Rigby, Alexander (1594-1650)

Sir Alexander Rigby of LancashireAlexander Rigby (1594-1650) established himself on the Middleton estate in Goosnargh in the 1620s. His role in Civil War politics and military skirmishes is detailed in Fishwick’s History of Goosnargh. Shortly before his death in 1650 he was made a baron of the exchequer and thereafter he is sometimes referred to as Baron Rigby, although to his enemies he would be more likely styled robber baron in that, according to them, he was ‘never knowne to bee worth one [thousand] till hee became a publicke robber by law: but you must remember hee had beene a lawyer and a bad one.’ [1]

In his own defence he could have pointed out that his support for the Parliamentary cause came at considerable personal cost, as his DNB entry details, ‘In 1647 Rigby claimed that such commitment had carried a heavy cost. Because his estate had been plundered by the royalists he had been forced to live as an ordinary soldier. He never received relief from parliamentary funds nor appropriated any money from the estates and goods of delinquents.’ His defence could be seen as somewhat disingenuous since he was clearly attempting to profit from his political position when in 1643 he bought a large slice of America known as the province of Lygonia in Maine, the patent to which had previously been held by a Royalist. [2]

The DNB says his eldest son Alexander succeeded to the Maine estate, other sources, including the VCH, say it was his second son, Edward. The VCH says, ‘His son Edward, also a lawyer, who “took to crooked ways,” succeeded him in that estate.’ [3] Bill Caldwell has mined the archives of the Maine Historical Society to provide a detailed picture of the wrangling over the ownership of the land, which extended to around 50 square miles. [4]

Rigby was survived by his sons Alexander and Edward. [5]

[1] Henry Fishwick, The History of the Parochial Chapelry of Goosnargh (Manchester: Charles Simms & Co, 1871), 142–48, https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=D-IHAAAAQAAJ&dq.
[2] Malcolm Gratton, ‘Rigby, Alexander (Bap. 1594, D. 1650)’, in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, ed. Lawrence Goldman (online), online, 2004, http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/23643.
[3] ‘Townships: Goosnargh | British History Online’, accessed 12 January 2016, http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/lancs/vol7/pp190-206#fnn94.
[4] Bill Caldwell, Rivers of Fortune (Down East Books, 2002), https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=YOR0CgAAQBAJ&dq.
[5] Fishwick, Goosnargh.