ATHERTON, Richard (c.1656-87), of Atherton and Bewsey Hall, nr. Warrington, Lancs.

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



9 Mar. 1677
1685 - Jan. 1687

Family and Education

b. c.1656, 2nd but o. surv. (posth.) s. of John Atherton of Atherton by Mary, da. of Richard Bold of Bold. educ. Brasenose, Oxf. 1672; G. Inn 1675. m. (1) lic. 23 Nov. 1676, Isobel, da. of Robert Holt of Castleton, 1s. 4da.; (2) lic. 1 Nov. 1686, Agnes, da. of Miles Dodding of Conishead, s.p. suc. fa. at birth; kntd. 22 June 1684.1

Offices Held

Commr. for assessment, Lancs. 1677-80, j.p. 1677-d., dep. lt. 1682-d.; freeman, Preston 1682; mayor, Liverpool 1684-5.2


Atherton’s ancestors can be traced back to the beginning of the 13th century on the property from which they derived their name, and the family had remained prominent among the Lancashire gentry ever since, providing knights of the shire periodically from 1373. Atherton’s father, a Presbyterian, served during the Civil War as a captain in the parliamentary army, and was twice sheriff of Lancashire under the Protector.3

Atherton, a posthumous child, was brought up as an Anglican by his mother. On the death of Gilbert Ireland he became heir presumptive to the Bewsey Hall estate and to his interest at Liverpool. He was returned for the borough at a double by-election, together with his kinsman, Sir Ralph Assheton II, and marked ‘vile’ on Shaftesbury’s list. In the Cavalier Parliament he was appointed to two committees of no political significance in 1678, and noted on the working lists of the court party as ‘wanting’ in a debate. During his mayoralty, he secured the surrender of Liverpool’s charter, which was delivered up to Judge Jeffreys at Bewsey Hall, and he was again elected for the borough, though he left no trace on the records of James II’s Parliament. Locally he was a supporter of Lord Molyneux, the newly-appointed Roman Catholic lord lieutenant, whose perennial quarrels with his neighbours, the corporation of Liverpool, cannot have made Atherton popular there.4

Atherton was buried at Warrington on 11 Jan. 1687. He left his son to the guardianship of James Holt and William Banks II; but his son and grandson were both as short-lived as himself, and the family became extinct without further parliamentary honours.5

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Author: Irene Cassidy


  • 1. Vis. Lancs. (Chetham Soc. lxxiv), 21, Chester Mar. Lic. (Lancs. and Cheshire Rec. Soc. lxxix), 177, (lxxiii), 124.
  • 2. Preston Guild Rolls (Lancs. and Cheshire Rec. Soc. ix), 181.
  • 3. VCH Lancs. iii. 436-7.
  • 4. CJ, ix. 489; Picton, Liverpool Municipal Recs. 254; Norris Pprs. (Chetham Soc. ix), 73.
  • 5. Wills at Chester (Lancs. and Cheshire Rec. Soc. xviii), 11; VCH Lancs. iii. 437; information from Canon J. O. Colling.