External Links

Thomas Sutton on Wikipedia.

Charterhouse School official site.

London Metropolitan Archives to search their holdings.

Dictionary of National Biography(a login needed to view the entries.)

Links on these pages

Nine Chimneys House, Balsham, where Sutton lived in the 1590s.

The Act of Parliament of 1609.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Balsham and Thomas Sutton

Balsham is one of the 'Villages of the Charterhouse'.

Thomas Sutton and Charterhouse

The background to this is the man by the name of Thomas Sutton. A link to the Wikipedia article about him in on the left. (He is also in the online Dictionary of National Biography - DNB; note that the link takes you to the login page, and a subscription or access through a subscribing library is needed to go further.)

Sutton was born in 1532 and died in 1611. In the late 1500s it was possible to buy lordships of manors, and Sutton bought several, including those of Balsham and the nearby village of Castle Camps. The latter he bought in 1607, and he lived there towards the end of his life. Earlier in his life, in the 1570s, Sutton had worked in the north of England. Here he become Master of Ordnance, an important role in a period when the Scots were making incursions into the north of England, and the border regions were unstable. He made his first money from leases on the coal mines in Newcastle, which he bought at a favourable rate and sold five years later at a good profit. On his return south he became a money-lender, which increased his wealth.

He was left without legitimate issue at the death of his wife (there was an illegitimate son from a union during his time in the north), and he chose to use his money, estimated at the time of his death to be about £50,000 in money of the day (several millions at least by modern standards), to found a charitable institution. After a last-minute change (it was to have been at Hallingbury in Essex), this was established on the site of the former Carthusian monastery on the edge of London, and as Carthusian monasteries are known as Charterhouses it has ever since been known as Charterhouse. (Charterhouse is probably an English rendering of the name Chartreuse, as the mother house of the Carthusian order is located there.) Sutton's foundation comprised a school and a home for retired gentlemen. The latter is still on the site in London, but the school is a thriving school which moved out to Godalming in 1872. The manorial archives, which the school held up to that time, were deposited with the LCC, at what is now the London Metropolitan Archives.

His supposed son made an appearance shortly after Thomas' death and tried to claim some of the money. He was granted a bequest, possibly just to get him out of the way, around 1614.