Whitford, Walter (1581?-1647) (DNB00)

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WHITFORD, WALTER (1581?–1647), bishop of Brechin, born about 1581, was the son of Adam Whitford of Milntown (now called Milton Lockhart), by his wife Mary, daughter of Sir James Somerville of Cambusnethan in Lanarkshire. The family of Whitford derives its name from the estate of Whitford in Renfrewshire on the Cart, which Walter de Whitford obtained for his services at the battle of Largs in 1263. Adam Whitford was accused of being concerned in January 1575–6 in a conspiracy against the regent, James Douglas, fourth earl of Morton [q. v.]

Walter was educated at Glasgow University, where he was laureated in 1601, and afterwards acted as regent. On 10 May 1604 he was licensed to preach by the presbytery of Paisley, and on 3 Dec. 1608 he was presented by James VI to the parish of Kilmarnock in Ayrshire. In 1610 he was translated to Moffat in Dumfriesshire, where he was admitted before 8 June. In 1613 he was nominated on the commission of the peace for Annandale (Masson, Reg. of Privy Council, 1613–16, pp. 162–3, 546–7, 552), and was involved in several of the family feuds with which the county abounded (ib. 1616–1619, p. 389).

On 27 June 1617 Whitford signed the protestation to parliament in support of the liberties of the kirk, but he suffered himself soon after to be won over by the king, and on 15 June 1619 he was nominated a member of the court of high commission. On 30 Aug. he was constituted minister of Failford in Ayrshire by James VI, in addition to his other charge. In March 1620 he received the degree of D.D. from Glasgow University; and on 4 Aug. 1621 he was confirmed in his ministry by act of parliament. In 1623 his commission of justice of the peace was renewed, and he was appointed convener of the stewartry of Annandale (ib. 1622–5, p. 344). In the same year James proposed to translate him to Liberton in Midlothian, but failed to carry out his intention. On 25 Oct. 1627 he was appointed one of the commissioners nominated by the king for taking measures against the papists (Reg. Mag. Sigil. Regum Scot. 1620–33, p. 356), which on 21 Oct. 1634 was expanded into a high commission to cite and punish all persons dwelling in Scotland concerning whom there were unfavourable reports (ib. 1634–51, p. 94). On 9 Dec. 1628 he was presented by Charles I to the sub-deanery of Glasgow, which after 1670 formed the parish of Old Monkland in Lanarkshire. He removed thither in 1630, a dispute as to the crown's right of patronage preventing him from taking possession before; and on 21 Oct. 1634 he was nominated to the commission for the maintenance of church discipline.

In 1635 Whitford was consecrated as bishop of Brechin as successor to Thomas Sydserff [q. v.], holding the sub-deanery in commendam until 1639, when he disponed his title to James Hamilton, third marquis (afterwards first duke) of Hamilton [q. v.] On 16 April 1635 he was created a burgess of Arbroath. Whitford used his episcopal authority to support the liturgical changes which Charles I had introduced. The new service-book was very unpopular with the multitude, and in 1637, when Whitford announced his intention of reading it, he was threatened with violence. Undeterred he ascended the pulpit, holding a brace of pistols, his family and servants attending him armed, and read the service with closed doors. On his return he was attacked by an enraged mob, and escaped with difficulty. The minister of Brechin, Alexander Bisset, refusing to obey Whitford's commands to follow his example, the bishop caused his own servant to read the service regularly from the desk. This obstinacy roused intense feeling against him, and towards the close of the year, after his palace had been plundered, he was compelled to fly to England, where, with two other bishops, he violently opposed the Scottish treasurer, Sir John Stewart, first earl of Traquair [q. v.], whose moderation he disliked, drawing up a memorial against employing him as a commissioner to treat with the Scots (Baillie, Letters and Journals, i. 74). On 13 Dec. 1638 he was deposed and excommunicated by the Glasgow assembly, whose authority, in common with the other bishops, he had refused to recognise. In addition to the ecclesiastical offence of signing the declinature, he was accused of drunkenness and incontinence, and of ‘useing of masse crucifixes in his chamber’ (ib. i. 154). On 23 Aug. 1639 he and the other Scottish prelates drew up a protest against their exclusion from parliament (Hist. MSS. Comm 9th Rep. App. ii. 254).

On 28 Dec. 1640 Whitford was living in London in great poverty (Baillie, Letters, i. 288), but on 5 May 1642, as a recompense for his sufferings, Charles presented him to the rectory of Walgrave in Northamptonshire, where he was instituted. In 1646 he was expelled by the parliamentary soldiery; he died in the following year, and was buried on 16 June in the middle aisle of the chancel of St. Margaret's, Westminster. He married Anne, fourth daughter of Sir John Carmichael of that ilk, and niece of the regent Morton (Douglas, Peerage of Scotland, 1813, i. 753). By her he had five sons—John, Adam, David, Walter, and James—and two daughters—Rachel was married to James Johnstone, laird of Corehead, and Christian to William Bennett of Bains. James received a commission as ensign in the Earl of Chesterfield's regiment of foot on 13 June 1667 (Dalton, Army Lists, i. 79). David and Walter (d. 1686?) are separately noticed. In 1660 Whitford's widow petitioned for a yearly allowance out of the rents of the bishopric of Brechin in consideration of the sufferings of her family in the royal cause (Brit. Mus. Addit. MS. 23114, f. 135).

His eldest son, John Whitford (d. 1667), divine, was presented in 1641, at the instance of Laud, to the rectory of Ashton in Northamptonshire, and instituted on 17 May. In 1645 he was ejected, and took refuge with his father. He was reinstated at the Restoration, and on 5 July 1661 received a grant of 100l. in compensation for the loss of his books and other property (Acts of Parl. of Scotl. vol. vii. App. p. 82). He died at Ashton on 9 Oct. 1667. He married Judith (d. 5 March 1706–7), daughter of John Marriott of Ashton.

The third son, Adam Whitford (1624–1647), soldier, born in 1624, was a king's scholar at Westminster school, and in 1641 was elected to Christ Church, Oxford, whence he matriculated on 10 Dec., graduating B.A. on 4 Dec. 1646. Like his brother David, he enrolled himself in the royal garrison at Oxford, and was killed in the siege. He was buried in the south transept of the cathedral on 10 Feb. 1646–7.

[Scott's Fasti Eccles. Scoticanæ, I. ii. 655, II. i. 172, III. ii. 889; Wood's Athenæ Oxon. ed. Bliss, iii. 1016; Keith's Catalogue of Scottish Bishops, 1824, p. 167; Registrum Magni Sigilli Regum Scotorum, 1620–33 pp. 243, 513, 1634–1651 pp. 40, 156, 214, 710; Bridges's Hist. of Northamptonshire, ed. Whalley, i. 284–5, 301, ii. 129–30; Baillie's Letters and Journals (Bannatyne Club), vol. i. passim; Nisbet's Heraldry, 1722, i. 376–7; Spottiswoode's Hist. of the Church of Scotland (Spottiswoode Soc.), i. 44; Calderwood's Hist. of the Kirk (Wodrow Soc.), vol. vii. passim; Black's Hist. of Brechin, 1839, pp. 51–2, 303–4; Row's Hist. of the Kirk of Scotland (Wodrow Soc.), pp. 269, 342, 388; Balfour's Annales of Scotland, 1825, i. 364, ii. 309; Crawfurd's Description of the Shire of Renfrew, ed. Robertson, 1818, pp. 56–7; Memoirs of Henry Guthry, 1748, p. 16; Irving's Upper Ward of Lanarkshire, 1864, ii. 420; Hewins's Whitefoord Papers, 1898; Kennet's Reg. and Chron. 1728, p. 204; Hamilton's Description of the Sheriffdoms of Lanark and Renfrew (Maitland Club), pp. 18, 79; Pitcairn's Criminal Trials, 1833, I. ii. 70; Munimenta Alme Glasguensis (Maitland Club), passim; Grub's Ecclesiastical Hist. of Scotland, 1861, ii. 353, iii. 32, 42, 44, 88; Acts of Parliament of Scotland, iv. 688, v. 46, 120, 129, 479, 505, 528, vii. 347; Spalding's Memorials of Trubles (Spalding Club), passim; Peterkin's Records of the Kirk, 1843, pp. 26–7, 99–106; Paterson's Hist. of Ayr and Wigton, 1866, ii. 466; Wood's Hist. and Antiq. of the Colleges of Oxford, ed. Gutch, p. 510; Misc. Gen. et Herald. 2nd ser. i. 289; Laud's Works (Library of Anglo-Catholic Theol.), iii. 313, vi. 434–5, 438, 590, vii. 427.]

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