Charles Edward Banks.

Colonel Alexander Rigby : a sketch of his career and connection with Maine as proprietor of the Plough patent and president of the province of Lygonia online

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Colonel Alexander RigbY:

A Sketch oi His Career akd Connection with Maine as



Pas>cil A^SL. Surg., U. S. Marine Hospital Service.

R,'P>i)it from Hir ^^<1i^u• Ffistorical and Genealogical Recorder^





From a miniature in the possession of Towneley Rigby Rnovvles, Esq.
of Fan, Basses-Pyrenees, France.

Colonel Alexander Rigby

A Sketch of His Career and Connection with Maine as



Passed Assistant Surgeon, U. S. Marine Hospital Service.



, \\ -**

Fifty copies printed^ of in hie h this is No.



Colonel Alexander Rigby:

A Sketch of his career and connection with Maine as
Proprietor of the Plough Patent and President of the Province of Lygonia.


I. Alexander Rigbv.

Great on the bench, great in the saddle,
That could as well bind o'er, as swaddle.

Hudihras, L i. 23-24.

Alexander Rigby, one of the most notable persons in Lan-
cashire during the civil war, was a man of active, daring, and
versatile character, who was brought into notice at that crisis.
He was lawyer, justice of peace, legislator, committee-man, colonel,
judge of assize, and president of a colony during an active public
career of less than ten years. He belonged to the Rigby family
of W'igan, descended from Adam Rigby of that town, and
Alice Middleton of Leigh ton. Their two sons were — John of
Wigan (who married a cadet of the Molyneux family of Hawkslcy),
and Alexander of Burgh (in the township of Duxbury, parish of
Standish), the ancestor of the Rigbys of that place, a family much

Colonel Alexander Righy.

devoted to the Earls of Derby, and on the side of the royalists in
the civil war. Of the sons of John of Wigan the most notable was
Alexander (father of the subject of this article) of the same town, who
seems to have accumulated property in various places, including an
estate in Goosnargh, called Middleton Hall/ Alexander, whose
name frequently appears in public documents, married Alice, daugh-
ter of Leonard Asshawe or Asshal, Esq., of Shaw Hall, an old man-
sion yet standing between Flixton and Stretford.^ Alexander, his
eldest son and heir, was born 1594, and received a liberal education,
probably at the Wigan school, which served as the foundation of his
legal knowledge, obtained later as a bencher at Gray's Inn, to which
he was admitted i November, 16 10.

Rigby became connected with several families of consequence
in the two counties of Lancaster and Cheshire. About 161 9 he
married Lucy, second daughter of Sir Urian Legh of Adlington,
Cheshire; and when that knight died in 1627 the herald recorded at
the funeral on 6 July that four children were the issue of the mar-
riage, viz.: Alexander, Urian, Edward, and Lucy.^ Alexander was
born in 161 9. Urian was baptized at Eccleston, where Adam

1 Middleton Hall is a solitary farm in the township of Goosnargh, situate about seven to eight
miles north of Preston, about three miles east of the Preston and Lancaster turnpike-road, and about
a mile northwest from Goosnargh church. The history of this place is told in Fishwick's Goosnargh,
pp. 141 seq. The present hall is a most substantial structure of brick and stone, built probably
about the end of the last or beginning of the present century. It is more pretentious than the ordi-
nary farm-house of the neighborhood, but lacks that ornamentation of grounds which it deserves,
and may at one time have possessed. The oldest part of the existing premises is the barn, which is
a century or more older than the present house, and has the reputation of containing as many loop-
holes for ventilation as there are days in the year, a spot very unlike the abode of an iron-heeled
warrior, a prating politician, and a grabbing lawyer of the days of the Commonwealth. — Palatine
Note Book, III, 19S.

2 His will, as Alex. Rigby de Wigan, is dated ii April, 1621, and it was proved 26 April, 1632.
The testator directs his body to be buried in the parish church of Wigan ; and he leaves his son
Alexander his heir.

^ Funeral Certificates, 126.

Colonel Alexander Righy.

Rigby his uncle was beneficed, 2 Feb. 162 1-2; and Edward was
baptized at Preston 15 April, 1627.

Shortly before the civil war Alexander Rigby was living in the
neighborhood of Rigby, or Ribby, a hamlet in the parish of Kirk-
ham, where he had property; and as one of the "sworn men" of
that town, he took part in parochial matters, but no events of im-
portance in his career are worthy of record until later, when he
came into public notice on the calling of the Short Parliament,
when he was returned for Wigan, April, 1640, being styled an
Esquire "of Rigby in Amounderness." His colleague was Orlando
Bridgeman, son of the Bishop of Chester."* There were then 293
burgesses on the roll, and a keen contest took place on Monday, 26
Oct.; 112 votes were polled for Bridgeman, 104 for Rigby, and
72 for Mr. Robert Gardner.'^ Parliament met on 3 November;
and the member for Wigan was not long in coming to the front.
On 10 November he declared in the house that a letter had been
discovered in which the Roman Catholics were required to fast for
the support of the queen's "pious intentions," viz., that her husband
might return safely from the war with the Scots.^ On the 1 7th he
was one of a committee to inquire into a monopoly. On i Decem-
ber he was added to the committee for recusants. Two days later
he was placed on the committee to take into consideration the peti-
tions of Prynne, Burton, etc.; Calvin Bruen and Peter Leigh and

Golborne of Chester; and to consider the abuses in the High

Commission Courts of Canterbury and York in connection with the
visit of Prynne to Chester, and the punishment of his sympathizers
in that city. On 16 December Rigby was one of the committee

* These two lawyers were likewise candidates for the same Ijorough on the summoning of the
Long Parliament.
' Sinclair, History of Wigan, i. 22G. « Gardiner, F'all of the Monarchy of Charles First, ii. 19.

6 Colonel Alexander Righy.

who prepared the votes on the Canons of the Convocation of 1640;
and on the following day he was put on another committee to
inquire into some abuses in Emmanuel College, Cambridge. He
was indeed one of the most active of the committee-men.

His reputation with his party was raised by his action in the de-
bate concerning the Lord Keeper Finch, who was chiefly obnoxious
on account of the support he had given to ship-money. On 21 De-
cember the House, at Finch's request, gave leave that he should be
heard. The occasion was memorable. A chair (the Journals, vol.
ij. page 55, tell us) was set for him to make use of if he pleased, and
a stool to lay the purse upon a little on this side the bar, on the left
hand as you come in. He himself brought in the purse and laid it
on the chair, but would not sit down himself nor put on his hat,
though he was moved to it by Mr. Speaker, but spake all the while
bareheaded and standing; the sergeant-at-arms standing by him,
with the mace on his shoulder. He pleaded eloquently for his life
and fortune. " I do profess in the presence of him who knoweth all
hearts, that I had rather go from door to door and crave Da obolum
Belizario, etc., with the good opinion of this assembly, than live and
enjoy all honour and fortune under your displeasure." When Finch
retired Rigby rose, and made a speech which showed his readiness
in debate. " Had not this syren," he said, "so sweet a tongue, surely
he could never have effected so much mischief to this kingdom."
Touching mercy, for which Finch had pleaded, the speaker argued
that there was a cruel mercy. "The spirit of God said. Be not pit-
iful in judgme7it ; nay, it saith. Be not pitiful of the poor in judg-
ment. If not of the poor, then, a latiori, not of the rich; there 's the
emphasis. We see by the set and solemn appointments of our
Courts of Justice what provision the wisdom of our Ancestors hath
made for the preservation, honour, and esteem of Justice: Witness

Colonel Alexander R'ujhy.

our frequent Terms, Sessions, and Assizes; and in what pomp and
state the Judges in their Circuits, by the Sheriffs, Knights, and
Justices and all the country, are attended, — ofttimes for the hanging
of a poor Thief for the stealing of a hog or sheep — nay, in some
cases for the stealing of a peny, and Justice, too, in terrorcm. And
now shall not some of them be hanged that have robbed us of all
our propriety [property], and shear'd us at once of all our Sheep,
and all we have away, and would have made us all indeed poor Bel-
izarios — to have begged for Half-penies, when they would not have
left us one peny that we could have called our own? " ' The feeling
roused by these and other speeches was so strong that Finch
thought it prudent the same day to quit the woolsack, surrender the
seal, and embark for Holland.

Rigby's speech was widely dispersed in manuscript, and it is now
found in many collections.^

The zealous Wigan member frequently traveled between Lanca-
shire and London, and being a man of marvelous activity, he some-
times seems to have been in both places at once. It is, perhaps, as
a justice of peace that at Wigan he attached his signature to some
"orders" made 23 November, 1 641, by Lord Strange and his deputy-
lieutenants and the justices in reference to the trained bands and
their ammunition.^ The name of " Mr. Alexander Rigby, of Pres-
ton," was on 24 March, 164 1-2, added by parliament to the list of
the deputy-lieutenants of Lancashire, along with Sir George Booth,
Mr. John Moore (M. P. for Liverpool, whose wife was a Rigby), and
Sir Thomas Stanley.'" At this time Rigby had sufficient influence

^ Rushworth, Collections, iii (i), 129.

» Flarl. MSS. 813, 7,162; Lansd., 493; Lord Lcconficld's lib., V'l. Rept. /fiif. MSS., 306 b. It
was twice printed in 1641 (4to, no place).

• Farington Papers, 75. ^'^ Journals, House of Commons, ii. 495 ; Civil War Tracts, 2.

Colonel Alexander Righy.

to cause the removal of Lord Strange as Lord Lieutenant of Lan-
cashire, and to have Lord Wharton appointed in his place/^

On 9 June, 1642, Rigby was sent to Lancashire with three other
members, viz., Mr. Ralph" Ashton (M. P. for the county), Mr. Rich-
ard Shuttleworth (Clitheroe), and Mr. John Moore, all deputy-lieu-
tenants, to see the ordinance of the militia put in execution in the
county. The lawyer himself was appointed to draw up the instruc-
tions for the Commissioners.^^

When Rigby and Shuttleworth arrived in Lancashire they
learned that the High Sheriff, Sir John Girllngton, had summoned
a meeting on Preston Moor, on 20 June, to hear the king's answer
to the Lancashire petition, and two other declarations ; and on their
way to Preston they dissuaded persons from going thither. Lord
Strange and his adherents and about 5000 persons assembled on
the moor. Rigby and his friends urged the sheriff to forbear read-
ing the documents. Some wrangling ensued, and the assembly was
gathered into two groups ; and when those for the king had left,
Rigby read the parliamentary declarations to those that remained.
Rigby surveyed the crowds with a keen eye, and he wrote a letter
to the speaker from Preston, with a postscript dated Manchester,
24 June, 1642, describing the circumstances and giving the names
of the local gentry, chiefly his neighbors, who were most active in
encouraging the sheriff. He was back again in his own neighbor-
hood directly after, whence he was summoned in haste to meet the
rest of the committee at Manchester on Monday, 4 July. His reply,
stating that he would come, was seized by Sir Gilbert Houghton at
Walton, who on Sunday sent for Rigby. On Rigby's arrival
Houghton told him he had a commission from the king to break
open all such letters. " Master Rigby asked him if he had taken

1 Memoir of James, Ear] of Derby, Ixxiv. ^^ Journals, House of Commons, ii. 619.

Colonel Alexander li'ifjhy.

the Protestation, and he told him he had. Then he demanded the
letter of him in the name of all the Commons of England ; and
further told him if he broke it open, it might be he might be the
first man that should be made an exami)]c in Lancashire. And
then he delivered him his letter unbroken up, and intreated him to
stay and dine with him, which he did." Rigby attended the meet-
ing at Manchester as arranged, and remained in the town several
days assisting in training the militia; and then he dropped out of
notice for a time in Lancashire. His name does not occur in con-
nection with the defence of Manchester when besieged l)y Lord
Strange at the end of September. He left his Lancashire col-
leagues, indeed, to advance their cause in the House of Commons,
putting aside his ar}?ia and donning his ^o^a.

For several months Rigby was unremitting in his attention to
public business; and it is to be inferred from the important matters
committed to his care, as well as to the prominence given to his
name, that he was one of the most trusted members of the House.
He was an important member of the Committee, appointed 29 Sept.,
1642, for enlisting and maintaining 1000 " dragooners" for service
in Lancashire, and other Lancashire members were associated with
him. This body of men was raised in a month, and sent to Lanca-
shire under Seaton 's command. On the 10 October news of the 7th
and .Sth was brought from Manchester to the house about the siege
of Manchester and the flight of Lord Derby to his house at Lathom.
The same letter said " that the Milnes of the Town belonging to the
Free School were in lease to one Prestwich a Malicrnant ; that his
Lease was ready to expire; and that the feoffees were ALalignants."
Thereupon Mr. Rigby and Mr. White were appointed to i)repare an
order concerning the sequestration of the Rents and revenues of the
School, which were subsequently sequestered into the hands of Rd.

10 Colonel Alexander Righy.

Holland and Peter Egerton to be employed for the use of the

The author of the Discourse of the Warr in Lancashire, Major
Edward Robinson, who himself served under Rigby, states (page lo)
that after the siege of Manchester was raised colonels were ap-
pointed for every hundred in the county, and that Alexander Rigby
was appointed for Leyland and Amounderness, and Mr. Moore and
Peter Egerton for West Derby. Our lawyer-colonel was subse-
quently made one of the commissioners for executing martial law.

On I April, 1643, by ordinance of Parliament, Rigby became a
member of the Lancashire Committee for sequestrating " notorious
Delinquent's Estates." His associates were Shuttleworth, Moore,
and Egerton.^* Mrs. Werden, of Farrington, addressed this com-
mittee about preserving some of the heirlooms of her house, the
property having been sequestered. Rigby 's answer, dated 30 October,
1643, is preserved, and illustrates his stern character.^^ On i May,
1643, he was appointed a commissioner for levying money for the
relief of the commonwealth, by taxing such as had not at all con-
tributed, or contributed according to their ability .^"^ Another ordi-
nance created him a member of a committee for providing money
for the maintenance of the army raised by Parliament and other
great affairs, by a weekly assessment, beginning 3 August, 1643, o^
which the share of Lancashire was ^500 per month.^^

Before midsummer of this year, " Mr. Alexander Rigbie, of Pres-
ton, lawier, a Parliament man, came down into the Country with
Commission from the Parliament to be Colonell, to raise Forces, to
put the Hundreds of Laylond and Amonderness into a posture of

1^ Journals, House of Commons, ii, 806.

1* Husband, Collections, 13; Civil War Tracts, 90. ^^ Farington Papers, 96, 98, 99.

1^ Husband, Collections, 169. i' Ibid, 4, 5, 9.

Colonel Alexander Bifjhy. 11

Warr, which he was diligent to do within a little tyme." "And be-
fore July Colonell Rigbie began to shew himself to bee a warrior,"
continues the narrator, who accompanied the expedition ; " for hee
undertook the reducing of Sir John Girlington's castle at Thurlum
[Thurland, near Tunstall, Lancashire, the King's last remaining
stronghold in those parts], in which was Sir John, his wiffe, and
many dcsperat Caviliers, having strongly fortified it with provision
out of the country, as alsoe Ammunition. The Colonell, for this
undertaking, had forces from Salford and Blackburne Mundreds,
having companies newly raised within Preston, and some peeces of
Ordenance. He about the begining of August marched his armie
thither, setting them downe about it. The maine body of his foote
or his mayne guard was at the house of Mr. Cansfield, about half a
mile from the Castle. It was moited [moated] about so that it
could not be come to. He planted his Ordenance on the East side
of the Castle, in a very fair plot betwixt Cansfield and it. They
plaied oft against it with litle execution. It was strong. . . . The
Colonell himself did lye at Hornby Castle, and came every day to
the leagers. ... At last they had a strong allarum out of Cumber-
land [28 Sept., 1643], fo'* Colonel Huddleston of Millame Castle
[with Roger Kirby and Alexander Rigby de Burgh at the head of
the Lancashire royalists] had raised forces, and was marching to
raise the siege. But Colonell Rigbie, having intelligence of their
marching against him, thought it not the saffest way to let them
come upon him, but rather to prevent them and meet them on their
way, and to that end drew from the Leguer as many forces as could
be spared of keeping the castle in. y\nd with the rest marched to
meet the Enimie as far as Daulton [in Furness]. And there en-
countiring with them God was pleased to give him the better soe
that the enemy fled [i Oct.]. And in the pursuit Col. Huddleston

12 Colonel Alexander Bighy.

himself was taken with some others of quality, and four or five en-
signes or cullers of brave silk were taken with some [400] common
souldiers. Then the Col. returned Victor to the Leao-uer aeaine
with his enimie his prisoner. . . . Within a short space the Castle
was yealdid up. . . . Colonell Rigbie returned to Preston in
Triumph. Thus he being much heartened and encouraged by this
Victory and delivery of the Castle that he laboured much to putt
the country in a posture of Warr making choyse of such men to be
Captaines under him [in Amounderness and Leyland] as he did
especially confide in. . . . In Gosnarg Mr. Alexander Rigbie, the
Colonell's son, was Lieutenant Colonell under his Father, and raised
a Companie within Goosnarg." ^^

Thurland was besieged seven weeks. From Preston, 17 Oct.,
1643, Col. Rigby wrote to Lenthall, the speaker, giving a relation
of the campaign, w^ience we learn that the battle was fought on
Sunday. The writer says that his men began their work with pub-
lic prayers; "and those done we speeded up to the Enemy with such
Resolution and Courage, in all the Captains and Common Soldiers,
as by their deportment I might have rather deemed that they had
made haste to have saluted their friends than to have encountered
their Enemies." ^^

Colonel Rigby interested himself in the settlement of ministers
in his county in the room of those who had been displaced. He
seems to have favored Independent ministers. On 19 October, 1643,
the Rev. Isaac Ambrose, the well-known minister of Preston, thus
wrote to the Rev. Elkanah Wales, then minister of Pudsey, near

^^ Robinson, Discourse of the Warr, 40.

'3 West's Furness, 410, pp. lij.-liij.; Civil War Tracts, 148-151 ; Baines' History of Lancashire,
new edition, i. 221. Whitelock (i. 226) says that "the feat was more discoursed about, because
Rigby was a lawyer."

Colonel Alexander Rujhij. 13

Leeds, on this subject: — "Our Colonel Rigby hath enjoined me to
write to you a call unto these needful barren p'ts; and his desire is
that you would j^lease to settle yourself at Rufford. It is a place
where his son-in-law [Robert Hesketh, of Rufford, Esq.,] and
daughter [Lucy] are like to reside, and, therefore, he hath an
especial respect to it.""" He is pleased to allow you fifty pounds
per annum. For Tockholes if you can provide another able honest
minister he will (so that he may obtain you) allow him as much
there. Her father desired it that you would speak to some other
honest ministers (to the number of six at least) to come into

^ An indenture dated 9 Nov., 1641, relates to this marriage of Lucy Rigby and Roljcrt Hesketh.
The parties were Robert Hesketh of Holmes Wood, Esq., and Margaret (nie Standish) his wife,
and Robert Hesketh, son and heir-apparent of the said Robert Hesketh, on the first part ; and Ralph
Standish of Standish, Esq., Thomas Tyldesley of Myerscough, Esq., Alexander Rigby of Rigby,
Esq., and Alexander Rigby, gentleman, son and heir-apparent of the said Alexander on the other
part. The indenture witnessed that in consideration of a marriage to be had between the said
Robert Hesketh the son, and Lucy Rigby, only daughter of the said Alexander Rigby, the father,
and for £yx) paid by the said Alexander Rigby the father to Thomas Hesketh of Rufford, Esq.,
and Jane («^e Edmondson) his wife, and for /"looo paid by the said Alexander Rigby the father to
the said Robert Hesketh the father, that the said Robert Hesketh the father and Robert the son
agree that within eighteen months after the said Robert the son shall be twenty-one years of age. he
shall by fine, &c., convey to the said Ralph Standish, Thomas Tyldesley, Alexander Rigby the
father, and Alexander the son, all the manor of Rufforth, Marksiinc, Harwuod, &c., &c., to the said
Thomas Hesketh and his heirs.

About the same time great endeavours were made to make a jointure for Lucy Rigby. and the
family were advised that it could not be done excejJt by Act of Parliament. The elder Kigby en-
deavored therefore to obtain the Act, and brought a bill into Parliament for that purpose, but the
death in 1646 of Thomas Hesketh before named, heir to the estate, put an end to the design ; and
not long after Col. Rigby himself died. The inheritance of the Rufford estate subsequently came to
the children of Lucy Rigby, who afterwards married John Molineux, son and heir of Sir Fr.mcis
Molineux, of Tevcrshall, near Mansfield, county Notts. In 1661, she. as Lucy Molineux. and her
.son Thomas Hesketh, infant, petitioned Charles H. for a writ to the judges at the next Lanca.ster
a.ssizcs to permit a recovery of part of the estates of Thomas Hesketh, to be settled as jointure on
Lucy Molineux, according to former indentures with her father. Alex. Rigby, but her husband died
before completion of the same. The matter was referred to the attorney general, who reported in
favor of the petition.

14 Colonel Alexander Righy.

these parts, and they shall have a suitable competency to their
deserts." ^^

Episcopalianism and Presbyterianism were alike distasteful to
Col. Rigby's views of churchmanship; and in regard to the former,
a disgraceful charge was brought against him which it is to be
feared is too true. "One Rigby, a scoundrel of the very dregs of
the parliament rebels, did at that time expose these venerable per-
sons [some of the Heads of the University of Cambridge] to sale
and would actually have sold them for slaves if any one would have
bouo^ht them."

Toward the end of the year 1642, Col. Rigby was residing with
his family at Preston, of which he and his sons, as we have seen,
were in-burgesses; and he was often styled "of Preston." Major
Robinson says, under date of 1643, tl"^3.t "his court of guard was
kept in Preston in the Toy so-called, Mr. Robert Blundell's house,
Rowland Gaskell, Marshall, it having at that time [26 May] above
50 prisoners within it." ^^ He was at Preston about Christmas,
1643, when some of the king's ships, anchoring off Liverpool, put
the country in fear. Hereupon Rigby mustered troops at Preston
in case they were wanted at Liverpool; and many of the soldiers
volunteering to accompany their colonel, they marched to the latter
town with some enthusiasm on Christmas eve by way of Wigan,
having first been "heartened" by a sermon."^

21 Halley, Lancashire II. 503; comp., History of Garstang, 164. In 1643 Alexander R'gby de

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Online LibraryCharles Edward BanksColonel Alexander Rigby : a sketch of his career and connection with Maine as proprietor of the Plough patent and president of the province of Lygonia → online text (page 1 of 5)