FLETCHER, Thomas (by 1522-68), of Rye, Suss.
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Family and Education
Jurat, Rye 1548-68, mayor 1549-50; bailiff to Yarmouth 1561.2
An executor of his father’s will of 1545, Thomas Fletcher was bequeathed, after his mother’s death or re-marriage, the ‘house that sometime was his belsire’s, called Edward’s, lying in the low street next unto the town hall’, with four shops at the Strand and the newest of the three tenements which his father had built on the town ditch. He was to render the port a variety of services. On 24 June 1549 he was paid expenses incurred in going forth on the instructions of the mayor and his brethren to observe the behaviour of the ‘western men’ or ‘rebels’, and he was probably the Mr. Fletcher who rode up to the Council in January 1551 for a licence for corn and who was paid 26s.8d. in the following August for a mission to London on the port’s business. An older namesake and probable kinsman had twice represented Rye at the Brotherhood of the Cinque Ports in 1524, and Fletcher himself did so five times between 1555 and 1562, on the last occasions as bailiff elect and then bailiff to Yarmouth. On 26 Apr. 1558 he was paid £40 8s.4d.for gunpowder, £5 2s.11d. for three pairs of wheels for guns, and £5 2s. for his wages for 51 days of attendance in Parliament.3
Fletcher was elected a Member ‘pro isto parliamento’ on 2 Dec. 1557, three days after the writ had gone out summoning a Parliament early in the following year. The port evidently held its election as soon as the summoning was known, although of one Member only, presumably to make sure that he at least was of its choosing. (The election of Fletcher may not have been unconnected with the fact that on the following day his brother Richard was ordered before the Council and within a month was to be imprisoned in the Fleet.) On 3 Jan. 1558 the messenger bringing the precept from Dover was paid, on 6 Jan. a letter was carried to the warden and an answer brought back ‘for the burgess of the Parliament’, and on 10 Jan. the return was sent to Dover; Fletcher’s fellow-Member proved to be Thomas Cheyne, a relative of the warden Sir Thomas Cheyne. On 10 Sept. 1559 Fletcher was one of six jurats chosen to represent Rye at the admission of the new lord warden, William Brooke, 10th Lord Cobham, at Shepway, and in April 1560 he was one of those sent by Rye to a Guestling at Hythe.4
Fletcher made his will on 3 Oct. 1568, naming his wife Bridget his executrix and asking to be buried in Rye church. He left all his goods, including plate and jewels, to his wife absolutely and the profits of his lands and houses for life, with remainder to Robert Carpenter† and his wife Joan. His salt marsh he ordered to be sold to pay his debts. A sworn statement was made on 5 Dec. that this was the last will and testament of Thomas Fletcher.5
Ref Volumes: 1509-1558
Author: Helen Miller
- 1. Date of birth estimated from that of younger brother. PCC 32 Mellershe; E. Suss. RO, Rye mss, loose copy of will, calendared HMC 13th Rep. IV , 1.
- 2. Rye chamberlains’ accts. 5-7 passim; Cinque Ports White and Black Bks. (Kent Arch. Soc. recs. br. xix), 264.
- 3. PCC 32 Mellershe; Rye chamberlains’ accts. 5, f. 194v; 6, ff. 10, 14, 178; Cinque Ports White and Black Bks. 190-1, 251, 255; 261-3.
- 4. Rye hundred ct. bk. 1556-61, ff. 7v, 36, 45v; chamberlains’ accts. 6, ff. 169v, 171.
- 5. E. Suss. RO, Rye mss, loose copy of will, calendared HMC 13th Rep. IV, 1.