Thomas Preston - Herald of Hoxne

Preston Coat of Arms

Preston Coat of Arms

Thomas Preston [1590-1642] was born at Hoxne in 1590 to Isaac Preston a yeoman farmer and his wife Mary Sherwoode who were married on the 11th November 1589. A junior branch of the Preston family through Jacob the younger brother of Isaac established his family in Norfolk and he was seated at Beeston St Lawrence with lands in Old Buckenham. Thomas must have had a reasonable education as he was able to read and write and became the clerk to the antiquarian and herald Henry Chitting the Chester Herald.

Isaac Preston was the son of William Preston [1532-1586] of Preston, Suffolk who was married to Rose Whiple [b.1536] of Dickleburgh, Norfolk. Isaac was a yeoman farmer who held lands in Hoxne and Pulham, Norfolk. It is recorded that Thomas Preston was married in 1619 to Barbara, but we have no location for this marriage. Thomas therefore had to travel with Henry Chitting as he recorded family trees and the right to bear and hold arms.

Thomas Preston and his wife Barbara were the parents of John, Isaac, Thomas, Sherwood and Penelope who was married to Thomas Braham.

Henry Chitting [1580-1638] had connections with Suffolk as his father Thomas came from Ickworth. Thomas was married to Ann Gipps and the Chitting family had connections with Sir Nicholas Bacon of Redgrave. Henry entered Gray’s Inn and afterwards in 1618 purchased the place of Thomas Knight as Chester Herald. He was making a survey of Suffolk in circa 1619, so probably came into contact with Thomas Preston at this time.

In 1625 Thomas gained the position of Portcullis Pursuivant, becoming a junior officer of arms. In 1630 he was sent to Ireland to announce the birth of Prince Charles and to report on how the Ulster king of arms Daniel Molyneux was getting on with his work and reporting back to the Earl Marshall. In 1632 Daniel Molyneux died and his son William seized his father’s place, but his appointment was not recognised.

Thomas Preston was appointed to the position of Ulster King of Arms in 1633. This meant that Thomas and his family settled in Ireland and resided in the city of Dublin. Thomas held the position until his death in 1642 when he was buried at St Werburgh’s, Dublin. As Ulster king of arms he had the jurisdiction over the north of England above the River Trent and in the northern part of Ireland.

Article provided by Stephen Govier