KIRKBY, Roger (c.1649-1709), of Kirkby Ireleth, Lancs.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1690-1715, ed. D. Hayton, E. Cruickshanks, S. Handley, 2002
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1685 - 1687
21 Nov. 1689 - 1702

Family and Education

b. c.1649, 1st s. of Richard Kirkby† by Elizabeth, da. and coh. of William Murray, tailor, of Westminster.  m. 7 Aug. 1692, Catherine, da. and coh. of Sir John Baker, 3rd Bt., of Sissinghurst, Kent, 1s.  suc. fa. 1681.1

Offices Held

Freeman, Preston 1662, 1682; burgess, Wigan by 1684; sheriff, Lancs. 1708–d.2

Ensign 1 Ft. (Gren.) Gds. 1670–5; capt. Sir Charles Wheeler, 2nd Bt.’s† Ft. 1678–9, indep. coy. of ft. Chester garrison 1685, 15 Ft. Nov. 1687–?9; gov. Chester 1693–1702.3


The Kirkbys had been settled at Kirkby Ireleth since the 12th century. However, though these estates were valued at £1,500 p.a. in 1660, the family’s fortunes deteriorated rapidly during the 1660s and 1670s, so that when Kirkby succeeded his father in 1681 he was confronted with a number of large debts. In 1689 he was forced to mortgage the Kirkby estates to the Duchess of Buckingham, a debt he was never able to redeem. His financial difficulties led him into protracted legal disputes with local Quakers over the payment of tithes, actions rooted in financial necessity rather than hostility to Dissenters. Although his father and grandfather had been Royalists, Kirkby was a close ally of Lancashire’s leading Whig, Lord Brandon (Charles Gerard*), and his financial difficulties led him to support the Court throughout his parliamentary career, a stance which was to become a hindrance at Lancaster elections as the 1690s progressed.4

Returned for Lancaster in 1690, Kirkby was classed in March as a Whig by Lord Carmarthen (Sir Thomas Osborne†). His concern for the security of the new regime was evident on 15 May when he was appointed to carry a message to the Lords concerning information he had obtained from a Mr Dodsworth that Lancashire Catholics and Jacobites ‘had listed themselves in arms’, and was nominated to draft a bill ‘for the more effectual securing their Majesties’ government’. Such concerns are also suggested by the request of Secretary Lord Sydney (Hon. Henry Sidney†), in March 1691, that Kirkby advise one of Lancashire’s assize judges on the continuing imprisonment of those accused by Dodsworth, and upon a local dispute concerned with seditious words and accusations. Kirkby’s loyalty to William and Mary reaped its reward in February 1693 with his appointment as governor of Chester Castle, and on 25 Apr. he was granted an extraordinary allowance of 13s. 4d. a day for his duties there. His absence from a call of the House on 4 Dec. 1693 led to his being sent for into custody, and he was not discharged until the 26th. In August 1694 he wrote to Secretary Trenchard (Sir John*) to assure him that those Jacobites imprisoned in Chester Castle in the wake of the Lancashire Plot would be securely held. Having received three weeks’ leave of absence on 12 Dec., Kirkby’s continuing support for Gerard, now 2nd Earl of Macclesfield, was demonstrated in January 1695 by his attempt to secure from the Preston quarter sessions an address offering condolences to William III on Mary’s death. However, allies of Macclesfield’s Lancashire rival, the 9th Earl of Derby, blocked such an address until Derby arrived at Preston to take the credit for it. Following these efforts Kirkby was delayed in Lancashire and was absent from the call of the House on 14 Feb.5

Again successful at Lancaster in 1695, Kirkby was forecast as likely to support the Court in the divisions of 31 Jan. 1696 upon the proposed council of trade. Although one of only two Lancashire Members to absent himself from the debate of 3 Feb. upon the Clitheroe election petition, Kirkby remained in London, subscribing his name to the Association and in March voting for fixing the price of guineas at 22s. Granted leave of absence on 8 Apr., he was ordered by the lords justices in July to establish a mint in Chester Castle, a measure which was part of the attempt to speed the recoinage. His Whig and Court loyalties were again evident in the 1696–7 session when he voted on 25 Nov. for the attainder of Sir John Fenwick†. On 6 Feb. and 1 Apr. 1697 he was granted leaves of absence. After being granted a further leave on 23 Dec., Kirkby’s concern to improve his poor financial circumstances was evident on 11 Apr. 1698 when he and his wife petitioned the Commons that William Stringer* not be allowed to invoke his parliamentary privilege in a court case upon a legacy due to them according to the will of Kirkby’s mother-in-law. During this session he also told on 17 June against the motion to reject the bill to vest estates given to superstitious uses in Greenwich Hospital.6

By the 1698 Lancaster election, Kirkby’s financial embarrassment and support for the Court had become a subject of mockery for a local poet:

          The senate house thy sanctuary is
          The election or a jail, thou canst not miss
          This too kind town, has kept thee this ten year
          From Brittlands, bailiffs, and ejectments clear.

Kirkby’s votes in the previous Parliament for supply and moral reform, and his collaboration with James II in 1688, were also lampooned, but he was nevertheless re-elected and in September was classed as placeman and, in a comparison of the old and new houses, as a Court supporter. Such assessments were borne out on 18 Jan. when he voted against the third reading of the disbanding bill. His continuing alliance with Macclesfield and his need for money at this time are evident from the petition of the two men, along with Samuel Travers*, for the appointment of officers for a crew for an expedition to the Caribbean to recover treasure from wrecked Spanish ships. Kirkby obtained a two-week leave of absence on 19 Dec. 1699, and his later activity in the 1699–1700 session included his nomination on 5 Feb. 1700 to draft a bill to regulate hackney coaches, and acting as teller on 1 Apr., in favour of bringing up two clauses to the bill to apply forfeited Irish estates to public use. As might be expected, he was classed as a placeman in an analysis of Parliament in early 1700. Although successful at Lancaster in January 1701, Kirkby has left no trace on the records of the ensuing Parliament. This did not stop him from retaining his seat at the second 1701 election, though Kirkby was again inactive. Following the accession of Queen Anne he was removed as governor of Chester Castle in May 1702. He also lost his seat at the election two months later, the death of Macclesfield in November 1701 presumably having undermined his interest. He died on 8 Feb. 1709, during his term as sheriff of Lancashire, and was buried at St. Martin-in-the-Fields. He was succeeded by his son and namesake, upon whose death in 1717 the estates passed to the Kirkbys of Adgarley.7

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Authors: Eveline Cruickshanks / Richard Harrison


  • 1. Hunter’s Pedigrees (Harl. Soc. lxxxviii), 102; Kent Par. Reg. ii. 115; VCH Lancs. viii. 392.
  • 2. NLS, Crawford mss 47/3/78, list of Wigan burgesses, Dec. 1684; Preston Guild Rolls (Lancs. and Cheshire Record Soc. ix), 147, 190; Luttrell, Brief Relation, vi. 407.
  • 3. CSP Dom. 1693, p. 31; Luttrell, v. 178.
  • 4. VCH Lancs. 392–6; N. Morgan, Lancs. Quakers and the Establishment, 80–82; Trans. Hist. Soc. Lancs. and Cheshire, cxxxvi. 49.
  • 5. CSP Dom. 1690–1, p. 316; 1694–5, p. 271; Cal. Treas. Bks. xvii. 1184; Lancs. RO, Kenyon mss DDKe/HMC/928, Thomas Wilson to Roger Kenyon*, 18 Jan. 1694[–5].
  • 6. HMC Kenyon, 400; HMC 8th Rep. pt. 1 (1881), 74.
  • 7. Cumbria RO (Kendal), Le Fleming mss WD/Ry 5294, election poem, c.Aug. 1698; Add. 28942, f. 406; Kenyon mss DDKe 9/100/6, Charles Rigby to George Kenyon*, 25 Nov. 1701; Luttrell, vi. 407; VCH Lancs. 396.