WENMAN, Sir Richard (c.1573-1640), of Thame Park, Oxon. and Twyford, Bucks.
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Family and Education
b. c.1573, 1st s. of Thomas Wenman† of Thame Park and Jane, da. of William, 1st Bar. De La Warr.1 educ. Eton 1585; Oxf. 1587, aged 14 .2 m. (1) c.1595, Agnes (bur. 4 July 1617),3 da. of Sir George Fermor of Easton Neston, Northants., 4s. 5da.;4 (2) 1 Nov. 1618,5 Alice, da. and coh. of Henry Coddenham of London, auditor of imprests 1560-70, wid. of Robert Chamberlain of Shirburn, Oxon., s.p.;6 (3) Elizabeth (bur. 27 Apr. 1629), s.p.; (4) Mary (bur. 28 July 1638),7 da. and coh. of Thomas Keble of Newbottle, Northants., wid. of Thomas Barker of Astrop, Northants. and Michael Lister of Friars Head, Craven, Yorks., s.p.8 suc. fa. 1577;9 kntd. ?22 June 1596;10 cr. Visct. Wenman of Tuam [I] 30 July 1628.11 d. 3 Apr. 1640.12
J.p. Oxon. 1604-?6, 1618-?26;13 commr. sewers, Berks. and Oxon. 1604-34,14 subsidy, Oxon. 1621-2, 1624;15 dep. lt. Oxon. 1624,16 collector of Privy Seal loans 1626, Forced Loan 1627,17 sheriff 1627-8;18 commr. knighthood fines 1631.19
At the end of the fifteenth century the Wenmans were Oxfordshire wool merchants settled in the Witney area, but they rose to a leading position among the gentry of their county through a series of fortunate marriages.20 Wenman was knighted by Essex on the Cadiz expedition in 1596, and returned for Oxfordshire in 1597. His wife was a recusant, and after the Gunpowder Plot he came under suspicion as a result of her connection (through her friend Lady Vaux) with the Jesuit John Gerard.21 Wenman cleared himself, but he was omitted from the commission of the peace for some years. In his autobiography Gerard described Wenman as ‘a knight with a large estate, who hoped one day to become a baron, and is still hoping’ [c.1609].22 After the death of his wife, Wenman married a childless widow who, according to Chamberlain, decided to live in London all winter rather than ‘be troubled with his children’, and ‘to reserve £400 a year for her own maintenance, leaving him £800 a year to dispose of, besides £2,000 ready money and other implements that she brings with her’.23 A year later, however, one of her London neighbours reported that Lady Wenman had decided to ‘come no more to London, but live altogether in the country, and all here in St. Bartholomew’s are very glad of it’.24
Whatever her faults, Lady Wenman’s fortune enabled her husband to regain the county seat in 1620, after the lapse of almost a quarter of a century. He was named to committees to consider bills for the observance of the Sabbath (15 Feb. 1621) and the maintenance of the kingdom’s armaments (7 March).25 On 23 Apr. he recommended that Sir John Bennet* should be sent to the Tower pending investigation of his alleged corruption as a judge in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury.26 Three days later Wenman was appointed to a committee to arrange the business of the House.27 He was said to have been ‘the chief striver’ against the order of baronets.28 On 1 May he joined in the hue and cry against the Catholic lawyer Edward Floyd for insulting the king’s daughter.29 He left no mark on the records of the winter sitting, and was not returned again until 1625, when his only appointment was to the committee for privileges on 21 June.30
Wenman’s cravings for social elevation were at last satisfied in 1628 with an Irish viscountcy. He was excused from attending the Dublin Parliament of 1634, and sent a proxy.31 Having made his will on 15 Aug. 1638, he died on 3 Apr. 1640, and was buried at Twyford.32 His son Thomas* inherited his title and estates.
Ref Volumes: 1604-1629
Authors: Alan Davidson / Rosemary Sgroi
- 1. Lipscombe, Bucks. iii. 131-2.
- 2. Eton Coll. Reg. comp. W. Sterry, 354; Al. Ox.
- 3. Her. and Gen. ii. 521-3.
- 4. Vis. Oxon. (Harl. Soc. v), 179.
- 5. E.A. Webb, Recs. St. Bartholomew’s, Smithfield, ii. opp. 263.
- 6. Vis. Oxon. 237.
- 7. Her. and Gen. ii. 522.
- 8. Baker, Northants. i. 659.
- 9. C142/182/42.
- 10. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 93.
- 11. C66/2494.
- 12. C142/594/49.
- 13. C66/1620; C193/13/1; C231/4, f. 56.
- 14. C181/1, f. 85; 181/4, f. 179.
- 15. C212/22/20, 21, 23.
- 16. CSP Dom. 1623-5, p. 407.
- 17. APC, 1626, p. 168; E401/2586, p. 98; T. Rymer, Foedera, viii. pt. 2, p. 145.
- 18. List of Sheriffs comp. A. Hughes (PRO, L. and I. ix), 109.
- 19. E178/5588, ff. 4, 7, 10; E178/7154, ff. 156, 157.
- 20. VCH Oxon. vi. 127-8; vii. 177, 211; VCH Bucks. iv. 255; Parochial Collections (Oxon. Rec. Soc. xi), 346.
- 21. CSP Dom. 1603-10, pp. 240, 259, 266, 267; HMC Hatfield, xvii. 538; A. Davidson, ‘The Second Mrs. Sheldon’, Worcs. Recusant, xiv. 15-21.
- 22. J. Gerard, Autobiog. ed. P. Caraman, 169.
- 23. Chamberlain Letters ed. N.E. McClure, ii. 181-2.
- 24. C115/100/7526.
- 25. CJ, i. 523a, 543a.
- 26. CD 1621, iii. 57.
- 27. CJ, i. 592b.
- 28. CD 1621, iii. 104.
- 29. CJ, i. 588a; CD 1621, iii. 126.
- 30. Procs. 1625, p. 206.
- 31. CSP Ire. 1633-47, pp. 229, 256, 288.
- 32. PROB 11/182, f. 349; VCH Bucks. iv. 259.