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Chaloner, Thomas (1595-1661) (DNB00)


CHALONER, THOMAS (1595–1661), regicide, third son of Sir Thomas Chaloner the younger [q. v.], was born at Steeple Claydon, Buckinghamshire, in 1595. He matriculated at Exeter College, Oxford, when sixteen, but took no degree, and left early to be educated by his father. He returned from foreign travel a ‘perfect gentleman,’ but with ideas opposed to monarchy, and feelings embittered by the seizure of his father's Yorkshire alum mines [see Chaloner, Sir Thomas, the younger]. Settling on the paternal estate at Guisborough, he was elected burgess for Richmond, Yorkshire, in 1645, and being a fluent speaker he became one of the strongest opponents of the royal government. The same year he was a witness against Archbishop Laud at his trial. In the civil war, after the money question had been settled with the Scots in 1646, he made his famous speech on the reading of the Scottish papers respecting the disposal of the king's person. Chaloner opposed all the Scottish encroachments on what he called the ‘English rights,’ and published on the subject ‘An Answer to the Scotch Papers delivered in the House of Commons,’ London, 1646, 4to; ‘An Answer to severall objections … against Mr. T. Chaloner's Speech,’ London, 1646, 4to; ‘The Justification of a safe and wel-grounded Answer to the Scottish Papers,’ London, 1646, 4to; and ‘XII Resolves concerning the disposell of the person of the King,’ London, 1646, 4to. Books and pamphlets against his views were numerous in 1646–7. In 1647 he and Colonel Temple were made commissioners of parliament to transact affairs in the province of Munster for several months. In 1648 he was one of King Charles's judges, attended sixteen of the meetings, and although he was absent on the last day, when sentence was given, he signed the death-warrant. In 1651 he was made councillor of state and master of the mint. In 1653, at the violent dissolution of the Long parliament, Cromwell called Chaloner a drunkard. On the death of Oliver, and the proclamation of Richard Cromwell (1658), Chaloner, being elected to the parliament of 1658–9 for Scarborough, became a zealous ‘rumper,’ and when this parliament was turned out in 1659, he was committed to prison by Fleetwood. About Christmas he was released by the reinstated Rump parliament, and in January following he was again made councillor of state. Wood speaks of him: ‘This Thomas Chaloner, who was as far from being a puritan or a presbyterian as the east is from the west, for he was a boon companion, was of Henry Marten's gang, was of the natural religion, and loved to enjoy the comfortable importances of this life without any regard of laying up for a wet day, which at last he wanted.’ During the Long parliament the rights of the original proprietors of the alum mines were restored; but other mines having been discovered those of Guisborough fell into comparative disuse. In 1659 he published ‘A Speech containing a Plea for Monarchy,’ London, 4to, which shows that he was beginning to ‘chop round’ with the times, but too late. His ‘Speech’ was, moreover, full of qualifications. On the Restoration, Chaloner surrendered himself in obedience to the royal proclamation, but he was excepted as to both life and estate from the Act of Oblivion. Although the Earl of Southampton objected to this breach of faith, Sir Heneage Finch, the king's solicitor-general, overruled him, and held Chaloner to be specially culpable. Chaloner immediately fled to the Low Countries, where he died, at Middelburg in Zeeland, in 1661.

The only trace of his family relations is in a letter from J. W. of York to Thomas Chaloner, M.P. Richmond, 1646, giving an account of the sudden death, from drinking too much sack, of a gentleman, ‘your wife's brother, Mr. Sothabie.’

[Noble's Regicides, i. 138; Ord's Cleveland, Appendix, p. 601; Ludlow's Memorials, iii. 43; Rushworth's Collections, pt. iv. vol. ii. p. 816; Wood's Athenæ Oxon. iii. 531; and Chaloner's Works.]

J. W.-G.