Gascoigne, Thomas (1596?-1686) (DNB00)

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GASCOIGNE, Sir THOMAS (1596?–1686), alleged conspirator, born about 1593, was eldest son of Sir John Gascoigne of Losingcroft, Parlington, and Barnbow, Yorkshire, by Anne, daughter of John Ingleby of Lawkland Hall, Yorkshire (cf. Yorkshire Visitation, 1666, Surtees Soc. 289). Sir John was made a Nova-Scotian baronet by Charles I in 1635, and died 3 May 1637. The family, which was strictly Roman catholic, descended from Nicholas, younger brother of Sir William Gascoigne the judge [q. v.] Sir Thomas's three brothers, John Placid (1599–1681), Francis, and Michael (d. 1657), all entered holy orders in the Roman catholic church; the first, a Benedictine, was abbot of Lambspring in Germany; the second was a secular priest, and the third was a missioner at Welton, Northumberland. Of his six sisters the third, Catherine, became abbess of Cambray, and the youngest, Justina, was prioress of the Benedictine convent at Paris when she died, 17 May 1690.

Gascoigne succeeded to the baronetcy and estates on his father's death in 1637, and was a popular and charitable country gentleman. He spent his time in supervising his large property, which included collieries. In March 1665–6 his name appeared on a list of Yorkshire recusants. His zeal for his religion led him in the spring of 1678 to endow with 90l. a year a convent of the institute of the Blessed Virgin which Mother Frances Bedingfield temporarily established at Dolebank, near Fountains Abbey. He corresponded on the subject with a jesuit, Father Pracid, alias Cornwallis. Next year Robert Bolron [q. v.], formerly manager of one of Gascoigne's collieries, who had been discharged in consequence of embezzlement, laid a deposition before the Earl of Shaftesbury in London to the effect that he had been perverted to Roman catholicism while in Gascoigne's service, and had been lately offered 1,000l. by his master to engage with many members of the family and their neighbours in a plot to murder Charles II. Titus Oates, to whose following Bolron belonged, had recently disclosed his popish plot, and the excitement against Roman catholics was at its height. Gascoigne, aged 85, was consequently arrested at Barnbow on 7 July 1679, and carried to the Tower of London, while his eldest daughter, Lady Tempest, wife of Sir Stephen Tempest of Broughton Hall, Craven, also implicated by Bolron, was sent with two other friends to take her trial at York. Gascoigne was arraigned in the king's bench at Westminster on 24 Jan. 1679–80, and was brought to trial before a special jury drawn from his own county on 11 Feb. following. He pleaded not guilty. Besides Bolron the only witness for the prosecution was Lawrence Maybury, or Mowbray as he now called himself, lately footman in Gascoigne's service, who had been discharged for stealing money belonging to Lady Tempest. A letter to Gascoigne from Father Pracid, who was at the time in prison, about the founding of the convent at Dolebank in 1678, was put in. But witnesses called for the defence demolished the testimony of both the informers, and Gascoigne was acquitted. ‘There was pretty positive evidence against him,’ writes Luttrell, reflecting the unjust contemporary feeling, ‘yet the jury (which was a very mean one), after nearly an hour's being out, gave in their verdict not guilty, to the wonder of many people.’ Lady Tempest was tried and acquitted at York on 20 July following. Gascoigne soon retired to the English Benedictine monastery at Lambspring in Germany, of which his brother was abbot. He became a member of the confraternity, and died there in 1686, aged 93, being buried near his brother, who died five years earlier. William Carr, English consul at Amsterdam, visited him at Lambspring, and describes him as ‘a very good, harmless gentleman … a person of more integrity and piety than to be guilty so much as in thought of what miscreants falsely swore against him in the licentious time of plotting’ (Remarks of the Government of several parts of Germany, &c., Amsterdam, 1688, p. 145).

Gascoigne married Anne, daughter of John Symeon of Baldwins, Brightwell, Oxfordshire. Three sons and five daughters survived him. His successor and eldest surviving son, Thomas, died without issue in 1698; the title fell to the descendants of his second son, George, and became extinct on the death of the sixth baronet, Sir Thomas, 11 Feb. 1810. The second daughter, Catherine, became prioress of the Benedictine convent at Paris, and the youngest, Frances, was a nun at Cambray.

Dr. Oliver describes a portrait of Gascoigne in oils at the Chapel House, Cheltenham.

[Gillow's Bibl. Dict. of English Catholics; Thoresby's Ducatus Leodiensis, ed. Whitaker, pp. 179–81 (pedigree); Dodd's Church Hist. iii. 327; Howell's State Trials, vii. 959–1044; Oliver's Collections of English Benedictine Congregations, p. 494; Foley's Records of Soc. Jesus, iii. 103–4n., v. 580; Luttrell's Brief Relation, i. 17, 22, 23, 35, 37, 51, 113; Depositions from the Castle of York (Surtees Soc.) 1881. The falsity of the charges against Gascoigne is exposed in An Abstract of the Accusations of Robert Bolron and Lawrence Maybury, servants, against their late master, Sir Thomas Gascoigne … with his trial and acquittal, Feb. 11, 1679–80, Lond., for C. R., 1680, fol. Bolron's fabricated story is told in the Narrative of R. B. of Shippen Hall, gent., London, 1680, fol.; in the Papists' Bloody Oath of Secrecy, London, 1680, fol. (reprinted in Harl. Miscellany, vii.), and in Animadversions on the Papists' … Oath of Secrecy given to R. B. by W. Rushton, a Jesuit, London, 1681, s. sh. fol. See art. Bolron, Robert.]

S. L. L.