ENSING, Thomas (by 1490-c.1539), of Winchelsea, Suss.

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 1490. m. by 1511, at least 1da.1

Offices Held

Commoner, Winchelsea 1515, jurat 1516-38, mayor 1519-20, 1523-4, 1529-30, 1538-9; bailiff to Yarmouth 1517.2


Little has been discovered about Thomas Ensing to clothe the bare facts of his municipal career: his dates of birth and death can only be guessed at, his parentage remains unknown, and the one slight clue to his occupation is an entry in the customs records for 1528-9 showing that wool belonging to him was shipped from Winchelsea. It transpires from the evidence of a chancery suit dating from between 1529 and 1532, in which Ensing was involved as an executor of Peter Master, a Winchelsea merchant, that he had a daughter Joan, who was married to Master and outlived him. These facts, while they give some indication of Ensing’s age at the time he was sitting in Parliament, appear to dispose of a possible date for his death, since in the light of them he cannot well have been the Thomas Ensing of Westham (which lies some 20 miles west of Winchelsea) who died between 1560 and 1562 leaving a wife Anne who may have been pregnant but no other child that he mentioned. The two may have been father and son.3

Ensing was probably senior in years, as he was in municipal precedence, to his fellow-Member George Lowys, with whom he is found associated in varying contexts, in 1527 as alleged creditors of a Rye fisherman for 20 marks and in 1535, when Lowys was mayor and both were Members, as signatories to a letter to the King’s Council about another debtor. In 1536 Winchelsea probably complied, as the other Cinque Ports are known to have done, with the King’s request for the return of those who had sat previously. If Ensing lived until 1539 he may have sat again then, when the names of the Winchelsea Members are lost. His overseeing of the will of Robert Sparrow, his receipt of £3 10s. from Rye when he went as bailiff to Yarmouth in 1518, and his election, with two others, at the Brotherhood of July 1525 as the ports’ solicitors in a matter which is not specified, but which may have lapsed by the following year when they were discharged, these unexciting fragments complete the meagre yield of information on one of the obscurer Members of the Parliament of 1529.4

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: Patricia Hyde


  • 1. Date of birth estimated from first reference.
  • 2. Cinque Ports White and Black Bks. (Kent Arch. Soc. recs. br. xix), 156, 162, 165, 174, 187, 207, 222.
  • 3. E122/200/5; C1/607/17; PCC 36 Porch.
  • 4. Cinque Ports White and Black Bks. 197, 199, 200; LP Hen. VIII, ix; Lewes archdeaconry ct. A5, f. 74; Rye chamberlains’ accts. 4, f. 50.