Thomas Sutton

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Thomas Sutton, ca. 1590 ThomasSutton.jpg
Thomas Sutton, ca. 1590
Tomb of Thomas Sutton in the chapel of the London Charterhouse. Tomb of Thomas Sutton.jpg
Tomb of Thomas Sutton in the chapel of the London Charterhouse.

Thomas Sutton (1532–1611) was an English civil servant and businessman, born in Knaith, Lincolnshire. He is remembered as the founder of the London Charterhouse and of Charterhouse School.

England Country in north-west Europe, part of the United Kingdom

England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to the west and Scotland to the north-northwest. The Irish Sea lies west of England and the Celtic Sea lies to the southwest. England is separated from continental Europe by the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south. The country covers five-eighths of the island of Great Britain, which lies in the North Atlantic, and includes over 100 smaller islands, such as the Isles of Scilly and the Isle of Wight.

Knaith human settlement in United Kingdom

Knaith is a village and civil parish about 3 miles (5 km) south of the town of Gainsborough in the West Lindsey district of Lincolnshire, England. The population of the civil parish at the 2011 census was 335.

London Charterhouse historic complex of buildings in Smithfield, London

The London Charterhouse is a historic complex of buildings in Smithfield, London, dating back to the 14th century. It occupies land to the north of Charterhouse Square, and lies within the London Borough of Islington.



Sutton was the son of an official of the city of Lincoln, and was educated at Eton College and at St John's College, Cambridge. [1] For much of his life he held the prestigious role of Master of the Ordnance in the North, which meant that he was responsible for military supplies and fortification in the north of England. He also obtained the lease of the manors of Whickham and Gateshead, just south of Newcastle, in 1578, and so gained much of his early wealth from the coal mines in the area and from the sale of this lease five years later. [2]

Eton College British independent boarding school located in Eton

Eton College is an English 13–18 independent boarding school and sixth form for boys in the parish of Eton, near Windsor in Berkshire. It was founded in 1440 by King Henry VI as Kynge's College of Our Ladye of Eton besyde Windesore , as a sister institution to King's College, Cambridge, making it the 18th-oldest Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference school.

St Johns College, Cambridge college of the University of Cambridge

St John's College is a constituent college of the University of Cambridge. The college was founded by Lady Margaret Beaufort. In constitutional terms, the college is a charitable corporation established by a charter dated 9 April 1511. The aims of the college, as specified by its statutes, are the promotion of education, religion, learning and research.

Whickham human settlement in United Kingdom

Whickham is a town in the Metropolitan Borough of Gateshead, North East England, 5 miles (8.0 km) south west of Newcastle upon Tyne, and is situated on high ground overlooking the River Tyne. In 2011, it had a population of 16,652. Whickham is a semi-rural, middle class suburban town and former civil parish. Built on a large hill, it overlooks a large part of the northern and western horizon, including the MetroCentre, and contains a mixture of large suburban housing estates and private streets for the local residents. The main street that goes through the town contains some shops and retailers, a few pubs and restaurants, and St. Mary's Church, the oldest building in Whickham.

In 1582, he married Elizabeth Dudley, the widow of John Dudley, who was a distant cousin of the earls of Warwick and Leicester, and this marriage more than doubled Sutton's annual rent income. [2]

Ambrose Dudley, 3rd Earl of Warwick English nobleman and general

Ambrose Dudley, 3rd Earl of Warwick, KG was an English nobleman and general, and an elder brother of Queen Elizabeth I's favourite, Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester. Their father was John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland, who led the English government from 1550–1553 under Edward VI and unsuccessfully tried to establish Lady Jane Grey on the English throne after the King's death in July 1553. For his participation in this venture Ambrose Dudley was imprisoned in the Tower of London and condemned to death. Reprieved, his rehabilitation came after he fought for Philip II of Spain in the Battle of St. Quentin.

Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester English nobleman and the favourite and close friend of Queen Elizabeth I

Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester, was an English statesman and the favourite of Elizabeth I from her accession until his death. He was a suitor for the Queen's hand for many years.

Sutton's connections to the Dudley family were strong throughout his life. Early in his career, Sutton had held a post under the Earl of Warwick, who then helped him to the post of Master of Ordnance in the North in 1569, and the Earl of Leicester, a favorite of Elizabeth, was instrumental in gaining Sutton the lease of Whickham and Gateshead. [2]

Elizabeth I of England Queen regnant of England and Ireland from 17 November 1558 until 24 March 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.

Sutton bought Howard House from the Earl of Suffolk, which occupied the site of a former Carthusian Monastery on the outskirts of the City of London. Although dissolved by Henry VIII, parts of the monastery still survived. Sutton also purchased the manor of Castle Campes in Cambridgeshire, [3] which had been in possession of the de Vere family [4] for over five hundred years, and, among other landholdings, he also owned the manors of Haddock, Littlebury, and Balsham, all near Saffron Walden in Essex. [2]

Thomas Howard, 1st Earl of Suffolk English sailor, politician, and courtier

Admiral Thomas Howard, 1st Earl of Suffolk, was a son of Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk by his second wife Margaret Audley, Duchess of Norfolk, the daughter and heiress of the 1st Baron Audley of Walden.

City of London City and county in United Kingdom

The City of London is a city that contains the historic centre and the primary central business district (CBD) of London. It constituted most of London from its settlement by the Romans in the 1st century AD to the Middle Ages, but the agglomeration has since grown far beyond the City's borders. The City is now only a tiny part of the metropolis of London, though it remains a notable part of central London. Administratively, it forms one of the 33 local authority districts of Greater London; however, the City of London is not a London borough, a status reserved for the other 32 districts. It is also a separate county of England, being an enclave surrounded by Greater London. It is the smallest county in the United Kingdom.

Henry VIII of England 16th-century King of England

Henry VIII was King of England from 1509 until his death in 1547. Henry was the second Tudor monarch, succeeding his father, Henry VII. Henry is best known for his six marriages, in particular his efforts to have his first marriage, to Catherine of Aragon, annulled. His disagreement with the Pope on the question of such an annulment led Henry to initiate the English Reformation, separating the Church of England from papal authority. He appointed himself the Supreme Head of the Church of England and dissolved convents and monasteries, for which he was excommunicated. Henry is also known as "the father of the Royal Navy"; he invested heavily in the Navy, increasing its size greatly from a few to more than 50 ships.

In 1588 Sutton contributed 100 pounds to defend the realm against the Spanish Armada, and it has been suggested he owned, and perhaps commanded, The Sutton, a barque of seventy tons and thirty men out of Weymouth, which captured a Spanish vessel and her cargo (estimated value of 20,000 pounds). [5]

Later in his career, Sutton became one of the chief moneylenders in England, securing loans worth as little as a few shillings and as much as thousands of pounds to everyone from farmers to some of the most prominent courtiers, businesspeople, and politicians of his era, including Lord Burghley, Sir Edward Coke, Sir Percival Willoughby, Lord Compton, and the Earl of Sussex, among others, generally at the standard rate of ten percent per annum. [2]

Charterhouse Hospital in around 1770. Charterhouse Hospital, engraved by Toms, c.1770..jpg
Charterhouse Hospital in around 1770.
Tudor buildings of Charterhouse. CharterhouseEC1.jpg
Tudor buildings of Charterhouse.

When Sutton died on 12 December 1611 [6] at his house in Homerton, [7] he was considered one of the richest individuals in England with an estate worth approximately £4,836 per annum, and Sutton's accounts showed that he was personally worth over £50,000, mostly in the form of outstanding obligations and recognizances from the many people in debt to him. This immense wealth earned Sutton the nicknames among his contemporaries of "Croesus" and "Riche Sutton". [2] John Aubrey is responsible for the almost certainly spurious legend that Sutton was the original of Volpone the fox in Ben Jonson's Volpone .

Sutton left part of his fortune to be invested in establishing an almshouse for 80 impoverished gentlemen, combined with a school for 40 boys, on the site of his house off Charterhouse Square, on the outskirts of the City of London. This institution was to named the Hospital of King James in Charterhouse, although it later became known as Sutton's Hospital in Charterhouse. The almshouse survives on the original site; while the school, now Charterhouse School, relocated to Godalming, Surrey, in 1872. The London buildings were badly damaged by bombs during the Second World War, but were restored during the 1950s. Sutton's personal arms, blazoned Or, on a chevron between three annulets gules three crescents of the field, are still used by the school.

See also


  1. Venn identifies him with a student at St John's College, Cambridge. "Sutton, Thomas (STN551T)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Shipley, Neal R. (1976). "Thomas Sutton: Tudor-Stuart Moneylender". Business History Review . 50 (4): 456–76. ISSN   0007-6805. JSTOR   3113136 via JSTOR.
  3. Shipley, N.R., 'The History of a Manor: Castle Campes, 1580-1629', Bulletin of the Institute of Historical Research, University of London, Vol. LXVII, 1974, pp. 162-81.
  4. Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, sold Castle Campes to Thomas Skinner (d. 1596), whose son, Sir John Skinner, to pay his debts, sold it to Sutton on 2 August 1607; see Shipley, pp. 173-5.
  5. The northern suburbs: Haggerston and Hackney, Old and New London: Volume 5 (1878), pp. 505-24 accessed: 18 June 2007
  6. The Tan House, not the contemporaneous Sutton House built by Ralph Sadleir, then known as Bryck Place; the house was finally demolished in 1805 for the creation of Sutton Place Hackney

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