LYTTELTON, Gilbert (c.1540-99), of Frankley, Worcs. and Prestwood, Staffs.
Available from Boydell and Brewer
Family and Education
J.p. Worcs. from 1577, sheriff 1584-5.
Although in the mid-1580s Bishop Freake described Lyttelton as ‘a gentleman well-conditioned’, the quarrels which constitute all that is known of his career beyond the formal outline of a local magnate’s offices and duties leave a different impression. His father, ‘notwithstanding many great and grievous troubles and losses to him in his lifetime, had with great care, travail and industry sought to continue and increase’ his estates, but Lyttelton himself, even before he succeeded, engaged in litigation, ran into debt, and obliged his father to settle his affairs. He took his place in the county while his father was still active, and twice represented Worcestershire in Parliament, being described on the 1571 Browne Willis list and on the 1572 return as ‘junior’, to distinguish him from his uncle and namesake.3
During Sir John Lyttelton’s lifetime Lord Edward Dudley had been in possession of his manor of Prestwood. Lyttelton now sought and obtained his expulsion. The dispute became violent: Dudley forcibly ejected Lyttelton, and sought other ways of embarrassing him. Claims of debt against him were not difficult to find—or fabricate—and although Lyttelton paid to avoid worse trouble, Dudley, on the pretext that he had the right to outlaws’ goods on these estates, gathered together his supporters and drove off Lyttelton’s sheep and cattle. Later Dudley made a similar claim to a coal mine and re-opened the battle, arresting the workmen, seizing the coal and setting the pit on fire. Lyttelton was thus obliged to engage in further lawsuits. The Privy Council attempted to reason with Dudley, and the case dragged on for some years. By October 1595, Dudley was appealing to Robert Cecil for protection and help, and the ultimate settlement was almost wholly in Lyttelton’s favour.4
Other disputes concerned Lyttelton’s own family. Even his usually faithful brother George, a few months after his father’s death, complained to the Privy Council that Gilbert was withholding lands from him. At the