DANNETT, Thomas (b.1543-?1601), of Stockland Lovell, Som. and London.

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. 1543, 1st s. of Thomas Dannett of Leicester and bro. of Audley. educ. under John Aylmer at Basle, Strasbourg, Zurich and ?Italy; G. Inn 1560. suc. fa. 1569.

Offices Held

Servant of the Earl of Leicester 1560s; ?maker of pardons and licences, ct. of common pleas 1592.1


Of an old Leicestershire family, Dannett’s father settled in Somerset, was implicated in the Duke of Suffolk’s second rising, was imprisoned, released, and went to France with his family in 1554. On their return after Elizabeth’s accession, Dannett entered Leicester’s service. In 1562 he again travelled to France on some official business, and in 1577 he crossed from Spain into France in the company of an English agent at the court of Madrid. In the following year the Queen’s Bench suspended trial of a cause when Dannett, one of the parties, was in Spain. His experience abroad clearly influenced the work as translator and historian for which he is remembered, The Description of the Low Countries (1593) dedicated to Lord Burghley; a translation of de Commines’s History of France (1596), likewise dedicated to Burghley; and Continuation of the History of France (1600), dedicated to Thomas Sackville, 1st Baron Buckhurst. The author professed reluctance in taking up the story from de Commines: ‘having waded in the history of France ... both my heart and hand fainted and my pen fell forth of my fingers of its own accord’.2

In 1582 Aylmer had written to Burghley unsuccessfully soliciting the office of clerk of the Council for Dannett, whom he extolled for his honesty, sincerity, secrecy and learning. Applying, again unsuccessfully, in 1586, Dannett this time enlisted the help of Secretary Davison. He may have been the Mr. Donett who held a minor common pleas office in 1592.3

Any of Dannett’s court connexions could have had him returned for Maidstone in 1572, but his most likely patron would be Aylmer’s friend Archbishop Parker, who was instructed by the Privy Council to ensure a ‘good choice’ of burgesses in Kent for that election. Dannett was appointed to committees concerning rites and ceremonies (20 May 1572), benefit of clergy (7 Mar. 1576) and London goldsmiths (13 Mar. 1576). On 7 June 1572 he spoke on the subject of Mary Queen of Scots, and during the second session, made a speech in support of Arthur Hall. For the debate on the Duke of Norfolk, he and Thomas Digges prepared a paper:

Not executing will dishonour the whole Parliament, if their resolution, which is that the death of the Duke is the safety of religion and of her Majesty’s realm and person, be rejected ... Her Majesty refusing to put us in safety after her death by establishing succession, ought at the least to prolong our safety as long as may be by preservation of her own life: whereof if she shall continue unmindful, her true and faithful subjects despairing of safety by her means shall be forced to seek protection elsewhere, to the end they shall not be altogether destitute of defence.
Last of all, it may please her Majesty to incline her gracious ears to the humble petition of her faithful subjects lest her Majesty be recorded for the only prince of this land with whom the subjects thereof could never prevail in any one suit.4

Dannett is said to have died in 1601.5

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: W.J.J.


  • 1. C. H. Garrett, Marian Exiles, 139-40; Vis. Leics. (Harl. Soc. ii), 64: Trans. Salop Arch. Soc. (ser. 3), ix. 179-82; C142/152/131; Wards 7/11/99; Cam. Misc. xx. 18.
  • 2. DNB; Garrett, 139-40; Read, Cecil, 279; Strype, Aylmer, 7; VCH Leics. ii. 42, 203; Leicester Recs. ed. Bateson, iii. passim; C142/152/131; CSP For. 1562, pp. 158, 630; APC, x. 153; E. Rosenberg, Leicester as a Patron of Letters, 65; Camb. Hist. Eng. Lit. iv. 3, 8, 443, 445.
  • 3. Lansd. 35, f. 2; Strype, Aylmer, 12-13; CSP Dom. 1581-90, p.364; HMC Hatfield, v. 195; C142/152/131; St. Ch. 5/6D/10, 19D/33.
  • 4. CJ, i. 96, 111, 115; D’Ewes, 254; Add. 48023, ff. 160-2; Trinity, Dublin, Thos. Cromwell’s jnl. f. 55; Neale, Parlts. i. 342.
  • 5. Garrett, 140.