Rigby, Edward (1627-86)

Edward Rigby was born in 1627 the son of Alexander Rigby of Middleton in Goosnargh and younger brother of Alexander. He was educated at Cambridge and subsequently practised as a lawyer. He married three times and had four sons (including Edward, a future Preston MP) and two daughters. He was elected MP for Preston in 1660-1 and 1678 and a detailed account of his busy parliamentary career can be found in The History of Parliament. He was steward of Preston’s borough court from 1662 to 1684. [1] In records of the time he is frequently referred to as Sgt or Sjt Rigby in recognition of his legal status.

Before the age of 21 he had been made a Presbyterian elder but soon after got into financial difficulties and was either jailed for a year for debt despite his father’s intervention or was spared jail because of the paternal intervention. Henry Fishwick supports the first, The History of Parliament the second. [2] A more detailed account, which is probably Fishwick’s source, is supplied by the following:

Edward Rigby, another of Alexander Rigby’s sons, who had been also bred to the bar, fell into pecuniary difficulties, and was thrown into prison for debt, upon which on the 15th February 1646 his father, who said he had been his servant for three months, and was thereby exempt from imprisonment as being in the service of a Parliament man, sought to have him released. His creditors, however, who were not inclined to yield obedience to this not very creditable claim of parliamentary privilege, persisted in detaining him until the 18th January following, when they were stopped by an order of the House, which commanded both the judges and the counsel and solicitors concerned to yield obedience to the privilege claimed. [3]

During the Interregnum he spent some time trying, unsuccessfully, to establish his right to his father’s vast estate in Maine in America. The VCH says, ‘His son Edward, also a lawyer, who “took to crooked ways”, succeeded him in that estate.’ [4] The History of Parliament records that, ‘… it had been rumoured that he was to be made governor-general of New England.’

Around this time he acquired Longley Hall at Goosnargh. According to Fishwick the inscription ‘E. R. A. R. 1654’ was cut in stone in one of the out-buildings, which Fishwick takes to refer to Rigby and his wife, Anne. [5] However, he did not marry Anne until 1665, so it more likely refers to his first wife, Alice. [6]

In his legal capacity after the Restoration he seems to have been no friend to worshippers deviating from Anglican orthodoxy, as the following suggests:

Freckleton. 1676. Thomas Tomlinson, Henry Tomlinson and John Townson on Warrant by Edward Rigby of Preston had their goods distrained. Rigby who is described as ‘a persecuting justice’ is said to have declared that ‘he would root the Quakers out of the Hundred where he dwelt; that all the Laws yet made against them were too short; and that he would be the first that would move for a Law to have them tied to and dragged at either an Horse’s or Cart’s Tail.’ [7]

An inspection of the 1684 plans of Preston show he possessed five properties in the town at that date.

In 1685 he was arrested and jailed at Chester Castle following Monmouth’s invasion [see the page on his brother, Alexander]. He died of apoplexy in the following year. [8]

[1] ‘Rigby, Edward (1627-86), of Preston, Lancs. | History of Parliament Online’, accessed 11 January 2016, http://www.historyofparliamentonline.org/volume/1660-1690/member/rigby-edward-1627-86.
[2] Henry Fishwick, The History of the Parochial Chapelry of Goosnargh (Manchester: Charles Simms & Co, 1871), 149, https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=D-IHAAAAQAAJ&dq.
[3] E. Robinson and W. Beamont, A Discourse of the Warr in Lancashire, OS, v. 62 (Chetham society, 1864), 129–30, https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=qV1VAAAAcAAJ.
[4] ‘Townships: Goosnargh | British History Online’, accessed 12 January 2016, http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/lancs/vol7/pp190-206#fnn94.
[5] Fishwick, Goosnargh, 182.
[6] ‘Rigby, Edward (1627-86), of Preston, Lancs. | History of Parliament Online’.
[7] Benjamin Nightingale, Early Stages of the Quaker Movement in Lancashire (London Congregational Union of England and Wales, 1921), 37.
[8] ‘Rigby, Edward (1627-86), of Preston, Lancs. | History of Parliament Online’.