WINGFIELD, Francis (1628-77), of Stamford, Lincs.
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Family and Education
b. Sept. 1628, 4th s. of Sir John Wingfield (d.1631) of Tickencote, Rutland by 2nd w. Frances, da. of Edward, 3rd Baron Cromwell. educ. G. Inn 1647, called 1655, ancient 1671. m. (1) by 1660, Anne, da. of Anthony Palmer of Stoke Doyle, Northants., 2s. 1da; (2) by 1668, Lucy, 2s. d.v.p. 3da.1
Freeman, Stamford Mar. 1660, capital burgess 1661-2; j.p. Lincs. (Kesteven) July 1660-d., commr. for assessment, Kesteven Aug. 1660-1, 1663-4, Lincs. 1661-3, 1664-d., oyer and terminer, Lincoln 1661, corporations, Lincs. 1662-3; dep. recorder, Boston 1662-d.; bencher, G. Inn 1677.2
Wingfield was descended from the old Suffolk family, which had regularly represented the county from 1376. His great-uncle sat for Stamford in seven Parliaments, and his grandfather acquired Tickencote, three miles from the borough, in the late 16th century. His eldest brother compounded for the estate as a royalist delinquent in the Civil War, but Wingfield himself, a lawyer, took no part in public affairs until the general election of 1660. He stood for Stamford, probably with the assistance of his kinsman, the 4th Earl of Exeter, but was involved in a double return with John Weaver, who had represented the borough under the Protectorate. He was declared duly elected on 9 May and marked as a friend by Lord Wharton. He became a moderately active Member of the Convention, with 23 committees, of which the most important in the first session was for the inquiry into the queen mother’s jointure. He made nine recorded speeches, and seems to have favoured severity in the indemnity bill, supporting the exception of Philip Jones, Francis Thorpe and Maj.-Gen. William Boteler. Doubtless a court supporter, he signed the loyal address from Rutland. In the debates on religion he at first sided with the Presbyterians, speaking in favour of a grand committee, and on 9 June he urged the House ‘not to confound discipline with doctrine’, pointed out that ‘all sects say their religion is according to Scripture’, and moved the adjournment. He was among those instructed to prepare for a conference on three orders issued by the Upper House and to consider the case of the royalist sufferer, Judge Jenkins. By 16 July he had come round to the Anglican position that the scriptural and legal basis of the Church should be taken together. He was given leave on 13 Aug. to plead before the Lords on any case not involving a Member of the Lower House, and was named to the committees to prepare an additional clause in the judicial proceedings bill to protect Cavaliers and to recommend the regulation of printing. After the recess he was added to the committee for the militia bill. His last recorded speech was on 10 Dec. when he opposed a proviso to the bill abolishing the court of wards which would have placed wardships in the hands of grandfathers rather than mothers, informing the House ‘that many grandfathers do dote, and marry young women’.
Wingfield did not stand again, devoting his time to his local legal practice. When it became necessary to engage his interest for the court candidate at Stamford in 1677, he was offered promotion to a serjeancy. In order to qualify, he was called to the bench of his inn, but he jibbed at the heavy financial burden of a reader’s feast. He complained to the Earl of Lindsey (Robert Bertie I), who ascribed the obstructions to the lord chancellor (Heneage Finch I), and wrote to Danby:
I was extremely surprised when I received the enclosed from Mr Wingfield, which confirms me how much a great man above thinks it necessary to obstruct all advancement to your lordship’s creatures and dependants, else certainly Mr Wingfield might have passed the pikes as well as Serjeant Scroggs or Sir Thomas Jones, one of the judges of the King’s bench, all called without the formality of reading or expending such sums of money as rather render the preferment a burden than an advantage. And I confess I doubt not but that Sir Robert Carr hath had his finger in the pie, for he knows very well what a great card Mr Wingfield is in these parts to play in all affairs of importance, and since the preferment came not by him, he obstructs it as much as is in his power. ... Truly, my lord, I apprehend that if we should not carry this point through there would be a strange retrogradation in our affairs, and nothing could more encourage the fanatic or Presbyterian party in the world than to see Mr Wingfield either put to that unnecessary and extraordinary charge or else not to obtain the serjeantship, which God knows is no such great matter, but that these vacancies are only reserved for my lord chancellor’s friends, who are in time to be your lordship’s enemies.3
On 31 May the Hon. William Montagu wrote that Wingfield had kissed the King’s hand for his new appointment, ‘but I hear it will not be till Michaelmas term’. He was buried at Tickencote in September, but his name was posthumously included in the list of new serjeants in the following month. He was the last of the family to sit in Parliament.4
Ref Volumes: 1660-1690
Authors: M. W. Helms / Basil Duke Henning
- 1. Blore, Rutland, 69-70.
- 2. Reliquary, xvi. 78; Grantham corp. min. bk. 1, f. 360; P. Thompson, Hist. Boston, 93, 458.
- 3. Blore, 67-70; Cal. Comm. Comp. 1055-6; Bowman diary, ff. 6, 9v, 56, 60v, 67v, 81v; VCH Rutland, i. 201; Old Parl. Hist. xxiii. 35, 47-48.
- 4. HMC 14th Rep. IX, 384; HMC Buccleuch, i. 327.