WEST, William (1612-70), of Middleton, nr. Lancaster, Lancs.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1660-1690, ed. B.D. Henning, 1983
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

bap. 1 Feb. 1612, 1st s. of Gawen West of Lancaster by his w. Elizabeth Shaw. educ. G. Inn 1637. m. (1) by 1650, Juliana (bur. 2 Jan. 1667), ?da. of Richard West, yeoman, of Heaton, Lancs., s.p.; (2) Frances, da. of Roger Kirkby of Kirkby Ireleth, Lancs., s.p. suc. fa. 1638.1

Offices Held

Ensign (parliamentary) 1642, capt. of ft. by 1645.2

Elder, Lancaster classis 1646; commr. for militia, Lancs. 1648, 1659, assessment 1649-52, 1657, Aug. 1660-1, maj. of militia ft. 1650, lt.-col. 1651, col. 1653, 1659, clerk of the commonwealth 1652-July 1660, j.p. 1652-Mar. 1660, 1664-d., commr. for scandalous ministers 1654, security 1655-6, sequestrations 1659; mayor, Lancaster 1668-9; freeman, Liverpool 1670.3


West came from a yeoman family. An attorney by profession, he was commissioned in the regiment of Sir Henry Cholmley at the outbreak of the Civil War. He bought part of the manor of Middleton, four miles from Lancaster, in 1650, represented the county in the Barebones Parliament, and clearly enjoyed the confidence of the Rump during the rising of Sir George Booth in 1659.4

Although presumably a republican and an Independent, West was returned for Lancaster at the general election of 1660. A moderately active Member of the Convention, he made three speeches and was named to 25 committees. He was added to the committee of elections and privileges on 9 May, and appointed to consider the bills for the continuation of judicial proceedings and the confirmation of parliamentary privileges. He opened the debate on religion on 6 July by calling for the commitment of the bill ‘for the suppression of Popery, superstition, profaneness and other disorders and innovations in worship and ceremonies’ and four days later he opposed penal taxation of those who refused to take the oath of supremacy. He supported the bill to confirm land sales, ‘but to allow the purchasers very indifferent terms’. On 30 July he was among those entrusted with the consideration of Booth’s estate bill and the bill to settle ecclesiastical livings. His other committees in the first session included those to provide for celebrating the anniversary of the Restoration, confirming civil marriages, cancelling usurped grants, and supplying defects in the Disbandment Act. After the recess he was named to the committee for regulating fees. Lord Wharton sent him a copy of the case for modified episcopacy, and he doubtless sympathized with the Opposition, but is unlikely to have committed himself on major issues.5

On the news of the Fifth Monarchist rising in London West was arrested ‘by a corporal of horse’ on the instructions of the deputy lieutenants while on his way to attend quarter sessions. The Privy Council ordered his release, since he had taken the oaths of allegiance and supremacy. He did not stand in 1661, but was regarded as the chief supporter of the Cavalier Richard Kirkby, whose sister he was later to marry. Presumably he conformed to the Church of England, since he became a county magistrate in 1664 and served as mayor of Lancaster in 1668-9. He was buried at Lancaster on 7 Dec. 1670. His estate was entailed on Henry West of Heaton, a Quaker lawyer, and no other member of the family entered Parliament.6

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Authors: M. W. Helms / Irene Cassidy


  • 1. Lancaster Par. Reg. (Lancs. Par. Reg. Soc. xxvii), 27, 236, 280, 326; VCH Lancs. viii. 74.
  • 2. E. Peacock, Army Lists, 37; Royalist Comp. Pprs. (Lancs. and Cheshire Rec. Soc. xxxvi), 185.
  • 3. CSP Dom. 1650, p. 509; 1651, p. 103; 1655, p. 58; 1659-60, pp. 45, 566; W. R. Williams, Lancaster Official Lists, 99; Lancs. RO, QSC 53-67; Thurloe, iii. 733; Cal. Comm. Comp. 745; R. Simpson, Hist. and Antiqs. Lancaster, 320; W. Beamont, Hale and Orford, 100.
  • 4. Add. 32115, f. 531; VCH Lancs. viii. 74; CSP Dom. 1659-60, p. 69.
  • 5. Bowman diary, ff. 55v, 69v, 73v.
  • 6. PC2/55/60; SP29/61/45; Lancaster Par. Reg. 286; VCH Lancs. viii. 74; Bodl. Rawl. D863, f. 38.