SPENCER, Thomas (c.1586-1622), of Yarnton, Oxon.

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



Family and Education

b. c.1586, 1st s. of Sir William Spencer† of Yarnton and Margaret, da. of Francis Bowyer, Grocer, of Old Jewry, London.1 educ. Brasenose, Oxf. 1599, aged 13, BA 1602; L. Inn 1604.2 m. by 1607 (with at least £1,500),3 Margaret (d.1655),4 da. of Richard Branthwaite, sjt.-at-law, of London, 5s. (1 d.v.p.) 5da. (4 d.v.p.).5 suc. fa. 1609.6 cr. bt. 29 June 1611.7 kntd. 24 May 1612.8 d. 17 Aug. 1622.9

Offices Held

High steward, New Woodstock 1611-d.;10 j.p. Oxon. by 1614-d., New Woodstock 1621;11 collector of Benevolence, Oxon. 1614;12 freeman, New Woodstock by 1616;13 sheriff Oxon. 1616-17;14 commr. oyer and terminer, Oxford circ. 1617-d.15


This Member’s father, a younger son of the Spencer family of Althorpe in Northamptonshire, inherited manorial property in Warwickshire and added to it with purchases which included the manor of Yarnton, four miles from Woodstock.16 Spencer was returned for the borough to the first Jacobean Parliament on his father’s interest while still well under-age. He was named to only two committees, one in the second session to consider a private bill for the estate of his cousin Lord Spencer (7 Feb. 1606), and the other in the third session for a bill to curtail expenses involved in making copies in courts of record (12 May 1607).17 He is not known to have made any speeches, and though the authors of the ‘Parliament Fart’ noted his presence they merely made him say ‘Fie’!18 It was presumably during the Parliament that Spencer married his uncle’s ward.19

Spencer succeeded to the Yarnton estate in 1609 and purchased a baronetcy two years later at the instance of his brother-in-law Sir Henry Montagu*.20 Thereafter he lived as a country gentleman at Yarnton and declined to stand for Parliament again, though as high steward of the borough he nominated Sir Philip Carey* in 1614.21 According to the Oxford antiquary Anthony Wood, Spencer was ‘famous in his time for the great hospitality he kept here and his charity to the poor’.22 He rebuilt the manor house, established a yearly dole to the poor of £18 13s. 4d. in 1615,23 and in his will dated 29 June 1622 asked to be buried ‘in the aisle that I builded on the east end of the parish church’.24 He died on 17 Aug. 1622, and bells were rung in Woodstock to mark his passing.25 He provided generously for three younger sons and gave his only surviving daughter a portion of £2,000. He left all his books to the vicar of Yarnton. The inventory taken at his death showed that he followed the pastoral traditions of his family with a flock of sheep valued at £600.26 His heir’s wardship was sold to his former brother-in-law Sir Henry Montagu, now 1st Viscount Mandeville, his uncle Thomas, and his cousin Robert Lord Spencer for £1,500.27 His widow’s religion may have already been suspect, though she was not indicted for recusancy until her second marriage to an Irish peer.28 The second baronet was also a Catholic for most of his life, but Spencer’s grandson sat for Woodstock from 1660 to 1678.29

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Authors: Alan Davidson / Rosemary Sgroi


  • 1. M.H.A. Stapleton, Three Oxon. Parishes (Oxf. Hist. Soc. xxiv), 285.
  • 2. Al. Ox.; LI Admiss.
  • 3. P. Styles, Studies in Seventeenth Cent. W. Midlands Hist. 7.
  • 4. CB, i. 69.
  • 5. Stapleton, 285, 293, 296.
  • 6. C142/315/173.
  • 7. C66/1942; 47th DKR, App. 126.
  • 8. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 151.
  • 9. Stapleton, 288-9.
  • 10. Woodstock Chamberlain’s Accts. 1609-50 ed. M. Maslen (Oxon. Rec. Soc. lviii), 26.
  • 11. C66/1988; C181/3, f. 48; C231/4, f. 132; Woodstock Chamberlain’s Accts. 1609-50, p. 86.
  • 12. Woodstock Chamberlain’s Accts. 1609-50, p. 61.
  • 13. Oxon. RO, Woodstock bor. mss B78/3.
  • 14. List of Sheriffs comp. A. Hughes (PRO, L. and I. ix), 109.
  • 15. C181/2, f. 268; C181/3, f. 63v.
  • 16. M.E. Finch, Five Northants. Fams. (Northants. Rec. Soc. xix), 174-5.
  • 17. CJ, i. 265a, 373a.
  • 18. Add. 34218, f. 21v.
  • 19. F. Blomefield, Norf. v. 110.
  • 20. Cott. Julius C.III, f. 265.
  • 21. Liber Famelicus of Sir J. Whitelocke ed. J. Bruce (Cam. Soc. lxx), 41.
  • 22. Wood’s Life and Times ed. A. Clark (Oxf. Hist. Soc. xix), 218.
  • 23. Woodstock Chamberlain’s Accts. 1609-50, pp. 93-4; Oxon. RO, Woodstock bor. mss box 97/1, pp. 12-13.
  • 24. PROB 11/140, f. 327.
  • 25. Stapleton, 236, 297, 299; Woodstock Chamberlain’s Accts. 1609-50, p. 88.
  • 26. Oxon. RO, Woodstock bor. mss B35/4.
  • 27. SP14/148/8-10.
  • 28. CSP Dom. 1633-4, p. 348.
  • 29. Works of Abp. Laud ed. J. Bliss, iv. 65-66.