WESTON, Richard (c.1620-81), of Gray's Inn and Little Cattall, Yorks.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1660-1690, ed. B.D. Henning, 1983
Available from Boydell and Brewer

Constituency

Dates

13 Apr. - 16 July 1660

Family and Education

b. c.1620, 1st s. of Edward Weston of Hackney, Mdx. by his w. Mary. educ. Corpus, Camb. 1639, Jesus 1641; G. Inn 1642, called 1649. m. 30 June 1657, Frances, da. of Sir George Marwood, 1st Bt., of Little Busby, Yorks. suc. fa. 1645; kntd. 27 Feb. 1679.1

Offices Held

J.p. liberty of Cawood 1664-d., Yorks. (W. Riding) 1671-d.; bencher, G. Inn 1673, reader 1676; commr. for assessment (W. Riding) 1673-80, recusants 1675; recorder, Beverley 1675-8.2

Serjeant-at-law 1677-9, King’s serjeant 1679-80; baron of the Exchequer 7 Feb. 1680-d.

Biography

Weston seems to have been descended from a Sussex family, but an uncle was sheriff of Radnorshire in 1616-17 and his father owned land there, which may, when he became a barrister, have given him a useful professional connexion on the Welsh borders. At the general election of 1660 he seems to have joined forces with James Pytts at Weobley in denying the poll to Herbert Perrott. He may also have been an unsuccessful candidate for Midhurst. He was a moderately active Member of the Convention, being named to eight committees, of which the most important were for the indemnity bill and the confirmation of parliamentary privileges. He also served on three committees where his professional experience would have been valuable: to amend the declaration postponing Easter Term, to examine Thurloe and to continue judicial proceedings. Three of his speeches are recorded; on 6 July he supported the committal of the bill for the religious settlement, which suggests Anglican sympathies. Ten days later the House declared the Weobley election void, and so far as is known Weston never stood again.3

Weston’s marriage linked him with the Yorkshire gentry, though at the visitation of 1664 he still had no other address than Gray’s Inn. He probably leased or purchased Little Cattall on the death of Sir William Ingram in 1669, and became a follower of Danby (Sir Thomas Osborne), who was anxious to have a loyal supporter on the judicial bench. Weston’s promotion, however, was amply justified by his eminence as a pleader. He was believed to have drafted Danby’s controversial pardon in 1679, and was expressly forbidden by the Commons to act as his counsel. As a judge, he showed ‘neither fear, favour nor affection’. At the Surrey assizes in July 1680 he rebuked Sir George Jeffreys for browbeating witnesses, but in his charge to the grand jury he took a high prerogative line:

For my part, I know no representative of the nation but the King. All power centres in him. It is true, he does entrust it [to] his ministers, but he is the sole representative, and, i’faith, he has wisdom enough to entrust it no more in these men who have given us such late examples of their wisdom and faithfulness.

On 23 Dec. the excited Commons ordered Weston to be impeached, but a week later, quite undaunted, he was the only judge to be found to grant a habeas corpus to another of their victims, Thomas Sheridan. He died suddenly on 18 Mar. 1681 at his lodgings in Chancery Lane, while preparing to attend the Oxford Parliament as assistant to the Lords, and was buried at Hackney. No other member of his family is known to have sat.4

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Authors: M. W. Helms / Edward Rowlands

Notes

  • 1. PCC 17 Savile, 149 Rivers; Clay, Dugdale’s Vis. Yorks. ii. 180; Westminster City Lib. St. Martin in the Fields par. reg.
  • 2. Beverley Bor. Recs. (Yorks. Arch. Soc. rec. ser. lxxxiv), 105.
  • 3. Bowman diary, f. 55.
  • 4. PCC 18 North; Yorks. Arch. Jnl. 427; HMC Finch, ii. 50; HMC Lords, i. 87; R. North, Examen, 566-7; HMC 7th Rep. 479; Burnet, ii. 264; HMC 14th Rep. IX, 425-6; Lysons, Environs, ii. 499.

Go To Section