Thomas Williams (speaker)

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Thomas Williams (1513/15141566) was a Speaker of the English House of Commons. He was a lawyer and a member of the Inner Temple, sat as MP for Exeter (UK Parliament constituency) during the first and second Parliaments of Elizabeth I and was elected Speaker on 12 January 1563 and remained so until his unexpected death in 1566. His family home was Stowford House in the parish of Harford, Devon.

Inner Temple one of the four Inns of Court in London, England

The Honourable Society of the Inner Temple, commonly known as Inner Temple, is one of the four Inns of Court in London. To be called to the Bar and practise as a barrister in England and Wales, an individual must belong to one of these Inns. It is located in the wider Temple area of the capital, near the Royal Courts of Justice, and within the City of London.

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

Exeter is a constituency composed of the cathedral city and county town of Devon represented in the House of Commons of the UK Parliament. The constituency has had a history of representatives from 1900 of Conservative, Liberal Party, Independent and Labour representation and has been represented since 1997 by Ben Bradshaw of the Labour Party, who served in government as a Health Minister and as Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (2009–2010).

Devon County of England

Devon, also known as Devonshire, which was formerly its common and official name, is a county of England, reaching from the Bristol Channel in the north to the English Channel in the south. It is part of South West England, bounded by Cornwall to the west, Somerset to the north east, and Dorset to the east. The city of Exeter is the county town. The county includes the districts of East Devon, Mid Devon, North Devon, South Hams, Teignbridge, Torridge, and West Devon. Plymouth and Torbay are each geographically part of Devon, but are administered as unitary authorities. Combined as a ceremonial county, Devon's area is 6,707 km2 and its population is about 1.1 million.


He was a Member of the Parliament of England for Bodmin 1555, Saltash 1558, Tavistock 1559 and Exeter 1563. [1]

Parliament of England historic legislature of the Kingdom of England

The Parliament of England was the legislature of the Kingdom of England, existing from the early 13th century until 1707, when it merged with the Parliament of Scotland to become the Parliament of Great Britain after the political union of England and Scotland created the Kingdom of Great Britain.

Bodmin (UK Parliament constituency) former UK Parliament constituency

Bodmin was the name of a parliamentary constituency in Cornwall from 1295 until 1983. Initially, it was a parliamentary borough, which returned two Members of Parliament to the House of Commons of England and later the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom until the 1868 general election, when its representation was reduced to one member.

Saltash, sometimes called Essa, was a "rotten borough" in Cornwall which returned two Members of Parliament to the House of Commons in the English and later British Parliament from 1552 to 1832, when it was abolished by the Great Reform Act.

Thomas Williams MP Brass Image Thomas Williams MP Brass Image.JPG
Thomas Williams MP Brass Image

Family history

Family crest

Three curlews' heads and necks erased.

Crest of Thomas Williams Crest of Thomas Williams.jpg
Crest of Thomas Williams


1. Sable, three curlews' heads erased argent. 2. Ermine, a lion passant gules. [DREWE.] 3. Or, a fess wavy gules between three (?) goats' heads erased of the same. 4. On a chevron sable four bars wavy of the field. [Prideaux.] 5. Azure, a bend per bend indented argent and gules between six escallops or [Cruwys.] 6. Gules, on a bend sable cotised or three boars heads couped argent. [Edgcombe.]

These records reflect both the tombstones preserved in St Pedroc's Church, Harford and other genealogical records.

Father: Adam Williams b. ca. 1484 Mother: Alice Prideaux b. 1488 Thomas Williams: Only known child Wife: Emeline (Emliss) Crewes 1515-1602 daughter of William Crewes and Margaret Pollard of Mochard, Devon b. 1492 Married in Chimley 1545 Daughters: Joane Williams wife of Phillip Cole / Emlyn died 12/12/1610? / Thomasina wife of Francis Buller Sons Thomas 2 ob S.P. / John Williams husband of Marie Drewe of Hayne Note: John Williams died 01/11/1615 husband of Mary Drew of Hayne. It is John who is reported to have sold the ancestral home to the Saverys in the reign of Charles 1. Grandchildren of heir Jone / Arthur / Thomas / Adam Great grandchildren of heir Richard / Thomas / Anne / Emylyn

Burial details

He is buried in Harford Church, South Devon.

His coffin inscription says:

Here lyeth the corps of Thoms Willms esquire

Twice reader he in court was

Whose sacred minde to vertu did aspire

Of Parlament he speaker hence did passé

The comen he studied to preserue

And thew relygion ever to maynetayne

In place of justyce where as he dyd serue

And nowe in heaven wth mightie love doth raigne

Obiit primo die mensis Julii Ao Dni Moccccclxvi.

Aetatis suæ anno quinquagesimo secundo.

Parliamentary life

Informing the House of the death of the Speaker

The Parliamentary entry states:

Lunae, 30o Septembris Proceedings on Death of the Speaker. At which Thirtieth Day of September, 1566, & Anno Octavo Elizabethae Reginae, Mr. Comptroller, declaring the Death of Mr. Williams, the late Speaker, moved, that some of the House might be sent up to the Lords, to require them, that they would be a Mean to the Queen's Majesty, that this House, by her Majesty's Licence, might proceed (according to the ancient Custom) to the Election of a Speaker: Whereupon immediately Mr. Comptroller, Mr. Secretary, with a convenient Number, went up to the Lords with that Message ; and brought Answer, the Lords would gladly, by a convenient Number, do it; and required, that Four of this House, being of the Privy Council, might join with them therein.

A comptroller is a management-level position responsible for supervising the quality of accounting and financial reporting of an organization. A financial comptroller is a senior-level executive who acts as the head of accounting, and oversees the preparation of financial reports, such as balance sheets and income statements.

The Lords named were, the Lord Keeper of the Great Seal, the Duke of Norfolk, the Lord Treasurer, and the Marquis of Northampton. Of this House were, Mr. Comptroller, Mr. Secretary Cicill, Sir Francis Knolles, Vicechamberlain, and Sir Ambrose Cave, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. And then agreed to meet there again at Nine of the Clock the Morrow following, to know the Queen's Majesty's Pleasure.

Lord Keeper of the Great Seal former officer of the English Crown charged with physical custody of the Great Seal of England

The Lord Keeper of the Great Seal of England, and later of Great Britain, was formerly an officer of the English Crown charged with physical custody of the Great Seal of England. This position evolved into one of the Great Officers of State.

Duke of Norfolk Dukedom in the Peerage of England

The Duke of Norfolk is the premier duke in the peerage of England, and also, as Earl of Arundel, the premier earl. The Duke of Norfolk is, moreover, the Earl Marshal and Hereditary Marshal of England. The seat of the Duke of Norfolk is Arundel Castle in Sussex, although the title refers to the county of Norfolk. The current duke is Edward Fitzalan-Howard, 18th Duke of Norfolk. The dukes have historically been Catholic, a state of affairs known as recusancy in England.

Informing the House of Lords of the death of the Speaker

Entry the Journal of the Proceedings of the House of Lords in the Session of Parliament holden at Westminster, An. 8 Regin. Eliz. A. D. 1566. which began there (after divers Prorogations of the same) on Monday 30 September, and then and there continued until the Dissolution thereof on Thursday the 2d day of Jan. Ann. 9. Regin. ejusdem. states:

This day Sir Edward Rogers Knight, Comptroller of her Highness Household, Sir Francis Knolles Knight, her Highness Vice-Chamberlain, Sir William Cecill Knight, her Highness Principal Secretary, and Sir Ambrose Cave Knight, Chancellor of her Highness Dutchy of Lancaster, four Chief Members of the House of Commons, and divers others of that Assembly to the number of twenty persons, being sent up to the Lords from that House upon some urgent and weighty occasions, desired to be admitted into the Upper House, there to make known to their Lordships somewhat wherein they should require their advice, and need their assistance; upon which, being admitted, the said Mr Comptroller, assisted with the Personages and Company aforesaid, did in comely order and discreet modesty, make manisest and known unto the said Lords, that Thomas Williams Esquire, their late Speaker in the last Session of this Parliament, in the fifth Year of the Queens Majesty that now is, was bereft from them by Death, which had been openly and manifestly made known and testified unto them; for remedy of which defection, they humbly prayed their Lordships advice; after which the Lord Keeper, first requiring the said Personages a while to withdraw themselves, and then commending the Order of the matter to the Lords sitting in consultation for the same, it was by them all upon considerate advice therein had, thought fit to signifie unto the said Commons by the Personages aforesaid, that they thought it expedient and good, the said Lord Keeper, the Lord Treasurer of England, the Duke his Grace of Norfolk, and the Lord Marquess of Northampton, with the four forecited Personages of the said House of Commons, being also of her Highness most Honourable Privy-Council, should in the name of both of the Assemblies, with all humbleness and due celerity, make intimation of their said Estate, and the Petition thereupon depending, unto her said Highness, to which advice the said House of Commons, upon knowledge had of the same, wholly assented.

Bills presented during his term as Speaker

Some of the Bills presented to Parliament whilst Thomas Williams was Speaker include:

Thomas Cranmer 16th-century English Archbishop of Canterbury and Protestant reformer

Thomas Cranmer was a leader of the English Reformation and Archbishop of Canterbury during the reigns of Henry VIII, Edward VI and, for a short time, Mary I. He helped build the case for the annulment of Henry's marriage to Catherine of Aragon, which was one of the causes of the separation of the English Church from union with the Holy See. Along with Thomas Cromwell, he supported the principle of Royal Supremacy, in which the king was considered sovereign over the Church within his realm.

Wales Country in northwest Europe, part of the United Kingdom

Wales is a country that is part of the United Kingdom and the island of Great Britain. It is bordered by England to the east, the Irish Sea to the north and west, and the Bristol Channel to the south. It had a population in 2011 of 3,063,456 and has a total area of 20,779 km2 (8,023 sq mi). Wales has over 1,680 miles (2,700 km) of coastline and is largely mountainous, with its higher peaks in the north and central areas, including Snowdon, its highest summit. The country lies within the north temperate zone and has a changeable, maritime climate.

Alms act of virtue in a number of religions involving giving to others

Alms or almsgiving involves giving to others as an act of virtue, either materially or in the sense of providing capabilities free. It exists in a number of religions and regions. The word, in the modern English language, comes from the Old English ælmesse, ælmes, from Late Latin eleemosyna, from Greek ἐλεημοσύνη eleēmosynē, from ἐλεήμων, eleēmōn ("merciful"), from ἔλεος, eleos ("pity").

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  1. "WILLIAMS, Thomas II (1513/14-66), of Stowford in Harford, Devon". History of Parliament Online. 2012-08-11. Retrieved 2012-08-18.