DIXIE, Sir Wolstan (c.1576-1650), of Market Bosworth, Leics.
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Family and Education
b. c.1576, 1st s. of John Dixie, yeoman of Catworth, Hunts. and Charity, da. of Thomas Henson of Oundle, Northants.1 educ. G. Inn 1595.2 m. 31 Aug. 1598,3 Frances, da. of Sir Thomas Beaumont I* of Stoughton Grange, Leics., 4s. 4da. (2 d.v.p.)4 suc. gt.-uncle Sir Wolstan Dixie 1594;5 kntd. 12 May 1604.6 d. 25 July 1650.7
J.p. Leics. 1604-at least 1641;8 commr. subsidy, Leics. 1605-8, 1621-2, 1624-5, 1641-2,9 aid 1609;10 collector, fifteenth, Leics. 1608, 1625, aid 1613;11 sheriff, Leics. 1614-15;12 commr. to inquire into the estate of Newark hospital, Leics. 1616,13 lands of Sir Griffith Markham, Leics. 1619, lands of Sir Henry Beaumont, Leics. 1622;14 dep. lt., Leics. 1625-at least 1635;15 commr. Forced Loan, Leics. 1627,16 swans, Midlands counties 1627,17 Crown debts, various counties 1628;18 commr. and collector, knighthood fines, Leics. 1630-4;19 commr. oyer and terminer, Midland circ. 1639-42,20 array, Leics. 1642.21
Although Dixie came from a yeoman family of Huntingdonshire, his great-uncle, Sir Wolstan, made a fortune in the City as a merchant. Lord Mayor of London in 1585-6, Sir Wolstan acquired the manor of Market Bosworth in west Leicestershire after the 3rd earl of Huntingdon defaulted on a mortgage.22 In 1592 Sir Wolstan, having no children of his own, entailed Market Bosworth and other lands on Dixie,23 whose ‘custody and education’ he entrusted to his widow. Dixie’s father, who was still alive at the time, was bequeathed just £200.24 Nothing more is heard of him thereafter.
Dixie inherited his great-uncle’s estate in 1594. Four years later he consolidated his position in his adopted county by marrying the daughter of Sir Thomas Beaumont I*, a member of a long established Leicestershire family. He subsequently purchased further property in the county before settling permanently in Market Bosworth in 1608.25 Like his father-in-law, Dixie seems to have supported for a time the anti-Hastings faction in Leicestershire, opposing in 1611 the addition to the county bench of Sir John Bale, a henchman of the 5th earl of Huntingdon. However he may have become reconciled to the earl after the death of Beaumont in 1614.26 Dixie was probably elected to Parliament for Leicestershire in 1625 with Huntingdon’s support, as the earl appointed him one of his deputy lieutenants in the following September.27 He was named to one committee, for a bill to prevent the conversion of arable land into pasture on 1 August. This was ironic, as the Leicestershire depopulation commissioners had presented him for this very offence in 1607.28 In addition, he was granted privilege on 5 July over a case in Chancery.29
Having served his turn as knight of the shire, Dixie was replaced in 1626 by another Huntingdon supporter, Francis Staresmore. On 15 Jan. 1627 Dixie agreed to pay £12 towards the Forced Loan at the initial meeting of Leicestershire’s commissioners for the levy, although five years earlier he had been summoned before the Privy Council for refusing to pay the Palatinate Benevolence.30 He was subsequently active in raising the Loan.31 Early in 1628, when Huntingdon’s son Ferdinando, Lord Hastings* was a candidate for the county, Dixie helped to arrange a truce with the Grey faction, and made careful preparations for a good muster of freeholders.32 A few months later Sir Henry Shirley, a wealthy Leicestershire baronet, was summoned before the Lords to answer charges of slandering Huntingdon. One of the accusations involved Dixie, who was cited by Shirley as being the source for his accusation that £500 raised for the Leicestershire militia by the earl of Huntingdon was unaccounted for. However, when pressed, Shirley admitted that he was in fact repeating what he had been told by one of his tenants rather than a conversation with Dixie. It seems unlikely that Dixie was, in fact, the source of this accusation, as he had defended Huntingdon against a similar accusation of financial impropriety raised in November 1626 by Sir William Faunte, a Leicestershire magistrate. Moreover, when Shirley had raised the issue at a public meeting at Leicester concerning the Forced Loan in January 1627, Dixie had again defended the earl.33
In 1631 Dixie successfully appealed to (Sir) John Coke* to avoid having to compound for his enclosures. That same year he also brought a case in Chancery against one of his neighbours for breaking an agreement to enclose Bosworth and two other manors.34 Although too old and infirm to take an active role in the Civil War, Dixie, together with his son, contributed nearly £2,000 for the king’s cause. A grateful monarch issued a warrant for a baronetcy in March 1645, either for Dixie or his heir, but it was not executed until the Restoration. In the meantime his son paid £1,835 to the victorious Parliament as a fine for delinquency. Dixie died in June 1650 and his will, dated 21 June 1644, was proved on 20 Sept. following. None of his descendants sat in Parliament.35
Ref Volumes: 1604-1629
Authors: Paula Watson / Ben Coates
- 1. Nichols, County of Leicester, iv. 506.
- 2. GI Admiss.
- 3. St. James Clerkenwell (Harl. Soc. Regs. xiii), 22.
- 4. Nichols, iv. 506; PROB 11/213, f. 264.
- 5. PROB 11/83, ff. 1-5v; Abstracts of Inquisitiones Post Mortem for the City of London ed. E.A. Fry (Brit. Rec. Soc. xxxvi), 181-6.
- 6. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 132.
- 7. CB, iii. 85.
- 8. Add. 38139, f. 137v; C66/2859.
- 9. STAC 8/55/26; SP14/31/1; C212/22/20-1, 23; Cal. of Herrick Fam. Pprs. ed. P.M. Pugh (NRA 17342), p. 102; SR, v. 85, 153.
- 10. SP14/43/107.
- 11. E179/283/6, 17; E403/2732, f. 87v.
- 12. List of Sheriffs comp. A. Hughes (PRO, L. and I. ix), 75.
- 13. HMC 8th Rep. pt. 1 (1881), p. 418.
- 14. C181/2, f. 341; 181/3, f. 58.
- 15. HEHL, HAM Box 53(6), f. 133v; HEHL, HA2296.
- 16. C193/12/2, f. 28v.
- 17. C181/3, f. 227.
- 18. HMC Rutland, i. 485.
- 19. E178/7154, f. 147; 178/5404, f. 12; E198/4/32, f. 4v.
- 20. C181/5, f. 141v, 220v.
- 21. LJ, v. 147a.
- 22. Oxford DNB sub Dixie, Sir Wolstan 1524/5-1594; C. Cross, Puritan Earl, 68.
- 23. Abstracts of Inquisitiones Post Mortem for the City of London, 181-6.
- 24. PROB 11/83, f. 3r-v.
- 25. Nichols, iv. 430, 497, 573.
- 26. HEHL, HA4331.
- 27. HEHL, HAM Box 53(6), ff. 129v, 133v.
- 28. Procs. 1625, p. 375; ‘Depopulation Returns for Leics. in 1607’ ed. L.A. Parker, Trans. Leics. Arch. Soc. xxiii. 278-9.
- 29. Procs. 1625, pp. 313, 316.
- 30. SP14/127/82.
- 31. HMC Cowper, i. 296; T. Cogswell, Home Divisions, 142-3; SP16/79/84.
- 32. Procs 1628, vi. 154-5.
- 33. Lords Procs. 1628, v. 397; HEHL, HA2294; Cogswell, 143.
- 34. APC, 1630-1, p. 251; HMC Cowper, i. 430; C78/487/10; Cogswell, 235.
- 35. CCC, 110, 1991; CB, iii. 85; PROB 11/213, ff. 264-5v.