Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Coventry, Thomas (1547-1606)

COVENTRY, Sir THOMAS (1547–1606), judge, second son of Richard Coventry of Cassington, Oxfordshire, was born in 1547, and educated at Balliol College, Oxford, of which he was a fellow, and where he graduated B.A. on 2 June 1565. He studied law at the Inner Temple. His first appearance as a pleader is in a case reported by Croke in Michaelmas term 1589. He was elected reader at the Inner Temple in the autumn of 1593, but, in consequence of an outbreak of plague, his reading was postponed over the winter, and a new serjeant, John Heale, being appointed in the spring, took precedence of him, so that he did not read until the autumn of 1594. In the canvass for the post of solicitor-general, which took place on Coke's appointment to the attorney-generalship (1594–5), Coventry played an active part, and was suspected of having bought Sir Robert Cecil's interest for two thousand angels, as appears from a very blunt letter from Bacon to Cecil, which though undated is probably referable to this period. In 1603 he was appointed serjeant-at-law, in 1605–6 king's serjeant, and in the same year justice of the common pleas, and knighted. He died on 12 Dec. 1606. He was buried at Earle's Croome, otherwise Croome d'Abitot, Worcestershire. According to Dugdale he descended from John Coventrie, mercer, co-sheriff of London with Robert Wydington (no connection of R. Whittington) in 1416, and lord mayor of London in 1425. By his wife, Margaret Jeffreys, of Earle's Croome, he had 3 sons and 4 daughters. His eldest son, Thomas [q. v.], was lord keeper in the reign of James I; from the youngest, Walter, the Earl of Coventry traces his descent.

[Reg. of Univ. of Oxford, i. 258; Wood's Fasti Oxon. i. 167; Dugdale's Orig. 166, Chron. Ser. 101, 103; Croke's Reports (Eliz.), p. 158; Spedding's Life and Letters of Bacon, i. 288, 348, 355; Collins's Peerage (Brydges), iii. 744; Dugdale's Baronage, ii. 459; Foss's Judges.]

J. M. R.