Malet, Thomas (DNB00)
MALET or MALLETT, Sir THOMAS (1582–1665), judge, great-grandson of Sir Baldwin Malet of St. Audries, Somerset, solicitor-general to Henry VIII, and a descendant of William Malet [q. v.] of Graville, Normandy, was born about 1582. He became a member of the Middle Temple, 29 Nov. 1600, was called to the bar 7 Nov. 1606, and was appointed reader to the inn in Lent 1626. He was a member of the House of Commons during the first two parliaments of Charles I, supporting the court party, and in particular resisting the attempt to make common fame a ground of accusation against the Duke of Buckingham (Parliamentary History, ii. 33, 52). He was also busily occupied in his profession, as the frequent mention of his name in the reports of Croke and Sir W. Jones shows. He became solicitor-general to the queen, and eventually a serjeant, 15 May 1635. He was raised to the king's bench, and knighted, July 1641. On the bench he at once showed himself a strong supporter of the royal policy and prerogative. At the Lent assizes at Maidstone, 25 March 1642, he caused the grand jury of Kent, which, though he had selected its members himself, was with difficulty brought to complaisance, to petition in favour of the Book of Common Prayer, and against raising the militia without the king's assent; and, taking charge of the petition, he showed it to John Digby, first earl of Bristol [q. v.], prior to laying it before parliament (see S. R. Gardiner, Hist. of England, vol. x.) For this the lords committed him to the Tower, 28 March 1642, and it was not until 2 May that he was released on his recognisance in 1,000l. to appear before the lords when called upon (Parl. Hist. ii. 1148, Lords' Journals). In the summer, when he was again holding assizes in Kent, he refused to allow votes of parliament on behalf of the militia ordinance and against the king's commission of array to be read in court at Maidstone by members of the House of Commons deputed for that purpose. The king sent him a letter of thanks and a promise of the royal protection; but parliament sent a troop of horse, had him seized on the bench at Kingston in Surrey and carried to Westminster, and sent him back to the Tower. He was released upon an exchange of prisoners in October 1644, but by an ordinance of November 1645 he was disabled, ‘as if dead,’ from being a judge, on the ground of his being ‘the fomenter and protector of the malignant faction.’ He lost a son in the field during the civil war, and his property was repeatedly sequestrated. By patent, dated 31 May 1660, he was rewarded on the Restoration by being replaced on the bench, but he was seventy-eight years old and unfit for work. On 18 June 1663 he was dispensed from attendance, but retained the name and salary of a judge, and received a pension of 1,000l. a year and grants of land in Somerset and Devonshire, and was created a baronet. The fiat for this honour was never completed; and when his descendant, Charles Warre Malet [q. v.], was created a baronet in 1791 by a new patent, his claim for precedence, as from 1663, was refused. Sir Thomas Malet died 19 Dec. 1665, and was buried in Pointington Church, Somerset. His son, Sir John, who was knighted at Whitehall in the year of his father's death, was recorder of Bridgewater.
[Foss's Judges of England; Collinson's Somerset, ii. 377; Clarendon, iii. 153; Whitelocke, iv. 107, 181; Rymer. xx. 517; Dugdale's Origines, pp. 220; Cal. State Papers, 1662 pp. 348, 435, 1664 p. 565; State Trials, v. 1030; Siderfin's Reports, i. 150; Papers published by Sir Charles Malet, 1805; Introd. to Twysden, Camden Soc., vol. xlix.]