WHITMORE, William (1573-1648), of Apley Park, Salop.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press



Family and Education

b. 4 Nov. 1573,1 1st s. of William Whitmore of London, Haberdasher and Anna, da. of William Bond, Haberdasher and alderman of London. educ. King’s, Camb. 1588; M. Temple 1595. m. (1) Margaret (d. 31 Jan. 1608), da. of Roland Moseley of Hough, Lancs. 1s. 1da.; (2) 19 Nov. 1610, Dorothy (d.1626), da. of John Weld, Haberdasher of London, 3s. 2da.2 suc. fa. 1593; kntd. 24 June 1621.3 d. bef. 24 Jan. 1648. sig. W[illia]m Whitmore.

Offices Held

Freeman, Bridgnorth, Salop 1605;4 collector, subsidy, Salop 1605;5 sheriff, Salop 1619-20;6 j.p., Salop 1621-at least 1636;7 commr. subsidy, Salop 1621, 1624, 1641-2,8 sewers, Kent and Suss. 1629,9 knighthood fines, Salop 1630-4,10 charitable uses, Bridgnorth 1630,11 oyer and terminer, Wales and the Marches by 1634-at least 1640,12 Poll Tax 1641, Irish aid 1642,13 array 1642.14

Contractor for Crown lands, 1609-16;15 customs farmer by 1610.16


Whitmore’s ancestors were smallholders from Claverley, Shropshire. His father settled in London, joining the Haberdashers’ Company and marrying the daughter of one of its most prominent members.17 He clearly profited greatly from trading with Spain, acquiring an estate at Apley, Shropshire in 1582, while on his death in 1593 he left his nine children £2,000 apiece. Whitmore was then still a minor, but as his wardship had only a short time to run it was bought for just £20 by John Hare*.18 Whitmore subsequently spent five years at the Middle Temple, although he was not called to the bar, as has been alleged.19 He should be distinguished from two namesakes, a father and son from Leighton, Cheshire.20

In June 1609 Whitmore joined a consortium - including the London alderman John Eldred, the Fishmonger Martin Freeman, and the customs farmer Arthur Ingram* - which dealt in the sale of small parcels of Crown lands and leases scattered throughout the country. Out of an initial stake of £30,000, Whitmore and his (unnamed) partners put up £5,000, some of which was presumably raised from the Apley estate, while much of the rest doubtless came from his brother George, a wealthy London merchant. Most of the lands were quickly sold on to sitting tenants or other local men, yielding a 50 per cent return on capital invested in around three years, but the investors were also able to purchase some of the best properties for themselves.21 Further investments quickly followed: in July 1612 the Whitmores and Ingram formed another consortium to dispose of £20,000 of Crown lands in fee simple; while at the same time Whitmore bought a further £1,400 of Welsh Crown lands on his own account.22 Whitmore invested £250 of his profits in an East India Company venture, while he also stood surety for some of Ingram’s debts, and loaned large sums to several of his Shropshire neighbours. When Ingram invested huge sums in Yorkshire lands in 1622, some of his creditors pressed Whitmore for payment, but these difficulties were quickly surmounted, and by the end of the decade Ingram was paying Whitmore interest on loans of £3,300.23 Others who borrowed money from Whitmore were less fortunate, particularly Thomas Horde, whose manor and rectory of Apley had come into Whitmore’s hands by 1621; Whitmore rounded off his Shropshire estate with the acquisition of Bridgnorth castle in 1629.24 With a large amount of working capital and estates worth a little over £1,000 p.a., Whitmore’s wealth naturally attracted the Crown’s attention: James I borrowed at least £1,000 from him, which was only repaid (with £915 interest) in 1630.25 In 1622 he contributed £100 to the Palatine Benevolence, while four years later, he was one of only three men in Shropshire rated to contribute £40 towards a Privy Seal loan; during the 1630s he also donated £40 towards the repair of St. Paul’s cathedral.26

In acquiring Apley manor, Whitmore inherited the Hordes’ parliamentary interest at nearby Bridgnorth, for which he was first returned in January 1621, shortly after completing his term as sheriff of Shropshire. He played little part in any of the three Parliaments in which he sat, making no reported speeches. He was named to three committees, one of which concerned the auditing of shrieval accounts (15 Mar. 1621), another with the survey of grievances (2 May 1621) and the last with a bankruptcy bill (22 Mar. 1624).27 In May 1624 a widow who was involved in litigation with him and his partners over lands in Somerset submitted a petition to the Lords, but the matter was evidently settled without the intervention of the Upper House.28 In 1626 he placed his parliamentary interest at the disposal of solicitor general Sir Richard Shilton, and did not sit again, although in 1628 he was summoned before the Lords as a witness in a case involving Sir John Savage*.29

In 1629 Whitmore donated £500 to the puritan feoffees for impropriations, for the purpose of increasing the stipends of the curates of Bridgnorth and Claverley.30 However, in 1642 he declared for the king, placing Bridgnorth castle at Charles’s disposal, in return for which his eldest son, Thomas, received a baronetcy. The castle was demolished following its capture in 1646, and Whitmore’s estates were temporarily sequestrated, but in Gloucestershire he sought to minimize his losses by leasing back his property and then suing his tenants for the rent they had already paid to the county committee.31 He died shortly before 24 Jan. 1648, and was succeeded by Sir Thomas, who represented Bridgnorth in both the Short and Long Parliaments. Administration of his estate was eventually granted in February 1659.32

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Authors: Andrew Thrush / Simon Healy


  • 1. WARD 9/158, ff. 126v-7.
  • 2. Vis. Salop (Harl. Soc. xxix), 499-500; GL, ms 4107/1, unfol.; Al. Cant.; M. Temple Admiss.; Notes on the Manor and Fam. of Whitmore comp. W.H. Whitmore, 8.
  • 3. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 177.
  • 4. J.F.A. Mason, Bor. of Bridgnorth, 18.
  • 5. E401/2404.
  • 6. List of Sheriffs comp. A. Hughes (PRO, L. and I. ix), 119.
  • 7. C231/4, f. 125; T. Rymer, Foedera, viii. pt. 2, p. 14; SP16/405.
  • 8. C212/22/20, 23; SR, v. 65, 155.
  • 9. C181/4, f. 32.
  • 10. E178/7154, f. 61; E198/4/32, f. 3v.
  • 11. C192/1, unfol.
  • 12. C181/4, f. 162v; 181/5, p. 369.
  • 13. SR, v. 107, 141.
  • 14. Northants. RO, FH133.
  • 15. A.F. Upton, Sir Arthur Ingram, 26; CSP Dom. 1603-10, pp. 590, 595, 614, 637, 643; 1611-18, pp. 5, 41, 44, 159, 192, 209; E214/403; C54/2244/18, 40.
  • 16. CSP Dom. 1603-10, p. 637.
  • 17. T.K. Rabb, Enterprise and Empire, 402; GL, ms 12806/3, ff. 1, 5.
  • 18. Mason, 18; PROB 11/82, f. 105v; WARD 9/158, ff. 126v-7.
  • 19. MTR, 355, 381, 403; H.T. Weyman, Members of Parl. for Bridgnorth, 54.
  • 20. For the Whitmores of Leighton, see Vis. Cheshire (Harl. Soc. lix), 254-5; STAC 8/285/30; C231/5, f. 191; UCNW, Mostyn ms 9082.
  • 21. Upton, 26; HMC Var. viii. 7; Salop RO, 5586/10/6/1.
  • 22. E214/403; Bodl. Rawl. B253, ff. 2-3, 8-12, 49v-54, 82-6, 110-12; Salop RO, 5586/5/5/1, ff. 23-4, 56-7, 59-60, 76.
  • 23. Upton, 174-7, 181; Salop RO, 5586/5/5/1, ff. 30-1, 36-7, 76-8.
  • 24. Salop RO, 5586/5/5/1, ff. 0v, 4-5, 24-5, 28-9, 39-40, 43-4, 49-50; VCH Salop, iii. 244; iv. 134; Mason, 18.
  • 25. Salop RO, 5586/5/5/1, ff. 43-4, 49-50; CLRO, RCE pprs. 10; large RCE pprs. 12, rough bk. 1628-32, unfol.
  • 26. SP14/156/14; E401/2586, p. 347; GL, ms 25475/1, ff. 80, 100; 25475/2, f. 12v.
  • 27. CJ, i. 555a, 602b, 744b.
  • 28. LJ, iii. 415a; C2/Jas.I/R8/9; W. Yorks. AS (Leeds), Temple Newsam ms TN/DZ/40.
  • 29. Lords Procs. 1628, v. 473.
  • 30. E.W. Kirby, ‘Lay Feoffees: A Study in militant Puritanism’, JMH, xiv. 10; PC2/45, p. 383.
  • 31. CCC, 76, 85, 1483.
  • 32. Vis. Eng. and Wales ed. F.A. Crisp, xiii. 6.