Monday 27 August 2012

Which year was Sir Thomas Tyldesley born?

(click image for larger version)

Across the web there are references to Sir Thomas Tyldesley the famous Cavalier being born in 1592 or 1596 [FN1]. However, if one considers the will of his father, Edward Tyldesley, made on 23 March 1621, it contains a wish that Thomas Tyldesley marry Anne Breres:
I require my said sonne at his yeares of consent to accept of the said marriage
It would make no sense at all to be referring to a time when Thomas Tyldesley would be old enough to consent to marriage if he was born in 1592 and so already aged 29, or born in 1596 and so already aged 25! 

The answer is to be found in the registers of Woodplumpton, a chapelry of the Church of St Michael's-on-Wyre situated just a few miles away from where Myerscough Lodge once stood. Here is the baptism record of the infant who was to become Sir Thomas Tyldesley [FN2]:
Thomas Tyldesley s. of Edwarde Tyldesley of Myrescoughe Esquire 10 September 1612
This transcript has been checked against the original entry in the register and it is correct. Unfortunately the normally excellent Lancs OPC has transcribed "Edward" as "Henry", but Family Search has the correct name.

So, born in September 1612, Thomas Tyldesley was in fact aged just 8 at the time his father made the will.

This fits in with all the other information available. Thomas Tyldesley was admitted to Gray's Inn on 20 November 1622, just after his tenth birthday as was then possible. And he married Frances Standish in 1634, when he was aged 21—which was typical. Read some of the descriptions of the Battle of Wigan Lane—does this sound like a man of 38, or of 59?!  Look too at the available images of Sir Thomas, particularly the Hulton portrait. This was produced after the outbreak of the Civil War—does it portray a man in his thirties or in his fifties? 

Finally where is there any evidence of Thomas Tyldesley prior to 1612?

The reason the 1596 error is so prevalent is probably that it appears in the original Dictionary of National Biography for Thomas Tyldesley—a seeming impeccable source. The year of birth appears correctly as 1612 in the current Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (subscription required).

A later post will give one further source which not just confirms the year of birth to be 1612, but also suggests a precise date of birth.

1. Many thanks to Pat Etchells for pointing out the prevalence of the 1592 error.
2. Registers of St Michael's on Wyre 1659-1707 and Registers of Woodplumpton 1604-1659, Lancashire Parish Register Society vol 27, 1906