William Gates' Men of Portsmouth

Transcribed from the "The History of Portsmouth" by William Gates (1900)
William Gates prefaced this section of his History as follows "For the major portion of the following biographies we are indebted to Mr. Alfred T. Everitt, of Portsmouth, who has devoted many years to genealogical research, especially in connection with Hampshire families. Free use has also been made of the Howard MS."
The Following Men and their Families appear below

Hugh de Port, though a foreigner, was connected with Portsmouth by property, and on this account may be considered as having some relation to the town or as belonging to its history, as others may from residence or other circumstances of a local nature. Hugh de Port was the stock from whence sprung a numerous and extensive lineage. He was one of the followers of William the Norman, and took part in the Battle of Hastings, "slaying many English that day." After the Conquest he became the proprietor of' not less than 53 manors in the county and others elsewhere in England. He held Buckland, as appears by Domesday Book, and was Lord of Portsea. In 1096 he became a monk at Winchester, where he ended his days.
Henry, his son and heir, became Lord of Portsea, and in the reign of Henry I. founded the Priory of Sherborne, near Basing. John de Port, son of Henry, was succeeded by his son, Adam de Port. Lord of Basing, who married Mabel, daughter of Reginald de Aurevalle, by his wife Muriel, daughter of Roger de St. John, whose father, William de St. John, is stated to have been a companion of the Conqueror. Adam de Port was Governor of the Castle of Southampton, and in the 22nd year of Henry I I. was fined 300 marks for trespassing in the King's forests. In the 26th year of the same reign he gave 1,000 marks to the King for livery of his wife's inheritance in Normandy.
William de St. John, son of Adam de Port, assumed the name of his mother's family. His father's estate having escheated to the Crown in the reign of Henry II, gave 500 marks in 1213-14 for livery of the lands of his father. The two following years he executed the Sheriff's office for the county of Southampton ; but was subsequently in arms with the other barons against the Crown. In 1227 he was appointed Governor of Guernsey and Jersey.
His son Robert de St. John was constituted Governor of Portchester Castle in 1265-6 and dying shortly after that date, he was succeeded by his son John de St. John, who likewise succeeded to the Governorship of Portchester Castle. This baron acquired high military reputation in the wars of Edward I.
Baldwin de Portesey was the founder of the parish church of Portsea, which, about the year 1170, in the time of Henry de Bois, Bishop of Winchester, he gave to the Priory and Canons of Southwick, together with lands at Buckland. About the same date Pagan de Portesey was an attested witness to a charter of John de Gisors, of Portsmouth, as was also Adam de Portesey, son of Pagan.
Andrew de Portesey held land in Copnor in the time of Henry III (1216-72) to the value of three parts of a knight's fee, the the Earl of Warren - and the name of John, son of Philip de Portesey, appears during the same reign.
Richard de Portesey represented the Borough in Parliament in the reign of Henry III, and in 1275 he was Lord of Portsea, and had free warren over "Portesey, Froddington, Copenore, Stambrigg and Houghton". His name appears among the Hampshire knights of that period, and he continued Lord of Portsea until the 12th year of Edward II (1319). The family continued to reside here for some time subsequently, as the name of Ralph, son of Adam de Portesey, appears in a survey of 3 Richard II (1380) as granting lands in Fratton and Hilsea.
John White was born at Havant and by grant of Henry VIII he became the proprietor of the site of Southwick Priory and a considerable part of its possessions, including Portchester Castle. He was a burgess of Portsmouth and connected with it by office as Steward of the Court Leet and by his relationship with several of its inhabitants. He was the half-brother or brother-in-law of Francis Robins and cousin to Henry Bickley, both of Portsmouth, and both members of the Corporation. He was also the brother-in-law of Ralph Henslow who, as well as Mr. Bickley, sat in Parliament for the borough. By his will he gave a small sum to each of a great number of parishes in the county, principally to those in the neighbourhood, including Portsmouth and Portsea; and he strictly enjoined his son to keep up hospitality at Southwick in reference to what had been the custom there before the dissolution of the Convent. His directions as to his funeral are somewhat singular:- "Item. I will that at the day of my burial the Lady Lawrence, Mr. William Uvedale and his wife, my sister Pounde, Mr William Bowyer and his wife, Mr Bickley and his wife, Mr. Peter Tichbourne and his wife, Mr. Anthony Quick and his wife and my brother Francis Robins of Portsmouth and his wife be desired to dine at Southwick, where I would they should have the best cheer that my son may provide for them, and after dinner I will that my executors do give unto every gentleman an English crown piece as a token of remembrance of my good will to buy every one of them a pair of gloves."
His son married one of the daughters and co-heiresses of Anthony Pounde of Drayton, and died leaving an only-son John White. The latter married Frances, daughter of—Buller of Badmington, Gloucester, by whom he had issue Bridget, who married Sir Henry Kingsmill, and Honora, who married Sir Daniel Norton. Richard Norton, the friend of Cromwell, was the second son of Sir Daniel by his wife Honora, and by the death of his eldest brother he became possessed of the Southwick property which had belonged to his ancestor the first John White. All three of the Whites served the office of Sheriff of the County, the first in 1559-60, Edward in 1572 and John in 1597.
A younger son of the first John White, of Southwick, settled at Stubbington, near Titchfield, and it is possible that from him descended the Whites, who came from that neighbourhood to settle at Portsmouth shortly after the Restoration of Charles II. John White built a " Victualling House " called the " Antelope," in the High-street, in the year 1672, some remains of which still exist behind 19, High-street. He became Mayor in 1690, and his initials appear on the keystone of the arch above the west entrance of St. Thomas's Church. He died in 1698, leaving two sons. The younger was a Lieut.-Colonel in the Army, and died in 1756, but the elder son of John White was an Attorney at Portsmouth, and was Mayor four times between 1724 and his death in 1745. Thomas White, son of John, also served as Mayor in five different years between 1752 and 1774. He died in 1797, leaving an only son, the Rev. William White, Alderman of the Borough, who died in 1801. Mary White, daughter of James, and niece of John White, of the " Antelope," was mother of Alderman John Carter, who, with his sons and grandsons, filled the Mayor's office no less than 32 times. The last Mayor belonging to the White family was Sir Henry White, who was Mayor in 1813-4, and was knighted by the Prince Regent on the visit of the Allied Sovereigns to Portsmouth. He descended from William, a younger brother of John White, of the " Antelope."
The name of Ralph Henslowe appears pretty frequently in the Corporation Records during the early part of the reign of Queen Elizabeth. He was admitted a Burgess in 1550, represented Portsmouth in the Parliament of 1555, and was an Alderman, or Mayor's Assistant, from 1559 until his death in 1577. He lived at Boarhunt, near Portchester, and was the eldest son of Thomas Henslowe, of Southwick.
In 1562 Ralph Henslowe obtained a lease of the Manor of Hayling, with the rectory and the tithes, and in 1570 he obtained a grant from Lord Lumley, of Stansted, of " all those pasture grounds lying in Kingston in the Parish of Portsea, parcell of the manor of Haylinge containing 22 acres, &c." In 1575 he assigned all his interest in these pastures to Mr. Popinjaye, whose widow conveyed the same to Sir Edward Cresswell, Knt. They were probably the lands afterwards called " Howard's Furlong," which occasioned a law suit some fifty years since. Mr. Padwick claimed that the reversion of the land—which was then covered with houses, and of the estimated value of £200,000—vested in him as Lord of the Manor of Hayling. He thereupon, in 1847, brought 600 separate actions of ejectment for the recovery of the property, as parcel of the Manor of Hayling. After protracted litigation, however, the question was decided by the House of Lords adverse to Mr. Padwick.
There is a fine monument in Boarhunt Church to the memory of Ralph Henslowe, and his two wives. His descendants continued to reside at Boarhunt for more than a century after his death. His great great grandson, Thomas Henslowe of Boarhunt, was admitted a Burgess of the Corporation in 1672, and in 1724 another descendant, Sir John Henslowe, Knight, was made Chief Surveyor of the Navy at Portsmouth, which post he held until shortly before his death, in 1815.
The Byckleys appear to have been an ancient family of Portsmouth. The names of John Byckley and Richard Byckley occur frequently in the Corporation documents of the reign of Edward the 4th. Henry was the son of Thomas Byckley of Portsmouth by Anne, daughter of John de Port. He was a member of the body Corporate, and in 1551 served the office of Mayor. In 1553 he was returned as one of the representatives of the town to the first Parliament of Queen Mary. In 1565 he resided on his estate at Chidham, in Sussex, but at the same time was the occupier of Stubington Farm in Portsea. He was a great stickler for the rights and privileges of the Corporation, and appears to have incurred personal danger on account of it. Sir Adrian Poynings was Captain of the Town, and from the charges made against him by Mr. Byckley and others, supposing them to be well founded, the Captain seems to have set the civil authorities at defiance, and to have acted in respect to the territory of the Corporation in a most arbitrary manner. Mr. Byckley having opposed him, became the object of the Captain's resentment, and the feud on the part of the latter was so violent in its nature as to put Mr. Byckley, as he expresses himself in his will, "in fear of his life." He married Elizabeth, daughter of John Brune, of Rowner, and left four sons Thomas, Ralph, Paul, and Anthony all of whom became members of the Corporation. The youngest son, Anthony, was degraded and dismissed from the Corporation in 1605, for " his most incontinent and unchast lyffe." Henry Byckley was buried at Chidham, and in the chancel of the church there is an inscription to his memory.
Thomas Byckley, the son and heir of Henry, by his will in 1637 left a legacy to Chichester Cathedral. He died about 1640. Thomas Byckley, great grandson of Henry, was admitted a Burgess of the Portsmouth Corporation in the year 1682. The family continued to reside at Chidham well into the eighteenth century. Thomas Byckley, Bishop of Chichester from 1585 to 1596, was related to the Portsmouth family.
Was Mayor of Portsmouth in 1569, of whom it is probable Leland speaks in his itinerary, " One Carpenter, a riche man, made of late tyme in the mydle of the High Street" of the 'Town a Town House." The family of the Carpenters were no doubt an old-established family of the town. The name of John Carpenter is amongst the burgesses returning members to Parliament in the 17th year of Edward the Fourth ; and John Carpenter appears frequently on the Jury as an assessor at the Court Leet in the time of Edward the Sixth and Mary and Elizabeth.
The Nortons were an ancient and knightly family long seated at Nutley and East Tisted in Hampshire. Sir Daniel Norton, by his marriage with Honora, the heiress of John White, became possessed of Southwick Park. He represented Portsmouth in Parliament in 1620 and 1625, and was returned for the county in 1628. King Charles I. was his guest at Southwick when he received the news of the assassination of the Duke of Buckingham by Felton, at Portsmouth. Sir Daniel was Sheriff of Hants in 1608 and 1626. He died in July, 1636. His widow Honora survived him many years, and like her son, Colonel Norton, was a staunch adherent of the Parliament in the Civil War.
There is a curious reference to her in the " Mercurius Aulicus" of August, 1643, which we have quoted in the chapter relating to the siege of Portsmouth.
Lady Honora Norton and her son Richard would appear to be the only members of the family who were on the side of the Parliament. She had two other sons, Edward Norton, who paid a fine of £100 for his loyalty, and John Norton, who is probably identical with the Cavalier prisoner captured near Southampton in December, 1644, who was described as " Captain Lieutenant Norton, brother to Colonel Norton, and a far honester man than himself." Sir Richard Norton, Bart., of Rotberfield, was also a Royalist, and was compelled to compound for his estates by a fine of £250, and to find security for £500 more. Colonel Richard Norton succeeded to the Southwick estates on the death of his father, Sir Daniel Norton. He was on familiar and intimate terms with Oliver Cromwell, who distinguished him by the appellation of " Idle Dick Norton." His letters to him were addressed. " For my noble friend Colonel Dick Norton," and commenced "Dear Dick." Godwin, in his " Civil War in Hampshire," gives much interesting information respecting the part taken by the Colonel in the war.
In April, 1647, Colonel Norton was for the second time appointed Governor of Portsmouth for which he was to receive 12s. per day, with an additional 8s per day as Captain of Southsea Castle. In 1653 he sat In the Little or Barebones' Parliament, and was elected a member of the Council of State in the same year. Carlyle says of him, " Given to Presbyterian notions ; was purged out by Pride ; came back, dwindled ultimately into Royalism." This appears to be correct, for in 1660 he represented Portsmouth in the Parliament which invited Charles II. to return to his kingdom—and immediately upon the restoration Colonel Norton was once more appointed " Captain of the Town, Isle and Castle of Portsmouth."
Colonel Norton was married twice. By his first wife, Anne, daughter of Walter Earle, of Cherborough, Dorset, a well-known Parliamentarian, he was father of Daniel Norton, who, dying in the lifetime of the Colonel, left an only son, Richard, who succeeded to the Southwick estates. He represented the county of Hants in Parliament from 1693 to 1705. He married Lady Elizabeth, daughter of Edward Noel, Earl of Gainsborough, sometime Governor of Portsmouth, but died in 1732 without issue. He left an extraordinary will, which was afterwards set aside, whereby he devised Southwick and all his estates, with his personal property in trust for "the poor, hungry, thirsty and naked to the end of the world." Sarah, only daughter of Colonel Norton by his first wife, Married Henry Whitehead, of Norman Court, Tytherley, son of the Parliamentary Colonel Richard Whitehead. On the death of their grandson, Richard Whitehead, without issue, in 1733-34, the Southwick estates passed to his sister, the wife of Alexander Thistlethwayte, and her descendants.
The Beeston family were of some importance in the town and neighbourhood from the time of Queen Elizabeth, and for a considerable period afterwards. The name of Beeston was formerly a term of local designation. Part of the fortifications of Portsmouth were called Beeston's Mount, and in Portsea was Beeston's Well, and there was an extensive field called Beeston Field.
Under a grant from the Corporation in 1574, Thomas Beeston became proprietor of the Sea Mills, between Portsmouth and Portsea, which he re-built. At the same time he constructed a new carriage bridge near it connecting the two towns, which was partly the consideration of the grant made to him of the Mills. He was Mayor in 1591, and his son and grandson filled the same office - David Beeston, the son, in 1619, and Thomas, the grandson, in 1637 and 1645.
Besides his son Thomas, David had two daughters, ono of whom married Anthony Belbin, who was Mayor of the town in the time of Cromwell, and the other married John Cricket, of Newchurch, in the Isle of Wight. Thomas, the son of David, left two sons, namely, Thomas and John, both of whom resided at Portsmouth for some years, but at the latter part of his life John lived at Eastney. They were both Burgesses of the Town, and in 1709, when land was taken under an Act of Parliament passed in the 8th year of Queen Anne to improve the fortifications, Thomas was the proprietor of the Sea Mills, which had been granted to his ancestor in the time of Queen Elizabeth, and sold them and the Mill pond, comprising a large number of acres, to the Government. He died about 1713 leaving George St. Loe Beeston of Portsmouth, his eldest son.
Nicholas Hedger was a merchant and one of the principal inhabitants of Portsmouth ; and shortly after the Revolution attained to a pre-eminency of station in connection with the town which with the other incidents of his life entitled him particularly to notice. From the circumstances to be traced respecting him there can be no doubt that he was not only a man of ability, but attached to liberal principles and an enemy to arbitrary power. At the time of the Commission of Charles II in 1662, which issued under the Act for regulating Corporations, Mr. Hedger was one of the Burgesses removed from the Corporation with many other members to the number of 95. Amongst these were the Parliamentary General Sir William Waller, the Sydenhams, Robert Tichbourne, Colonel Witham, and John and Josiah Child.
In 1673 he was re-admitted into the Corporation, made an Alderman, and elected Mayor of the borough. He was again chosen for the office in 1689, but resigned in order to become a candidate to represent the Borough in Parliament, and after a contest with Colonel Slingsby, who had before represented the Borough, was returned one of its members with Admiral Russell. He afterwards, in 1695, stood another contest, and was again successful.
It is probable that Mr. Hedger when in office as Mayor in 1673 was concerned in erecting one of the Almshouses in Penny-street. By an entry in the Corporation Books in 1677 it appears he had been charged by one Nicholas Selden " with doing more in his Mayoralty than the King could do without his Parliament, by having caused a tax to be levied for building an Almshouse, and that Selden had paid thirteen shillings towards it." Selden afterwards made the amende honorable for his libellous speech, and the probable solution of the charge is that the Almshouse was built by a collection from the inhabitants sanctioned and promoted by Hedger as Mayor. That he excited violent opposition from some of his measures there can be no doubt. One dissatisfied burgess openly avowed that " he would not wear his gown again while this man was Mayor," and was disfranchised in consequence ; and another, for questioning the authority of the Court on the occasion, as well he might, was visited with the like penalty. These proceedings are characteristic perhaps both of the individual and the period, and serve at the same time to show the manner in which Mr. Hedger was supported and the influence and authority he possessed. His wife, Anne, to whom he was married before 1655, died in 1705. He left two daughters only ; the elder, Anne was the wife of Robert Shales, Mayor Of Portsmouth in 1678 and 1686; the younger daughter, Mary Hedger, married William Cooper, of Portsmouth.
The name of Ridge is of very ancient and respectable standing in the Borough of Portsmouth. In 1553 John Rydge was elected one of the " Mayor's Assistants," or, as they were afterwards " Aldermen." In 1603 Henry Ridge became a member of the Corporation, and on his death, in 1616, John Ridge was elected in his place. John died in 1628, and the following year Elizabeth Ridge, widow, gave a silver cup to the Corporation, which is still preserved with the Corporation plate. It bears the inscription "the gift of Elizabeth Ridg, Widow. 1629." For this gift Mrs. Elizabeth Ridge was presented with the Freedom of the Borough the only female ever admitted to that privilege. Richard Ridge, probably her son, was elected Mayor in 1649, and died in 1658. He and his brother John were brewers and coopers, the brewery being situate at Cold Harbour, then outside the old town of Portsmouth, but now the centre of the borough. The present Town Hall [Guildhall] stands on the site of the old brewery. Richard Ridge, jun., son of the Mayor, was also a brewer. He entered the Corporation in 1656, but was ejected with many others for supposed disloyalty by the Commissioners appointed by Charles II in 1662. He was however, subsequently re-elected a burgess, became an Alderman in 1682, and Mayor in 1685.
Thomas, the son of Richard Ridge, by his first wife (Mary Bonham), carried on the brewery business at Cold Harbour. In 1708-9 he was returned to Parliament to represent Poole, county Dorset. In 1711, however, he was expelled from Parliament for defrauding the Government. The "History of Poole" gives the following account of the affair:-
This Mr Ridge was the Queen's cooper at Portsmouth, and had contracted to supply 5,513 tone of beer, but had delivered only 3,313 tons. For the remaining 2,200 tons he paid a composition to the pursers at the rate of 30s a ton, whilst he had 56s per ton of the Queen. There was a long examination on the subject before the House of Commons, 15th February, 1710-11, when the Committee computed the loss to her Majesty to have been £18,846 15s. Mr. Ridge said in his justification that it was a common practice, and indeed many frauds of the kind were proved before the Committee, who came to resolutions stating the facts proved, expelling Mr. Ridge from the House, and recommending that her Majesty would direct her Attorney General to prosecute him.
Other Portsmouth brewers were implicated in these frauds, viz., Messrs. Rolfe, Best, Tylhurst, Kelly and Player — the last-mentioned having delivered 4,164 tons instead of 7,724 tons, according to his contract. They were all fined heavily for the offence. Thomas Ridge, who had been elected an Alderman in 1710, was re-elected in 1711. He was also returned again to Parliament to represent Poole in the year 1722. He married in January, 1697, Elizabeth, daughter of Humphrey Ayles, of Aldgate, London, and died in 1729, leaving issue Humphrey; Thomas (afterwards Sir Thomas), Charles, George, Richard, and Elizabeth.
Sir Thomas Ridge, second son of Alderman Ridge, carried on the brewery business at Cold Harbour. He was knighted in 1747, made a bankrupt in 1764, and died in October, 1766, aged 65, without issue, though not before he had paid his creditors in full.
George Ridge, fourth son, was elected a burgess of Portsmouth in 1728, but was not sworn in before December, 1757. He was ousted by mandamus in 1775, but re-elected later in the same year.