Thomas Snagge

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Sir Thomas Snagge (1536–1593) was a Member of Parliament, barrister and landowner who served as Speaker of the English House of Commons, Attorney General for Ireland and as Queen's Sergeant.[1]


Snagge was born in 1536 in Letchworth.[1] He was the son of Thomas Snagge, the prosperous lord of the manor of Marston Moretaine in Bedfordshire. He studied law at Gray's Inn, and after being called to the bar in 1554 practiced law in London.

Snagge was elected as a knight of the shire for Bedfordshire in 1571. He was chosen by Queen Elizabeth to be Attorney General for Ireland and held this appointment from 1577 to 1580.[1] The Queen chose him because "the public service had been not a little hindered through the default and insufficiency of the law officers" and "her Majesty thought that a person well-chosen in England might be sent over".[2] Snagge in fact was not particularly well-chosen: he disliked living in Ireland and, according to a modern writer, his official correspondence is simply a long list of complaints.[3] In particular, he complained of the inefficiency of the Master of the Rolls in Ireland, Nicholas White, and went so far as to make an official complaint against him to the Privy Council of England. In 1580 he was appointed a Serjeant-at-law.

In 1586 Snagge was again returned as one of the members of parliament for Bedfordshire and in 1589 for the borough of Bedford. In 1589 he was elected as Speaker of the House of Commons and in 1590 was promoted to Queen's Serjeant. As well as owning several manors in Bedfordshire, his home seat was at Marston Moretaine.[4]

Snagge died in 1593 and was entombed in St Mary's Church, Marston Moretaine, where an alabaster tomb carrying effigies of him and his wife survives.[4] He had married Elizabeth, daughter and coheiress of Thomas Dickons of Marston Moretaine; they had five sons and two daughters. He was succeeded by his eldest son, Thomas, also a member of parliament for Bedford.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Bedfordshire Library Website, Local Biographies - Thomas Snagge, Accessed 3 January 2009
  2. Hart, A. R., History of the King's Serjeants-at-law in Ireland (Four Courts Press, Dublin, 2000)
  3. Casey, James, The Irish Law Officers (Dublin: Round Hall Sweet and Maxwell, 1996)
  4. 4.0 4.1 A History of Moreteyne Manor - Moreteyne Manor website, Accessed 3 January 2009
Legal offices
Preceded by
John Puckering
Speaker of the House of Commons
Succeeded by
Edward Coke