Thomas Sackville 1st Earl of Dorset

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Thomas Sackville, 1st Earl of Dorset

Birthplace: Buckhurst, Withyam, Sussex, England
Death: Died in Whitehall, Westminster, Middlesex, England
Place of Burial: St Michaels Parish Church, Whithyham, Sussex
Immediate Family:

Son of Richard Sackville; Richard Sackville and Lady Winifred Brydges
Husband of Cicely Sackville and Cicely Sackville (Baker) 1st Countess of Dorset
Father of Robert Sackville, 2nd Earl of Dorset; Lady Anne Glemham; Lady Jane Sackville; Lady Mary Neville (Sackville); Sir John Sackville and 3 others
Brother of Anne Fiennes; NN #1 Sackville and NN #2 Sackville
Half brother of Thomas Sackville

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About Thomas Sackville, 1st Earl of Dorset

Thomas Sackville, 1st Earl of Dorset

Thomas Sackville, 1st Earl of Dorset (1536 – 19 April 1608) was an English statesman, poet, and dramatist. He was the son of Richard Sackville, a cousin to Anne Boleyn. He was a Member of Parliament and Lord High Treasurer.

He first entered Parliament as MP for Westmorland in 1558, followed by election as MP for East Grinstead in 1559 and Aylesbury in 1563.[1]

Thomas Sackville was the author, with Thomas Norton, of the first English drama to be written in blank verse, Gorboduc (1561), which deals with the consequences of political rivalry. He also contributed to the 1563 edition of The Mirror for Magistrates, with the poem Complaint of Henry, Duke of Buckingham. Sackville's first important work was the poem Induction which describes the poet's journey to the infernal regions, where he encounters figures representing forms of suffering and terror. The poem is noted for the power of its allegory and for its sombre stateliness of tone.

He travelled to Rome, Italy, in 1566, and was detained there as a prisoner for fourteen days, for reasons not clear. The first important employment which Lord Buckhurst had was in 1571, when he was sent on a special mission to king Charles IX of France to congratulate him on his marriage with Elizabeth of Austria, the daughter of the Emperor Maximilian, and also to negotiate the matter of the proposed alliance of Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Anjou, brother of the French king.

In 1572, he was one of the peers that sat on the trial of Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk. In 1586 he was selected to convey to Mary, Queen of Scots, the sentence of death confirmed by the English Parliament. In 1587 he went as ambassador to the United Provinces, upon their complaint against the Earl of Leicester; but, though he performed his trust with integrity, the favourite had sufficient influence to get him recalled; and on his return, he was ordered to confinement in his own house, for nine or ten months.[2] He incurred her displeasure by what she called his "shallow judgement in diplomacy".

In 1591, Sackville became Chancellor of the University of Oxford. He succeeded William Cecil, Lord Burghley as Lord Treasurer for life in 1599, and was a capable, if uninspired, financial manager. In 1604, Sackville bought Groombridge Place in Kent. His other houses included, Knole House, at Knole in Kent, and Michelham Priory, in East Sussex.

Sackville was created Baron Buckhurst, of Buckhurst in the County of Sussex, in 1567. Sackville acquired a large fortune through his real estate dealings in many counties, as well as his investments in the iron foundry business. He was an advocate of stronger enforcement of the Sumptuary Laws, which regulated the types of clothing allowed to be worn by the various social classes, within the military. Specifically, he dictated that only soldiers holding the rank of Colonel or above should be permitted to wear silk and velvet, and that Captains and all ranks below should "make do with fustian and spend the remaining money on their arms.".[3]

In around 1587, Sackville was granted a royal licence to commission an armour from the Royal Workshops at Greenwich. The finely etched, blued and gilt armour, a garniture for the field, is one of the finest and best-preserved examples of the Greenwich school of armour-making known to exist. It is now part of the Wallace Collection in London.[4] Another, similar armour, featuring the same construction and decorative scheme, which belonged to Sir James Scudamore, can be seen at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Queen Elizabeth I acquired Bexhill Manor in 1590 and granted it to Sackville. He was also the last Sackville to be Lord of the Manor of Bergholt Sackville (named after the Sackville family) and Mount Bures in Essex when he sold them in 1578 to Mrs Alice Dister. Both estates had been in the family for 459 years.[5] He was created Earl of Dorset in 1604.

He died suddenly at the council table, having apparently suffered a stroke, referred to as "a dropsy on the brain". His funeral took place at Westminster Abbey and he is buried in The Sackville family vault at Withyham parish Church, East Sussex

Sackville married Cicely Baker in 1555[6] and had seven children, including his heir Robert, and Sir William Sackville, knighted by Henry IV of France.[7]


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  • Thomas Sackville, 1st Earl of Dorset1
  • M, #57777, b. between 1527 and 1536, d. 19 April 1608
  • Father Sir Richard Sackville, Chancellor of the Exchequer2 d. 21 Apr 1566
  • Mother Winifred Bruges2 b. c 1501, d. c 16 Jun 1586
  • Thomas Sackville, 1st Earl of Dorset was born between 1527 and 1536 at Buckhurst, Withyam, Sussex, England.1 He married Cecily Baker, daughter of Sir John Baker, Chancellor of the Exchequer, Speaker of the House of Commons, Ambassador to Denmark, Chancellor of the Exchequer, Under-Sheriff & Recorder of London and Elizabeth Dineley, in 1555.1 Thomas Sackville, 1st Earl of Dorset left a will on 11 August 1607.1 He died on 19 April 1608 at Whitehall, London, Middlesex, England; Supposedly age 81.1 He was buried on 26 May 1608 at Westminster Abbey, London, Middlesex, England.1 His estate was probated on 31 January 1609.1
  • Family Cecily Baker b. c 1535, d. 1 Oct 1615
  • Children
    • Robert Sackville, 2nd Earl of Dorset1 b. 1561, d. 27 Feb 1609
    • Jane Sackville+3 b. c 1570
  • Citations
  • 1.[S11568] The Complete Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain, and the United Kingdom, by George Edward Cokayne, Vol. IV, p. 423-424.
  • 2.[S11568] The Complete Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain, and the United Kingdom, by George Edward Cokayne, Vol. IV, p. 422.
  • 3.[S11568] The Complete Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain, and the United Kingdom, by George Edward Cokayne, Vol. IX, p. 100.
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  • Thomas Sackville, 1st Earl of Dorset1
  • M, #14416, b. 1527, d. 19 April 1608
  • Last Edited=23 Nov 2012
  • Thomas Sackville, 1st Earl of Dorset was born between and 1536 in 1527.3 He was the son of Sir Robert Sackville and Winifred Brydges. He married Cecily Baker, daughter of Sir John Baker, in 1555.3 He died on 19 April 1608, with another son:.3
  • 1st EARL OF DORSET.3 He was County Sussex (both E).3 Allegedly educ Hart Hall Oxford and St John's College Cambridge.3 He was barrister Inner Temple, Member of Parliament (M.P.) Westmorland /8, E Grinstead 1559 and Aylesbury 1563–67, knighted 1567, Amb to States (foreunner of The Netherlands) in the Low Countries in revolt against Spain in 1557.3 In 1563 author ‘Induction' and the ‘Complaint of Buckingham' in the edn of A Mirror for Magistrates (anthology of didactic poetry) and Acts IV and V (Thomas Norton being responsible for Acts I–III, or so the 1st edn of 1565 claims) of Gorboduc (first perf.3 He was created 1st Baron of Buckhurst, Sussex [England] on 8 June 1567.4 On 8 June 1567 as also earlier BARON OF BUCKHURST.3 He was Privy Counsellor (P.C.) (between and Feb 1595/6) in 1582.3 He was Jt Ld-Lt Sussex , Jt Commissioner of Gt Seal 1591–92, Chllr Oxford U 1591–1608, Lord High Treasurer 1599–1608 in 1587.3 He was Knight, Order of the Garter (K.G.) in 1589.3 On 13 March 1603 so created /4.3 He was created 1st Earl of Dorset [England] on 13 March 1603/4.4 He held the office of Lord Treasurer [England].1
  • Children of Thomas Sackville, 1st Earl of Dorset and Cecily Baker
    • 1.Jane Sackville+
    • 2.Lady Mary Sackville+1
    • 3.Lady Anne Sackville+5
    • 4.Thomas Sackville6
    • 5.Robert Sackville, 2nd Earl of Dorset+ b. 1561, d. 25 Feb 1609
    • 6.William Sackville6 b. 1570
  • Citations
  • 1.[S6] G.E. Cokayne; with Vicary Gibbs, H.A. Doubleday, Geoffrey H. White, Duncan Warrand and Lord Howard de Walden, editors, The Complete Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain and the United Kingdom, Extant, Extinct or Dormant, new ed., 13 volumes in 14 (1910-1959; reprint in 6 volumes, Gloucester, U.K.: Alan Sutton Publishing, 2000), volume I, page 37. Hereinafter cited as The Complete Peerage.
  • 2.[S3409] Caroline Maubois, "re: Penancoet Family," e-mail message to Darryl Roger Lundy, 2 December 2008. Hereinafter cited as "re: Penancoet Family."
  • 3.[S37] BP2003 volume 3, page 3456. See link for full details for this source. Hereinafter cited as. [S37]
  • 4.[S6] Cokayne, and others, The Complete Peerage, volume II, page 384.
  • 5.[S6] Cokayne, and others, The Complete Peerage, volume II, page 37.
  • 6.[S37] BP2003. [S37]
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  • Thomas SACKVILLE (1° E. Dorset)
  • Born: 1527/1536, Buckhurst, Withyam, Sussex, England
  • Acceded: 1604
  • Died: 19 Apr 1608, Whitehall
  • Buried: 26 May 1608, Withyam, Sussex, England
  • Notes: See his Biography.
  • Father: Richard "Fill Sack" SACKVILLE (Sir Knight)
  • Mother: Winifred BRYDGES (M. Winchester)
  • Married: Cecily BAKER 1555
  • Children:
    • 1. Robert SACKVILLE (2º E. Dorset)
    • 2. Mary SACKVILLE
    • 3. Jane SACKVILLE (V. Montagu)
    • 4. Anne SACKVILLE
  • From: SACKVILLE (1° E. Dorset)
  • Sir Thomas Sackville, Baron Buckhurst, Member of her Majesty's Privy Council, Lord Lieutenant of Sussex, Exchequer to her Majesty the Queen and Commissioner over state trials. Born 1535/6. Second of three children of Richard "Fill Sack" Sackville, Chancellor of the Exchequer and Winifred Brydges, dau. of Sir John Brydges, Mayor of London. Educated Sullington (Lullington?) g.s.; Hart? Hall, Oxford; Jesus?, Cambridge; Inner Temple, admitted 1 Jul 1555, called; Cambridge, MA 1571; Oxford incorp. 1592. Married 1555, Cecily, daughter of Sir Thomas Baker of London and Sissinghurst, Kent, and had 4 sons, including Robert, and 3 daughters; 1 son illegitimate.
  • Succeeded father 21 Apr 1566. Knighted 8 Jun 1567; K.G. nominated 22 Apr, installed 18 Dec 1589. Created Baron of Buckhurst 8 Jun 1567, Earl of Dorset 13 Mar 1604. Member of Parliament for Westmoreland 1558, East Grinstead 1559, Aylesbury 1563. Justice of the peace, Kent, Sussex 1558/1559-death; feodary, duchy of Lancaster, Sussex 1561; joint lord lieutenant Sussex 1569; Ambassador to France 1571-72, 1591, to the Netherlands 1586, 1598; trier of petitions in the Lords, Parliaments of 1572, 1584, 1586, 1589, 1593, 1597; custos rot. Sussex 1573/4-death; chief butler, England 1590; high steward, Winchester c. 1590; joint commissioner of great seal Nov 1591-May 1592; chancellor, Oxford University 1591; Lord treasurer May 1599-death.
  • His elder sister Anne (who he would in later years argue extensively with regarding the ownership of Sir Thomas More's estate Beaufort which she did inherit from her mother, then Marchioness of Winchester, and Thomas had led average lives for children of their era and station and had also survived the third sibling a second daughter who passed on at an early age.
  • His education went as planned as his father would say, where upon at the age of fifteen; he was had been educated out of Hart Hall, in Oxford. Two years later in 1553 at the age of seventeen; he left his childhood home and took residence in London where he began pursuing his life as a poet and playwright.
  • He received the bulk his wealth from his father Sir Richard Sackville a wealthy landowner whose acquisitiveness earned him the nickname of 'Fill Sack' and was noted for reasons of his great wealth and vast patrimony. He continue to live in such a manner as his father did, knowing how to spend his moneys well and in such a way that he and his family could live in a comfortable fashion.At nineteen years of age in 1555, he met, fell in love with and married the daughter of a member of the Privy Council under Queen Mary, Cicely Baker of Kent. His father's exclusion from office under Mary did not significantly delay Thomas Sackville's entry upon public life for it was not long after his coming of age that he sat in his first Parliament. His election at the beginning of 1558 for East Grinstead, where his father had wielded great influence, had the appearance of a safeguard against his failing to carry off the knighthood for Westmoreland; after he had done so and entered the House as junior knight for that shire, the vacancy at East Grinstead was filled by another Sackville nominee, Thomas Farnham. The circumstances of Sackville's election for Westmoreland are not made easier of explanation by the damaged state of the return, on which the surname is represented only by the fragment 'sa...' A century ago the name was read as 'salkeld'. The accuracy of this reading is borne out by the appearance of that name, afterwards erased and replaced by 'sackvell', on one of the two remaining copies of the Crown Office list; the other and later copy has 'sackveld' alone. It is thus possible that a Thomas Salkeld, presumably of the prominent Westmoreland family of that name, was elected but was afterwards superseded by Sackville. What is more likely, however, is that Sackville was elected and that instead of his unfamiliar name its near counterpart was entered on the return, to be copied on the Crown Office list and only corrected when Sackville appeared in the House. Who procured his election is a matter of speculation. Neither he nor his fellow-knight Anthony Kempe, another Sussex man, had any standing in Westmoreland, but both could claim a marriage connection with Henry Clifford, 2º Earl of Cumberland, hereditary sheriff of the county, and with his father-in-law the 3rd Lord Dacre of Gillesland; Cumberland must also have had dealings with both Sackville's father, and ex-chancellor or augmentations, and his father-in-law Sir John Baker, one of whom doubtless made the approach. For Sackville, as for Kempe, a knighthood of the shire was not to recur; he was to sit as a burgess in the first two Elizabethan Parliaments and in the third he took his seat in the Lords.
  • Sackville had appeared on the pardon roll in Oct 1553 as of London. On 8 Mar 1557, together with Thomas Swynton, he purchased various properties in Kent and Sussex for £1,221. In co-operation with Thomas Norton he wrote "The Tragedie of Gorboduc" but he handed over his other literary project "A myrroure for magistrates" to George Ferrers and William Baldwin after completing the 'Introduction'.
  • In 1558 upon the death of Queen Mary; her half sister Elizabeth Tudor, third cousin on her mother Anne Boleyn's side; ascended England's throne.
  • In addition during the year of 1561 he received the title of "Grandmaster of the Order of Freemasons". In 1563 he was once again elected to Parliament this time for Aylesbury. When he became thirty one years of age, he was knighted and raised to peerage as Lord Buckhurst which did take place on the eighth day of Jun of that year. One year prior to receiving the title of Lord Buckhurst; Queen Elizabeth awarded a piece of property to keeping known as Knole.
  • Much of the fabric of Knole dates from the second half of the fifteenth century. On 30 Jun 1456 William Fiennes sold the estate £266 13s 4d to Thomas Bourchier, Archbishop of Canterbury (and for a brief period in 1455-6, Lord Chancellor of England). Between that date and his death in 1486, Bourchier built himself a substantial but relatively austere palace grouped around a series of courtyards, and containing all of the elements that one would expect to see in the house of an important medieval prelate - a great hall with a day parlour and first-floor solar at one end and kitchens and domestic offices at the other, a chapel, and lodgings for his large household.
  • When Bourchier died - at Knole - he left the estate to the See of Canterbury, and it functioned as an archiepiscopal palace until 1538, when Henry VIII bullied Thomas Cranmer into presenting it to the Crown. The King considerably enlarged the house by building three new ranges of lodgings and a turreted and crenellated gatehouse in the front of the Archbishop's original gatehouse, thus forming what is now known as the Green Court, the main entrance court at Knole. After his death, the house went through a rather confused series of occupancies. Edward VI assigned it to John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland, who for some reason returned it two years later. Mary he granted it to Cardinal Pole for life in 1556; when he died in Nov 1558 (on the same day as the Queen) it reverted to the Crown. Elizabeth granted it to John Dudley's son, Robert, Earl of Leicester, who promptly sublet it, before returning it, still sublet in 1566. In Jun 1566 the Queen presented the estate to his keeping, under whom Knole has finally settled down to a more stable period of ownership. But throughout his career as one of her Majesty’s chief advisers, he had been unable to even live at Knole, in the stead he had managed replace the old Archbishop's palace with a Theobalds or a Holdenby for his Queen's entertainment. Although he had been granted the house and estate in 1566, it currently occupied by the Lennard family, tenants who had moved in as the Earl of Leicester handed the property back to the Crown.
  • In 1568 he had been commissioned to traveled to France on an official visit, his mission was to persuaded the Queen Mother to make a motion for the marriage of Elizabeth with her second son, the Duke of Anjou. In 1569 at the age of thirty-three years old, he was honoured to be placed in the office of Lord Lieutenant of Sussex. Two years later in 1571, he returned to France to congratulate Charles IX on his marriage afterwhich he did return to England bringing Paul du Foix along to continue the discussion of the impending marriage. Also within that year he had been bestowed a Master of Arts from Cambridge. In 1572, he became a member of her Majesty's Privy Council and became employed as Commissioner at state trials.
  • As a member of her Majesty's Privy Council, he was considered a protégée of William Cecil, Baron Burghley and he tends to agree with most of the issues Burghley is in favor of.
  • His career took Sackville to the treasurership and an Earldom before he died at the council table on 19 Apr 1608.
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  • SACKVILLE, Thomas (1535/6-1608), of Buckhurst, nr. East Grinstead, Suss. and Sackville House (later Dorset House), Fleet Street, London.
  • b. 1535/6, prob. 1st s. of Sir Richard Sackville by Winifred, da. of Sir John Brydges† of London. educ. Sullington (?Lullington) g.s.; ?Hart Hall, Oxf., ?St. John’s, Camb.; I. Temple 1555, called; Camb. MA 1571; Oxf. incorp. 1592. m. Cecily (d.1615), da. of Sir John Baker†, of London and Sissinghurst, Kent, 4s. inc. Robert 3da.; ?1s. illegit. suc. fa. Apr. 1566. Kntd. and cr. Baron of Buckhurst 8 June 1567; KG 1589; Earl of Dorset 1604.
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Thomas Sackville 1st Earl of Dorset's Timeline

Buckhurst, Withyam, Sussex, England
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Withyam, Sussex, England
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Buckhurst, Withyham, Sussex, England
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Buckhurst, Withyham, Sussex, England
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May 25, 1571
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Brockhurst, Sussex, England