A prominent Northamptonshire Catholic family.
Thomas, speaker of the House of Commons; b. date unknown; d. May 6, 1471. Son of William and Isabel Vaux, he was raised in the household of Henry VI. Despite his father's Yorkist sympathies, Thomas supported Henry VI during the War of the Roses. He was knighted and made comptroller of Henry's household. Sir Thomas served as speaker of the Parliament that met at Coventry and attainted the Duke of York (1459). When the Yorkists triumphed, Tresham's lands were seized, and he was attainted of high treason. In 1464 he was pardoned, and his lands were restored in 1467. When Warwick and Queen Margaret of Anjou, Henry's wife, reasserted the Lancastrian claim, Sir Thomas was placed under precautionary arrest. Warwick freed him, and Tresham fought at Tewkesbury. A pardon offered by Edward IV was later withdrawn, and Sir Thomas was beheaded. Henry VII later (1485) restored his estates to his son, John Tresham.
Thomas, grand prior of England in the Order of Knights Hospitallers of St. John of Jerusalem; b. unknown; d. Rushton, Northamptonshire, March 8, 1559. Thomas, son of John Tresham, grandson of Sir Thomas Tresham, served four terms as sheriff of Northamptonshire (1524–26, 1539–40, 1548–49, and 1556–57). He served also in Parliament and on many local public commissions. He was knighted in 1530, and served Henry VIII, Edward VI, and Queen Mary with loyalty and devotion. He opposed rebellion and disorder. In 1553, he accompanied Mary on her entrance into London. A staunch Catholic, he was rewarded with Mary's appointment as grand prior of the Knights of St. John with its income of almost £ 1,500. He served in the House of Lords from 1557 to 1558. At his death, his lands were inherited by his grandson.
Thomas, prominent recusant; b. 1543?; d. Northamptonshire, Sept. 11, 1605. Young Thomas, son of John and grandson of Sir Thomas Tresham, was reared a Protestant by his guardians. He was knighted in 1570, and he served as sheriff of Northamptonshire in 1573–74. Robert Persons, SJ, converted (1580) him to Catholicism. Sir Thomas was arrested (1581) for harboring Edmund Campion. He was tried by the Star Chamber, and was confined to Fleet prison and his residence until 1588. He was fined annually for recusancy and was imprisoned again in 1597 and 1599. Tresham was the leader of those English Catholics who attempted a reconciliation between their religion and their duties to their sovereign. He loyally proclaimed James I as king and carefully avoided any pro-Spanish sentiments and plots throughout his life. He died a patriotic English Catholic.
Bibliography: a. f. pollard, The Dictionary of National Biography from the Earliest Times to 1900 19:1130–32. Paston Letters, ed. j. gairdner, 6 v. (London 1904). e. waugh, Edmund Campion (New York 1935). w. r. trimble, Catholic Laity in Elizabethan England (Cambridge, Mass. 1964).
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