SKEFFINGTON, Thomas (1550-1600), of Skeffington, Leics.

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. 1550, 1st s. of William Skeffington by Mary, da. of Thomas Cave of Stanford, Northants. educ. Jesus, Camb., fellow commoner 1564. m. Isabella, da. of Sir John Byron of Newstead, Notts., 4s. 9da. suc. fa. 1571.1

Offices Held

J.p. Leics. from c.1577, sheriff 1576-7, 1588-9, 1599-1600, 1596.2


Coming from an established Leicestershire family holding estates estimated in the early seventeenth century to be worth £1,500, Skeffington was obviously of sufficient status to take a turn as knight of the shire. As such he may have attended a subsidy committee, 26 Feb. 1593, and a legal committee, 9 Mar. 1593,. He raised 2,000 troops to send to Tilbury at the time of the Armada, and whenever a delicate or difficult matter arose, such as obliging officials to take the oaths imposed upon them by statute, Skeffington was almost automatically included on the commission. His decisions were not always popular in the town of Leicester: his under-sheriff was sued by the Queen’s bailiff for infringement of liberties, and he annoyed the town council by fining some of the 24 who failed to appear when summoned to form part of a jury. But when he wrote in favour of Thomas Wurshippe for the post of mace bearer to the mayor, the town council acceded to his wishes.3

He maintained, at Skeffington and at Arley in Warwickshire, a considerable household which included various of his relatives and also his wards, such as his cousin Thomas Belgrave. He sent his eldest surviving son to his own Cambridge college, Jesus, placing him in the care of a master, Anthony Cade, who was later to achieve prominence as tutor and chaplain to George, Duke of Buckingham. Cade’s moderate religious views evidently found favour with Skeffington, who left him the next presentation to the vicarage of Billesdon.4

Skeffington died 11 May 1600 and was buried in the chancel at Skeffington. His purchased property he left in trust for his younger surviving son John, while his daughters received marriage portions of £400 apiece. The next generation, however, was to see the end of the main branch of the family. His son and heir William was involved in a riot with his cousin, Mr. Burrows, within a few weeks of succeeding to the estates, and when he died without issue in 1605, his widow married her groom, Michael Bray. This was so deeply resented by her brother-in-law, John Skeffington, that disputes between the two men ended in a brawl in which both were killed.5

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: S. M. Thorpe


  • 1. Vis. Leics. (Harl. Soc. ii), 7-8, 110-12; Nichols, Leics. iii(1), p. 448; C142/161/97.
  • 2. APC, xii. 37; xxvi. 56.
  • 3. Nichols, iii(1), p. 448; Chamberlain Letters ed. McClure, i. 486; D’Ewes, 474, 496; CSP Dom. 1581-90, p. 275; 1590-4, p. 125; APC, xi. 290; xii. 37; xx. 266; xxi. 187; xxii. 63; xxiii. 258; xxvi. 57; Leicester Recs. iii. 173, 182, 220, 271.
  • 4. PCC 35 Wallop; ms cal. and index pat. rolls, 17-30 Eliz. PRO 28(1) p. 1; Leicester Recs. iii. 255; J. Venn, Gonville and Caius Coll. Biog. Hist. i. 109.
  • 5. C142/263/89, 261/35; PCC 35 Wallop; ms cal. and index pat. rolls, 17-30 Eliz. PRO 18(11) p. 23, 28(11) p. 21; 37-43 Eliz. PRO 43(21) p. 38; Leicester Recs. iii. 427-8; Nichols, ii(2), 434; Chamberlain Letters, i. 486.