MENYS, Thomas (by 1520-57), of Sandwich, Kent.
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Family and Education
Treasurer, Sandwich 1541-2, auditor in 1543-8, 1553-5, jurat 1543-d., mayor 1549-50, 1551-2, 1556-d., keeper of the common chest when mayor, of the orphans when mayor and 1543-9, 1553-5; bailiff to Yarmouth 1554.4
Thomas Menys was the son of a leading resident of Sandwich. Nothing has been discovered about his education unless he was the secular scholar at Canterbury College, Oxford, in 1534 but his frequent appointments to act on behalf of Sandwich or of the Cinque Ports in general suggest that he had received some legal training. In 1547 he was chosen to go with the mayor of Sandwich to the Brotherhood of the Cinque Ports to discuss the renewal of the ports’ charter; in 1550 he and the distinguished civil lawyer Christopher Nevinson were named arbitrators in a dispute over St. Batholomew’s hospital, Sandwich; and in 1551 he was one of three men appointed to exhibit a supplication on behalf of Sandwich to the Marquess of Northampton. On the accession of Mary he was nominated by the Brotherhood to solicit a further renewal of the ports’ charter and the recognition of their customary coronation rights: he spent £42 7s.10d. in carrying out this task, £12 of it on his own expenses for 92 days.5
Menys was himself chosen with Nicholas Peake and Simon Linch to represent Sandwich at the coronation of Mary. In the following year they were taken to task for failing to bring back the canopy which they had borne over the Queen and in December Menys agreed to pay the town £10, half the canopy’s value. Six months later he obtained a remission of £4 of this sum on his plea that he had ‘of late days’ been committed to the Marshalsea by the lord warden, Sir Thomas Cheyne, ‘for the town’s causes’ and ‘to his great cost and damage’. The immediate occasion has not come to light but Menys had earlier been at odds with the lord warden over his election to Parliament. His first election during the mayoralty of Nicholas Peake, who was perhaps already his father-in-law, seemingly passed without question: he and his fellow-Member John Master (godfather of Agnes Peake) then agreed to serve for 18d. a day instead of the usual 2s. But after Menys’s election with Thomas Patche to the Parliament of March 1553 Cheyne expressed his displeasure with Sandwich for its failure to comply with his ‘request touching the burgesses’. Shortly before the next election the town sent John Tysar to consult with the lord warden, but his mission was evidently a failure and immediately after Sandwich had made its choice of Simon Linch and Menys it was agreed that all charges arising out of ‘any suit to be made concerning the election of the said commonalty of the said burgesses’ should be borne by the town. The Crown Office list for this Parliament shows that the attempt to defy the lord warden was unsuccessful and that Menys was superseded by Cheyne’s son-in-law Sir John Perrot.6
In 1556 the privileges of the Cinque Ports were challenged by a writ of quo warranto and in September Menys was authorized to answer for Sandwich. In the following year he and his father-in-law were nominated by the Brotherhood for a meeting of representatives of all the ports in London in the same cause. On 24 Oct. 1557 Menys, then mayor of Sandwich, and Peake appeared before the Privy Council about a letter sent by Sandwich to the lord warden. Just over a week later, on 2 Nov., Menys died ex grave infirmitate.7
Ref Volumes: 1509-1558
Author: Helen Miller
- 1. Sandwich old red bk. f. 177v.
- 2. Sandwich little black bk. f. 31.
- 3. Date of birth estimated from first office. Vis. Kent (Harl. Soc. xlii), 107; (lxxv), 141; W. Boys, Sandwich (1792), i. 351.
- 4. Sandwich old red bk., little black bk., passim; Cinque Ports White and Black Bks. (Kent Arch. Soc. recs. br. xix), 250.
- 5. Cinque Ports White and Black Bks. 187-9, 193, 215-19, 222, 250; Emden, Biog. Reg. Univ. Oxf. 1501-40, p. 394; Sandwich old red bk. ff. 196v, 247v; Boys, i. 60-61.
- 6. Sandwich little black bk. ff. 31, 35, 55v-56, 58, 71; old red bk. f. 177v; Bodl. e Museo 17.
- 7. Sandwich little black bk. ff. 94v, 115; Cinque Ports White and Black Bks. 255; APC, vi. 189.