GAWDY, Thomas II (by 1526-88), of Rockland and Claxton, Norf.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Oct. 1553

Family and Education

b. by 1526, s. of Thomas Gawdy of Harleston by 2nd w. Rose or Anne, da. of Thomas Bennett of Rushall; half-bro. of Thomas Gawdy I and Francis Gawdy. educ. I. Temple. m. (1) settlement 30 Sept. 1548, Audrey, da. and coh. of William Knightley of Norwich, 3s. inc. Henry 4da.; (2) 1567, Frances, da. of Henry Richers of Swannington, 1s. Clipsby 3da. Kntd. 26 Aug. 1578.1

Offices Held

Bencher, I. Temple 1550, Autumn reader 1553, Lent 1560, treasurer 1562-4.

J.p. Norf. 1555-d.; steward, sheriff’s ct., Norwich Aug. 1556-Dec. 1557, recorder 1558-74; counsel to Lynn Aug. 1558-74; serjeant-at-law 1567; j.K.B. Nov. 1574-d.; receiver of petitions in the Lords, Parlts. of 1584 and 1586.2


Thomas Gawdy followed a career closely resembling, but eventually outstripping, that of his elder half-brother and namesake. As Thomas Gawdy ‘the younger’ he was made steward for the reader’s dinner at the Inner Temple in June 1548, and in 1550 he was elected to the bench; it must have been his nephew and namesake who followed him to the inn in 1549 after having studied at Trinity Hall, Cambridge. Gawdy’s ability is shown by his call as serjeant in October 1558, before his second reading; the mandate lapsed with Mary’s death and he eventually received the coif in 1567.3

By 1547 Gawdy was acting as a legal counsel to the 12th Earl of Arundel. This position he probably owed to his half-brother Thomas, then counsel to the 2nd Earl of Sussex, whose stepmother had married Arundel in 1545; the elder Thomas was also a close friend of John Caryll, brother-in-law to Arundel’s household officer Sir Thomas Palmer. When in March 1547 the earl received a licence to grant his manor of Stanstead in Sussex to his son Lord Mautravers it was with remainder to Gawdy. The association can be traced for several years: Gawdy was doubtless acting for the earl when in January 1556 he and (Sir) Nicholas Hare bought from the crown a number of manors in Norfolk formerly belonging to Arundel, and before his death in the same year Mautravers had made Gawdy receiver and steward of his lordship of Mileham in Norfolk. It was clearly to Arundel that Gawdy owed his return for the borough of that name to the Parliament of October 1553. He was joined there by his half-brother Thomas and both were to be noted as having ‘stood for the true religion’, that is, for Protestantism. This gesture of dissent, while consonant with the pair’s religious outlook, was one scarcely to be expected from a client of Arundel’s and the half-brother of a friend of Stephen Gardiner’s, and it may explain why Gawdy, although he continued to do business for Arundel, was not again to benefit from the earl’s parliamentary patronage. His sole reappearance in the Commons was as one of the Members for Norwich in 1558. He had been sworn a citizen when in 1556 he succeeded Richard Catlyn as steward of Norwich. This office he surrendered in the following year, but shortly before Mary’s death he became recorder, a position he retained until he was made a judge. During the same period he was counsel to Lynn.4

Under Elizabeth, Gawdy’s services as serjeant and judge were to earn him a knighthood and a place in the pantheon of those revered by Sir Edward Coke as ‘sages of the law’: Coke, who was a nephew of Gawdy’s first wife, emended Gawdy’s will at his invitation. On his death Gawdy owned nine manors in Norfolk, two in Suffolk and one in Berkshire: some of his properties, like Rockland, had come through his first marriage, others, including Claxton, he bought from his nephew Thomas Gawdy, to whom he long remained in debt. By his will, dated 1 Nov. 1588, Gawdy bequeathed most of his lands to Henry, his eldest son by his first wife, and the use of his plate and stuff at Gawdy Hall to his second wife, with remainder to their son Clipsby. He left £500 to each of his unmarried daughters and plate valued at £10 to the lord chancellor, Sir Christopher Hatton, whose nephew and heir was to marry Gawdy’s niece in the following year. He appointed his son Henry and his brother Francis executors, and his brothers-in-law Henry Richers and Reynold Rowe supervisors. Gawdy died on 5 Nov. 1588.5

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: R. J.W. Swales


  • 1. Date of birth estimated from first reference. Norf. Arch. xxvii. 43, 73; HMC Gawdy, 2.
  • 2. Norwich ass. procs. 3, ff. 26v, 27 and v, 37v, 40, 238; Lynn congregation bk. 5, f. 318 et passim; Foss, Judges, v. 489-90; LJ, ii. 61, 113; A. H. Smith, County and Ct. 178, 352; CPR, 1560-3, p. 440.
  • 3. Smith, 177-9; Cal. I.T. Recs. i. 154, 157-8; CPR, 1557-8, p. 457.
  • 4. PCC 1 Alen, 33 Wrastley, 16 Ketchyn; CPR, 1547-8, p. 52; 1555-7, p. 97; HMC Gawdy, 3, 4; Bodl. e Museo 17.
  • 5. Norf. Arch. xxvii. 33, 34, 38; Blomefield, Norf. x. 115; C142/223/59; PCC 22 Leicester.