TADLOWE, George (by 1505-57), of London.

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



Apr. 1554
Nov. 1554

Family and Education

b. by 1505. m. (1) Joan; (2) Anne; at least 1s. 2da.2

Offices Held

Searcher of woollen cloths, London 3 Sept. 1552; gov. Christ’s hospital, London 6 Oct. 1552; master, St. Bartholomew’s hospital by 1557.3


George Tadlowe’s parentage has not been established, but presumably his father was of Kentish origin as Tadlowe’s uncle William Tadlowe was born at Canterbury and made his career at New Romney. He received an education (perhaps at St. Paul’s) which enabled him to move with ease in cultivated circles, even though his Latin was ‘not so well seen’. He appears not to have attended either a university or an inn of court, but as a young man he set himself up as a haberdasher in the capital and plied that trade until his death: by 1526 he valued his stock of feathers and caps at £100, but the consortium of merchants who took it over claimed that it was worth only a quarter of that sum. He traded in a large way with the Continent and imported wine from Bordeaux as well as haberdashery from the Netherlands and Spain. In 1534 a dispute over money brought Tadlowe and his factor at Bordeaux to the notice of Cromwell and in the following year the minister heard of him again, when he took sanctuary at Westminster to evade his creditors. His difficulties arose from the loss ‘of his substance beyond the sea and in the sea by divers misfortunes of shipwrecks as well as by divers evil debtors’; while in sanctuary he reached an agreement which one of the creditors, so he alleged, broke by suing him in the sheriffs’ court. Tadlowe’s business enterprises were punctuated by such proceedings: he was often obliged to go to law for his money and on other occasions he was himself sued for debt. Nevertheless he seems to have prospered. He acquired a little property in the City and took a lease of the White Horse tavern in Langborn ward; in 1541 he was rated for subsidy on goods worth £40 in the parish of St. Mary Wolnoth. He helped set up St. Bartholomew’s and Christ’s hospitals during Edward VI’s reign, and retained an active interest in both foundations until his death.4

Tadlowe’s return to Parliament in 1547 is not easy to explain: in what appears to have been his first experience of the Commons he was chosen by a recently enfranchised Hampshire borough. As Petersfield was famous for its serges and new draperies, Tadlowe may have been able to rely on business connexions for his election there, especially as his fellow-Member was another London merchant (and one of his debtors), Laurence Elveden alias Cattaneo. Yet it is likely that he was also beholden to William Paulet, Baron St. John, a Hampshire magnate prominent both on Edward VI’s Council and in the City: St. John had an interest in the borough during the minority of its lord, Henry Weston, and in 1547 the sheriff of Hampshire was his brother George Paulet. It is London which seems to have taken most advantage of Tadlowe’s Membership. When early in the first session a bill for the river Thames was introduced in the Lords, the City asked him to draw up arguments against it: it is not without interest that St. John was on the Lords committee for the bill, and that Tadlowe himself was afterwards deputed to defend the City’s interest in the river before the Middlesex justices of sewers.5

Tadlowe did not re-enter the House until after Mary’s accession, when St. John was lord treasurer and Marquess of Winchester, and this nobleman’s hand can again be discerned behind his three further appearances at Westminster during the reign. He must have been almost as unknown at Guildford as he had been at Petersfield, yet he once more took the first place and in doing so ousted William More II, who had brought displeasure on himself in the previous House. Since More shared the patronage of Guildford with the 12th Earl of Arundel, a connexion by marriage of Winchester’s and at this time an enthusiastic Marian, it is likely that Arundel used his position to replace More by Tadlowe, a man more acceptable to the Queen: in this he may have been supported by Henry Weston, now out of his wardship and installed at Sutton Place, who was himself returned on this occasion for Tadlowe’s former borough. At the next election More could evidently not be kept out again, and Tadlowe’s patrons there turned to Cornwall for a seat, probably enlisting the help of their kinsmen the Arundells of Lanherne: that Tadlowe was not the choice of the electors at Grampound is shown by the insertion of his name, like that of his fellow-Member Robert Vaughan II on the indenture over an erasure. His experience was put to use by his colleagues when on 3 Dec. 1554 a bill for Welsh linen and cotton was committed to him; his scrutiny may have killed it for it is not heard of again. Tadlowe was not among the Members of this Parliament who left early and without leave, and the next general election saw him returned for another Cornish borough by the sheriff, Sir John Arundell of Lanherne. This time, however, he was to compromise himself by voting with the opposition, led by Sir Anthony Kingston, against a government bill. His conduct could not have been unexpected, for he was an acquaintance of Cecil’s and a hanger-on of Protestant groups. Whether it would have meant his exclusion from the Queen’s last Parliament we cannot say, as before this was summoned he was dead.6

Tadlowe is remembered less as a parliamentarian than as the man who persuaded Ralph Robinson to complete his translation of Utopia. In the dedication of that work to Cecil, Robinson reveals his esteem for Tadlowe,

a man of sage and discreet wit, and in wordly matters by long use well experienced ... an honest citizen of London, and in the same City well accepted, and of good reputation at whose request ... I first took upon my weak and feeble shoulders the heavy and weighty burden of ... this great enterprise. This man ... ceased not by all measures possible continually to assault me, until he had at the last, what by the force of his pithy arguments and strong reasons, and what by his authority so persuaded me, that he caused me to agree and consent to the imprinting hereof. He therefore, as the chief persuader, must take upon him the danger, which upon this bold and rash enterprise shall ensue.

This lesser Maecenas was a sick man when he made his will on 28 Apr. 1557. He revoked his earlier wills and before providing for his second wife, his children and the poor, he asked to be buried beside his first wife in the church of St. Magnus and left seven silk banners to the church where he worshipped. He was buried in accordance with his wishes on the following 12 May.7

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: Patricia Hyde


  • 1. C219/19/84; Hatfield 207.
  • 2. Date of birth estimated from first reference. PCC 22 Wrastley.
  • 3. City of London RO, Guildhall, rep. 12(2), f. 525; E. H. Pearce, Annals Christ Church, 14; Machyn’s Diary (Cam. Soc. xlii), 136.
  • 4. Canterbury prob. reg. C26, f. 149; More, Utopia (1556), address of translator to reader; C1/821/41-43, 910/1, 1077/3; LP Hen. VIII, iv, vii, xiv, add.; E179/144/120; Pearce, 14, 23; N. Moore, St. Bartholomew’s Hosp. ii. 194.
  • 5. Egerton 2094, f. 76; City of London RO, Guildhall jnl. 15, f. 339, rep. 12(1), f. 219v; LJ, i. 300.
  • 6. C219/23/29; CJ, i. 38; Guildford mus. Loseley 1331/2.
  • 7. More, Utopia (1551), title-page, dedication; DNB (Robinson, Ralph); PCC 22 Wrastley; Machyn’s Diary, 136.