DILLINGTON, Robert (c.1634-87), of Knighton, I.o.W.
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Family and Education
b. c. 1634, 1st s. of Robert Dillington (d.1654) of Mottistone by Frances, da. of William Collier of Piddletrenthide, Dorset. educ. Queen’s, Oxf. 1653; G. Inn 1654. m. (1) July 1659, Jane (d.1674), da. of John Freke† of Cerne Abbey, Dorset, 2s. 1da. 8 other ch. d.v.p.; (2) lic. 28 May 1678, Hannah, da. and coh. of William Webb, Grocer, of Throgmorton Street, London, 1s. 2da. suc. gdfa. Sir Robert Dillington as 2nd Bt. 1664.1
Commr. for militia, Hants 1659; j.p. Hants July 1660-80, Dorset and Wilts. 1676-80; commr. for assessment, Hants Aug. 1660-3, 1664-9, I.o.W. Aug. 1660-1, 1663-4, wastes and spoils, New Forest 1672-3, 1679, recusants, Hants 1675; freeman, Lymington 1679; verderer, New Forest by 1686-d.2
The founder of the Dillington family, a customs official, sat for Poole in two Marian Parliaments before acquiring the manor of Knighton, four miles from Newport, about 1564, to which were later added six others in the island. During the Civil War Dillington’s father was on the county committee, while his grandfather accepted local office during the Interregnum and sat for Newport in 1654. Dillington took over the seat in Richard Cromwell’s Parliament, and retained it at the general election of 1660. He was listed by Lord Wharton as a friend, but he was inactive in the Convention, making no speeches and being appointed to no committees. His name was mentioned only on 24 July when he was given leave to go into the country. He did not stand in 1661. During the second Dutch war he wrote to Joseph Williamson, with whom he had corresponded in his university days, asking for additional forces to defend the island and reporting on the state of the militia.3
Dillington regained his seat at a by-election in 1670. He was excused default in attendance on 21 Jan. 1671, and became a moderately active Member of the Cavalier Parliament. He was named to 40 committees, including that for the bill to prevent the growth of Popery six weeks later. On 4 Feb. 1673, during a debate on a motion to ask for a speedy acknowledgment by the King that penal statutes in ecclesiastical matters could only be suspended by Act of Parliament, Dillington called for more respect in the wording of the motion, saying: ‘Possibly His Majesty may have forgotten our address, and desires he may be reminded of it, in all humbleness, for a gracious answer’. During a debate on grievances on 17 Mar. 1673, when Lord St. John (Charles Powlett I) had complained that a regiment had been quartered in Hampshire at a cost of 5d. a meal, Dillington corrected the statement by saying that he was informed ‘in Hampshire that they must either allow 5d. a day or keep the soldiers in the houses’. In 1674 he was appointed to the committees for regulating parliamentary elections and considering the state of Ireland. He received the government whip from Williamson for the autumn session of 1675, but was marked ‘doubly worthy’ on Shaftesbury’s list in 1677. During the Popish Plot panic he was appointed to the committee to investigate noises heard in Old Palace Yard. After a violent scene in the House on 21 Nov. 1678 between the courtier Jonathan Trelawny I and William Ashe of the country party, he said that he had overheard the quarrel and that Ashe had given no provocation which could justify a blow.4
Dillington continued to represent Newport in the Exclusion Parliaments, and Shaftesbury again marked him ‘worthy’. He was moderately active in 1679, being appointed to 11 committees, including those to take the disbandment accounts, to consider the bill for preventing illegal exactions, to continue the Act against the import of Irish cattle, and to inquire into the state of the navy. He voted for the exclusion bill, and was removed from local office. In the second Exclusion Parliament he was appointed only to the committee for a naturalization bill, and in the third only to the committee of elections and privileges. He probably did not stand in 1685. He died on 25 Apr. 1687, aged 53, and was buried at Newchurch.5