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

TESDALE, TEASDALE, or TISDALE, THOMAS (1547–1610), ‘co-founder of Pembroke College, Oxford,’ son of Thomas Tesdale (d. 1556), by his second wife, Joan (Knapp), was born at Stanford Dingley, Berkshire, and baptised on 13 Oct. 1547. He was brought up by his uncle, Richard Tesdale, a sadler of Abingdon, and was in 1563 the first scholar of John Royse's free school in that town. He made a large fortune as a maltster, became master of Abingdon Hospital in 1579, and was elected mayor, but declined to serve, in 1581, about which time he removed his residence to Glympton, near Woodstock, Oxfordshire. He died there on 13 June 1610, aged 63, and was buried in Glympton church, under a fine alabaster tomb (repaired in 1871), where was also laid his wife Maud (d. 1616). By his will, dated 31 May 1610 (in addition to other benefactions to Abingdon), he left 5,000l. to maintain seven fellows and six scholars from Abingdon free school at Balliol College, Oxford. The Society of Balliol, already hampered by their obligations to Tiverton school, seem to have tried hard to obtain a relaxation of the conditions attached to the bequest, but the negotiations were not completed in 1623 when Richard Wightwick, B.D., formerly of Balliol, offered to augment Tesdale's foundation. ‘It then fell under consideration,’ says Fuller, ‘that it was a pity so great a bounty (substantial enough to stand by itself) should be adjected to a former foundation.’

The feoffees under Tesdale's will, headed by Archbishop George Abbot [q. v.], acquiesced in the project of a new college; the king was approached through the chancellor, William Herbert, third earl of Pembroke [q. v.], and, James consenting, the existing foundation of Broadgates Hall ‘was erected by the name of Pembroke College’ (29 June 1624).

A portrait of Tesdale, dating from the middle of the seventeenth century, is preserved in Pembroke Hall, and was engraved for Wood's ‘Historia’ (1674).

[Little's Monument of Christian Munificence, ed. Cobham, 1871; Macleane's Hist. of Pembroke Coll. Oxford (Oxford Hist. Soc.); Blundell's Brief Mem. of Abingdon School; Fuller's Worthies, 1662, p. 341; Wood's Coll. and Halls, ed. Gutch, iii. 616; Henry Savage's Balliofergus, 1668, p. 87 (from which it is evident that the authorities at Balliol resented, as they well might, the diversion of the money from their ancient foundation).]

T. S.