'Sir' Thomas Chylde

alias Child(e), Chylte or Chytte,
reverend gentleman, parish priest, and alleged wrongdoer.
Vicar of Epsom from 9 February 1543/4 to before 16 May 1560

Amongst a long list of the Vicars at St Martin's church, Epsom, in an article about the Advowson on this website may be found the name 'Thomas Chylte' who was instituted to the parish 7 February 1543/4. He appears in the Church of England database as Thomas Child (1544 - 1560) and was the only man with variants on his name shown to have been active in that period. The version with a double 't' probably arises from a misread 'l'.

Two references have been found pre-dating the man's arrival in Epsom.

First, the Will of Thomas Pomeroy from Somerset, proved 9 September 1508, contained a paragraph:-
'Also I bequeath to Thomas Childe to pray for my soul and for my keeping in my sickness 20s in money. And all the residue of my goods not remembered I will that they shall be disposed for the helth of my soul after the discretion [of my Executors].
to suggest that someone of the name had been a priest in the West County by the early 16th century.

Second, a Thomas Childe appears to have been Rector of St Mary, Abbotstoke, otherwise Stoke Abbot or Stoke Abbas, near Beaminster, Dorset, a parish that up to 1542 remained in the Diocese of Salisbury, with its patron New College Oxford.

The Devon Record Office holds under reference C1/553/20 a document relating the case of John Pomerey v Thomas Childe, late parson of Abbotstoke. Childe had resigned the parsonage of Abbotstoke after leasing it to complainant but then refused to allow him the tithe of last crop of corn.

A transcript has been found in History and genealogy of the Pomeroy family, Albert A Pomeroy, 1922: -
"Early Chancery Proceedings. 1513 - 1529. Henry VIII. No. 553 - 20.

To the Right Reverend father in God Thomas, lorde Cardynall Archbishop of Yorke prymatt & Chanceler of England:

Humblie compleynyng shewyth unto your grace your Dayly Orator John Pom'ey that Syr Thomas Chylde late pson of the pysche churche & psonage of the pyche of Abbotts stoke in the Countie of Dorsatt the ffeast of Saynt Mychell the archangell the xviiith (1527) yer of the Reigne of oure sovreigne lorde that nowe is King Henry the viii sett lessed & dymysed to fferme to your said orator the said psonage and Rectory of the same for a tme of thre yers then next folowyng fully to he completed & ended, and after that thre yers past & ended for other thre yers. And so from thre yers to thre yers During the lyf of the sayd Syr Thomas Chylde, yeldyng & paying yerly to (faded word) for the same to the seid Syr Thomas Chylde (sum not stated) £ of good and lawfull money of England the whyche seid Syr Thomas Chylde then feythfully promysed unto your seid Orator, not only that he wolde contynue pson of the seid psonage & Rectory Duryng his lyf without any Resignacon by hym thereof to be made, but also for as moche as the seid psonage and benefyce was then in fferme for sten (certain) yers then nott fully ended by Reason whereof the tythe corne & grayne for the fyrste yer of the seid thre yers belonged unto the seid ffermor (farmer or lessee) thereof that your seid orator att the last yer of his seid thre yers or att such tyme after as he shoulde fortune to depte from the ferme of the said psonage & benefyce that he & his Assignes sholde have the hole tythe corn of the seid pysche that sholde fortune ther to be growne that last yer & att the tyme of his Ueptyng from the seid fferme of the seid psonage & benefyce - and uppon truste of suertie of the same your said orator geve & delyvered to the seid Syr Thomas Chylde a hors (?) prys iii for a fyne for the same. And so it is good & gracious lorde that the seid Sir Thomas Chylde contrarye to his seid promyse hath Resigned hes seid benefyce & would nott suffer your Orator after the Resyeracon to have the tythe corne of the seid psyche then their growyng,but hath taken & sold hit to his owne prfett contrary to all Right and good conseyence And contrary also to his seid pmyse to the greatt hyndring losses & damage of your seid peure Orator. Wtout your graycious favor to hym he charytably showed in that behalf for that your seid orator hath not any Indenture other wreytyng or spechaltie pvyng the seid leese & demyse of the seid ffarme and conteynyng the pmyses aforeseid betweene the seid Syr Thomas Chylde and your seid Orator soo that yourt seid orator hath nott eny Remedye for the same att the comen lawe agenst the seid Syr Thomas Chylde. In tendre consyderacon whereof but may therefore please your good & gracyous lordshpp to grannt a wryt of subpena to be dyrected to the seid Syr Thomas Chylde comanndyng hym by the same psonally to appere before your grace in the kyngs courte of chauncerie att a certayn daye & under a certayn payne by your grace to be lymytted ther to stande to suche ordre & dyrecon in the prmisses as by your gee shal be thought that may stande wt Right equytie and good consyens. And your seid Orator shall dayly praye unto God for the presvocon of yr good grce long to endure."
The Court of Chancery was a court of equity in England and Wales that followed a set of loose rules to avoid the slow pace of change and possible harshness or inequity of the common law. One cannot say whether John Pomerey obtained any redress for the deprivation claimed to have been inflicted upon him by the former Rector of Abbotstoke.

Thomas Chylde's background is obscure although his title, as used in the Chancery Proceedings, could indicate either that he was a baronet or had been knighted. Early baronetcies were not hereditary, however, and he does not appear in William Arthur Shaw's The Knights of England: a complete record from the earliest time (1906). It may simply have been that the word was a rendering into English of 'Dominus' - Lord or Master - used to denote a clergyman, especially a settled minister or parson. Where the Reverend Mr Chylde went after resigning from Abbotstoke, to remain lost for the next fifteen years or so, has not been established but evidently he attracted royal patronage.

On 7 February 1543/4, when King Henry VIII held the advowson of Epsom, Thomas Chylte was instituted to the vicarage of St Martin's church.

An inventory of goods and ornaments in St Martin's Epsom, taken in the reign of King Edward VI, appears in SAC Vol. 21 (1908), at pp 51/52. Dated 17 March 3 Edward VI (1548/9), it is signed by 'dominum Thomam Chyttes Vicarium' (Sir Thomas Chyttes, Vicar). A 'chalice of sylver' appeared top of the list. Replies to further enquiries by the 'Kinges Maiestyes' Commissioners, around VI Edw. 6 & 7 (1552/3), included:-
'To the iiij article we sey there is and was perloyned and embesylled betwen Thomas Childe our vyker and John Byknall our clerk one chalise and patent of silver abowt midsomer last.'
SAC Vol. 24 (1911), p 5.

Remarkably, despite the assertion that church assets had been fraudulently diverted by the incumbent and parish clerk, there is nothing to suggest that Thomas Child had been called to account. He was not replaced until William Tattershall's institution, 16 May 1560, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. Thomas Chylte appears to have died before 29 December 1560.

There is also no evidence that the 'purloined and embezzled' silver chalice was ever recovered. A list of St Martin's church plate held at the end of the 19th century appears in SAC Vol.11 (1892) at p. 92. The silver communion cup then in use had been presented by John Croucher, Church Warden, 1784 [buried as Mr John Crowcher, in the churchyard, 28 April 1797]. A gravestone records: -

In Memory of MARY Wife of JOHN CROUCHER who departed this Life 22nd Septr. 1770 Aged 33 Years.
Also WILLIAM CROUCHER Son of the above died 28th Decr. 1769 Aged 20 Months.
Also In Memory of JOHN CROUCHER Husband of the said MARY CROUCHER who departed this Life 24 April 1797 Aged 66 Years.
Also WILLM. DEARLE Son of ROBERT and MARY DEARLE and Grandson of the above
Died 21st Decr. 1803 Aged 5 Years and 11 months.

John Croucher was to become great-grandfather to Robert Dearle whose biography by Linda Jackson appears on this website. History is all a matter of connections but now we have strayed too far from the subject of the present article.

Brian Bouchard
February 2013

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