Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Gardiner, Thomas (1591-1652)

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GARDINER, Sir THOMAS (1591–1652), recorder of London and royalist, born in 1591, was third son of Michael Gardiner, rector of Littlebury, Essex, and Greenford, Middlesex, by Margaret, daughter of Thomas Brown, a merchant tailor of London (Visitation of London, 1633–5, Harl. Soc., i. 299). He was at one time ‘of Clifford's Inn;’ was (15 May 1610) admitted a student of the Inner Temple; was called to the bar in 1618, and on 18 Sept. 1621 was granted permission to read as a visitor in the Bodleian Library Oxford (Oxf. Univ. Reg., Oxf. Hist. Soc., ii. i. 282). He became a bencher of his inn in 1635, and was both autumn reader and treasurer in 1639. On 25 Jan. 1635–6 he was sworn recorder of the city of London. In 1638 he recommended the collection of ship-money, and showed himself henceforth a warm adherent of the court party. A certificate of his return to the Short parliament, dated 28 April 1640, as member for Callington, Cornwall, is extant among the House of Lords MSS. (Hist. MSS. Comm. 4th Rep. 25). He was a candidate for the representation of the city of London in the Long parliament, but was defeated at the poll. Had he been elected, the court party, according to Clarendon, had resolved to nominate him for the speakership. Clarendon (Hist. of Rebellion, iii. 1) describes him at the period as ‘a man of gravity and quickness that had somewhat of authority and gracefulness in his person and presence, and in all respects equal to the service.’ In spite of the growing divergence between Gardiner's political views and those of his city friends he was admitted to the freedom of the city (6 Oct. 1640). When Charles I visited the city on 25 Nov. 1641, Gardiner was knighted, and his speech specially commended by the king. In the following month, acting in alliance with the lord mayor, Sir Richard Gurney, he angrily denounced as illegal a petition circulated for signature in the court of common council against the right of the bishops and catholic lords to vote in the House of Lords. When the attorney-general, Sir Edward Herbert, was impeached (January 1641– 1642) Gardiner was appointed his leading counsel. On 9 March 1641–2 the lords directed him to open the defence, but he declined, and was committed to the Tower (Lords' Journal, iv. 639 b). On 12 March he petitioned for his release. A few days later the House of Commons resolved to impeach him on account of his support of the ship-money edict, and of his frequent avowals of sympathy with Charles I. The articles, seven in number, were sent up to the House of Lords 18 May, and were published five days later (cf. Rushworth, Hist. Coll. iv. 780–2). Shortly afterwards Gardiner wrote to the king at York, reasserting his loyalty (cf. Edward Littleton … His Flight to… York, 1642). On 29 June 1643 his goods were ordered to be sold (Commons' Journal, iii. 149). Meanwhile he had joined the king at Oxford, and on 30 Oct. 1643 was nominated his solicitor-general. In 1644 he drew up a royal pardon for Laud (Clarendon, viii. 213). In October 1644 he was apparently again a prisoner at the hands of the parliament (Commons' Journal, iii. 658), but in January 1644–5 he was one of the royalist commissioners at the futile Uxbridge negotiations, and on 3 Nov. 1645 was appointed by the king attorney-general. On 23 Sept. 1647 he paid to parliament a fine of 942l. 13s. 4d., and his delinquency was pardoned (ib. v. 347). Thereupon he retired to Cuddesdon, near Oxford. On 12 Nov. 1650 the council of state issued an order permitting him to come to London for nine days on taking the engagement (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1650). He died at Cuddesdon, where he was buried 15 Oct. 1652.

Gardiner married Rebecca Child, by whom he had many children. Two of his sons were slain in the civil wars within a few weeks of each other. The elder, Thomas, a captain of horse in the royalist army, was knighted by the king at Oxford as he sat at dinner on his reporting Prince Rupert's success at Newark, March 1643, and lost his life near Oxford at the end of July 1645. Henry, the younger son (b. 1625), also a royalist captain, was shot dead on 7 Sept. 1645 at Thame during a successful reconnaissance made by the royalists. Both were buried in Christ Church Cathedral in one grave amid ‘universal sorrow and affection.’ Wood praises the two young men very highly, and speaks of the younger's ‘high incomparable courage, mixed with much modesty and sweetness’ (Wood, Autobiog., ed. Bliss, x.). The fourth daughter, Mary (1627–1664), was second wife of Sir Henry Wood, and was mother of Mary Fitzroy, first duchess of Southampton (d. 1680).

[Information kindly supplied by Joseph Foster, esq.; Wood's Fasti, ed. Bliss, i. 404; Masters of the Bench of the Inner Temple, p. 31; Lloyd's Memoirs of Excellent Personages, 1668, p. 587; Gent. Mag. 1821, i. 577–9; Notes and Queries, 4th ser. iii. 531, 560, iv. 20; Overall's Remembrancia, p. 304; Lysons's Environs, ii. 440; Thurloe State Papers, i. 56; Commons' Journal, vols. ii. iii. v.; Verney's Notes on Long Parliament (Camd. Soc.), pp. 167–9; Clarendon's Rebellion; Chester's Westminster Abbey Registers, p. 161.]

S. L. L.