Thomas Seckford

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Thomas Seckford (1515 – January 1587) was an official at the court of Queen Elizabeth I and Member of Parliament. [1] He is not to be confused with his younger brother, Thomas Seckford of Ludlow, also a Member of Parliament. [2]

Elizabeth I of England Queen regnant of England and Ireland from 17 November 1558 until 1603

Elizabeth I was Queen of England and Ireland from 17 November 1558 until her death on 24 March 1603. Sometimes called The Virgin Queen, Gloriana or Good Queen Bess, Elizabeth was the last of the five monarchs of the House of Tudor.


Born near Woodbridge, Suffolk, England, Seckford was educated at Cambridge, [3] and in 1540 entered Gray's Inn. Thomas became one of Queen Elizabeth I’s two Masters in Ordinary of the Court of Requests (from 1558 probably until death) which dealt with poor men’s causes. [4] One of the duties of this post was to accompany the monarch as she journeyed around her realm. He would thus have been particularly known to the Queen. He is believed to have played a prominent part in arranging the Elizabethan Church Settlement. In 1564, she sold him the manor of Woodbridge, including the site of Woodbridge Priory, and he became a benefactor to both the church and town. [5] He was junior Knight of the Shire (MP) for Suffolk in 1571.

Woodbridge, Suffolk town in Suffolk, England

Woodbridge is a town in Suffolk, East Anglia, England, about 8 miles (13 km) from the sea coast. It lies along the River Deben and has a population of about 11,000. The town is served by Woodbridge railway station on the Ipswich–Lowestoft East Suffolk Line. It lies within a short distance of the wider Ipswich urban area. Woodbridge is close to some of the major archaeological sites for the Anglo-Saxon period, one of which produced the Sutton Hoo burial ship. The town's 1100 years of recorded history have bequeathed a variety of historical architecture. There are facilities for boating and for riverside walks by the River Deben.

Suffolk County of England

Suffolk is an East Anglian county of historic origin in England. It has borders with Norfolk to the north, Cambridgeshire to the west and Essex to the south. The North Sea lies to the east. The county town is Ipswich; other important towns include Lowestoft, Bury St Edmunds, Newmarket and Felixstowe, one of the largest container ports in Europe.

University of Cambridge University in Cambridge, England, United Kingdom

The University of Cambridge is a collegiate public research university in Cambridge, United Kingdom. Founded in 1209 and granted a Royal Charter by King Henry III in 1231, Cambridge is the second-oldest university in the English-speaking world and the world's fourth-oldest surviving university. The university grew out of an association of scholars who left the University of Oxford after a dispute with the townspeople. The two 'ancient universities' share many common features and are often referred to jointly as 'Oxbridge'. The history and influence of the University of Cambridge has made it one of the most prestigious universities in the world.

He was an MP for Ripon in November 1554, for Orford in 1555 and 1558, for Ipswich in 1559, 1563 and 1572 and for Suffolk in 1571. [6]

Ripon was a constituency sending members to the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom until 1983, centred on the city of Ripon in North Yorkshire.

Orford was a constituency of the House of Commons. Consisting of the town of Orford in Suffolk, it elected two Members of Parliament (MP) by the block vote version of the first past the post system of election until it was disenfranchised in 1832.

Ipswich (UK Parliament constituency) Parliamentary constituency in the United Kingdom

Ipswich is a constituency represented in the House of Commons of the UK Parliament since 2017 by Sandy Martin of the Labour Party.

Elizabeth is known to have held court at the Seckford family seat, Seckford Hall.

Seckford Hall

Seckford Hall is a Tudor period house in Seckford Hall Road, Great Bealings, near Woodbridge, Suffolk. In the same road are Seckford Golf Club and Seckford Farm. The hall is now a luxury hotel.

In 1574 Thomas commissioned Christopher Saxton to survey all the English counties and produce an atlas of the realm. This was published in 1579, the first ever done from an actual survey. Elizabeth granted him a patent for its sole publication for ten years.

Christopher Saxton English cartographer

Christopher Saxton was an English cartographer who produced the first county maps of England and Wales.

He founded seven almshouses in Woodbridge in 1586 which he endowed with an income of £112 13s 4d (£112.66p) per year from land in Clerkenwell, Middlesex. He also paid for the old Woodbridge Abbey to be rebuilt. His wealth is still benefiting Woodbridge today.

Almshouse charitable housing

An almshouse is charitable housing provided to people in a particular community. They are often targeted at the poor of a locality, at those from certain forms of previous employment, or their widows, and at elderly people who can no longer pay rent, and are generally maintained by a charity or the trustees of a bequest. Almshouses were originally formed as extensions of the church system and were later adapted by local officials and authorities.

Clerkenwell area of inner north London in the London Borough of Islington

Clerkenwell is an area of central London England. The area includes the sub-district of Finsbury.

Middlesex historic county of England

Middlesex is an ancient county in southeast England. It is now entirely within the wider urbanised area of London. Its area is now also mostly within the ceremonial county of Greater London, with small sections in other neighbouring ceremonial counties. It was established in the Anglo-Saxon system from the territory of the Middle Saxons, and existed as an official unit until 1965. The historic county includes land stretching north of the River Thames from 17 miles (27 km) west to 3 miles (5 km) east of the City of London with the rivers Colne and Lea and a ridge of hills as the other boundaries. The largely low-lying county, dominated by clay in its north and alluvium on gravel in its south, was the second smallest county by area in 1831.

He died in 1587 aged 72, never having had children, and was buried in a chapel on the north side of St. Mary's Church which is now an organ chamber. His coat of arms can be seen in the north window of the west wall of the church.

Sekforde Street in Clerkenwell, London, is built on land once owned by Seckford and is named for him. Sekforde Street adjoins Woodbridge Street, laid out at the same time in the 1830s.

In the film About a Boy starring Hugh Grant the main character, Will, lives in a flat in No.1 Sekforde Street (actual research shows the temporary movie-set doorway was constructed at 16-18 St James's Walk, the same glazed-brick building but around the corner.) Woodbridge Chapel on Woodbridge Street also features in the film as the scene of the "Single Parents Alone Together" (SPAT) meeting.

1796 Conder Token, Obverse Thos.-Sekford-OBV-800.jpg
1796 Conder Token, Obverse
1796 Conder Token, Reverse Thos.-Sekford-REV-800.jpg
1796 Conder Token, Reverse

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  1. 'Seckford, Thomas I (1515 or 1516-87), of Woodbridge and Ipswich, Suff. and Clerkenwell, London', in P.W. Hasler (ed.), The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603 (from Boydell and Brewer, 1981), History of Parliament online.
  2. J.J.C., 'Seckford, Thomas II (d.c.1579), of Ludlow, Salop', in P.W. Hasler (ed.), The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603 (from Boydell and Brewer 1981), History of Parliament online. The Old Dictionary of National Biography article confuses both brothers and their father all together.
  3. "Sackford, Thomas (SKFT515T)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  4. "Masters of Requests". Institute of Historical Research. Retrieved 17 June 2013.
  5. The Abbey (Junior School), Woodbridge, British Listed Buildings. Retrieved 2011-05-01.
  6. History of Parliament online.