THORNEFF (THORNEY), Francis (1515-66 or later), of Stamford, Lincs.

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



Family and Education

b. c.1515, 2nd s. of John Thorneff (d. 11 Mar. 1521) of Stamford by Edith.1

Offices Held

Member of the second Twelve, Stamford 1552-8, of the first Twelve 1558-63, alderman 1557-8; yeoman of the chamber by Feb. 1555.2


Francis Thorneff’s parentage is disclosed by a chancery suit brought against him between 1547 and 1551 by his nephew William Thorneff: the nephew’s claim to 12 messuages in Stamford as part of his inheritance from Christopher, the eldest son of John Thorneff, was met by Francis Thorneff’s contention that by the custom of borough English the property should pass to him as the younger son. It was as an innholder alias yeoman that Thorneff sued out a pardon in October 1553, but by February 1555, when he was licensed to keep a tavern in his house during his lifetime, he was styled an ordinary yeoman of the chamber and the grant made in consideration of service; two years later he was described as a servant of the King and Queen when he acquired a wardship. The difficulty of distinguishing the final consonant of his name makes it likely that he was the Francis Thornesse, gentleman, late of Grantham, who was sued for debt in 1553 by William Rotheram of Lincoln, and the man of the same name who unsuccessfully bargained with Reginald Warcop for the weighership of Boston in 1557 or 1558.3

Thorneff in was one of the ‘second Twelve’ at Stamford when he was elected to the fourth Marian Parliament and was serving as ‘alderman’ (that is, mayor) when re-elected to its successor. He thus satisfied the Queen’s preference for resident Members as well as enjoying his own court connexion; support is also likely to have been forthcoming from Sir William Cecil, whose influence was reflected in the election of his servant Francis Yaxley as the other Member in 1555. Both Members were presumably involved with the bill for the town and river of Stamford which passed both Houses in that Parliament but was not enacted. Thorneff’s appearance on the list of Members of the same Parliament who voted against one of the government’s bills is less surprising in a follower of Cecil than in an officer of the royal household, but this show of opposition neither cost Thorneff his post nor debarred him from re-election.4

After Elizabeth’s accession Thorneff retained his standing at court and in the borough. The date of his death has not been established, but he probably did not survive for more than ten years of the new reign.5

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: M. K. Dale


  • 1. Date of birth estimated from elder brother’s, E150/1222/8. C1/1272/17-19.
  • 2. Stamford hall bk. 1461-1657, ff. 153v, 169, 182; J. Drakard, Stamford, 101; CPR, 1554-5, p. 180.
  • 3. C1/1272/17-19; 3/178/172; CPR, 1553-4, p. 452; 1554-5, p. 180; 1555-7, p. 457; 1557-8, p. 63; E159/333, m. 111.
  • 4. CJ, i. 44-45; Guildford mus. Loseley 1331/2.
  • 5. Lansd. 3, f. 193; Stamford hall bk. 1461-1657, ff. 183 seq.