Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Myddleton, Thomas (1550-1631)

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MYDDELTON or MIDDLETON, Sir THOMAS (1550–1631), lord mayor of London, fourth son of Richard Myddelton of Denbigh and Jane, daughter of Hugh Dryhurst, was born in 1550 at Denbigh, probably at Denbigh Castle, of which his father was governor. William Myddelton [q. v.] and Sir Hugh Myddelton [q. v.] were younger brothers. In his youth he visited foreign countries, and the experience of trade thus gained greatly contributed to his subsequent mercantile success. He was apprenticed to Ferdinando Pointz, citizen and grocer, and was admitted to the freedom of the Grocers' Company on 14 Jan. 1582, to the livery on 21 March 1592, and to the office of assistant in 1611. On 17 Feb. 1591-2 he and three others were appointed surveyors of the customs in all ports of England except London (deed at Chirk Castle). He was largely indebted for his advancement to his intimacy with Sir Francis Walsingham.

Myddelton was a parishioner of St. Mary Aldermary, and carried on business in a house in the churchyard of that parish (funeral certificate in College of Arms). He entered parliament in 1597-8 as member for Merionethshire, and was appointed lord-lieutenant and custos rotulorum of the same county in 1599. In 1598 he paid 201. as his share of the loan to Queen Elizabeth. He was an adventurer in the East India voyage of 1599, and is mentioned as a member of the East India Company in its charter of incorporation granted in 1600.

Myddelton in 1595 purchased the estate of Chirk Castle in his native county, and in 1615 he also purchased the manor of Stansted Mountfichet in Essex, which he made his principal residence. He was, against his will, elected alderman for Queenhithe ward on 24 May 1603, and on refusing to take the oath of office was committed to Newgate on 10 June. This brought a sharp letter of reprimand from the king to the lord mayor and aldermen, directing them to release Myddelton immediately, as he was employed in an important service for the state, which privileged him from municipal duties (Remembrancia, p. 3). The city, nevertheless, won the day, and Myddelton was sworn into office on 21 June. Three days later he was elected sheriff, and was knighted by the king at Whitehall on 26 July. He now became very active in civic affairs, and was appointed a commissioner or referee on various occasions, both by the council and the court of aldermen (cf. ib. p. 555).

Myddelton was elected lord mayor on Michaelmas day 1613, this day being chosen by his brother Hugh for opening the New River Head. A pageant was devised for the occasion in honour of the newly elected lord mayor by his namesake, Thomas Myddelton the dramatist [q. v.], and entitled 'The Manner of his Lordship's Entertainment on Michaelmas Day last,' &c. Another pageant was prepared by the same writer, under the title of 'The Triumphs of Truth,' for Myddelton's mayoralty inauguration on 29 Oct. A copy of each of these pageants is in the Guildhall Library. Myddelton was elected, during the year of his mayoralty, president of Bridewell and Bethlehem hospitals. On 22 March 1613 he was translated to the aldermanship of Coleman Street ward by right of his prerogative as lord mayor. He continued to represent this ward until his death, and was for many years senior alderman or father of the city. In August 1621 'Yt pleased the Right Worshipful Knight Sir Thomas Middleton to make a very religious speach and exhortation to the whole assemblie of the Misterie of the Grocerie of London.'

Myddelton was one of the original chartered adventurers in the New River Company, and also an adventurer in 1623 in the Virginia Company, to which he subscribed 37l. 10s., but paid 62l. 10s. He was a representative of the city of London in parliament in 1624-5, 1625, and 1626, and was a colonel of the city militia. In 1630, in conjunction with Rowland Heylyn [q. v.], Myddelton caused to be published the first popular edition of the Bible in Welsh, small 4to; it was produced at great expense (T. R. Phillips, Memoirs of the Civil War in Wales, p. 60). A pamphlet called 'A Discourse of Trade from England unto the East Indies' is also attributed to Myddelton. Towards the close of his life Myddelton resided at Stansted Mountfichet, where he died on 12 Aug. 1631, and was buried in the church on 8 Sept. following, aged 81, 'or thereabouts.' His monument was on the south side of the chancel, of sumptuous workmanship, with a life-sized effigy under a decorated arch. It bore two Latin inscriptions in prose and verse, followed by a short rhyming inscription in English (Muilman, Essex, iii. 29).

Myddelton was four times married: first, about 1586, to Hester, daughter of Sir Richard Saltonstall of South Ockendon, Essex, lord mayor of London in 1597-8; secondly, about 1590, to Elizabeth, widow of John Olmested of Ingatestone, Essex; thirdly, to Elizabeth, widow of Miles Hobart, clothworker of London; and fourthly, to Anne, widow of Jacob Wittewronge, brewer, of London, who survived him. On the occasion of this last marriage, according to Pennant, she being a young wife and he an old man, the famous song of 'Room for Cuckolds, here comes my Lord Mayor,' was composed. Myddelton had issue by his first two wives only; by the first wife two sons: Richard, who died young, and Sir Thomas Myddelton [q. v.], his heir, of Chirk Castle, the parliamentarian general; by his second wife he had two sons and two daughters: Henry, who died young; Timothy, who succeeded to the estate of Stansted Mountfichet; Hester, married to Henry Salisbury of Llewenny, Denbighshire, afterwards created a baronet; and Mary, married to Sir John Maynard, K.B. By Middleton's will, dated 20 Nov. 1630, and proved in the P. C. C. on 15 Aug. 1631 (94, St. John), he left property of the annual value of 71. to the Grocers' Company for the benefit of their poor members. The company also received valuable bequests under the will of his widow, who died on 7 Jan. 1646.

[Notes on the Middleton family by William Duncombe Pink, reprinted from The Cheshire Sheaf, 1891, pp. 6, 12-1.5; Account of Sir Thomas Middleton by G. E. Cockayne, in London and Middlesex Note-book, pp. 252-7; Grocers' Company's Records; authorities above cited; information kindly supplied by W. M. Myddelton, esq.]

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