WHITTINGHAM, Timothy (c.1560-1638), of Cowling, Yorks.; later of Holmside, co. Dur.

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. c.1560,1 2nd but 1st surv. s. of William Whittingham, dean of Durham 1563-79, and Katherine, da. of Louis Jacquemaine of Orleans, France.2 educ. Christ’s, Camb. 1572, BA 1576, MA 1579; incorp, Oxf. 1577; M. Temple 1576.3 m. by 1590, Elizabeth (d. 13 Mar. 1615), da. of Bryan Askwith of Osgoodby, Yorks., 6s. (at least 3 d.v.p.) 2 da. suc. fa. 1579;4 kntd. 14 Mar. 1604.5 d. by 30 Apr. 1638.6

Offices Held

Treas. maimed soldiers, Yorks. (Richmondshire) 1592, 1594, hospitals 1598;7 j.p. Yorks. (N. Riding) by 1592-d., co. Dur. 1612-d.;8 escheator, Yorks. 1595;9 commr. sewers, N. Riding 1604-23; member, High Commission, prov. of York 1604/5; commr. Admty. causes, Yorks. 1608, subsidy N. Riding 1608, N. Riding and co. Dur. 1621-2, 1624, aid N. Riding 1609, 1612, oyer and terminer, co. Dur. 1618-28, border malefactors 1618-19;10 provost-marshal, Durham militia by 1631.11


Part of an obscure Cheshire family, Whittingham’s father was a Marian exile, one of the founders of the English church at Frankfurt, and author of the controversial liturgy used by its members in place of the Edwardian Prayer Book. In 1555 he moved to Geneva as an elder and eventually minister of Knox’s church, where he stayed until 1560 to complete what would subsequently become the puritans’ preferred translation of the Bible. Upon his return to England he was appointed dean of Durham. He purchased Balk Grange, near Thirsk, in 1574, and in the following year he and his son Timothy were granted arms. Whittingham’s mother, a relative of John Calvin, was no less godly than her husband, leaving her son ‘the two volumes of the Acts and Monuments of the Church, and my great French Bible’ in her will.12

Whittingham’s Yorkshire estates were relatively modest, and his return for Thirsk in 1604 may therefore have owed something to his role as guardian (with John Conyers†) of his underage nephew John Askwith, whose manor of Osgoodby lay four miles from the borough. In 1605, the ward’s mother and Robert Askwith* sued for control of the estate, whereupon Lord Burghley (Thomas Cecil†) asked his brother Lord Cranborne (Robert Cecil†) ‘to afford the gentleman [Whittingham] (whom I have ever held very honest and peaceable) such indifferent favour for my sake, as the justice and equity of the cause shall require’. This intercession had little effect, as in 1610 Whittingham and Askwith both agreed to waive parliamentary privilege in order to continue their litigation.13

Knighted by the king a few days before the opening of the 1604 session, Whittingham attended the conference of 14 Apr. at which the king outlined his initial proposals for a Union with Scotland, but then disappeared from the records of the House until 1 June, when he was among those appointed to investigate a book written by John Thornborough, dean of York and bishop of Bristol, which attacked the Commons’ proceedings over the Union. He spoke, to unknown effect, at the third reading of the alehouses bill on 5 June, and was named to committees for the final draft of the expiring statutes’ continuance bill (22 June) and to confirm letters patent issued by the new monarch (5 July). Given his father’s profession, it is no surprise that he was named to the committee for the bill against scandalous ministers (12 June) and another to restrict the alienation of church lands by the ecclesiastical hierarchy (13 June). At the outset of the next parliamentary session he was named to committees for the Sabbath bill (29 Jan. 1606) and the bill to permit (Sir) John Hotham* to establish a jointure estate while still underage (25 January). On 30 Jan. he was included on the committee for John Hare’s* purveyance bill, the controversy over which dominated the session, but he left no further trace upon its records. A week after the end of the Easter recess he was still in Yorkshire, at the quarter sessions, and he played no recorded part in the proceedings of the 1606-7 session.14

Early in James’s reign Whittingham became closely involved in the affairs of another godly newcomer to Yorkshire, Sir Stephen Procter of Fountains Hall, one of a clique of priest-hunters who had operated in Yorkshire since the 1590s; in 1609 he and Whittingham captured two Catholic priests at Upsall castle. The business affairs of the two men also became closely entwined: in 1605 Whittingham paid £250 for a quarter share of Procter’s Nidderdale lead mines and became a trustee of the Fountains Hall estate; two years later he and Sir Henry Slingsby reported on common rights in Kirkby Malzeard, then in dispute between Procter and his Catholic neighbour, Sir John Yorke; while by 1612 Whittingham had lent Procter £2,000.15 This presumably explains why Whittingham tabled a bill in the Commons on 16 Feb. 1610 making entailed lands liable to debts incurred before their entailment. His name headed the committee list (22 Feb.), but the measure was never reported. Meanwhile, Procter, then in the Fleet for debt, had been cited in the Commons as a patentee. His status as a courtier threatened to provoke a privilege dispute with the king, but he made the mistake of insulting Sir John Mallory*, who had probably instigated the charges against him. On 14 May the king gave the House permission to continue their proceedings, leaving Whittingham as Procter’s sole defender, who argued ‘that Sir Stephen had leave to speak that he did; the occasion given by Sir John Mallory’. He was named to the committee for the bill to censure Procter (15 June), which passed and was sent up to the Lords, where it stalled. Whittingham left no trace upon the records of the brief autumn session of 1610.16 Procter responded to the parliamentary proceedings against him with a Star Chamber bill implicating Mallory’s relatives Sir William Ingleby and Sir John Yorke in the Gunpowder Plot, and cited one of Whittingham’s servants as a witness; Whittingham also discovered a priest-hole at Yorke’s house. However, the damage Procter’s lawsuits wrought upon his finances eventually set the two men at odds, although Whittingham ultimately bought the Fountains estate from Procter’s widow in 1622, in order to clear her late husband’s debts.17

In 1613 Whittingham bought the manor of Holmside, north of Durham, which thereafter became his main residence; he later sold his Yorkshire estates, and did not stand for Parliament again. In 1616 he intervened in the inheritance dispute between Lady Anne Clifford and her uncle, Francis Clifford*, 4th earl of Cumberland, doing ‘all he could to mitigate the anger between my Lord William Howard’ and Lady Anne’s mother, ‘so as at last we parted all good friends’. Bishop Neile recalled him as ‘a grave ancient knight and a severe justicier’. Whittingham was dead by 30 Apr. 1638, when an inventory of his goods was taken. Letters of administration were granted to two local creditors in the following November. He was succeeded by his grandson; no subsequent member of the family sat in Parliament.18

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Simon Healy


  • 1. STAC 8/301/30, f. 42.
  • 2. J.H. Colligan, William Whittingham of Chester, 75.
  • 3. Al. Cant.; Al. Ox.; M. Temple Admiss.
  • 4. Yorks. Arch. Jnl. xxii. 213; J. Surtees, Dur. ii. 330.
  • 5. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 129.
  • 6. Durham UL, Prob. Recs. 1638, A229.
  • 7. N. Riding Q. Sess. Recs. ed. J.C. Atkinson, ii. 262, 264, 269; iii. 30
  • 8. Durham Q. Sess. Rolls (Surtees Soc. cxcix), 224.
  • 9. List of Escheators comp. A.C. Wood (L. and I. Soc. lxxii), 193.
  • 10. Yorks. Arch. Soc. MD125; HMC Hatfield, xv. 394; HCA 14/39/217; C212/22/20-3; E179/283, ‘commrs. for the aid’; 179/214/369; C181/2, f. 311; 181/3, f. 240; T. Rymer, Foedera, vii. pt. 3, pp. 38, 96.
  • 11. Surtees, ii. 326.
  • 12. J.H. Colligan, William Whittingham and his Contemporaries, 1-9; VCH Yorks. (N. Riding), ii. 48; Grantees of Arms ed. W.H. Rylands (Harl. Soc. lxvi), 277; Durham Wills ed. J. Raine (Surtees Soc. xxxviii), 15-16.
  • 13. Yorks. Arch. Jnl. xxii. 213; Borthwick, York wills v. 28 f. 341; HMC Hatfield, xi. 379; xvii. 45; CJ, i. 421b.
  • 14. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 129; CJ, i. 172a, 230a, 233a, 237, 244b, 252b, 260a, 261b; N. Riding Q. Sess. Recs. iii. 30.
  • 15. C. Howard, Sir John Yorke of Nidderdale, 15-16; M. Questier, ‘Practical Anti-Papistry during the reign of Elizabeth I’, JBS, xxxvi. 371-96; W. Yorks. AS (Leeds), Vyner 5607; C142/708/92; HMC Hatfield, xix. 454; C8/27/89.
  • 16. Procs. 1610 ed. E.R. Foster, ii. 355; CJ, i. 394b, 398b, 423a, 428, 440a, 446a. Other cttees. CJ, i. 398b (Jenison), 419a (idleness), 421a (episcopal leases).
  • 17. Howard, 33-4, 38-46; C8/75/12; C21/W1/16; W. Yorks. AS (Leeds), Vyner, 1048-9.
  • 18. Surtees, ii. 326, 330; Wentworth Pprs. ed. J.P. Cooper (Cam. Soc. ser. 4. xii), 58; Clifford Diary ed. D.J.H. Clifford, 30; R.T. Spence, Lady Anne Clifford, 52-4; J.W. Morkill, Kirkby Malhamdale, 220; Durham UL, Prob. Recs. 1638, A229.