1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Widdrington, Barons

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

WIDDRINGTON, BARONS. In November 1643 Sir William Widdrington (1610–1651), of Widdrington, Northumberland, son and heir of Sir Henry Widdrington (d. 1623), was created Baron Widdrington, as a reward for his loyalty to Charles I. He had been member for Northumberland in both the Short and the Long Parliaments in 1640, but in August 1642 he was expelled because he had joined the royal standard. He fought for the king chiefly in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire during 1642 and 1643; he was governor of Lincoln in 1643, but in 1644, after helping to defend York, he left England. Although in 1648 he had been condemned to death by the House of Commons, he accompanied Charles II. to Scotland in 1650, and he was mortally wounded whilst fighting for him at Wigan, dying on the 3rd of September 1651. His great-grandson, William, the 4th baron (1678–1743), took part in the Jacobite rising of 1715, and with two of his brothers was taken prisoner after the fight at Preston. He was convicted of high treason, and his title and estates were forfeited, but he was not put to death, and he survived until the 19th of April 1743. When his son, Henry Francis Widdrington, who claimed the barony, died in September 1774, the family appears to have become extinct.

Other eminent members of this family were Sir Thomas Widdrington and his brother Ralph. Having married a daughter of Ferdinando Fairfax, afterwards 2nd Lord Fairfax, Thomas Widdrington was knighted at York in 1639, and in 1640 he became member of parliament for Berwick. He was already a barrister, and his legal knowledge was very useful during the Civil War. In 1651 he was chosen a member of the council of state, although he had declined to have any share in the trial of the king. Widdrington was elected Speaker in September 1656, and in June 1658 he was appointed chief baron of the exchequer. In 1659 and again in 1660 he was a member of the council of state, and on three occasions he was one of the commissioners of the great seal, but he lost some of his offices when Charles II. was restored. However, he remained in parliament until his death on the 13th of May 1664. He left four daughters, but no sons. Widdrington, who founded a school at Stamfordham, Northumberland, wrote Analecta Eboracensia; some Remaynes of the city of York. This was not published until 1877, when it was edited with introduction and notes by the Rev. Caesar Caine. His younger brother, Ralph Widdrington (d. 1688), was educated at Christ’s College, Cambridge, where he made the acquaintance of Milton. In 1654 he was appointed regius professor of Greek at Cambridge, and in 1673 Lady Margaret professor of divinity.

The name of Roger Widdrington was taken by Thomas Preston (1563–1640), a Benedictine monk, who wrote several books of a controversial nature, and passed much of his time in prison, being still a captive when he died on the 3rd of April 1640. (See Rev. E. Taunton, The English Black Monks of St Benedict, 1897.)

In 1840 the writer, Samuel Edward Cook, took the name of Widdrington, his mother being the heiress of some of the estates of this family. Having served in the British navy he lived for some years in Spain, writing Sketches in Spain during the years 1829–1832 (London, 1834); and Spain and the Spaniards in 1843 (London, 1844). He died at his residence, Newton Hall, Northumberland, on the 11th of January 1856 and was succeeded in the ownership of his estates by his nephew, Shalcross Fitzherbert Jacson, who took the name Widdrington. See Rev. John Hodgson, History of Northumberland (1820–1840).