STANHOPE, Sir William (1626-1703), of Shelford, Notts.
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Family and Education
bap. 18 Dec. 1626, 1st surv. s. of William Stanhope of Linby, Notts. by Anne, da. of Sir Bassingbourne Gawdy† of West Harling, Norf. m. aft. 1648, Catherine, da. of Richard, 2nd Baron Byron of Rochdale, s.p. suc. fa. c.1681; kntd. 26 July 1683.1
Commr. for oyer and terminer, Midland circuit 1661; lt. of militia ft. Notts. by 1662, farmer of excise 1671-4, dep. lt. 1677-Feb. 1688, Oct. 1688-d.; verderer, Sherwood Forest by 1683-d.; commr. for assessment, Notts. 1689-90, j.p. by 1701-d.2
Gent. usher to Queen Catherine of Braganza by 1665-?85, groom of privy chamber ?1685-9.3
Capt. Earl of Chesterfield’s Ft. 1667.
Stanhope’s father, a half-brother of the first Earl of Chesterfield, married a famous Jacobean beauty. He sat for Nottingham in the Long Parliament until disabled as a Royalist, but he does not appear in the records of the commissioners for compounding, presumably because his estate at Linby was held of Sir John Byron on a chattel lease. Stanhope’s eldest brother was killed in the Civil War. At the Restoration, his father entered the service of the second Earl of Chesterfield and obtained a lease of the excise farm for Nottinghamshire in partnership with Anthony Eyre. Chesterfield gave him the site of the old family seat at Shelford, destroyed by the Roundheads in 1645, which he began to rebuild on a reduced scale in 1672. He lived to an advanced age, making his last appearance at quarter sessions in 1677, and not being deleted from the commission till at least 1680.4
Stanhope no doubt owed his place in the Queen Consort’s household to Chesterfield, who was her chamberlain from 1662 to 1665. His 5s. a day board wages were somewhat irregularly paid—at the end of his life he calculated that King Charles’s cofferer owed him £600—and it would not be surprising if he took up a commission in his cousin’s regiment in the second Dutch war, though the identification is not certain. But he had no political ambitions, and came in for Nottingham as court candidate in 1685 only because Sir William Clifton at the last moment gave up a safe seat to stand for the county. He left no trace on the records of James II’s Parliament. Like Sir Willoughby Hickman he replied to the lord lieutenant’s questions on the repeal of the Test Act and Penal Laws that ‘he will do his duty’‘, and was presumably removed from the lieutenancy. As far as is known, he took no part in the Revolution, though he may have assisted Chesterfield to form a guard of honour for Princess Anne at Nottingham. But, unlike his cousin, he had no hesitation in taking the oath of allegiance to the new regime, under which he remained a deputy lieutenant and verderer of Sherwood Forest to which he devoted most of his energies. Wealthy, childless, and open-handed, Stanhope was in great demand at christenings; fourteen godsons were enumerated in his will. He was buried at Shelford (which he bequeathed to Chesterfield) on 19 June 1703, leaving £1,100 to endow almshouses. Family legacies included £2,000 to Chesterfield’s second son, he left Linby and most of his Nottinghamshire estate to William Stanhope (later 1st Earl of Harrington), while his Derbyshire lands went to one of the sons of Sir Michael Wentworth.5