 1613;3 travelled abroad (France, Spanish Neths., Utd. Provinces, 1615-16).4 m. by 22 Nov. 1617,5 Katherine (d. 1666), da. Sir Thomas Crompton III† of Driffield, Yorks. and Hounslow, Mdx., 12s. (6 d.v.p.), 4da.6 suc. fa. 1601;7 cr. bt. 25 July 1618; kntd. 9 Nov. 1618.8 d. 22 Feb. 1650.9 sig. T[homas] Lyttleton.
Commr. arbitration, Sir Samuel Sandys* v. tenants of Ombersley, Worcs. 1622,10 subsidy, Worcs. 1624, Bucks. 1641, 1642,11 Forced Loan, Worcs. 1626-7,12 levy Crown debts, Southern and Midland counties and Wales 1628,13 oyer and terminer, Oxf. circ. 1630-42,14 sewers, Staffs. 1630;15 j.p. Salop and Worcs. 1641;16 commr. array, Worcs. 1642, Worcester, Worcs. 1642, raising vols. (roy.), Worcs. 1642; col. militia horse and ft. (roy.), Worcs. 1642;17 commr. accts. (roy.), Worcs. 1644, Staffs. 1644-5.18
Marshal, Christmas feast, I. Temple 1626, 1628, 1637, 1640, 1641.22
Littleton was descended from the eldest son of his namesake, the fifteenth-century jurist famed for his treatise on tenures.23 The family owed its prominence in Worcestershire to Littleton’s great-grandfather, Sir John Littleton†, who consolidated his estates into highly profitable block of lands around Frankley, in the north of the county.24 Littleton’s father was returned for Worcestershire three times under Elizabeth and died in prison as a result of his involvement in Essex’s rising. Littleton’s mother did not share her husband’s Catholic sympathies and ensured that her children were brought up as Protestants.25 The estate was recovered in June 1603 and Littleton was restored in blood the following year,26 and the family fortunes were restored under his mother’s careful stewardship.
Littleton was excluded from most local offices during the 1620s, and may have sought election as a means of affirming his status. He was returned for Worcestershire’s first seat in 1621, and was nominated to attend a conference with the Lords to prepare a petition on recusancy (21 February).27 In 1624 Littleton was re-elected, but this time as junior knight of the shire. Again he is mentioned only once in the parliamentary records, on 6 Mar., when he was appointed to the committee for the bill concerning the Council of the Marches.28 After the Parliament, Littleton was appointed a captain in the 3rd earl of Southampton’s regiment in the Netherlands, having probably served there previously as a volunteer. He was again returned as senior knight for Worcestershire in 1625, but never took his seat for in early June he went abroad, presumably back to his regiment. He had relinquished his command by July 1627.29
There is no evidence that Littleton was active in the 1626 Parliament, but a bill was introduced to settle a jointure on his wife, whose lands were sold in the 1620s. The bill received two readings and was committed, but proceeded no further. After Littleton’s mother died in 1630 he settled part of her jointure on his wife.30 Littleton took part in the Ré expedition of 1627, returning to England as a messenger in October.31 There is no evidence that he sought re-election for Worcestershire in 1628, but was returned instead for Leominster after his brother-in-law and steward of his estates, Edward Littleton II* plumped for Caernarvon Boroughs. He appears once in the records of the Parliament, when he was appointed to consider the bill to maintain the ministry (7 May).32
In 1639 Littleton purchased an estate at Westbury in Buckinghamshire. By 1640 his gross income totalled over £3,200 p.a.33 Returned for Worcestershire to the Short Parliament, he fought for the king in the Civil War. He was buried in Worcester Cathedral, where there is a monument to him.34 His will, dated 20 Dec. 1649, was proved on 21 Mar. 1650.35 Two of his sons sat in Parliament after the Restoration.
Ref Volumes: 1604-1629
Author: Ben Coates
- 1. Hagley Par. Reg. (Soc. Gen. microfilm 3631).
- 2. Vis. Worcs. (Harl. Soc. xc), 63.
- 3. Al. Ox.; I. Temple database of admiss.
- 4. APC, 1615-16, p. 313; Herefs. RO, W15/2; HMC Downshire, v. 521.
- 5. ‘Hagley Hall Coll. of Mss’ (typescript cal. in BL), 188.
- 6. Nash, Worcs. i. ped. facing p. 493.
- 7. Vis. Worcs. 63.
- 8. J. Nichols, Progs. of Jas. I, iii. 487, 495.
- 9. Soc. Antiq. ms 151, f. 28.
- 10. CSP Dom. 1619-23, p. 441.
- 11. C212/22/23; SR, v. 60, 81, 149.
- 12. T. Rymer, Foedera, viii. pt. 2, p. 145; C193/12/2, f. 62v.
- 13. HMC Rutland, i. 485.
- 14. C181/3, f. 260; C181/5, f. 218v.
- 15. C181/4, f. 65.
- 16. C231/5, p. 434.
- 17. Northants RO, FH133; ‘Hagley Hall Coll. of Mss’, 160-1.
- 18. Docquets of Letters Patent 1642-6 ed. W.H. Black, 219, 229, 264.
- 19. Tonks, 154; CSP Dom. 1627-8, p. 390.
- 20. SP84/121, ff. 266-7v; CSP Dom. 1628-9, p. 40.
- 21. J.W. Willis Bund, Civil War in Worcs. 35, 123.
- 22. CITR, ii. 157, 170, 236, 257, 263.
- 23. Vis. Worcs. 62.
- 24. Tonks, 159.
- 25. Vis. Worcs. 63; Nash, ii. 496.
- 26. Tonks, 83; HLRO, HL/PO/PB/1/1603/n.58.
- 27. CJ, i. 522b.
- 28. Ibid. 730a.
- 29. C2/Chas.I/L4/17; CSP Dom. 1628-9, p. 40; SP84/135, f. 82.
- 30. Procs. 1626, iii. 339, 404; Tonks, 83, 150-1, 156.
- 31. CSP Dom. 1627-8, p. 390.
- 32. Tonks, 148, 154; CJ, i. 893a.
- 33. Tonks, 135, 156.
- 34. Soc. Antiq. ms 151, f. 30.
- 35. PROB 11/211, ff. 314v-15.