FITTON, Edward (c.1548-1606), of Gawsworth, Cheshire.
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Family and Education
b. c.1548, s. of (Sir) Edward Fitton† of Gawsworth by Anne, da. of Sir Peter Warburton of Arley. educ. Brasenose, Oxf. BA 1566; G. Inn 1568. m. Alice, da. and h. of Sir John Holcroft of Holcroft, Lancs., 2s. 2da. suc. fa. 3 July 1579. Kntd. 1580.
Receiver gen. for Ireland 1579; j.p. Cheshire, Lancs. from c.1583; sheriff, Lancs. 1591-2; mayor, Macclesfield 1601.1
Fitton, who was concerned with the conveying of money to Ireland between 1574 and 1579, settled down in his native county, until in 1585 the proposal to colonise Munster revived his interest in Ireland, where his father had been vice-treasurer. He organized support among the leading Cheshire gentry and, in 1587, obtained a lease of nearly 12,000 acres in Limerick, Tipperary and Waterford. Financial difficulties ensued, his enthusiasm waned, and he was finally noted as an absentee.2
Fitton enjoyed the favour of Lord Burghley and was on visiting terms with Henry, 4th Earl of Derby, lord lieutenant of Lancashire and Cheshire. His return to Parliament for two duchy of Lancaster boroughs was most probably brought about by a great man at court exerting influence on the chancellor of the duchy. In 1576 he was named to one committee concerning land (18 Feb.). He did not appear at the beginning of the session of 1581, pleaded employment on the Queen’s business, and acquiesced in the return of Richard Molyneux II in his place. At the end of the session (18 Mar.) the House disallowed the substitution and enjoined Fitton to continue to serve.3
Fitton engaged in a number of disputes, among them one with his wife’s family, the Holcrofts, repercussions of which reached the court. Another was with the Earl of Pembroke, who seduced Fitton’s daughter Mary, one of the Queen’s maids of honour. Fitton got the better of Pembroke to the extent that he obtained a grant of lands in the Forest of Dean for which the Earl had asked. Fitton was considered ‘sufficient’ in religion in 1587 and three years later of ‘good conformity’, though not ‘commended for any forwardness in the cause of religion’. He died in London in March 1606 and was buried 3 Apr. at Gawsworth, among his ancestors. His will, prefaced by an orthodox preamble, requested a funeral without pomp but with distribution of money to the poor. He bequeathed plate inscribed ‘The gift of Sir Edward Fitton’ to his daughters but made no legacy to his son Richard, who had already received as much as the estate would bear.4
Ref Volumes: 1558-1603
- 1. DNB; PCC 19 Stafforde; CSP Ire. 1574-85, p. 176; 1586-8, p. 286; Sloane 3194, f. 7v; HMC Hatfield, xi. 201-2.
- 2. CSP Ire. 15674-85, p. 175; 1588-92, p. 87; APC, viii. 182, 218, 220, 222, 352-3; ix. 339; x. 243, 270-1, 421; xiv. 8-9; Lansd. 87, f. 89; HMC Hatfield, ii. 106; Cal. Carew Pprs. ii. 246, 313, 446-8; DNB.
- 3. HMC Hatfield, vii. 327; x. 265; Chetham Soc. xxxi. 73, 81, 82; Chetham Misc. v. p. xvi; CJ, i. 106, 135; D’Ewes, 308.
- 4. St. Ch. 5/F17/25, 28; H25/2; L9/16, 11/11; M13/15, 18/22; P15/9; Cheshire RO sessions documents 10-44 Eliz. File I; Private Sessions ff. 23-5; J. P. Earwaker, Local Gleanings, Lancs. and Cheshire (1879-80), 169; HMC Hatfield, x. 230, 253, 265; xi. 201, 218, 340, 375; VCH Lancs. iii. 161 n. 10; Lansd. 53, f. 180; J. S. Leatherbarrow, Lancs. Eliz. Recusants (Cheth