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Sir Thomas Tresham

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Knight Bachelor (in or before 1524), Grand Prior of England in the Order of Knights Hospitallers of St. John of Jerusalem (1557); date of birth unknown; d. 8 March, 1558-9. The eldest son of John Tresham of Rushton, Northamptonshire, and Elizabeth, daughter of Sir James Harrington, of Hornby, Lancashire, he married (1) Anne, daughter of William, Lord Parr, of Horton, by whom he had two sons, and (2) Lettice, relict of Sir Robert Lee, who predeceased him without issue. He was chosen sheriff of Northamtonshire in 1524, 1539, 1545, and 1555, and returned as member for the county in 1541 and twice in 1554. He constantly served on commissions of the peace, of gaol delivery, of oyer and terminer, of sewers, and the like, and was appointed special commissioner in 1527 to search for grain, in 1530 to inquire into Wolsey's possessions, and in 1537 to inquire into the Lincolnshire rebellion. In 1539 he was one of the knights appointed to receive Anne of Cleves at Calais. In 1540 he had licence to impark the Lyveden estate in Aldwinkle St. Peter's parish, where the "New Bield" erected by his grandson still stands. In this year, though his main estates were in Northamptonshire, he had a house with twenty-nine household servants in Wolfeton, Dorsetshire. In 1544 he supplied men for the king's army in France, and a little later was one of the commissioners to collect the "benevolence" for the defence of the realm. In 1546 he was appointed assessor to the "Contribution Commission" and was summoned to Court to meet the French ambassador. In 1549 he assisted in suppressing the Norfolk rising and received £272, 19.6 for his services. He proclaimed Queen Mary at Northampton on 18 July, 1553, and accompanied her on her entry into London. He was one of those appointed on 3 August, 1553, "to staye the assemblies in Royston and other places of Cambridgeshire". In April, 1554, he conveyed a prisoner from Peterborough to be examined by the Privy Council in London. In May, 1554, he was one of the custodians of the Earl of Devonshire.

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Although by Royal Charter dated 2 April, 1557, he was named grand prior, it was not till 30 November that the order was re-established in England with four knights under him, and he was solemnly invested. In the meantime Sir Richard Shelley had been made turcopolier at Malta. The order was endowed by the queen with lands to the yearly value of £1436. He sat in the House of Lords in January, 1557-8, and sent his proxy to the first parliament of Queen Elizabeth. He was buried at Rushton with great pomp on 16 March, 1558-9.

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