MERRY, Thomas (c.1605-82), of Gopsall, Leics.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1660-1690, ed. B.D. Henning, 1983
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

b. c.1605, 2nd but 1st surv. s. of Sir Thomas Merry of The Winns, Walthamstow, Essex, clerk-comptroller of the green cloth, by Mary Freeman. educ. Christ Church, Oxf. matric. 6 Dec. 1626, aged 21; M. Temple 1627. m. Elizabeth (d. 9 July 1653), da. of George Duncombe of Albury, Surr., 14s. (12 d.v.p.) 5da. suc. fa. 1654.1

Offices Held

J.p. Leics. 164 1-50, Mar. 1660-80, commr. for militia Mar. 1660, assessment Aug. 1660-4, 1673-4, oyer and terminer, Lincoln 1661, corporations, Leics. 1662-3, dep. lt. 1662-bef.1680.2


Merry’s father, a Household official who received large grants of crown lands from James I, purchased Gopsall in 1618. During the Civil War he lent £2,000 to Charles I and was subsequently ‘plundered, sequestered and forced to great compositions’ for his loyalty.3

Though not one of the major landowners in Leicestershire, Merry was returned unopposed to the Convention as knight of the shire. On 11 Aug. 1660 he was granted leave of absence, but he must have attended the second session of this Parliament, since he was added to the committee on the Post Office on 26 Nov. He never stood again, and sold Gopsall in 1677. Subsequently, he was a very active member of the Green Ribbon Club, and was described as ‘an intimate friend of Titus Oates, and a frequenter of his chambers at Whitehall’. The opposition journal, Domestic Intelligencer, was induced in August 1679 to report the return for Shaftesbury ‘alias Wimbourne St. Giles’ of Thomas Merry, Esq. and Lord Shaftesbury’s steward Stringer, doubtless a court spoof. The intriguer Fitzharris offered to bring him over to the Court in 1681, but he was rejected as ‘an inconsiderable rascal’. In October 1682 Aubrey noted that ‘Thomas Merry, a great algebraist and a great Whig, died at Westminster, and lies in the vault of his grandfather at Walthamstow in Essex’, adding it was a pity his papers were lost, for ‘he had done all Euclid in a shorter and clearer manner than ever was yet done, and particularly the tenth book. I have seen it.’ In his will he cut off his three surviving children and two grandchildren with a shilling each.4

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Authors: M. W. Helms / Eveline Cruickshanks / Basil Duke Henning


  • 1. Walthamstow Antiq. Soc. xxvii. 3-4, 13-14; Add. 6167, p. 27.
  • 2. Leicester Bor. Recs. ed. Stock, iv. 480.
  • 3. Nichols, Leics, iv. 855; CSP Dom. 1667-8, p. 343.
  • 4. Nichols, iv. 856; Sitwell, First Whig, 199; EHR, xl. 242-3; Dom. Intell. 29 Aug. 1679; State Trials, viii. 367; Aubrey, Brief Lives, ii. 59-60; Westminster City Lib.