Dictionary of National Biography entries


DNB:1 - Thomas Danyell junior, first of the Daniels of Acton

Danyell, Thomas (b after 1488, d 1566) administrator, probably born in Suffolk shortly after 1488, the third of five sons of Edmund Danyell, esquire, of Stoke by Nayland, Suffolk (d 1497-1504), and his wife, Grace (d 1509) daughter and heir of Sir Richard Baynard of Messing, Essex. In the will of his mother, dated 6 December 1508, Danyell and his younger brothers were each assigned the annual sum of £5 until they attained the age of twenty on condition that they continue their 'learning'. No information on Danyell's education survives, and his early life is obscure before he entered the service of Thomas Howard (1443-1524), earl of Surrey, duke of Norfolk, and lord treasurer of England. Danyells's paternal grandparents were Sir Thomas Danyell of Rathwire, Ireland, constable of Dublin Castle, and Margaret, sister to John Howard, first duke of Norfolk (d 1485). In 1494 his father was named executor of the duke's widow.

As clients of the Howards, the Danyell family rose within East Anglia and at court. On 16 July 1517 Thomas Danyell was admitted for life by Norfolk to the recently vacated position of writer of the tallies in the receipt of the exchequer. There he joined his cousin Henry Everard, esquire of Deverston, Suffolk, secretary to the lord treasurer in 1514 and subsequently a teller of the exchequer (1514-40), and other members of the Howard entourage. Danyell's eldest surviving brother, John, esquire of Messing, had already married a daughter of Edmund Denny (d 1519/20), lord treasurer's remembrancer and baron of the exchequer. Another cousin, John Danyell, gentleman of Felsted, Essex (d 1518) was in the service of John de Vere, earl of Oxford. Thomas Danyel continued to be active in the private affairs of the Howard family until at least 1540.

The writer of the tallies emerged under the early Tudors as the senior administrative officer in the receipt of the exchequer, below the under-treasurer who was increasingly a non-resident supervisor. Danyells's active tenure of the office for almost thirty-three years before his resignation in May 1550 was highly influencial in the development of the administrative structure of the department, and he was the first to be called by the new, at first informal, title of auditor of the receipt, in recognition of the enhanced responsibilities. The auditor supervised the other tellers, composed - in the name of the under-treasurer - the annual declaration of the state of the treasury for presentation to the royal council, and managed the disbursement of crown money. It was Danyell who received Henry VIII's last will, and numerous leagues and treaties, for safe keeping in the treasury of the receipt. And Danyell was the first to establish a gentry family from the substantial profits of office in the department. He had inherited no property from his parents. However, following modest land purchases in the vicinity of his residence in Sudbury, Suffolk, during the 1520s and at Downhall, Essex, in the 1530s, he purchased five manors in Suffolk and Essex in the 1540s, establishing his seat at Acton Place, Suffolk, about 1546. Danyell's retirement marked the end of significant acquisitions, and at his death in 1566 the landed estate was worth approximately £165 per annum. He was regularly appointed to the Suffolk commission of the peace from 1537 until 1564, and served on commissions for taxation and for oyer and terminer. He was reputed to be a religious conservative who resisted the Edwardian and Elizabethan reforms.

Danyell married first, at an unknown date, Anne, daughter of Sir Edmund Lucy of Suffolk. This marriage produced his only surviving child and heir, Edmund, who married Margaret, daughter and heir of Edmund West, esquire, of Cornard, Suffolk. Danyell married second, by 1550, Frances, daughter of John Butler, recorder of Coventry, and widow of Edmund Felton of Pentlow, Essex (d 1542), Danyell had long been associated with Felton, and in 1550 he resigned his exchequer post in favour of Felton's relative, Thomas Felton of Clerkenwell, Middlesex, who had served as clerk to the writer of the tallies from 1535.

Danyell died at Acton Place in late 1566; his wife survived him. The elder branch of the family at Messing remained better connected after the fall of the Howards, retaining close ties to Sir Anthony Denny and later Sir Francis Walsingham, but it was Thomas Danyell who through a painstaking bureaucratic career helped to alter irrevocably the ancient course of the exchequer and established a prominent gentry family in his native Suffolk.

J. D. Alsop


- J. D. Alsop. The exchequer of receipt in the reign of Edward VI, PhD diss., U. Cam., 1978

- W. C. Metcalfe, ed., The visitation of Suffolk (1882)

- J. D. Alsop, 'The exchequer in late medieval parliament, c. 1485-1530', Aspects of late medieval government and society, ed. J. G. Rowe (1986), 179-212

- PRO, PROB 11/11, fol. 230v

- PRO, PROB 11/16. fol. 93

- PRO, PROB 11/19, fols. 102, 235-7

- PRO, PROB 11/30, fols. 45-6

- PRO, PROB 11/49, fol. 37 - PRO, E 36/266 fols. 70v, 73v

- PRO E 368/324, 331

- PRO, E 36/132

- PRO, E 405/115

- PRO, E 405/190-211

- PRO, SP 12/9, fol. 119v - LP Henry VIII

- W. A. Copinger, ed., County of Suffolk, 5 vols. (1904-5)

- W. A. Copinger, The manors of Suffolk, 7 vols. (1905-11)

- CPR, 1476-1509; 1547-75

- CIPM Henry VII, 3, no. 532

- P. H. Reaney and M. Fitch, eds. Feet of Fines for Essex, Essex Archaeological Society, 4: 1423-1447 (1964)

- D. MacCulloch, 'Power, privilege and the county community: county politics in Elizabethan Suffolk', PhD diss., U. Cam., 1977

- W. Hervey, The visitation of Suffolk, 1561, ed. J. Corder, i, Harleian Society, new ser., 2 (1981) 9-12

Wealth at death approx. £165 p.a.; landed estate: will, PRO PROB 11/49, fol. 37; subsidy assessment for Acton, 1559, PRO, SP 12/9, fol 119v