Sir Thomas Tresham

TRESHAM, Sir THOMAS (d. 1471), speaker of the House of Commons, was the eldest son of William Tresham (d. 1450) [q. v.] by his wife Isabel, daughter of Sir William Vaux of Harrowden, Northamptonshire. He was brought up from childhood in the household of Henry VI (Rot. Parl. v. 616). He was returned to parliament for Buckinghamshire on 25 Jan. 1446–1447, and for Huntingdonshire on 8 Feb. 1448–9. He was with his father on 22 Sept. 1450 when the latter was killed at Thorpland Close, and was himself robbed and wounded. But, in spite of his father’s Yorkist sympathies and his own maltreatment at the hands of Lancastrian partisans, Tresham remained a devoted adherent to Henry VI, and was appointed controller of his household. Early in 1454 he promoted a bill for the establishment of a garrison at Windsor for the defence of Henry VI and his son (Paston Letters, i. 364). In 1455 he was one of those selected to explain the king’s measures for the defence of Calais and to collect a loan for his expenses (Acts of the Privy Council, ed. Nicolas, vi. 239, 242). On 23 May in the same year he fought on the Lancastrian side at the first battle of St. Albans, where the Yorkists were victorious (Paston Letters, ii. 332).

In 1459 the Lancastrians defeated the Yorkists at Ludlow, and a parliament, in which Tresham represented his father’s old constituency, Northamptonshire, was summoned to meet at Coventry in November. Tresham was elected speaker, and the principal business of parliament was the attainder of the Duke of York and his chief adherents. Tresham accompanied Queen Margaret of Anjou when she marched south and defeated Warwick at the second battle of St. Albans (17 Feb. 1461); he was knighted by Henry VI’s son after the battle (Collections of a London Citizen, p. 214). Six weeks later, on 29 March, he fought at Towton and was taken prisoner (ib. p. 217; Rot. Parl. v. 616–17). On 14 May a commission was issued for seizing his lands (Cal. Patent Rolls, 1461–7, pp. 35, 36), and in the parliament which met in July he was attainted of high treason. His life was, however, spared, and on 26 March 1464, ‘by the advice of the council,’ a general pardon was granted him. On 25 Jan. 1465–6 he was placed on the commission for the peace in Northamptonshire, and on 9 April 1467 he was re-elected to parliament for his old constituency. In that parliament his attainder was reversed and a partial restoration was made of his property, on the ground that he was the household servant of Henry VI and ‘durst not disobey him at Towton’ (Rot. Parl. v. 616–17). He was also placed on a commission to inquire into the state of the silver coinage (ib. v. 634). In the following year, however, Queen Margaret was again threatening to invade England, and on 29 Nov. Tresham and other Lancastrians were arrested as a precaution (Ramsay, ii. 335). When Warwick restored Henry VI in October 1470, Tresham was released; he was proclaimed a traitor on 27 April 1471 after Edward IV’s return to London, joined Margaret and fought with her at the battle of Tewkesbury on 4 May. He took refuge in Tewkesbury Abbey, and his pardon was promised by Edward. The promise was not kept; and on 6 May Tresham, with the other Lancastrian refugees, was beheaded (Paston Letters, iii. 9; Warkworth, pp. 18–19). He was again attainted by act of parliament in 1475 (Rot. Parl. vi. 145–6).

By his wife Margaret, daughter of William, lord Zouch of Harringworth, Tresham left a son John, who was restored to his father’s estates on the reversal of the attainder by Henry VII in 1485. John’s son, Sir Thomas Tresham (d. 1559), is separately noticed.

[Rot. Parl. vols. v–vi.; Acts of the Privy Council, ed. Nicolas, vi. 239, 242, 341; Rymer’s Fœdera, xi. 470; Official Returns of Members of Parl.; Cal. Patent Rolls, 1461–7; Paston Letters, ed. Gairdner; William Wyrcester apud Letters &c. of Henry VI (Rolls Ser.); Three Fifteenth-Century Chronicles, Warkworth’s Chron., Collections of a London Citizen (Camd. Soc.); Hall’s Chronicle, p. 254; Hardyng’s Chron. p. 407; Bridges’s Northamptonshire, ii. 68, 147; Manning’s Speakers, pp. 108–10; Stubbs’s Const. Hist. iii. 190; Ramsay’s Lancaster and York, ii. 335, 382, 406.]

Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 57
Tresham, Thomas (d.1471) by Albert Frederick Pollard

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