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The 1st Earl of Southampton.
Thomas Wriothesley, 1st Earl of Southampton KG (21 December 1505 – 30 July 1550) (pronounced "Risly") was a politician of the Tudor period born in London to William Wrythe and Agnes Drayton. He married Jane Cheney and they had four children:
  1. William Wriothesley (born before 12 September 1535 and died in August of 1537)
  2. Anthony Wriothesley (born & died an infant in 1542)
  3. Elizabeth Wriothesley (b. abt. 1536 she died in 1554 and was buried 16 January 1554 she married Thomas Radcliffe, 3rd Earl of Sussex before 1 November 1545.
  4. Henry Wriothesley, 2nd Earl of Southampton (Christened 24 April 1545 – 4 October 1581 married Mary Browne

Entering the service of Thomas Cromwell and Cardinal Thomas Wolsey at an early age, Wriothesley soon made himself very useful to his masters, and he was richly rewarded when the monasteries were dissolved, obtaining extensive lands between Southamptonmarker and Winchestermarker. By May, 1530, he was a clerk of the Signet.Until May, 1539, he was Henry's ambassador in Brussels.

Having been on errands abroad, he was made one of the king's principal secretaries in 1540 ( a position he held jointly with Sir Ralph Sadler), and was knighted in the same year; in spite of the fall of his patron, Thomas Cromwell, he rose higher and higher in the royal favour, and in 1542 it was said that he governed almost everything in England. He sought to bring about an alliance between England and Spainmarker in 1543, and was created Baron Wriothesley of Titchfieldmarker in 1544.

Having been Lord Privy Seal for a few months, he became Lord Chancellor in 1544, in which capacity he became notorious for his persecution of Anne Askew; some say that he operated the rack on which Askew was tortured. Certainly he was one of the executors of Henry's will, and in accordance with the dead king's wishes he was created Earl of Southampton on 16 February 1547. However, he had been incautious enough to appoint four persons to relieve him of his duties as Lord Chancellor, and advantage was taken of this to deprive him of his office in March, when he also ceased to be a member of the Privy Council.

Later he was readmitted to the Council, and he took a leading part in bringing about the fall of Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset, but he had not regained his former position when he died. His successor in the earldom was his son, Henry.


  • Accessed 4 December 2007
  • Burke, John. A General and Heraldic Dictionary of the Peerages of England, Ireland, and Scotland, Extinct, Dormant, and in Abeyance. London: H. Colburn and R. Bentley, 1831. googlebooks

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