THE WHITMORE STORY - 2


  by James C. Ayers
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The Whitmore family tree

Years after his death in 1654, Balmes House was still known as "Sir George Whitmore's" (see Pepys' Diary) although his son William was a well known character and himself entertained many famous people there. Trustees of his will included relatives the Earl of Craven, Charles North Lord Gray of Rolleston, Sir Francis North, Chief Justice of the Commonwealth, and' Sir Eliab Harvey of Chigwell in Essex.

Sir William Whitmore of Apley represented Bridgnorth in Parliament in the 1620's, as his descendants did thereafter in almost unbroken succession for two hundred and fifty years. Obscurely (perhaps through a common relationship with the Actons) Sir William's heir, Sir Thomas, 1st Baronet, inherited the manor of Ongar in 1651 from the Poyntz family, but this was sold in 1663 by his son Sir William. He married Sir Eliab Harvey's sister and thus into the family that had produced not only the great physician William Harvey but also the captain of the fighting Temeraire at Trafalgar.

The Whitmores survived the perilous world of Restoration politics as substantial landed gentry, although all the Essex property had been sold up in the 1680's by the trustees, soon after the death of Sir George's grandson, and continued to produce able soldiers, lawyers, churchmen and politicians, as they have with unabated vigour during more than five centuries. In 1755 Lt. Gen. William Whitmore of lower Slaughter and Apley raised the 53rd Shropshire Regiment to fight the French in Canada, and his grandson, Gen. Sir George Whitmore of Malta, served in Essex in his earlier years and was concerned with the construction of the Martello towers for defence against Napoleon. Based then at Colchester he was a near neighbour of his second cousin, George Whitmore, D.D., tutor of St. John's College, Cambridge, who became Rector of the parish of Lawford after many years as absentee Rector of Quatt on his brother's Dudmaston estate. He was another Tory and High Churchman. His nephew and executor of his will was Lancelot (later Sir Lancelot) Shadwell, afterwards Vice Chancellor of England. This connection with the Shadwell family had endured for well over a hundred years.

General Sir George Whitmore (1775-1862) had seven sons, who included three generals, a major and a Q.C.

William Wolryche Whitmore (1787 -1858), in defiance of family tradition, was an active Whig M.P. for Bridgnorth and Wolverhampton, and campaigned on behalf of the poor, especially against the Corn laws. Dudmaston, on the banks of the Severn not far from Claverley, had been added to the Whitmore possessions in 1775 as a result of a marriage with the Weld family, one and a half centuries before, the marriage of another of the merchant William Whitmore's daughters.

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