RANDOLPH, Thomas (1522/23-90), of St. Peter's Hill, London and Milton, Kent.

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. 1522/23, 2nd s. of Avery Randolph of Badlesmere, Kent by Anne, da. of Sir John Gaynsford of Crowhurst, Surr. educ. Canterbury sch.; Christ Church, Oxf., BA 1545, BCL 1548, suppl. DCL 1566, 1574. m. (1) 1571, Anne, da. of Thomas Walsingham of Chislehurst, Kent, s.p.; (2) by 1575, Ursula, da. of Henry Copinger of Buxhall, Suff., 3s. prob. 3da.2

Offices Held

Notary public by Apr. 1548; principal, Broadgates Hall 21 Nov. 1549-14 Oct. 1553; envoy to Germany 1558, Scotland 1559-66, Russia 1568-9, Scotland 1570, 1572, France 1573, 1576, Scotland 1578, 1581, 1586; master of the posts 1567-d.; constable (by assignment from Sir Robert Constable), Queenborough castle, Kent 1567-d.; steward, manors of Merden and Milton, Kent 1567-d.; chamberlain, the Exchequer 14 May 1572-d.; j.p. Kent 1573/74-d.; commr. musters, Kent c.1584.3


Thomas Randolph’s career at Oxford came to an end shortly after Mary’s accession. He then went abroad with his brother Edward and resumed his studies at Paris, where he stayed on after Edward’s return to England. He was still in France in the spring of 1557, when the English ambassador Sir Nicholas Wotton, referred to a letter from him, but in the following June he may have accompanied Wotton when the ambassador was recalled on the outbreak of war. In 1558 Randolph was returned by two boroughs, a recently enfranchised Cornish one and a Cinque Port. At St. Ives he could have been sponsored by the lord lieutenant for the south-west, Francis Russell, 2nd Earl of Bedford, with whom he was soon to be close and whose will he was to witness: as Bedford was an associate of the warden of the Cinque Ports, Sir Thomas Cheyne, he may also have had a part in the nomination at New Romney, but Randolph’s father was a friend of Cheyne’s, who in 1558 bequeathed him £10, and his brother-in-law William Crispe was lieutenant of Dover castle. Which of the two boroughs Randolph preferred is not known: his name appears beside both on the two lists of Members for this Parliament, but on the second of these it is marked under Romney with a circle, possibly an indication that he was absent during the second session, in the course of which he is known to have been abroad again. In September 1558 Wotton returned to France to negotiate for peace, and it was perhaps on his recommendation that Randolph was employed as an English agent in Germany. Some years later Henry Killigrew recalled that in 1558 Randolph acted both on Queen Mary’s instructions and with Princess Elizabeth’s knowledge.4

It is not certain that Randolph had originally gone abroad because of his Protestantism. Years afterwards, in Scotland, ‘his banishment in France for religion’ was recalled, with regret that the ‘fraternity of religion’ then established had since withered; Randolph himself referred to it simply as a time when he had travelled. What is clear is that the accession of Elizabeth brought him new opportunities: the erstwhile scholar, who in his journeyings had met many people and perhaps acquired a taste for diplomacy, was to make his career as an ambassador and a royal official, and to sit in five Parliaments, before his death on 8 June 1590.5

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Authors: Helen Miller / A. D.K. Hawkyard


  • 1. Sat for either St. Ives or New Romney.
  • 2. Aged 67 at death, Wood, Ath. Ox. ed. Bliss, i. 563. Emden, Biog. Reg. Univ. Oxf. 1501-40, p. 474; Vis. Surr. (Harl. Soc. xliii), 12; CSP Dom. 1547-80, pp. 301, 424; CSP For. 1569-71, pp. 176, 529; London IPMs (Brit. Rec. Soc. xxxvi), 146-7; Vis. Suff. ed. Metcalfe, 129; PCC 75 Drury.
  • 3. Emden, 474; CSP Dom. 1547-80, p. 301; 1581-90, p. 672; CSP Dom. Add. 1566-79, p. 453; CPR, 1566-9, p. 144; 1569-72, p. 448.
  • 4. CSP For. 1553-8, p. 299; 1558-9, pp. 5-6, 21-23; 1561-2, p. 631; C. H. Garrett, Marian Exiles, 266-7; PCC 1 Chaynay, 45 Windsor; C142/173/91; 193/32/2; APC, vi. 13; Wm. Salt Lib. SMS 264; A. C. Miller, Sir Henry Killigrew, 23; L. Howard, A Coll. of Letters from Orig. Mss (1753), 184; Lansd. 106, f. 31; SP52/6/82.
  • 5. Melvil’s Mems. (3rd ed.), 231; CSP For. 1561-2, pp. 380-2.