NEWDIGATE, Richard (1602-78), of Arbury, Warws.
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Family and Education
b. 17 Sept. 1602, 2nd s. of Sir John Newdegate of Arbury by Anne, da. of Sir Edward Fitton of Gawsworth, Cheshire.; bro. of John Newdegate. educ. Trinity, Oxf. 1618; G. Inn 1620, called 1628, ancient 1645. m. 1630, Juliana (d.1685), da. of Sir Francis Leigh† of Newnham, Warws., 3s. (2 d.v.p.) suc. bro. 1643; cr. Bt. 24 July 1677.
Lt. of horse (parliamentary) 1642-3.1
Commr. for militia, Mdx. 1648, Mar. 1660; j.p. Warws. 1650-d., Leics. 1650-?56, June 1660-d., Mdx. 1650-?56; bencher, G. Inn 1650; commr. for oyer and terminer, Midland circuit July 1660, assessment, Warws. Aug. 1660-d., Mdx. 1677-d.
Serjeant-at-law 1654; justice, upper bench 1654-5, 1657-Jan. 1660, c.j. Jan.-?May 1660.
Newdigate’s family took their name from a Surrey village, and provided a representative for that county in 1360. The Warwickshire property was acquired by his grandfather. A younger son, Newdigate became a lawyer, and took up arms for Parliament in the Civil War, although ‘no enemy to monarchy’. Raised to the bench under the Protectorate he refused to declare that levying war against the regime was treason, and was dismissed. But he was reappointed two years later and became chief justice under the Rump. He was still in office when he was returned for Tamworth at the general election of 1660. On 3 May the Lords ordered ‘that the calling of Chief Justice Newdigate as an assistant to this House be referred to the committee of privileges’, and on the next day the clerk of the committee noted that ‘Lord Chief Justice Newdigate be desired by Lord Denbigh to appear tomorrow’. On 5 May the Lords ordered that he should ‘attend the committee for petitions [sic] on Monday morning [7 May]’. No more appears in the records. Newdigate never acted as an assistant and presumably was dismissed as chief justice before the end of the month. It is probable that he never took his seat in the Lower House.2
Newdigate resumed his private practice. Although he was reappointed serjeant-at-law, he never held any further office. By 1675 he had prospered sufficiently to buy Harefield, the ancient Middlesex seat of the family which had been alienated by his grandfather. Two years later an attempt was made, probably on his son’s initiative, to secure his reappointment as chief justice, but he was ‘put off’ with a baronetcy. This displeased him, as he feared that ‘none would believe that it was had otherwise than by the common way of purchase’, and he had no desire to be ‘ranked amongst others that buy titles for their families’. He died on 14 Oct. 1678 and was buried at Harefield.3