Wroth, Thomas (1584-1672) (DNB00)

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WROTH, Sir THOMAS (1584–1672), parliamentarian and author, eldest son of Thomas Wroth (d. 1610) and grandson of Sir Thomas Wroth (1516–1573) [q. v.], was born in London, and baptised at St. Stephen's, Coleman Street, on 5 May 1584. He matriculated as a commoner from Gloucester Hall (afterwards Worcester College), Oxford, on 1 July 1600, but was afterwards described as ‘sometime scholar to the principal’ of Broadgates Hall, to the rebuilding of which he contributed 40s. in 1620 (Macleane, Pembroke Coll. Oxf. Hist. Soc. p. 147). He left the university without a degree, and in November 1606 was entered with his brother (Sir) Peter as a student at the Inner Temple (Cooke, Admissions, p. 175). He was knighted on 14 Oct. 1613, and, having inherited a considerable portion of his father's wealth, he purchased the Somerset estates of his cousin, Sir Robert Wroth (1575–1614), when they were sold to pay his debts. The chief of these were the manors of Newton and Petherton Park, of which his great-grandfather Robert had been appointed forester by Henry VII, and which his grandfather Sir Thomas had purchased of Edward VI in 1550. Petherton Park became the seat of his branch of the family, and for the rest of his life Wroth was associated with Somersetshire politics.

Wroth employed his leisure in literary pursuits, and in 1620 published ‘The Destruction of Troy, or the Acts of Æneas, translated out of the second booke of the Æneads of Virgil …,’ London, 4to. It is dedicated to Sir Robert Sidney, first earl of Leicester [q. v.], and bound up with the British Museum copy is Wroth's ‘Abortive of an Idle Hour, or a Centurie of Epigrams,’ also printed in London, 1620, 4to. Wroth's only other literary efforts were his account of his wife Margaret, who died of a fever at Petherton Park on 14 Oct. 1635, and was buried on 11 Nov. in St. Stephen's, Coleman Street, London. It is printed in the Duke of Manchester's ‘Court and Society from Elizabeth to Anne’ (i. 343 sqq.); his ‘sad encomium’ upon her was separately printed in 1635 (London, 4to) (cf. Collier, Bibl. Acc. of English Lit. ii. 547–8).

Wroth's wife was daughter of Richard Rich of Leighs in Essex, and sister of Sir Nathaniel Rich [q. v.], the colonial pioneer (cf. Stith, Hist. of Virginia, 1747, p. 182); and this connection and his friendship with the first Earl of Leicester, a member of the Virginia Company, led Wroth to associate himself with colonial enterprise. He was a subscriber to the Virginia Company in 1609, and during 1621–4 was a prominent member of the Warwick party, in opposition to Sir Edwin Sandys [q. v.] He voted in favour of the surrender of the original charter in October 1623, and was one of those included in James I's new grant of 15 July 1624 (Cal. State Papers, Amer. and West Indies, 1574–1660, pp. 50, 53, 404, 449, Addenda, 1574–1664, No. 131). On 3 Nov. 1620 he became a member of the council for New England, and subsequently, on 25 June 1653, was made a commissioner for the government of the Bermudas.

In domestic politics Wroth joined the opposition to the king, and he represented Bridgwater in the parliament of 1627–8. In September 1635 the government seized a letter from him in which he bewailed the condition of the church, and hinted at resistance ‘usque ad sanguinis effusionem’ (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1635, pp. 377–8). He served as sheriff of Somersetshire in 1639–40, and was therefore excluded from the Short parliament; but he again represented Bridgwater in the Long parliament, which met in November 1640. In 1642 was published ‘A Speech spoken by Sir Thomas Wroth … upon his delivery of a Petition from … Somerset, 25 Feb. 1641–2,’ London, 4to. Gradually inclining towards the views of the independents, Wroth retained his seat in the Long parliament through all its vicissitudes, and on 3 Jan. 1647–8 moved the famous resolution that Charles I should be impeached and the kingdom settled without him (Gardiner, Civil War, iv. 50). He took the ‘engagement’ in 1649, and was one of the judges appointed to try the king, but he attended only one session (Noble, Regicides, ii. 339–40). In June following he was thanked by parliament for suppressing the levellers in Somerset. Wroth does not appear to have sat in the parliaments of 1653 and 1654, but on 20 Oct. 1656 was again returned for Bridgwater, which he is said to have represented in Richard Cromwell's parliament of 1658–9, and for which he certainly sat in the Convention parliament of 1660. His petition for pardon (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1660–1, p. 9) was apparently granted (but cf. ib. 1661–2, p. 57), and Wroth lived in retirement until his death, aged 88, at Petherton Park on 11 July 1672. His will was proved on 24 Aug. following.

He left no issue by his wife Margaret, and did not marry again, his estates passing to his great-nephew, Sir John Wroth, second baronet (d. 1674), son of Sir John Wroth, first baronet (d. 1664), a royalist who fought with distinction at Newbury, and was created a baronet in 1660, and grandson of Sir Thomas's brother, Sir Peter Wroth. The baronetcy became extinct on the death of Sir John Wroth, third baronet, on 27 June 1722.

[Cal. State Papers, Dom. and Amer. and West Indies, 1574–1660; Commons' Journals; Official Return Memb. of Parl.; Wood's Athenæ, ed. Bliss, iii. 514–16; Foster's Alumni Oxon. 1500–1714; Noble's Regicides, ii. 339–40; List of Sheriffs, 1898; Inner Temple Records, i. 440, 442; Harl. MS. 2218, f. 24 b; Addit. MS. 16279, ff. 224–5; Visitation of Somerset, 1623 (Harl. Soc.), p. 147; Sir Thomas Phillips's Visitation of Somerset; Collinson's Hist. of Somerset, iii. 62–80; Visitation of London (Harl. Soc.), ii. 373–4; Park's Hist. of Hampstead, p. 115; Davy's Suffolk Collections (Addit. MS. 19156, f. 257); Hunter's Chorus Vatum in Addit. MS. 2449, f. 462; Burke's Extinct Baronetcies; Brown's Genesis U.S.A.; Gardiner's Civil War, iv. 50; Wroth's Works, and authorities cited in text.]

A. F. P.