Francis Willoughby

(c. 1614—1666) colonial governor

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(c. 1614–66). Willoughby succeeded to the barony at the age of 4. At the outbreak of the Civil War, his presbyterian sympathies led him to join the parliamentary side as cavalry commander in Lincolnshire. But he grew despondent at the turn of events and in June 1644 wrote to Lord Denbigh, ‘we are all hasting to an early ruin … nobility and gentry are going down apace’. He remained with Parliament until in 1647 he was accused of treason, when he fled to join the royalists in Holland. Charles II appointed him governor of Barbados and he began colonizing Surinam. But in 1652 he was forced to capitulate, returned to England, and took a risky part in royalist conspiracies. At the Restoration he returned to Barbados as governor. He survived heavy fighting against the Dutch and French in 1665 but the following year was drowned in a hurricane. Bulstrode Whitelocke, the diarist, was his brother-in-law. ‘Charming, impetuous, self-opinionated and quarrelsome’ is a modern verdict.

From The Oxford Companion to British History in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: British History.

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