EARLE, Thomas (c.1629-96), of Bristol and Eastcourt House, Crudwell, Wilts.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1660-1690, ed. B.D. Henning, 1983
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Jan. 1681

Family and Education

b. c.1629, s. of William Earle, yeoman, of Patney by Joan, da. of Robert Dickenson, yeoman, of Chirton. m. bef. 1658, Elinor, da. of Joseph Jackson of Small Street, Bristol, and Sneyd Park, Glos., 4s. 5da. suc. uncle Giles in Crudwell estate 1677; kntd. 4 Dec. 1681.1

Offices Held

Freeman, Bristol 1656, common councilman 1668-84, Oct. 1688-90, sheriff 1671-2, alderman 1681-3, 1689-90, 1691-d., mayor 1681-2; member of merchant venturers, Bristol 1663, warden 1670-1, master 1673-4; j.p. Wilts. 1676-80, 1681-7, 1690-d., Som. 1681-7, Glos. 1685-7; commr. for assessment, Bristol 1677-80, 1689-90; sheriff, Wilts. 1679-80; dep. lt. Bristol 1685-?86, 1689-d.2


Earle came from a Wiltshire yeoman family which farmed at Eastcourt from the middle of the 16th century, ultimately purchasing the freehold from the Pooles. He was apprenticed to a Bristol merchant in 1647, and continued to trade to New England and the Peninsula after succeeding to the family estate in 1677. After the election of Sir Robert Cann had been declared void, Earle, a moderate Tory, narrowly defeated Sir Robert Atkyns, but probably never took his seat in the second Exclusion Parliament. He was re-elected two months later after another contest with the Whigs, and attended the Oxford Parliament, but made no speeches and was appointed to no committees. His election as mayor later in the year was welcomed by the Court, and he was knighted. But he was reluctant to persecute the dissenters, took no part in the intrigues against Atkyns, and voted against the surrender of the charter in 1683. He was restored to the bench of aldermen after the Revolution. But at the general election of 1690 he was accused by Sir John Knight of exporting munitions to France, and again removed until he obtained a writ of restitution from the King’s bench. He died on 24 June 1696, aged 67, and was buried at St. Werburgh’s. His eldest son, who succeeded to the family business, sat for Bristol as a Whig from 1710 to 1727, while his youngest, who inherited the family estate, sat for two Wiltshire boroughs from 1715 to 1747 as a dependant first of the Duke of Argyll and then of Walpole.3

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Author: John. P. Ferris


  • 1. A. B. Beaven, Bristol Lists, 287; F. A. Brown, Som. Wills, ii. 125; Merchants and Merchandise (Bristol Rec. Soc. xix), 58; PCC 16 Hale.
  • 2. Bristol RO, burgess rolls 1651-62, f. 41; A. B. Beaven, op. cit. 124, 186, 187, 202, 208, 224; Merchant Venturers (Bristol Rec. Soc. xvii), 31; Q Sess. Recs. (Som. Rec. Soc. xxxiv), p. xi; CSP Dom. 1685, p. 189.
  • 3. Aubrey and Jackson, Wilts. Colls. 215; Bristol RO, apprenticeship bks. 1640-58, f. 132; Merchants and Merchandise, 161-3, 266-7, 272-3; SP44/62/288; CSP Dom. 1682, pp. 100, 228; Jan.-June 1683, p. 150; J. Latimer, Bristol in the 17th Century, 454; Glos. N. and Q. iv. 561.