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Sir Thomas Chaloner

Sir Thomas Chaloner (1521 – 14 October 1565) was an English statesman and poet.[1]


Thomas Chaloner was born in 1521 to Margaret Myddleton and Roger Challoner (c. 1490–1550), a descendant of the Denbighshire Chaloners. His father was a London silk merchant who lived at St Mary-at-Hill Street, Billingsgate. A courtier, Roger was a Gentleman-Usher of the Privy Chamber to King Henry VIII, a Teller of the Receipt of the Exchequer, and a Freeman of the City of London through the Worshipful Company of Mercers.[2][3] Roger died in 1550 and was buried in the main body of the Church of St Dunstan-in-the-East. Sir Thomas's two brothers, Francis and John Challoner settled in Ireland where John became a prominent politician and administrator.[4]

No details are known of Thomas Chaloner's youth except that he was educated at both Oxford and Cambridge (likely St John's College).[5]

In 1540 he went, as secretary to Sir Henry Knyvett, to the court of Charles V, whom he accompanied in his expedition against Algiers in 1541, and was wrecked on the Barbary coast. In 1547 he joined in the expedition to Scotland, and was knighted, after the battle of Pinkie near Musselburgh, by the protector Somerset, whose patronage he enjoyed. In 1549 he was a witness against Edmund Bonner, bishop of London; in 1551 against Stephen Gardiner, bishop of Winchester; in the spring of the latter year he was sent as a commissioner to Scotland to conclude the Treaty of Norham, and again in March 1552. In 1553 he went with Sir Nicholas Wotton and Sir William Pickering on an embassy to France, but was recalled by Queen Mary on her accession.

In spite of his Protestant views, Chaloner was still employed by the government, going to Scotland in 1555–1556, and providing carriages for troops in the war with France, 1557–1558. In 1558 he went as Elizabeth's ambassador to the Emperor Ferdinand at Cambrai, from July 1559 to February 1559/60 he was ambassador to Philip II of Spain at Brussels, and in 1561 he went in the same capacity to Spain. His letters are full of complaints of his treatment there, but it was not till 1564, when in failing health, that he was allowed to return home. He died at his house in Clerkenwell on 14 October 1565.

Woodcut portrait of Sir Thomas Chaloner, frontispiece to his 1579 De Rep. Anglorum instauranda libri decem.

He acquired during his years of service three estates, Guisborough in Yorkshire, Steeple Claydon in Buckinghamshire, and St Bees in Cumberland. He married (I) Joan, widow of Sir Thomas Leigh; and (2) Audrey, daughter of Edward Frodsham, of Elton, Cheshire, by whom he had one son, Sir Thomas Chaloner (1559–1615). Chaloner was the intimate of most of the learned men of his day, and with Lord Burghley he had a lifelong friendship.

Throughout his busy official life he occupied himself with literature, his Latin verses and his pastoral poems being much admired by his contemporaries. Chaloner's " Howe the Lorde Mowbray . . was .. . banyshed the Realme," printed in the 1559 edition of William Baldwin's Mirror for Magistrates (repr. in vol. ii. pt. 1 of Joseph Haslewood's edition of 1815), has sometimes been attributed to Thomas Churchyard. His most important work, De Rep. Anglorum instauranda libri decem, written while he was in Spain, was first published by William Malim (1579, 3 pts.), with complimentary Latin verses in praise of the author by Burghley and others. Chaloner's epigrams and epitaphs were also added to the volume, as well as in laudem Henrici octavi . . . carmen Panegericum, first printed in 1560.

Amongst his other works are The praise of folie, Moriae encomium . . . by Erasmus ... Englished by Sir Thomas Chaloner, Knight (1549, ed. Janet E. Ashbee, 1901); A book of the Office of Servantes (1543), translated from Gilbert Cognatus; and An homilie of Saint John Chrysostome ... Englished by T. C. (1544). See "The Chaloners, Lords of the Manor of St Bees," by William Jackson, in Transactions of the Cumberland Assoc. for the Advancement of Literature and Science, pt. vi. pp. 47–74, 1880–1881.


  1. ^   This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Chaloner, Sir Thomas" . Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
  2. ^ Arthur Went, The Galway fishery, in 'Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy: Section C', Volume 48, p. 242
  3. ^ George Farnham, Quordon records (1912), p. 213
  4. ^ Ball Wright, The Ussher memoirs, pp. 105–107
  5. ^ He may have attended St John's College, Cambridge. "Chaloner, Thomas (CHLR521T)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
Government offices
Preceded by
John Mason
William Honnyng
Clerk of the Privy Council
William Honnyng (1545–1550)
William Thomas (1550–1552)
Thomas Smith (1547–1548)
Armagil Wade (1548–1552)
Bernard Hampton (1551–1552)
Succeeded by
William Thomas
Armagil Wade
Bernard Hampton