HOUGHTON, Sir Richard (1570-1630), of Houghton Tower and Walton, Lancs.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

b. 28 Sept. 1570, 1st s. of Thomas Houghton of Houghton Tower by Anne, da. of Henry Keighley of Keighley, Yorks. m. (?1) c.1590, Catherine, da. of Sir Gilbert Gerard, 5s. 8da.; (?2) Jane, da. of Thomas Spencer of Rufford, wid. of Robert Hesketh, 2s. suc. fa. 21 Nov. 1589. Kntd. 1598; cr. Bt. 1611.

Offices Held

J.p. Lancs. c.1593, sheriff 1598-9.


Houghton’s grandfather completed the building of Houghton Tower in 1565 on the summit of a hill four miles west of Blackburn. Its central tower was blown up in the civil war. In Houghton’s day the park was ‘much replenished with wild beasts’. The grandfather, a Catholic, went into exile in 1569, and his son Thomas, Richard’s father, was murdered in 1589 when Richard was still a minor. He became the ward of the master of the rolls, whose daughter he married, and who brought him to conform to the Anglican church. On 8 Feb. 1600 Houghton reported to Cecil that as sheriff he had apprehended a seminary priest at his brother-in-law’s house at Lancaster. That October his ‘great service’ in arresting seminary priests was praised by the bishop of Chester. As a knight of the shire in 1601 Houghton was a member of the main business committee (3 Nov.) and the committee on monopolies (23 Nov.).

Houghton entertained James I at Houghton Tower for three days on his journey south, when the entire avenue was carpeted in velvet. The diversions included hunting and a masque. After his wife’s death Houghton had two sons by Jane Hesketh, but it is not known whether they married. He was reprimanded by the King in 1622 because he ‘kept and maintained’ a lady named Penelope Hillyard. Houghton died on 12 Nov. 1630 and was succeeded by his son Gilbert, who inherited at least seven manors, over 300 houses and gardens, 100 orchards, and many thousands of acres of land. The house was restored in the nineteenth century.

VCH Lancs. vi. 40-3; Abram, Blackburn, 95-6, 625, 715, 718, 723-5; Stanley Pprs. (Chetham Soc. xxxi), 202; Leatherbarrow, Lancs. Eliz. Recusants, 142-3; HMC Hatfield, x. 30, 344; D’Ewes, 624, 649; CSP Dom. 1589-1601, p. 222; 1619-23, p. 145; Baines, Lancs. iv. 178 seq.; Wards 7/86/188; Gillow, Lord Burghley’s Map of Lancs. 1590, p. 14.

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: N.M.S.