THROCKMORTON, Nicholas (1515/16-71), of London and Paulerspury, Northants.
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Family and Education
b. 1515/16, 4th s. of Sir George Throckmorton, and bro. of Anthony†, Clement, George, John I, Kenelm and Robert. m. by 1553, Anne, da. of Sir Nicholas Carew of Beddington, Surr., 10s. inc. Arthur† and Nicholas† 3da. Kntd. Jan./May 1551.2
Page, household of Henry Fitzroy, Duke of Richmond by 1532-6; servant, household of William, Baron Parr, later Earl of Essex and Marquess of Northampton by 1543; sewer, household of Queen Catherine Parr by 1544-7 or 8; gent. privy chamber by 1549-53; under treasurer, Tower II mint 25 Dec. 1549-24 June 1552; keeper, Brigstock park, Northants. 14 Sept. 1553-d.; j.p. Northants. 1558/59-d.; ambassador to France 1563-4, to Scotland 1565, 1567; chamberlain, the Exchequer 21 June 1564-d.; chief butler, Eng. and Wales 28 Nov. 1565-d.3
As ‘a brother fourth and far from hope of land’ Nicholas Throckmorton began his career in the service of Henry VIII’s illegitimate son the Duke of Richmond, presumably with the help of his uncle Sir William Parr, who was Richmond’s chamberlain. In 1532 he accompanied Richmond to France for the meeting of the King with Francis I at Calais and stayed on there with his master for nearly a year, learning French ‘though nothing readily’. After Richmond’s death in 1536 Throckmorton’s prospects were slender until his mother persuaded Parr’s nephew and namesake to take him into service: it was under the younger Parr that he served on the Scottish border in 1543. He had obtained a small annuity from Pipewell abbey before the Dissolution, and when his cousin Catherine Parr married the King he and his brother Clement received appointments in her household. In 1544 he returned to France, this time as a captain in the army which took Boulogne. His election to the Parliament of the following year he doubtless owed to the Queen, who was the principal landowner in the neighbourhood of Maldon. It was also through her favour that in 1546 he was granted a lease of two Hertfordshire manors. At court he moved increasingly in Protestant circles, becoming acquainted with Anne Askew whom he visited in prison.4
In 1547 Throckmorton fought under the Protector Somerset’s command in Scotland and for bringing the news of Pinkie to Edward VI he received an annuity of £100. According to a family tradition he gained the young King’s affection, and his knighting early in 1551 shortly before going on an embassy to France was the occasion for one of the King’s rare outbursts of high spirits. In the first Parliament of the reign he sat for Devizes, which formed part of Queen Catherine’s jointure and which had returned his brother Clement to the previous Parliament. Catherine’s death in September 1548, and the subsequent downfall of her husband Admiral Seymour, did not harm Throckmorton, who had openly disapproved of Seymour’s conduct and stood closer to his own master, now Marquess of Northampton. He also appears not to have been compromised by the fall of Somerset; on the contrary, his appointment in the privy chamber and his under treasurership of the mint look like a reward for his part in that episode. The Commons Journal does not mention Throckmorton, but he was later to remind Nicholas Hare and William Stanford that he had heard them expound to the House ‘the ambiguities and doubts of [the treason] law sincerely, and without affectations’; he presumably assisted in the passage of the private Act confirming the legality of Northampton’s second marriage (5 and 6 Edw. VI, no. 30), and another likely to have interested him was the Act for the restoration in blood of Francis Carew, who was perhaps already his brother-in-law (2 and 3 Edw. VI, no. 42). In June 1552 Throckmorton, in company with a number of other officials there, gave up his appointment at the mint, for which he was shortly afterwards recompensed by a further annuity of £100. His acceptability to the Northumberland regime is borne out by the inclusion of his name in the Council letter recommending selected gentlemen for return to the Parliament of March 1553: he was put forward as knight of the shire for Northampton and was duly elected.5
Throckmorton’s conduct during the succession crisis is not easy to determine. He signed the device settling the crown upon Lady Jane Grey, and when during her brief reign she agreed to be godmother to Edward Underhill’s son Anne Throckmorton acted as her deputy. On the other hand, he is supposed to have sent word of the King’s death to Mary, and when he challenged Sir Thomas Tresham’s proclamation of Mary at Northampton it may have been on the ground that Tresham was not sheriff. There was certainly no immediate sign of disfavour: on 24 July he was appointed to conduct the Queen on her progress to London, and on 14 Sept. he was granted the keepership of the parks at Brigstock, Northamptonshire, forfeited by the Marquess of Northampton’s attainder. In the Parliament of October 1553 he and his brother John sat for Old Sarum, presumably on the nomination of their kinsman William Herbert I, 1st Earl of Pembroke. During this Parliament the Act legalising Northampton’s second marriage was repealed (1 Mary st. 2, no. 30): neither brother is known to have opposed this measure, which had the Queen’s approval, but Sir Nicholas Throckmorton joined the opposition to the reintroduction of Catholicism, being noted on the list of Members as having ‘stood for the true religion’. Some months later he recalled hearing Sir Richard Southwell speak against the Spanish marriage in the Commons, where ‘I did see the whole consent of the realm against it, and I, a hearer, but no speaker’.6
Even if Throckmorton did not speak against the marriage in the House, he was thought to be active against it outside and to have conspired with Sir Thomas Wyatt II to prevent it. On 1 Jan. 1554 he was bound over in a recognizance of £2,000 to be of good conduct, and on the following 20 Feb., after the failure of Wyatt’s rebellion, he was committed to the Tower. On 17 Apr. he was indicted of treason at Guildhall and brought to trial on a charge of being the ‘principal deviser, procurer and contriver of the late rebellion: and that Wyatt was but his minister’. To the discomfiture of the crown he put up such a masterly defence that he was acquitted, but in the expectation that a further charge could be brought against him he was not released until 18 Jan. 1555, when he retired to his home in Northamptonshire. On the discovery of the Dudley conspiracy he feared that he would again be suspected, and on 20 June 1556 he fled to France. He protested his innocence to the English ambassador and gave some colour to this by not mixing with refugees known to have supported the conspiracy. During the autumn the Queen allowed his wife to send him some money, and on 1 May 1557 she pardoned him and restored to him the property confiscated on his flight. Later in the year he served under the Earl of Pembroke at the battle of St. Quentin. On his return to England he started a correspondence with Princess Elizabeth, and on the death of Queen Mary he presumed to advise her successor on ministerial appointments.7
Elizabeth shared (Sir) Richard Morison’s belief that Throckmorton was a ‘Machiavellist’, and although her reign saw his fortunes take an upward turn he never attained high position and his prospects were again clouded in 1569 by his suspected complicity with the 4th Duke of Norfolk. He died in London on 12 Feb. 1571 and was buried in the church of St. Catherine Cree, Aldgate.8
Ref Volumes: 1509-1558
Author: S. M. Thorpe
- 1. Hatfield 207.
- 2. Aged 35 at Gardiner’s trial in Jan. 1551, Foxe, Acts and Mons. vi. 148, and 46 in 1562, R. G. Strong, Tudor and Jacobean Portraits, 311. Vis. Warws. (Harl. Soc. xii), 87; Vis. Northants. ed. Metcalfe, 200; Add. 5841, p. 200; DNB; PCC 9 Daper.
- 3. Add. 5841, p. 252 seq.; Soc. Antiq. (1790), p. 167; LP Hen. VIII, xvi; Brit. Numismatic Jnl. xlv. 69; APC, iv. 76, 77, 84; CPR, 1549-51, p. 137; 1553, p. 9; 1563-6, pp. 118, 234; CSP Dom. 1601-3, Add. 1547-65, pp. 503, 561.
- 4. A. L. Rowse, Ralegh and the Throckmortons, 9-12; Add. 5841, p. 252 seq.; LP Hen. VIII, xvi, xviii, xix; Narr. Ref. (Cam. Soc. lxxvii), 42.
- 5. CPR, 1550-3, p. 104; Add. 5841, p. 252 seq.; Rowse, 12-19; HMC Hatfield, i. 61; Lit. Rems. Edw. VI, 317, 359; CSP Span. 1550-2, pp. 212, 302; APC, iii. 271; W. K. Jordan, Edw. VI, ii. 82, 104, 417.
- 6. Jordan, ii. 524; Narr. Ref. 12, 13, 100; Chron. Q. Jane and Q. Mary (Cam. Soc. xlviii), 63; Bodl. e Museo 17; Holinshed, Chron. iv. 31; State Trials, ed. Howell, i. 869 seq.; Strype, Eccles. Memorials, ii(1), 554; A. G. Dickens, Eng. Ref. 257; Add. 5841, p. 252 seq.
- 7. Rowse, 20-25; D. M. Loades, Two Tudor Conspiracies, 16, 18, 95-97, 158-9, 210, 214, 236; Narr. Ref. 63, 75; Foxe, vi. 349; Machyn’s Diary (Cam. Soc. xlii), 60, 80; DKR, iv(2), 63; Chron. Q. Jane and Q. Mary, 75; CPR, 1555-7, p. 476; CSP Dom. 1547-80, p. 78; CSP For. 1553-8 passim; Add. 5841, p. 252 seq.; EHR, lxv. 91.
- 8. EHR, lxv. 91-98; C142/137/104; Pevsner and Cherry, London, i. 161.