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This Member has not been identified, despite considerable circumstantial evidence about him. He was an associate of John Mohun*, who nominated him at Okehampton in 1641, and who was presumably also responsible for his earlier return at both West Looe and Grampound, boroughs where Mohun possessed electoral influence in the later 1620s. On both election indentures for West Looe Thomas’ name was inserted in a blank space, which suggests that he was not a local man. Indeed, no-one of this name with appropriate connections or status has been found within Cornwall or Devon.2 In April 1628 Mohun wrote to ‘his friend Mr. Thomas’, apparently in London, though it is not certain either that this was the Member or that the man in question was resident in the capital. However, in July 1641 Thomas was added to a Commons’ committee concerned with the parish boundaries of St. Andrew’s, Holborn, which implies that he was familiar with that district.3
In the 1625 Parliament Thomas was nominated to the committee which scrutinized the estate bill of the 4th earl of Dorset (Sir Edward Sackville*); no connection between Thomas and the earl has been found, but this appointment may indicate that the Member possessed legal skills. In 1626 Grampound made three returns for its two places, and Thomas had to wait until 17 Feb. for his election to be ratified by the Commons. He may be the Mr. Thomas who wrote a newsletter on 17 May 1626, covering events in Parliament over the previous six days, but inaccuracies in his information, particularly the wording of the protestation of 13 May about the arrest of Sir Dudley Digges*, point rather to the work of an interested outsider.4 Thomas was secluded from the Commons during Pride’s Purge, and seems never to have resumed his seat. His date of death is not recorded in parliamentary sources.5
Cumulatively, this evidence is consistent with Keeler’s tentative identification of this Member as Edward Thomas (c.1590-1656) of Astwood, Claines, Worcestershire, a Gray’s Inn lawyer from 1617. Nevertheless, no link between this man and either Mohun or Parliament has been established.6
Ref Volumes: 1604-1629
Author: Paul Hunneyball
- 1. Secluded at Pride’s Purge, 6 Dec. 1648.
- 2. Hist. Okehampton ed. W.H.K. Wright, 92; C219/39/37; 219/41B/150.
- 3. SP16/100/47; M.F. Keeler, Long Parl. 359.
- 4. Procs. 1625, p. 349; Procs. 1626, ii. 8, 61; iii. 258; Bodl. Rawl. C. 674, ff. 16v-17 (this is a copy of the original letter, and lacks both the recipient’s name and the author’s full signature).
- 5. D. Underdown, Pride’s Purge, 387; Keeler, 360.
- 6. C24/505/1; PROB 11/260, ff. 29-31; GI Admiss.; C54/3216/24; 54/3215/27.