Sir Thomas Le STRANGE of Hunstanton, Knight

Born: 1493, Hunstanton, Norfolk, England

Died: 16 Jan 1544/45, Hunstanton, Norfolk, England

Father: Robert Le STRANGE of Elsing (Sir Knight)

Mother: Margaret Le STRANGE

Married: Anne VAUX 21 May 1513



2. Nicholas Le STRANGE of Hunstanton (Sir)

3. Richard Le STRANGE of Moystown

4. Anne Le STRANGE

5. Thomas Le STRANGE

6. Elizabeth Le STRANGE

7. Anne Le STRANGE

8. Catherine Le STRANGE

9. Alice Le STRANGE

10. William Le STRANGE The Elder

11. Hamon Le STRANGE

12. Henry Le STRANGE

13. Roger Le STRANGE

14. Mary Le STRANGE

15. Robert Le STRANGE

16. Edmund Le STRANGE

Sir Thomas Le Strange of Hunstanton 1536

by Hans Holbein the Younger

Oil and tempera on panel 16-1/8 x 11-1/4 in. (41.0 x 28.5 cm)

Kimbell Art Museum

Sir Thomas Le Strange of Hunstanton inherited the Norfolk estates of his nephew, John who died without issue aged 13 in 1514. His career was influenced by his father, Robert, of Elsing manor, who had died 3 years prior, and whom had arranged for his children to marry well. Indeed Sir Thomas and his siblings did, and his early arranged marriage to Anne Vaux, in 1501, who was 5th in descent from John of Gaunt, enriched his life by bringing them 16 children.

First, in 1517 the age of reform began. Abroad in Germany Lutherism had awoken Protestantism, when Martin Luther nailed his thesis to the door of  a church. Christians attacked his views on papacy, and his followers were dubbed 'the Protestants'. Three years later, the Pope excommunicated Luther. In the same year, 1520, Sir Thomas assumed his role as the Esquire of the Body to Henry VIII, and accompanied the King to the most prestigious event in history, The Field of the Cloth of Gold. Together with the rest of his entourage they set off for France where they met Francois I at the field to negotiate their existing conflicts. It was a lavish ceremony where the official banquet was held under a woven gold tent. Jousting tournaments and other games provided much entertainment for which Henry VIII had ordered a fashionable suit of armour to wear. But months later war ensued as they had failed to instill the peace between the two countries. 

Sir Thomas concentrated on his business in around the counties of Norfolk and Suffolk where his tenants and farmlands were based. In the 1520's his royal commissions were also local to the Thetford assizes and other quarter sessions, which he attended as J.P. (Justice of the Peace), and in 1529, by now a father, he was Knighted. The following year he became Sheriff of Norfolk and Suffolk though being a loyal friend of the King's he was later granted a royal pardon from this undesirable job involving the collection of taxes, and also from the juries in 1531.

In 1533 he attended the wedding of the year, of Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn, and would pay them social and business visits from time to time thereafter. Society was threatened by Henry VIII's dissolution of the monastries and an unheaval political and religious unrest ensued in 1534. Sir Thomas's role in this as local commissioner for the Valor Ecclesiasticus incorporated the survey and valuation of taxes, which were transferred to the Crown instead of the Pope.

During this change, in Aug 1536, Robert Aske, a lawyer wrote to Henry VIII about the religious movements for The Pilgrimage of Grace;

"In all parts of the realm men's hearts much grudged with the suppression of abbeys, and the first fruits, by reason the same would be the destruction of the whole religion in England. And their especial great grudge is against the lord Crumwell"

Finally, Sir Thomas actively tried to suppress those who supported the movement locally, in Walsingham, and was appointed as guardian to Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, son of the Duke of Norfolk. While Norfolk and the Earl of Shrewsbury negotiated with Aske in their attempt to quash it they began to realize that until the ring-leader had been convicted of treason and executed, the rebellion would not be crushed, which the course of events led up to. 

By Aug 1538 the King's new policies meant that the English translation of the Bible would replace the tradition Latin version much the disappointment and inconvenience to many illiterate people. It meant that Sir Thomas's recent acquisition of the 'byble xijs' (Latin Bible) would have to go. From about this period on, the Le Stranges converted their faith as Protestants adopting Luther's teachings, though perhaps this did not mark a prominent change in the personal life of Sir Thomas whom remained faithful to his upbringing, by commemorating Christs resurrection each year at easter with Christs image lit by a candle known as the sepulcher light. 

At home, he also enjoyed delicacies fished from the sea and on one occasion, a sent the King a porpoise that he had fished fresh the Wash. Another event that remains a mystery to the modern family involved a baby being left outside the gates of the estate, where until the property was sold in 1949, his portrait by Hans Holbein the Younger had hung since 1536. His wife was aged 33 yrs, when she was painted depicted with 6 fingers on her left hand, which Alice Stubbes, the wife of his grand-grand-grandson, Sir Hamon Le Strange (b. ABT 1584 - d. 1654), would later tease her husband about. 

His professional recognition by the villagers was gained by bringing them prosperity in utilizing efficient up to date farming methods with the introduction of cattle, and weekly markets on his home farm. With this, any produce that went unsold he offered good prices for, adding to his good reputation.

His health begun deteriorating at Christmas time 1540, with kidney stones and made him bedridden for weeks. His doctor who Anne paid for "castyng of my husbonds water & for his counsell", treated him again at Christmas 1543. Anne took some wine to her husband "Whan yow War sykke on the collyke & ston" but a recurrence two years later, in 1545 ended his life suddenly. Aged about 51, his will was still incomplete and his natural heir, Sir Nicholas, succeeded him and executed his grants to his brothers in 1547, one of whom was Richard who founded the Irish Moystown Branch.

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