Brodrick, Thomas (1654–1730), politician, was born 4 August 1654, eldest son and heir of Sir St John Brodrick (1627–1711) of Midleton, Co. Cork, and his wife Alice, daughter of Laurence Clayton of Mallow, Co. Cork. Thomas's father, originally from Wandsworth, Surrey, had served in the parliamentary army during the English civil wars, for which service he received a large grant of land in Cork. Thomas's education appears to have been comprehensive, given that he was admitted to Middle Temple on 7 January 1670, and was recorded as a fellow commoner at Trinity Hall, Cambridge, at Easter 1670, and on 15 November 1671 as a student, aged 17, at Magdalen Hall, Oxford. In 1677 he was conferred LLB. He succeeded to the family lands at Wandsworth in 1680 on the death of his uncle Sir Alan Brodrick (qv), and on his marriage to Anne (1657–1731), daughter of Alexander Pigott of Innishannon, Co. Cork, his father settled some of the Cork estate on him.
Although he resided mostly in England, and his public career was overshadowed by his more illustrious younger brother Alan (qv), Thomas played an important role in Irish politics in the post-Glorious Revolution period, sitting as MP for Midleton (1692–3, 1715–27) and for Co. Cork (1695–9, 1703–13). He did not stand for election to the Irish parliament in 1713. In 1692 Thomas and Alan took a leading part in the country opposition in the house of commons, in particular in advocating that the commons had the ‘sole right’ to initiate the heads of money bills, a claim that reflected their whiggish outlook. Although the 1692 parliament was prorogued after only four weeks with apparently little achieved by either government or opposition, Thomas's adherence to an English political ideology served him well, after the appointment in 1693 of the English whig Henry, Lord Capel (qv), as one of three lords justices sent to Ireland to settle the ‘sole right’ dispute. With the emerging whig predominance in English government in 1693–4, Capel became preeminent within Irish government and Thomas, along with his brother Alan and their father St John, played a central role in negotiating a political and financial settlement. The alteration in Thomas's fortunes was such that in late 1694 Capel entrusted him with the task of travelling to England to represent to the English ministry the current state of affairs in Ireland.
As part of the negotiated settlement, Thomas was appointed in May 1695 to the Irish privy council. When a parliament was convened later that year by Capel, who was appointed lord deputy, Thomas and other leading ‘sole right’ advocates of 1692 now formed the core of the 1695 court party in the commons, and acted as Capel's managers or ‘undertakers’. Proposed as a candidate for the speakership, Thomas withdrew in favour of an ally from 1692, the newly appointed attorney general, Robert Rochfort (qv). However, Thomas still took a central role in parliamentary affairs, being appointed chairman of the committee of the whole house on supply and a member of the select committee of public accounts, both of which positions enabled him to ensure that the government was granted the necessary financial supplies and, more generally, that all aspects of the compromise settlement were carried out. He took responsibility for presenting all three of the commons' supply bills, on their return from London, to the lower house. Thomas's involvement in the failed attempt to impeach the tory lord chancellor, Sir Charles Porter (qv), was out of keeping with his other activities at this time, though it reflected the deep-felt dislike of Porter among the whig element in Irish politics. Having signed the Association (an expression of abhorrence at the recently uncovered conspiracy against William III) in 1696, Thomas continued on the side of the court in the 1697 session, when an attempt to create disharmony by removing Alan from his position as chairman of the committee of privileges and elections was assuaged in part by Thomas standing down as chairman of the supply committee in favour of his brother. In 1699 Thomas gave evidence to the commission of inquiry into the Irish forfeitures, and in the commissioners' report he was found to have secured great quantities of land in partnership with William Conolly (qv).
The shift towards the tories in government after 1699 placed Thomas back in opposition in the next parliament in 1703–4. He was again elected to the committee of public accounts, and with a family relation and fellow whig, Laurence Clayton, as chairman, Thomas took a leading role in establishing the committee's importance by pressing for detailed investigations into the public accounts, an action that set the precedent for future committees. He was also nominated with Clayton to the committee for drafting the heads of a bill for appointing a commission to examine and state the public accounts, though this bill did not reach fruition. In the debates on supply Thomas supported Alan in trying to restrict the grant of taxes to one year's duration, though their efforts were defeated and the government secured a two-year grant. During the Christmas recess Thomas was suspected of trying to disrupt government business by spreading rumours of an intended catholic uprising. He continued to act in opposition in the Irish parliament thereafter, though his whig connections in England, particularly with Lord Wharton (qv), resulted in his appointment in 1706 to the English post of comptroller of the salt and, two years later, to that of joint comptroller of army accounts.
The appointment of the moderate earl of Pembroke (qv) as lord lieutenant in 1707 saw the Irish whigs start to reestablish a rapport with government. Thomas took a leading role in negotiations with Pembroke prior to the 1707 session, though they failed to reach a satisfactory agreement. By 1709, however, with Wharton as chief governor, the whigs were in the ascendant, and Thomas was once again involved in managing the government's business, both in the committee of public accounts and in the commons in general. He took a leading role in preventing an attempt by the opposition to appropriate some of the intended supplies. In the 1710 session he again figured prominently in the court party, though the swing to the tories at that time heralded a downturn in Thomas's fortunes. In 1711 he was removed from the Irish privy council and from his English office of joint comptroller of army accounts. Thereafter Thomas's involvement in Irish affairs was minimal, despite his reappointment to the privy council (1714) and his reelection to the Irish parliament (1715). Instead he turned his attention to English politics, being elected MP for Stockbridge (1713–22) and Guildford (1722–7). During those years he looked after the Brodrick family's political and other interests in England, while occasionally advising Alan on important Irish matters such as the bank project of 1720–21, the Wood's halfpence affair, and Alan's decision to resign as lord chancellor in 1725. Thomas died 3 October 1730. His only child, Lawrence, predeceased him.