WAGSTAFFE, John (1618-97), Ladybellegate House, Longsmith Street, Gloucester.
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Family and Education
bap. 12 Mar. 1618, 1st s. of Edward Wagstaffe, brewer, of Gloucester by w. Katherine. m. at least 1s. suc. fa. 1655.1
Common councilman, Gloucester 1662, alderman 1663-89, commr. for assessment 1663-80, mayor 1669-70, 1678-9, coroner 1672-3; j.p. Glos. 1680-?89; commr. for inquiry into recusancy fines, Glos., Herefs. and Worcs. 1687.2
Wagstaffe was apprenticed in 1631 to his father, a wealthy brewer who was prominent in municipal affairs. His sympathies may have been royalist, in opposition to those of his father and the majority of the citizens; in 1645 he was goaled for ‘his misdemeanours and ill carriage towards his father’, and it was later claimed that he had been in arms for the King. Certainly his appointment to the common council by the commissioners of corporations, without qualifying by service as bailiff or sheriff, would indicate strong support for the Restoration. He was one of the aldermen ordered to search certain houses in 1664 for seditious books and papers, and on 21 May 1670, during his first mayoralty, he wrote to Lord Arlington (Sir Henry Bennet):
I send a seditious pamphlet received in blank paper, considering it my duty to prevent all practices that may savour of violating the laws. I will do my utmost to suppress all unlawful conventicles in this city and manifest myself a loyal subject of his Majesty.
As one of the ‘loyal’ faction in the bitterly divided corporation, he was delegated to surrender the charter ‘on bended knee to the King’ in November 1671, and reappointed alderman in accordance with the recommendations of Lord Worcester (Henry Somerset, the high steward of the city.3
When Wagstaffe was made a county magistrate in 1680, he was noted in the list presented to the House of Lords as ‘a brewer and unfit’. This description was crossed out; but the Government ignored a proposal from Worcester in the following year to add him to the lieutenancy. He was returned to James II’s Parliament, but left no trace on its records. In 1688 he gave affirmative answers to the questions concerning the repeal of the Penal Laws and Test Act. Lord Worcester, now Duke of Beaufort, reported that Wagstaffe was one of the few supporters of James II’s religious policy who might be returned at the anticipated election, though ‘not without difficulty’, and Sunderland recommended him as a court candidate. On the news of the Dutch landing the King committed to his personal charge the protection of the Roman Catholic chapel at Gloucester and its priest. He did not stand in 1689, and in October, presumably as a non-juror, offered his resignation as alderman and common councilman. Thereafter his name appears in the municipal records only in connexion with his litigation and disputes with the corporation. He died on 20 Mar. 1697 and was buried in Gloucester Cathedral, the only member of his family to sit in Parliament.4
Ref Volumes: 1660-1690
Author: Basil Duke Henning
- 1. M. Rogers, Ladybellegate House, Gloucester and Robert Raikes, 2, 5-7.
- 2. Gloucester guildhall, council bks. 1656-86, pp. 235-6, 253-4, 427-8, 501, 708-9; 1681-90, p. 251.
- 3. Glos. RO, GBR1484/1543; CSP Dom. 664-5, p. 8; 1670, pp. 230, 419; SP29/302/134.
- 4. HMC Lords, i. 180; Bodl. Carte 130, f. 24; CSP Dom. 1687-9, p. 342; T. D. Fosbrooke, Gloucester, 270.