WORSLEY, Sir Richard, 1st Bt. (1588-1621), of Appuldurcombe, I.o.W.
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Family and Education
b. 8 Dec. 1588,1 1st s. of Thomas Worsley of Appuldurcombe and Barbara, da. of William St. John† of Farley Chamberlayne, Hants.2 educ. Winchester Coll. Hants c.1600; Magdalen, Oxf. 1605.3 m. (settlement 8 Apr. 1610),4 Frances (d.1659),5 da. of Sir Henry Neville I* of Billingbear, Berks., 4s. 3da.6 suc. fa. 1604;7 kntd. 8 Feb. 1611;8 cr. bt. 29 June 1611.9 d. 26 June 1621.10
Originally descended from an old Lancashire gentry family, Worsley’s great-grandfather became captain of the Isle of Wight, and settled there after marrying a local heiress.16 Although not listed as a scholar, Worsley was said to have attended Winchester, and while there he lost an eye in an accident.17 He married ‘one of the handsomest little women that was in this kingdom’, and through the good offices of his father-in-law Sir Henry Neville, obtained a knighthood and a baronetcy. His friend Sir John Oglander* wrote that ‘he kept a very bountiful house, and gave great entertainment; lived in great repute in his country and very happily’. Worsley was particularly known for being ‘very merry, and a notable good fellow in company ... he delighted much in flinging of cushions at one another’s heads only in sport, and for exercise’, to the extent that Oglander feared he was ‘like to put forth his other eye’. Although Worsley ‘loved to keep a good table’, he was less concerned by his appearance, ‘not respecting good clothes’.18
Worsley may have been encouraged by Neville, who had advised James I to summon another Parliament as early as 1611, to stand at the next general election. On 19 Mar. 1614 the corporation of Newport, about seven miles from Appuldurcombe, unanimously awarded Worsley the freedom in preparation for his election, which took place ‘with a general consent’ 11 days later.19 He was appointed to committees to consider bills against false bail (16 Apr.) and clerical pluralism (12 May), and was instructed to attend the king on 29 May to help explain the forbearance of business by the Commons. His final appointment was to recommend ‘some course concerning the old debts’ due to the Crown (31 May).20 On his return from Westminster, Worsley presented Newport with a buck.21 In the following October, and also three years later, he was one of the principal subscribers to the fund established by Sir Thomas Fleming II* for a free school in Newport.22
Re-elected to the third Jacobean Parliament, Worsley’s first appointment was to consider a bill concerning hospitals (14 Feb. 1621).23 He took great interest in the debate about lighthouses and sea marks, and on 27 Feb. successfully moved to have the Dungeness patent examined by the House.24 On 21 Mar. he cleared the patentees of charging exorbitant fees, but five days later moved that while legislation was pending they should be allowed to levy only minimal charges, as they had agreed.25 He was subsequently named to the committee for the revised lighthouses bill (7 May).26 Although he had undertaken in March 1620 to help transport men and livestock to Virginia, Worsley supported the motion on 18 Apr. to ban all imports of tobacco into England.27 Two days later he was appointed to consider a bill concerning lawsuits in inferior courts (20 April).28 He argued on 1 May that the Fleet was not a fit prison for Edward Floyd, a Catholic lawyer who had slandered the king’s daughter, Elizabeth of Bohemia; he was presumably among those who wished to see the offender transferred to the Tower for punishment by order of the House.29
On his return to Appuldurcombe after the adjournment Worsley contracted smallpox, and died intestate on 26 June. He was buried in the church at Godshill, where he had founded a free school.30 His heir Sir Henry sat for Newport in the Short and Long Parliaments until Pride’s Purge, and for Newtown from 1660 until his death in 1666.
Ref Volumes: 1604-1629
Authors: Virginia C.D. Moseley / Rosemary Sgroi
- 1. C142/283/100.
- 2. Vis. Hants (Harl. Soc. lxiv), 22-23, 193.
- 3. Oglander Mems. ed. W.H. Long, 148; Al. Ox.
- 4. C142/389/126.
- 5. PROB 11/304, f. 217.
- 6. Vis. Berks. (Harl. Soc. lvi), 250; Oglander Mems. 156.
- 7. C142/283/100; WARD 9/159, f. 163.
- 8. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 150.
- 9. CB, i. 66.
- 10. C142/389/126.
- 11. Add. 5669, ff. 7, 26v.
- 12. I.o.W. RO, 16a/30, ff. 33, 38.
- 13. Harl. 354, f. 68.
- 14. C66/1988; C193/13/1.
- 15. List of Sheriffs comp. A. Hughes (PRO, L. and I. ix), 56.
- 16. Vis. Hants (Harl. Soc. lxiv), 22-3.
- 17. Oglander Mems. 148.
- 18. Ibid. 148-50; Winwood’s Memorials ed. E. Sawyer iii. 213.
- 19. I.o.W. RO, 16a/30, f. 33; R. Worsley, I.o.W., 219.
- 20. Procs. 1614 (Commons), 91, 218, 377, 392.
- 21. I.o.W. RO, 16a/30, f. 38.
- 22. VCH Hants, ii. 391, v. 264.
- 23. CJ, i. 521a.
- 24. Ibid. 529b.
- 25. Ibid. 568a, 573b.
- 26. Ibid. 611b.
- 27. Ibid. 581b; HMC 8th Rep. ii. 37.
- 28. CJ, i. 583a.
- 29. Ibid. 602a.
- 30. Oglander Mems. 133, 150; C142/389/126.