Salisbury, Thomas (1555?-1586) (DNB00)
SALISBURY or SALESBURY, THOMAS (1555?–1586), conspirator, born about 1555, was the eldest son of Sir John Salisbury, junior, of Llewenny, Denbighshire [see for earlier history of family Salisbury, William, (1520?–1600?)]. His mother, Catherine Tudor, daughter and heiress of Tudor ap Robert Vychan of Berain in the same county, was commonly known, owing to her numerous progeny, as ‘Mam Gwalia’ (i.e. mother of Wales). After her husband's death, Catherine successively married Sir Richard Clough [q. v.], Maurice Wynn of Gwydyr, and Edward Thelwall of Ruthin, and had issue by each except Thelwall, who survived her; one of her daughters by Clough married John Salisbury of Bachegraig, Flint, from whom Mrs. Piozzi was descended (Yorke, Royal Tribes of Wales, ed. 1887, p. 82, where a portrait of Catherine, showing her to be a woman of great beauty, is given; another portrait is mentioned in Bye-Gones for 1876, p. 132).
Salisbury appears to have entered at Gray's Inn in 1573 (Foster, Register, p. 44), and is said to have attached himself for a time to the Earl of Leicester (Froude, History, xii. 230). Most of his relatives were protestants [see Salisbury, William, (1520?–1600?)]; but young Salisbury himself espoused the catholic faith, and he appears to have joined the secret society formed about 1580 by a number of wealthy young men, for the most part connected with the royal household, with the object of protecting and maintaining the jesuit missionaries who were then just arriving in England (Froude, in xi. 320, gives his name in this connection as Richard). Later on, when Anthony Babington [q. v.], who was the leading member of the society, began to plot, early in 1586, for the release of Mary Stuart and the murder of Elizabeth, it is said that Salisbury ‘could by no means be persuaded to be a Queene-killer, but to deliver the Scots Queene he offered his services willingly.’ Throughout the ensuing summer the conspirators met almost daily, ‘either in St. Giles's Fields, or St. Paul's Church, or in taverns, where they every day banqueted and feasted, being puffed up with hope of great honours.’
Walsingham's spies were, however, aware of their conspiracy almost from the first. The servants at Llewenny were examined by the sheriffs and justices of Denbigh, and among other things deposed that young Salisbury and Babington ‘were bedfellows together in London for a quarter of a year or more’ (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 17 Aug. 1586). At last, towards the end of August, Babington was arrested. Edward Jones, another Welsh accomplice, whose father was keeper of the queen's wardrobe, hurried with the news to Salisbury, and lent him a horse and a cloak to make his escape from London. But Salisbury was captured in Cheshire.
On 13 Sept. the conspirators were brought up for trial before a special commission at Westminster. The charge against Salisbury was taken on the following day, the indictment against him being that on 7 June, at a meeting of the conspirators at St. Giles's, he had undertaken to go into his county of Denbigh ‘to move and stir up sedition and rebellion,’ so as to aid the delivery of Mary Stuart and the invasion of the country by a foreign enemy. To this he pleaded guilty, but ‘for killing of the Queen's Majesty, I protest I always said I would not do it for a kingdom.’ Subsequently a confession purporting to have been made by Salisbury was read, stating how Babington, Titchbourne, and himself had communicated ‘concerning the sacking of the city of London.’
Salisbury was the first of the conspirators to be executed on the 21st. He died penitent, praying in Latin, and ‘admonishing the catholics not to attempt to restore religion by force and arms.’ To Salisbury the conspirators looked for securing the support of the gentry of North Wales, most of whom were still catholics at heart. For this end he appears to have had the qualification of popularity apart from the commanding position of his family; for Jones, who protested that he had tried to dissuade him from joining the conspiracy, referred to him on his own trial as ‘the best man in my country,’ and ‘my dearest friend whom I loved as my own self.’
Salisbury married Margaret, a daughter of his mother's third husband, Maurice Wynn of Gwydyr (by his first wife, Jane, daughter of Sir Richard Bulkeley of Beaumaris), and by her he had a daughter, also named Margaret, who was married to William Norris of Speke in Lancashire. The Llewenni estates went to the second son, Sir John Salisbury, ‘the strong,’ known in Welsh as ‘Sion y Bodiau’ (d. 1612), whose eldest son, Sir Henry Salisbury (d. 1632), the first baronet, was father of Thomas Salisbury (d. 1643) [q. v.] An alleged portrait of Salisbury is mentioned by Pennant (Tours in Wales, ed. 1883, ii. 140) as being at Llewenny; it represented him ‘in a grey-and-black vest, dark hair, short whiskers, bushy beard, and with an ear-ring; his bonnet in his hand; his breast naked.’[The pedigrees of the Salisbury family and Catherine of Berain are given in Dwnn's Heraldic Visitations, ii. 331 and 334 respectively. The chief authorities for the history of the conspiracy are Camden's Annales, ed. Hearne, ii. 476, 482–4, or the English translation, 4th ed. (1688), pp. 338–45 (the account given in A Thankfull Remembrance for God's Mercy, by Geo. Carleton, 1625, pp. 100–10, is almost verbally identical); State Trials, i. 427–62; see also Froude's Hist. xii. 230, 255, 265–70, and art. Babington, Anthony.]