Thomas Cromwell (Parliamentary diarist)

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For other people named Thomas Cromwell, see Thomas Cromwell (disambiguation).
Thomas Cromwell
Born c. 1540
Launde Abbey, Leicestershire
Died 1611 (aged 70–71)
King’s Lynn, Norfolk
Occupation Member of Parliament, parliamentary diarist
Spouse(s) Katherine Gardner
Children Henry Cromwell
Humfrey Cromwell
Ann Cromwell
Susan Cromwell
Lyonell Cromwell
Thomas Cromwell
Gregory Cromwell
Katherine Cromwell
Mary Cromwell
Parent(s) Gregory Cromwell, 1st Baron Cromwell
Elizabeth Seymour

Thomas Cromwell (c. 1540 – c. 1611), was an English Member of Parliament during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. His diaries of proceedings in the House of Commons are an important source for historians of parliamentary history during the period when he was a member, and Sir John Neale draws heavily upon them in his ground-breaking two-volume study of Elizabeth I and Her Parliaments (1953-1957).


Thomas Cromwell was the third son of Gregory Cromwell, 1st Baron Cromwell and Elizabeth Seymour, sister to Jane Seymour, third wife of Henry VIII. He was the grandson of statesman Thomas Cromwell, 1st Earl of Essex, chief minister to Henry VIII.[1] Born in around 1540, he was educated at St John's College, Cambridge where he matriculated in 1553.[2][3]


Cromwell was a member of five successive Parliaments between 1571 and 1589 during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. His constituencies included Fowey (1571), Bodmin (1572–81) and Grampound (1586-7 and 1588). Gregory Cromwell had been a friend of Sir William Cecil, who he described in his will as my especial and singular good lord, and it may have been Cecil who found Thomas Cromwell his seats at Fowey, Bodmin and Grampound. His return at Preston in 1584 may be accounted for by the patronage of Sir Ralph Sadler, chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, who was brought up in the household of Cromwell’s grandfather.[3] He served on numerous Parliamentary committees and, by the end of his career, seems to have been one of the most respected of the independent members and recognised as an authority on Parliamentary procedure. His sympathies were with the Puritan party in the House, but he was considered a moderate. Neale described him as the model type of parliamentarian, deeply versed in the history and procedure of the institution, though lacking in historical perspective; eminently responsible, but fearless in defence of liberty. He was a puritan but his zeal did not cloud his judgment which, with his knowledge of procedure, rendered him one of the most experienced committeemen of his time.[3]

Marriage and issue[edit]

Thomas Cromwell married, on 18 Aug 1580, Katherine (died before 1 Aug 1616 ), daughter of Thomas Gardner of Coxford, and by her had 5 sons and 4 daughters.[4][5]

  • Henry Cromwell (c. 14 March 1583 – before 9 December 1629)
  • Humfrey Cromwell (c. 23 June 1586 – )
  • Ann Cromwell (c. 22 August 1587 – )
  • Susan Cromwell (c. 17 May 1590 – )
  • Lyonell Cromwell (c. 8 Jan. 1591 – )
  • Thomas Cromwell
  • Gregory Cromwell
  • Katherine Cromwell
  • Mary Cromwell


After retiring from Parliament, Cromwell resided at King’s Lynn, Norfolk, making his will on 17 Feb. 1610. Cromwell requested that no "pomp or sumptuousness" be used at his funeral, "being not willing to have vanities continued for me after my death, whereto I have been too much subject in my lifetime." He died between February 1610 and April 1611, leaving money and property to his wife "who has always been a most loving wife... and hath besides endured many griefs and sorrows for my sake", to his children, subject to their good behaviour and money to the poor of Great Risborough, Norfolk, and to the poor of the parish where he died.[3]


  1. ^ Noble 1784, p. 8.
  2. ^ Venn 1922, p. 423.
  3. ^ a b c d N. M. S. 1981.
  4. ^ Rye 1891, p. 124.
  5. ^ Carthew 1878, p. 522.


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