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

KYTSON, Sir THOMAS (1485–1540), sheriff of London, son of Robert Kytson of Warton in Lancashire, was born in 1485. He came to London in his youth, and was apprenticed to Richard Glasyer, mercer, and on the expiration of his indentures was admitted a freeman of the Mercers' Company in 1507. He twice served the office of warden of the company, in 1526 and 1534, and held the office of master in 1535. In 1521 Kytson purchased of the Duke of Buckingham the manor of Hengrave, Suffolk, and the manor of Colston Basset in Nottinghamshire for 2,340l, the estates being valued at 115l. yearly. On the attainder and execution of the Duke of Buckingham in the following year, Kytson was for a time deprived of the estates, but they were ultimately restored to him, and were confirmed to him by an act of parliament of 1524, which describes him as a 'citizen and mercer of London, otherwise called Kytson the merchant.'

At Hengrave he obtained a license from Henry VIII to build an embattled manor-house on a magnificent scale. The building was begun in 1525, and finished in 1538. An elaborate inventory of the furniture and goods at Hengrave, taken in 1603 (Gage, History of Hengrave, pp. 21-371), illustrates its great extent and elegance, and the vast wealth of its owner. In the valuation of the lands and goods of the inhabitanta of London, taken in 1522, Kytson was assessed in goods at a thousand marks (altered to four thousand marks), and in lands at six hundred marks (State Papers, Hen. VIII, iii. pt. ii. p. 1053). In the following year he appears indebted to the crown for 600l, and at the time his financial dealings with the crown were on a large scale (ib. p. 1530, vol. iv. pt. iii. p. 2771, vol. ix. p. 587, iii.) His mercantile transactions were very extensive. He was a member of the Merchant Adventurers' Company, and traded at the cloth fairs or staples held by that company at Antwerp, Middelburg, and other places in Flanders. Like many other wealthy London merchants, he appears to have had a house and staff of 'servants' at Antwerp (ib. vii. 166).

Kytson served the office of sheriff of London in 1533, and on 30 May in that year was knighted, an honour which was not conferred upon his co-sheriff, William Forman (ib. vi. 270). In May 1534 he was associated with Roland Lee, bishop of Coventry and Lichfield, in receiving oaths of fealty from priests and monks (ib. vii. 263). Kytson was assessed for the subsidy of 1535 at four thousand marks (ib. viii. 184).

Subsequently he purchased several other manors in Suffolk of the crown of the yearly value of 202l. 4s. 7d., for which he paid 3,710l. 1s. 8d. From an inventory of his effects taken after his death, it appears that his warehouses in London were stored with cloth of gold, satins, tapestry, velvets, furs, fustian, bags of pepper, cloves, madder, &c., to the value of 1,181l. 15s. 1d., and the ready money and debts (good, doubtful, and desperate) amounted to a very considerable sum. He had a dwelling-house in Milk Street (with a chapel attached), the 'implements' in which were valued at 164l. 8s. 3½d.; a garden in Coleman Street, and a house and chapel in Stoke Newington. Besides Hengrave, he had houses at Westley and Risby in Suffolk, and at Torbrian in Devonshire.

Kytson died 11 Sept. 1540, and was buried with much state in Hengrave Church (cf. Gage, pp. 112-15). In the north-east angle of the chapel is a well-executed tomb to the memory of Margaret, countess of Bath (his widow), and her three husbands. A recumbent figure of Kytson in armour is placed on the step in front of the tomb, the frieze of which contains an inscription to his memory. On 22 Sept. 1540 allegations were taken to prove his nuncupative will, by which he left his manors of Hengrave and Feltons and all his other property to his wife. Dame Margaret. The will is dated 1 Sept. (P. C. C Spert, 30).

Kytson was twice married. By his first wife, whose name is not known, he had Elizabeth, wife of Edmund Crofts of Westowe in Suffolk. By his second wife, Margaret, only child of John Donnington of Stoke Newington in Middlesex and Elizabeth Pye, he had a posthumous son, afterwards Sir Thomas Kytson, and four daughters: (1) Katherine, married to Sir John Spencer of Wormleighton, Warwickshire; (2) Dorothy, married to Sir Thomas Packington of Westwood, Worcesterehire; (3) Frances, wife of John, lord Fitzwarren, eldest son of John Bourchier, earl of Bath; and (4) Anne, wife of Sir William Spring of Pakenham, Suffolk.

Dame Margaret (d. 1561) was married secondly to Sir Richard Long, and afterwards to the Earl of Bath.

A portrait of Kytson by Holbein is at Hengrave, and was engraved by Sievier for Gage's 'History of Hengrave' (p. 106).

[Records of the Corporation of London and of the Mercers' Company.]

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