SIR THOMAS GARGRAVE
The Gargraves were a family of antiquity in this neighbourhood. Sir John Gargrave, who lived at Snapethorpe, was Master of the Ordnance and a Governor in France under Henry V. He was tutor to Richard, Duke of York, who was slain at the Battle of Wakefield in 1460. Sir John was buried at Bayonne, in France. From the second son, William, descended Thomas Gargrave, who married Elizabeth, daughter of William Levett, of Normanton, who were the parents of Sir Thomas Gargrave. His father owned some land in the Pear Tree Acres in Kirkgate as appears by an inquisition taken in the reign of Henry VIII. Towards the close of his life he memorialised Queen Elizabeth to be allowed to purchase from her the Old Park at Wakefield, saying, "I would build me a dwelling-house therein for that it adjoineth the place where I was born, and where my land lieth." A portrait of Thomas Gargrave has the date of "1570, ret. 7-5". In 1547 he accompanied the Earl of Warwick into Scotland, as treasurer in the expedition, and there received the honour of knighthood.
On his return he made large purchases of land in Wakefield and neighbourhood. Kinsley Hall, near Hemsworth, was his principal residence for many years, previous to his adding Nostell Priory to his possessions. It was after his return from Scotland the first Parliament of Edward was summoned, and Gargrave was elected a member for York. In the first Parliament of Queen Elizabeth Sir Thomas Gargrave was again returned for the County. The Queen gave several proofs of her appreciation of his merits, and ordered that in civil business no step was to be taken without the assent being had of Sir Thomas Gargrave. Francis Earl of Shrewsbury, Lord Lieutenant of Yorkshire, and President of the Council of the North, in a letter from Ferrybridge, dated January 17, 1559, to Sir William Cecil, states that he was about to take some troops to Newcastle, and that he had appointed his "verie loving friend, Sir Thomas Gargrave, knight," vice president in his absence, "who I right well knowe bothe canne and will execute the same accordinglie, and in as willinge and painfull wise, if myself werre present."
Up to the Rebellion in 1509, Sir Thomas was actively occupied in Yorkshire with his duties on the Council. The Queen and Cecil placed in him unstinted trust. The Earl of Sussex, as President of the North, wrote to Cecil on Oct. 10, 1568, and recommended Cotton Gargreave, the only son of Sir Thomas, to the favourable notice of the secretary, and expressed his high opinion of the father. "Sir Thomas Gargreave," he said, "has at all times, and especially since the death of the late Archbishop, used great diligence in the service here, and is a great stay for the good order of these parts. By this travail I find the country much more in order, and where there is any lack, I find him willing to assist me." The letters of Sir Thomas threw much light on the trouble of the period. They are addressed to Lord Burleigh, to Sir William Cecil, to the Privy Council, and others. In the State Papers of 1574 is a survey of Wakefield Old Park, signed by him.
The Park is described as a "bushye and barran grounds in the most parts therof and contenyth 340 acres with 16 acres wythout the pale usyd as parcel of the park wherof 4 acres at 2s. ye acre, 200 acres at 16d. the acre, the residew at 4d. the acre. Ther ys no timber wods yerin for repare of pale or loges bot the wods yerin be old rotyn dotyd trees valued in all to 13£ 6s. 8d. Ther ys no copyses mynes or other proffert theryn. Ther ys fewe dere theryn and presently nather bucke yor sowre for the pale ys so in decaye that yt wyll not kepe in the ere."
His suit was to give the Queen 200 marks, amounting to thirty years' purchase of Her Majesty's clear rent. In his long will he consigned his body to the uppermost choir in the South side of Wragby Church.