Sir Thomas Wotton, MP

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Thomas Wotton, Esq.

Also Known As: "Watton", "Wootton"
Birthplace: Boughton, Malherbe, Kent, England
Death: Died in Kent, England
Place of Burial: Boughton Malherbe, Kent, England
Immediate Family:

Son of Sir Edward Wotton, Treasurer of Calais and Dorothy Wotton
Husband of Elizabeth Wotton and Eleanor Wotton, Baroness of Marley
Father of Edward Wotton, 1st Baron Wotton; Elizabeth Dering; Robert Wootton; Sir John Wootton; Sir James Wootton and 2 others
Brother of Ann Rudston and William Wotton, MP

Managed by: Private User
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About Sir Thomas Wotton, MP

WOTTON, Thomas (by 1521-87), of Boughton Place, Boughton Malherbe, Kent.

Family and Education b. by 1521, 1st s. of Sir Edward Wotton of Boughton Place by Dorothy, da. of Sir Robert Rede; bro. of William. educ. L. Inn, adm. 7 Feb. 1541. m. (1) by 1545, Elizabeth, da. of Sir John Rudston of London, 6s. inc. Edward† 3da.; (2) settlement 12 Apr. 1565, Eleanor, da. of William Finch of the Moat, Kent, wid. of Robert Morton, 2s. suc. fa. 8 Nov. 1551.2

Offices Held

Commr. heresies, Kent 1552, goods of churches and fraternities 1553, Rochester bridge 1561, 1571, 1574, piracy 1565, offences against the Acts of Uniformity and Supremacy 1572; sheriff 1558-9, 1578-9; j.p.q. 1558/59-d.; custos rot. 1561-d.3

Biography Thomas Wotton was described by Izaak Walton as ‘a man of great modesty, of a plain and single heart, of an ancient freedom and integrity of mind, ... of great learning, religion and wealth’. He came from a Kentish family which stood high in the esteem of the crown: his father was prominent at the court of Henry VIII, a beneficiary under the King’s will and a Privy Councillor and treasurer of Calais under Edward VI, and his uncle successively an ambassador, Privy Councillor and secretary of state. With the exception of his single (known) appearance at Westminster, Wotton did not try to emulate them: he was of a retiring disposition and rarely visited either the court or the capital, but as a landlord and magistrate he showed exemplary diligence.4

Wotton spent some time at Lincoln’s Inn, presumably to round off his education since he is not known to have been called or to have practised; while a student at the inn he occupied a house in the nearby parish of St. Foster’s, Gutter Lane. His marriage, which may have taken place before he left it, was one of a series between his family and the Rudstons, his father having married the widow of Sir John Rudston and his sister being the wife of Robert Rudston.5

Wotton’s return in 1547 for a newly enfranchised Cornish town was doubtless arranged by his father, with help from another Privy Councillor, Sir John Russell, Baron Russell, an honorary member of Lincoln’s Inn and lord lieutenant in the west. The Journal contains no reference to Wotton, but he missed some of the first session conveying treasure to his father in Calais and in the second he may have interested himself in the Act for gavelkind (2 and 3 Edw. VI, no. 40), which was to his benefit as an eldest son. He doubtless acted for his father and uncle during their absences abroad, and early in 1549 he wrote a letter of advice to the Protector which, coming from one of so little experience, probably offended its recipient. By the next Parliament, that of March 1553, Wotton’s father was dead; his uncle was in favour with the Duke of Northumberland, but in the absence of so many returns it is not known whether he sat again, although his younger brother did. In the previous autumn he had been nominated, but not pricked, sheriff, and he was promised a knighthood of the Bath which the King did not live to confer. Wotton’s Protestantism did not commend him to Mary. On 16 Jan. 1554 he was summoned before the Council, perhaps in connexion with Sir Thomas Wyatt II’s plot, and five days later he was committed to the Fleet ‘for obstinate standing in matters of religion’. His uncle interceded with the Queen on his behalf and averted harsher punishment. It is not known how long Wotton stayed in custody and nothing has come to light about his career during the rest of the reign.6

With Elizabeth on the throne Wotton emerged as a figure of importance in Kent. As her first sheriff he received in 1559 a letter from (Sir) Henry Crispe ‘touching the tranquillity of the realm’ which he sent on to Cecil. In 1564 his religious beliefs were approved by Archbishop Parker, and his efforts to defend extreme Protestants and to extirpate recusancy show where his heart lay. In 1573 the Queen visited Boughton Place and offered him a knighthood, which he declined. Wotton is chiefly remembered as the patron of William Lambarde†, whose Perambulation of Kent (1576) was dedicated to him; as a young man he had been similarly associated with The Christian state of matrimony (1543) translated by Miles Coverdale, and later in life Edward Dering dedicated to him The sparing restraint (1568). Wotton made his will on 8 Jan. 1587. He left £400 and some furniture to his wife, provided she quitclaimed her interest in the Wotton estates to his son Edward. He remembered various members of his family and his friends (Sir) Roger Manwood II and Thomas Temple, and appointed as executors his son Edward, his brother-in-law Robert Rudston and his nephew William Cromer†. He died three days later and was buried in Boughton church, where a monument was erected to his memory.7

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558 Author: A. D.K. Hawkyard Notes 1. Hatfield 207. 2. Date of birth estimated from age at fa.’s i.p.m., C142/93/113. Vis. Kent (Harl. Soc. lxxiv), 21-22; (lxxv), 78-79; CPR, 1563-6, p. 196. 3. CPR, 1550-3 to 1572-5 passim; APC, vii. 382. 4. Izaak Walton, Reliquiae Wottoniane (1685), sig. b. 4; DNB (Wotton, Sir Edward and Sir Nicholas). 5. LP Hen. VIII, xvii. 6. APC, ii. 148; iv. 351; PCC 33 Bucke; Thomas Wotton’s Letter Bk. 1574-86 ed. Eland, 13-14; CPR, 1553, p. 387; Foxe, Acts and Mons. vi. 413; Walton, sig. b. 4. 7. Arch. Cant. xii. 417-18; lxxxii. 124; Cam. Misc. ix (3), 57; CSP Dom. 1547-80, pp. 560, 685; 1581-90, p. 80; APC, vii. 31, 37, 382; xii. 161; Cantium, ii. 43; Strype, Annals Ref. i(2), 272; ii(1), 44, 465; Parker, 339; PCC 4 Spencer; C142/215/263; J. Newman, W. Kent and the Weald, 167.

Thomas Wotton (1521–1587), who was in December 1547 employed in conveying treasure to his father at Calais, and in 1551 succeeded to his estates, his father having procured two acts of parliament ‘disgavelling’ his lands in Kent. Edward VI had intended making him K.B., but after Mary's accession the council on 19 Sept. 1553 wrote him a letter ‘discharging him from being knight of the Bath, whereunto he was once appointed and written unto’ (Acts P. C. 1552–4, p. 351). On 16 Jan. 1553–4 he was summoned before the council, and on 21 Jan. ‘for obstinate standing against matters of religion was committed to the Fleet, to remain there a close prisoner’ (ib. pp. 385, 389). Walton in his ‘Life of Sir Henry Wotton’ (Reliquiæ Wottonianæ, 1685, sig. b4) declares that the council's action was due to Nicholas Wotton, who had twice dreamt that his nephew was in danger of participating in some dangerous enterprise, apparently Wyatt's rebellion, and secured his temporary imprisonment to save him from worse perils. The date of his release has not been ascertained; but on 23 Nov. 1558, six days after Elizabeth's accession, he was made sheriff of Kent. For nearly thirty years he was regularly included in the various commissions for the county, such as those for the peace, for taking musters, gaol delivery, examining into cases of piracy, and fortifying Dover. In July 1573 he entertained Queen Elizabeth at Boughton Malherbe, when he declined an offer of knighthood, and in 1578–9 again served as sheriff. He was a person of ‘great learning, religion, and wealth,’ and a patron of learning and protestantism in others. Thomas Becon [q. v.] dedicated to him his ‘Book of Matrimony,’ and Edward Dering his ‘Sparing Restraint.’ William Lambarde [q. v.] also dedicated to Wotton in 1570 his ‘Perambulation of Kent,’ which was published in 1576 with a prefatory letter by Wotton. He died on 11 Jan. 1586–7, and was buried at Boughton Malherbe (Inquisitio post mortem, Elizabeth, vol. ccxv. No. 263). He married, first, Elizabeth, daughter of Sir John Rudston, by whom he had issue Edward, first baron Wotton [q. v.]; Robert; Sir John, who travelled widely, was knighted by Queen Elizabeth, and died young after giving some promise as a poet (cf. his two contributions to England's Helicon of 1600, ed. A. H. Bullen, 1899, pp. xviii, 65, 82); James (d. 1628), who served in Spain and was knighted on the field in 1596 near Cadiz; and Thomas. By his second wife, Eleanor, daughter of Sir William Finch and widow of Robert Morton, Wotton was father of Sir Henry Wotton [q. v.], the diplomatist and poet. [Brewer and Gairdner's Letters and Papers of Henry VIII; State Papers, Henry VIII; Acts of the Privy Council, ed. Dasent, vols. i–xii.; Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1547–90, For. 1547–53; Stowe MS. 150 ff. 31, 42, 44, 51, 180 f. 168; Harl. MSS. 283 and 284; Cal. Inq. post mortem, Henry VII, i. 694; Hist. MSS. Comm. 5th Rep. App. passim; Chron. of Calais and Troubles connected with the Prayer-book (Camden Soc.); Lit. Remains of Edw. VI (Roxburghe Club); Corresp. Pol. de Odet de Selve, 1546–8; Original Letters (Parker Soc.), ii. 612; Parker Corresp. pp. 304, 370, 441; Cranmer's Works, ii. 54; Strype's Works (general index); Reliquiæ Wottonianæ, ed. 1685; Lists of Sheriffs, 1898; Burnet's Hist. of the Reformation, ed. Pocock; Nichols's Progresses of Queen Elizabeth; Hasted's Kent, passim, esp. iv. 176; Archæologia Cantiana (general index); Todd's Deans of Canterbury, pp. 11–12; Burke's Extinct Peerage.] as was Sheriff of Kent. He succeeded his father in possession of Boughton Malherbe in 1551.

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Sir Thomas Wotton, MP's Timeline

June 15, 1521
Kent, England
Age 19
Age 21
Age 22
Age 26
Age 31
Age 38
March 30, 1568
Age 46
Boughton Malherbe, Kent, England
January 11, 1588
Age 66
Kent, England