ALDERSEY, Thomas (d.1599), of Cripplegate, London and Bunbury, Cheshire.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer




Family and Education

b. bef. 1529, s. of John Aldersey of Spurston, Cheshire by Ann or Agnes, da. and h. of Thomas Bird of Clutton (?Clopton), Cheshire. m. Alice, da. of Richard Calthrop of Antringham, Norf., s.p.2

Offices Held

Common councilman, London by 1571, auditor 1571-2; serjeant to sheriff of London 1576.3


Aldersey, a London haberdasher and a ‘brother’ of his company, was described by contemporaries as one of the ‘wisest and best merchants in London’. He was assessed at £100 for the 1589 subsidy. In 1574 the Privy Council asked him to provide information about those in the city who claimed reprisals from Spain. He was a member of several commissions dealing with commercial matters, examining charges of piracy in October 1580, two years later inquiring into the export of gold, and in 1589 hearing a dispute between the city of Chester and the merchants of Mere over retail trade. He served as a temporary assistant to Julius Caesar in Admiralty causes, and wrote to Burghley about the renewal of trade with the Netherlands.4

Mercantile interests are reflected in Aldersey’s parliamentary activities. He first entered the House at a by-election after the death of John Marsh, and was an active committeeman in the 1581 session, serving on committees for aliens (25 Jan. 1581), the subsidy (25 Jan.), wrecks (30 Jan.), unlawful marriages (31 Jan.), cloth (4 Feb.), ‘paving the street without Aldgate’ (9 Feb.), the ‘inordinate selling of wool and yarn’ (13 Feb.), the creditors of Sir Thomas Gresham (20 Feb.), hats and caps (22 Feb.), the Merchant Adventurers (2 Mar.), Dover harbour (4 Mar.), mariners and navigation (15 Mar., 17 Mar.) and iron mills (18 Mar.). In the 1584 Parliament he sat on only one committee: for the bill against ‘incontinent life’ (26 Feb. 1585), and in the 1586 and 1589 Parliaments, he served on only two committees in each: regrators of barley (4 Mar.) and buying of wares by strangers (14 Mar. 1587); the subsidy (11 Feb.) and mortmain (25 Feb. 1589). No mention of any speech has been found.5

Although Aldersey’s business interests were in London, he maintained close contact with Cheshire, settling £130 a year on the Haberdashers Company for the maintenance of a free school at Bunbury in 1576 and organising relief after a fire at Nantwich in 1584. In 1595 he was a suitor for the post of ‘waiter at the waterside’ at Chester, but Clement Hickes wrote to his brother Michael that Aldersey, whom he had himself displaced from an unnamed office for ‘bad dealing’, was hated ‘by all men generally’ in that city, and that the merchants feared harsh treatment if he were appointed.6

By 1588, when he lent £300 to the government, he was evidently a wealthy man. His will, made in 1596 and proved 23 Feb. 1599, soon after his death, contains large charitable bequests. He left money to the Haberdashers for the maintenance of a preacher, minister and schoolmaster, as well as £20 for a dinner on the day of his funeral; £100 was bequeathed to Christ’s Hospital, and the same amount to provide work for the poor in Bridewell; other gifts to the London poor and prisoners totalled £55. His home town of Bunbury received £300 for the church and school, and £20 annually for other charities there, while a further £20 went to the poor of Chester. The distribution of these legacies, and about £800 in gifts to relatives, was entrusted to the executor, his nephew John Aldersey of Berden, Essex, who was asked to see that the burial, at Bunbury, was ‘without any pomp’.7

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: J.C.H.


  • 1. Did not serve for the full duration of the Parliament.
  • 2. Vis. Cheshire (Harl. Soc. xviii), 13; Ormerod, Cheshire, ii. 739-40.
  • 3. A. B. Beaven, Aldermen, i. 289; Lansd. 23, f. 116.
  • 4. PCC 10 Kidd; Vis. London (Harl. Soc. cix, cx), 156; Ormerod, ii(2), p. 740; Lansd. 112, f. 3 seq.; 146, f. 43; 683, f. 62; APC, vii. 281; CSP Dom. 1581-90, pp. 86, 591-2, 627.
  • 5. D’Ewes, 285, 288, 289, 294, 306, 307, 308, 361, 412, 415, 431, 439; CJ, i. 119, 120, 121, 122, 124, 125, 128, 129, 130, 131, 134, 135, 136; Townshend, Hist. Colls. 21.
  • 6. Stow, Survey of London (1720), v. 64; CSP Dom. 1581-90, pp. 176, 285; Lansd. 79, f. 207.
  • 7. Lansd. 56, f. 3; PCC 10 Kidd; Ormerod, ii(2), p. 740.