WELD (WILD), Humphrey (1612-85), of Lulworth Castle, Dorset and Weld House, St. Giles in the Fields, Mdx.
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Family and Education
b. 22 Jan. 1612, 2nd but 1st surv. s. of Sir John Weld of Arnolds, Edmonton, Mdx. by Frances, da. of Sir William Whitmore of Apley Park, Salop. educ. Trinity Coll. Camb. 1629; I. Temple 1631; travelled abroad 1633-6. m. 1639, Clare (d.1691), da. of Thomas, and Baron Arundell of Wardour, 1da. suc. fa. 1622.1
Cup-bearer to Queen Henrietta Maria 1639-?44; gent. of the privy chamber 1668-?85.2
J.p. Dorset July 1660-79, Mdx. Aug. 1660-79, Cambs. 1677-9; gov. of Portland Sept. 1660-79; keeper of Sandsfoot Castle Sept. 1660-5; dep. lt. Dorset 1665-79; commr. for oyer and terminer, London 1661; freeman, Weymouth 1661; commr. for assessment, Mdx. 1661-79, Hants and Dorset 1663-4, Dorset 1667-79, Cambs. 1673-9, loyal and indigent officers, Mdx. 1662, foreshore, Dorset 1662; treasurer, corporation of the poor, Mdx. 1664; commr. for recusants, Hants Mar.-July 1675.3
Weld’s grandfather, a younger son of a family seated in Cheshire in the 14th century, was a London Grocer who bought property in Hertfordshire and served as lord mayor in 1608-9. Weld’s parents and sisters were all strong Protestants, but he and his two brothers married into prominent Roman Catholic families and changed their religion. He was appointed to the Queen’s household in 1639 and assessed as a recusant for the London poll-tax in 1641. In the same year, with the assistance of his brother Sir John, he bought the Lulworth Castle estate for £42,860, though a quarter of this was still unpaid five years later. He spent most of the Civil War at Oxford, and he was at Worcester when the Cavalier garrison surrendered in 1646. Fortified with a certificate that he had attended church and received communion at St. Giles in the Fields and East Lulworth, he petitioned to compound on the Oxford articles, and was fined £996, a moderate sum since he estimated the annual value of the estate, in possession and reversion, at some £1,150. Though he alleged damage to his property of £2,200 and debts of £12,400, he could afford to order pictures on the Continent ‘exquisitely done and by the best masters’. Since some of these were ‘pieces of devotion’, and his servants were all recusants, it is clear that the Dorset committee had cause enough to tender him the oath of abjuration, but he managed to evade it. Nevertheless, he had purged his recusancy sufficiently to be allowed to purchase the forfeited estates of his nephew, the 3rd Lord Arundell, and the Bedfordshire property of the Earl of Cleveland, which had been mortgaged to him.4
At the Restoration, Weld was made governor of Portland and granted a secret service pension of £1,000 p.a. for maintaining an underground correspondence between the King and the French Court. In 1661 he applied unsuccessfully to the electors of Wareham, six miles from Lulworth, but was returned for Christchurch, where his wife and her sisters owned the manor. Only five committees are attributed to him by full name, and he was probably a less active Member of the Cavalier Parliament than his cousin George Weld. But as a Middlesex j.p. he was both vigorous and unpopular. Sir Richard Everard complained that his attitude towards those who tried to enforce the laws against Popery ‘argues more affection to Babylon than to the crown of England’. As treasurer of the Middlesex workhouse, it was probably Weld rather than his cousin who served on the committee for the additional poor law of 1664. Although listed as a court dependant, he was removed from the Dorset lieutenancy later in the year, probably in consequence of a dispute over Sandsfoot Castle, but restored. He was probably added to the committee for the bill to extend Cleveland’s power to redeem his mortgages in 1666, and took the chair for his brother’s bill to permit foreclosure in 1667-8. He was given a court appointment in 1668, and his pension, which had been suspended, was restored. On 15 May 1671 he complained that Weld House had been attacked by a mob shouting, ‘This is the grand justice that hangs and quarters us all’, and had only been saved by the chance appearance of a guards patrol.5
Weld was appointed to the first Hampshire recusancy commission of 1675, but struck off four months later. He was listed as an official Member in the same year, and his name also appears on the working lists. But Sir Richard Wiseman marked him with a query, and in 1677 Shaftesbury surprisingly considered him ‘worthy’. It may have been about this time that he offered to discover lands in Bedfordshire bequeathed to trustees for the benefit of the Roman Catholic Church. In 1678 he was probably appointed to the committee for the bill to enable the trustees of Sir Ralph Bankes to sell lands, and on 7 May, after consultation with Anthony Ettrick, the family lawyer, denounced as spurious a petition purporting to emanate from the heir. Together with Shaftesbury’s henchman, (Sir) John Morton, he was ordered to make further inquiries.6
Weld’s position could hardly escape notice during the Popish Plot, and it was reported that he had been expelled the House. Oates swore that he had attended mass with him at Weld House, and that Weld had received a dispensation from the general of the Jesuits to take the oaths and the Test, which would enable him ‘by his interest to hinder proceedings in Parliament against the Roman Catholics’. In his only recorded speech, he said: ‘I desire to know what I am accused of. I never had mass in my house in my life, nor went to an ambassador’s house to hear mass. Let any man spit in my face if he can prove it.’ Weld was on the court list of government supporters at this time, but not on the opposition list of the ‘unanimous club’. But the sale of Christchurch manor to the Hydes had left him without a constituency, and he did not stand again. He procured a certificate of conformity from St. Martin in the Fields, where his daughter married the 2nd Earl of Carlingford in the following year. But this could not prevent a search of Weld House, part of which was let to the Spanish Embassy, or his dismissal from local office. He was compelled to mortgage his estates to Lord Folliot for £4,000, and five years later he was outlawed for debt. According to family tradition he was buried in Westminster Abbey in November 1685, presumably in a surreptitious Roman Catholic service, for there is no entry in the register. His heir was his nephew, an adherent of his faith, and no other member of the Dorset Welds sat in Parliament.7
Ref Volumes: 1660-1690
Author: John. P. Ferris
This biography is based on J. Berkeley, Lulworth and the Welds, 55-81.
- 1. C142/302/132.
- 2. Carlisle, Privy Chamber, 182.
- 3. CSP Dom. 1660-1, p. 280; 1664-5, pp. 109-10; Weymouth corp. minute bk. f. 274; SP29/100/131; Cal. Treas. Bks. i. 584; LJ, xiii. 482-3.
- 4. E179/252/5; C3/462/94; SP23/203/239-72; Cal. Comm. Comp. 1223, 2166.
- 5. Dorset RO, D10/C1, Everard to Weld, 11 Apr. 1663; Cal. Treas. Bks. i. 584; ii. 534; CSP Dom. 1664-5, p. 48; 1671, pp. 241-2; 1673, p. 166; CJ, ix. 56; HMC 8th Rep. pt. (1881), 118, 121.
- 6. Cal. Treas. Bks. iv. 697; CSP Dom. Add. 1660-85, p. 498; CJ, ix. 477.
- 7. Devonshire mss 1C, letter of 26 Oct. 1678; LJ, xiii. 328, 482-3, 486; HMC Lords, i. 125-7; Grey, vii. 117; Bedford estates cat. 2, p. 923.