Seckford, Thomas (DNB00)


SECKFORD or SACKFORD, THOMAS (1515?–1588), lawyer, second son of Thomas Seckford, esq., of Seckford Hall, Suffolk, sometime M.P. for Oxford, by Margaret, daughter of Sir John Wingfield, knt., of Letheringham, was born about 1515, and educated, it is believed, at Cambridge (Cooper, Athenæ Cantabr. ii. 18). He was admitted a student of Gray's Inn, London, in 1540, and was called to the bar, being Lent reader of that house in 1555 (Foster, Gray's Inn Admission Register, p. 14). He was sworn one of the masters of request in ordinary on 9 Dec. 1558, and he also held the offices of surveyor of the court of wards and liveries and steward of the court of Marshalsea. His name appears in a commission for the establishment of orders and regulations for the prison of the Fleet (1561); in a special commission of oyer and terminer for the county of Surrey (15 Feb. 1565–6), under which Arthur Pole [q. v.], Edmund Pole, and others were tried and convicted of high treason; and in another commission (12 June 1566) for the trial of offences committed within the verge of the queen's house. He was appointed one of the commissioners for causes ecclesiastical in 1570. On 1 Aug. in that year he was included in the special commission of oyer and terminer for the city of London, under which John Felton was convicted of high treason. He was returned for Ipswich, and probably also for Bridgnorth, to the parliament which met on 8 May 1572; but it is difficult to determine whether it was he or his father who sat in four parliaments for Ipswich and the county of Suffolk. On 14 April 1573 he was, with others, empowered to deliver the gaol of the Marshalsea. His father died in 1575, and he, being the eldest surviving son, succeeded to the paternal estate. He built ‘a very faire house in Ipswich within the newe barre gates.’ His name figures in a special commissioner of oyer and terminer for the county of Middlesex (20 Feb. 1585–6), under which Dr. William Parry (d. 1585) [q. v.] was tried and convicted for conspiring the death of the queen. He was buried at Woodbridge, Suffolk, on 15 Jan. 1587–8.

He was a munificent benefactor to the town of Woodbridge, where he founded and endowed almshouses, in which twenty-four poor men and women still find an asylum in old age. Seckford assisted William Harrison (1534–1593) [q. v.] in describing ‘the rivers and streams of Britain,’ and Harrison dedicated to him his ‘Description of Scotland’ in Holinshed's ‘Chronicles’ (bk. iii.).

[Addit. MSS. 19086 ff. 22, 37, 19097 ff. 349 b, 378–85; Baga de Secretis; Record of the House of Gournay, pp. 808, 809; Parliamentary Hist. of England, 1762–3, iv. 207; Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1547–80 p. 248, 1581–90 p. 281, Addenda, 1566–79 p. 649, 1580–1625 p. 788; Strype's Works (Index); Topographer and Genealogist, i. 551; Wright's Elizabeth, ii. 62, 184, 228, 246.]

T. C.