COVENTRY, Hon. Thomas (c.1630-99), Croome D'Abitot, Worcs. and Snitterfield, Warws.
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Family and Education
b. c.1630, 2nd s. of Thomas Coventry†, 2nd Baron Coventry of Aylesborough (d.1661) by Mary, da. of Sir William Craven, Merchant Taylor, of Watling Street, London, ld. mayor 1610-11. m. (1) by 1661, Winifred (d. 11 June 1694), da. of Piers Edgcumbe of Mount Edgcumbe, Maker, Cornw., at least 2s.; (2) 16 July 1695, his domestic servant, Elizabeth, da. of Richard Grimes, turner, of London, s.p. suc. nephew as 5th Baron 25 July 1687; cr. Earl of Coventry 26 Apr. 1697.1
J.p. Worcs. July 1660-Mar. 1688, 1689-d., Warws. 1690- d.; commr. for assessment, Mdx. 1663-9, Warws. 1673-80, Warws. and Worcs. 1689-90, recusants, Cornw. 1675; high steward, Worcester 1687-d., Evesham 1687-Feb. 1688, Oct. 1688-d.; custos rot. Worcs. 1689-d.2
Coventry’s great-grandfather, a successful lawyer, acquired Croome D’Abitot in 1592, and his grandfather sat for Droitwich in 1621 before becoming lord keeper. His father supported the King at the outset of the Civil War, but had made his peace with Parliament by 1643. Information that Coventry and his elder brother had been under arms for Charles II at Worcester in 1651, though supported by the republican projector Andrew Yarranton, was adroitly stifled by Richard Dowdeswell I. Hence he was eligible under the Long Parliament ordinance at the general election of 1660, though his royalist sympathies cannot have been in doubt. He was returned for Droitwich as a court supporter, but left no trace on the records of the Convention.3
Coventry made way for his uncle Henry in the family borough in 1661, but stood for Camelford, probably on his father-in-law’s interest. He was involved in a double return with Bernard Granville but seated on the merits of the return. Though there is some possibility of confusion with his uncles’ records in the Cavalier Parliament he was appointed by full name to only 20 committees, including the committee of elections and privileges in four sessions, and it is clear that he was not an active Member. In the first session he was named to the committees for the bill to restore bishops to the House of Lords, the uniformity bill, and the bill for a canal to connect Droitwich to the Severn, and in 1663 to those for the staple bill and the Duke of York’s revenue. His last legislative committee was on a private bill in 1668, and in the same year he bought Snitterfield, five miles from Warwick, for £14,500. Sir Thomas Osborne listed him among the Members to be engaged for the Court by the Duke of York, but he defaulted on a call of the House in 1671. Sir Richard Wiseman was confident that ‘he will vote well if he be only managed’ by his brother-in-law (Sir) Richard Edgcumbe and his uncle Henry, who sent him the government whip in 1675; but by 1677 he had gone over to the Opposition, his former brother-in-law Lord Shaftesbury (Sir Anthony Ashley Cooper) classing him as ‘worthy’.4
Coventry is not known to have stood in 1679, but he probably came to oppose exclusion, for in 1681 he was returned for Warwick with the support of Lord Brooke (Fulke Greville). He left no trace on the records of the Oxford Parliament, but he was re-elected in 1685, presumably as a Tory, though he was sufficiently moderate to lend some support to Sir Richard Newdigate in the county election. An inactive Member of James II’s Parliament, he was appointed only to the elections committee and the committee to recommend expunctions from the Journals, and on 4 June he was granted two months’ leave of absence on account of ill health. In the second session he spoke in favour of supply, but would reward the Roman Catholic officers ‘some other way’. After the Revolution he was reckoned among the opposition peers; but he signed the Association in 1696 and was created Earl of Coventry, with special remainders to three distant cousins. He died on 15 July 1699 in his seventieth year, and was buried at Croome D’Abitot. The next member of the family to sit was his cousin William, who was returned for Bridport as a Whig in 1708.5
Ref Volumes: 1660-1690
Authors: M. W. Helms / Edward Rowlands
- 1. Her. and Gen. vii. 97-98; Vis. Warws. (Harl. Soc. lxii), 13-14.
- 2. Townshend’s Diary (Worcs. Rec. Soc.), iii. 276; Warws. Recs. viii. p. xli; Worcs. RO, Evesham corp. order bk.; CSP Dom. 1689-90, p. 140.
- 3. VCH Worcs. iii. 314; Townshend’s Diary, ii. 65, 70, 76, 133; Cal. Comm. Adv. Money, 1363, 1369.
- 4. CJ, viii. 250; ix. 205; Dugdale, Warws. 662.
- 5. CSP Dom., 1685, pp. 62, 72; Grey, viii. 357 (ascribed to Thomas Coningsby); Lowther diary, f. 17; Nash, Worcs. i. 261.