Rawlinson, William (DNB00)
RAWLINSON, Sir WILLIAM (1640–1703), serjeant-at-law, second son of William Rawlinson, of Graithwaite and Rusland Hall, Lancashire, was born at Graythwaite on 16 June 1640. The father had been captain in a troop of volunteers in the parliamentary cause during the civil wars, doing good service at Marston Moor and Ribble Bridge. His mother was Elizabeth, daughter of Anthony Sawrey of Plumpton (Foster, Lancashire Pedigrees). William was admitted from Hawkshead School a pensioner of Christ's College, Cambridge, on 13 April 1655, aged 15; entered Gray's Inn on 20 Feb. 1656–7, and in 1667 was called to the bar. He obtained a fair practice as a chancery lawyer (Hist. MSS. Comm. 11th Rep. pt. ii. passim). In Easter term 1686 he obtained the dignity of the coif, and at the revolution of 1688 was appointed one of the three commissioners for the great seal. He helped to draft the amendments to the act which authorised the commissioners to execute the office of lord chancellor (March 1688–9) (ib. 12th Rep. vi. 67, 13th Rep. vii. 100), and was knighted by William at Hampton Court on 5 March 1688–9 (Luttrell, Relation, i. 506). In November 1690 he appeared before the House of Lords to give evidence against the bill for reformation of the abuses of the court of chancery, ‘a chair being allowed’ him on account of his infirmities (Hist. MSS. Comm. 13th Rep. v. 130; Luttrell, Relation, ii. 128).
Rawlinson acted as commissioner of the seal for three years, but in March 1693 Sir John Somers became sole keeper, and Somers successfully opposed the king's proposal to appoint Rawlinson chief baron of the exchequer in succession to Sir Robert Atkyns, on the ground that he was ignorant of common law. Rawlinson accordingly returned to the bar, where, as late as October 1697, he is found as serjeant pleading for the Duke of Devonshire. In 1695 Godolphin renewed former efforts to secure him promotion (Hist. MSS. Comm. 13th Rep. vii. 105), but they came to nothing. Rawlinson died on 11 May 1703, and was buried in the church at Hendon, where he had purchased an old mansion of the Whichcotes in Brent Street. In Hendon church there is a monument to his memory with a long Latin inscription.
He was twice married. By his first wife he had two daughters, Elizabeth and Ann, both of whom had descendants. By his second wife, Jane, daughter of Edward Noseworthy of Devon, and Honora, a daughter of Sir John Maynard (1602–1690) [q. v.], he had one son, who died an infant (Foster, Lancashire Pedigrees; Lysons, Environs of London, ii. 230). The second wife died in 1712, bequeathing 500l. for the purpose of establishing a school for girls. She was buried in Ealing church, and a monument was erected there.[Hist. MSS. Comm. Reports, ubi supra; Foss's Judges of England, vii. 344; Burke's Landed Gentry, 1687; Foster's Gray's Inn Reg.; Lysons's Environs of London, ii. 230, iii. 79; Luttrell's Relation of State Affairs; Foster's Lancashire Pedigrees. The William Rawlinson who graduated at St. John's College, Cambridge, B.A. in 1667, was a son of Rob Rawlinson of Cartmel, Lancashire, and is not identical with the above William Rawlinson: see Mayor's Entries to St. John's Coll. Cambr. i. 164.]