SKEFFINGTON, Sir Richard (by 1593-1647), of Fisherwick, Staffs.; later of Hawksyard, Armitage, Staffs. and Earl Street ward, Coventry, Warws.
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Family and Education
b. by 1593,1 2nd s. of Sir William Skeffington, 1st bt. (d.1635) of Fisherwick, Staffs. and Elizabeth, da. of Sir Richard Dering of Pluckley, Kent; bro. of Sir John*. educ. fell. comm., Magdalene, Camb. 1615. m. 27 July 1626 (?with £1,600), Anne (d. 21 May 1637), da. of Sir John Newdigate of Arley, Warws., 4s. 3da. kntd. 20 Aug. 1624. d. 2 June 1647. 2
Capt. militia ft., Lichfield, Staffs. early 1620s;3 commr. assessment, Staffs. 1643-d., Warws. and Coventry 1645, sequestration of delinquents, Staffs. 1643, levying money 1643, New Model Ordinance, Warws. and Coventry 1645.4
Considered ‘a most noble, holy man’ by Richard Baxter, Skeffington ‘spent his youth in the study of the liberal arts’, or so his funeral monument claims.5 A younger son, he lived at Fisherwick, near Lichfield, with his father until the latter’s death in 1635. Part of a godly circle that included his Warwickshire neighbours, the Newdigates of Arley, to whom he was distantly related, during the early 1620s he frequently dined with John Newdigate* at the Inner Temple, and was friendly with John’s younger brother, Richard, whom he employed as his lawyer.6 He fell dangerously ill in July 1622, but recovered and was knighted two years later in Warwickshire during the king’s summer progress.7 Elected in 1625 junior burgess for Tamworth, probably on the interest of Staffordshire’s lord lieutenant, Robert Devereux, 3rd earl of Essex, to whom he owed his captaincy of a company of foot, he played no recorded part in the Parliament’s proceedings.
In 1626 Skeffington married John and Richard Newdigate’s 18-year old sister Anne. He subsequently leased some land from the Newdigates, who in turn purchased his sheep.8 In November 1634 Skeffington paid £4,000 for the manor of Hawksyard, in south-east Staffordshire, which became his seat.9 By 1637 he was also living in Coventry. That same year Anne died, but it was not Skeffington who erected a monument to her memory but her aged admirer, Sir William Bulstrode*, who described Skeffington as ‘that true moaning turtle’.10
Though essentially peace loving, Skeffington sided with Parliament during the Civil War, and was active on the Staffordshire and Warwickshire county committees. In January 1646 he was instructed to help exploit royalist divisions in Lichfield.11 Returned as a recruiter Member for Staffordshire in August, he rapidly became disillusioned with politics, and retired to Broxbourne, in Hertfordshire, near his sister’s house. He drew up his will on 27 Apr. 1647, by which time he was ill,12 and died five weeks later at Broxbourne. He was subsequently buried in the parish church, where a monument was erected. Skeffington’s eldest son inherited the Fisherwick estate on the death of his cousin in 1652, and represented counties Down, Antrim and Armagh in the 1659 Parliament.
Ref Volumes: 1604-1629
Author: Andrew Thrush
- 1. Minimum age suggested by his participation in a legal transaction on 6 July 1614: E44/321.
- 2. V. Larminie, Wealth, Kinship and Culture: the Seventeenth Cent. Newdigates (RHS Studs. in Hist. lxxii), 74; R. Clutterbuck, Hist. and Antiqs. of Herts. ii. 67; S. Shaw, Hist. and Antiqs. of Staffs. (1798), i. 366; CB sub Skeffington, Sir William; J. Lodge, Peerage of Ire. iii. 61-2; Al. Cant.; Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 186.
- 3. Larminie, 75.
- 4. A. and O. i. 94, 116, 235, 543, 620, 641.
- 5. A. Hughes, Pols. Soc. and Civil War in Warws. 1620-60, p. 178; Clutterbuck, ii. 67.
- 6. Larminie, 75; C2/Chas.I/S117/52.
- 7. Warws. RO, CR 136/B225; J. Nichols, Progs. of Jas. I, iv. 1000.
- 8. Warws. RO, CR 136/B617, 629; Larminie, 74-6.
- 9. C2/Chas.I/S36/68; 2/Chas.I/S117/52.
- 10. Lodge, ii. 61.
- 11. CSP Dom. 1645-7, p. 352.
- 12. PROB 11/214, ff. 28-9v.