Worsley, Charles (DNB00)

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WORSLEY, CHARLES (1622−1656), major-general, born on 24 June 1622, was the eldest son of Ralph Worsley of Platt, Manchester, by Isabel, daughter of Edward Massey of Manchester, and widow of Alexander Ford of Wigan (Booker, Ancient Chapel of Birch, p. 25; Court Leet Records of Manchester, iv. 117). Worsley was a captain in some regiment of Lancashire parliamentarians in 1644, but his early military services are not recorded (Booker, p. 39). On 21 June 1650 parliament voted that a regiment of foot should be raised in Lancashire for Cromwell under such officers as he should be pleased to appoint. Of this regiment Worsley became lieutenant-colonel (Commons' Journals, iv. 428; Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1650, p. 308). He joined Cromwell's army with it at Edinburgh on 12 Sept. 1650, just after the battle of Dunbar (Booker, p. 37). In August 1651, when Cromwell returned to England in pursuit of Charles I. Worsley was sent into Lancashire to assist Colonel Robert Lilburne against James Stanley, seventh earl of Derby [q. v.], but arrived too late to take part in the victory at Wigan (Cary, Memorials of the Civil War, i. 339, 343; Life of Captain John Hodgson, 1882, p. 47). Worsley was not at the battle of Worcester, but the regiment was employed under Colonel Duckenfield in the reduction of the Isle of Man. At the lose of 1652 the regiment was stationed in London, being quartered at St. James's (Cal. State Papers, Dom., 1651−2 p. 352, 1652−3 p. 460). Worsley commanded the detachment of it which Cromwell employed in the expulsion of the Long parliament (20 April 1653), helped Colonel Harrison to put Algernon Sidney [q. v.] out of the house, and took the mace into his own charge (Blencowe, Sydney Papers, p. 140; Commons's Journals, vii. 282). In 1654 Worsley was elected the first member for Manchester (Booker, p. 41). In October 1655 he was appointed one of the majorgenerals instituted by the Protector, having Lancashire, Cheshire, and Staffordshire as his province (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1655, pp. 275, 378). Worsley was extremely zealous in carrying out his instructions. ‘The sense of the work, and my unworthiness and insufficiency as to the right management of it, is my only present discouragement,’ he wrote to Thurloe; and in another letter he professed to observe ‘a visible hand of God going along with us in this work’ (Thurloe, State Papers, iv. 149, 340). No one suppressed more alehouses or was more active in sequestering royalists, preventing horse-races, and carrying on the work of reformation. Worsley died at St. James's on 12 June 1656, having been summoned to London to take part in a meeting of the major-generals. He was buried the next day with great pomp in Henry VII's chapel in Westminster Abbey. His name does not appear in the list of burials in the abbey register, and, thanks to this omission or to some other accident, his body was not disinterred at the Restoration. During a search for the body of James I the corpse of a tall man was found in Henry VII's chapel, which Dean Stanley believed to be that of Worsley (Public Intelligencer, 9−16 June 1656; Chester, Westminster Registers, pp. x, 521; Stanley, Westminster Abbey, 3rd ed. pp. 674−7).

Thurloe describes Worsley as ‘a very great loss’ both to the Protector and the nation, he ‘having been a most trusty and diligent man’ (State Payers, v. 122). A portrait now at Platt Hall, is engraved in Booker's ‘History of the Ancient Chapel of Birch.’

Worsley was twice married: first, on 18 Sept. 1644, to Mary, daughter of John Booth of Manchester (she died on 1 April 1649); secondly, on 6 Oct. 1652, to Dorothy, daughter of Roger Kenyon of Park Head, Whalley. By his first marriage he had a son Ralph and two daughters; by his second marriage a son Charles, born 9 July 1653, and two other children who died young (Booker, pp. 35, 38, 49).

In recognition of Worsley's services the council of state ordered a lease of lands worth 100l. per annum to be settled on his family, and a year's salary as major-general, being 660l. 13s. 4d., to be paid to the widow (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1656−7, pp. 28, 97, 171, 199, 226, 266). In 1659 his widow married Lieutenant-colonel Waldine Lagoe of Manchester, and some of her letters are among Lord Kenyon's manuscripts (Hist. MSS. Comm. 14th Rep. pt. iv.)

[Lives of Worsley are contained in Booker's History of the Ancient Chapel of Birch, 1859 (Chetham Soc. vol. xlvii.), and in Espinasse's Lancashire Worthies, 1874, i. 96−114. About thirty of his letters are printed in Thurloe's State Papers, vols. iv−v.]

C. H. F.