Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Werden, Robert

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WERDEN or WORDEN, ROBERT (d. 1690), soldier, was the son of John Werden (d. 1646), by his wife Katherine, daughter of Edward Dutton, governor of Barbados. On the eve of the civil war John was appointed a commissioner of array for Cheshire. He exerted his influence in support of the royal cause, and his son Robert was named colonel of a troop of horse under Sir John Byron, first baron Byron [q. v.] Robert distinguished himself by his activity. He took part in the defence of Chester, but was wounded and taken prisoner in a skirmish on 18 Jan. 1644–5. His father assisted in the negotiations for the surrender of the town, and signed the articles of surrender on 3 Feb. 1645–6. On 26 March he begged to be permitted to compound for his delinquency in being a commissioner of array, pleading that he had never acted against parliament, and that he had been active in the surrender of Chester. The commissioners for compounding were moved by his representations, and, although he had not come in within the prescribed term, they only imposed on him the small fine of 600l., ‘consideration being had of his great losses and kind offices to members of parliament.’ Their sentence was confirmed by the House of Commons on 9 July, Robert being included in the composition. On 21 July the county committee indignantly remonstrated, declaring Robert ‘a most violent enemy, administering general astonishment and terror to the whole country.’ They were, however, too late; the house declined to recede from its former decision, and as John had died about the close of 1646, Robert was finally cleared by a draft ordinance of the House of Lords on 12 Feb. 1646–7 (Journals of the House of Commons, iv. 611, 721; Journals of the House of Lords, ix. 5, 7). In 1648, however, his estates were again sequestered on the suspicion that he harboured treasonable designs, a fifth being allowed his wife for maintenance. On 27 Jan. 1651–2 they were discharged from sequestration, but in 1655 his fidelity was seen to be very doubtful (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1655, pp. 216, 220), and in 1659 he took part in the royalist rising under Sir George Booth (first Lord Delamer) [q. v.] He was proclaimed a traitor and a rebel on 9 Aug. (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1659–60, p. 94), and his goods sequestered on 27 Aug. A few days earlier he was taken and sent to London for examination (ib. pp. 154, 157, 160, 333). He succeeded in making his peace with the Commonwealth, probably at the expense of the royalists, for at the Restoration he was imprisoned on a charge of treason. Among other acts of treachery he was accused of betraying Booth and of endeavouring to secure the king's person after the battle of Worcester. Booth and other Lancashire gentlemen, however, befriended him, and he finally obtained his pardon, received back his estates, and in 1662 was made a groom of the Duke of York's bedchamber, and was granted the lands of Thomas Wogan [q. v.], the regicide, in Pembrokeshire (ib. 1660–1 p. 9, 1661–2 pp. 218, 459, 566, 1663–4 p. 157; Hist. MSS. Comm. 5th Rep. App. p. 156, 8th Rep. App. i. 278, 280). On 4 June 1665 he received the commission of lieutenant in the Duke of York's guards (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1664–5, pp. 407, 517), and in May 1667 he was named a commissioner for regulating the Duke of Norfolk's affairs (Pepys, Diary and Corresp. ed. Braybrooke, iv. 90). On 29 June 1667 he was appointed lieutenant and major in the Duke of York's guards (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1667, p. 245), and on 2 Oct. 1672 was promoted to the rank of lieutenant and lieutenant-colonel.

On 10 Feb. 1672–3 Werden was returned to parliament for Chester, retaining his seat until the dissolution in 1679. He was returned for the same city on 9 March 1684–1685 to the first parliament of James II. On 1 May 1678 he received the commission of brigadier of the horse, and in the summer served in Flanders against the Dutch. In 1679 he was appointed comptroller of the Duke of York's household. On the accession of James II he was promoted, on 19 June 1685, to the rank of ‘brigadier over all our forces,’ and on 31 July was appointed major-general. On 24 Oct. he received the command of the regiment of horse now known as the 4th dragoon guards, and on 8 Nov. 1688 attained the rank of lieutenant-general. On 15 Sept. of that year, when the borough of Chester was remodelled by James, he was appointed a common councillor (Hist. MSS. Comm. 8th Rep. App. i. 361).

Notwithstanding the many benefits he received from James, he deserted him in 1688, and was rewarded by the post of treasurer to Queen Mary. He died on 23 Jan. 1689–90. He was twice married: first, to Jane Backham; secondly, to Margaret Towse. By his first wife he had John [q. v.], who is separately noticed; Robert, a captain in the royal navy, who was killed fighting against the Dutch at Solebay on 28 May 1673, while in command of the Henrietta (ib. 10th Rep. App. vi. 182), and Katherine, married to Richard Watts of Muchmunden in Hertfordshire.

[Burke's Extinct Baronetcies, 1844; Wotton's English Baronetage, 1741, iii. 548; Cal. of Proceedings of Committee for Compounding, pp. 1154, 3268; Malbon's Civil War in Cheshire (Record Soc. of Lancashire and Cheshire), 1889, p. 156; Hemingway's Hist. of Cheshire, 1831, i. 194.]

E. I. C.