CONVEYANCE OF WINDMILL & BOWLING GREEN 1645 PUTNEY
WILLOUGHBY, Francis, fifth Baron Willoughby of Parham (bap. 1614, d. 1666), colonial governor. Indenture on parchment (22 x 24 inches) dated 27th March 1645, between Rt Hon. Francis Willoughby, his wife Lady Elizabeth Willoughby, Henry Eltoft of London, gent, Christopher Seymour of London, gent, George Wragge of London, gent, Richard Stretton of London, taylor, and Henry Portman of Putney, gent, relating to the conveyance of property in Putney Heath and the parish of Wimbledon, including a windmill (in the tenure of Anthony Godson, miller) and a bowling green. Bearing the intact seals and signatures of Francis Willoughby, Elizabeth Willoughby, Henry Eltoft, Christopher Seymour and Richard Stretton. Folded horizontally and vertically.
Francis Willoughby was the son of William Willoughby, 3rd Baron Willoughby of Parham and Frances Manners, daughter of John Manners, 4th Earl of Rutland. Upon the death of his father in 1617, the barony passed to his older brother Henry for one year until he too died, at which point Francis inherited the barony. In 1628 Willoughby married Elizabeth Cecil (1606–1661), the daughter of Edward Cecil, 1st Viscount Wimbledon.
During the 1630s Willoughby became opposed to Charles I over corruption and the levying of ship money, and in 1642 took command of a horse regiment under the Parliamentary commander, the Earl of Essex, and became commander-in-chief of Lincolnshire. On 16 July 1643 he led an attack on Gainsborough seizing the town, and subsequently fought alongside Oliver Cromwell against the Royalist counterattack, but had to withdraw to Boston. He fought later at the Battle of Winceby and accepted the surrender of Bolingbroke Castle in November 1643. In March 1644 he joined the assault upon Newark under Sir John Meldrum, but the failure of the attack was partially attributed to Willoughby's supposed unwillingness to take orders from Meldrum. From this point onwards his relations with the Parliamentarians began to deteriorate, and by 1647 he espoused the Royalist cause. When Parliament confiscated his estates in 1649, he travelled to the Caribbean, and in 1650 took up the governorship of Barbados.
The conveyance of a windmill and a bowling green are of special interest. Bowling-Green House on Putney Heath (home of Prime Minister William Pitt) was named after the famous bowling green on the heath which may be one and the same as this green in the indenture. The windmill mentioned may possibly be Wimbledon’s first known windmill erected in 1614.