Thomas was born after two short-lived sons, one of whom had also been baptised Thomas. He was born at Woodstock Palace in Oxfordshire. In 1377 he was created Earl of Buckingham. Having married Eleanor de Bohun in the previous year, he also inherited the title Earl of Essex from his father-in-law, Humphrey de Bohun, Earl of Hereford. In 1385 he received the title Duke of Aumale, and at about the same time was created Duke of Gloucester.
Thomas and his wife had one son and four daughters. Following his murder (probably on the orders of his nephew, King Richard II of England), at Calais in 1395, his title passed to his son, Humphrey, and subsequently to his eldest daughter, Anne.