Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Twysden, Thomas

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TWYSDEN or TWISDEN, Sir THOMAS (1602–1683), judge, second son of Sir William Twysden, bart., by his wife, Anne, daughter of Sir Moyle Finch, bart., of Eastwell, Kent, was born at Roydon Hall, East Peckham, in that county, on 2 Jan. 1601–2. Dr. John Twysden [q. v.] and Sir Roger Twysden [q. v.] were his brothers. He entered as a fellow commoner on 8 Nov. 1614 Emmanuel College, Cambridge, to which he afterwards gave 10l. towards the rebuilding of the chapel. In November 1617 he was admitted a member of the Inner Temple, where he was called to the bar in 1626, and elected a bencher in 1646. He appears in Croke's ‘Reports’ as arguing in Michaelmas term 1639 a point of law concerning the Kentish custom of gavelkind. His name is there and thenceforth always spelt Twisden, a fashion which he adopted by way of distinction from the rest of his family, upon his marriage in that year with Jane, daughter of John Thomlinson of Whitby, Yorkshire, and sister of Matthew Thomlinson [q. v.]

To his brother-in-law's interest Twisden probably owed something during the Commonwealth and protectorate; for, though a staunch loyalist, he increased his practice, and was even selected by the council of state to advise on an important question of international law (cf. the opinion signed by him, jointly with Maynard, Hale, and Glynne, 18 Nov. 1653, on the liability of the goods of the Spanish ambassador to attachment for debt within the city of London; Thurloe, State Papers, i. 603–4). In the following year he was made serjeant-at-law (9 Nov.) On 18 May 1655 the part which he took with Maynard and Wadham Wyndham in the defence of the merchant Cony, who had the audacity to dispute the right of the de facto government to raise taxes, occasioned his committal to the Tower for a few days [see Maynard, Sir John, (1602–1690)].

On the Restoration Twisden was confirmed in the status of serjeant-at-law by a new call, advanced to a puisne judgeship in the king's bench, and knighted (22 June, 2 July 1660). As a member of the commission for the trial of the regicides he narrowly missed sitting in judgment on his brother-in-law, whom, however, the government eventually preferred to call as a witness. He also concurred in the sentences passed on the Fifth-monarchy fanatic James (22 Nov. 1661), Sir Henry Vane (1612–1662) [q. v.], and the nonjuring quakers Crook, Grey, and Bolton (May 1662). Towards George Fox and Margaret Fell, whose conscientious scruples brought them before him at the Lancaster assizes in March 1663–4, as also to other members of the Society of Friends who refused to abandon their principles, he showed a certain tenderness, and in consultation with the House of Lords strongly condemned the policy of multiplying ecclesiastical offences. He was present at the meeting of the judges held at Serjeants' Inn on 28 April 1666 to discuss the several points of law involved in Lord Morley's case. The same year (13 June) a baronetcy was conferred upon him. He was a member of the court of summary jurisdiction established in 1667 to try causes between owners and occupiers of land and tenements within the districts ravaged by the fire of London (18 and 19 Car. II, c. 7). In recognition of his services in this capacity the corporation of London caused his portrait to be painted by Michael Wright and placed in the Guildhall (1671). There are also engraved portraits in the British Museum and Lincoln's Inn. Being absent from court on 27 June 1677 during the argument of the return to Shaftesbury's habeas corpus, he sent his opinion in writing that the earl should be remanded. In 1678, by reason of his great age and infirmities, he was dispensed from attendance in court, Sir William Dolben [q. v.] being sworn in his place (23 Oct.) He retained, however, judicial rank, and is said to have drawn a pension of 500l. per annum until his death, 2 Jan. 1682–1683. His remains were interred in the church of East Malling, in which parish he had purchased in 1656, and subsequently imparked, the estate of Bradbourne. The baronetcy, in which he was succeeded by his eldest son, Sir Roger Twisden, became extinct on the death of Sir John Twisden, the eighth baronet, 1 Jan. 1841. Twisden compiled a collection of ‘Reports,’ of which the original is missing, but Addit. MS. 10619 appears to be an authentic transcript.

[Hasted's Kent, 1782, ii. 213, 275; Hasted's Kent, ed. Drake, i. 224; Le Neve's Pedigrees of Knights (Harl. Soc.), p. 85; Dugdale's Visitation of York (Surtees Soc.), p. 66; Manningham's Diary (Camden Soc.), pp. iii, x; Proc. in the County of Kent (Camden Soc.), p. 4; Sir Roger Twysden's Government of England, ed. Kemble (Camden Soc.), Introd. p. xxxiv n.; Blomefield's Collect. Cantabrig. p. 117; Noble's Protectoral House of Cromwell, i. 420, 438; Style's Reports, pp. 106, 112, 140, 206, 246; Herbert's Memoirs of the last two years of the Reign of Charles I, p. 123; Camden Misc. iii. 61; Liber Hiberniæ, ii. 7; Metcalfe's Book of Knights, p. 215; Cal. Clarendon State Papers, ii. 314; Clarendon State Papers, iii. 491, Suppl. p. xxxii; Siderfin's Reports, p. 3; Cobbett's State Trials, v. 986, 1178, vi. 67–206, 630–56, 770, 1297; Kelynge's Crown Cases, ed. Loveland, p. 85; North's Examen, pp. 57, 73; Cal. Comm. for Advance of Money, 1642–56 i. 303; Cal. State Papers, Dom., 1651–1671; Hist. MSS. Comm. 4th Rep. App. p. 417, 5th Rep. App. p. 171, 7th Rep. App. p. 471, 8th Rep. App. i. 116, 127, 138, 141, 9th Rep. App. ii. 5, 12; Rawlinson MS. C. 719, pp. 7, 23; Clarendon and Rochester Corresp. i. 3; Hatton Corresp. (Camden Soc.) i. 164; Sir Thomas Raymond's Reports, p. 475; Marr. Lic. West. and Vic. Gen. (Harl. Soc.), p. 67; Granger's Biogr. Hist. Engl. iii. 370; Cat. of Sculpture, &c., at Guildhall; Price's Descr. Acc. of the Guildhall of the City of London, p. 79; Memoirs of the Judges whose portraits are preserved in Guildhall, 1791; Harvey's Account of the Great Fire in London in 1666; Wotton's Baronetage, vol. iii. pt. ii. p. 497; Foster's Baronetage; Foss's Lives of the Judges.]

J. M. R.