THYMBLEBY, John (c.1535-1626), of Irnham and Beelsby, Lincs.

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. c.1533, 1st surv. s. and h. of Sir Richard Thymbleby by his 1st w. Katherine, da. of Sir Robert Tyrwhitt of Kettleby. m. (1) bef. Jan. 1559, Mary (d.1564), da. of George St. Poll, sis. of Thomas St. Poll, 1s. 1da.; (2) Feb. 1567, Magdalen or Maud, da. of Andrew Billesby or Beelsby of Beelsby, 6s. 4da. suc. fa. 1590.1

Offices Held


Thymbleby was a first cousin of Sir Robert Tyrwhitt, one of Lord Clinton’s assistants as lieutenant of Lincolnshire. Most probably he was returned for Grimsby because of his father’s position in the county and his family’s local connexions. Thymblebys were resident in Grimsby early in the sixteenth century, when a relative of the 1571 Member was mayor six times. At least one of John Thymbleby’s children was baptized in the town, and his younger brother Richard is described in the pedigrees as of Grimsby. The court books give details of an angry scene in December 1564, when Richard Thymbleby insulted the mayor in the common hall, saying that his worship was now within his liberties, but that other places would serve to settle the dispute between them. The original quarrel seems to have concerned John, who soon afterwards came in with one Edward Skipwith and spoke threateningly, with ‘many unseemly words’, to the mayor.2

The main family estates at Irnham in Kesteven did not descend to Thymbleby until 1590, though his father had granted him church patronage there by 1584. Before Sir Richard’s death, Thymbleby himself no doubt spent much of his time at Beelsby, less than ten miles from Grimsby, where his second wife’s family lived and where the manor was in his father’s possession. Sir Richard may have conveyed property at East Bridgeford, Nottinghamshire, to him before 1571, as in that year John Thymbleby is mentioned as the patron of the church there. The inquisitions post mortem list other land belonging to the Thymblebys at Poolham in Lindsey and elsewhere in Lincolnshire, but the total value of Thymbleby’s property at the beginning of James I’s reign was only £133.3

Thymbleby presumably took the oath of supremacy in 1571, but by 1579 he and his second wife were being indicted for absence from church. He was ‘confined for matters of religion’ in October 1580, and at liberty a year later, when he and his wife refused to answer questions as to whether one of their children had been christened ‘in popery’. In November 1581 he was sent to the Fleet, and during the next six months was either in prison or out on licence. In November 1582 he was fined £60 for three months’ absence from church, and there are many later references to his fines, for which in April 1586 he offered a £20 composition. The Lincolnshire musters list for the furnishing of armour, October 1585, returned him as ‘in London’.4

By March 1588 he was back in his own county, in the custody of Bartholomew Armyn. The deputy lieutenants reported to Lord Burghley that he refused to undertake not to confer with other recusants. He was ‘at liberty upon bonds’ in 1592, and in prison at Ely palace in March 1594 and in December 1597.5

Thymbleby’s finances suffered seriously from the increasing severity of the recusancy laws, especially after the statute of 1586 which allowed the Crown to take the profits of two-thirds of recusants’ estates. By 1593 this Act was being applied to his best lands, and his wife was speaking ‘bad and unreverend words’ of the Queen. In April 1600 his eldest son Richard was examined about a letter in his possession, said to have been written by Robert Persons. At this time both father and son were lodging with a London printer, John East, in Aldersgate Street.6

Apart from official valuations of his lands taken at various times during Elizabeth’s reign and up to 16o6 1606 for purposes of recusancy fines, no later references to Thymbleby have been found. He died intestate on 7 Jan. 1626. His inquisition post mortem, taken at Boston in October, mentions a conveyance of 1602 by which he secured the use of his lands at Irnham and Beelsby to himself—probably an attempt to circumvent the recusancy fines. His heir was his grandson John, aged 22.7

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: N. M. Fuidge


  • 1. C142/228/97; Harl. 1484. f. 8; Lansd. 30, f. 196; Lincs. Peds. (Harl. Soc. lii), 845, 957-8, 1019-20.
  • 2. HMC 14th Rep. VIII, 280, 289-90.
  • 3. C142/228/97; Lincs. Episcopal Recs. 1571-84 (Cant. York Soc.), p. 249; Lincs. Peds. 958; Lansd. 153, f. 159.
  • 4. Lansd. 30, f. 196; 68, f. 112; APC, xii. 234; xiii. 238, 252-409 passim; HMC Hatfield, ii. 530; CSP Dom. 1581-90, pp. 280, 324.
  • 5. HMC Cowper, i. 8; HMC Hatfield, iv. 264, 442; APC, xvii. 318; xxi. 142; xxviii. 172; Bodl. Tanner 118, ff. 128 seq.
  • 6. CSP Dom. 1598-1601, pp. 254, 423; Cath. Rec. Soc. xviii. 148, 150, 153; liii. 14; APC, xxii. 317.
  • 7. Lansd. 153, ff. 129, 159, 166, 220, 253; Admons. in Consistory Ct. of Lincoln, 1540-1659 (Brit. Rec. Soc. Index Lib.), 349; C142/452/34.