Thomas Wriothesley Southampton, 1st earl of
Southampton, Thomas Wriothesley, 1st earl of, c.1500–1550, lord chancellor of England. Appointed a clerk of the signet in 1530, he rose in the favor of Thomas Cromwell and Henry VIII, who granted him many of the lands of the dissolved monasteries. He was knighted in 1537 and became (1540) a principal secretary of state. For his efforts in negotiating an alliance with Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, he was created (1544) Baron Wriothesley and made lord chancellor—an office in which he became notorious for his severity. He was one of the executors of Henry VIII's will but acceded to the appointment of Edward Seymour, duke of Somerset, as protector. Somerset, however, though he gave Wriothesley the earldom of Southampton, dismissed (1547) him from the lord chancellorship on the ground that he had delegated his legal duties without consulting the council. Southampton's consequent grievance against Somerset led him to support John Dudley, earl of Warwick (later duke of Northumberland), in overthrowing the protector in 1549.
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