WHITEWAY, William II (1599-1635), of Dorchester, Dorset

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press

Constituency

Dates

19 Apr. 1626

Family and Education

bap. 12 Sept. 1599,1 1st s. of William Whiteway I* (d.1640) and Mary, da. of John Mounsell of Weymouth, Dorset; bro. of John†.2 educ. Dorchester g.s. 1606-15; factor, France 1616.3 m. 14 June 1620, Eleanor, da. of John Parkins* of Dorchester, 3s. (2 d.v.p.) 4da. d.v.p.4 d. 11 June 1635.5

Offices Held

Freeman, Dorchester 1621,6 lt. militia ft. 1622-7, capital burgess 1625-d., steward of the hospital 1627-?34, bailiff 1628-9, Jan.-Oct. 1633; overseer of the poor, Holy Trinity parish, Dorchester 1628-9; town steward, Dorchester 1630-1;7 treas. W. Dorset Apr. 1635-d.8

Asst. co. of freemen, Dorchester 1622-3, gov. 1624-5; cttee. Dorchester New Eng. Co. 1624-7.9

Biography

Although he earned his living as a merchant, Whiteway was of a studious disposition, displaying interest in such widely differing subjects as geography, mathematics, medicine, history, architecture and painting. A skilled linguist, he translated both a French account of the recent wars of religion and a Dutch dictionary, and was possibly the first Englishman to compile a Latin-Polish word list. He was also competent in Latin, Greek and Spanish. His knowledge of French doubtless stemmed from the time he spent there early in his career, though it is unclear whether he traded with Poland or the Low Countries.10 Whiteway presented the Dorchester library with a pair of globes and a copy of Mercator, but it was history which most fascinated him. He gathered materials for an unfinished study of England under James I and Charles I, and his diary and commonplace book are important sources for the political and religious life of early Stuart Dorset and places further afield. A moderate puritan, Whiteway followed closely the trials of Protestantism in the Thirty Years’ War, and discreetly recorded his unease at the spread of Arminianism and arbitrary government at home. He clearly approved of efforts to establish godly colonies in America, and accordingly played an active role in the Dorchester New England Company.11

Although already a married man and a member of Dorchester’s corporation, Whiteway was still living with his parents when he was returned for the borough in the by-election of April 1626. The fact that his father was currently one of the returning officers presumably contributed to his success. He had already recorded in his diary the key events of the three previous Parliaments, which were attended by his father and father-in-law, and he naturally made his own notes while at Westminster, showing particular interest in questions of privilege, and the impeachment proceedings against Buckingham. He clearly held the duke responsible for the failure of the Cadiz expedition, and for the disruption of cross-Channel trade, and made no attempt to disguise his impatience at Charles I’s efforts to protect the royal favourite. Nevertheless, he kept his own counsel in the House, and attracted no committee nominations.12

In 1627 Whiteway finally leased a house of his own at £10 p.a. He subsequently held most of the municipal offices open to him, and took on his first role in county government in April 1635. However, two months earlier he recorded the onset of a pulmonary illness to which he rapidly succumbed. Whiteway drew up his will on 1 June, requesting burial