The Gentry is a history of England told through its families. This website contains family trees, a few maps and many images illustrating some of the background to the twelve families who carry the story of England in the book.

Read a sample chapter about Sir John Oglander, the 17th-century squire of Nunwell in the Isle of Wight, his life and family, his dreams and ambitions and the tragedies that struck him....

1520s–1580s The Throckmortons, Warwickshire

The Throckmortons

The definition of sixteenth-century England? Government bordering on tyranny in a country filled with sweet musk roses and eglantine. It was a time to be in land. The weather was improving and more children were surviving into adulthood. The number of people in England was rising faster than the amount of food that could be grown for them. With a mismatch of supply and demand, food prices rose, tripling between 1508 and 1551, and rents rose with them. Agricultural land in the sixteenth century was the most reliable source of cash there was.


But the ability to deliver the increased yields depended on returning fertility to the ground. A mixed country, in which there was plenty of grazing, much of it already enclosed, was a recipe for financial success. Meadows were money in Tudor England and the Throckmortons, at Coughton in the lush valley of the River Arrow, were blessed with them. Much of their story—of huge ideological courage and daring in the face of power; of ferocious allegiance to an idea of the world and the universe which a vengeful crown was denying to Englishmen—would not have been possible without that pasture-rich background. The Throckmortons, and their attachment to Rome, floated on grass.