FITZJAMES, John (1548-1625), of Leweston, Dorset.
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Family and Education
b. 1548, 1st s. of Aldred Fitzjames by Joan, da. of Sir Alexander Culpepper of Bedgebury, Kent. educ. Oxf. BA 1566, MA 1590; I. Temple Nov. 1567. m. Joan (d.1612), da. of Thomas Trenchard of Wolveton Dorset, 6s. inc. Leweston 2da. suc. fa. 1554, step-fa. John Leweston 1584. Kntd. 1615.
J.p.q. Dorset from c.1583, sheriff 1603-4; freeman, Lyme Regis 1586, recorder 1597.1
Just after succeeding to his stepfather’s considerable estates, Fitzjames was returned as junior knight of the shire to his brother-in-law George Trenchard I. No doubt both men were approved of by the 2nd Earl of Bedford. In the Commons, Fitzjames was entitled to attend the subsidy committee (24 Feb. 1585) as knight for Dorset and was named to the committee considering the bill for the Lyme Regis cobb, 27 Feb. 1585. He later became recorder of the borough, which returned him to the 1601 Parliament.2
Described by ‘General’ Sir John Norris as ‘a man of very good sufficiency and most ready to follow her Majesty’s service’ at the time of the Armada preparations, most of the references to Fitzjames show him engaging in the usual pursuits of a country gentleman. He quoted Aristotle at the famous supper party his brother-in-law gave at Wolveton in the summer of 1593, when Ralegh aired his atheistical views. By the next year he and Ralegh had quarrelled over the tenancy each wanted of the manors of Long Burton and Holnest, and Ralegh described him to Cecil as ‘a smooth knave as any liveth and a false’.3
Fitzjames ‘much beautified’ Leweston ‘with buildings and other ornaments’ and, when he died 27 May 1625 at the age of 77, he desired to be buried in the chapel he had erected there ‘without great show of any superstitious or vain pomp’. His funeral expenses were not to amount to above £200 plus the cost of meat and drink. He left a lot of ready cash: his daughters Grace and Joan received £1,200 each in gold, labelled and pursed, and not to be lent out at more than 8 per cent. His sons Leweston and John received £210 and £200 each respectively, similarly labelled and pursed, and the grandchildren smaller sums. ‘My negro servant Paul whom I have bred up from a little boy’ received a pension of £2 and his keep at Leweston while he remained unmarried. Leweston Fitzjames proved the will in the same year. An inquisition post mortem was taken 1 Aug. 1626.4