WHITE, Thomas III (by 1517-90), of Fittleford in Sturminster Newton, Dorset.

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 1517, 1st s. of Thomas White of Poole. m. by 1560, Anne, da. of John Williams of Winterbourne Herringston, 2s. 2da. suc. fa. 28 Dec. 1556.2

Offices Held

Bailiff, Poole 1545-6, mayor 1551-2; subsidy collector, hundred of Puddletown 1557.3


In 1553 there were two Thomas Whites in Poole either of whom could have been returned to Parliament. The senior of them, who derived his wealth from trade in cloth, lead and other goods, and was assessed for the subsidy of 1547 on lands worth £50, had served as mayor three times between 1531 and 1545. His son and partner in the business had been chosen mayor in 1551 at the age of 34.4

Thomas White senior was described by Thomas Hancock, the reforming minister of St. James’s, Poole, as ‘old Thomas White, a great rich merchant and ringleader of the papists’; he had opposed Hancock’s preaching on the eucharist with the words, ‘Come from him, good people. He came from the devil and teacheth unto you devilish doctrine’. White afterwards set up the high altar removed from the parish church in his own house so that Catholics could hear mass. So notorious a dissident is unlikely to have prevailed in an election dominated by the opposing forces. The letter sent on this occasion by the Privy Council to the sheriff of Dorset does not survive, but the county was strongly Protestant, the sheriff Sir John Rogers a supporter of the Duke of Northumberland and the butler of Poole (Sir) John Gates the duke’s henchman. Although less is known about the younger man’s religious outlook than about his father’s, it was presumably not so rigid as to offset his local standing. After the brief Parliament was over he and his fellow-Member William Newman were paid £4 3s.4d. between them for the balance of their charges.5

On his father’s death White inherited land in Dorset, Somerset, Hampshire and Wiltshire. He also had the use of two chambers, a counting house and cellar in the family house at Poole bequeathed for life to his stepmother Christian. He was sole executor of his father’s will and he had licence to enter his lands on 4 July 1557. Described in the pardon roll of 1559 as merchant of Poole, White had in fact attained gentle status and in the same year he received a grant of arms as White of Fittleford. Little is known of his later life; in 1563 he still had property in Poole, paying 2s.2d. rent for a house, gardens and tenements. He lived until 21 Dec. 1590, when his inheritance passed to his son Thomas, aged 30. By her will of 24 Apr. 1592 his widow Anne asked to be buried beside him in the aisle of the church at Sturminster Newton.6

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: M. K. Dale


  • 1. Poole rec. bk. 1, p. 85.
  • 2. Date of birth estimated from age at fa.’s i.p.m., C142/107/15. Hutchins, Dorset, iv. 341; PCC 23 Wrastley, 56 Scott.
  • 3. Poole rec. bk. 1, pp. 72, 82; APC, vi. 161.
  • 4. Poole rec. bk. 1, pp. 55, 63, 72, 82; E122/121/7, 8, 122/4, 7, 21, 123/2, 207/2, 6, 222/5; 179/104/174.
  • 5. Narr. Ref. (Cam. Soc. lxxvii), 77-82; H. P. Smith, Poole, ii. 58; Poole rec. bk. 1, p. 85.
  • 6. PCC 23 Wrastley, 16 Welles, 56 Scott; C. H. Mayo, Shastonian Recs. 81; CPR, 1555-7, p. 374; 1558-60, p. 182; CSP Dom. 1547-80, p. 131; Poole recs. envelope 11; C142/228/36; Hutchins, iv. 341.