The Twickenham Museum
People : Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen

Lord Belasyse of Worlaby
Royalist General in the Civil War
1614 - 1689

Resident of Whitton

Baron John Belasyse of Worlaby is recorded as living in Whitton from 1671 until his death in 1689. He occupied two houses there, the first was the one previously owned by Sir John Suckling. In 1687 he moved to another house, which he built, opposite the house which preceded Whitton House (later known as Kneller Hall).

Fights in Civil War battles

He was the second son of Thomas, first Lord Fauconburg. a Yorkshireman. Joining the King at Oxford on the outbreak of the Civil War he was created Baron Belasyse of Worlaby, Lincolnshire, and raised six regiments of horse and foot at his own cost. He took part in the battles of Edgehill, Brentford, Newbury, Selby and Naseby; and the sieges of Reading, Bristol and Newark. At Newark as Governor he conducted the siege with considerable fortitude. According to Samuel Pepys (4 Feb, 1665) Charles sent a message congratulating him on his defence "in a slugg-bullet, being writ in cypher, and wrapped up in lead and swallowed. So the messenger come to my lord and told him he had a message from the King but it was yet in his belly; so they did give him some physique, and out it come". Retiring to his Lincolnshire estate at the close of the war, he re-emerged at the Restoration

Governor of Tangier

Belasyse was appointed Governor of Tangier and served from 1664 until 1666 but, as a Catholic Lord he was unable to take the Oath of Conformity and resigned the post. He was imprisoned in the Tower of London from 1678 until 1684 on the false information of Titus Oates that he, with others, was in course of raising a Catholic army. When James II succeeded in 1685 Belasyse found greater favour, leasing some land for a hospital for the King's army, camped during the summer on Hounslow Heath.

Family and heirs

He married three times, his first marriage produced a son and daughter, his second no children and there were four daughters from his third. His son Henry died in 1668 leaving a son also Henry who inherited the title, dying in 1692.

His third wife and widow, Anne Pawlett remained at Whitton until her death in 1694. The four daughters of this marriage then inherited the estate: Honora who married Lord Abergavenny, Barbara who married Sir John Webb, Catherine who married a Mr Talbot and Isabella who married Thomas Stonor in 1696. When she died in 1705 Stonor inherited the London house in Great Queen Street, St Giles in the Fields.

Mary, the daughter of his first marriage married Robert Constable, 3rd Viscount Dunbar (1651-1714) and he leased the Whitton house between 1702 and 1711 with his second wife, Dorothy, widow of the 3rd Earl of Westmorland. When he died she moved to one of the Copt Hall houses (qv) in Twickenham, retaining her senior title as a Countess and dying there in 1740.

When Belasyse died he was buried in the old church of St Giles in the Fields.

Further reading:

Dictionary of National Biography

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