Gascoigne, Richard (1579-1661?) (DNB00)

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Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 21
Gascoigne, Richard (1579-1661?)

by Sidney Lee

GASCOIGNE, RICHARD (1579–1661?), antiquary, born, according to Oldys, at Sherfield, near Burntwood, Essex, was second son of George Gascoigne, at one time of Oldhurst, by Mary, daughter of John Stokesley. His elder brother, Sir Nicholas, died in 1617. The family descended from Nicholas, younger brother of Sir William Gascoigne [q. v.], the famous judge. A kinswoman, Margaret Gascoigne, married Thomas Wentworth, and was thus grandmother of the great Earl of Strafford, a relationship of which Gascoyne was always proud. He was admitted a scholar of Jesus College, Cambridge, 21 Oct. 1594, and graduated B.A. in Lent term 1599. He says in his will that failing health compelled him to leave Cambridge 11 Sept. 1599; otherwise he would have obtained a fellowship. Subsequently he seems to have lived at his house at Bramham Biggin, Yorkshire, but in later years he occupied lodgings in Little Turnstile, Lincoln's Inn Fields, suffering much from poverty. There he made a will, 23 Aug. 1661, which was proved by his landlady, executrix, and residuary legatee, Frances Dimmock, 24 March 1663–4.

Gascoigne spent his time and money in collecting antiquarian documents, and in compiling pedigrees of his Yorkshire kinsmen and neighbours. The Wentworth and Gascoigne pedigrees occupied him for a long period. As a pedigree-maker he charged high fees, which he often found a difficulty in obtaining after the work was done. He complains bitterly in his will of the failure of Sir Thomas Danby to pay him 100l. for a pedigree, but he kept Danby's evidences as security till he pawned them to his landlady for 30l. Dugdale met him in early life in London, and always writes in the highest terms of his learning and industry. In his ‘Warwickshire,’ ed. Thomas, p. 857, Dugdale describes him as his ‘special friend … a gentleman well worthy of the best respects from all lovers of antiquities, to whose good affections and abilities in these studies his own family and several others of much eminency allied thereto are not a little obliged.’

Gascoigne bequeathed his printed books to Jesus College, Cambridge, with special injunctions for their preservation. He particularly mentions his copy of ‘Vincent's correcting Raphes Brooke’ as a book of great value. His ‘evidences and seales’ he left to his cousin, Thomas, son of Sir Thomas Gascoigne [q. v.] His picture of Lord Strafford he left to his executrix. But the chief part of Gascoigne's collections—‘his paper books and transcripts of antiquities’—came, apparently in his lifetime, into the possession of William, second earl of Strafford (heir of Thomas Wentworth, first earl), who preserved them in his library at Wentworth Woodhouse, Yorkshire, until his death in 1695. They then passed with the earl's other property to Thomas Watson-Wentworth, son of the earl's sister Anne, by Edward Watson, second baron Rockingham. This Thomas Watson-Wentworth died in 1723, and his son of the same names, when about to be created Baron Malton (May 1728), deliberately burned the greater part of Gascoigne's manuscripts. Oldys witnessed this act of vandalism, and attributes it either to the owner's fear that the papers might contain something derogatory to the first Earl of Strafford, or to anxiety to demolish the old tower of Wentworth House, where the manuscripts were deposited, to make room for a more modern structure. Oldys prevailed with the reckless owner to preserve some few old rolls, public grants, and original letters of eminent persons, but there survived ‘not the hundredth part of much better things that were destroyed’ (Memoir of Oldys, first printed in Notes and Queries, 3rd ser. i. 3).

Some Whitby charters that belonged to Gascoigne are in the Rawlinson MSS. at the Bodleian; some collections about the Nevill family are in Brit. Mus. Addit. MS. 6118, p. 129. The Gascoigne pedigree in Thoresby's ‘Ducatus’ is by him, and he is said to have assisted Burton in his ‘Account of Leicestershire.’

[Thoresby's Ducatus Leod. ed. Whitaker, pp. 179–81; Dugdale's Diary, ii. 278; transcript of Gascoigne's will, kindly supplied by Mr. Gordon Goodwin from Prerogative Court of Canterbury, 30 Bruce.]

S. L. L.