Source: Ancestry of Thirty Three Rhode Islanders 1889, John Osborne Austin
Lewis Latham. Falconer to King Charles I.
This ancestor of so many Rhode Island families was descended from a junior branch of the Lathams of Lancaster County, and he bore the same coat of arms as that family. The senior branch had ended with Isabel, daughter and heiress of Sir Thomas Latham, of Latham. He died in 1385 and his daughter Isabel married Sir John Stanley, Kt., from whom were the Stanleys, Earls of Derby. The estates thus passed into another name, and were long held by the Stanley family. Latham House was defended with much heroism, and successfully, by the Countess of Derby, in 1644; her forces numbered three hundred men, while the Parliamentary army, under Sir Thomas Fairfax, besieged her with two thousand soldiers. After three months of siege the redoubtable countess was relieved by the forces of Prince Rupert. This old house or castle had a moat twenty-four feet wide and six feet deep, with an outer barrier of palisades and the outer walls had nine towers with six pieces of artillery to each. The year after its successful defence it was taken by General Egerton with four thousand men at his command, but only when the ammunition was wholly expended. The present Latham House was built about 1750 by the celebrated architect Leoni, and is situated in the middle of a large park, its dimensions being one hundred and fifty-six feet by seventy-five feet, and the architecture of the Grecian style. The present proprietor is the Earl of Lathom (created 1880) great grandson of Richard Wilbraham, who married Mary Bootle, daughter and sole heir of Robert Bootle of Latham House. The Knowsley estate (which also passed into the Stanley family with the marriage of Isabella Latham to Sir John Stanley) is now the seat of Lord Derby. At Knowsley Park may be seen many interesting family portraits, including one of James, the seventh earl, husband of the heroic countess. (Much of the foregoing is from Sir Bernard Burke's publication)
For many generations the Lathams exerted a powerful influence in the county of Lancaster; and to all descendants of Lewis Latham, the manor which bears his name, and where his ancestors lived for so long a period, must ever be cherished with interest as great as the place where he actually abode.
"Lewis Latham of Elstow, County Bedford, Gent.," is the designation often found applied to the subject of this sketch. Elstow, where he was buried, and where doubtless he lived most of his life (save when his avocation took him to London), is situated two miles from Bedford, in the county of that name. Here the celebrated John Bunyan was born in 1628.
The office of Falconer, in the reign of Charles I, was one of importance and distinction. The Master Falconer was Sir Patrick Home, who had thirty-three other gentlemen associated with him as Falconers, one of whom was Lewis Latham. The latter also served under Andrew Pitcairn. The following persons hold the office of Master Falconer at the dates indicated: Sir Thomas Monson, 1615, Sir Patrick Home, 1618, Sir Allen Apsley, 1669, Earl of Burford (afterward Duke of St. Albans), 1682.
Lewis Latham, in carrying out the duties of his office, was stationed near London, or at any of the places where the king might desire his attendance. It is impossible to rightly appreciate the office or the man occupying it without some general idea of falconry, which was an art requiring careful and patient study. Strangely enough the only English authority cited in the article on Hawking (or Falconry) in the British Encyclopedia, is one written by Simon Latham, who must have been a relative, and doubtless a near one, of Lewis Latham. The latter was hold his officer under the King when the work was published. There are three editions in the British Museum of the work alluded to (1618, 1633 and 1652) and the title page of one of these books is curiously illustrative of the purposes of this work. The title is as follows: "Lathams Falconry, or the Falconers Lure and Cure, in two Books. The first containing the ordering and training up of all Hawkes in general; especially the Haggard Faulcon Gentle. The second teaching approved medicines for the cure of all diseases in them. Gathered by long practice and experience and published for the delight of noble mindes, and instruction of Faulconers in thing pertaining to this princely arty. By Symon Latham, Gent." One the title page of the first edition there is a wood cut of the Haggard Faulcon, and a representation of different instruments used in the art, also the motto "In opem me copia facit" on same page. The dedication is to "Sir Thomas Munson, Baronet, Master of his Majesties Armory and Master of the Hawkes to his Highness."
The records furnish new but scanty items touching the life of Lewis Latham, but these few are interesting.
1625, Jul. 15. Warrant to pay to Andrew Pitcairn, Master of the Hawks, to the use of Lewis Latham, Eustace Norton, and the rest of the under falconers, the stipend formerly allowed them when the King was Prince of Wales.
1627, Aug 18. Warrant from Secretary Conway to Attorney General Heath, to prepare grants of the place of Sergeant of the Hawks, to Lewis Latham, with L65 per annum, and of the place he had of Falconer to Richard Berrick.
1655, May 15. "Lewys Latham, Gent. deceased ye 15th day of May." (The parish register of Elstow only commmences with 1641).
1653, May 6. Will - proved at London, 1655. Sep. 1. (Registered to the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, 1316 Aylett) Exx wife Winifred. Witnesses Robert Farnell, Jane Farnell, Susanna Farnell. "In the name of God, amen. The sixth day of May in the year of our Lord God one thousand six hundred fifty and three, I, Lewis Latham, of Elstow, in the county of Bedford, gentleman, being of perfect health and memory, do make and ordain this may last Will and Testament in manner and form following, that is to say: First and especially I bequeath my soul into the hands of Jesus Christ my blessed Saviour and Redeemer, with full and certain assurance of the free pardon and remission of all my sins in and by and through the merits death and passion of Jesus Christ may Saviour and Redeemer." "To my 2 sons Henry Latham and John Latham 12d apiece, if they demand it. To my daughters Ann Seager, Frances Clarke, Katherine Garrett and Elizabeth Bibble 12 d apiece if they come to demand it. To Ellen Sherringham, my daughter, 12d, if she come to demand it." To Winifred Dewiles he gives a bedstead with appurtenances thereto belonging, and "all the rest of my goods, chattels and cattles whatsoever I give and bequeath to Winnifred my loving wife."
1662, May 9. His widow, called "wife of Latham, the Kings Sergeant Falconer," petitioned for arrears of her husbands wages. Her patron, Sir Lewis Dyve (the royalist and defender of Sherborne Castle) desired a warrant for her, for L30 or L40, from the late privy seal. A patron was required to be well acquainted with and of the same county as the petitioner, and Sir Lew Dyve was seated at Bromham in Bedfordshire, not far from Elstow.
1662, May 13. Warrant to pay Mrs Latham, widow the late Kings falconer, l40 out of the privy seal dormant of L10,000. The portrait of Lewis Latham, fortunately preserved through the care of many generations of descendants, bears an inscription to the effect that it is "The effigy of the Honourable Lewis Latham, Faulconer to his Majesty King Charles I, who died at age of one hundred years." He had not perhaps attained such an extreme old age, though the portrait itself shows him aged.
A descendant (James Barker), who was born only seventy years after his death, makes the following incidental reference to him: "Frances the wife of William Vaughan, died September 1677, in the 67th years of her age. She was daughter of Lewis Latham. She was sometime wife of Lord Weston, then wife to William Dungan, by whom she had one son and three daughters. Her son Thomas Dungan married, and settled in Pennsylvania and was the first Baptist minister in them parts. Her daughter Barbara married to James Barker of Rhode Island. After Mr. Dungan died she married Mr. Jeremiah Clarke and came over to New England with her four children above mentioned. She had by her husband Clarke five sons. After he died she married Mr. Vaughan."
Through Lewis Latham's daughter Frances, his blood, though not his name, has been perpetrated to an extraordinary degree both in Rhode Island and in other parts of the United States. She doubtless brought with her the portrait of her father on coming to America with her third husband. The tombstones erected to her memory may still be seen in Newport Cemetery. The inscription is as follows: "Here Lyeth ye Body of Mrs France Vaughan, Allus Clarke, ye mother of ye only Children of Capt'n Jeremiah Clarke. She died ye 1 Week in Sept. 1677 in ye 67th year of her age."
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