WITHER, William (c.1647-79), of Manydown, Wootton St. Lawrence, Hants.
Available from Boydell and Brewer
Family and Education
b. c.1647, 1st s. of William Wither of Manydown by Joan, da. and coh. of Thomas Geale of Alton. educ. Winchester; Corpus, Oxf. matric. 3 Feb. 1665, aged 17; L. Inn 1665, called 1673; travelled abroad (Italy) 1669. m. 12 Nov. 1673, his cos. Mary, da. and h. of George Wither of Winchester, 1s. 1da. suc. fa. 1671.1
Freeman, Winchester 1669; commr. for assessment, Hants 1673-d., j.p. 1674-d., commr. for recusants 1675; steward, Andover Jan. 1679-d.2
Wither’s family had farmed Manydown as tenants of the dean and chapter of Winchester since 1402, and bought the manors of Woodgarston and Worting in 1619. During the Civil War his grandfather and father served on the parliamentary county committee, and bought the freehold of Manydown for £6,500 at the sale of church lands in 1649. His cousin, the poet and pamphleteer George Wither, became an apologist for the Protectorate; but his father declined office after the execution of Charles I. However, he remained a personal friend of the Cromwell family, and it was doubtless to this connexion that Wither owed his appointment in 1669 to the suite of Viscount Fauconberg on a diplomatic mission to the Italian states. On succeeding to Manydown he petitioned for a dispensation of the new ‘statutes which restrain the dean and chapter of Winchester from granting leases of their lands for any other term than 21 years’. The King recommended the grant of a longer lease, but without effect. At the first general election of 1679 Wither successfully contested Andover on the corporation interest. He was classed ‘honest’ by Shaftesbury, but he was not active in the first Exclusion Parliament, being appointed only to the committee of elections and privileges and to that considering the bill to reform parliamentary elections. He died of smallpox on 25 Apr. 1679, but was nevertheless credited with voting for the exclusion bill nearly a month later. He was the only member of this branch of the family to sit in Parliament.3