Coningsby, Thomas (d.1625) (DNB00)

CONINGSBY, Sir THOMAS (d. 1625), soldier, was son and heir of Humphrey Coningsby, esq., of Hampton Court, Herefordshire, by Anne, daughter of Sir Thomas Inglefield, judge of the common pleas. His father was gentleman-treasurer to Queen Elizabeth. Coningsby visited Italy with Sir Philip Sidney in 1573, and he was intimate with Sidney until Sir Philip's death, although their friendship was severely strained on their Italian journey by an unfounded charge of robbery brought by Sidney against Coningsby. Coningsby went to Normandy in attendance on the Earl of Essex in 1591, and took part in the siege of Rouen, fighting against the forces of the league. He acted as muster-master to the English detachment, had much intercourse with Henri of Navarre before Rouen, and was knighted by Essex 8 Oct. 1591 (Harl. MS. 6063, art. 26). Coningsby was M.P. for Herefordshire in 1593, 1597, and 1601, and sheriff of the county in 1598. On 12 Nov. 1617 he joined the council of Wales under the presidency of William, lord Compton. In 1614 Coningsby founded a hospital in the suburbs of Hereford for superannuated soldiers and servants called ‘Coningsby's Company of Old Servitors,’ and died on 30 May 1625. John Davies of Hereford addressed a sonnet to him. A portrait of him with his favourite dog is at Cashiobury House, Hertfordshire, in the possession of the Earl of Essex. He married Philippa, second daughter of Sir William Fitzwilliam of Melton, near Peterborough, and Sir Philip Sidney's cousin, by whom he had six sons and three daughters. All his sons except one, Fitzwilliam, died before him. Fitzwilliam married Cicely, daughter of Henry, seventh lord Abergavenny, and their son, Humphrey, was father of Thomas, earl Coningsby [q. v.] Of his daughters, Katharine married Francis Smallman of Kinnersley Castle, Herefordshire; Elizabeth married Sir Humphrey Baskerville of Erdesley Castle, Herefordshire, and Anne married Sir Richard Tracy of Hatfield, Hertfordshire.

Coningsby is the author of an interesting diary of the action of the English troops in France in 1591. It proceeds day by day through two periods, 13 Aug. to 6 Sept., and 3 Oct. to 24 Dec., when it abruptly terminates. The original manuscript is numbered 288 (ff. 253–79) among the ‘Harleian MSS.’ at the British Museum. It was first printed and carefully edited by Mr. J. G. Nichols in the first volume of the Camden Society's ‘Miscellanies’ (1847). Internal evidence alone gives the clue to the authorship.

[J. G. Nichols's Introduction to the Camd. Soc. Miscell. i. pt. ii.; Clutterbuck's Hertfordshire, i. 444; Duncumb's Collections for Herefordshire, i. 405; Price's Hist. Acc. of Hereford, 213; Fox-Bourne's Life of Sir Philip Sidney, pp. 69–70; John Davies's Works, ed. Grosart.]

S. L. L.