MEDOWE, Sir Thomas (1624-88), of Fuller's Hill, Great Yarmouth, Norf.

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



12 Feb. 1678

Family and Education

bap. 2 June, 1624, o.s. of Thomas Medowe, brewer, of Great Yarmouth by Elizabeth Harrison. m. by 1649, Anne (d. 13 Dec. 1686), da. of Thomas Muriel, archdeacon of Norf., and coh. to her bro. Samuel Muriel of Bardwell, Suff., 1s. d.v.p. 3da. suc. fa. 1655; kntd. 16 Aug. 1660.1

Offices Held

J.p. Norf. Mar. 1660-d., Suff. 1671-d., commr. for militia, Norf. Mar. 1660, assessment, Norf. Aug. 1660-80, Yarmouth Sept. 1660-80, Suff. 1673-80; major of militia Gt. Yarmouth Nov. 1660-70, alderman by Dec. 1660-Jan. 1688, bailiff 1662-3, 1671-2, 1682-3, mayor 1684-5; sheriff, Norf. 1662-3; commr. for recusants, Norf. and Suff. 1675.2


Medowe’s grandfather, who died in 1625, and his father were both aldermen of Yarmouth. The latter opposed ship-money and presumably supported Parliament in the first Civil War; but when he was serving as bailiff in 1648 he was among those commissioned to hold the port for the Prince of Wales. Medowe himself was later described as ‘a person whose loyalty and faithfulness as to the King and Church was in all the late unhappy times without spot or stain’, and less eulogistically as ‘a slave to ... his imperious wife’, the daughter of an archdeacon. He was knighted at the Restoration when he presented a loyal address from the corporation, and proposed for the order of the Royal Oak with an estimated income of £2,000 p.a. A strong Anglican he was instrumental in purging the Independents from the corporation and locked them out of the chancel of St. Nicholas which they had been using for their services. In 1662 he switched his attention to the Presbyterians, most of whom were removed from the corporation by the Commissioners at his instance. The tide turned when Richard Huntington was elected junior bailiff in 1666, and promoted to captain in the borough militia a few years later. Medowe charged the lord lieutenant, Sir Horatio Townshend, with favouring none but enemies of the late King and allowing nonconformist conventicles to reassemble. Townshend replied:

As you dislike those whom I have lately commissioned as captains under you, I conceive it reasonable and becoming to let you know it is time for me not to pretend to command you, and that I expect your commission as major of Yarmouth.3

The replacement of Townshend by Lord Yarmouth (Robert Paston) in 1676 revived the church party in the borough, and Medowe stood successfully against Huntington at a by-election in February 1678. Described as a man of substance with ‘above £900 p.a. in lands and houses, besides a fair stock’ and a ‘great interest’ in the corporation, he was returned to the Cavalier Parliament and marked ‘vile’ on Shaftesbury’s list. His only committee was the committee of elections and privileges on 23 May; but he was included by the Opposition in the ‘unanimous club’ of court supporters, and when he stood for re-election in 1679 he was abused as ‘a friend to the Duke of York’s interest’ and defeated by Huntington. He entertained the Duke at Yarmouth on his return from Scotland in 1681, and presented loyal addresses from the corporation approving the dissolution of Parliament and abhorring Shaftesbury’s ‘Association’.4

Medowe was instrumental in obtaining a majority on the corporation for the surrender of the charter in 1684. As mayor at the general election of 1685, he was also returning officer under the new charter, and hence unable to stand. He was removed from the corporation in January 1688, and did not attend the meetings of the Norfolk magistracy to answer the lord lieutenant’s questions on the repeal of the Test Act and Penal Laws. He was buried at St. Nicholas on 29 Mar. No other member of the family entered Parliament.5

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Authors: Eveline Cruickshanks / Basil Duke Henning


  • 1. Yarmouth St. Nicholas par. reg.; Vis. Norf. (Harl. Soc. lxxxvi), 135; N. and Q. (ser. 4), x. 172-3; Vis. Suff. (Harl. Soc. lxi), 203; C142/612/11, 699/100; PCC 31 Evelyn, 391 Aylott, 97 Exton.
  • 2. Cal. Treas. Bks. i. 74; CSP Dom. 1670, pp. 494, 540; Yarmouth bor. recs. assembly bks.
  • 3. C. J. Palmer, Perlustration of Yarmouth, i. 153; HMC Pepys, 282; H. Swinden, Hist. Yarmouth, 579-80; Add. 36988, f. 172; CSP Dom. 1668-9, p. 100; 1670, pp. 353, 494, 512-13, 540; 1677-8, p. 555.
  • 4. CSP Dom. 1677-8, pp. 555-6; 1679-80, pp. 66-67; Palmer, Hist. Yarmouth, 250; Add. 36988, f. 180.
  • 5. Add. 27448, f. 137; PC2/72/570; St. Nicholas par. reg.