Christopher Wandesford (24 September 1592 – 3 December 1640) was an English administrator and politician who sat in the House of Commons between 1621 and 1629. He was Lord Deputy of Ireland at the end of his life.
Educated at Clare College, Cambridge, and Gray's Inn, he entered Parliament as MP for Aldborough in 1621 and 1624. He was then returned for Richmond in 1625 and 1626 and Thirsk in 1628. His rise to importance was due primarily to his close friendship with Sir Thomas Wentworth, afterwards Earl of Strafford, who was a distant cousin. Although at first hostile to Charles I, as shown by the active part he took in the impeachment of Buckingham, Wandesford soon became a royalist partisan, and in 1633 he accompanied Wentworth to Ireland, where he became Master of the Rolls. Wandesford said that he went to Ireland not out of ambition, but simply out of his affection for Wentworth. He sat in the Irish House of Commons as member for Kildare in the Irish Parliaments of 1634 and 1639 and was a member of the Privy Council of Ireland.
His services to his chief were fully recognised by the latter, who wrote that of all the Privy Council he confided only in Wandesford and George Radcliffe, for whose services he could never be sufficiently thankful. In 1640 Wandesford succeeded Strafford as Lord Deputy of Ireland, but he had only just begun to struggle with the difficulties of his new position when he died, after a short illness, on 3 December 1640.
He had married Alice (1592–1659), the only daughter of Sir Hewett Osborne and sister to Sir Edward Osborne, 1st Baronet, vice-president, under Wentworth, of the Council of the North. They had seven children, five of whom survived to adulthood. During the Irish Rebellion of 1641 his widow and children were forced to flee from their home and after some hardship returned safely to Yorkshire. In the confusion Wandesford's will disappeared and was not found until 1653: this led to bitter family disputes and years of litigation.
His son Christopher (1628–1687), made a baronet in 1662, was the father of Sir Christopher Wandesford (died 1707), who was created an Irish peer as Viscount Castlecomer in 1707, Castlecomer in Kilkenny having been acquired by his grandfather when in Ireland. Christopher, the 2nd viscount (died 1719), was Secretary-at-War in 1717–1718. In 1758 John, 5th viscount, was created Earl Wandesford, but his titles became extinct when he died in January 1784. Wandesford's daughter Alice Thornton (1626–1707) is still remembered for her Autobiography, first published in 1875, which is a valuable source for her father's life and career.
Defence was a priority for Christopher Wandesford, who built a castle in Castlecomer sometime between 1635 and 1640. He had been granted Castlecomer after he argued that the O'Brennans or Brennans who had been there since 1200 held the area without legal right. Because of this he had to build a castle "to protect his steward and collieries from the wild Irish". Apparently he regretted this decision on his death bed and asked that half the rent for the entire area for the last 21 years be repaid to the O'Brennans. This was not done, despite the legal efforts of the clan.
Strafford's biographer describes him as shy, self-effacing, tolerant and charitable, a profound thinker, a fine lawyer and a man who was deeply concerned for social justice. Even though public opinion in Ireland had turned against Strafford and his associates in his final months, Wandesford's death was genuinely mourned there.
- "Wansford, Christopher (WNST610C)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
- Osborough, W.N. Wills that go missing- the quest for the last will of Christopher Wandesford Lord Deputy of Ireland published in Reflections on Law and History Four Courts Press Dublin 2006 p.1
- William Carrigan, History and Antiquities of the Diocese of Ossory, Vol. II p. 158, quoting from Comber, T., Memoirs of the Life and Death of the Lord Deputy Wandesford (Cambridge, 1778).
- Wedgwood, C.V Thomas Wentworth, 1st Earl of Strafford 1593–1641: A Revaluation Phoenix Press reissue 2000 p.44
- Wedgwood p.324
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Wandesford, Christopher". Encyclopædia Britannica. 28 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
- Thomas Comber, Memoirs of the Life and Death of the Lord Deputy Wandesford (Cambridge, 1778);
- Thomas Dunham Whitaker, History of Richmondshire, vol. ii (1823);
- The Autobiography of his daughter, Alice Thornton, edited by Charles Jackson for the Surtees Society (Durham, 1875).
- Firth, Charles Harding (1899). "Wandesford, Christopher". In Lee, Sidney. Dictionary of National Biography. 59. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
- Pogson, Fiona. "Wandesford, Christopher (1592–1640)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/28662. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
|Parliament of England|
Sir Henry Savile
|Member of Parliament for Aldborough
With: John Carvile
|Member of Parliament for Richmond
With: Sir Talbot Bowes
Sir Talbot Bowes
|Member of Parliament for Thirsk
With: William Frankland
Parliament suspended until 1640