Sir George THROCKMORTON of Coughton, Knight
Born: BEF 1489, Coughton, Warwickshire, England
Died: 6 Aug 1552
Father: Robert THROCKMORTON of Coughton
Mother: Catherine MARROW
Married: Catherine VAUX BEF 1512
1. Robert THROCKMORTON of Coughton (Sir Knight)
2. Kenelm THROCKMORTON
3. Clement THROCKMORTON of Haseley
4. Nicholas THROCKMORTON (Sir)
5. Dau. THROCKMORTON
6. Deodatus THROCKMORTON (b. ABT 1513)
7. John THROCKMORTON (Sir)
8. Thomas THROCKMORTON (b. ABT 1522)
9. Elizabeth THROCKMORTON
10. Dau. THROCKMORTON
11. Dau. THROCKMORTON
12. Dau. THROCKMORTON
13. Anthony THROCKMORTON
14. Dau. THROCKMORTON
15. Mary THROCKMORTON
16. Anne THROCKMORTON
17. George THROCKMORTON
18. Catherine THROCKMORTON
19. Margaret THROCKMORTON (b. ABT 1536)
The details in this biography come from the History of Parliament, a biographical dictionary of Members of the House of Commons.
Born by 1489, first son of Sir Robert Throckmorton of Coughton by Catherine, dau. of William Marrow of London. Educated at Middle Temple, admitted 1 May 1505. Married by 1512, Catherine, dau. of Sir Nicholas Vaux, 1st Lord Vaux of Harrowden, and had 8 sons, including Anthony, Clement, George, John, Kenelm, Nicholas and Robert; and 11 daughters. Succeeded father 1519; knighted 1523. Justice of Peace, Warws. 1510-death, Bucks. 1525-32, Worcs. 1531-1544; esquire of the body by 1511, knight by 1533; commissioner of subsidy, Warws. 1512, 1523, Worcs. 1512, 1514, Bucks. 1524, loan Warws. 1542, benevolence, Warws. and Coventry 1544/1545, musters, Warws. 1546, relief, Warws., Worcs. and Coventry 1550, goods of churches and fraternitites, Warws. , Worcs. and Coventry 1553; other commissions 1523-death; steward or keeper, Brandon, Warws. 1512-death, Yardley, Worcs. 1512, Berkswell, Claverdon, Lighthorne, Moreton, Warws. by 1513-45, Harlington, Newton, Closenfield, Bucks. 1514-death, Evesham abbey 1527, Halton and Haseley, Warws. 1529, Tamworth, Warws. 1530-1544, Maxstoke, Wroxall, Warws. 1535-death, Balsall, Warws. 1539-death; King's spear by 1513; sheriff, Warws. and Leic. 1526-1527, 1543-1544, Worcs. 1542-1543; steward, lands of bishopric of Worcester in Warws. and Worcs. 1528-1540, for Thomas Seymour, Baron Seymour of Sudeley, unknown property by 1548; custos rot. Warws. in 1547.
The Throckmortons took their name from a manor in the parish of Fladbury, Worcestershire, where in the 12th century they were tenants of the Bishop of Worcester: they acquired Coughton, Warwickshire, by marriage in the early 15th century.
George Throckmorton was born in Worcestershire and was to claim when seeking office there that the greater part of his inheritance lay in that shire, but his father seems to have made Coughton the family seat and George was to be the first of his line to sit in Parliament as knight of the shire for Warwickshire; his grandfather had done so for Worcestershire. Sir Robert Throckmorton, soldier, courtier and Councillor to Henry VII, sent his eldest son to the Middle Temple, which George entered on the same day as a Northamptonshire kinsman, Edmund Knightley; before his death in Italy while on pilgrimage to the Holy Land, Sir Robert had seen his son launched at court and in local government and in enjoyment of numerous leases and stewardships. This early advancement may have owed something to Throckmorton's marriage to a daughter of another courtier, Sir Nicholas Vaux, whose stepson Sir Thomas Parr, comptroller of the Household to Henry VIII, was furhter related to him by marriage. Throckmorton served with his father in the French war of 1513 as captain of the Great New Spainard. Seven years later he was present at the Field of the Cloth of Gold, which he had been in part devised by his father-in-law. Vaux appointed Throckmorton one of his executors and as such in Sep 1523 he was commissioned to deliver Guisnes to William, first Baron Sandys of the Vyne.
During the 1520s Throckmorton seems to have attached himself to Wolsey although the first notice of their connection does not suggest a happy relationship; in Jul 1524 Throckmorton, styled of Olney, Buckinghamshire, was bound in 100 pounds to appear before the Council and to pay whatever fine the Cardinal should impose. The connection may have been made through his uncle Dr. William Throckmorton, a trusted servant of the Cardinal whose name appears on important papers relating to embassies and treaties and who was a master in Chancery by 1528. The younger Throckmorton engaged in some land transactions with Wolsey. Thus when in 1525 Wolsey had license to dissolve several small and decayed monasteries in order to endow his new college at Oxford, one of them, the Buckinghamshire priory of Ravenstone (three miles from Olney), passed on a 100-year lease to Throckmorton for a rent of 100 marks. As Wolsey was seeking further land and Throckmortons a reorganization of his estates- in particular he had his eye on Sir William Gascoigne's manor of Oversley, Warwickshire- he suggested to the Cardinal an exchange of severl manors, including Ravenstone, for Oversley and some neighboring manors: the plan did not materalize, but in May 1528 Throckmorton sold Ravenstone to Wolsey at 20 years purchase. He evidently felt that he deserved well of the Cardinal, for in Apr 1528 on the death of Sir Giles Greville - and curiously, at a time when his own imminent death was rumoured- he asked for Greville's office of comptroller to Princess Mary, and three months later, on the death of Sir William Compton, he sought to become sheriff and custos rotulorum of Worcestershire, steward of the see of Worcester and (as his great-grandfather Sir John Throckmorton had been) under treasurer of England. Although the shrievalty went to Sir Edward Ferrers, later Throckmorton's fellow-knight for Warwickshire, he was successful in respect of the stewardship.
It cannot have been, as he says it was, 'shortly after' receiving this [sic] tribute from More that he discussed the Acts of Annates, Appeals and Supremacy, and the Petrine claims, with Bishop Fisher, who referred him to Nicholas Wilson, once the King's confessor, although it may well have been after the Act of Supremacy (26 Hen. VIII, c.I) that he made his own confession to Richard Reynolds, 'the Angel of Syon', (Throckmorton had at least one other connection with the Bridgettines of Syon Abbey, his kinswoman Clemence Tresham, sister of Sir Thomas, having entered the order by 1518). Both Fisher and Wilson conceded that if he were sure nothing was to be gained by his speaking out in Parliament, 'then I might hold my peace and not offend', but Reynolds added that that he could not know beforehand whether others might not follow his example if he should 'stick in the right way'.
Throckmorton also admitted to reporting a conversation he had with Thomas Dingley, a knight of St. John, to his brother-in-law, Sir Thomas Englefield at Serjeants' Inn as well as, he believed, to Sir William Barentyne and Sir William Essex. He had been in the habit of meeting with Barentyne, Essex and other members, including Sir Marmaduke Constable and Sir John Giffard (whose son Thomas married Throckmorton's sister Ursula), at the Queen's Head to discuss parliamentary affairs.
Sir George Throckmorton was also associated with Sir Marmaduke Constable in the Parliament of 1529 and is mentioned in the notes under other Sir Marmaduke Constable. The relationship between these Constable's needs to be clarified.
Robert Beale, clerk of the Privy Council, added a note on his copy of a letter from Cromwell, 'I have heard that the cause was touching the denouncing of the Queen Catherine dowager first wife to King Henry the 8th'. It is interesting to speculate on the source of Cromwell's (and Beale's) knowledge of the episode. During the interval of 50 years no less than a dozen of Throckmorton's descendants sat in the Commons, although only one of them, his grandson Job Throckmorton, was a Member in 1586. At the time of Cromwell's intervention Job Throckmorton was himself in deep trouble for having maligned James VI of Scotland in a speech to the House, a misfortune which could have well have revived the memory of his grandfather's brush with an earlier monarch. There was even one Member in 1586, Sir Francis Knollys, whose career in the Commons had begun in the Parliament of 1529 (to which he had been by-elected by 1533) and who could have remembered the episode.
Sir George Throckmorton opposed the King's break with Rome. Of the King's divorce and pending marriage to Anne Boleyn, Sir George said that the King had 'meddled with both the mother and the sister'. He had to bring his aunt Elizabeth, Abbess of Denny, to live with him when her convent was closed in 1537 under the Dissolution of the Monasteries, making 25 nuns homeless. She brought with her a dole-gate, through which help was given to the poor, and upon which her name is carved. This can still beseen today in the Dining-Room.
He consistently opposed the changes in religion, and although the vast majority of his 19 children and 112 grandchilden were ardent Catholics, there were some who were staunch Protestants, including his sons Clement, who founded a puritan family branch, and Sir Nicholas, who was unfortunate enough to be an avid champion of Protestantism during the reign of Mary I (althoughit is written that his Protestantism was said to wax and wane). Sir Nicholas was found not guilty on a charge of treason in connection with Thomas Wyatt's rebellion (he was freed, but the jury was arrested), and went on to be a minor player in the court of Queen Elizabeth, bringing her the ring as proof of her sister's death, and acting as an emissary to Mary, Queen of Scots.
BEF 1536 was out, Throckmorton was in worse trouble. He had come to London in Nov to transact legal business and falling in with an old friend, Sir John Clarke, had rashly discussed the demands of the rebels in the North; whereas Throckmorton had only seen the printed answer to the Lincolnshire rebels, Clarke had a manuscript account of Aske's new demands and sent Throckmorton a copy of it.
While on the way to keep an appointment with Sir Anthony Hungerford at Essex's house in Berkshire, Throckmorton met Thomas Vachell who convinced him of the danger of possessing the document, which he thereupon burned at Reading. Passing the night at Englefield, he received a further warning and then went on to Essex's house where he learned the full story of Gunter's foolhardiness. Both he and Essex were soon in the Tower. Cromwell then sat out to collect all possible evidence of their treasonable behavior. For a while both his life and Essex's hung in the balance: on 14 Jan 1537 John Hussey reported as much to Viscount Lisle, and one of Throckmorton's family was later to write that his foes 'gaped to joint his neck'.
The charges, however, could not be sustained and Throckmorton was released. Sir Thomas Dingley, whose execution two years later makes him accounted a Catholic martyr, revealed what Throckmorton had told him of the earlier episodes. When Throckmorton was again taken into custody, his wife appealed for advice to her half-brother Sir William Parr, who may have persuaded him to make a confession.
As early as Jul 1538 his kinsmen Richard Rich could suggest that he should receive building materials from the dissolved abbey of Bordesley, Worcestershire.
His part in the toppling of Cromwell in 1540 is too obscure, and may have been too small, to be given much weight. The fall of Cromwell did enable Throckmorton to acquire several properties which he had long coveted, including Oversley, and so to continue the consolidation of his estates which had been one of his principal concerns since his succession. He
also built up extensive leasehold interests and acquired several valuable wardships, including that of Richard Archer whose execution for murder gave Throckmorton the opportunity to buy from the crown his most valuable property, Tamworth.
Throckmorton lived to see some of his younger sons occupy high office in the state and others comfortably established. During his lifetime he settled small freehold estates on most of his younger sons and by his will of 20 Jul 1552 he left Kenelm an annuity of £40, Nicholas and Clement annuities of £20 each, and Clement a further £400 for land purchase. The eldest son Robert had control of part of his inheritance, the manors of Sheldon and Solihull, from his second marriage in 1542, and by the will he obtained a full third of the estate and the reversion of two manors after the executors had held them for three years for the payment of debts: the residue was settled on the widow for life. At his death, Throckmorton is said to have had 116 living descendants, including among his grandsons such diverse figures as Job Throckmorton and William Gifford, Archbishop of Rheims and first Peer of France.
Throckmorton died on 6 Aug 1552 and was buried in the stately marble tomb which he had prepared for himself in Coughton church. The most impressive monument which he left, however, was the gatehouse of Coughton court. Throckmorton spent most of his life rebuilding the house: in 1535 he wrote to Cromwell that he and his wife had lived in Buckinghamshire for most of the year, ‘for great part of my house here is taken down’. In 1549, when he was planning the windows in the great hall, he asked his son Nicholas to obtain from the heralds the correct tricking of the arms of his ancestors’ wives and his own cousin by marriage Queen Catherine Parr. The costly recusancy of Robert Throckmorton and his heirs kept down later rebuilding, so that much of the house still stands largely as he left it.