WILLOUGHBY, Sir William (c.1566-1615), of Aston Rowant, Oxon., Great Marlow, Bucks. and Gray's Inn, London

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press



Family and Education

b. c.1566,1 2nd s. of William Willoughby (d.1587) of Normanton, Notts. and Nuneaton, Warws. and Margaret, da. of ?John Rotherham of Great Marlow.2 educ. G. Inn. 1584; ?called 1608.3 m. (1) by 1592, Katherine (d. 31 Mar. 1598), da. Richard Young of Rickmansworth, Herts. and Holborn, Mdx.,4 3s. (1 d.v.p.) 3da;5 (2) lic. 20 Apr. 1601, Elizabeth Peace of Langwith, Derbys., s.p.6 suc. fa. in Warws. estate 1587;7suc. uncle John Rotherham 1600;8 kntd. 12 July 1603;9 d. 29 Oct. 1615.10

Offices Held

J.p. Bucks. 1601-d.,11 Southwell liberty, Notts. 1606-d.;12 sheriff, Bucks. 1604-6;13 commr. subsidy, Bucks. and Notts. 1608.14


Willoughby’s family held property in Oxfordshire, Warwickshire and Nottinghamshire, and was distantly related to the Lincolnshire magnates, the lords Willoughby of Eresby.15 He should not be confused with a namesake from the Lincolnshire branch of the family, also knighted in 1603. However, it is just possible that he was the ‘Mr. Willoughby’ called to the bar of Gray’s Inn in 1608, as he gave his address as Gray’s Inn in 1598, although there were two other Willoughbys studying there at the time.16 Another namesake was alleged to have met Sir Edmund Baynham† and Robert Catesby in London shortly before the Gunpowder Plot, but this man was said to have been a Suffolk landowner, while the predestinarian preamble to the Member’s will makes it unlikely that he had Catholic sympathies.17

In his father’s will, Willoughby was bequeathed property in Nuneaton, Warwickshire, but the family’s main estate went to his elder brother, Gilbert.18 When the latter died in 1594, the wardship of his three-year-old son was sold to William Swayne, possibly the MP for Chippenham in 1589.19 Willoughby’s principal benefactor was his uncle John Rotherham, a Chancery six clerk,20 who made Willoughby his sole executor and bequeathed him the manors of Cublington, Buckinghamshire and Easthampstead, Berkshire, together with a 25-year lease of Aston Rowant, Oxfordshire and the mansion house of Seymours, in Great Marlow, Buckinghamshire, to be shared with Rotherham’s widow.21

Willoughby was resident at Seymours in 1602, when his property was valued at £40 in lands and goods, but later moved to Aston Rowant, purchasing the neighbouring manor of Kingston Blount from John Hungerford* for £8,200 in 1610. In the same year he also bought other lands later used to endow an annual £10 charity.22 On the strength of Rotherham’s legacy, Willoughby was appointed a Buckinghamshire magistrate in 1601, and two years later was knighted at Great Hampden, in Buckinghamshire. He is not known to have attended any of the county’s three parliamentary elections held that year.

Returned to the Commons in 1614 for Wootton Bassett, Wiltshire, Willoughby had no personal links with his constituency, and was presumably nominated by John Hungerford, from whom he had earlier bought Kingston Blount manor and who owned property within the borough. Willoughby was named to a single committee, for the bill to ascertain fines for settling Sir John Fortescue’s* manor at Winslow, Buckinghamshire, on his recusant son (Sir) Francis† (12 May).23

Willoughby sold various properties during his lifetime, including Easthampstead manor to Sir Richard Lovelace*.24 He passed Aston Rowant to his eldest son, Sir Rotherham, but this reverted to him after the latter’s death in 1613.25 In his will of 28 Oct. 1615, Willoughby gave the manor of South Muskham, Nottinghamshire, to his grandson William, while Sir Rotherham’s widow Lady Anne, who shortly thereafter married Sir George Morton*, had her jointure estate confirmed for life.26 Kingston Blount manor and the lease of Aston Rowant descended to Willoughby’s two surviving sons.27 Willoughby died on 29 Oct. 1615, whereupon the wardship of his grandson, William, was purchased for £1,000 by Morton.28 Neither of his sons sat in Parliament.

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Authors: Henry Lancaster / Simon Healy


Lincs. Peds. (Harl. Soc. lii), 770.

  • 1. Date of birth estimated from admiss. date to G. Inn.
  • 2. J. Throsby, Thoroton’s Hist. Notts. i. 12.
  • 3. GI Admiss.; PBG Inn, i. 183.
  • 4. Vis. Notts. (Harl. Soc. iv), 102; Burke Dorm. and Extinct Baronetcies, 571; PROB 11/94, f. 42; PROB 6/5, f. 88v; 6/6, f. 128.
  • 5. MI in All Saints, Great Marlow; Recs. of Bucks. vi. 340.
  • 6. Notts. Mar. Lics. (Brit. Rec. Soc. lviii), 17.
  • 7. C142/216/101.
  • 8. PROB 11/97, ff. 29-31.
  • 9. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 112.
  • 10. C142/349/161.
  • 11. C231/1, f. 106v; C66/1549/10d.
  • 12. C181/2, f. 22.
  • 13. List of Sheriffs comp. A. Hughes (PRO, L. and I. ix), 9.
  • 14. SP14/31/1, ff. 4, 33.
  • 15. Bk. of Fam. Crests, i. 501; ii. pl. 65, n. 19; Vis. Notts. 102.
  • 16. PBG Inn, i. 183; GI Admiss. (Francis Willoughby, Henry Willoughby).
  • 17. Shaw, ii. 102; HMC Hatfield, xvii. 490, 522; PROB 11/126, f. 257.
  • 18. PROB 11/72, f. 47; C142/220/26.
  • 19. C142/238/85; WARD 9/158, ff. 121v-2.
  • 20. T.D. Hardy, Principal Officers of Chancery, 106.
  • 21. VCH Bucks. iii. 73, 78, 97; PROB 11/97, f. 30; C142/253/100; 142/518/14.
  • 22. C142/372/150; VCH Oxon. viii. 25; VCH Bucks. iii. 76; Recs. of Bucks. viii. 197.
  • 23. CJ, i. 503a; C142/305/132; VCH Bucks. iii. 466.
  • 24. VCH Berks. iii. 78.
  • 25. C142/684/14.
  • 26. C142/372/150.
  • 27. PROB 11/126, f. 257.
  • 28. C142/349/161; WARD 9/162, f. 231v.