UNTON, Thomas (1581-aft. 1612), of Market Drayton, Salop and Gray's Inn, London

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. 9 July 1581, o.s. of William Unton (d.1587) of Market Drayton and w. Elizabeth. educ. Trin. Oxf. 1596, BA 1599; G. Inn 1600, called 1608. m. by 1610, Anne (bur. 25 Oct.1664), da. of George Barker of Colehurst, Salop, at least 2s.1 suc. grandfa. 1589.2 d. aft. 1612.

Offices Held

Servant to Henry Howard, earl of Northampton by 1604;3

Freeman, Winchelsea, Suss. 1607;4 bailiff, Pirehill hundred, Staffs. 1608-at least 1611;5 fee’d counsel, Winchelsea 1610.6


Unton came from a minor gentry family, succeeding as a child to property in and around Market Drayton. However, he probably owed his career, such as it was, to Sir Hugh Beeston*, his kinsman through the Chetwode family.7 No doubt Beeston recommended him to the lord warden, the earl of Northampton, who found him employment in his household and nominated him as Beeston’s successor for Winchelsea in 1604. Winchelsea’s voters preferred Thomas Egleston* instead, but Unton’s name was nevertheless entered on the return by the lord warden, and ‘rather than the corporation should increase his lordship’s indignation’ Egleston resigned his seat three and a half weeks into the Parliament.8 Unton played only a minor role in the Commons, receiving just four committee appointments over the course of the Parliament, beginning in the first session with a bill to prohibit the manufacture and sale of false dice (23 April). In the second session he was named to consider bills to enable part of Lord Windsor’s estate to be sold (21 Mar. 1606) and to make the Thames navigable between London and Oxford (17 April). His last committee appointment, on 19 Nov. 1606, was to prepare for a conference on Union with Scotland.9 Despite making such a thin contribution, Unton was appointed a freeman of the borough by the corporation of Winchelsea on 30 June 1607. He did not trouble to make the journey to the town, for as late January 1611 he had still not taken the oath of a freeman.10 The corporation also resolved, on 15 Sept. 1607, that ‘there shall be a silver cup of 20 marks bestowed upon Mr. Unton as a gratuity for being a burgess to the Parliament for this town’.11

Sometime during 1604 Northampton obtained a royal letter describing Unton as one who attended ‘about one of his right trusty and well-beloved councillors’ and desiring his appointment as the next town clerk of Shrewsbury. However, Shrewsbury’s corporation declared that it was unable to grant the office in reversion, and consequently Unton never held the post.12 On 26 June 1610 Unton was retained as counsel for Winchelsea at an annual fee of 20s., by which time he had married into a cadet branch of a Shropshire gentry family. In 1611 Sir Simon Weston* complained to Beeston’s patron, Robert Cecil†, 1st earl of Salisbury, that Unton was not earning his fee of 100 marks per annum as bailiff of Pirehill hundred, in Staffordshire.13 Unton is last heard of as the recipient of a mourning ring in the will of Beeston’s sister-in-law in 1612.14 Two sons followed him to Oxford in 1630 and 1631; the elder took orders and apparently accommodated himself to all the ecclesiastical changes of the period, becoming rector of Chetwynd after the Restoration.15 Nothing more is known of the family.16

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Authors: Peter Lefevre / Andrew Thrush


  • 1. C142/218/39; Vis. Salop (Harl. Soc. xxviii), 29; Misc. Gen. et Her. n.s. ii. 517; Al. Ox.; GI Admiss.; PBG Inn, i. 183.
  • 2. PROB 11/74, f. 287v.
  • 3. NLW, Carreglwyd I/240.
  • 4. E. Suss. RO, SAS-WH/398.
  • 5. E315/310, f. 53; CSP Dom. 1611-18, p. 2.
  • 6. E. Suss. RO, WIN 55, f. 164v.
  • 7. Misc. Gen. et Her. (ser. 2), i. 75.
  • 8. E. Suss. RO, WIN 55, ff. 82, 84.
  • 9. CJ, i. 182a, 288a, 300a, 326b.
  • 10. E. Suss. RO, SAS-WH/400.
  • 11. E. Suss. RO, WIN 55, f. 124.
  • 12. CSP Dom. 1603-10, p. 60; Harl. 2105, f. 123r-v; H. Owen and J.B. Blakeway, Hist. Shrewsbury, ii. 543.
  • 13. CSP Dom. 1611-18, p. 2.
  • 14. PROB 11/119, f. 447.
  • 15. Al. Ox. 1530.
  • 16. E. Suss. RO, WIN 55, f. 164v.