CHATTERTON, Thomas, ?of Braydon and Lydiard Millicent, Wilts.

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

m. Mary, 1s., Giles. 2

Offices Held


This Member was returned for Petersfield in place of Ralph Bourchier who chose to sit for Newcastle-under-Lyme. At first sight it would seem more likely that the Thomas Chatterton concerned was of Easton in Sidlesham, Sussex, the son of John Chaderton of Portsmouth, who was related by marriage to the influential family of Norton. But this man died in about 1573, whereas the Crown Office list corrected up to 1576 still has the name of Thomas Chatterton for Petersfield.3

The only other Thomas Chatterton known at this period was one of the Wiltshire Chattertons. The identification of this man with the Member of Parliament—though no connexion has been found between him and the Westons, who owned the borough—is substantiated by an entry in Thomas Cromwell’s journal for 19 May 1572, stating that one William Chatterton introduced a ‘bill’ to require ‘the disablement of Thomas Chatterton from being of the House ... for that he is proclaimed a rebel for disobeying of orders in the Chancery’. Two days later the ‘bill’ was read, and committed to Sir Nicholas Arnold and others to be considered on the following day. Since no more is heard of it, it was presumably dropped.4

The William Chatterton who asked the House to act was almost certainly the one who carried on a protracted lawsuit against his relative, Thomas Chatterton, over property in Lydiard Millicent, Wiltshire. Christopher Thymbleby and his wife Anne (perhaps William’s tenants) claimed that Thomas and some of his kinsfolk forcibly entered a house there, and ‘kept it with great outrage and violence by the space of a year’, turning out Anne Thymbleby, who was lying there in childbirth, with her five young children, ‘with such extremity that three of them died not long after’. Other charges included driving off cattle, dispossessing and illtreating tenants, and terrifying them ‘with great threats’. ‘Thomas Chatterton hath taken upon him to levy forces and to press soldiers without any commission, and yet he persuaded them that he had commission so to do and charged them to attend upon him at a certain place and time in the Queen’s name, but after he had gotten some money from them he discharged them again’.5

Most of the information about Chatterton concerns the various lawsuits in which he became involved. Early in Elizabeth’s reign Sir James Stumpe prosecuted him, Henry Chatterton and others of his kinsmen, ‘being men of a very insolent, licentious and dissolute life, and also common hunters, disturbers, annoyers and spoilers’ in the forest of Braydon, claiming that while illegally hunting deer they had broken into a keeper’s lodge, assaulted several underkeepers and carried off one Gryphon, presumably a forest official who tried to stop them.6

In the 1560s Chatterton seems to have been speculating in church lands. In 1564 he and Thomas Lucas of London paid £350 for concealed ex-chantry property in Ramsbury, Purton and Wootton Bassett, Wiltshire, together with estates formerly belonging to two Yorkshire priories, and land in Ballington, Essex. A later speculation in the estates of Irish rebels involved him in trouble with government officials, and from 1576 to 1578 there were complicated negotiations over composition for his property there. A letter from the Queen to the lord deputy, Sir Henry Sidney, in March 1578 suggested that Chatterton’s grant should be revoked, and a life annuity of £100 be paid to him, if Sidney could raise this sum from the tenants. Chatterton probably held a minor office in Ireland, but no details have been found. A Captain William Chatterton, perhaps his litigious relative, was killed during the Irish fighting of 1585.7

No reference to Thomas Chatterton later than 1579 has been found, unless he was the man of this name who in June 1581 received payment for carrying letters to Delft ‘for her Majesty’s affairs’. No will or inquisition post mortem is known.8

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: N. M. Fuidge


  • 1. Did not serve for the duration of the Parliament.
  • 2. St. Ch. 5/C8/2.
  • 3. C193/32/8-10; Recs. Eng. Prov. Soc. Jesus, iii. 545-64; PCC admon. act bk. 1573, f. 31d.
  • 4. Trinity, Dublin, Thos. Cromwell’s jnl. f. 25; CJ, i. 96.
  • 5. C142/85/79; APC, ix. 13-19; x. 96, 97, 308; Harl. 2143, f. 37d; St. Ch. 5/C8/22; SP12/127/40.
  • 6. St. Ch. 5/S85/30.
  • 7. CPR, 1565-6, p. 185; Cal. Carew Pprs. ii. 36, 43, 53, 129, 403, 485; CSP Ire. 1509-73, pp. 319, 462, 487, 499; 1574-85, pp. 433, 443; APC, x. 308, where it is ambiguous whether the Irish official was Thomas or his son Giles.
  • 8. E351/542, f. 22.