Family:Whitney, Thomas (s1500-1558)

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Thomas Whitney, parentage unknown, but had brother John Whitney, cousins Peter Whitney and Francis Whitney, niece Anne Whitney, and nephew Nicholas Whitney. He died between 3 and 13 Aug 1558, Leek, Staffordshire.

THOMAS WHITNEY, Clerk; sometime Abbot to the late Monastery of Delewrais [Dieulacres] in the County of Stafford, suppressed. Will dated August 3, 1558; proved August 13, 1558. Desires to be buried in the monastery at Westminster. Mentions his brother John Whitney, cousins Peter and Francis Whitney, and his niece Anne Whitney. Bequeaths to his nephew Nicholas Whitney his house in Mylne Street, Leek, County Stafford.[1]

He had no known children.

...the last abbot, Thomas Whitney, was involved in several acts of violence against tenants of the abbey.
At some time between 1536 and 1538 Abbot Thomas Whitney stated that his predecessor John Wodlande had wasted the wealth of the abbey and in particular had granted blank pieces of parchment, sealed with the abbey seal, to various friends so that they 'might well at their liberty and pleasure write and convayn such matter as might be the utter distention and undoing of the said monastery for ever'. Abbot Thomas was then suing at law for the return of some of these blanks, but in 1565 John Whitney, chamberlain of the abbey at the time of the dissolution and evidently the abbot's brother, stated that Abbot Thomas had himself issued sealed blanks shortly before the surrender of the abbey.
The monks had some difficulty in securing regular payment of their pensions, and by December 1540 Thomas Whitney, the former abbot, was evidently in some financial difficulty. He then wrote from Leek to John Scudamore, a receiver of the Court of Augmentations, asking for his pension due the previous Michaelmas and for 'the pensions of my poor brethren that are not able to labour for them'. He also requested that his pension should be paid regularly. Five of the monks, including the abbot, were still drawing pensions in 1557-8. The abbot, who died in 1558, was able to make several bequests, including his house in Mill Street, Leek; another legacy was a silver-gilt chalice left to his nephew 'on condition that if the monastery of Delencres be hereafter re-edified the said chalice to be restored to the said monastery'. Three monks of Dieulacres are recorded as drawing pensions when they died — two of them in 1567 and 1569; the third, the date of whose death is not given, was buried at Dieulacres.
Thomas Whitney, occurs 1523, surrendered the abbey 1538.

The inventory shows that at the Dissolution the abbey had twelve monks, six stewards, a forester, eleven others who received fees and annuities, and 30 servants and workmen. Thomas Whitney, the last Abbot, made financial provision for himself, his family and his friends before the abbey was signed over to Henry VIII's commissioners. Thomas had a brother John and a nephew Nicholas and there were two other Whitneys - Geoffrey an attorney and Humphrey who was bailiff of the abbey estates in Cheshire. Well in advance of the Dissolution, the abbot allowed these to have leases on abbey lands and property or annuities based on income from parts of the estate. In 1537 he prepared blank charters bearing the official seal. This seal was confiscated by the commissioners but the abbot then used the blank charters to give leases of abbey land to friends by entering false dates upon them. Among the beneficiaries were John Brereton. This fraud was discovered by the Earl of Derby when he took over the abbey and he tried to recover the land by legal action. Few of the Whitney family retained their ill-gotten gains. John Whitney's land at Swythamley was given to William Trafford of Wilmslow in 1540. In 1553, Edward VI gave the lands occupied by Nicholas Whitney and John Allen at Rossall to Thomas Fleetwood. Humphrey Whitney lost his Middlewich salt pit to Thomas Venables.[2]


1.^  Henry Austin Whitney, The First Known Use of Whitney as a Surname: Its Probable Signification, and Other Data (Boston, MA: Henry Austin Whitney, 1875), p. xiv.


Copyright © 2006, Robert L. Ward and the Whitney Research Group

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