Wroth, Thomas (1516-1573) (DNB00)

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WROTH, Sir THOMAS (1516–1573), politician, born in 1516, claimed as his ancestor William de Wrotham [q. v.], the judge, whose alleged descendant, John, was sheriff of London in 1351, lord mayor in 1361, and represented Middlesex in many parliaments of Edward III's reign (Official Return, i. 170–89). John's son, Sir Thomas Wroth, married Maud, daughter and heir of Thomas Durant (d. 1348), who built Durrants in Enfield, afterwards the seat of the Wroth families. Robert Wroth, father of the subject of this article, was attorney of the duchy of Lancaster, and one of the commissioners appointed to inquire into Wolsey's possessions in 1529. He sat for Middlesex in the Reformation parliament (1529–35), and died in 1536, leaving issue by his wife Jane, daughter of Sir Thomas Hawte, four sons and two daughters.

Thomas, the eldest son, was a ward of the king, and was educated at St. John's College, Cambridge, but seems to have taken no degree, and in 1536 was admitted student of Gray's Inn. On 4 Oct. of that year the right of his wardship and marriage was granted to Cromwell (Letters and Papers, xi. 943 [6]). In 1539 Sir Richard Rich (afterwards first Baron Rich) [q. v.] paid Cromwell three hundred marks for the right of disposing of Wroth in marriage, and then provided for his third daughter, Mary, by betrothing her to Wroth. Wroth was granted livery of his lands on 24 April 1540, and in that and the following year Rich secured for his daughter's husband the manors of Highbury (forfeited by Cromwell) and of Beymondhall, Hertfordshire, and lands in Cheshunt, Wormley, and Enfield, belonging to various dissolved monasteries (Letters and Papers, XIV. ii. 324, XV. 613 [9], 733 [64], XVI. 727). On 18 Dec. 1544 Wroth was returned to parliament as one of the knights of the shire for Middlesex, and in the following year, through Cranmer's influence, it is said, was appointed gentleman of the chamber to Prince Edward. He retained that post during Edward VI's reign, was knighted on 22 Feb. 1546–7, and was one of the young king's principal favourites. In September 1547 he was sent to the Protector in Scotland with Edward's letters congratulating him on his victory at Pinkie, and in July 1548 was one of the witnesses against Bishop Gardiner for his sermon in St. Paul's. He probably represented Middlesex in the parliament that sat from 1547 to 1552, but the returns are wanting. After Somerset's fall Wroth was on 15 Oct. 1549 appointed one of the four principal gentlemen of the privy chamber, his fidelity to Warwick's interests being secured by doubling the ordinary salary of 50l. On 24 July 1550 he was granted the manors of Bardfield, Chigwell, and West Ham in Essex (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1547–80, p. 28, Addenda, 1547–65, p. 412), and on 14 April 1551 he was made joint lord lieutenant with Paget of Middlesex. On 29 Nov. following he was present at the disputation on the Sacrament held in Cecil's house (Dixon, Church Hist. iii. 388). Somerset's second fall brought Wroth further grants; on 22 Jan. 1551–2, the day of the Protector's execution, he was sent to Sion House to report on the number and ages of the duke's sons, daughters, and servants, and on 7 June following was given a twenty-one years' lease of Sion. This he is said to have surrendered on an assurance that Edward designed it for some public charity. In 1552, and again in 1553, he was one of the commissioners for the lord-lieutenancy of Middlesex, and in February 1552–3 he was again knight of the shire for Middlesex in Edward's last parliament. He was not a member of the privy council, but was one of those whom Edward VI proposed in March 1551–2 to ‘call into commission,’ his name appearing on the committees of the council which were to execute penal laws and proclamations and to examine into the ‘state of all the courts,’ especially the new courts of augmentations, first-fruits and tenths, and wards (Lit. Remains of Edward VI, pp. 403, 499–501). In December 1552 he was placed on a further commission for the recovery of the king's debts, and in the same year was one of the ‘adventurers’ in the voyage to Morocco (Hakluyt, II. ii. 8; cf. art. Wyndham, Thomas, (1510?–1553)).

Wroth was until July 1553 in close attendance upon Edward VI, who is said to have died in his arms. He signed the king's letters patent limiting the crown to Lady Jane Grey, but apparently took no overt part in Northumberland's insurrection. He was sent to the Tower on 27 July, but was soon released. In January 1553–4, however, when Suffolk was meditating his second rising, Lord John Grey had an interview with Wroth, and urged him to join. Gardiner proposed his arrest on the 27th, but Wroth escaped to the continent. For this step he is said to have obtained royal licence, which was probably due to the intercession of his father-in-law, Lord Rich (Chron. Queen Jane, p. 184; Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1547–80, p. 57). He remained abroad during the rest of Mary's reign, principally at Strasburg and Frankfort, giving material help to the protestant exiles. Immediately on Elizabeth's accession he returned to England, and on 29 Dec. 1558 was elected knight of the shire for Middlesex, which he again represented in the parliament of 1562–3. On 21 Aug. 1559 he was appointed commissioner to visit the dioceses of Ely and Norwich. In June 1562 he was nominated a special commissioner to consult with the lord-deputy on the government of Ireland (instructions in Lambeth MS. 614, ff. 143, 145, 149), but does not seem to have gone to Dublin till February 1563–4; he was recalled at his own request in August. In 1569 he was commissioner for musters in Middlesex and for the lord-lieutenancy of London, and on 1 Sept. 1571 was sent to take an inventory of Norfolk's goods in the Charterhouse.

Wroth died on 9 Oct. 1573. He left issue by his wife Mary Rich six or seven sons and three or four daughters. The eldest son, Sir Robert (1540?–1606) [q. v.], succeeded him. The second son, Thomas, was admitted student of the Inner Temple in November 1564 (Cooke, Admissions, p. 56), and was Lent reader in 1601, being fined 20l. for neglecting to read his lecture (Inner Temple Records, i. 440, 442). He acquired wealth in the practice of the law, and settled at Blundenhall, Boxley, Kent, where he died in 1610. He married Joan, second daughter and heir of John or Thomas Bulmer or Bulman, and left, besides other issue, Sir Thomas Wroth (1584–1672) [q. v.] and Sir Peter Wroth (d. 1644), a member of the Inner Temple and ‘a gentleman of great learning, from whose collections’ Collinson derived the account of the family printed in his ‘Somerset,’ and whose grandson John eventually succeeded to the Somerset property.

[Letters and Papers of Henry VIII, vols. xiv. xvi.; Acts of the Privy Council, ed. Dasent, 1547–75; Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1547–80, and Addenda, 1547–65, and Foreign, 1553–8; Hatfield MSS. vol. i.; Official Return of Memb. of Parl.; Chron. Queen Jane and Greyfriars' Chron. (Camden Soc.); Lit. Rem. of Edward VI (Roxburghe Club); Inner Temple Records, 1898, passim; Foster's Reg. of Gray's Inn; Strype's Works (general index); Burnet's Hist. of the Reformation, ed. Pocock; Gough's Index to Parker Society's publications; Dixon's Hist. of the Church of England, iii. 251–2, 261, 388; Lansd. MS. 155, f. 312 b; Harl. MS. 2218, ff. 23 b–25 b; Cotton MS. Julius F. x. 18; Addit. MSS. 5524 f. 207 b, 16279 ff. 224–5; Todd's Cat. MSS. Lambeth; Visitations of London, ii. 373–4, of Essex, i. 132, 330, and of Somerset, p. 147 (Harl. Soc.); Collinson's Somerset, passim (general index, 1898); Morant's Essex, i. 162–4, ii. 519; Hasted's Kent; Hoare's Modern Wilts, vol. iii. ‘Downton,’ p. 44; Drake's Blackheath, 1886, p. xxv; Davy's Suffolk Collections (Brit. Mus. Addit. MS. 19156, f. 255); Cooper's Athenæ Cantabr. i. 321–2, 561, and authorities there cited.]

A. F. P.