ALINGTON, William, 3rd Baron Alington of Killard [I] (c.1634-85), of Horseheath, Cambs. and Southampton Square, Bloomsbury.
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Family and Education
b.c. 1634, 3rd but 1st surv. s. of William, 1st Baron Alington [I] of Horseheath, by Elizabeth, da. of Sir Lionel Tollemache, 2nd Bt., of Helmingham, Suff. educ. Padua 1652. m. (1) Catherine (d. 19 Nov. 1662), da. and h. of Sir Henry Stanhope, Lord Stanhope, 1da. d.v.p.; (2) lic. 30 July 1664 (aged about 30), Juliana (d. 14 Sept. 1667), da. of Baptist Noel, 3rd Visct. Campden, 1s. d.v.p. 1da.; (3) 15 July 1675, Lady Diana Russell (d. 13 Dec. 1701), da. of Sir William Russell, 5th Earl of Bedford, wid. of Sir Greville Verney of Compton Verney, Warws., 3s. (2 d.v.p.) 2da. suc. bro. Mar. 1660; cr. Baron Alington of Wymondley 5 Dec. 1682.1
J.p. Cambs. July 1660-d., dep. lt. c. Aug. 1660-81, commr. for corporations 1662-3; assessment Cambs. 1663-80, Cambridge 1664-80, Camb. Univ. 1677-80, Mdx. and Warws. 1679-80, pontage, Cambridge 1663, 1673; recorder, Cambridge 1679-d.; ld. lt. Cambs. 1681-d.2
Col. of ft. 1677, 1678-9, maj.-gen. 1678.
Commr. for plantations 1670-2, trade and plantations 1672-4; constable of the Tower 1679-d.3
Alington’s family had held land at Horseheath since 1397. An ancestor, William Alington, first sat for Cambridgeshire in 1429 and was elected Speaker. Alington’s father, probably a royalist sympathizer, was assessed at £400 by the committee for the advance of money in 1643, but was discharged on payment of £90. He was sequestrated for delinquency in 1648 but died soon afterwards. None of the family held office during the Interregnum.4
On inheriting Horseheath Alington built a mansion there, designed by Roger Pratt, which was said to have cost £70,000. He succeeded his stepfather Sir William Compton as Member for Cambridge at a by-election in 1664, and became a moderately active Member of the Cavalier Parliament. He was appointed to 86 committees, of which the most important during the Clarendon administration were those for the conventicles bill (2 Apr. 1664) and for inspecting the accounts of the navy, ordnance and stores (24 Sept. 1666). He served on the committee for the bill to provide a jointure for the wife of his brother-in-law Edward Noel. His only tellership was against allowing Giles Strangways leave of absence on 3 Jan. 1667. Samuel Pepys, who described Alington as ‘a young silly lord’, heard that he had ‘offered a great sum of money to go’ to Tangier as governor after his second wife’s death. Whatever his intentions he had to be satisfied with a temporary commission in the army during the Dutch invasion scare and taking holidays in France during the recess. He was on both lists of the court party during the Cabal. Sir Thomas Osborne included him in 1669 among the independent Members who usually voted for supply. He was added to the committee to consider a petition from Magdalene, and appointed to those for improving the collection of hearth-tax, receiving information about conventicles, preventing election abuses, renewing the Conventicles Act, and authorizing a commission to treat for union with Scotland. He was given a seat on the plantations board in 1670.5
Alington took no known part in the 1673 session, at the end of which he crossed over to the Continent to observe the armies of Condé and Turenne. He corresponded regularly with Lord Arlington ( Sir Henry Bennet) and (Sir) Joseph Williamson; but on Arlington’s fall in 1674, the board of trade and plantations was abolished, and Osborne (now Lord Treasurer Danby) found no alternative employment for him. His committees in 1675 included those to prevent the growth of Popery and to consider defects in the militia laws. On receiving the government whip, he informed Williamson that he would not fail to attend the autumn session. His name appears in the list of government officials, in the working lists, among the government supporters and as a government speaker, although no recorded speech of his exists. Sir Richard Wiseman spoke well of him and hoped that he might be able to influence his brother-in-law, the Hon. William Russell. In 1677 he was described in A Seasonable Argument as ‘in debt very much, a court pension and in hopes of a white staff; a cully’. Shaftesbury listed him as ‘doubly vile’, and in January 1678 he received £351 16s.8d. secret service money. Appointed major-general of the land forces in May on the strength of much experience as an observer in continental warfare, he was in Flanders throughout the summer, but returned for the final session of the Cavalier Parliament, and was included in both lists of the court party. He served on the committees to translate Coleman’s letters, to inquire into noises in Old Palace Yard, to prepare instructions for disbanding the army, and to inspect precedents on methods of passing bills.6
Although one of the ‘unanimous club’, Alington stood unsuccessfully for the county and was reelected for Cambridge to the Exclusion Parliaments, and displaced his opponent, Roger Pepys, as recorder in March 1679. Shaftesbury marked him ‘vile’, and Danby recommended him for the Treasury. Instead he was made constable of the Tower, with the implied responsibility for keeping London quiet during the exclusion crisis. In the first Exclusion Parliament, he was appointed only to the committees to remedy abuses in the Post Office and to inquire into the shipping of artillery; but he voted against exclusion. In August 1680 he was nominated to the command of the forces at Tangier, but his duties at the Tower apparently kept him at home. He was totally inactive in the second Exclusion Parliament but, perhaps as Russell’s brother-in-law, he was appointed to the committee to draw up the third exclusion bill at Oxford. If his views on the succession had altered, he continued to support the Government generally, and was granted an English peerage in 1682. He took the title from his Hertfordshire estate at Great Wymondley, which for generations had carried the hereditary right to act as cup-bearer at the coronation. He died of a sudden apoplexy in the Tower on 1 Feb. 1685 and was buried at Horseheath, the last of his family to sit in Parliament.7
Ref Volumes: 1660-1690
Authors: E. R. Edwards / Geoffrey Jaggar
- 1. Clutterbuck, Herts. ii. 541; Camb. Antiq. Soc. Procs. xli. 17-18, 22, 24.
- 2. Camb. Antiq. Soc. Procs. xvii. 105; C. H. Cooper, Annals of Cambridge, iii. 513, 557, 578.
- 3. Cal. Treas. Bks. iii. 769; iv. 733.
- 4. Camb. Antiq. Soc. Procs. xli. 1-2; Cal. Comm. Adv. Mon. 219; Cal. Comm. Comp. 95.
- 5. Camb. Antiq. Soc. Procs. xli. 14, 18-19; Pepys Diary, 17 Mar. 1667; CSP Dom. 1667-8, p. 333; 1668-9, pp. 54-55.
- 6. CSP Dom. 1673, p. 269; 1675-6, p. 335; 1678, p. 14