Thomas Wroth (politician, 17th century)

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Sir Thomas Wroth
Born 1584
Died 11 July 1672
Petherton Park
Spouse(s) Margaret Rich
Parent(s) Thomas Wroth
Joanna Bulmer

Sir Thomas Wroth (1584 – 11 July 1672) was an English author and politician who sat in the House of Commons at various times between 1628 and 1660. He was active in colonial enterprises in North America. He was a strong republican in the Rump Parliament, but stopped short of regicide.


Wroth was born in London, the eldest son of Thomas Wroth (died 1610) of the Inner Temple and Blunden Hall, Boxley, Kent and his wife Joanna Bulmer, daughter of Thomas Bulmer of London. He was grandson of Sir Thomas Wroth (1516–1573) and was baptised at St. Stephen's, Coleman Street, on 5 May 1584.[1] He matriculated as a commoner at Gloucester Hall, Oxford, on 1 July 1600, but was later associated with Broadgates Hall. He left the university without a degree, and in November 1606 was entered with his brother Peter as a student at the Inner Temple.[2] He was knighted on 14 October 1613, and, having inherited a considerable portion of his father's wealth, he purchased the Somerset estates of his cousin, Sir Robert Wroth (1575–1614), when they were sold to pay his debts. The chief of these were the manors of Newton and Petherton Park, of which his great-grandfather Robert had been appointed forester by Henry VII, and which his grandfather Sir Thomas had purchased from Edward VI in 1550. Petherton Park became the seat of his branch of the family, and for the rest of his life Wroth was associated with Somerset politics.

Wroth's wife was daughter of Richard Rich of Leighs in Essex, and sister of Sir Nathaniel Rich, the colonial pioneer; and this connection and his friendship with Robert Sidney, 1st Earl of Leicester, a member of the Virginia Company, led Wroth to associate himself with colonial enterprise. He was a subscriber to the Virginia Company in 1609. On 3 November 1620 he became a member of the council for New England. He also became a member of the Bermuda Company in 1620, of the Virginia Company in 1621 and of the Eastland Company. From 1621 to 1624 he was a prominent member of the Warwick party of the Virginia Company, in opposition to Sir Edwin Sandys. He voted in favour of the surrender of the original charter in October 1623, and was one of those included in James I's new grant of 15 July 1624.

Wroth was a J.P. for Somerset from 1624 to 1625. In domestic politics Wroth joined the opposition to the king, and in 1628 he was elected Member of Parliament for Bridgwater and sat until 1629 when King Charles decided to rule without parliament for eleven years. In September 1635 the government seized a letter from him in which he bewailed the condition of the church, and hinted at resistance with blood. He became recorder of Bridgwater by 1636 and was a J.P again from 1636 to 1640. He served as Sheriff of Somerset from 1639 to 1640, and was therefore excluded from the Short parliament. In 1642 was published ‘A Speech spoken by Sir Thomas Wroth … upon his delivery of a Petition from … Somerset, 25 February 1641–2,’ London.

In February 1646 Wroth was elected MP for Bridgwater as a recruiter to the Long parliament and on 3 January 1648 moved the resolution that Charles I should be impeached and the kingdom settled without him. He took the ‘engagement’ in 1649, and was one of the judges appointed to try the king, but he attended only one session. In June following he was thanked by parliament for suppressing the Levellers in Somerset. On 25 June 1653, he was made a commissioner for the government of the Bermudas and did not sit in the Barebones Parliament in 1653 or the First Protectorate Parliament of 1654. On 20 October 1656 was again returned as MP for Bridgwater in the Second Protectorate Parliament. He was re-elected in 1659 for the Third Protectorate Parliament. In 1660 he was elected for Bridgwater again in the Convention parliament.[1]

At the Restoration, Wroth's petition for pardon was granted, but he was removed from the commission of the peace and was deprived of the recordeship in 1662. He lived in retirement until his death, aged 88, at Petherton Park on 11 July 1672. His will was proved on 24 August following.


Wroth employed his leisure in literary pursuits, and in 1620 published ‘The Destruction of Troy, or the Acts of Æneas, translated out of the second booke of the Æneads of Virgil …,’ London, 4to. It is dedicated to Robert Sidney, 1st Earl of Leicester, and bound up with the British Museum copy is Wroth's ‘Abortive of an Idle Hour, or a Centurie of Epigrams,’ also printed in London, 1620. Wroth's only other literary efforts were his account of his wife Margaret, who died of a fever at Petherton Park on 14 October 1635, and was buried on 11 November in St. Stephen's, Coleman Street, London. It is printed in the Duke of Manchester's ‘Court and Society from Elizabeth to Anne’; his ‘sad encomium’ on her was separately printed in 1635.


Wroth married Margaret Rich, daughter of Richard Rich of Leighs, Essex but they had no issue. Margaret died on 14 October 1635, and he did not marry again. His estates passed to his great-nephew, Sir John Wroth, 2nd baronet (died 1674), son of Sir John Wroth, 1st Baronet (died 1664), a royalist who fought at the battle of Newbury, and was created a baronet in 1660, and grandson of Sir Thomas's brother, Sir Peter Wroth.


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