BEESTON, Hugh (c.1545-1608), of Beeston, Cheshire and Stafford, Staffs.
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Family and Education
b. c.1545, 2nd but 1st surv. s. of Sir George Beeston† of Beeston and his 1st w. Alice, da. of Thomas Davenport of Henbury, Cheshire; bro. of Sir Hugh*. m. (1) Thomasine, da. of John Copleston of Eggesford, Devon, 2s. d.v.p.; (2) 7 May 1579, Margaret (bur. 21 Jan. 1595), da. of Thomas Ireland of The Hutt, Halewood, Lancs., wid. of John Aston of Aston, Cheshire, s.p.; (3) Margaret (bur. Apr. 1612), da. of James Chetwode of Worleston, Cheshire, wid. of Richard Dorington (d.1597), mercer, of Stafford, s.p.; 1 illegit. s. suc. fa. 1601, aged 56+.1 d. 3 May 1608.2
The Beestons had been seated in the Cheshire village from which they took their name since at least the thirteenth century. Beeston’s father, a courtier, soldier and naval commander, was knighted on board the Ark Royal after the defeat of the Armada, and was returned for Cheshire in the following year. Beeston himself preferred a quieter life with his hawks, although it may have been he rather than his more ambitious brother who fought in Ireland, where their father was an undertaker.6 He settled in Stafford in the late 1590s after his third marriage to a widow whose first husband came from a family long prominent in the town. This marriage brought him the use of his stepson’s lands and his wife’s personal estate valued (by herself) at £1,200, on which the couple ‘lived and spent’ until Beeston succeeded to his ancestral lands.7 In 1599 he sought election as bailiff of Stafford, but though he was supported by the wealthier townsmen the common freemen chose a shoemaker instead, ‘to his great disgrace’,8 and he was obliged to wait until the following year to be elected. He seems to have had some interest in the coal trade, for in April 1608 he was one of several men granted a pardon for importing ‘sea coals, stone coals and pit earth’.9
Beeston was returned for Stafford to the first Jacobean Parliament on the corporation interest. ‘About two or three days before his going to the first session’ he entrusted a letter to his brother-in-law, Geoffrey Shakerley, ‘alleging it was the substance of his mind concerning his last will’. He was a relatively inactive Member, with only five certain committee appointments, all in the first session. These were to consider bills for the regulation of alehouses (21 Apr.), the preservation of woodland (28 Apr.), and to give security to certain possessors of assarted lands (3 May), and two private measures, one of them for the naturalization of relatives of his second wife (12 May).10 He left no evidence of his presence in the next two sessions, unless the appearance of his brother Sir Hugh’s name twice on the committee list for the bill to ratify the transfer of Theobalds to the Crown in the third session means that he was also appointed to the committee. When he died at Beeston on 3 May 1608 it was ‘suddenly in the night-time in his bed, being in health when he went to bed’. His sister-in-law, Lady Beeston, entered into immediate possession, pushing aside the distracted widow. When Sir Hugh arrived from London he took delivery of the letter from Shakerley, and destroyed it. Beeston’s goods and chattels were said to be worth £1,500, and £160 was spent on his funeral. Sir Hugh, who claimed that his brother was indebted to himself and others ‘in divers great sums’, was granted administration of the estate, but lost the subsequent lawsuit with the widow and her son. The widow died in 1612, assured that she was among God’s elect, but still waiting for the money awarded her by the court.11
Ref Volumes: 1604-1629
Authors: Alan Davidson / Andrew Thrush
- 1. G. Ormerod, Hist. Cheshire, ii. 272; Lancs. and Cheshire Fun. Certs. (Lancs. and Cheshire Rec. Soc. vi), 14-15; REQ 2/409/19; PROB 11/90, f. 143; Vis. Cheshire (Harl. Soc. lix), 12, 20; St. Mary’s Stafford, par. reg. (Staffs. Par. Reg. Soc. 1935-6), p. 162.
- 2. [Footnote]
- 3. Hatfield House, ms 278; SP14/33.
- 4. C93/1/16.
- 5. Stafford Charters ed. J.W. Bradley, 116, 205.
- 6. Q.S. Rolls (Staffs. Hist. Colls. 1935), p. 299; CSP Ire. 1586-8, pp. 42, 313.
- 7. Ormerod, ii. 269, 271; REQ 2/409/19.
- 8. Staffs. RO, D(W) 1721/1/4, f. 40.
- 9. C66/1770.
- 10. CJ, i. 180a, 189b, 193b, 197b, 208b.
- 11. REQ 2/409/19; Cheshire Archives, WS1618; PROB 11/119, f. 447.