WALTHAM, Henry (1581-c.1647), of Weymouth, Dorset
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Family and Education
b. 1581,1 s. of ?William Waltham (d.1629) of Weymouth, merchant and Margaret Gregory.2 m. 24 Aug. 1607, Sarah (bur. 14 Oct. 1642), da. of John Bond, merchant, of Melcombe Regis and Lutton, Dorset, 7s. (2 d.v.p.) 4da. (2 d.v.p.).3 d. by 29 Jan. 1647.4 sig. Henry Waltham.
Waltham’s father was probably a merchant who began his career at Exeter, Devon, but then settled at Weymouth, where he served three times as mayor.8 By 1608 Waltham himself was exporting Dorset cloth and Newfoundland fish to France, Spain and Portugal. In the mid-1620s he was reportedly paying £800 or £900 a year in customs dues, and he claimed to be employing over 200 people. However, by that time he was dealing exclusively with France, and must therefore have been hit hard by the protracted cross-Channel trade embargo which began in 1625.9 Waltham also inadvertently incurred the government’s displeasure that year by taking temporary charge of three chests of Spanish reals brought into Weymouth on a Flemish ship. Although he acted with the authority of the local customs officials, he was accused by the mayor of seeking to misappropriate this bullion, worth £1,600. After ignoring several government orders to hand over the money, Waltham was arrested in July, but his conduct was vindicated when the Crown shortly afterwards agreed terms with the cargo’s owners.10 Nevertheless, he was bound over to see that the money was delivered to the royal Mint, and was again arrested in November 1626 on suspicion of detaining £550. Waltham indignantly rejected this charge, but had still not released the final £300 five months later.11
Waltham sat for Weymouth in the 1628-9 Parliament. Although he left no mark on the records of either session, he was instructed by the corporation in May 1628 to petition the Privy Council for a supply of powder and shot to bolster the borough’s defences.12
With his normal mercantile ventures disrupted by war, Waltham turned to privateering, securing letters of marque in 1627 and 1630 for ships of 100 and 140 tons respectively.13 He was also licensed in November 1628 to export wheat to Ireland.14 By 1634 Waltham was apparently on bad terms with the Weymouth customs officers, and he testified against them in an Exchequer suit over local smuggling. In addition to asserting that his former associate, John Gardner, had previously colluded with Weymouth merchants to defraud the Crown, he quoted a junior official as stating that ‘there was no customs due unto His Majesty unless the same were confirmed by Act of Parliament’, a damaging allusion to the ongoing dispute over Tunnage and Poundage.15 Waltham should be distinguished from a namesake, an early American settler who was engaged in 1635 to promote the New England fisheries.16
Waltham’s wife, a sister of Denis Bond†, died early in the Civil War. His own date of death is unknown, and no will or administration grant has been found. He was certainly dead by 29 Jan. 1647, when his son Henry was admitted to the freedom of the borough in his stead. Henry, who had taken up arms for Parliament, sat for Weymouth in the 1660 Convention.17
Ref Volumes: 1604-1629
Authors: John. P. Ferris / Paul Hunneyball
- 1. W.M. Barnes, ‘Commonplace Bk. of a Dorsetshire Man’, Procs. Dorset Nat. Hist. and Antiquarian Field Club, xvi. 65.
- 2. Dorset RO, P243/RE1; Hutchins, Dorset, ii. 459.
- 3. Hutchins, i. 602; Dorset RO, P243/RE2.
- 4. Weymouth and Melcombe Regis Min. Bk. ed. M. Weinstock (Dorset Rec. Soc. i), 61.
- 5. C66/2108/5.
- 6. Hutchins, ii. 431, 438.
- 7. Weymouth and Melcombe Regis Min. Bk. 11, 22.
- 8. Spanish Co. ed. P. Croft (London Rec. Soc. ix), 43; H.J. Moule, Docs. of Bor. of Weymouth and Melcombe Regis, 53, 133, 137.
- 9. E190/869/6; CSP Dom. 1625-6, p. 501; SP16/4/71.
- 10. CSP Dom. 1625-6, p. 67; SP16/4/11, 30, 70-1, 95; APC, 1625-6, pp. 118-19, 124; 1627, p. 224.
- 11. APC, 1625-6, p. 126; 1626, pp. 242-3; 1627, pp. 223-4; SP16/42/51.
- 12. Weymouth and Melcombe Regis Min. Bk. 13.
- 13. CSP Dom. 1628-9, p. 303; 1629-31, p. 471.
- 14. APC, 1628-9, p. 245.
- 15. E134/9&10 Chas.I/Hil. 39.
- 16. J. Savage, Genealog. Dictionary of First Settlers in New Eng. iv. 404.
- 17. Hutchins, i. 602; Weymouth and Melcombe Regis Min. Bk. 61; HP Commons, 1660-90, iii. 665-6.