Open main menu


WlLLOUGHBY, FRANCIS, fifth Baron Willoughby of Parham (1613?–1666), son of William, third baron Willoughby of Parham, by Frances, daughter of John Manners, fourth earl of Rutland, was born about 1613. His great-great-grandfather, Sir William Willoughby of Parham, was nephew of William Willoughby, ninth baron Willoughby de Eresby, whose daughter Katharine, duchess of Suffolk, married as her second husband Richard Bertie, and was mother of Peregrine Bertie, eleventh baron Willoughby de Eresby [q. v.] Sir William was created first baron Willoughby of Parham in Suffolk on 20 Feb. 1546–7, and died in August 1574. His son Charles, second baron, is frequently confused (e.g. in indexes to Cal. State Papers, Dom., Cal. Hatfield MSS., and Leycester Correspondence) with his cousin, Peregrine Bertie; he was grandfather of William, third baron Willoughby of Parham, who died on 28 Aug. 1617, and was succeeded by his eldest son Henry. Henry died about 1618, when little more than five years old, and the title passed to his younger brother, Francis (Collins, Peerage, ed. Brydges, vi. 613).

In 1636 Francis Willoughby complained of partiality in the levying of ship-money in Lincolnshire; in 1639 he answered with a great lack of zeal the king's summons to serve against the Scots; in the summer of 1640 his name was attached to some copies of the petition of the twelve peers to the king which led to the calling of the Long parliament. Though not at all conspicuous among the opposition, it is evident he was disaffected to the government (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1636–7, 1638–9 p. 435, 1640 p. 641). When the breach between the king and the parliament widened, Willoughby was appointed by the latter lord-lieutenant of the district of Lindsey in Lincolnshire, and, in defiance of the king's direct orders, put into execution the militia ordinance (Lords' Journals, iv. 587, v. 115, 127, 155). He was given command of a regiment of horse under the Earl of Essex, but arrived too late to take part in the battle of Edgehill (Peacock, Army Lists, p. 48; Whitelocke, Memorials, i. 187). On 9 Jan. 1643 he was made, by a special ordinance, lord-lieutenant and commander-in-chief in Lincolnshire ({{sc|Husband}, Ordinances, 1643, p. 834). On 16 July 1643 he surprised Gainsborough and took prisoner the Earl of Kingston, but was immediately besieged there by the royalists. Cromwell and Sir John Meldrum [q. v.] defeated the besiegers (28 July) and threw some powder into the town, but Willoughby was obliged to surrender on 30 July (Mercurius Aulicus, 27 July–3 Aug. 1643; Life of Col. Hutchinson, i. 217, 223; Carlyle, Cromwell, letters xii. xiv.). A few days later he was forced to abandon Lincoln also, and to retire to Boston, which he expected to be unable to hold. ‘Without we be masters of the field,’ he wrote to Cromwell, ‘we shall be pulled out by the ears one after another’ (cf. Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, 1899, p. 53). Lincolnshire was added to the eastern association on 20 Sept. 1643, and recovered by Manchester's victory at Winceby on 11 Oct. Willoughby joined Manchester just before the battle, and captured Bolingbroke Castle in Lincolnshire on 14 Nov. 1643 (Vicars, God's Ark, pp. 44, 67). In March 1644 he took part in Sir John Meldrum's abortive attempt to capture Newark, and the ill success of the siege was freely attributed to the refusal of Willoughby's men to obey Meldrum (A Brief Relation of the Siege of Newark, 1643, 4to).

Willoughby's military career closed in a series of quarrels. On 22 Jan. 1644 Cromwell complained to the House of Commons of the license which Willoughby tolerated among his troops (Sanford, Studies and Illustrations of the Great Rebellion, p. 580; Mercurius Aulicus, 2 April 1644). Angry at this, and at his supersession by Manchester, Willoughby sent Manchester a challenge, for which, as a breach of privilege, he was obliged to ask the pardon of the House of Lords (Lords' Journals, vi. 405, 409, 413). He succeeded in getting Lieutenant-colonel Bury censured and Colonel Edward King committed to Newgate for their criticisms of his conduct as a general; but King was released by order of the House of Commons (ib. vi. 528, 531, 557, 571–6, 595, 600, 605, 612). In consequence of these personal slights he became bitterly dissatisfied. ‘We are all hasting to an early ruin,’ was his view of public affairs in 1644. ‘Nobility and gentry are going down apace’ (Hist. MSS. Comm. 4th Rep. p. 268; Whitelocke, ii. 366). In December 1645 parliament voted that the king should be asked to make Willoughby an earl, and employed him as one of its commissioners to the Scottish army (Whitelocke, i. 541, 548). Clarendon describes him as of great esteem among the presbyterians, ‘though not tainted with their principles’ (Rebellion, xi. 35). In 1647 he was one of the leaders of that party in parliament, and on 30 July 1647, after the secession of the independent members of the two houses, he was elected speaker of the lords in place of Manchester (Rushworth, vi. 652). When the independents and the army triumphed, he was one of the seven lords impeached on 8 Sept. 1647, and remained for four months in prison. On 19 Jan. 1648 the lords released the accused peers on the ground that no charge had been presented against them. Articles of impeachment were sent up to the House of Lords on 1 Feb. 1648, which ordered Willoughby to give bail for his appearance to answer them. He declined to give bail (Feb. 6), fled to Holland, and openly joined the royalists (Lords' Journals, ix. 667, x. 11, 34; Whitelocke, ii. 270).

In May 1648, when the fleet in the Downs revolted from the parliament, Willoughby was made its vice-admiral by the Duke of York, and continued in that office by the Prince of Wales, ‘though he had never been at sea or was at all known to the seamen.’ This appointment, which was attributed either to an intrigue of Colonel Bampfield or to the designs of Lord Jermyn, greatly dissatisfied the royalists, but was welcomed with joy by the presbyterians (Clarendon, Rebellion, xi. 34–6; Nicholas Papers, i. 97; Hamilton Papers). ‘Willoughby is most honest and wholly Scots,’ wrote Lauderdale; ‘he solely engaged on our interest.’ The prince also commissioned Willoughby to command in five of the eastern counties where it was hoped that a landing would be effected. But the crews were insubordinate, the fleet ill provided, and the prince's council torn by dissensions. ‘He stayed on board,’ says Clarendon, ‘purely out of duty to the king, though he liked neither the place he had nor the people over whom he was to command, who had yet more respect for him than anybody else,’ and he was glad to resign his post to Prince Rupert (November 1648; ib. pp. 221, 229, 249; Clarendon, xi. 139, 149).

Willoughby's estates were sequestered by parliament (25 Dec. 1649) for his adherence to the king's cause, and 2,000l. voted for his arrears of pay was converted to other uses (Cal. of Committee of Compounding, p. 1838; Lords' Journals, ix. 38, 57, 378). ‘Since all is gone at home,’ said he, ‘it is time to provide elsewhere for a being,’ and turned to the colonies. On 26 Feb. 1647 he had made with the second Earl of Carlisle, the proprietor of Barbados, an agreement by which Carlisle leased to him for twenty-one years the profits arising from the island, half of which were to go to the payment of Carlisle's debts, and the other half to Willoughby himself. Carlisle promised also to endeavour to get him a commission as governor from the king, which was now procured. Willoughby arrived at Barbados on 29 April 1650, was received as governor on 7 May, and caused Charles II to be proclaimed the same day (Cal. State Papers, American and West Indies, 1574–1660, p. 327; Clarendon, Continuation, § 1287; Darnell Davis, Cavaliers and Roundheads of Barbadoes, p. 159). He found the colony half ruined by the dissensions of the two parties, pursued a conciliatory policy, ousted the extreme royalists from power, ‘and was welcomed as a blessing sent from God’ [cf. art. Walrond, Humphrey]. Hearing that parliament was sending an expedition to reduce the island, he published a remarkable declaration (18 Feb. 1651) denying the right of a body in which the islanders were not represented either to make laws for them or to restrict their commerce. ‘If ever they get the island,’ he wrote to his wife, ‘it shall cost them more than it is worth. … Let me entreat thee to leave off persuasions to submit to them who so unjustly, so wickedly, have ruined me and mine.’ Already he contemplated establishing himself in Surinam as a last refuge, and sent men to found a settlement there, who reported it ‘the sweetest place that ever was seen’ (ib. p. 197; Cary, Memorials of the Civil War, ii. 312; Grey, Answer to Neal's Puritans, iv. 27, appendix). In October 1651 Sir George Ayscue arrived with a parliamentary fleet, and in December effected a landing. Defections followed, and in January Willoughby was forced to treat, for fear, as he said, lest further fighting ‘should turn the face of a country so flourishing and such an honour to our nation into desolation.’ By the treaty, signed 11 Jan. 1652, Barbados acknowledged the sovereignty of the parliament, and by the sixteenth article Willoughby was promised the restoration of his estates in England and the free enjoyment of his property in Barbados, Antigua, and Surinam. But an act of the assembly passed on 4 March 1652 required him to leave Barbados within eight days, and not to return to it again (Darnell Davis, pp. 220–56).

Willoughby arrived in England in August 1652, and his estate was duly discharged from sequestration (1 Sept. 1652), though he could not obtain his back rents or his arrears of pay (Cal. of Committee of Compounding, p. 1840).

In 1654 the king wrote urging him ‘to be ready upon any great occasion,’ and in the spring of 1655 he took an active part in the preparations for a general royalist rising (Cal. Clarendon Papers, ii. 345, 413; Nicholas Papers, ii. 218–22). Imprisoned for plotting in June 1655, and again in March 1656, he was offered his liberty in November 1656 if he would give security to the amount of 10,000l. that he would embark for Surinam within six months, but, though released, he never went (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1655 p. 588, 1655–6 p. 580; ib. Col. 1574–1660, pp. 414, 461, 467). In June 1659 he was again eagerly promoting a new rising, and promising for his part to secure Lynn for the king (Hist. MSS. Comm. 10th Rep. vi. 206–11).

At the Restoration Willoughby was paid the 2,000l. still due to him for his services to the Long parliament, and obtained the reversion of some crown lands in Lincolnshire from the king (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1660–1, pp. 502, 578; Lords' Journals, xi. 149). In spite of some opposition from the colonists themselves, he was restored to the government of Barbados, and also made governor of St. Kitts, Nevis, Montserrat, and Antigua. Half the crown revenue from Barbados and half that from the Caribbee Islands were granted to him. He received also, jointly with Lawrence Hyde, a grant of the whole of Surinam in free socage, excepting thirty thousand acres reserved for the king (Cal. State Papers, Col. 1574–1660 pp. 483, 486, 489, 1661–8 pp. 114, 131, 139, 140). Willoughby arrived at Barbados on 10 Aug. 1663. His government was vigorous and arbitrary. One of his first acts was to arrest Walrond, the president of the council, for embezzlement, and to appropriate Walrond's house as his own official residence. He deprived Sir Robert Harley, the keeper of the seal, of his post on the ground of extortion and negligence. With the assembly of Barbados he carried on a long struggle, in the course of which Willoughby dissolved the assembly, arrested Samuel Farmer, its speaker, ‘a great Magna Charta man,’ and shipped him home to be punished. Petitions against his conduct met with no countenance in England, Charles gave him his full confidence, and Clarendon's steady support of his arbitrary acts was one of the charges against the chancellor at his impeachment (ib. 1661–8, pp. 295, 309, 317, 339, 364; Clarendon, Continuation, §§ 1287–1308). On the other hand, by his persistent representations of the hardships which the Navigation Act inflicted upon Barbados, Willoughby succeeded in getting its non-observance connived at by the home government (Cal. State Papers, Col. 1661–8, pp. 167, 179, 234, 264). In spite of the limited means at his disposal, he maintained and even extended British possessions in the contest with Holland and France. He occupied for a time both St. Lucia and Tobago, though neither could be permanently held. Barbados beat off an attack from De Ruyter in April 1665, but the English part of St. Kitts fell into the hands of the French in April 1666. Willoughby got together a small expedition and started to retake it, but was lost at sea on board the ship Hope about the end of July 1666 (ib;;. 1661–8, pp. 410, 412, 414).

Willoughby married, about 1628, Elizabeth, third daughter and coheir of Edward Cecil, viscount Wimbledon [q. v.] She died in March 1661, and was buried at Knaith in Lincolnshire (see A Saint's Monument, &c., by William Firth, chaplain to Lord Willoughby, 1662, 12mo). Of their two sons, Robert, the elder, died in February 1630, and William, the second, on 13 March 1661. Of their three daughters, Diana became the wife of Heneage Finch, second earl of Winchilsea [q. v.], and died without issue; Frances married William, third lord Brereton, of Loughglinn, co. Roscommon; Elizabeth married Richard Jones, first earl of Ranelagh (Collins, Peerage, iii. 384, vi. 613; Dalton, Life of Sir Edward Cecil, ii. 365). By his will, dated 17 July 1666, Willoughby left the greater part of his property in the colonies to the two last-named daughters and their children.

He was succeeded in the peerage by his brother, William Willoughby, sixth Baron Willoughby of Parham (d. 1673). ‘My brother,’ said the latter, ‘hath dealt unkindly with me, but I forgive him; he has done so by himself by giving large legacies out of little or nothing; I shall only say he was honest and careless, for he hath left little behind him’ (Cal. State Papers, Col. 1661–8, pp. 398, 465). On 3 Jan. 1667 Willoughby was on his own petition appointed to succeed his brother as governor of Barbados and the Caribbee Islands (ib. p. 437). He arrived there in April 1667, and by his firm and conciliatory conduct gained immediate popularity. Antigua and Montserrat were regained, the French expelled from Cayenne, and Surinam recaptured from the Dutch. In 1671 Willoughby, being in England, defeated an attempt to impose an additional duty on sugar, which would have ruined Barbados, and he was praised by the representatives of the colony in London as ‘wonderfully affectionate and zealous in all their concerns.’ He returned to Barbados in October 1672, despatched an expedition which recaptured Tobago from the Dutch in December 1672, and died on 10 April 1673 (ib. pp. 437, 454, 619, 1669–74 pp. 213, 366, 453, 493). By his marriage with Anne, daughter of Sir Philip Cary of Hunslet in Yorkshire, he left a numerous family, of whom the eldest, George, became seventh Baron Willoughby, and John and Charles were the ninth and tenth holders of that title. Another son, Henry, was lieutenant-general under his uncle and his father in the West Indies, retook Surinam in October 1667, was subsequently governor of Antigua, and died in December 1669 (ib. p. 204; Collins, Peerage, vi. 613).

[Collins's Peerage, ed. Brydges; Darnell Davis's Cavaliers and Roundheads of Barbadoes, Georgetown, British Guiana, 1887; Schomburgk's History of Barbadoes, 1848, pp. 268–294; Calendars of Colonial State Papers; Addit. MS. 11411, ff. 55–63.]

C. H. F.