Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Isham, Justinian

ISHAM, Sir JUSTINIAN, second baronet (1610–1674), royalist, was only son of Sir John Isham (1582–1651), by his wife Judith, daughter of William Lewin, D.C.L., of Otterden, Kent, and was baptised on 3 Feb. 1610, taking his christian name from his mother's brother, Sir Justinian Lewin, knt. He was admitted a fellow-commoner at Christ's College, Cambridge, on 18 April 1627, and subsequently contributed 20l. towards the new buildings of his college (May 1640). He was married on 10 Nov. 1634 to Jane, eldest daughter of Sir John Garrard, bart., of Lamer, Hertfordshire; but his wife died in childbirth on 4 March 1638, and Isham became one of the suitors of Dorothy Osborne. The earnestness and persistency of his suit did not make a favourable impression upon the lady, who nicknamed him ‘The Emperor,’ laughed at his vanity and pompousness, and finally declared that she would rather ‘chose a chain to lead her apes in’ than marry him. On the other hand, however, Miss Osborne frequently mentions ‘Sir Jus's’ learning. She describes him to Sir William Temple as ‘that one of her servants’ whom Temple liked the best, and she showed herself by no means best pleased on the occasion of his second marriage (Dorothy Osborne's Letters, ed. Parry, passim). Isham appears in fact to have been a man of culture, and seems to have laid the foundation of the present library at Lamport Hall, Northamptonshire. Brian Duppa [q. v.], bishop of Salisbury, was a frequent correspondent of his, and answered in a letter, still extant, some inquiries which Isham made respecting the disposition of Selden's books after his death (Hist. MSS. Comm. 3rd Rep. App. p. 255). Loans to the king as well as fines to the parliament had greatly injured the Isham estates when in 1651 Sir Justinian succeeded to the baronetcy. He had been detained in prison for a short time during 1649 as a delinquent, and he was now forced to compound for the estate of Shangton in Leicestershire, which had been bought by his father in 1637 by a payment of 1,106l. (Cal. of Advance of Money, ed. Green, i. 485). After the Restoration he was elected M.P. for Northamptonshire in the parliament which met in 1661. He died at Oxford, whither he had gone to place his two sons at Christ Church, on 2 March 1674, and was buried in the family burial place on the north side of the chancel in Lamport Church, where there is a long Latin inscription to his memory (see Le Neve, Monumenta Anglicana, ii. 163). There is a portrait of the baronet at Lamport Hall by John Baptista.

Isham's second wife, whom he married in 1653, was Vere, daughter of Thomas, lord Leigh of Stoneleigh, by Mary, daughter of Sir Thomas Egerton. Four children by her survived him: Sir Thomas, noticed below, third baronet; Sir Justinian, fourth baronet (d. 1730); Mary (d. 1679), who married Sir Marmaduke Dayrell of Castle Camps, Cambridgeshire; and Vere, an erudite young lady, ‘learned beyond her sex and years in mathematicks and algebra,’ who died in 1674, aged 19. There also survived him three daughters by his first wife: Elizabeth (d. 1734), who married Sir Nicholas L'Estrange of Hunstanton, Norfolk, second baronet, and nephew of Sir Roger L'Estrange [q. v.]; Judith, who died unmarried, and was buried in Westminster Abbey 22 May 1679; and Susanna, who was married on 4 May 1656 to Sir Nicholas Carew, kt.

Isham, Sir Thomas (1657–1681), third baronet, eldest son of the above, was born at Lamport on 15 March 1657. When still a boy he wrote a diary in Latin by the command of his father. This diary, which gives a vivid picture of the everyday doings of a family of the period, was translated and privately printed (1875) by the Rev. Robert Isham, rector of Lamport, where the original is still preserved. Isham succeeded to the baronetcy upon the death of his father in 1674, and shortly afterwards proceeded with his tutor, the Rev. Zacheus Isham [q. v.], upon an extended tour on the continent, especially in Italy, whence he brought numerous art treasures to Lamport. He died unmarried in London, and was buried at Lamport on 9 Aug. 1681. There are several portraits of Sir Thomas Isham at Lamport Hall, including one by Lely, which was engraved by Loggan, and is noticed in Granger's ‘Biographical History,’ iii. 393, where Isham is described as ‘a young gentleman of great expectations.’

[Bridges's Northamptonshire, ed. Whalley, ii. 112; Collins's English Baronetage, 1741, ii. 40; Foster's Peerage; Burke's Royal Descents; information kindly supplied by the Rev. H. Isham Longden. There are some interesting memoranda of the Isham family, transcribed from a notebook of Sir John, first baronet, in the Genealogist, ii. 241, iii. 274; and a full pedigree of the family is given in Hill's History of Langton, p. 216; see also Addit. MS. 29603.]

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