GRESHAM, Sir Thomas (-d.1630), of Limpsfield, Surr.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press



7 Feb. 1621

Family and Education

3rd but 2nd surv. s. of William Gresham (d.1579) of Titsey, Surr. and Beatrice, da. of Thomas Guybon of King’s Lynn, Norf.; bro. of William†. educ. St. Alban Hall, Oxf. by 1572. m. 23 Aug. 1587, Mary (d. 2 Dec. 1620), da. of John Lennard of Chevening, Kent, wid. of Guildford Walsingham of Scadbury, Kent, 6s. (3 d.v.p.) 4da..1 kntd. 23 July 1603.2 d. 1 July 1630.3

Offices Held

J.p. Surr. by 1596-d., Kent by 1614-d.;4 commr. subsidy, Surr. 1608, 1622, 1624,5 aid 1609,6 1612,7 inquiry, Wandle river, Surr. 1610,8 survey brewhouses, Surr. 1620,9 collector, Palatine Benevolence 1622;10 collector and commr. Forced Loan, Surr. 1626-7; commr. Forced Loan, Kent 1627.11


Gresham’s paternal grandfather, Sir John Gresham, a London Mercer of Norfolk origin, acquired an estate in Surrey close to the Kent border, including the manors of Titsey and Limpsfield. Although Gresham was a younger son his father bequeathed this property to him after the death of his mother, possibly because the elder brother, William, who represented Norfolk in 1586, was the heir of the great Elizabethan financier Sir Thomas Gresham (d.1579).12

Gresham was returned at Gatton, about eight miles from Titsey, in 1604, during the lifetime of his mother, who died in May of that year.13 It is possible that he had the support of the 1st earl of Nottingham (Charles Howard†), who had influence in the borough, but no connection between the two men has been found. Gresham left no trace on the records of the 1604 session. In the second session he received one committee appointment, on 24 Jan. 1606, to consider a bill to regulate building in London.14 He played no recorded part in the third session, but received five committee appointments in the fourth. He was among those named to attend the conference with the Lords on 15 Feb. 1610 at which the lord treasurer, the 1st earl of Salisbury (Robert Cecil†), outlined the Crown’s financial problems. He was also appointed to consider bills to reduce excessive fees for copying legal documents (13 Mar.), preserve game (22 Mar.), confirm decrees concerning copyholds (31 Mar.) and regulate prisons (10 May).15 Just before the session began he signed a petition from the Surrey gentry against a project to supply London with water from the River Wandle, but he took no known part in the passage of the bill approving an alternative scheme for supplying the capital from the Hackney marshes.16 He left no trace on the poorly documented fifth session.

Gresham was re-elected for Gatton in 1614 but left no mark on the records of the Addled Parliament. He contributed £13 4s. towards the Benevolence levied by James I in the aftermath of the Parliament, which failed to vote supply.17 In 1615 he received a licence to turn 40 acres at Limpsfield into a park,18 by which date his second son, Edward, had been made a gentleman pensioner.19

Gresham again stood for election at Gatton in 1620, but two election meetings produced two different outcomes on succeeding days. John Holles and Henry Britton were elected on 12 Dec. while Gresham and Sir Thomas Bludder were chosen on the 13th.20 Holles and Britton were returned, but on 30 Dec. Gresham’s friend, the Inner Temple lawyer John Hawarde*, wrote to Sir Nicholas Carew* arguing that the return was illegal. Hawarde hoped that Gresham’s election would be upheld by the House because Gresham, being ‘overmuch oppressed’ with grief at the death of his wife Mary on 2 Dec., would be forced ‘to keep company with his friends’ at Westminster, which Hawarde thought would ‘be a good means to minister to him some comfort’.21 Hawarde’s hopes were subsequently fulfilled, for on 7 Feb. the election of Holles and Britton was overturned and Gresham was allowed to take his seat.22 Gresham was named to two committees for bills of local interest: those for improving the navigation of the river Wey (6 Mar.) and confirming the endowment of Sackville College at East Grinstead, Sussex (4 May).23

Early in 1622 Gresham was called before the Privy Council to explain his failure to contribute to the Benevolence. He offered to contribute £30 and was also active as a collector, in which capacity he raised over £180.24 He did not sit in 1624, but was returned to the first Caroline Parliament for Bletchingley, possibly thanks to the influence of Hawarde, who had represented the borough in the previous two parliaments. For the second time he left no mark on the parliamentary records. He is not known to have stood again.

Gresham served as a collector of the Forced Loan in Surrey, making his first payment at the end of November 1626.25 He drew up his will on 29 June 1630, in which he named Hawarde and (Sir) Robert Heath* overseers. He died at Limpsfield and was buried at Titsey on 3 July 1630. Two of his sons had already been knighted, and his grandson, created a baronet in 1660, sat for East Grinstead in 1660 and Bletchingley in 1685.26

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Authors: Alan Davidson / Ben Coates


VCH Surr. iv. 300.

  • 1. Misc. Gen. et Her. n.s. iv. 90; C142/186/14; Al. Ox.; G.L. Gower, Gen. of the Fam. of Gresham, 13-16, 171.
  • 2. J. Nichols, Progs. of Jas. I, i. 218.
  • 3. Gower, 15.
  • 4. SP13/Case F/11, f. 27v; C66/1988, 2527.
  • 5. SP14/31/1; C212/22/21, 23.
  • 6. SP14/43/107.
  • 7. Harl. 354, f. 68v.
  • 8. M.S. Giuseppi, ‘River Wandle in 1610’, Surr. Arch. Colls. xxi. 176.
  • 9. APC, 1619-21, p. 203.
  • 10. SP14/135/62.
  • 11. T. Rymer, Foedera, viii. pt. 2, p. 144; E401/1386, mm. 34, 56; C193/12/2, ff. 27, 57v.
  • 12. VCH Surr. iv. 299, 332.
  • 13. Gower, 136-7.
  • 14. CJ, i. 259b.
  • 15. Ibid. 393b, 410a, 413b, 417a, 426b.
  • 16. Giuseppi, 179.
  • 17. E351/1950.
  • 18. C66/2061.
  • 19. PRO 30/26/186.
  • 20. CJ, i. 511b.
  • 21. Berks. RO, D/ELL/C1/112.
  • 22. CJ, i. 512b.
  • 23. Ibid. 539b, 607a.
  • 24. SP14/127/80.
  • 25. E401/1386, m. 34.
  • 26. Misc. Gen. et Her. ii. 320; Gower, 15; PROB 11/158, f. 25.