Chaloner, Thomas (1521-1565) (DNB00)

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CHALONER, Sir THOMAS, the elder (1521–1565), diplomatist and author, eldest son of Roger Chaloner, citizen and mercer of London, a member of an old Welsh family, was born in London, probably in the parish of St. Dunstan's-in-the-East, in 1521. It is conjectured that he studied for a time at St. John's College, Cambridge, and was also for a time at Oxford. In 1540 he accompanied Sir Thomas Knyvet's embassy to the court of Charles V, was well received by the emperor, went with him to Algiers, and very nearly lost his life on the coast of Barbary in 1541 (Hakluyt, Principall Navigations, 1810, ii. 210). On his return to England Chaloner became clerk of the privy council. He was M.P. for Wigan 1545, for Lancashire 1547, and for Knaresborough 1555. Somerset took him into favour, and in 1547 Chaloner accompanied him to Scotland, fought at the battle of Pinckie, and was knighted on the battle-field. He was engaged in procuring evidence against Somerset's brother and rival, Lord Seymour, in 1548–9; was one of the witnesses against Bonner (1549) and Gardiner (1551); was granted the lands belonging to Guisborough priory, Yorkshire (31 Oct. 1550); and on 10 May 1551 was one of the commissioners nominated to negotiate with the envoys of the queen of Scots regarding debateable land on the border of the two kingdoms of England and Scotland, proceedings which led to the treaty of Norham (10 June). He fulfilled similar functions on 8 March 1551–2, negotiating another treaty with Scotland 24 Sept. 1552, and received from Edward VI a grant of lands at St. Bees in Cumberland in 1553. At the end of Edward's reign he went with Dr. Wotton and Sir William Pickering on an embassy to France, but was immediately recalled on Mary's accession. Although a protestant, Chaloner was not excluded from public employment under Queen Mary. He was sent to Scotland in February 1555–6; had a grant of the manor of Steeple Claydon, Buckinghamshire, 13 Aug. 1557, and on 12 Jan. 1557–8 was directed to provide transport for the English troops proceeding to Dunkirk. Further lands at Guisborough were also assigned him on 16 July 1558. On the accession of Elizabeth, Chaloner was ordered to proceed to the emperor Ferdinand at Courtray, in order to detach him from the French alliance (safe-conduct, 26 Nov. 1558), and, after performing this service, visited Philip II, then at Brussels, in order to arrange for a peaceful treaty between the Spanish king and England. He resided in the Low Countries till February 1559–60, and in October 1561 was sent as ambassador to Spain. The custom-house officials treated him with scant respect, demanding to search all his baggage on landing. He protested against the indignity, but received little sympathy either at Madrid or London. Although personally popular in Spain, he was unable to effect any very important settlement of the questions in dispute between that country and England, and was recalled in 1564. His brother Francis wrote on 7 Aug. 1565 that Chaloner was suffering from a violent fever, and intended to leave all his property to a bastard son. He died at a great house which he had built himself in Clerkenwell on 14 Oct. 1565, and was buried on 20 Oct. in St. Paul's Cathedral. At his funeral Sir William Cecil, lord Burghley, a lifelong friend, who wrote Latin verses to his memory, was chief mourner. He married, first, Joanna (d. 11 Jan. 1556–7), widow of Sir Thomas Legh; and secondly, Ethelreda, daughter of Edward Frodsham of Elton, Cheshire, who survived him, remarried to Edward Brocket of Wheathampstead, Hertfordshire, and died 25 Dec. 1605. By his second wife he had an only son, Thomas [q. v.] His executors were Sir William Cecil, his second wife, and his son. Elizabeth added to his estates the manor of East Haddon, Northamptonshire, with the rectory of Cold Ashby in the same county (1561). In July 1565 he petitioned for a grant of Irish mines, but this request does not appear to have been granted.

Chaloner was the friend of Cheke, Haddon, and other learned scholars of his time. He was a poet in Latin and English, and received high commendation from Meres, Puttenham, and Henry Peacham. His printed works are as follows: 1. ‘A Bok of the Office of Servantes,’ 1543, translated from Gilb. Cognatus, and dedicated to Sir Henry Knyvet. 2. ‘An Homilie of Saint John Chrysostome … newely made out of Greke into latin by master Cheke, and englished by Tho. Chaloner,’ London, 1544. 3. ‘The praise of Folie … by Erasmus, englished by Sir Thomas Chaloner, knight,’ London, 1549. 4. ‘De Rep. Anglorum instauranda decem libri,’ with a Latin panegyric on Henry VIII (issued separately in 1600), and epigrams and epitaphs in Latin on other noted persons. Among the latter is an admirable elegy on Lady Jane Grey. To this work Burghley and other friends prefixed Latin verses in the author's praise. It was first published in 1579 by William Malim, master of St. Paul's School. The whole is in Latin verse, and was written in Spain between 25 Dec. 1562 and 21 July 1564. A woodcut of the author is prefixed.

To the first edition of the ‘Mirror of Magistrates’ Chaloner contributed an account of Mowbray's quarrel with Richard II, and in Park's ‘Antiquæ Nugæ’ (ii. 372) is a translation by him of Ovid's ‘Epistolæ Heroidum’ (Epist. 17).

Among the Hardwicke manuscripts at Wimpole Hall is an unprinted ‘Journal in Spain,’ 1562, attributed to Chaloner.

Chaloner's portrait was painted by Holbein and has been engraved by Hollar. Another portrait, with some half-legible Latin verses on it, belonging to Mrs. M. G. Edgar, was exhibited in the Exhibition of National Portraits at South Kensington in 1866 (Notes and Queries, 3rd ser. x. 28).

[Cooper's Athenæ Cantab. i. 235–7; Biog. Brit. (Kippis); Rymer's Fœdera, xv. passim; Cal. State Papers (Dom.), 1547–80; Haslewood's Mirror for Magistrates; Brit. Mus. Cat.; Machyn's Diary (Camd. Soc.), pp. 123, 404; Granger's Biog. Hist.; Tanner's Bibl. Brit.; Notes and Queries, 4th ser. i. 31; Froude's History; Peacham's Compleat Gentleman (1562), p. 73.]

S. L. L.