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Watson, Lewis (DNB00)


WATSON, Sir LEWIS, first Baron Rockingham (1584–1653), baptised in Rockingham church on 14 July 1584, was the elder son of Sir Edward Watson (d. 1 March 1615–16), by his wife Anne (d. 1611), daughter of Kenelm Digby of Stoke Dry, Rutland. The family of Watson was first established in Rockingham Castle about 1584, under Edward Watson (d. 1584), Lewis's grandfather. Lewis matriculated from Magdalen College, Oxford, on 24 May 1599, and in 1601 was entered as a student at the Middle Temple. On 19 Aug. 1608 he was knighted by James I. He was at that time a constant attendant at court, where he formed a fast friendship with George Villiers (afterwards Duke of Buckingham), and some years later became his security for a large sum of money. On 19 Sept. 1611 he received license to travel (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1611–18, p. 75). In 1614 he was returned to parliament for Lincoln, a borough for which he also sat in the parliaments summoned in 1621 and 1624. On 21 July 1619 he received Rockingham Castle in fee simple, having previously held it on knight's service. On 23 June 1621 he was created a baronet, and on 16 Feb. 1627–8 was included among those to whom an order of the privy council was addressed, directing them to prepare commissions of martial law and of oyer and terminer for the county of Northampton (ib. 1627–8, p. 567). In 1632–3 he filled the office of sheriff of Northamptonshire; in 1634 he obtained the mastership of the royal buckhounds; and in 1638 he became verderer of Rockingham and Brigstock.

On the outbreak of the civil war Sir Lewis sided with the king, though his zeal does not seem to have been very ardent, as he was summoned before the council by a warrant dated 11 Sept. 1640 as a delinquent for failing ‘to show a horse’ at the muster at Huntingdon (ib. 1640 p. 610, 1640–1 pp. 45, 85). Before Rockingham Castle could receive a royal garrison, it was seized on 19 March 1642–3 by Thomas Grey, baron Grey of Groby [q. v.], who placed in it a parliamentary force. In May 1643 Sir Lewis himself was arrested by the royalist colonel Henry Hastings (afterwards Lord Loughborough) [q. v.] on the charge of neglecting to hold Rockingham for the king, and was imprisoned in Belvoir Castle. He cleared himself with Charles, and took up his residence at Oxford. On 29 Jan. 1644–5 he was created Baron Rockingham of Rockingham. After the surrender of Oxford he compounded for his delinquency for 5,000l. (Cal. of Proc. of Committee for Compounding, pp. 1435–7). He died on 5 Jan. 1652–3, and was buried in Rockingham church. Rockingham was twice married: first, in 1609, to Catherine, daughter of Peregrine Bertie, lord Willoughby de Eresby [q. v.] She died in childbed on 15 Feb. 1610. He married, secondly, on 3 Oct. 1620, Eleanor, daughter of Sir George Manners of Haddon Hall, Derbyshire. She died on 23 Oct. 1679, and was buried at Rockingham on 9 Nov. By her he had one surviving son, Edward, second baron Rockingham, and six daughters. The second baron's third son, Thomas, was grandfather of Charles Watson-Wentworth, second marquis of Rockingham [q. v.]

[Wise's Rockingham Castle and the Watsons, 1891; G. E. C[okayne]'s Peerage.]

E. I. C.