Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Bromley, Thomas (d.1555?)

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BROMLEY, Sir THOMAS (d. 1555?), judge, was of an old Staffordshire family, and a second cousin of Sir Thomas Bromley (1530–1587) [q. v.] His father was Roger, son of Roger Bromley of Mitley, Shropshire, and his mother was Jane, daughter of Mr. Thomas Jennings. He was entered at the Inner Temple, was reader there in the autumn of 1532, and again in the autumn of 1539, and was nominated in Lent term 1540, but did not serve. He was made serjeant-at-law in 1540, and king's serjeant on 2 July of the same year, and on 4 Nov. 1544 he succeeded Sir John Spelman as a judge of the common pleas. He was held in favour by Henry VIII, who made him one of the executors of his will, and bequeathed him a legacy of 300l. Hence he was one of the council of regency to Edward VI; but, although he succeeded in avoiding political entanglements for some time, at the close of the reign he became implicated in Northumberland's scheme for the succession of Lady Jane Grey. The duke summoned to court Montagu, chief justice of the common pleas, Bromley, Sir John Baker, and the attorney- and solicitor-general, and informed them of the king's desire to settle the crown on Lady Jane. They replied that it would be illegal, and prayed an adjournment, and next day expressed an opinion that all parties to such a settlement would be guilty of high treason. Northumberland's violence then became so great that both Bromley and Montagu were in bodily fear; and two days later, when a similar scene took place, and the king ordered them on their allegiance to despatch the matter, they consented to settle the deed, receiving an express commission under the great seal to do so and a general pardon. Bromley, however, adroitly avoided witnessing the deed, and consequently, when Mary sent the lord chief justice to gaol, she made Bromley chief justice of the common pleas, in the room of Sir Roger Cholmley, on 4 Oct. 1553. Burnet says of him that he was ‘a papist at heart.’ He did not hold this office long. On 17 April 1554 Sir Nicholas Throgmorton and others were indicted for a plot and treason at Baynard's Castle on 23 Nov. 1553, and for a rising and march towards London with Sir Henry Isley and two thousand men. Bromley presided at the trial, and allowed the prisoner such unusual freedom of speech as to provoke complaints from the queen's attorney, and threats of retiring from the prosecution. Yet Bromley was not throughout impartial, but even refused the prisoner leave to call a witness, though he was in court, and denied him inspection of a statute on which he relied. His summing up was so defective, ‘for want of memory or goodwill,’ that the prisoner supplied its defects, as if he had been an uninterested spectator. Yet the prisoner was acquitted; so much to Mary's annoyance that the jury were punished for their verdict. Sir William Portman succeeded Bromley as chief justice on 11 June 1555; but the exact date of his death is not known. He left an only daughter, Margaret, who married Sir Richard Newport, ancestor of the earls of Bradford. He is buried at Wroxeter.

[Foss's Lives of the Judges; Dugdale's Orig. Jurid. 164; Testam. Vetust. 43; Holinshed, iv. 31–55; Collins's Peerage, vii. 250, ix. 409; Green's Calendar of State Papers, 17 April 1554.]

J. A. H.

Dictionary of National Biography, Errata (1904), p.37
N.B.— f.e. stands for from end and l.l. for last line

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400 i 27 f.e. Bromley, Sir Thomas (d. 1555?) : for king's bench read common pleas