WESTBY, Thomas (aft.1665-1747), of Ravenfield Park, Yorks.
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Family and Education
b. aft. 1665, 2nd but 1st surv. s. of George Westby of Ravenfield by Benedicta, da. of Joseph Drake, merchant, of Hull, Yorks. educ. privately (Rev. John Heywood) 1684; G. Inn 1690. m. (1) Margaret (d. 1699), da. and h. of George (?Matthew) Wardell of Holderness, Yorks., 3s. (2 d.v.p.) 1da. d.v.p.; (2) 24 Feb. 1703, Anne (d. 1720), da. of John White*, s.p.; (3) 15 June 1742, Mary, da. of William Sherwin of Barking, Essex, s.p. suc. fa. 30 Jan. 1685.1
Although a person bearing the family name can be found living at Ravenfield as early as Henry III’s reign, Westby’s great-grandfather was originally from Derbyshire. His grandfather, a committed Puritan, was a rising member of the gentry in the decades preceding the Civil War, and had purchased lands in the Ravenfield area said to be worth £300 p.a. Westby’s grandfather acted as a j.p. under the Commonwealth and by 1659 had amassed a personal estate estimated at £1,000. Little is known of his father, although his Presbyterian sympathies may be vouchsafed by his engagement of John Heywood, son of the Presbyterian divine, Oliver Heywood, as a tutor for one of his sons. During the next decade, Westby seems to have spent much of his time in Heywood’s company, including a sojourn in London in 1690, probably connected with his education. When Heywood eventually moved on to become the Nonconformist minister at nearby Rotherham in 1693, Westby engaged another Dissenting chaplain, Isaac Bates. In March 1697 Oliver Heywood reported that ‘Mr Westby gives up house’, which may have meant that Westby was quitting Yorkshire to live in London as in 1702 he was residing at Mr Eyre’s chambers in the capital.2
Westby was first noted in the politics of East Retford in the 1708 election, when he voted for the Whig candidates Thomas White II* and Robert Molesworth*, a significant pointer to his strongly Whiggish views as there were some Whigs who refused to back the latter. In the 1710 election he joined with his brother-in-law, White, and was returned to the Commons. However, their opponents successfully petitioned against his return and he was unseated in January 1711. His relative obscurity led the compiler of the ‘Hanover list’ of 1710 to mark him as a ‘doubtful’, the only assessment made of his political views.3
In 1710 Westby was appointed a trustee of Lord Wharton’s (Philip) bible trust, on the initiative of his father-in-law, John White. He was also an active justice in 1715, sending up depositions to the secretaries of state on Jacobite activity. He continued to reside at Ravenfield until 1723 when he relinquished the estate to his son, Wardell George Westby†, on the latter’s marriage. Westby then moved to Linton, Cambridgeshire, where he continued to act as a justice. He died on 19 Nov. 1747, ‘a most tediously ceremonious gentleman; but of an exceeding good character and very friendly’. He was buried in the vestry of the Congregational meeting-house at Linton which he attended. He was succeeded by his son who had ‘used him not well’ after securing the estate, and who sold it in 1749 for £28,000.4
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Author: Stuart Handley
- 1. Fam. Min. Gent. (Harl. Soc. xxxviii), 529; Foster, Yorks. Peds.; Heywood Diary ed. Turner, iv. 112; info. from Dr D. F. Lemmings; IGI, Notts., London; M. H. White, Mems. House of White of Wallingwells, 17; Hunter, South Yorks. i. 396.
- 2. Hunter, 396–7; J. T. Cliffe, Yorks. Gentry, 269, 354, 388; Heywood Diary, 112, 125, 138, 152, 173; G. Sitwell, Letters of Sitwell and Sacheverell, ii. 75.
- 3. Add. 70025, ff. 62–63.
- 4. B. Dale, Good Ld. Wharton, 83; Add. 32686, f. 64; 5808, f. 57; 24568, f. 28v; Clay, Dugdale’s Vis. Yorks. i. 153; Gent. Mag. 1747, p. 545; Procs. Camb. Antiq. Soc. xli. 83; Hunter, 396.