History

Thomas Chiffinch

Thomas Chiffinch [or Cheffin] was buried on 10 April 1666 in the south transept of Westminster Abbey, near to the monument of Isaac Casaubon. The Latin inscription on his rather worn gravestone can be translated:

“Here lies Thomas Chiffinch, from his tenderest years a faithful servant, in good fortune and bad, to His Most Serene Majesty Charles II, and thence appointed Comptroller to the Royal Excise [Treasuries], a man of notable honesty and probity. He died on 8th April 1666”.

He was born in Salisbury in Wiltshire in 1600 and brought to the court of Charles I by the bishop of that city. He served the King as Page of the Bedchamber and Keeper of the King’s Closet. A coat of arms was granted to him in 1644 (or, on a chief embattled gules, three leopards’ faces argent). Charles II appointed him Keeper of his jewels and receiver of revenues from plantations in America and Africa. His sudden death was recorded by Samuel Pepys in his Diary.

His wife Dorothy (Thanet) became laundress to Charles II and died on 28 March 1680, being buried in the Abbey on 3 April. Their son Thomas was baptised at St Margaret’s Westminster on 25 November 1637 and became one of the Searchers (customs officers) at Gravesend in Kent, dying on 31 January 1681. He married Amphillis and their son, also Thomas, was baptised at St Margaret’s on 13 July 1668.

William Chiffinch (d.1691), the notorious younger brother of Thomas the elder, also served Charles II and succeeded to the offices of Page and Closet Keeper.

Further reading

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 2004

A portrait of Thomas is at the National Portrait Gallery in London.

His will is at the City of Westminster Archives Centre