JOLYE, Thomas (by 1516-51/52), of Skipton, Yorks.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

b. by 1516.2

Offices Held

Servant of 1st and 2nd Earls of Cumberland by 1537-d.; subsidy collector, York. (W. Riding) 1538, commr. i.p.m. Yorks, Westmld. 1547; escheator; Cumb. and Westmld. 1550-1.3


Nothing has come to light about the origins and upbringing of Thomas Jolye. There is no reason to connect him with bearers of his name in Cornwall, Kent and elsewhere, including the John Jolye, gentleman, of Watford, Middlesex, who was alive in 1524, and the servant of Sir Thomas Lovell I whom his master described as old in 1522. What little is known about Jolye links him with the West Riding of Yorkshire, where his surname was not uncommon. Although he cannot have been the Thomas Jolye described as vicar of Skipton in the deed for the foundation of Skipton school in 1548, this was his habitat. Skipton castle had long been a seat of the Clifford family and it was from there during 1537 that Jolye wrote to Henry Clifford, 1st Earl of Cumberland about an incident of the previous night at Arnecliffe which seemed to portend a revival of the Pilgrimage of Grace. Two years later, at the dissolution of Bolton priory, he is mentioned as lessee of some of its property near Skipton. In 1546 he and several other Yorkshiremen leased ‘Knole’ mere in Bowland from the crown for 21 years.4

Jolye’s election for Appleby to at least three Parliaments in succession was undoubtedly the work of the earls of Cumberland. As hereditary sheriffs of Westmorland the earls were the returning officers for the town, and as constables of its castle and principal landowners they could choose its Members as they wished. Jolye, one of the beneficiaries of this arrangement, was predictably stirred into activity by a threat to abolish hereditary shrievalties during the second session of the Parliament of 1547. On 7 Jan. 1549 he wrote to his master, the 2nd Earl, that two days before, when he was ‘in readiness to repair home’ (presumably to his lodgings, not northwards, as the session had another two months to run), a bill ‘for sheriffs of England to be but one year’ had been introduced into the House by Richard Musgrave, ‘which could not be otherwise than by the procurement of the Lord Wharton [Thomas Wharton I]’. He had written to the earl immediately, but as he doubted the integrity of the bearer of that letter he was despatching another. A Sunday had intervened, but Jolye had lost no time. He had evidently asked the clerk for a copy of the bill, which would be ready on Tuesday the 8th, when he would send it to the earl, ‘albeit I doubt not but the same shall not proceed’. Sir William Babthorpe and Sir Nicholas Fairfax, ‘with so many of your lordship’s friends’, had already spoken against the bill and would do so again, so that ‘your counsel learned doth in no wise fear the matter and thinketh it will be no further spoken of’, but in case the bill received a second reading he had approached Robert Broke, Thomas Carus, James Dyer, Richard Goodrich, John Gosnold, George St. Poll and William Roper to speak against it; and although he trusted to have ‘almost the whole House of that part’ he had secured William 3rd Lord Dacre’s support against it in the Lords. In the event, Jolye’s assessment proved correct, for the bill got no further.5

In marked contrast to this energetic lobbying was Jolye’s laconic dismissal of matters of less personal moment. His comment that ‘for any Act or statute passed there is none worthy any writing’ may indeed be more of a reflection on his master’s unconcern with Parliament—which the earl rarely attended even when his northern commitments allowed him to—than on his own appraisal of the measures which he had helped to pass, for he thought them worth listing. ‘There is one for making of malt, being the first of the session; another for priests to have wives and them that have wives to be priests and take promotion spiritual; one moved for the alteration of almost all laws; one for fines to be levied within the county palatine of Chester; a book for daily service in the Church; a like to have a subsidy upon words spoken.’ He also reported the arrest of (Sir) William Sharington and Thomas Eynns, and that ‘here be many lewd books made daily and much disputation for the sacrament of the altar, albeit in most churches of London daily divers masses [are] said’: the tone of the last item suggests that Jolye shared his master’s religious conservatism. Jolye and Thomas Warcop, one of the knights for Westmorland, were sued in the court of common pleas by a Londoner for £14 10s. owed to him. A hearing was fixed for Michaelmas term 1549 when the two defendants failed to appear, presumably because Parliament was in session, and a further hearing was arranged for the next term: the outcome of the case is unknown.6

Jolye’s end is obscure. In 1550, during the third prorogation of Parliament, he was appointed escheator for Cumberland and Westmorland: although he is not known to have died during his year of office he was presumably dead before the reassembly of Parliament in January 1552, when George Clifford took his place for Appleby.

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: Alan Davidson


  • 1. Did not serve for the full duration of the Parliament.
  • 2. Date of birth estimated from first reference.
  • 3. LP Hen. VIII, xii, xiii; Clifford Letters (Surtees Soc. clxxii), 103; CPR, 1547-8, p. 199.
  • 4. C219/18B/106, 18C/131, 19/118; LP Hen. VIII, iv, xii, xiii, xxi; PCC 27 Jankyn; T. D. Whitaker, Craven, ed. Morant, 424; Bolton Rentals (Yorks. Arch. Soc. rec. ser. cxxxii), 39.
  • 5. Clifford Letters, 33-34, 101-3.
  • 6. Ibid. 33-34; M. A. R. Graves, ‘The Tudor House of Lords’ (Otago Univ. Ph.D. thesis, 1974), ii. 258-9; CP40/1142, r. 719.