WINNINGTON (afterwards JEFFREYS), Edward (1669-1725), of Ham Castle, nr. Droitwich, Worcs. and the Middle Temple
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Family and Education
bap. 8 Oct. 1669, 3rd s. of Sir Francis Winnington* by 2nd w.; bro. of Salwey Winnington*. educ. M. Temple 1687, called 1694, bencher 1720. m. Sept. 1709, Jane (d. 1719), da. of William Bloom of Altofts, Yorks., niece and h. of Henry Jeffreys of Ham Castle, 3s. d.v.p.1
QC 1710; puisne judge of Card., Carm. and Pemb. 1711–12; 2nd justice of Chester, Denbigh, Flints. and Mont. 1714–d.2
Freeman, Worcester 1719–d.3
Trustee, Shelsey Beauchamp English free sch. Worcester 1722.4
As the third son of a prominent lawyer, Winnington found himself following in his father’s footsteps at the Middle Temple in company with one of his elder brothers, Francis (a younger brother, John, having been set up in the East India trade). However, it seems that his father wished to see him established as a gentleman, for in his will he left him £7,000 to purchase an estate and settle it on his descendants. Little is known about Winnington before he entered Parliament, except that he survived an attack of smallpox in January 1694, and he may have been the ‘Mr Winnington’ who polled 96 votes in the ballot for trustees of the Irish forfeited estates in March 1700.5
Winnington was returned for Droitwich at the 1708 election in company with his kinsman Edward Foley. There is no doubt about his political position, as a list compiled early in 1708, with the election returns for that year added, classed him as a Tory, and the Earl of Sunderland (Charles, Lord Spencer*) deemed his election a ‘loss’ for the Whigs. During his first session in the House he acted as a teller on two occasions: on 8 Feb. in favour of a motion that Thomas Smith had been duly chosen as bailiff of Bewdley at Michaelmas 1707 (the loss of which effectively marked the defeat of his brother Salwey’s election petition); and on 24 Feb. in favour of an adjournment which was defeated, whereupon the House went on to hear counsel on the bill for naturalizing foreign Protestants.
During the summer of 1709 Winnington’s circumstances changed considerably. Following the death of Henry Jeffreys’ of Ham Castle in July 1709 he married Jeffrey’s heiress Jane Bloom in September. According to Charles Baldwyn she was rumoured to be worth about £30,000. In accordance with a provision in Jeffreys’ will, Winnington took his name, thus making it difficult to distinguish him in the Journals from Edward Jeffries who was elected for Brecon in November 1709. He did, however, vote against the impeachment of Dr Sacheverell.6
The installation of a Tory ministry in August 1710, under the leadership of Robert Harley*, who was connected to the Winningtons through their Foley relations, led to almost immediate legal preferment. Indeed, (Sir) Simon Harcourt I* successfully pushed for Jeffreys’ appointment as a QC to be completed before the election for Droitwich necessitated his departure from London. Re-elected in October 1710, Jeffreys was listed as a ‘worthy patriot’ who during the 1710–11 session had helped to detect the mismanagements of the previous administration, and also as a member of the October Club. His association with this group of Tories cannot be taken to imply a lack of agreement with the Court, however, for on 24 Apr. 1711 he acted as a teller in favour of a successful motion for issuing a new writ for Cockermouth which was opposed by some of the more extreme Tories ‘out of prejudice to the General [James Stanhope*] and the noble Lord [Somerset] who recommends him’, the latter being a leading Whig supporter of Harley. Otherwise, he was not very active in the Commons, receiving a month’s leave on 24 Feb. In May 1711 Harcourt proposed him for another promotion, to a Welsh judgeship, noting to Harley that ‘I really know no person fitter than Mr Jeffreys, there is much less choice than you may think there is. I mentioned it to him some months since and found him no way fond of it.’ However, the shortage of legal talent available to the Tories may have changed his mind for his patent was signed on 9 June 1711. The appointment necessitated a by-election at Droitwich in July, being an office of profit under the crown (worth £300 p.a.). Jeffreys was returned unopposed.7
Evidence from the 1711–12 session suggests that Jeffreys combined attendance in Parliament with his work as a barrister at both metropolitan and provincial level. He acted with the Court on 24 Jan. 1712 when he joined in the attack on the Duke of Marlborough (John Churchill†). On 26 Feb. he was granted leave of absence to go into the country for six weeks, probably to go on the assize circuit. In November he resigned his Welsh judgeship in favour of his brother Francis. There is no obvious reason for this move, but it may have reflected his desire to devote more time to his lucrative practice. This now included cases of considerable political importance such as his appearance at the Treasury to act as counsel for the Million Bank against the Bank of England over the latter’s monopoly of banking. He was inactive during the 1713 session, but continued to support Lord Oxford’s ministry, voting on 18 June for the French commerce bill.8
Re-elected for Droitwich at the 1713 election, Jeffreys was classed as a Tory both on the Worsley list and on one listing those Members elected in 1713 who were also returned in 1715. He appears to have made little impact on the House during the 1714 session, although his service was interrupted by his re-appointment as a judge, which necessitated his standing for re-election in May. On 12 May he found himself supporting his brother in the committee of supply against paying a subsidy and in opposition to other Tories. In June his activities seem to have concentrated on the attempt to revoke the charter granted to Bewdley in 1707, which only failed because of the Queen’s death. As he held a life patent for his judgeship (unlike his brother Francis), he was able to retain office after 1714 while acting as a leading Tory speaker in the Commons. That he continued to be effective in this role was evinced by the observation that his death on 20 July 1725 was ‘a loss and will be found to be so next session’. The main beneficiary of his will was his elder brother, Salwey, who was to have most of the real estate in return for paying his debts and extensive legacies (totalling over £7,000). This may well be a tribute to his skill as ‘the most powerful advocate on the Oxford circuit’ of his time.9
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Author: Stuart Handley
- 1. Worcs. Arch. Soc. n.s. x. 32; Nash, Worcs. i. 245; NLW, Ottley mss 2539, Charles Baldwyn to Adam Ottley, 28 Sept. 1709.
- 2. Cal. Treas. Bks. xxiv. 471; xxv. 296; xxviii. 264.
- 3. W. R. Williams, Gt. Sess. Wales, 64.
- 4. Hereford and Worcester RO (Worcester, St. Helen’s), 899:837/BA9402/2.7.
- 5. PCC 92 Noel; info. from Dr D. F. Lemmings; Add. 70144, Sir Edward* to Abigail Harley, 4 Jan. 1693[–4]; 70036, f. 98.
- 6. Ottley mss 2539; PCC 23 Lane.
- 7. Add. 70230, Harcourt to Harley, 27 Sept. 1710; Leconfield mss at Cockermouth Castle, S. M. Gale to Joseph Relfe, 1 May 1711; HMC Portland, iv. 693; Cal. Treas. Bks. xxv. 296, 608–9.
- 8. HMC Portland, vii. 81; BL, Trumbull Add. mss 136, Ralph Bridges to Sir William Trumbull*, 24 Jan. 1711–12; Williams, 180; Cal. Treas. Bks. xxvii. 8–9.
- 9. Cal. Treas. Bks. xxviii. 264, 330; xxix. 385; Trumbull Misc. mss 53, Ld. Johnston (James*) to Trumbull, 14 May 1714; HMC Portland, vii. 401; PCC 231 Romney; Nash, ii. app. 20.