Thomas Thwaites : Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster

The Duchy of Lancaster was and remains an asset held by the crown. It provided an income for the royal household from its large landholdings.

Location and administration of the Duchy of Lancaster

Despite the name, these estates were held in many parts of the country, replicating in many ways the spread of lands allocated to the nobility. As a large estate, it needed effective and efficient governance. To that end, Chancellors were appointed to the Duchy to have oversight of its management.

Thomas Thwaites became Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster on 2 April 1478.

Thomas Thwaites was appointed by Edward IV to the role whilst also holding the position of Chancellor of the Exchequer. He combined these roles in the particularly challenging scenario of a general European economic slump and bullion crises.

Role of the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster’s role gave Thwaites oversight of land management aspects within the crown’s estates. He was charged with overseeing rents, appointments, administration, management of disputes and the justice system within the Duchy and organising Arrays. These were linked to magnates’ roles in areas neighbouring the Duchy’s lands, but Thwaites answered to the King.

Royal revenues

The prime concern was to ensure that the estates continued to be profitable for the monarch. Revenue from these lands paid towards the upkeep of the Royal Household and contributed toward the cost of waging war and maintaining royal castles.

Thwaites retained these positions until Richard III‘s accession when he was transferred to being Treasurer of Calais.


Flag of the Duchy of Lancaster, via Wikimedia.

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