(3rd E. Sussex)

Born: ABT 1525/6, Woodham Walter, Essex, England

Acceded: 1557

Died: 9 Jun 1583, Bermondsey, London, England

Buried: 9 Jul 1583, New Hall, Beaulieu, Boreham, Essex, England

Notes: Knight of the Garter. 9º B. Fitzwalter. The Complete Peerage vol.V,p.488. /The Complete Peerage vol.XIIp1,p.522-525

Father: Henry RADCLIFFE (2° E. Sussex)

Mother: Elizabeth HOWARD (C. Sussex)

Married 1: Elizabeth WRIOTHESLEY 1555 /BEF 1 Nov 1545



Married 2: Frances SIDNEY (C. Sussex) 26 Apr 1555, Hampton Court Palace, Richmond, England

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Sir Thomas Radcliffe, 3rd Earl of Sussex, Viscount Fitzwalter, Lord of Egremont and Burnell; Justice of An Ayer and Her Majesty’s Forests, Parks, Chases and Warrents on the south side of the Trent; Captain of the Gentlemen Pensioners and Gentlemen at Arms; Lord Chamberlain of Her Majesty’s Honorable Household; Knight of the Noble Order of the Garter; Privy Councillor.

First son of Henry Radcliffe, 2nd Earl of Sussex, by his 1st wife Elizabeth; dau. of Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of Norfolk, brother of Sir Henry, later 4° Earl of Sussex. Married first (?Mar 1545) Elizabeth (d. Jan. 1555), da. of Thomas Wriothesley, 1st Earl of Southampton, and had one daughter, d.v.p.; married second, lic. 26 Apr 1555, Frances (d. 1589), dau. of Sir William Sidney of Penshurst, Kent. Kntd. 30 Sep 1544; summ. to Lords in fa.'s barony as Baron Fitzwalter 14 Aug 1553; suc. family as 3rd Earl of Sussex 17 Feb 1557, KG nom. 23 Apr 1557, inst. 9 Jan 1558. Warden and capt. Portsmouth 24 Nov 1549 - Apr 1551; commr. relief, Norfolk and Norwich 1550; carver by 1553; gent. privy chamber to King Felipe Jun 1554; j.p. Essex, Norf. 1554, q. Suff. 1564; trier of petitions in the Lords, Parlts. of 1555, 1559, 1571, 1572; Ld. dep. [I] 27 Apr 1556-60, ld. lt. 6 May 1560-Oct 1565; warden and c.j. forests south of Trent 3 Jul 1557; capt. gent. pens. 1557-d.; pres. council in the north Jul 1568-Oct. 1572; PC 30 Dec 1570; Ld. chamberlain, the Household Jul 1572-d., steward, New Hall (Beaulieu), Essex Jul 1572, Maldon, Essex at d.

Thomas Radcliffe probably received the greater part of his education in the household of Stephen Gardiner, Bishop of Winchester; there is no basis for the statement that he was at Cambridge and Gray's Inn. From Nov 1542, when his father succeeded to the earldom, he bore the title of Lord Fitzwalter, which he retained until his own succession 15 years later. The marriage arranged for him in Jan 1543 with Elizabeth Wriothesley probably took place in 1545, after he had served in the Boulogne campaign and had been knighted. In 1546 he accompanied Gardiner on a mission to the Netherlands and John Dudley, Viscount Lisle, on one to France, and he was one of the canopy-bearers at Henry VIII's funeral.

The fall of the Howards in 1546 had left Fitzwalter's father the leading nobleman in East Anglia, although he counted less in national affairs. For Fitzwalter himself the new reign first brought the setbacks of Gardiner's imprisonment and the dismissal of his father-in-law Wriothesley, but luck was on his side at Pinkie, where he narrowly escaped death, and he was to share in Wriothesley's temporary return to favour when Dudley rose to power. It was to Wriothesley that he clearly owed his first office, the captaincy of Portsmouth, which he was to surrender after Wriothesley's death, and before accompanying the Marquess of Northampton on his mission to France in 1551. Less easy to interpret is Fitzwalter's election for Norfolk to the Parliament of Mar 1553. He was eligible because, unlike the heirs to the earldoms of Bedford and Shrewsbury and the Dudley dukedom of Northumberland, he was not summoned to the Lords. Whether and, if so, why he was passed over at the instance of Northumberland, there seems to be no way of determining, but it could scarcely have been by coincidence that his fellow-knight was the duke's second son Robert Dudley. A stranger to the county, Dudley had been by-elected for Norfolk to the previous Parliament, and the decision that Fitzwalter should take the other seat, instead of appearing in the Lords, could have been an answer to the intrusion: the two men were to become bitter rivals in the reign of Elizabeth. That the Radcliffes, father and son, were not reckoned among Northumberland's firm supporters is implied by their omission from a list of those expected to rally certain shires to Jane Grey, and although both of them signed the instrument providing for her succession, on the King's death they and the younger son Henry declared for Mary and joined her with their following at Framlingham. Fitzwalter attended Edward VI's funeral as a carver.

Under Mary, Fitzwalter came rapidly to the fore. Granted an annuity of £133, probably for his service against Wyatt's rebellion, he took the news of its suppression to the Emperor, to whom the Imperial Ambassador Renard commended him as an able and learned man. Although he was said to have opposed the Spanish marriage, he accompanied the 1st Earl of Bedford on the mission to escort Felipe of Spain to England and was to become a favourite with the King, who gave him a jewelled sword and was present at his second marriage. In 1555 he was appointed to a mission to France to announce that the Queen was thought to be pregnant, and early in the following year he was sent to the new Emperor. He had also been summoned in his father's barony to the first four Parliaments of the reign. There is no surviving Lords Journal for the Parliament of Oct 1553 and he was unable to attend that of Apr 1554 because of his mission to Spain, but he was present for slightly less than half the Parliament of Nov 1554 and some three-quarters of that of 1555. In 1555, when his younger brother sat in the Commons for Maldon, he was appointed a trier of petitions for Gascony and two bills, for the punishment of exiles and for the re-edifying of decayed houses of husbandry and for the increase of tillage, were committed to him; he also voted against the bill to deprive Bennet Smith of benefit of clergy and the bill to re-edify four mills near Hereford and must have been concerned with the unsuccessful bill for the divorced Countess of Sussex's jointure.

Returning to England from a mission to the Emperor Carlos V in Apr 1556, Fitzwalter was appointed lord deputy of Ireland. The prevailing anarchy in Ireland, a country which, nominally subject to the English Crown, was torn by feuds among its practically independent native chieftains, rendered the task of the lord deputy one of no ordinary difficulty; a difficulty that was increased by the ignorance of English statesmen concerning Ireland and Irish conditions, and by their incapacity to devise or to carry into execution any consistent and thoroughgoing policy for bringing the half-conquered island under an orderly system of administration. The measures enjoined upon Fitzwalter by the government in London comprised the reversal of the partial attempts that had been made during the short reign of Edward VI. to promote Protestantism in Ireland, and the "plantation" by English settlers of that part of the country then known as Offaly and Leix. But before Fitzwalter could give his attention to such matters he found it necessary to make an expedition into Ulster, which was being kept in a constant state of disturbance by the Highland Scots from Kintyre and the Islands who were making settlements along the Antrim coast in the district known as the Glynnes (glens), and by the efforts of Shane O'Neill to convert into effective sovereignty the chieftainship of his clan which he had recently wrested from his father, Conn, 1st Earl of Tyrone. Having defeated O'Neill and his allies the MacDonnells, the lord deputy, Earl of Sussex since Feb 1557, returned to Dublin, where he summoned a parliament in Jun of that year. Statutes were passed declaring the legitimacy of Queen Mary, reviving the laws for the suppression of heresy, forbidding the immigration of Scots, and vesting in the Crown the territory comprised in what are now the King's County and Queen's County, which were then so named after Felipe and Mary respectively. Having carried this legislation, Sussex endeavoured to give forcible effect to it, first by taking the field against Donough O'Conor, whom he failed to capture, and afterwards against Shane O'Neill, whose lands in Tyrone he ravaged, restoring to their nominal rights the Earl of Tyrone and his reputed son Matthew O'Neill, baron of Dungannon. In Jun of the following year Sussex turned his attention to the west, where the head of the O'Briens had ousted his nephew Conor O'Brien, Earl of Thomond, from his possessions, and refused to pay allegiance to the Crown; he forced Limerick to open its gates to him, restored Thomond, and proclaimed O'Brien a traitor. In the autumn of 1558 the continued inroads of the Scottish islanders in the Antrim glens called for drastic treatment by the lord deputy. Sussex laid waste Kintyre and some of the southern Hebridean isles, and landing at Carrickfergus he fired and plundered the settlements of the Scots on the Antrim coast before returning to Dublin for Christmas.

In the metropolis the news reached him of the Queen's death. Crossing to England, he took part in the ceremonial of Queen Elizabeth's coronation in Jan 1559; and in the following Jul he returned to Ireland with a fresh commission, now as lord lieutenant, from the new Queen, whose policy required him to come to terms if possible with the troublesome leaders of the O'Neills and the MacDonnells. Shane O'Neill refused to meet Sussex without security for his safety, and having established his power in Ulster he demanded terms of peace which Elizabeth was unwilling to grant. Sussex failed in his efforts to bring Shane to submission, either by open warfare or by a shameful attempt to procure the Irish chieftain's assassination. He was preparing for a fresh attempt when he was superseded by the Earl of Kildare, who was commissioned by Elizabeth to open negotiations with O'Neill, the result of which was that the latter repaired to London and made formal submission to the Queen. Shane's conduct on his return to Ireland was no less rebellious than before, and energetic measures against him became more imperative than ever. Having obtained Elizabeth's sanction, Sussex conducted a campaign in the summer of 1563 with Armagh as his temporary headquarters; but except for some indecisive skirmishing and the seizure of many of O'Neill's cattle, the operations led to no result and left Shane O'Neill with his power little diminished. His continued failure to effect a purpose for the accomplishment of which he possessed inadequate resources led Sussex to pray for his recall from Ireland; and his wish was granted in May 1564. His government of Ireland had nothowever, been wholly without fruit. Sussex was the first representative of the English Crown who enforced authority to any considerable extent beyond the limits of the Pale; the policy of planting English settlers in Offaly and Leix was carried out by him in 1562 with a certain measure of success; and although he fell far short of establishing English rule throughout any large part of Ireland, he made its influence felt in remote parts of the island, such as Thomond and the Glynnes of Antrim, where the independence of the native septs had hitherto been subjected not even to nominal interference.

In 1555, Sussex had married his second wife, Frances Sidney. Frances was the seventh and youngest child of Sir William Sidney and Anne Packenham, her only brother being Sir Henry Sidney (1529-1586). She married Sir Thomas Radcliffe, 3rd Earl of Sussex on Apr 26, 1555 at the age of 26. She was said to have had the best marriage (by rank) of her sisters.

When Mary was Queen, the Princess Elizabeth was in great danger for her life. The Sussex’s were in on a plan to help Elizabeth safely out of the country. Frances was a devout Puritan.  In her will, Frances left a substantial sum (£5000) to endow a new college at Cambridge, called 'the Lady Frances Sussex College'. She became a passionate Puritan in later life, and perhaps intended the college to support its spread.

BEF the next Parliament Radcliffe had both succeeded to the earldom of Sussex and been appointed lord deputy of Ireland, but after spending a year and a half in that country he was licensed to return to England and was able to attend the first session of Mary's last Parliament, during which the bill granting the 1st Baron Rich's honor of Rayleigh to the Queen was committed to him and a measure for his own wife's jointure was enacted (4 and 5 Phil, and Mary, no. 13).

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He went back to Ireland two weeks after the prorogation and although on 31 Oct 1558 he was licensed to return ‘to confer upon the state and affairs of that realm’ he was still there when Parliament met again in Nov and did not leave until after the Queen's death. He had been named an executor of her will and was apparently present at her funeral as captain of the gentlemen pensioners: by hereditary right he served as chief sewer at the coronation of Elizabeth. Although reappointed to his Irish post, he attended the first Parliament of the new reign and thereafter was regular in his appearances in the Lords, missing only the first session of the Parliament of 1563, and had many bills committed to him: he also exercised parliamentary patronage in the borough of Maldon. During the second session of the Parliament of 1563 he spoke against the bill on the consecration of bishops and voted with the Catholic party against it: another opponent of this measure, William Stanley, 3rd Lord Monteagle, named Sussex as his proxy in 1580.

In 1566 and the following year Elizabeth employed him in negotiations for bringing about a different matrimonial alliance which he warmly supported, the proposal that she should bestow her hand on the archduke Charles. When this project failed, Sussex returned from Vienna to London in Mar 1568, and in Jul he was appointed Lord President of the North.

Notwithstanding this indication of nonconformity, Sussex was unfailingly loyal to the Elizabethan regime and after his service against the northern rebellion of 1569 when, however, he came briefly under suspicion for his leniency and because his half-brother Egremont Radcliffe had joined the rebels he was appointed to the Privy Council. The weakness of the force at his disposal rendered necessary at the outset a caution which engendered some suspicion of his loyalty; and this suspicion was increased by the counsel of moderation which he urged upon the queen; but in 1570 he laid waste the border, invaded Scotland, and raided the country round Dumfries, reducing the rebel leaders to complete submission.

In Jul 1572 Sussex became Lord Chamberlain, and he was henceforth in frequent attendance on Queen Elizabeth, both in her progresses through the country and at court, until his death.

He died on 9 Jun 1583 at his house in Bermondsey and was buried a month later at Boreham, Essex.

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His brother Sir Henry Radcliffe succeeded him as 4th Earl of Sussex.

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