WORTLEY, Edward (aft. 1591-1661), of Wortley Hall, Tankersley, Yorks.; later of Turnham Green, Chiswick, Mdx.

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. aft. 1591, 2nd s. of Sir Richard Wortley (d.1603) of Wortley Hall and Elizabeth, da. of Edward Boughton† of Cawston, Warws.; bro. of Sir Francis*.1 educ. I. Temple 1612; travelled abroad (Low Countries) 1616.2 m. 2 July 1627, Elizabeth (d.1665), da. of John Eldred, merchant, of London and Great Saxham, Suff., wid. of Sir Samuel Tryon, 1st bt., of Boys Hall, Halstead, Essex, s.p.3 kntd. 6 Aug. 1621.4 d. by 21 Oct. 1661.5

Offices Held

Freeman, Leicester, Leics. 1620;6 commr. assessment, Notts. 1647-52, militia 1648,7 j.p. by 1650-at least 1657.8

Gent. of the privy chamber extraordinary by c.1641.9


Wortley was the younger son of a prosperous West Riding knight. By 1610 his mother had remarried, taking as her second husband William Cavendish†, 1st Lord Cavendish and subsequently 1st earl of Devonshire.10 Admitted to the Inner Temple in 1612, one of his pledges was Richard Dyott*, whose step-mother was Wortley’s aunt.11 Wortley may initially have intended to pursue a legal career, but then thought better of it. Recommending him to the care of William Trumbull*, the ambassador to Brussels, Samuel Calvert stated in 1616 that Wortley, ‘not being fit for the study of the law’, had decided ‘to travel a while for his experience’. Calvert described him as ‘a little volage, but very honest, loving, and kind, full of friends and great alliance’.12 However his sister, the wife of Sir Edward Radcliffe*, found him ‘a woeful man to have to do with, so furious, and everything must be as he list’.13

Wortley’s admission to the freedom of Leicester in 1620 suggests that he was the unnamed son the countess of Devonshire nominated there for election to the 1621 Parliament. The corporation rejected her nomination but she was more successful at East Retford, where her influence was partly derived from that of her first husband. Wortley’s father had owned two manors, Babworth and Bollom, both within a couple of miles of East Retford. When he had settled the estate in 1597 these properties formed part of his wife’s jointure. In addition, the countess had recently purchased extensive properties at Ordsall, within a mile of East Retford, which she had settled on Wortley. Moreover the earl of Devonshire owned the advowson of East Retford parish church.14 Wortley made no recorded contribution to the proceedings of the 1621 Parliament.

Wortley probably stood again at East Retford in 1624, but was defeated by John Holles. He was certainly a candidate at the subsequent election held on 9 Mar. after Holles’ colleague (Sir) Nathaniel Rich plumped for Harwich, but he was defeated by John Darcy*. At the by-election, following Darcy’s death on 21 Apr., Wortley stood aside for his elder brother Sir Francis, who was elected on that occasion and again in 1625. Wortley was re-elected in 1626, when Sir Francis was a candidate in Yorkshire, but once again he made no impression on the surviving parliamentary records.15

Before the next election Wortley followed his brother’s example in marrying a wealthy London widow. She was sister-in-law to the regicide Miles Corbet†, and during the Civil War Wortley resided peacefully in and around London, promising ‘to contribute his proportion’ to the parliamentary coffers ‘when his estate comes into his hands’.16 Under a settlement forced on his heavily indebted elder brother he succeeded his mother in control of the Wortley estate when she died in 1642, together with Sir Henry Crofts*, as trustees for his royalist nephew Francis.17 In 1644 his stepson Peter Tryon had to appeal to the House of Lords to force Wortley to surrender a collection of books, which Tryon had been bequeathed by his uncle. The following year Wortley’s sister, now a widow, described him as ‘so unworthy and naught; hath not nor will not part with a penny’.18 He was appointed by Parliament to local office in Nottinghamshire from 1647, becoming a j.p. under the Commonwealth, though he resided in a large and well-furnished house on Turnham Green.19 He was still managing the family iron interests in 1658,20 but died intestate soon after the Restoration. Administration of his estate was granted to his widow on 21 Oct. 1661.21

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: John. P. Ferris


  • 1. C142/281/88; Vis. Yorks. ed. Foster, 592.
  • 2. I. Temple database of admiss.; HMC Downshire, v. 431.
  • 3. GL, ms 10212; J. Gage, Hist. and Antiqs. of Suff. Thingoe Hundred, 106; PROB 11/316, f. 212.
  • 4. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 177.
  • 5. PROB 6/37, f. 102v.
  • 6. Ex inf. Professor Catherine Patterson.
  • 7. A. and O. i. 971, 1088, 1240; ii. 39, 304, 472, 670.
  • 8. C193/13/3, f. 50; 193/13/5, f. 81v.
  • 9. LC3/1.
  • 10. SCL, Wh M/D/45.
  • 11. I. Temple database of admiss.
  • 12. HMC Downshire, v. 431.
  • 13. F.P. and M.M. Verney, Mems. of the Verney Fam. i. 152.
  • 14. Leics. RO, BR2/18/14/20; J. Hunter, S. Yorks. ii. 316; D. Marcombe, English Small Town Life, 76; Thoroton, Notts. (1790), iii. 281, 448, 451; P.R. Seddon, ‘Parlty. Election at East Retford’ Trans. Thoroton Soc. lxxvi. 28.
  • 15. Seddon, 28-33.
  • 16. CCAM, 390, 887.
  • 17. Yorks. Roy. Comp. Pprs. ed. J.W. Clay (Yorks. Arch. Soc. rec. ser. xx), 39; PROB 11/290, ff. 287, 291.
  • 18. Verney, i. 162; ii. 60; LJ, vi. 648, 698.
  • 19. VCH Mdx. vii. 59; PROB 11/316, f. 212.
  • 20. J.T. Cliffe, Yorks. Gentry from the Reformation to the Civil War, 65.
  • 21. PROB 6/37, f. 102v.