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CHAMBERLAIN or CHAMBERLAYNE, THOMAS (d. 1625), judge, was son of William Chamberlain, brother to Sir Thomas Chamberlayne, English envoy to the Low Countries. He was admitted a member of Gray's Inn in 1577, called to the bar 25 Jan. 1585, and appointed reader to his inn in the autumn of 1607. In spite of the patronage of Lord-chancellor Ellesmere, he rose slowly at the bar, and did not obtain the degree of Serjeant until Michaelmas term 1614. Shortly afterwards he was knighted and made a justice in the counties of Anglesea, Carnarvon, and Merioneth during the royal pleasure (19 June 1615). His jurisdiction was extended (28 April 1616) to Flint, Denbigh, and Montgomeryshire, the office being made tenable for life, and he was appointed chief justice of Chester. Here he continued till 1620, one of his last acts being (25 Aug. 1619) to cause the under-sheriff to arrest and convey to the Marshalsea one John Edwards, a recusant, in spite of his holding the king's pardon. He did not, however, thereby lose favour, for in June 1620 he was nominated to succeed Mr. Justice Croke in the king's bench, being sworn in on 14 Oct., and on 3 Oct. 1621 received, with Sir R. Hutton, Sir F. Barnam, and Mr. Crewe, a prant of the fine of 40,000l. which had been imposed by parliament on Viscount St. Albans. That he was a rich man appears also from the fact that on his marriage (February 1622) to his second wife, Lady Berkeley, only daughter of Lord-chamberlam Hunsdon, he made her a jointure of 1,000l. a year and covenanted to leave her 10,000l. in money (Chamberlain's Letters), He appears, perhaps extra-judicially, to have acted as arbitrator between a Mr. Cartwright and Mr. Maynett in 1623 and 1624, and several letters on the subject between him and Secretary Conway are extant. Towards the end of 1624 Sir James Whitelocke, serieant and chief justice of Chester, proving wholly unable to act amicably with the Lord President of Wales, Chamberlain returned to Chester as chief justice (Chamberlain to Carleton, 23 Oct. 1624), and there being some doubt as to the sufficiency of the mere appointment to the office, the king writes, 2 Nov., to the president and council of Wales, directing them to admit and swear in Chamberlain as a member of the council. In this office he remained till his death. He was, however, summoned to Westminster Hall on the accession of Charles I, and is styled, in the commission of 12 May 1625, justice of the common pleas as well as chief justice of Chester, and in Easter term in the first year of Charles the case of Lord Sheffield v. Radcliffe was argued before him and other judges in the exchequer chamber. As this cause, however, lasted two years, it may be that Chamberlain, before quitting the king's bench, had heard a portion of the arguments. He died on 17 Sept. 1625. His first wife was Elizabeth, daughter of Sir George Fermor of Easton Nestor in Northamptonshire, and widow of Sir William Stafford of Blatherwick in the same county. His eldest son, Thomas Chamberlain or Chamberlayne of Wickham, Oxfordshire, took the royalist side in 1642, and was made a baronet; the title became extinct in 1776.

[Foss's Lives of the Judges; Gray's Inn Books; Egerton MS. 468; Sir W. Jones's Rep. 70; Croke's Jac., 690; Godbolt's Rep., 300; Rymer. xviii. 67; Wotton's Baronetage, 2, 376 (ed. 1741); Green's Domestic State Papers, 1616-24.]

J. A. H.