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Thomas Tresham
William de Vaux of Harrowden, Bedfordshire
Eleanor Drakelowe
(Abt 1374-Bef 1445)
Sir William Tresham
Isabel de Vaux
(Abt 1402-After 1450)
Sir Thomas Tresham
(Abt 1420-1471)


Family Links

1. Margaret la Zouche

Sir Thomas Tresham 1

  • Born: Abt 1420
  • Marriage (1): Margaret la Zouche
  • Died: 6 May 1471 aged about 51 2
  • BuriedMale: Tewkesbury Abbey, Church Street, Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, GL20 5RZ, GB 2

   Cause of his death was Beheaded.

  General Notes:

Tresham, Sir Thomas (d. 1471), administrator and speaker of the House of Commons, was the son of William Tresham (d. 1450) of Sywell and Rushton, Northamptonshire, and his wife, Isabel, daughter of Sir William Vaux of Harrowden. No doubt his early advancement owed much to his father's influence. In 1443 he shared in William Tresham's appointment to the stewardship and chancellorship of the duchy of Lancaster's estates in those counties in which their family had most interests— Northamptonshire, Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire, and Huntingdonshire. By 1446 Thomas Tresham was an esquire of Henry VI's hall and chamber: it is his Lancastrian allegiance on the grounds that he had been brought up 'from childhood' in Henry's court. By 1455 he had become an usher of the king's chamber. He was appointed a Huntingdonshire justice of the peace (1446– 59) and member of parliament, first for Buckinghamshire (1447), then for Huntingdonshire (1449, twice). In spite of their links with the court, the Treshams had contact enough with Richard, duke of York (d. 1460), to go to meet him on his return from Ireland in 1450; shortly after they had left Sywell on 23 September they were set upon, William Tresham being murdered and Thomas wounded.

Once the court began to regain some ground after its set-backs in 1450, local appointments for Tresham resumed: he was sheriff of Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire (1451– 2), justice of the peace (1452– 60) and member of parliament (1453), both for Northamptonshire, and commissioner of oyer and terminer in 1453 for the disturbances in north Yorkshire. In January 1454 he was a sponsor of an abortive bill to establish a garrison at Windsor to protect the incapacitated king— as distinct from his 'protection' by the duke of York, upon whom such a measure was doubtless intended to be a reflection. He was probably at the first battle of St Albans on 22 May 1455, and was at first denounced as a principal instigator of the violence, but was ultimately spared Yorkist retaliation. As the court recovered its authority after 1456, offices crowded upon Tresham: he was sheriff of Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire again (1457– 8), then of Surrey and Sussex (1458– 9), but was also elected (probably for Northamptonshire) to the Coventry parliament of 1459. This assembly, packed especially for the attainder of Yorkists, chose him to be its speaker; in reward for his services the crown granted him £40 yearly from rents forfeited by York. He was then appointed to numerous anti-Yorkist commissions of oyer and terminer. Some time before March 1461 he became comptroller of the royal household.

Tresham probably fought at the battle of Northampton on 10 July 1460, but later denied the distinction (peculiarly objectionable to Yorkists) of fighting at Wakefield on 30 December. In January 1461 he had joined Margaret of Anjou by the time she reached Durham, and was then at the second battle of St Albans (where he was knighted) on 17 February, and at Towton on 29 March. Before the latter battle he was one of those on whose head Edward IV put a price of £100. In the event, although captured and attainted, he only suffered forfeiture. He secured a general pardon in 1464, was restored to the Northamptonshire peace commission, and in 1467 again represented the county in parliament. He petitioned Edward IV and negotiated with the beneficiaries of his forfeiture (allegedly pledging 2000 marks) for the return of his 'livelihood', with only partial success. Perhaps as a result he became involved in the Lancastrian intrigues of John de Vere, thirteenth earl of Oxford, and was imprisoned in the Tower of London from November 1468 until Henry VI's readeption in 1470. Rewarded then with grants that included the honour and castle of Huntingdon, all to be held for seven years, Tresham probably served in the readeption parliament as member for the seventh time, and as speaker for the second. In April 1471 he joined Margaret of Anjou at Weymouth and was individually denounced as a traitor in Edward's proclamations. With Edmund Beaufort, duke of Somerset, and others he vainly sought sanctuary in Tewkesbury Abbey after the battle on 4 May 1471, and was beheaded on 6 May. He was buried in Tewkesbury Abbey church. Before 1460 Tresham had married Margaret Lenthall (d. 1483/4), sister of William, Lord Zouche. His heir, John, secured the reversal of his father's attainder and forfeiture on Henry VII's accession in 1485.

Julian Lock

Sources: J. S. Roskell, 'Sir Thomas Tresham', Northamptonshire Past and Present, 2 (1954– 9), 313– 23; repr. in Parliament and politics in late medieval England, 2 (1981) · CPR, 1232– 1509 · R. Jeffs, 'The later medieval sheriff and the royal household: a study in administrative change and political control, 1437– 1547', DPhil diss., U. Oxf., 1960 · J. R. Lander, 'Attainder and forfeiture, 1453– 1509', HJ, 4 (1961), 119– 51; repr. in Crown and nobility, 1450– 1509 (1976), 127– 58 · K. Dockray, ed., Three chronicles of the reign of Edward IV (1988) · The Paston letters, AD 1422– 1509, ed. J. Gairdner, new edn, 6 vols. (1904) · J. S. Roskell, 'William Tresham of Sywell', Parliament and politics in late medieval England, 2 (1981), 137– 51 · C. L. Scofield, The life and reign of Edward the Fourth, 2 vols. (1923); repr. (1967) · VCH Northamptonshire · R. A. Griffiths, The reign of King Henry VI: the exercise of royal authority, 1422– 1461 (1981)

Wealth at death: at least £100 p.a., value of Northamptonshire estates forfeited in 1461: CPR 2


• Title: Comptroller of the household of King Henry VI, 1460.

• Title: Knight, 17 Feb 1461. 2

Thomas married Margaret la Zouche, daughter of William la Zouche 5th Baron Zouche of Haryngworth and Alice Seymour 7th Baroness Saint-Maur.


1 George Edward Cokayne, "Complete Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain and the United Kingdom" (Sutton Publishing Ltd., 2000), IX, p. 195.

2 Oxford University Press, editor, <i>Oxford Dictionary of National Biographies</i>; HTML, <i>Oxford Dictionary of National Biographies</i> (

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