|Burial place||Lavenham, Suffolk|
|Children|| Sir John Spring |
|Parent(s)||Thomas Spring, Margaret Appleton|
Thomas Spring (c. 1474 – 1523), (aliasThomas Spring III or The Rich Clothier), of Lavenham in Suffolk, was an English cloth merchant.He consolidated his father's business to become one of the most successful in the booming wool trade of the period and was one of the richest men in England.
Thomas III Spring was the eldest son and heir of Thomas II Spring (d. 7 September 1486)of Lavenham (whose monumental brass survives in Lavenham Church), by his wife Margaret Appleton. His father's will mentions Thomas and two other sons, William and James (slain 1493), as well as a daughter, Marian. He had another brother, John Spring, whose daughter, Margaret Spring, married Aubrey de Vere, second son of John de Vere, 15th Earl of Oxford and was the grandmother of Robert de Vere, 19th Earl of Oxford.
The will of Thomas Spring's grandfather, Thomas I Spring (d.1440), mentions his wife, Agnes, his eldest son and heir, Thomas (d. 7 September 1486), another son William, and two daughters, Katherine and Dionyse.
Thomas inherited the family wool and cloth business from his father, and during his lifetime the cloth trade was at its most profitable. By the time of his death, Spring was believed to be the richest man in England outside the peerage, having invested much of his money in land.
In 1512, 1513 and 1517 his name appears as one of the commissioners for collecting taxation in Suffolk. He played a large part in defeating supporters of William de la Pole, 1st Duke of Suffolk, who claimed the throne from King Henry VII. However, in 1517 during the reign of Henry VIII, Spring was given exemption from public duties,At which point he was probably at the height of his wealth.
Spring is mentioned in John Skelton's satirical poem Why come ye not to Court, which makes reference to a rich clothier with whom Skelton is said to have been friends:
Like his father, Thomas Spring was closely involved in the rebuilding of St Peter and St Paul's Church in Lavenham. This was partly done in order to propitiate the 13th Earl of Oxford, who had ordered the reconstruction work and was the other principal donor. The rebuilding also gave Spring an opportunity to display his wealth and generosity, thus solidifying his position in Suffolk; a common motivation behind the construction of many similar so-called "wool churches".
Thomas Spring married twice:
Alice survived him by fifteen years. In her will, dated 13 April 1538, she mentions her daughter by Thomas Spring, Bridget, now the wife of William Erneley; her daughter Alice, now the wife of Richard Fulmerston, gentleman; and her daughter Margaret (died c. 1552), the wife of William Risby (died c. 1551).She appoints as executors her daughter Margaret and sons-in-law, William Risby and Richard Fulmerston, and requests "my Lord of Oxenford" (John de Vere, 15th Earl of Oxford) to aid and defend my said executors." In a codicil added 31 August 1538, she discharges Richard Fulmerston as executor, and appoints him supervisor. Both will and codicil were proved 5 September 1538.
Spring made his last will on 13 June 1523 as 'Thomas Spring of Lavenham, clothmaker', leaving to his wife Alice all her apparel and jewels, 1,000 marks in money and half his plate and implements of household, with the other half to go to John his eldest son and heir. Spring also left bequests to his son Robert, to his unmarried daughter Bridget, to the children of his married daughter Rose Guybon and to the children of his son-in-law Thomas Jermyn. To 'my wife's daughter, Alice May', he bequeathed £26 13s 4d, 'which I recovered for her of May's executors', to be paid to her at the age of sixteen.A further sum of 5,000 marks was left in trust for future generations of Spring family members. .
Thomas Spring was buried in the Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, Lavenham, before the altar of St Katherine, and his tomb was fenced in by the surviving elaborate wooden parclose screenwhich in his will he ordered his executors to erect. His widow commissioned Flemish wood carvers to create a ten-foot high parclose screen around his tomb, which is one of the most intricate of its type still in existence.
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