ERDESWICKE, Richard (1594-1640), of Sandon, Staffs.; later of West Hanningfield, Essex and Leighton, Cheshire
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Family and Education
b. 16 Apr. 1594,1 1st s. of Sampson Erdeswicke of Sandon and Mary da. of Francis Neale, wid. of Everard Digby of Tilton, Leics.2 educ. Eton by 1607-9;3 Caius Coll. Camb. 1609; L. Inn 1612.4 m. by 1623, Anne, da. of one Orwell, 1s.5 suc. fa. 1603.6 bur. 29 July 1640.7
Esq. of the body extraordinary, by 1637.10
The Erdeswickes came originally from Cheshire but in the fourteenth century settled at Sandon, five miles from Stafford. In the first half of the fifteenth century Hugh Erdeswyk represented Staffordshire in four parliaments and Erdeswicke’s great-grandfather was elected for Stafford in 1529. As an avowed Catholic, Erdeswicke’s father, Sampson, a renowned antiquarian and author of the Survey of Staffordshire, was precluded from holding office and also suffered a period of imprisonment.11 At his death in 1603, Sampson owned a large estate, including 2,500 acres in Sandon, the advowson of the local rectory, the manor of Leighton in Cheshire, and smaller parcels of land in Staffordshire and Warwickshire, although he also had substantial debts.12
Erdeswicke was still a minor when his father died. Thomas, 1st Lord Gerard (Thomas Gerard†), the custos rotulorum of Staffordshire, hoped to obtain control of his estate, but in September 1603 a Wolverhampton jury found that it was not liable for wardship as it was unclear by what part of a knight’s fee Sandon was held. Although a similar finding had been returned after the death of Erdeswicke’s great-grandfather in 1545, Gerard alleged that this verdict was obtained as a result of pressure from Staffordshire’s Catholics. A second inquest, held at Warwick in October, found that small parcels of land owned in Warwickshire were held in capite.13 Consequently, on 30 Nov. 1603 trustees acting for Lord Gerard were able to purchase Erdeswicke’s wardship and marriage for £100. Erdeswicke’s mother subsequently bought out Gerard for £1,000, raising part of the money from her son by her previous marriage, the Gunpowder plotter Sir Everard Digby.14
Erdeswicke received a conventional gentleman’s education, attending Eton, Cambridge and the Inns of Court. The rise of George Villiers, subsequently duke of Buckingham, as the king’s favourite after 1615 gave Erdeswicke a close connection with the Court through his half-brother George Digby, an old school friend of Buckingham’s who became equerry to James I. Thanks to Buckingham’s intervention in 1623, Digby married the daughter of Sir Walter Chetwynd*, who had sat for the county in 1614 and was probably the most prominent member of the Staffordshire gentry outside the circle of Robert Devereux, 3rd earl of Essex.15 In 1624 Chetwynd participated in the election of Buckingham’s client, Charles Glemham, at Newcastle-under-Lyme,16 and it is possible that, at Buckingham’s prompting, he nominated Erdeswicke as the non-Devereux candidate for a county seat in 1625. Erdeswicke also enjoyed the support of Staffordshire’s sheriff, Edward Stanford. The son of Sir Robert*, Stanford came from a strongly Catholic family and had himself been a recusant in the 1590s.17 He initially intended to hold the election on 14 Apr., but delayed proceedings until 5 May, by which time Erdeswicke, who had previously held no public office (presumably out of a suspicion that he was secretly Catholic), had been added to the bench.18
The only occasion on which Erdeswicke appears in the surviving records of the 1625 Parliament was on 6 Aug., when Robert Caesar moved that his servant be allowed privilege.19 In the following year he seems to have been dismissed from the bench soon after attending the Epiphany sessions of the peace. Erdeswicke was probably a captain in the Staffordshire militia in the 1620s, as an undated muster roll of a militia company commanded by ‘Capt. Eardswick’ is among the papers of Chetwynd, who was briefly a Staffordshire deputy lieutenant after the earl of Essex was dismissed from the lieutenancy for opposing the Forced Loan in 1627. The only other public office held by Erdeswicke was that of esquire of the body extraordinary to Charles I. The date of his appointment is unknown but he was probably admitted sometime before Buckingham’s assassination in 1628. He was dismissed in March 1637 for refusing to pay the customary £5 to the esquires of the body ordinary.
The reason for the brevity of Erdeswicke’s public career in Staffordshire was undoubtedly financial. In addition to the debts he had inherited from his father he may have been saddled with repaying much of the money his mother had borrowed to pay for his wardship. His decision to purchase 211 acres in Staffordshire in 1618 cannot have helped,20 and indeed, he was apparently unable to pay the portions that his father provided for his two youngest daughters of £500 apiece.21 In the autumn of 1624 Erdeswicke conveyed the Sandon estate to his half-brother George Digby, probably as a means of evading his creditors.22 In March 1627 Erdeswicke received royal protection from his creditors for a year, but by the end of the year his debts totalled £3,000 and he was forced to sell Sandon. Thanks to Buckingham his protection was extended for a year to complete the sale, although the lord keeper, Sir Thomas Coventry*, objected to the inclusion of his sureties.23
Erdeswicke subsequently sold Sandon to Digby in earnest for £7,000, but the payments were not complete until 1631. By 1629 royal officials were becoming increasingly impatient with Erdeswicke and there were fears that he might flee abroad.24 By the end of 1632 Erdeswicke was living at West Hanningfield in Essex. Although he believed that he had a good claim to a substantial estate left by one John Calveley, recently deceased, he seems to have been unable to make it good.25 By 1635 Erdeswicke, now described as being of Leighton in Cheshire, was imprisoned in the Fleet for debts totalling over £4,600,26 and Leighton was extended.27 He died, apparently intestate, in the Fleet and was buried in St. Bride’s Fleet Street in July 1640. An inquisition held at Wigan in October found that he had no property in the tenure of the duchy of Lancaster, but a further inquest evidently concluded that he held land from the Crown, possibly the manor of Leighton. In March 1641 Erdeswicke’s widow and the renowned Sir Kenelm Digby, the son of Erdeswicke’s half-brother Sir Everard Digby, petitioned for the wardship of Erdeswicke’s son Sampson, who died unmarried in 1654.28
Ref Volumes: 1604-1629
Author: Ben Coates
- 1. C142/281/91.
- 2. Staffs. Hist. Colls. ed. H.S. Grazebrook (Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. v. pt. 2), p. 124.
- 3. Eton Coll. Reg. comp. W. Sterry, 116.
- 4. Al. Cant.; LI Admiss.
- 5. C2/Chas.I/E6/39; Staffs. Hist. Colls. ed. F. Parker (Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. n.s. xii), 131.
- 6. C142/281/91.
- 7. GL, ms 6538.
- 8. C231/4, f. 185; Staffs. RO, Q/SO/2, f. 149.
- 9. Staffs. RO, D1798/HM Chetwynd/115.
- 10. LC5/134, p. 172.
- 11. Oxford DNB sub Erdeswicke, Sampson; HMC 4th Rep. 330-1.
- 12. C142/281/54, 142/281/91; Staffs. Hist. Colls. ed. A.G. Petti (Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. ser. 4. ix), 76-7.
- 13. C142/72/88, 142/281/54, 142/281/91; HMC Hatfield, xv. 257.
- 14. WARD 9/160, ff. 219v-20; E134/8Jas.I/Trin4.
- 15. Staffs. Hist. Colls. ed. S.A.H. Burne (Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. 1941), pp. 91-3.
- 16. T. Pape, Newcastle-Under-Lyme, 266.
- 17. List of Sheriffs comp. A. Hughes (PRO, L. and I. ix), 129; Recusant Roll, 1592-3 ed. M.M.C. Calthrop (Cath. Rec. Soc. xviii) 303; The Responsa Scholarum of the Eng. Coll. ed. A.J.P. Kenny (Cath. Rec. Soc. lv) 258-9.
- 18. Staffs. RO, Q/SO/2, f. 44; J.C. Wedgwood, ‘Parl. Hist. of Staffs. 1603-1780’, Staffs. Hist. Colls. (Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. 1920 and 1922), p. 44.
- 19. Procs. 1625, p. 411.
- 20. Staffs. Hist. Colls. ed. W.K. Boyd and G. Wrottesley (Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. n.s. vi), 45, 59.
- 21. C2/Chas.I/S76/41; PROB 11/102, f. 199v
- 22. Staffs. Hist. Colls. ed. W.K. Boyd (Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. n.s. x, pt. 1), pp. 65-6; E112/251/20.
- 23. CSP Dom. 1627-8, p. 117; APC, 1627-8, p. 213; Cal. of Docquets of Ld. Kpr. Coventry ed. J. Broadway, R. Cust and S.K. Roberts (L. and I. Soc. spec. ser. xxxiv-vii) 255, 737.
- 24. C2/Chas.I/E6/39; Staffs. Hist. Colls. ed. Burne, 91-3; CSP Dom. 1628-9, p. 516.
- 25. C2/Chas.I/E6/39.
- 26. C202/17/4.
- 27. E134/17Chas.1/Mich9.
- 28. DL7/29/65; CSP Dom. 1640-1, p. 238; Staffs. Hist. Colls. ed. Parker, 131.