LAWLEY, Thomas (by 1524-59), of Much Wenlock, Salop.

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



Mar. 1553

Family and Education

b. by 1524, yr. s. of John Lawley of Much Wenlock by Mary, da. of Thomas Cresset of Upton Cresset; bro. of Richard. m. by 1545, Beatrice (d.1570), da. and coh. of Griffith Hinton of Hinton, wid. of Richard or William Constantine of Broseley, 4s. inc. Robert and Thomas.1

Offices Held

Bailiff, Much Wenlock 1546-7, 1551-2.2


Thomas Lawley, apparently the first member of his family to engage in commerce, was by July 1545 a merchant of the staple of Calais and transacting his business from Shrewsbury. He was then alienating land in the north of the county in order to consolidate his property in Wenlock, where his family had long played a leading part, and the process was crowned in August 1545 by his purchase of the house and site of Wenlock priory from Agostino Agostini, the King’s physician. Some years earlier his father had attempted to defend the priory from the attentions of Reformers. Lawley made further purchases of land in several counties at the end of 1545, some in conjunction with his elder brother, Richard Lawley, but much of this land was resold.3

Lawley was made a burgess and elected bailiff of Wenlock in the year following these purchases. It was immediately after his year of office that he was returned to Parliament for Wenlock with his brother, who had also been returned in 1545. This was the only occasion before 1603 when the family provided both Members. In the next Parliament, that of March 1553, it was Thomas Lawley who was reelected, his brother yielding place to a Herbert, who took the senior seat. Nothing is known of Lawley’s part in the work of either Parliament.4

For a time Lawley leased out Wenlock priory, but by 1556 he was ‘dwelling within the site’. He died on 2 Apr. 1559 at his wife’s old home near Whitchurch, but his body was brought in a horse-litter for burial in the chancel of Wenlock church. His eldest son, Thomas, was aged 11 and the wardship was granted to Thomas Blount. By his will made during the previous summer Lawley prescribed the making of nine gold rings, inscribed with his initials and death’s heads, for delivery to his nearest relatives. He provided for his wife from property in Bewdley, Worcestershire, and other lands shared with Sir George Blount, and for his wife’s children by her first marriage. He appointed his wife executrix, and his brother Richard and Thomas Ludlow overseers of the will, which was proved on 6 Feb. 1560.5

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: Alan Harding


  • 1. Date of birth estimated from first reference. Vis. Salop (Harl. Soc. xxviii), 132; (xxix), 313; C142/119/178; PCC 16 Mellershe.
  • 2. Much Wenlock min. bk. f. 160; Trans. Salop Arch. Soc. (ser. 2), vi. 262.
  • 3. LP Hen. VIII, xx; ECP, v. 53.
  • 4. C33/3/50.
  • 5. LP Hen. VIII, xxi; Trans. Salop Arch. Soc. vi. 108, 110, 129; C142/119/78; CPR, 1558-60, p. 65; PCC 16 Mellershe.