Thomas WRIOTHESLEY

(1st E. Southampton)

Born: 21 Dec 1505, London

Acceded: 16 Feb 1546

Died: 30 Jul 1550, Southampton House, Lincoln Place, Holborn

Buried: 3 Aug 1550, Titchfield, Hampshire

Notes: Knight of the Garter.

Father: William WRYTHE (York Herald of Arms)

Mother: Agnes DRAYTON

Married: Jane CHENEY (C. Southampton) BEF 1533

Children:

1. William WRIOTHESLEY

2. Anthony WRIOTHESLEY

3. Henry WRIOTHESLEY (2° E. Southampton)

4. Elizabeth WRIOTHESLEY

5. Anne WRIOTHESLEY

6. Mary WRIOTHESLEY

7. Catherine WRIOTHESLEY

8. Mabel WRIOTHESLEY


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Nephew and namesake of Sir Thomas Wriothesley, Garter King of Arms, the principal officer of the College of Arms, from 1505-34. Lord chancellor of England. Appointed a clerk of the signet in 1530, he rose in the favor of Thomas Cromwell. He worked for Cromwell and was involved in torture of those who opposed the establishment of new Protestant Church. He was also one of the men who removed the tomb of St Swithun from Winchester Cathedral during the Reformation. Henry VIII, who granted him many of the lands of the dissolved monasteries. He was knighted in 1537 and became (1540) a principal Secretary of State. He acquired Beaulieu in 1538, and created a modest manor house, which was rebuilt in the early eighteenth century.

He married Jane Cheney, the daughter of William Cheney of Chesham Bois, Buckinghamshire, by Emma Walwyn, daughter of Thomas Walwyn, by whom he had three sons and five daughters

Having been Lord Privy Seal for a few months, for his efforts in negotiating an alliance with Holy Roman Emperor Carlos V, he was created (1544) Baron Wriothesley of Titchfield and Lord Chancellor — an office in which he became notorious for his severity and for his persecution of Anne Askew. He was one of the executors of Henry VIII’s will but acceded to the appointment of Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset, as protector. Somerset, however, though he gave Wriothesley the earldom of Southampton, dismissed (1547) him from the lord chancellorship on the ground that he had delegated his legal duties without consulting the council. Southampton’s consequent grievance against Somerset led him to support John Dudley, Earl of Warwick (later Duke of Northumberland), in overthrowing the protector in 1549, but he had not regained his former position.

He died at Southampton House (then called Lincoln-place) in Holborn, Jul 30, 1550. And Henry his only son and heir succeeded him in his Honour and Estate. His grandson, Henry, 3rd Earl of Southampton, went with Robert, Earl of Essex, to Cadiz, 40 Eliz. was general of the Horse in Ireland, when that Earl was Deputy there, and after appeared with him in the Insurrection in London, which cost Essex his Head; but this Earl escaped, and being kept in Prison till King James came to the Crown, obtained his Liberty, and was restored to his Honour by Act of Parliament: He afterward got into that Prince's Favour, and was made a Knight of the Garter, Governor of the Isle of Wight and Castle of Caresbrooke, and then renewed his Patent for the Title and Dignity of the Earl of Southampton, with the like Privileges that he formerly enjoyed. He died Nov 10 1624 and left Thomas his Heir and Successor. He was a Person of great Prudence and sincere Affection to King Charles I whom he faithfully served in all his Troubles, and after his Death firmly adhered to his Son King Charles II at whose Restoration he was made a Knight of the Garter, and Lord High Treasurer of England. 

Beaulieu and the Wriothesleys

Beaulieu passed in 1538 into the ownership Sir Thomas Wriothesley, later Earl of Southampton, who was granted 'the whole close of Beaulieu' by Letters Patent, dated 29th Jul 1538. He paid £1340 6s 8d for the 8,000 acre estate. He acquired other monastic estates in Hampshire including Titchfield, which became the principal family home. Beaulieu was owned by the Wriothesley family for 129 years, yet their influence on the Estate was slight; it was regarded as a source of income, not a home.

The history of the house until the early 17th century is a matter for conjecture for no extant records survive. However, once admitted through the Outer Gatehouse the visitor was taken to a square building, known as the Great Gatehouse. It consisted of an entry porch an d inner hall with a porter's lodging on its eastern side and two chapels above. In monastic days, the abbot would receive guests here before taking them upstairs for prayers. Wriothesley altered it into a modest manor house, probably by enclosing the entr ance arches, and adding an attic storey to provide servant accommodation.

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After the Dissolution the Great Gatehouse became known as Palace House but the reasons are unclear. The first reference is in a document of 1595 which mentions a tenement 'under the walls of the palace' but in a rental of 1645 it is called Bewley Place. Their house at Titchfield was known as Palace House so it is possible that the name is a corruption of place.

Henry, the 2nd Earl, was brought up as a Roman Catholic and spent four years imprisoned in the Tower of London following implications in plots to depose Elizabeth I.

On his early death in 1581, he was succeeded by his son, another Henry, 3rd Earl of Southampton, an enigmatic character but brought up as a Protestant. Imprisoned like his father in the Tower, Henry was lucky to escape execution for his part in the Earl of Essex's plot of 1601 and was only released with the accession of James I in 1603.

James I and his son Charles I paid frequent visits to Beaulieu for sport and hunting. James made nine visits between 1606 and 1623, his secretary being moved to comment His Majesty... "is so well pleased with his hu nting here as he seems to have a purpose to visit it often", whilst Charles made six visits between 1625 and 1631. On James visit in 1613 it is recorded that he was entertained by the first royal command game of football and bull-baiting, a popular pastime of the day.

The death of Henry and his eldest son in 1624 meant the estate passed to his second son, Thomas. A Royalist during the English Civil War, Thomas estates were sequestered by Parliament and he had to pay a fine to get them back on Charles II¹s restoration. Thomas died in 1667 leaving no male heir. His three daughters drew lots for their portion of the estate; Beaulieu was drawn by the youngest, Elizabeth, who married into the Montagu family, whilst her older sister, married to the owner of Woburn, the Duke of Bedford, received the family property in London.

The Wriothesleys were constantly on the periphery of State affairs without ever managing to play a decisive role in determining the course of national policy. Another family rose alongside them, the Montagus.

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