WHITLEY, Roger (c.1618-97), of St. John’s Hosp., Chester; Peele Hall, Cheshire; and Pall Mall, Westminster, Mdx.
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Family and Education
b. c.1618, 2nd s. of Thomas Whitley (d. 1650), of Hawarden, Flints. but 1st by 2nd w. Elizabeth, da. of Roger Brereton† of Haughton, Flints. educ. Christ Church, Oxf. matric. 29 Nov. 1633, aged 15; G. Inn 1637. m. Charlotte (d. 1662), da. of Sir Charles Gerard of Halsall, Lancs., 3s. (1 d.v.p.) 6da.1
Capt. of horse (Royalist) 1642, col. 1644–6; gov. Aberystwyth 1644–6; maj. Ld. Gerard’s Horse 1662–3, 1666–7; q.m.g. 1667.2
Gent. usher of the privy chamber (supernumerary) 1644–?63; farmer of excise, N. Wales 1662–74; registrar of indentured emigrants to America 1664–86; receiver of hearth tax, Anglesey, Denb. and Flints. 1664–6, 1669–74; knight harbinger by 1669–75; registrar of customs, London to 1672; commr. pressing seamen, Lancs., Cheshire and N. Wales 1672; dep. postmaster-gen. 1672–7; commr. disbandment 1679; gent. of privy chamber 1689–d.3
Freeman, Denbigh 1644; master of St. John’s hosp. Chester 1660–d.; freeman, Chester 1666, alderman 1680–4, Aug. 1688–d., treasurer 1688–9, mayor 1692–6; custos rot. Flints. Oct.–Nov. 1689.4
Freeman, E. I. Co. 1674.5
The owner of substantial estates in North Wales, Whitley had been a staunch Royalist during the Civil Wars, and following the Restoration he was rewarded during the 1660s and 1670s with numerous government posts. Following his removal from his place in the Post Office he began to move towards the opposition during the Exclusion Crisis and in the early 1680s became closely associated with the Duke of Monmouth. Consequently he was arrested in the aftermath of both the Rye House Plot and the Monmouth rebellion. On being released from the latter imprisonment Whitley was thought to have developed a more favourable attitude to James II, and in 1687 was recommended as a likely Whig collaborator. However, he supported the Revolution, and having represented Chester in the Convention stood for re-election in 1690 in alliance with a fellow Whig against two Tories. Defeated at a bitter and tumultuous election, despite the support of the lord lieutenant Lord Delamer (Henry Booth†), Whitley petitioned against the Chester return. In November 1690 he travelled to London to present his case to the elections committee, but his efforts were in vain and once he had returned to the north Whitley set about strengthening his interest at Chester. Taking advantage of the strong popular element in the intricate procedure by which Chester’s mayors were elected, Whitley gained election as the borough’s mayor in 1692, and in the following year utilized a contentious interpretation of the corporation’s constitution to institute popular annual election of Chester’s common council. By such means Whitley’s interest was able to establish control of the corporation and Whitley himself served continuously as the borough’s mayor until October 1696 (see CHESTER, Cheshire). His popularity owed a great deal to his willingness to defend the ancient rights and economic privileges of Chester’s freemen. Despite some legal proceedings contesting his interpretation of the borough charter, Whitley’s standing in the borough was almost unchallengeable by the time of the 1695 election and he was returned at the head of the poll. He delayed his journey to London and while still in the north was asked by a Chester resident in January 1696 to initiate a petition to the Commons complaining of the burden of duties on waterborne coal, but the request does not appear to have been acted upon. On 15 Jan. Whitley wrote to the Commons apologizing for his absence, and though he did not depart for London until 4 Feb. the forecast for the divisions of 31 Jan. on the council of trade listed Whitley as likely to support the Court. He arrived in London on 12 Feb., taking his oaths five days later and signing the Association on the 25th. No significant activity has been discovered for Whitley and increasing ill-health meant that he did not attend the House at all between the end of February and 20 Apr., though on 25 Mar. he presented Chester’s Association rolls to the King. He began his journey north on 11 May and remained there for the rest of his life. Though poor health continued to plague him, he remained active in local affairs. In February 1697 he was approached to sign a petition opposing the navigation of the Weaver but he refused, ‘thinking it unusual for a Member to subscribe a petition to the assembly of which he is a Member’. His health appears to have deteriorated further in May, and he died on 17 July 1697, leaving his estate to his elder son.6
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Authors: Eveline Cruickshanks / Richard Harrison
- 1. J. Y. W. Lloyd, Powys Fadog, v. 272–5; Westminster Abbey Reg. (Harl. Soc. x), 157; R. Willett, Hawarden Par. 70–71.
- 2. Flints. Hist. Soc. xxii. 9–13; CSP Dom. 1661–2, p. 577; 1665–6, p. 557.
- 3. CSP Dom. 1645–7, p. 447; 1661–2, p. 78; 1663–4, p. 182; 1672–3, p. 4; 1686–7, p. 79; APC Col. i. 384; Cal. Treas. Bks. i. 429; ii. 34, 73; iii. 221, 360, 567, 856, 1242; iv. 747; vi. 58; H. Robinson, Post Office, 54; N. Carlisle, Gent. Privy Chamber, 204.
- 4. J. Hemingway, Hist. Chester, ii. 141; G. L. Fenwick, Hist. Chester, 318; Chester RO, Chester bor. recs. A/B/2, ff. 154, 192; 3, ff. 35–54.
- 5. Cal. Ct. Mins. E.I. Co. ed. Sainsbury, x. 110;
- 6. CSP Dom. 1684–5, p. 233; info. from Dr G. E. Aylmer; Cartwright Diary (Cam. Soc. ser. 1, xxii), 44, 79; Bodl. MS Eng. Hist. c.711, ff. 114–16, 125–6, 199–217; HMC Kenyon, 237; P. D. Halliday, Dismembering the Body Politic, 280–8.