CURWEN, Sir Patricius, 1st Bt. (c.1602-64), of Workington, Cumb.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1660-1690, ed. B.D. Henning, 1983
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Apr. 1640
Nov. 1640 - 15 Mar. 1643
1661 - 15 Dec. 1664

Family and Education

b. c.1602, 1st s. of Sir Henry Curwen of Workington by 1st w. Catherine, da. of Sir John Dalston of Dalston, and coh. to her gdfa. Thomas Tyrell of Birdbrook, Essex. educ. Queens’, Camb. matric. 18 Apr. 1620, aged 18. m. 28 Feb. 1620, Isabella (d. Jan. 1667), da. and coh. of Sir George Selby of Whitehouse, co. Dur., 1s. d.v.p. suc. fa. 1623; cr. Bt. 12 Mar. 1627.1

Offices Held

J.p. Cumb. 1625-44, July 1660-d., dep. lt. by 1627-42, c. Aug. 1660-d.; commr. for oyer and terminer 1630, Northern circuit July 1660; piracy Cumb. 1631, sheriff 1636-7, commr. for assessment 1640, Aug. 1660-d., array 1642; lt. honour of Cockermouth by Mar. 1660-d.; lt.-col. of militia ft. Cumb. Oct. 1660-d., commr. for loyal and indigent officers 1662.2

Col. of ft. (royalist) 1642-4.3


Curwen’s ancestors had held Workington since the 12th century, and first represented Cumberland in the reign of Edward III. Curwen served as knight of the shire in all the Parliaments of Charles I, voting against the attainder of Strafford before being disabled as a Royalist. ‘A pious and peaceful man’, according to the Cavaliers’ eulogist, he was ‘master of a great wit and a vigorous discourse, outdoing most in action’, and of a ‘clear and heroic mind’. By his own account he served reluctantly and obstructively both on the local commission of array and in the Oxford Parliament. He was the first in the county to submit and take the Covenant, whereupon he was plundered by a party of Cavalier horse. He valued his estate at only £620 p.a., including his profits from coal mines, the manufacture of salt, and a salmon fishery. His fine was fixed at £2,000 in 1645, but he was in arms again in the second Civil War, and was sentenced to pay a further £1,152 6s.8d. in 1649. After this he appears to have held aloof from royalist conspiracy.4

Under the last ordinance of the Long Parliament Curwen was ineligible at the general election of 1660, nor could he appear openly to support the return of Lord Broghill (Roger Boyle) for Cockermouth. It was considered, moreover, that he was ‘basely abused’ in the salt excise. He regained his seat in 1661 against slight opposition, and was listed by Lord Wharton among the moderates in the Cavalier Parliament. A patron of Joseph Williamson and his brother, he was probably a country Cavalier. But he was not an active Member, taking no part in the Clarendon Code and being named only to the committees for the highways bill (13 June 1661), the preservation of freshwater fish (9 Apr. 1663), and three estate bills. He applied for a farm of the local customs, chiefly in order to divert Irish cattle imports from the Lowthers’ port at Whitehaven to Workington. He behaved ‘very handsomely’ in rounding up the local Quakers after the Derwentdale plot, and applied for some long promised compensation for his losses, computed at £23,000. But neither the Lilburne lands in Abbey Hulme nor the farm of the Cumberland hearth-tax appear to have come his way before his death on 15 Dec. 1664. He was buried at Workington on 12 Apr. 1665, at the cost of £680. One of the pall-bearers, Sir Philip Musgrave, described him as a loss to the county, where he had ‘a long time lived with much reputation among them and loved just ways’. In his will Curwen declared:

I utterly abhor and renounce all idolatry and superstition, all heresy and schism, and whatever is contrary to sound religion and the word of God, professing myself with my whole heart to believe all the articles of the Christian faith and the whole doctrine of the Protestant religion taught and maintained in the Church of England.

His heir was his brother Thomas, an equally firm Anglican, who had been nominated for the order of the Royal Oak with an estate, presumably in expectation, of £1,000 p.a. But his step-mother, the widow of one of the Gunpowder plotters, and his half-brother Eldred, who inherited Workington in 1672, were recusants, and the next member of the family to enter Parliament was his cousin Eldred of the Stella Park branch, who sat for Cockermouth from 1738 to 1741.5

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Author: Eveline Cruickshanks


  • 1. J. F. Curwen, House of Curwen, 142-51; Vis. Cumb. (Harl. Soc. vii), 5; Vis. Essex (Harl. Soc. xiv), 661.
  • 2. Keeler, Long Parl. 149; Foedera, viii. pt. 2, p. 144; CSP Dom. 1660-1, p. 313; Cumb. RO, D/Lec. 107.
  • 3. Cal. Comm. Comp. 1240; List of Officers Claiming (1663), 35.
  • 4. Curwen, 7, 231; Keeler, 148-9; SP23/179/582-602; HMC Portland, i. 186.
  • 5. CSP Dom. 1660-1, pp. 424, 515; 1663-4, pp. 315, 360, 577; CSP Ire. 1660-2, pp. 626-7; HMC Lonsdale, 93; Curwen, 148-58.