Robert Worsley, V

Is your surname Worsley?

Research the Worsley family

Share your family tree and photos with the people you know and love

  • Build your family tree online
  • Share photos and videos
  • Smart Matching™ technology
  • Free!

Robert Worsley, V

Also Known As: "Robert Worsley of Booths", "Esq."
Birthplace: Eccles, Greater Manchester, England, United Kingdom
Death: between 1604 and 1605 (69-72)
Booths, Greater Manchester, England, United Kingdom
Immediate Family:

Son of Sir Robert Worsley, IV and Alice Worsley
Husband of Elizabeth Worsley
Father of Thomas Worsley, I; Elizabeth Leycester; Anne Mansell; Mary Ashton; Dorothy Cardinal and 6 others

Occupation: Keeper of New Fleet prison
Managed by: Erica Howton
Last Updated:

About Robert Worsley, V

WORSLEY, Robert (d.1604/5), of Booths, Lancs.

He bought the Manor of Hovingham, but forced by debt to sell many of his ancestral estates in Lancashire Yorks 1563. Circa 1579 Keeper Fleet Prison, Salford.1 He was Member of Parliament (M.P.) Callington in 1589.


Family and Education 1st s. of Sir Robert Worsley of Booths by his 1st w. Alice, da. of Thurstan Tyldesley† (the Earl of Derby’s receiver) of Wardley. educ. St. John’s, Camb. 1562. m. Elizabeth, da. of Sir Thomas Gerard of Bryn, 3s. 8da. suc. fa. 1585.


  1. Thomas, of Booths, Esq. (d 1659). Married Katherine Kighley
  2. Robert
  3. Gilbert, of Upholland
  4. Dorothy, married John Cardinal.
  5. Katherine, married George Hilton, of Farnsworth.
  6. Anne.
  7. Jane.
  8. Frances
  9. Margaret, married Robert Henley, of Henley
  10. Elizabeth, married William Leicester, of Toft, Cheshire.
  11. Mary, married John Assheton, of Ashton-under-Lyne (see BP&B CLITHEROE, B, notably the Sir John de Assheton who d 1428).1


Offices Held Keeper of New Fleet prison at Salford c.1579; commr. eccles. causes, diocese of Chester 1580.1

Biography Worsley belonged to an old but declining Lancashire family. He was ruined finally by his keepership of Salford gaol, despite having such powerful connexions as the 4th Earl of Derby and the puritan 3rd Earl of Huntingdon. The latter wrote of him in 1581, ‘I wish Lancashire and all other counties had many such gentlemen so well affected’. As keeper of Salford gaol he had recusants in his charge, and early in 1582 he was writing to the Privy Council asking that preachers be appointed to attend them, as they ‘continue obstinate for want of instruction and conference’. Meanwhile Worsley set up bible readings for the prisoners during meals. In 1581 he was granted a third of recusancy fines in Lancashire and Cheshire, but in August 1582 the justices of Cheshire objected to paying because they were maintaining their own recusants at Chester. By June 1586 Worsley was petitioning the Privy Council, either to be relieved of his post, or to be given a new lease. In December 1589 he appealed again, complaining that his prisoners were unable to pay for their lodgings and diets, and were £800 in debt to him. Even the Privy Councillors reported that Worsley was ‘fallen into some decay, which their lordships do in conscience think meet should be repaired’. They recommended the Queen to grant him a 21-year lease of the fines. He also claimed expenses of £6,000 spent ‘to the overthrow of his whole estate’. His petition was accepted, but in September 1590 he had still not had his money and the Privy Council again urged his ‘painful diligence and care’. In January 1591 the Earl of Derby and the bishop of Chester entered the lists, and a warrant for reimbursing him was issued 30 May 1591, but it was too late. Little by little his lands were sold, including eventually, his manors of Booths and Worsley. Unable to accept his dispossession, in January 1592 he broke into the hall of Booths and repossessed it, for which he was brought before the next quarter sessions at Wigan. By October 1605 he was dead. Worsley’s grandson and heir settled on Yorkshire estates saved from the wreckage at Coulton and Hovingham.2

Worsley’s return to Parliament for a Cornish borough was an isolated incident in his life. His immediate patron must have been either William, 7th Lord Mountjoy or the 3rd Marquess of Winchester, but as no link with either has been established, it looks as though someone at court—perhaps Derby—interceded for him.

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603 Author: Irene Cassidy Notes

  • 1. W. Dugdale, Vis. Lancs. iii (Chetham Soc. lxxxiii), 339-40; (xcviii), 83; VCH Lancs. iv. 383; CSP Dom. Add. 1580-1625, p. 25.
  • 2.HMC Hatfield, ii. 207, 209; Stanley Pprs. (Chetham Soc. xxi), 36, 60; CSP Dom. 1547-80, p. 600; 1581-90, pp. 46, 50, 52, 65, 73, 177, 335, 337, 638; APC, xviii. 278; xix. 444; xx. 201; xxi. 343; xxii. 468; Lansd. 68, f. 90; 78, f. 42; Peck, Desiderata Curiosa, i. bk. 3, pp. 38, 39, 49-50, 51-2; J. S. Leatherbarrow, Lancs. Eliz. Recusants (Chetham Soc. n.s. cx), 57, 73-86, 95, 100-1; VCH Lancs. iv. 383; Lancs. Q. Sess. Recs. (Chetham Soc. n.s. lxxvii), 38, 289-90.


From Boothstown, Lords and Manor

In 1402 the second Robert de Worsley of Booths died, and was succeeded by his son Arthur. Arthur suffered from mental handicap, and was in the care of guardians even as an adult. Despite this he married Elizabeth, daughter and heiress of Geoffrey de Worsley of Worsley and his second wife Isabella. As a result of the marriage, which took place when Elizabeth was only five years old, Arthur de Worsley of Booths claimed the Manor of Worsley. But Sir John Massey of Tatton (who had married Geoffrey's sister, Alice) successfully claimed that Elizabeth was illegitimate, and that Alice was the rightful heir. Sir Geoffrey had also been heavily in debt to Massey. Thus the Manor of Worsley passed to the Massey family, and the Booths estate remained separate from the manor. At the time of the marriage of Arthur and Elizabeth, Geoffrey may have envisaged reuniting Worsley and Booths.

Robert, son of Arthur, was succeeded by four more Roberts. The last Robert de Worsley of Booths succeeded his father, Sir Robert, in 1585, having earlier been in dispute with the his father over the granting of land at Booths to the sons Sir Robert's bigamous marriage to Margaret Beetham of Upholland. The last Robert Worsley of Booths had been appointed Keeper of the Fleet Prison in Salford in around 1580. The prison was for the incarceration and correction of Catholic priests and laity, and Robert was responsible for meeting certain costs of feeding and accomodating the prisoners, with the expense to be repaid by the prisoners themselves. It proved an onerous and financially draining responsibility for Robert, and his continuous pleas for financial assistance culminated in his request in 1586 to be relieved of his duties.

Probably because of his financial problems, Robert sold parts of his estate: to Robert Hindley in 1582, and to a Francis Sherington (of Wigan, later of Wardley Hall) in 1587. Finally, in 1591, Robert Worsley sold Booths Hall and the rest of the estate for £1,400 to Robert Charnock, brother-in-law of Sherington.

Pictured left is the old Booths Hall before the older parts of the house (on the left) were demolished in the early 20th century.

view all 14

Robert Worsley, V's Timeline

Eccles, Greater Manchester, England, United Kingdom
Hovingham, North Yorkshire, England, United Kingdom
Age 71
Booths, Greater Manchester, England, United Kingdom