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Dates of note in the History of Northamptonshire

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St. Mary and All Saints, Fotheringhay by `Theroadislong`

Fotheringhay Church

8th February 1587
Mary Queen of Scots
beheaded for treason
Fotheringhay Castle
(little of which remains)

X

Sir Thomas Tresham

Thomas Tresham

On March 25th, 1603, he played a conspicuous part by proclaiming James I. King at Northampton. James had secretly encouraged the Romanists for some time previously, and this made them very anxious to see him securely seated on the throne.

"BLESSED is the man," said Lord Brougham, "who has a hobby." To this trite assertion might well be added a benediction on the man who, having a hobby, also possesses the means wherewith to carry it out. Some hobbies are very expensive, and many a man has been forced to lay his hobby down with a sigh because he lacked the wherewithal to proceed further with it. Notwithstanding this, good work has often been done in the pursuit of a hobby, and it would be comparatively easy to adduce many examples in support of this statement. In the case of Sir Thomas Tresham, we have a man whose hobby was building, and although the times were evil for him he left behind much work that was beautiful and curious in design, and lasting in point of workmanship.

The grandfather of Sir Thomas Tresham, the builder, was the first, and also the last, Prior of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem, which was resuscitated in the reign of Queen Mary. Notwithstanding this, he married twice, and several children were born to him. His eldest son, having married, died on the same day as his wife, leaving an infant son named Thomas, two and a half years old. In 1559, Sir Thomas, the Prior, died, leaving his estates to his grandson, who was then fifteen years of age. For some unexplained reason, this youth, who was brought up by his grandfather, had been educated as a Protestant. Henceforth his history is a blank until we find his name amongst those who received the honour of knighthood from Queen Elizabeth, on the occasion of her celebrated visit to Kenilworth, in July, 1575. By this time he was also a married man and a father. At the age of thirty-seven, in the year 1 580, he was converted to Roman Catholicism under the influence of the missionary priests Campion and Parsons. His life now became one long series of fines and imprisonments. Before the year of his conversion was out he was in durance vile, and for the next ten years he spent a great portion of his time under restraint, either in the Fleet, at Hoggesdon (Hoxton), at Ely, or at Banbury. In a letter written in 1 593 he himself refers to the fact that he had not been allowed to visit Northamptonshire for the past eight years ; but from this time until 1595 he resided in the county in the bosom of his family. In 1595, he was again carried away, and, except at a few brief intervals, he did not enjoy freedom until within a couple of years or so of the death of Elizabeth.

On March 25th, 1603, he played a conspicuous part by proclaiming James I. King at Northampton. James had secretly encouraged the Romanists for some time previously, and this made them very anxious to see him securely seated on the throne.

The few remaining years of Tresham's life were spent in peace and quietness in Northamptonshire, and there is every reason for supposing that he knew nothing of the contemplated Gunpowder Plot, in which his son Francis was so deeply involved.

On September 11th, 1605, a little less than three months before his son divulged the Plot, he peaceably breathed his last.

By John T. Page in "Bygone Northamptonshire", 1891