WILLOUGHBY, the name of an English family long settled in Nottinghamshire, and now represented by Baron Middleton. Having exchanged his name of Bugge for that of Willoughby, Richard de Willoughby became a judge during the reign of Edward II. and purchased the manors of Wollaton in Nottinghamshire and of Risley in Derbyshire. His son, Richard de Willoughby (d. 1362), was justice of the common pleas under Edward III. Richard's descendant, Dorothy, who became the heiress of the family estates, married Robert Willoughby of Bore Place, Kent, and their descendant, Sir Thomas Willoughby, Bart. (c. 1670-1729), of Wollaton, was created Baron Middleton in 1712. In 1877 his descendant, Digby Wentworth Bayard Willoughby (b. 1844), became the gth baron. This title must be distinguished from that of Viscount Midleton, borne by the Brodrick family.
Sir Hugh Willoughby, the seaman, was a member of this family. He was a son of Sir Henry Willoughby (d. 1528), and a grandson of Sir Hugh Willoughby of Wollaton. His early services were as a soldier on the Scottish borders, but he soon turned his thoughts to the sea, and was appointed captain of a fleet of three ships which set out in 1553 with the object of discovering a north-eastern passage to Cathay and India. Two of the three ships reached the coast of Lapland, where it was proposed to winter, and here Willoughby and his companions died of cold and starvation soon after January 1 554. A few years later their remains were found, and with them Willoughby's Journal, which is printed in vol. i. of R. Hakluyt's Principal Navigations.
Another famous member of this family was Sir Nesbit Josiah Willoughby (1777-1849), who entered the British navy in 1790 and was present at the battle of Copenhagen. In 1800, however, he was dismissed from the service by the sentence of a courtmartial for his insolent conduct towards a superior officer, a previous offence of this kind having been punished less severely. In 1803, on the renewal of war, as a volunteer he joined an English squadron bound for the West Indies, and was soon admitted again to the navy; his courage and promptness at Cape Frangais were responsible for saving 900 lives, and he distinguished himself on other occasions, being soon restored to his former rank in the service. After further services in the West Indies, during which he displayed marked gallantry on several occasions, Willoughby was tried by court-martial at Cape Town in 1808 on charges of cruelty; he seems to have taken a great delight in inflicting punishment, but he was acquitted with the advice to be more moderate in future in his language. Again in the West Indies, where he commanded the Nereide frigate, he was responsible for the heroic defence made by his ship against a much stronger French force at Port Louis, Mauritius, in August 1810, when 222 out of his crew of 281 men were disabled before he surrendered. Undeterred by the severe wounds which he had received, and seeing no prospect of active service with the British fleet, Willoughby offered his services in 1812 to the Russian government, and while serving with the Russian army he was captured by the French. He was taken to France, whence he escaped to England. Having seen a little more service in the navy, he was knighted in 1827, was made a rear-admiral in 1847, and died unmarried in London on the 19th of May 1849.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)