WESTON, Richard (by 1527-72), of the Middle Temple, London and Roxwell, Essex.
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Family and Education
b. by 1527, prob. 3rd s. of Richard Weston of Colchester, Essex. educ. M. Temple. m. (1) Weburgh, da. of Anthony Catesby of Whiston, Northants., wid. of Richard Jenour (d.1548) of Great Dunmow, Essex, 1s. 1da.; (2) 1552/55, Margaret, da. of Eustace Burneby, wid. of Thomas Addington, 1s. 2da.; (3) July 1566, Elizabeth, da. of Thomas Lovett of Astwell, Northants., wid. of Anthony Cave of Chicheley, Bucks. and John Newdigate (d.1565) of Harefield, Mdx.1
Bencher and Autumn reader, M. Temple 1554.
Commr. relief, Essex 1550, eccles. causes 1572; other commissions 1552-d.; j.p. Essex 1554-d., Maldon 1556-9, q. Cornw., Devon, Dorset, Hants, Som., Wilts. 1564, Bucks., Devon 1569; solicitor-gen. Nov. 1557-Feb. 1559; member, council of 16th Earl of Oxford by 1558; serjeant-at-law Jan. 1559; Queen’s serjeant Feb. 1559; j.c.p. Oct. 1559-d.; receiver of petitions in the Lords, Parlts. of 1563, 1571 and 1572.2
Richard Weston’s grandson Richard Weston became Earl of Portland under Charles I and inspired the fabrication of a pedigree tracing his grandfather’s descent from the Staffordshire family of Weston and a Neville of Westmorland. Weston’s real ancestry is uncertain. He was probably a grandson of William Weston, mercer of London, who died in 1515 leaving four sons, of whom one, Richard, settled in Colchester, where he died in 1541 or 1542, styling himself gentleman and leaving three sons under age, the youngest named Richard. Richard Weston of Colchester left legacies to his ‘most singular good lord and master’ Chancellor Audley and to John Lucas, to whom he also committed the upbringing of his second son John. Both Audley and Lucas were members of the Inner Temple, but the younger Richard Weston was apparently to follow his stepfather Jerome Gilbert to the Middle Temple.3
The date of Weston’s admission there is unknown but in July 1548 he was counsel to Admiral Seymour who ordered him to obtain the opinions of ‘such lawyers as be of long continuance in study of the law and in estimation therefore’, phrases which imply that Weston was still junior in the law and was perhaps appointed in vacation time in the absence of older counsel. In November 1550, he purchased the wardship of Andrew Jenour, the heir of Richard Jenour, whose widow Weston had married. His appointment to the commission of gaol delivery in 1552 was an early one, as was that of his friend and associate Anthony Browne II, and his inclusion in the commission of the peace two years later, coming equally soon for one who did not belong to a leading county family, may be attributed either to his legal gifts or to his Catholic sympathies. In April 1553 Browne and Weston jointly purchased land around Finchingfield, Essex, and in Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire for £893; a month later they sold the land outside Essex. In January 1555 Weston bought for £280 the manor of Skreens in Roxwell, which he was to make his principal seat. He made further purchases of Essex lands in July 1558 and October 1560.4
Weston sat three times for boroughs in the duchies of Cornwall and Lancaster. In the returns for Saltash and Lancaster his name is inserted in a different hand; in the case of the two Cornish boroughs his nomination may have owed something to Browne, whose earliest parliamentary seat had also been Lostwithiel, but his return for Lancaster implies the favour of Sir Robert Rochester chancellor of the duchy, who appears to have been instrumental in bringing a number of his Essex neighbours into the House by way of duchy seats. It was almost certainly Richard Weston, and not the young Henry Weston, Member for Petersfield, to whom a treasons bill was committed on 7 Dec. 1554. He was one of the four or five Essex justices who received the Council’s instructions on the enforcement of the statutes against heresy; unlike Browne, however, Weston does not figure in the pages of Foxe as a leading persecutor of Essex Protestants. It is possible that he, rather than Robert Weston of Lichfield, was the Weston described with Rochester and others in a polemic published before 16 Aug. 1553 as ‘hardened and detestable papists’, but it is more likely that this was the Hugh Weston who was installed as dean of Westminster in September 1553. Richard Weston sat for Maldon in the Parliament of 1555 and must have been the ‘Mr. Weston counsellor’ to whom the borough was paying 20s. a year by 1552, a sum increased to 40s. by 1557, no doubt owing his election principally to being the borough’s counsel, although he may have been recommended by the Earl of Oxford. In 1556 Weston was appointed one of the justices of the Maldon borough courts, but the appointment may have been an honorary one, for his name does not appear among those of the sitting justices in the surviving records of the courts. In May 1557 the Privy Council appointed Weston and another lawyer to draw a bill ‘for the quieting of some disorders that lately have arisen in the town of Newcastle’, disorders perhaps connected with the town’s dispute with the bishop of Durham over episcopal lands. Six months later Weston became solicitor-general; in that capacity he served on many commissions for the trial of disputes in Cornwall and elsewhere during the reign of Mary and, in December 1557, on the commission of inquiry into matters of currency and foreign trade. He was summoned to Parliament in 1558 virtute officii, receiving a writ of assistance and carrying bills and messages from the Lords to the Commons on at least eight occasions; and he was a receiver of petitions in the Lords in the Parliaments of 1563, 1571 and 1572.5
On 13 Feb. 1559 Weston was called to the degree of serjeant-at-la