Wyndham, Thomas (1510?-1553) (DNB00)

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Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 63
Wyndham, Thomas (1510?-1553)

by Albert Frederick Pollard
Contains subarticle Sir John Wyndham (d. 1502).

WYNDHAM, THOMAS (1510?–1553), vice-admiral and navigator, born about 1510, is generally identified with Thomas Wyndham, only son of Sir Thomas Wyndham (d. 1521) of Felbrigg, Norfolk, by his second wife, Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Henry Wentworth of Nettlestead, and widow of Sir Roger D'Arcy. The family had long been settled in Norfolk, and derived its name from Wymondham in that county.

Thomas's grandfather, Sir John Wyndham (d. 1502), was knighted for bravery at the battle of Stoke on 16 June 1487; later in Henry VII's reign he became implicated in the conspiracy of Edmund de la Pole, earl of Suffolk, was convicted of treason on 2 May 1502, and was executed with Sir James Tyrrell [q. v.] on Tower Hill four days later, being buried in the Austin Friars' church (Cotton MS. Vitellius A. xvi; Lansd. MS. 978, f. 19; Bacon, Henry VII; Stow, Survey, ed. Strype, ii. 116). By his first wife, Margaret, fourth daughter of John Howard, duke of Norfolk [q. v.], he was father of Sir Thomas Wyndham (d. 1521), who took an active part in the naval war with France in 1512–13, and became vice-admiral and councillor to Henry VIII (The French War of 1512–13, Navy Records Soc., and Letters and Papers of Henry VIII, vols. i–iii. passim). Sir Thomas married, first, Eleanor, daughter and coheir of Sir Richard Scrope of Upsal in Wiltshire; of his sons, Sir Edmund Wyndham of Felbrigg was father of Francis Wyndham [q. v.]; Sir John Wyndham married Elizabeth, daughter of John Sydenham of Orchard, Somerset, settled in that county, and was grandfather of Sir Hugh Wyndham [q. v.] and of Sir Wadham Wyndham [q. v.], and ancestor of the later Windhams of Felbrigg [see Windham, Sir Charles Ash; and {{sc|Windham, William}], of the earls of Egremont [see Wyndham, Charles; and Wyndham, George O'Brien], and of the earls of Dunraven [see Quin, Edwin Richard Windham Wyndham-]. Of Sir Thomas's three daughters, Margaret married Sir Erasmus Paston, ancestor of the earls of Yarmouth [see Paston, Robert]. By his second wife Sir Thomas was father of the subject of this article, to whom he bequeathed his manor of Wigton and other lands in Yorkshire.

As a minor at the time of his father's death, Thomas was possibly one of the king's wards of whom Cromwell became master in 1532, and, as no other contemporary Thomas Wyndham has been traced, he was probably the servant of Cromwell of that name who was employed in Ireland from 1536 to 1540. In October 1539 he was sent as captain of a hundred men to serve under Ormonde, and during November and December he saw a good deal of fighting in various parts of Ireland (Letters and Papers##, xiv. i. 303, 611, 709–10). In March 1539–40 he was compelled to return to England through ill-health, and on 20 June following was granted the dissolved monastery of Chicksand, Bedfordshire. Soon afterwards he seems to have settled in Somerset like his brother John, and took to a seafaring life. In 1544, in command of a ‘west-country ship,’ he was serving in the North Sea against the Scots, and in the following year he commanded the ‘great galley’ of five hundred tons and three hundred men in the operations in the Solent [cf. Seymour, Sir Thomas, Baron Seymour]. Wyndham, however, like most Tudor seamen, combined these legitimate commissions with filibustering on a somewhat extensive scale, and a few years later the French ambassador described him as an expert in piracy as well as ‘un grand homme de marine’ (Corresp. Pol. de Odet de Selve, pp. 234–5, 240). He was not particular in confining his operations to the ships of hostile nations, and early in 1545, with William Hawkins (d. 1554?) [q. v.], father of Sir John, he seized the Santa Maria de Guadeloupe, belonging to a Spaniard named Miranda. On 11 May the council ordered its restoration, and on 23 Sept. directed Wyndham to come to London to answer for his conduct. In May 1546 another prize which he had taken was seized at Bristol by the council's order, because Wyndham had failed to satisfy Miranda's claims, and on 18 July he was ordered to pay 380l. compensation.

In the autumn of 1547 Wyndham, who was given the office of ‘master of the ordnance in the king's ships,’ was appointed vice-admiral under Clinton of a fleet sent to the east coast of Scotland to enforce the Protector's Scottish policy. Its object was partly to intercept French aid, but especially to support the English and reforming party in the east of Scotland. In December Wyndham anchored in the Firth of Tay, and on the 18th he wrote promising not ‘to leave one town nor village nor fisher-boat unburned from Fifeness to Combe's Inch,’ and trusting ‘soon to suppress an abbey or two.’ On the 22nd he fortified Dundee and burnt Balmerino Abbey, and early in January he captured some French ships bound for Leith. In April he was detailed for service at Haddington, and constructed ‘Wyndham's bulwark,’ which proved of great service to the defence [cf. art. Wilford, Sir James]. Wyndham was not in Haddington during the siege, but in July he was one of the officers under Sir Thomas Palmer [q. v.] who vainly attempted to relieve it. Apparently he escaped Palmer's fate, and in March 1548–9 was again in command of the ships in the mouth of the Tay.

With the peace of 1550 Wyndham turned his energies to trade and exploration. With ‘a tall ship of [150 tons] called the Lion of London,’ of which he was captain and part-owner, he joined in what Hakluyt calls ‘the first voyage for traffique into the kingdom of Marocco in Barbarie.’ No details of this expedition, which sailed from Portsmouth in 1551, are known. On 29 Jan. 1551–2 Wyndham was summoned before the privy council for plundering some Danish ships, and in May he was one of the adventurers in the proposed north-east voyage of discovery (Strype, Eccl. Mem. ii. ii. 76, 231). In the same year he set out on his second voyage to Morocco, the account of which, printed by Hakluyt, was written by ‘Master James Thomas, then page to Master Thomas Windham, chiefe captain of this voiage.’ Wyndham is there described as ‘a Norfolk gentleman born, but dwelling at Marshfield Park in Somersetshire.’ The expedition sailed from Bristol Channel at the beginning of May, reached Morocco in a fortnight, and traded for three months at Santa Cruz in Teneriffe. On the way back the English captured the governor of Lanzarote in the Canaries, but released him and reached England in October. At Christmas Wyndham took part as admiral in the court revels of the ‘lord of misrule’ (Lit. Remains of Edward VI, pp. clxxiii. 382), and in May 1553 he was suitor for the manor of Preston, Somerset (Cal. Hatfield MSS. i. 118).

Wyndham's preparations for his third and most important voyage were interrupted by the death of Edward VI; at the time he appears to have been with the ships guarding the coast of Norfolk, and his attitude was doubtful. On 25 July Mary's council ordered him to repair to London, but five days later they wrote to the governor of Portsmouth ‘for the dismissing of Mr. Wyndham's ship, of which they have made a stay, that he may forth to his intended voyage.’ He is there described, apparently in error, as ‘Sir’ Thomas. He sailed in the Lion of London from Portsmouth on 12 Aug., accompanied by the Primrose, commanded by Antonio Pinteado, a Portuguese refugee and experienced mariner. They passed Madeira, the Canaries, and reached the Gold Coast; thence Wyndham ordered Pinteado, who at one time claimed supreme command, to take him on to the Bight of Benin, and he was thus the first Englishman who ‘fairly rounded Cape Verde and sailed into the Southern Sea.’ He remained with the ships in the Bight while Pinteado sailed up the Niger to trade; fever broke out among his men, and Wyndham himself succumbed to it. He was married, and left a son Henry and two daughters, one of whom married Andrew Luttrell.

[Letters and Papers of Henry VIII, vols. xiii–xvi.; State Papers, Henry VIII; Acts of the Privy Council, ed. Nicolas, vii. 88, ed. Dasent, vols. i–iv. passim; Thorpe's Cal. Scottish State Papers, i. 72–96; Bain's Cal. Scottish State Papers, 1547–63; Hamilton Papers, ii. 317, 597 sqq.; Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1547–80, p. 7, Addenda, 1547–65, pp. 347, 350; Corresp. Pol. de Odet de Selve, 1546–9; Hakluyt's Voyages, II. ii. 7–11; Harl. MSS. 1110 f. 38, 1154 ff. 71–2; Addit. MSS. 5524 ff. 133–4, 19156 f. 275; Visit. Norfolk (Harl. Soc.), pp. 324–5; Blomefield's Norfolk, viii. 311 sqq.; Hunter's Deanery of Doncaster, i. 326; Collinson's Somerset, iii. 489–90; Collins's Peerage, v. 206–10; Burke's Landed Gentry; Froude's Hist. viii. 7, 8; Social England, iii. 204, 215; Oppenheim's Administration of the Royal Navy, 1898, pp. 76, 83; Budgett Meakin's Moorish Empire, 1899, p. 122.]

A. F. P.