Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Lovell, Thomas

LOVELL, Sir THOMAS (d. 1524), speaker of the House of Commons, was fifth son of Sir Ralph Lovell of Barton Bendish in Norfolk, by Anne, daughter of Robert Toppe, alderman of Norwich. He was probably related to Francis, viscount Lovell [q. v.]; his family had been seated at Barton Bendish since the fourteenth century, and was Lancastrian in politics. His eldest brother, Gregory, inherited Barton Bendish, was knighted at Stoke in 1487, and was, by Margaret, daughter of Sir William Brandon, standard-bearer to Henry at Bosworth Field, father of Sir Thomas Lovell of Barton Bendish and of Sir Francis Lovell (d. 1550), who became adopted son and heir to his uncle. Another brother, Sir Robert Lovell (d. 1520?), was made a knight-banneret at Blackheath in 1497. Thomas Lovell seems to have been entered at Lincoln's Inn, and in 1473 received an annuity of twenty shillings a year from Henry Heydon, a neighbour, in consideration of the valuable advice he had given. He staunchly adhered to Henry Tudor, earl of Richmond, afterwards Henry VII, and was attainted in the first parliament of Richard III. He returned with Henry, fought at Bosworth Field, and his attainder was reversed in Henry VII's first parliament. On 12 Oct. 1485 he was created chancellor of the exchequer for life; on 27 Oct. he became esquire of the king's body, with a pension of forty marks a year, and he was advanced to be knight of the king's body before August 1487. He was also treasurer of the king's and queen's chambers. In the parliament summoned for 7 Nov. 1485 Lovell was chosen for Northamptonshire, and on 8 Nov. 1485 he was elected speaker. He headed the commons on 10 Dec. 1485, when they requested the king to marry Elizabeth of York, to whom he subsequently lent 500l. upon the security of her plate. On 3 July 1486 he was one of the commission to treat with the Scots. He probably continued to sit in parliament, though it is only certain that he was elected to that summoned for 16 Jan. 1496–7. Sir John Mordaunt was chosen speaker in 1488.

In 1487 Lovell sided with Henry against Lambert Simnel, and he and his brothers fought at Stoke, where he was knighted (9 June). On 11 March 1489 he became constable of Nottingham Castle.

The services rendered by Lovell to Henry VII included an active participation in the king's policy of extortions; numerous bonds which were made to Lovell, as well as to Empson and Dudley, were cancelled early in the reign of Henry VIII. In November 1494 he was present at the tournaments celebrating the creation of Prince Henry Duke of York, and in 1500 he accompanied the king at his meeting with the Archduke Philip near Calais. In 1502 he became treasurer of the household and president of the council. In 1503 he was made K.G. About 1504 he appears to have been high steward of the universities of Oxford and Cambridge. He acted as an executor for Cecilia, duchess of York (d. 1494), Lady Margaret, countess of Richmond, and foundress of St. John's College, Cambridge, Henry VII, Sir Thomas Brandon [q. v.], John, earl of Oxford (d. 1512), and Sir Robert Sheffield, lord mayor of London, who died about 1514.

Henry VIII continued to employ Lovell. He was reappointed chancellor of the exchequer, was made constable of the Tower in 1509, and surveyor of the court of wards, and steward and marshal of the household. On 3 Sept. 1513 he was commissioned to levy men in the midlands for service against the Scots, and on 12 May 1514 either he or his nephew Thomas, who was knighted in 1513, landed at Calais with a hundred men, and was shortly afterwards joined by three hundred more.

The rise of Wolsey's power seems to have affected his position. Giustiniani wrote on 17 July 1516 that Lovell had withdrawn himself from public affairs. On Ascension day 1516 Margaret [q. v.], queen-dowager of Scotland, visited him at Elsing, near Enfield, in Middlesex, a house he had inherited from his brother-in-law, Edmund, lord Rous, in 1508. On 14 May 1523 he was reported to be very ill, and he died at Elsing on 25 May 1524. He was buried in a chantry chapel he had built at Halliwell, or Holywell, nunnery in Shoreditch, a house of which he was regarded as a second founder. His funeral was very magnificent (cf. Brit. Mus. Addit. MS. 12462, parts of which are printed in Robinson's Hist. of Enfield, i. 126). His portrait was formerly in a stained-glass window in Malvern Church. Lovell contributed towards the building of Caius College, Cambridge, and built a gateway for Lincoln's Inn. He also built a manor-house at Harling in Norfolk.

Lovell married, first, Eleanor, daughter of Jeffrey Ratcliffe; and, secondly, Isabel, daughter of Edward, lord Rous, of Hamlake, a widow, but left no issue. By the numerous grants which he had from Henry VIII he died very rich. The greater part of his estates passed to his nephew Francis, whom he calls in his will his cousin. Francis was succeeded by his son, Sir Thomas Lovell (d. 1567), and had another son, Gregory Lovell (1522–1597), who was cofferer to the household, and received a lease of Merton Abbey, Surrey, from Elizabeth in 1586–7.

[Ford's Hist. of Enfield, pp. 68 and sq.; Ellis's Hist. of Shoreditch, pp. 193 and sq.; Manning and Bray's Surrey, pp. 254, 259, 517; Lodge's Illustr. of Brit. Hist. i. 13; Robinson's Hist. of Enfield, i. 128 and sq.; Blomefield's Norfolk, i. 323, vii. 273; Cooper's Athenæ Cantabr. i. 30, 526; Campbell's Materials for a Hist. of … Hen. VII (Rolls Ser.), vols. i. ii. passim; Gairdner's Letters and Papers Illustr. of the Reign of Henry VII (Rolls Ser.), i. 181, 403, 414, ii. 88; Brewer's Reign of Henry VIII, i. 53, 195, 258, 479; Rotuli Scotiæ, ii. 473, 476; Cal. of Letters and Papers Hen. VIII, pp. 1509–1523 passim; Paston Letters, ed. Gairdner, iii. 392; Chron. of Calais (Camd. Soc.), pp. 6, 15, 32, 81; Metcalfe's Knights, pp. 5, 15, 16, 27, 28, 51; Latimer's Works (Parker Soc.), ii. 295; Willis and Clark's Arch. Hist. of the Univ. of Cambr. i. 169; Nicolas's Privy Purse Expenses of Elizabeth of York, p. 110; Testamenta Vetusta passim (p. 640, Lovell's will); Weever's Funerall Monuments; Brit. Mus. Addit. MS. 12463 (account of Lovell's estates at his death); Addit. MS. 19140 (Davy's Suff. Coll. vol. lxiv.) has a pedigree showing that Ralph Lovell of Beachamwell was Lovell's great-uncle, not his father.]

W. A. J. A.