1618, Thomas Napleton asks to be released from prison to go to Bath for his health

Thomas Napleton of Feversham. SP 14/96 f. 165 (1618)

To the right honourable Edwarde Lord Zouche Lord Warden of the Cinque Portes. Of his majesties most honorable privie councell.

The humble peticion of Thomas Napleton of Feversham.

Humbly beseecheth your good lordship to looke upon me with mearcy and favour and to consider, the malice and dissolute condicion of my adversary who after so many yeares doth informe against me and bringes noe proofe to make good his suggestion. And I humbly beseech your good lordship to remember the certificat which I shewed your lordship under the handes of the best knightes and gentlemen of this countie of my former honest course of life which draweth teares from my harte that I shoulde now beeinge so neere my grave, be called in question for such wickednesse, and to consider my many yeares, and my ill health, which troubleth me verry much since I came to this place

Most humbly beeseecheth your good lordship because my phisition hath prescribed me to goe to the Bath and to take the benefitt of this springe, for the recoveringe of my health, and cureinge of my infirmitie which if I loose I may loose my life

That your lordship woulde be pleased mearcyfully to dischardge me at this tyme of my imprysonment upon good securitie to appeare againe whensoever your lordship will commaund me. And I shall ever be bound to praye for your lordship:

Report by Howard Greenwood

In the Calendar of State Papers, this is summarised as the ‘petition of Thos. Napleton, of Faversham, to Lord Zouch, that in consideration of the malice of his enemy, his certificate of former good conduct, his advanced age and dangerous sickness, he may be discharged on good security, and go to Bath for recovery of his health.’[1]

There is a memorial to a Thomas Napleton in St Mary of Charity Churchyard in Faversham, Kent. It says that this Thomas died in 1625 and was “a jurat of the town” (of Faversham?)  and mayor in 1621.

Thomas’s problems seem to stem from a deposition recorded in February 1616 from one Anthony Napleton which accuses Thomas of speaking ill of the King (James I) some five or six years previously.[2]

A legal document of 1617 held at the Kent History and Library Centre identifies a Thomas Napleton, yeoman.[3] The National Archives hold documents relating to a dispute over property in Faversham in 1620 in which Thomas Napleton was a defendant.[4]

The mention of visiting Bath for a cure is also interesting. The baths were built in Roman times and knowledge of the hot springs predates them, but as a health resort it seems to have gone in and out of fashion over the years. There is reference to Queen Anne of Denmark, James I’s consort, visiting in the early 1600s, so it appears to have been in vogue around this time.[5] The fact that the Gunpowder plot conspirators also met there in August 1605 is a somewhat ambiguous recommendation.[6]

Nineteenth-century newspapers make mention of vacancies at the almshouses in Faversham on the foundation of Thomas Napleton.[7] However, one cannot tell from this if it is the same Thomas, or and earlier or later person of the same name. Wikipedia says they were set up in 1721, so too late for our Thomas.[8] There is still a Napleton Road in Faversham, but this just shows it is a local name of some renown.

The recipient of the petition was Edward la Zouche, 11th Baron Zouche.[9] The Cinque ports were (and are) a confederation of coastal ports and towns in Kent and East Sussex which, prior to the creation of the Royal Navy, provided maritime support to the monarch. Faversham is included among the Cinque Ports as a “Limb”, as apposed to being a “Port” or an “Ancient Town”. Hence it was under the control of Lord Zouch since it was part of the confederation.[10]


[1] ‘James 1 – volume 96: March 1618’, in Calendar of State Papers Domestic: James I, 1611-18, ed. Mary Anne Everett Green (London, 1858), pp. 525-532. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/cal-state-papers/domestic/jas1/1611-18/pp525-532.

[2] James M. Gibson, Records of Early English Drama – Kent: Diocese of Canterbury (University of Toronto Press, 2002). See also the item for Feb 14 in ‘James 1 – volume 90: February 1617’, in Calendar of State Papers Domestic: James I, 1611-18, ed. Mary Anne Everett Green (London, 1858), pp. 430-438, British History Online, http://www.british-history.ac.uk/cal-state-papers/domestic/jas1/1611-18/pp430-438

[3] ‘Francis Boyse of Warden, Husbandman, [See QM/SRc/1617/22], in £20, to Appear and Answer, [as in QM/SRc/1617/23]; Surety, Thomas Napleton of the Same, Yeoman’, 1617, Kent History and Library Centre, QM/SRc/1617/24, http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/40adc531-851c-4701-b850-1fdcb5cb1ef8.

[4] ‘Greenstreet v Napleton’, 1620, The National Archives, Kew, C 3/310/13, https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C3799960.

[5] ‘A History of Bath’ <http://www.localhistories.org/bath.html>

[6] Antonia Fraser, The Gunpowder Plot – Terror & Faith in 1605 (London, UK: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1996), p. 142.

[7] ‘Sheerness. | East Kent Gazette | Saturday 22 June 1867 | British Newspaper Archive’ <https://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/viewer/bl/0002521/18670622/033/0004> [accessed 8 January 2020].

[8] ‘Faversham Almshouses’, Wikipedia.

[9] ‘Edward La Zouche, 11th Baron Zouche’, Wikipedia.

[10] ‘The Cinque Ports’ <https://cinqueports.org/cinque-port-towns/>.


This report is part of a series on ‘Petitioners in the reigns of Elizabeth I and James I, 1600-1625’, created through a U3A Shared Learning Project on ‘Investigating the Lives of Seventeenth-Century Petitioners’.