Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Winnington, Francis

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WINNINGTON, Sir FRANCIS (1634–1700), lawyer, lineally descended from Robert Winnington, lord of the manor of Winnington, Cheshire, and only son of Francis or John Winnington, who settled at Powick, near Worcester, was born in Worcester city on 7 Nov. 1634. He was admitted commoner at Trinity College, Oxford, in 1655, and on 28 Nov. 1656 was entered at the Middle Temple. On 9 Feb. 1660 he was called to the bar ex gratia, chosen bencher on 24 June 1672, autumn reader 1675, and treasurer on 29 Oct. 1675. Winnington went the Oxford circuit, his family having considerable influence in the district, and his rise in the profession was rapid. Prince Rupert engaged him as standing counsel, and in 1672 he was created king's counsel and attorney-general to the Duke of York. On 17 Dec. 1672 he was knighted.

Winnington's fee-book from 1671 was preserved at his seat of Stanford Court in Worcestershire, and it shows that his income from the law in 1675 exceeded 4,000l. In December 1674 he was created solicitor-general, and by the king's command he was returned to Parliament for the borough of Windsor on 19 Feb. 1676–7. He supported in 1678 the exclusion bill, and for this vote was deprived in January 1678–9 of the office of solicitor-general, and at the dissolution in that month lost his seat at Windsor. He represented Worcester city in the three parliaments of February 1678–9, September 1679, and March 1680–1, and the borough of Tewkesbury from November 1692 to July 1698. He refused to be raised to the bench in April 1689, but he was chairman of ways and means in the parliament which ended in October 1695.

Winnington died on 1 May 1700, and was buried in the old church of Stanford, a monument being erected to his memory. By his first wife, Elizabeth Herbert of Powick, he had an only daughter, Elizabeth, married in 1676 to Richard Dowdeswell, M.P., his colleague in the representation of Tewkesbury. His second wife was Elizabeth, third and youngest sister and coheiress of Edward Salwey of Stanford Court, and their issue was four sons and two daughters. Thomas Winnington [q. v.] was his grandson. He purchased the shares of the elder sisters in the estate of Stanford, and in 1674 he bought the leasehold interest under the crown of the manor of Bewdley. The Elizabethan mansion of Stanford Court was burnt on 5 Dec. 1882, and the valuable books and manuscripts in the old library were destroyed (Hist. MSS. Comm. 1st Rep. app. pp. 53–5). An oval miniature portrait of Winnington in oil colours, by an unknown artist, is in the National Portrait Gallery, London; another portrait by Lely belonged in 1866 to the family (Cat. First Loan Exhib. No. 933).

He was famed until the age of sixty-four for his skill in riding and for his love of sport. Lord Somers was his pupil in the law, and had the run of his chambers. Winnington's success in pleading is coupled by Garth with that of South and Onely in preaching (Dispensary, canto v.). A letter from him is in Warner's ‘Epistolary Curiosities’ (1st ser. pp. 103–4).

[Burke's Peerage; Nash's Worcestershire, i. 368–9; Murray's Worcestershire Handbook; Notes and Queries, 2nd ser. vii. 65; Luttrell's Hist. Relation, i. 6, 522; Le Neve's Knights, p. 282; Williams's Parl. Hist. of Gloucestershire, pp. 244–5, and Worcestershire, p. 99; Cooksey's Lord Somers, p. 25.]

W. P. C.