English judge and legal author
Born c.1407 Died 1481
Thomas de Littleton was born, it is supposed, at Frankley Manor House Worcestershire, about 1407. Littleton's surname was that of his mother, who was the sole daughter and heiress of Thomas de Littleton, lord of Frankley. She married one Thomas Westcote. Thomas was the eldest of four sons of the marriage, and took the name of Littleton, or, as it seems to have been more commonly spelt, Luttelton. The date of his birth is uncertain; a manuscript pedigree gives 1422, but it was probably earlier than this. If, as is generally accepted, he was born at Frankley Manor, it could not have been before 1407, in which year Littleton's grandfather recovered the manor from a distant branch of the family. He is said by Sir E. Coke to have attended one of the universities, but there is no corroboration of this statement. He was probably a member of the Inner Temple, and lectured there on the Statute of Westminster II, de donis conditionalibus.
His name occurs in the Paston Letters (ed. J. Gairdner, i. 60) about 1445 as that of a well-known counsel and in 1481/2 he received a grant of the manor of Sheriff Hales, Shropshire, from a Sir William Trussel as a reward for his services as counsel. He appears to have been recorder of Coventry in 1450; he was made escheator of Worcestershire, and in 1447/8 was under-sheriff of the same county; he became serjeant-at-law in 1453 and was afterwards a justice of assize on the northern circuit. In 1466 he was made a judge of the common pleas, and in 1475 a knight of the Bath.
He died, according to the inscription on his tomb in Worcester cathedral, on the 23rd of August 1481. He married, about 1444, Joan, widow of Sir Philip Chetwind of Ingestrie in Staffordshire, and by her had three sons, through whom he became ancestor of the families holding the peerages of Cobham (formerly Lyttelton), and Hatherton.
Extracted from the entry for LITTLETON, SIR THOMAS DE in the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica, the text of which lies within the public domain. The phrase "the author of the Treatise on Tenures" has been inserted into the first sentence to account for the fact that the entire (and lengthy) discussion of that work is best placed as the Treatise on Tenures.