Saturday, 26 December 2015

(200) Ashburnham of Ashburnham Place, Earls of Ashburnham

Ashburnham of Ashburnham
The Ashburnham family began as small landowners in the parish of Ashburnham in Sussex towards the close of the 12th century and remained locally significant gentry there, holding office as sheriffs of Surrey and Sussex who were frequently knighted, for some four centuries. By the time of Queen Elizabeth I growing profits from the local iron industry had made the family wealthy enough to persuade the heralds to record for them a pedigree in which the degree of fiction increased with antiquity. The family later claimed to have been settled on their Sussex estate before the Conquest, when a wholly mythical Bertram Ashburnham was said to have defended Dover Castle against the Norman invaders. In the 17th century William Ashburnham was the model for a portrait of Bertram as a dashing young Cavalier.

It is worth tracing the family back to the 15th century, when this family and the Ashburnham baronets of Broomham have a common ancestor in Thomas Ashburnham (fl. 1434). His elder son, John Ashburnham (d. 1491) inherited the Ashburnham estate and passed it in turn to his son, William Ashburnham (d. 1531/32). William's only son John had predeceased him so the estate passed to William's grandson John Ashburnham (d. 1563), whose increasing wealth from the family ironworks brought him an increased profile in the county: he was a JP and High Sheriff, and served as MP for Sussex in 1554-55. John's heir was his eldest son, John Ashburnham (1545-91), who found himself unable in conscience to accept the new Protestant faith which became firmly established under Queen Elizabeth I, and from 1574 onwards he was regularly fined as a recusant. His inability to pay the fines led to the sequestration of his estates in 1588, but his son, Sir John Ashburnham (1571-1620), kt. did not share his father's scruples and was able to recover the estates when he came of age in 1592. He was married in 1594 and knighted in 1604, but although a glamorous and fashionable young man it was apparent to those close to him that he was improvident. Not only did he spend lavishly, he underwrote the debts of his friends, and he was eventually obliged to sell Ashburnham to the Relf family for £8,000 to pay his creditors. Even this was not sufficient to clear the debts and he died in the Fleet debtors prison in 1620. 

Sir John's eldest son, John Ashburnham (1602-71) thus inherited very little. Through his mother's family, however, he had connections with Charles I's favourite, George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham, and he secured a place in the Duke's household. By 1627 he was familiarly known to the king himself, and when the Duke was assassinated the following year, he moved into the royal court as a Gentleman of the Bedchamber. In 1629 he used his court connections to secure his marriage to a sixteen year old heiress, and by selling her estates (apparently with her consent, as he records his gratitude on their funerary monument) he was able to repurchase his ancestral property at Ashburnham in 1639. As a close companion of the King he was a leading Royalist during the Civil War (as was his younger brother, William Ashburnham), and he was with the King at key moments in the conflict. His first wife died shortly after the King's execution, and he married again, this time to a widow with property in Somerset and Wiltshire. He obtained leave from King Charles II to remain in England to manage these estates, but this may have a been a cover under which he helped to finance the royal court in exile by arranging the transfer of funds from loyal supporters in this country. This is certainly what Parliament suspected, and he was harried by close observation, restrictions on his movement, repeated imprisonment, and heavy fines, but never caught out in any such treasonable proceedings.

After the Restoration, John Ashburnham was therefore one of the many to whom Charles II owed a debt of gratitude, but the royal coffers were empty and it was difficult for the restored king to reward supporters as he would have wished and as they felt they deserved. John was restored to his office as Groom of the Bedchamber and given a number of small gifts and sinecures, but it is perhaps not surprising that contemporaries saw him as constantly on the look-out for new ways of making money, or that he was expelled from the House of Commons for taking a bribe from some French merchants. His brother, William Ashburnham, secured Crown leases of the Ampthill estate in Bedfordshire (which he let) and of the former Prior's Lodging of Westminster Abbey, which he rebuilt as a grand town residence, henceforward called Ashburnham House, which has a particularly spectacular staircase. The design of his new house is now attributed to the gentleman amateur, William Samwell, who may therefore also have played a role in the rebuilding of Ashburnham Place in Sussex, which John began in the 1660s and which was finished in the 1670s by his brother Sir William (d. 1679).


Ashburnham House, Westminster, in 1880.



Ashburnham House, Westminster: staircase of c.1662.
John's only son, William Ashburnham (c.1630-55) having died in his father's lifetime, perhaps as the result of a duel, his heir was his grandson, John Ashburnham (1656-1710), who also inherited his uncle William's estates. He married a Welsh heiress in 1677 and this brought him over 7,000 acres in Breconshire and Carmarthenshire to add to his property in Sussex and Bedfordshire. When King James II succeeded his brother in 1685, John was initially a supporter, but he witnessed at close range the disastrous impact of the King's reactionary and pro-Catholic policies on the fragile social cohesion of England, and by the time William of Orange invaded in 1688 John was happy to support him. He played a key role at the coronation of William & Mary in 1689 and shortly afterwards was raised to the peerage as the 1st Baron Ashburnham.

In 1690 he bought back the lease of the Ampthill estate from his tenants and this seems to have been his main home for the last twenty years of his life. The house had been rebuilt in the 1680s and he concentrated at first on laying out the gardens, but in 1704-07 he altered the house again. He died in January 1710 and both his elder son, William Ashburnham (1679-1710) and William's wife were dead of smallpox within another six months. The title and estates thus passed to John's younger son, John Ashburnham (1687-1737), who must have been brought up to expect only the narrow life of a younger son. He seized the sudden upturn in his fortunes with both hands and promptly married the daughter of the Duke of Ormonde, who brought a substantial portion and social advancement. When she died childless in 1713 she was replaced by the daughter of one of England's richest earls, who was also a Baroness in her own right. She too died without producing an heir in 1718, and he tried a third time, marrying a daughter of the Duke of Kent in 1724, who finally presented him with a son at the end of that year. Since all of his wives predeceased him, these three marriages must have very usefully supplemented his wealth as well as adding to his social status and connections, and it is therefore perhaps not surprising that in 1728 he became a Lord of the Bedchamber to the young Frederick, Prince of Wales, or that in 1730 he was advanced to an earldom.

In 1737 John Ashburnham (1724-1812) inherited as 2nd Earl of Ashburnham at the tender age of 12; he was to hold the titles and estates for 75 years (not a record, but at that time one of the longest peerage tenures). He followed his father in making a career at court under both George II and George III until in 1782 he resigned all his offices in a fit of pique when he was passed over for a vacancy in the Order of the Garter. In 1756 he married the daughter and sole heiress of a London alderman, who is said to have brought him a fortune of £200,000, including the Barking estate in Suffolk. He invested some of this wealth in remodelling Ashburnham Place and employing Capability Brown to landscape the grounds, and at the end of the century Barking Hall was improved as a home for his son and heir.

George Ashburnham (1760-1830), 3rd Earl of Ashburnham, seems to have inherited his father's urge to build. He must have been responsible for the work at Barking Hall, and as soon as he came into Ashburnham Place he put in hand a remodelling of the main front to the designs of George Dance. His third project, about 1820, was to build a new house on the family's estate at Pembrey (Carmarthens), but he can have spent little if any time there because in the mid 1820s he emigrated to Italy for health reasons, returning only briefly to attend his installation as a Knight of the Garter, the award which his father had so much coveted and never achieved. The 3rd Earl had antiquarian interests and was disinclined to the more public roles which his father and grandfather had fulfilled, although he was a Trustee of the British Museum for twenty years.

Bertram Ashburnham (1797-1878), 4th Earl of Ashburnham, was a great traveller and a fanatical collector of books and manuscripts, whose collections rivalled those of his contemporary, Sir Thomas Phillipps since if smaller they were arguably of greater significance. Unfortunately, he frequently bought material with a dodgy provenance, and when his son offered to sell his collections to the nation in the 1880s the French and Italian authorities pressed claims to some of the material, and the sales realised a much lower figure than he hoped and were only realised at the end of the century after much legal wrangling. Bertram Ashburnham (1840-1913), 5th Earl of Ashburnham, needed to realise the value of the collections because by the 1880s the value of the land which represented his principal investments (in 1883 the estates comprised 14,000 acres in Sussex, 3,400 acres in Suffolk, 5,700 acres in Carmarthenshire and 1,400 acres in Breconshire, worth some £24,000 a year) was falling with the agricultural depression. The 5th Earl, who became a Catholic convert in 1872, also wanted to put resources into supporting the claims of Don Carlos and his son, who were friends of his, to the Spanish throne. Although he took little part in British politics, he seems to have held views on the succession to various European thrones that were reactionary to the point of crankiness, and it is therefore something of a surprise that he was also a supporter of Home Rule for Ireland. 

Unfortunately the 5th Earl neglected the matter of his own succession, marrying late in life to a woman who appears to have been his housekeeper and failing to produce a male heir.  The title and estates therefore passed to his younger brother, Capt. Thomas Ashburnham (1855-1924), who had emigrated to Canada in 1903 and married a telephone switchboard operator who attracted his attention because she had a lovely voice, but who was past childbearing age. On inheriting, he brought his bride to England but after a year they returned to Canada and when he came back in 1924 it was to die of pneumonia contracted on the voyage over; the family titles then became extinct.  The 6th Earl progressively sold off the family estates: the Breconshire lands in 1913, Barking Hall by 1917 and the Pembrey estate in 1922. At his death, only Ashburnham Place was left, and this went to his niece, Lady Catherine Ashburnham (1890-1953), the only daughter of the 5th Earl. When her father died in 1913 she was apparently a novice nun at a convent in Putney, but perhaps because it was apparent that she would eventually inherit the estates she abandoned this career path. Her years at Ashburnham seem melancholy: she was a lonely, unapproachable, rather irascible figure, who seems to have found it difficult to cope with the way the world was changing for her class, or to cope with the demands placed on landowners by war and taxation. When she died, no tax planning seems to have been done, and her nephew and heir, the Rev. John Bickersteth (1926-91) was faced with a colossal bill for death duties which could only be met by selling the estate. About two-thirds of the house was demolished to reduce it to manageable proportions, and what was left, together with some 200 acres of parkland were vested in the Ashburnham Christian Trust, which he established to run the house as a centre for prayer and retreat.


Ashburnham Place, Sussex


Ashburnham Place appears on a map of 1638 as a double-courtyard house of perhaps about 1500, orientated to the south-east. Debts had caused it to be sold out of the family before 1620, but John Ashburnham (1602-71) recovered it in 1639 and built a new house after the Restoration. In 1671 this was 'a very fair stately palace not quite finished', but his brother, Sir William Ashburnham as trustee oversaw the completion, producing the house recorded by Peter Tillemans in a bird's eye view of about 1710-30. 

Ashburnham Place: a view from the north-east by Peter Tillemans, c.1710-30.
This picture is currently for sale at Lane Fine Art

Tillemans' view shows the house, unusually, from the rear: the five-bay main front looked down the wide yellow ride. We see the seven bay two-storey north-east wing, with ground floor bays projecting at either end. The range is of mellow brick with a white wooden cornice and a hipped roof. We also see something of the back of the house and a crenellated range that projects to the north-west. This must be part of an older building (and William Ashburnham refers in letters to new rooms adjacent to old ones), but it is not part of the double-courtyard house which the 1638 map shows stood south of the church. A map of 1717 confirms this as it appears to show the outer court of the old house still standing in that position.

Ashburnham Park: the house of 1757-61 in its new landscape setting by Capability Brown, depicted in 1784.


John, 1st Baron Ashburnham apparently preferred his Bedfordshire seat at Ampthill, and this 17th century house seems to have been unaltered until a much longer 15-bay main range was added in front of the 1670s block in 1757-61, with John Morris of Lewes as executant mason and Thomas Clark as plasterer. The architect has not been certainly identified, but may have been Stephen Wright, who measured the work. The work created an entrance front of fifteen bays and two storeys relieved only by a small central pediment. 

Ashburnham Place in 1828, after the alterations by Dance in 1813-17. Avray Tipping thought the scheme resembled the creation of a sugar-cake maker!

George Dance junior made extensive alterations and additions to the house for the 3rd Earl, in 1813-17; these were externally Gothic in style, but the interior – including a spectacular top-lit staircase hall – was resolutely classical. Dance’s work cost just over £30,000. Further alterations were made by Lewis Vulliamy in 1829, but much of Dance’s exterior was lost when the house was refaced in red brick by W.L.B. Granville in 1853-62 for the 4th Earl. 

Ashburnham Place in the late 19th century, showing the grim character of the 1853-62 refacing

Ashburnham Place: the entrance front in 1953, after the removal of the gables over the centre
Image: Historic England

After the death of the 6th and last Earl in 1924, the house passed to his sister, Lady Catherine Ashburnham. The house was requisitioned for use by St Mary's Convent School from Hampstead during the Second World War, and was also damaged when a fully-laden bomber crashed near the house. At the time of Lady Catherine's death in 1953 the repairs required were still outstanding and the house had become infected with dry rot. There was also a tax bill due on the estate of a crippling £427,000. To meet this, all the remaining historic contents were sold in one of the great country house sales of the century (the library had already been sold by the 5th Earl in the late 19th century and various pictures had been sold subsequently), and almost half the estate was also sold. Some items of furniture from the house were bought by Lord Iliffe and are now at Basildon Park. The house survived a few more years until the main building was drastically reduced in size in 1959. 

Ashburnham Place in 2012. The reduced house has a surprised air, owing to the lack of visible roofs.
Image: Ian Capper. Some rights reserved.

The top floor of the centre part was removed, the flanking wings were reduced to one storey and all of the service ranges were demolished. The south-east front has a five-bay centre and long wings. On the ground floor the windows are set within blind round arches divided by pilasters. Attached to the south-west is a seven bay orangery designed by Capability Brown but also encased in red brick in the mid 19th century. Inside, much of the mid 18th century suite of state rooms remains, with rich plasterwork and marble chimneypieces, including a pair in the Great Hall with masks and female terms. One earlier 18th century room (the John Ashburnham Room, formerly the small dining room) also survives.


Ashburnham Place: former stable block, c.1720-30, attributed to Roger Morris. Image: Julie Nadin

The stables, which are now a prayer centre for the Christian Trust, must date from c.1720-30 and are attributed to Roger Morris. They consist of three separate ashlar ranges framing a courtyard, and the left and right ranges have raised centres with low pyramid roofs and tripartite lunette windows. The main, back range has five arches for coaches towards the yard and a good front to the gardens with two short towers. 

The park at Ashburnham was in existence at an early date and may even be Saxon in origin; it was formerly divided into the Old Park and the Deer Park, and the latter has an early 17th century ranger's house known as Deer Park Cottage. An estate map of 1638 shows that the woods apparent in the Tillemans view were already in existence at that date, and it may be that the park was always heavily wooded, although the Ashburnhams' association with the iron industry and with Ashburnham Forge in particular is likely to have resulted in some clearance. Tillemans shows a 'forest landscape' that was probably designed in the 17th century, and a roughly contemporary estate survey of 1717 in the family papers also shows simple enclosed gardens adjoining the house and demonstrates that the wood apparent in Tillemans' view was cut through with a geometric layout of avenues and walks.


Ashburnham Place: the Brownian landscape from the OS 6" map surveyed in 1873-74.



Ashburnham Place: one of the Capability Brown lakes. Image: Julie Nadin

The 2nd Earl called in Capability Brown in 1767, and in two campaigns between 1767-73 and 1774-81 he created the walled kitchen garden beyond the stables and the chain of three lakes which stretch for almost a mile along the valley. He created a setting for the house in which a sweep of undulating grass dotted with trees led down from the house to the chain of lakes. New vistas were opened up in the woods beyond to provide views of the house, and the boundary of the park was marked by a tree-lined drive. Although only 220 acres of the former park remain in the same ownership as the house, the landscape is still a good and relatively unaltered example of Brown's work. There is a small cascade between the upper and middle lakes, and a bridge between the two lower lakes which was designed by Dance in 1813-15 to replace a wooden one built by Brown. The formal terraces around the house were created by Dance but modified in the late 19th century. The entrance lodges at Catsfield were designed by Robert Adam for the 2nd Earl in 1785, but later subordinated to a Gothic lodge of c.1835; and there is another Gothic lodge at Battle, of the same date. In the park there is a 17th century ranger's cottage called Deer Park Lodge, and the Italianate Tower House, which is dated 1836 and has heavy detailing.

Descent: Thomas Ashburnham (fl. 1434); to son, John Ashburnham (d. 1491); to son, William Ashburnham (d. 1531/2); to grandson, John Ashburnham (d. 1563); to son, John Ashburnham (1545-91); to son, Sir John Ashburnham (1571-1620), kt.; to son, John Ashburnham (1602-71); to grandson, John Ashburnham (1656-1710), 1st Baron Ashburnham; to son, William Ashburnham (1679-1710), 2nd Baron Ashburnham; to brother, John Ashburnham (1687-1737), 3rd Baron & 1st Earl of Ashburnham; to son, John Ashburnham (1724-1812), 2nd Earl of Ashburnham; to son, George Ashburnham (1760-1830), 3rd Earl of Ashburnham; to son, Bertram Ashburnham (1797-1878), 4th Earl of Ashburnham; to son, Bertram Ashburnham (1840-1913), 5th Earl of Ashburnham; to brother, Capt. Thomas Ashburnham (1855-1924), 6th Earl of Ashburnham; to niece, Lady Mary Catherine Charlotte Ashburnham (1890-1953); to first cousin once removed, Rev. John Bickersteth (1926-91), who gave 1960 to Ashburnham Christian Trust.



Ampthill Park, Bedfordshire


Ampthill Park from a 19th century engraving

The first house on this site was a lodge built for Sir Francis Bryan, the king’s steward at Ampthill, c.1537. After the park was granted to William Ashburnham in the 1660s and leased to Lord Ailesbury, this house was first repaired by Richard Ryder in 1676 for the 1st Earl of Ailesbury and then altered for his widow to the designs of Robert Drinkwater. The Countess then seems to have changed her mind and rebuilt it to designs by Robert Grumbold of Cambridge, 1688-89. Grumbold's design was a little old-fashioned, with a double pile plan, two principal floors raised above a basement, and a hipped roof with dormers lighting an attic storey. The original plan was for a central pediment with a cupola on the leads above it, which was later abandoned. The interior layout was similarly traditional, with a great hall leading through to a great parlour and a sequence of rooms opening out of one another on either side of this central space, and staircases at either end of the plan.

The Countess died in 1689 when work on the house was almost complete. Lord Ashburnham then bought back the lease from her heirs and seems to have made Ampthill his main home in preference to Ashburnham. In the 1690s he concentrated on forming a new forecourt on the north side of the house and laying out a splendid formal garden, but he was not satisfied with the house, and at different times he consulted Wren, Hawksmoor and Archer about possible improvements. In the end, the house was remodelled in 1704-07 by John Lumley, who was probably recommended by Ashburnham's friend, the 2nd Earl of Nottingham, for whom he had been building Burley-on-the-Hill (Rutland). The north front of the house was given two supporting pavilions attached to the central block by arcading, and the fine Baroque doorway with steps and perron on the entrance front were also added. The interiors were fitted up with advice from William Winde after 1706, and included painted decoration by Laguerre and ironwork by Tijou. 


Ampthill Park: the house as altered in the mid 18th century

Ampthill Park: saloon by Sir William Chambers
Ampthill Park: staircase hall by Sir William Chambers
The house changed hands frequently in the 18th century, and it was again remodelled by Sir William Chambers for 2nd Earl of Upper Ossory in 1768-72. The old entrance hall and eating parlour were replaced by a grand entrance hall and saloon, the latter being given a ceiling of advanced neo-Classical design by Joseph Rose and a chimneypiece probably designed by Chambers and carved by Joseph Wilton; the pavilions were also altered, one of them being converted into a library, and a new toplit main staircase was constructed. 

At the same time, Capability Brown was brought in to landscape the park at a cost of c.£2,400 in 1771-72. In 1773-74 Walpole arranged for James Essex to design and erect a cross on the site of Ampthill Castle, commemorating Catherine of Aragon’s sojourn there during her divorce from King Henry VIII.

Ampthill Park: the park as remodelled by Capability Brown in 1771-73.
In the early 19th century the house belonged to Lord & Lady Holland, who frequently brought some of the famous names from their London salon to Ampthill. In 1842, Ampthill was sold to the Duke of Bedford, and it subsequently served as a home for junior branches of the Russell family until the Second World War. After the War the house was given to the Leonard Cheshire Trust as a home for disabled servicemen, but in 1979 the Trust built a new home elsewhere in the town and Ampthill Park House was restored and divided into four dwellings. The largest unit, known as Hollands, has most of the main rooms, but the Chambers library has been subdivided and a pretty early 18th century powder cabinet on the first floor has been lost. 

Descent: Crown granted c.1662 to William Ashburnham (c.1604-79), who leased it to the 1st Earl of Ailesbury (d. 1685) and his widow, Diana, Countess of Ailesbury (d. 1689), who rebuilt the house in 1688-89; to great-nephew, John Ashburnham (1656-1710), 1st Baron Ashburnham, who remodelled the house in 1704-07; to son, William Ashburnham (1679-1710), 2nd Baron Ashburnham; to brother, John Ashburnham (1687-1736), 3rd Baron and 1st Earl of Ashburnham, who sold 1720 to John Fitzwilliam (c.1681-1728), 2nd Earl Fitzwilliam; to son, William Fitzwilliam (1719-56) whose trustees sold 1736 to Lady Gowran; to son, John Fitzpatrick (1719-58), 2nd Baron Gowran & 1st Earl of Upper Ossory; to son, John Fitzpatrick (1745-1818), 2nd Earl of Upper Ossory; to nephew, Henry Richard Vassall Fox (1773-1840), 3rd Baron Holland; to widow, who sold 1842 to Francis Russell (1788-1861), 7th Duke of Bedford; unlike most country houses acquired by the Bedford estate it was not demolished but used to house junior branches of the family, including Lord Wensleydale, Lord Ampthill and his his spinster daughters, the Misses Russell; given after WW2 to Leonard Cheshire Homes; sold 1979 for conversion into four houses.



Barking Hall, Suffolk


Barking Hall in the early 20th century. Image: Matthew Beckett/Lost Heritage

The Theobald family had a large house at Barking in the later 17th century that had 22 hearths in 1674; it may have been built originally by the Needhams when they bought the manor from the Crown in the early 17th century. Part of this building seems to have been retained as a detached service block when a new house was built for John Crowley, probably about 1740. This had a nine bay three storey south front, with the two bays at either end stepped forward; central emphasis was limited to the provision of architraves to the central windows, and a segmental pediment over the first floor window; there was presumably originally a central doorcase on the ground floor. The original form of the roof is uncertain; it could have had a modillion cornice and eaves, or a plain parapet, and it is even possible that the twin pediments shown above were original as Linley Hall (Shropshire) had similar features in the 1740s. On balance, a plain parapet - which would have made the house very severe - is perhaps most likely.

In 1782 the estate passed to the Ashburnham family. It was let until c.1786 but after that it seems to have been remodelled and extended as a home for George Ashburnham, Lord St. Asaph during his father's lifetime. Two storey two-bay wings with plain brick parapets and hipped roofs were added to either end of the south front. The grounds seem to have been improved at the same time, as a precocious sketch by Lady Susan Percy of 1799 in the Tate Gallery shows a fashionable landscaping scheme. Unfortunately the glimpses of the house between the lush greenery in this view are hard to reconcile with the building as it is known from other sources, and if this is topographically accurate it seems likely that the pediments were added to the main block a few years later in an effort to enliven it; no doubt the original central doorcase was removed and replaced by doorways in the second and fourth bays of the centre, and a verandah constructed in front of the recessed centre, at the same time. A sale of wine and books from Barking Hall in 1816 seems to mark the translation of the 3rd Earl to his recently remodelled Ashburnham Place, and thus the likely terminus ante quem for remodelling at Barking.

Barking Hall: sketch of 1799 by Lady Susan Percy. Image: Tate Gallery, London

There were further changes in the 19th century when  a conservatory was constructed at the east end of the house, and a service wing was added to the north-west. None of these later changes are securely dated, but the house was let for some years (to Lord Lovaine and William Rhodes James) c.1822-33, and thereafter is said to have been divided into tenements for poor families for about twenty years from 1836, so alterations are unlikely to have been made at that time. In 1862 the house was advertised to be let as a shooting box and it was noted 'the house has recently been put into thorough repair and is partly furnished'. The conservatory and service wing were perhaps added at this time or when the 4th Earl's widow lived here after 1878.

In the early 20th century the house was only used occasionally by the family and was frequently let to tenants, who had to provide their own 'modern necessaries' because there remained in the house only the 'antique furniture, together with a collection of family portraits and the library'. After the 5th Earl's death the 3,450 acre estate was sold to a local syndicate which subsequently resold the property in 40 lots at an auction in December 1917. The house, the late 18th century stables and a carriage house with some 40 acres were offered as one lot, but did not reach their reserve price and were subsequently sold privately. The house, which still seems to have been furnished, was described as having an entrance hall, library, dining room and two drawing rooms (one on the first floor) as well as seventeen bedrooms. The house survived for a further nine years. In April 1926 it was sold for demolition, with marble chimneypieces fetching up to £10, the drawing room doors and panelling £40, the conservatory £17, the lead on the roof £330, the shell of the servants' wing £145 and that of the main house £325. The stable block survived and in an enlarged form has become a nursing home, confusingly also called Barking Hall.

Barking Hall care home

Descent: Crown sold c.1613 to Sir Francis Needham (d. 1637) and John Yeomans; to the former's son, Thomas Needham, who sold to Sir Francis Theobald (d. 1679); to son Robert Theobald (d. 1721); to sister Anne (d. 1726), wife of Rev. Joseph Gascoyne, vicar of Enfield (Middx); to daughter Theodosia (1694-1782), wife of John Crowley (1689-1728); to four daughters, of whom Elizabeth Crowley married John Ashburnham (1724-1812), 2nd Earl of Ashburnham; to son, George, 3rd Earl of Ashburnham (1760-1830); to son, Bertram, 4th Earl of Ashburnham (1797-1878); to son, Bertram, 5th Earl of Ashburnham (1840-1913); to brother, Thomas Ashburnham, 6th Earl of Ashburnham (1855-1924) who sold to a local consortium which sold the estate in 40 lots in 1917; the house was sold for demolition in 1926. 



Court Farm and Pembrey House, Pembrey, Carmarthenshire


In 1677 the marriage of Bridget Vaughan and John, 1st Baron Ashburnham brought the large estates of the Vaughans in Breconshire and Carmarthenshire into the Ashburnham family. 


Court Farm, Pembrey from an old postcard

The Carmarthenshire estate was comprised chiefly of lands at Pembrey and Llanddeusant, with the principal residence then being Court (or Cwrt) Farm at Pembrey, a substantial medieval to 17th century house which Lord Ashburnham, when he visited for the first time in 1687 noted as 'an old stone house, large enough'. Since none of the Ashburnhams made more than the occasional visit to their Welsh estates this house was retained and used by tenant farmers until about 1960, when it was abandoned and became derelict. The house has been studied by the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales, which concluded that the core was probably a medieval tower attached to a first-floor hall reached by an external stair on the north side. The hall was re-roofed and re-fenestrated in the late 16th century, when a kitchen wing was also added. A second, freestanding, tower at the western end of the south wing was possibly also medieval. A barn which stood south of the house incorporated a thick corbelled and embattled wall which may originally have been part of a gatehouse. By the late 20th century the site was so overgrown as to be inaccessible, but significant clearance has since been undertaken by the Carmarthenshire Historic Buildings Trust with assistance from CADW; the Trust has ambitions to restore the building. Additional photographs and plans of the house can be found here.

In 1818 the builder 3rd Earl undertook the reclamation of 500 acres of marshland on the coast at Pembrey, which were subject to periodic inundation by the sea. Shortly afterwards, he decided to build a new house at Pembrey for occasional family use, and he selected a new site for this to the east of Court Farm with views over his reclaimed land to Carmarthen Bay. 


Pembrey House, from an old postcard

It had a three storey three bay centre with lower one-bay wings, and a verandah across the south front had an elegantly swept roof. The house was used by the family for a relatively brief period and was let from 1845 onwards. Around 1900 the 5th Earl lent the house to a group of Benedictine monks from Finisterre, but they found alternative premises in 1903, and along with the rest of the Pembrey estate it was sold in 1922. According to the Royal Commission it was demolished in the 1930s, but it was still shown on the 6" Ordnance Survey map surveyed between 1948 and 1952, so the precise date of destruction is unclear.



Shernfold Park, Frant, Sussex


Shernfold is an identifiable property from the 16th century, when it belonged to the Crowherst family, but in 1638 it still consisted of only 36 acres, and nothing is known of the house which stood there at this time or throughout the 18th century.


Shernfold Park, from an engraving of 1830

The first recorded house on this site is the rather extraordinary building depicted in the engraving above, which said to have been built in 1790 for Charles Pigou, a gunpowder manufacturer who was High Sheriff of Sussex in 1795. This appears to have been a polygonal building with a five-bay centre of which the middle three bays are dominated by a giant curved Ionic colonnade, with a domed hall behind; to either side two-storey seven bay ranges project backwards at an angle of about 45 degrees, each of which has the end three bays stepped forward and pedimented. The design, which in its polygonal form with a dome at the angle was perhaps influenced by Goodwood House, maximised display at the expense of architectural coherence. The architect is unknown but one feels the client must have given strong directions for the result to have been as it was. In 1799 Charles Beazley designed a pavilion for Pigou and he must be a candidate for the original architect. When it was advertised for sale in 1809 the house contained "all the apartments necessary to form a Gentleman's residence, particularly a magnificent saloon, eating room, library, a hall and billiard room opening into the conservatory", and the property amounted to 242 acres in total.


Shernfold Park, as rebuilt by Lewis Vulliamy in 1853-55

The house was completely rebuilt in 1853-55 by Lewis Vulliamy for Percy Ashburnham as a much more sober - not to say severe - nine by five bay block, with a service wing attached to the north end.
Shernfold Park from OS 6" map, 1873
The house is built of a local grey sandstone and this combined with the plain exterior makes it remind one of Cornish houses. The west-facing entrance side has the central three bays slightly recessed behind a tall porch with Doric pilasters and a heavy balustraded parapet. In the late 19th century the service wing was enlarged and given a pedimental gable on this front. The more domestic garden front also has nine bays, here in a more restful 1-2-3-2-1 rhythm.



Shernfold Park: garden front, with the service wing beyond.
The house was used as a military hospital during the First World War, and was converted into flats in the 1970s, when some of the main interiors were subdivided. The lodge of the 18th century house survives, but it has been greatly extended and altered.







Descent: built for Charles Edward Pigou (1755-1841); sold 1810 to James Cranbourne Strode; sold 1820 to Lt-Col. John By (d. 1836); to daughter, Esther (d. 1848), later wife of Hon. Percy Ashburnham (1799-1881); to nephew, Hon. John Ashburnham (1845-1912), who sold c.1900 to Benjamin Newgrass (d. 1922); sold after his death to Wellington Williams (d. by 1928); to son, Lt-Cmdr Gerald Wellington Williams MP (1903-89), who sold for conversion to flats c.1970.



Ashburnham family, Earls of Ashburnham


Ashburnham, Thomas (fl. 1434). Son of John Ashburnham (d. 1417) and his wife Elizabeth Finch. His father had expectations from the estate of his uncle Roger Ashburnham of Scotney Castle (Kent) and Thomas was involved in lengthy disputes over this inheritance, in the course of which, immediately after his father's death, he seized Scotney Castle by force. He was regarded as one of the people of 'prime quality' in Sussex, and swore an oath on behalf of himself and his retainers 'to observe the laws then made', 1434. He married Sarah, daughter and heir of Henry Waunsey/Wanses, and had issue:
(1) John Ashburnham (d. 1491) (q.v.);
(2) Richard Ashburnham of Broomham (Sussex), from whom descend the Ashburnham baronets who will be the subject of my next post.
He inherited the Ashburnham estate from his father in 1417 and eventually secured Scotney Castle under the provisions of a settlement of his great-uncle. Scotney was sold to William Chicheley, Archbishop of Canterbury before 1443.
His date of death is unknown.

Ashburnham, John (d. 1491). Eldest son of Thomas Ashburnham (fl. 1434) and his wife Sarah, daughter of Henry Waunsey. He married 1st, Elizabeth, daughter of [forename unknown] Peckham of Kent and perhaps 2nd, Johanne Pelham (fl. 1491), and had issue:
(1.1) William Ashburnham (d. c.1531-32) (q.v.).
He inherited the Ashburnham estate from his father.
He died in 1491 and was buried in the chapel of St. James at Ashburnham; his will was proved in the PCC in 1491.

Ashburnham, William (d. c.1531-32). Only son of John Ashburnham (d. 1491) and his first wife Elizabeth Peckham. High Sheriff of Surrey and Sussex, 1507, 1517. He married Anne, daughter of Henry Hawley of Ore (Sussex) and had issue:
(1) John Ashburnham (fl. early 16th cent.) (q.v.);
(2) Jane Ashburnham; married 1st, William Apsley of Thakeham (Sussex) and had issue two sons and three daughters; married 2nd, as his third wife, Richard Covert (d. 1547) of Slaugham (Sussex); buried at Slaugham.
He inherited the Ashburnham estate from his father in 1491. At his death he was succeeded in his estates by his grandson, John Ashburnham (d. 1563).
He died between 1530 and 1532.

Ashburnham, John (d. 1531). Only son of William Ashburnham (d. 1531-32) and his wife Anne, daughter of Henry Hawley of Ore (Sussex). Perhaps to be equated with the 'John William Ashburnham' who was High Sheriff of Surrey and Sussex, 1524. He married Lora, daughter and co-heir of Thomas Berkeley of Aram (Hants) and had issue:
(1) John Ashburnham (d. 1563) (q.v.);
(2) Anne Ashburnham (c.1530-1600); married 1st, 1556 at Ashburnham, John Bolney of Bolney (Sussex); 2nd, as his third wife, Thomas Culpeper (1525-71) of Wakehurst Place (Sussex); and 3rd, 27 August 1572 at Ardingly (Sussex), Henry Berkeley DCL (c.1536-87), Master in Chancery, of Bolney; buried at Bolney, 1601, where she is commemorated by a monument;
(3) Jane Ashburnham; married Oliver Denham (b. c.1522);
(4) Alice Ashburnham; married, 1541 at Ashburnham, Edmund Daniell.
He died in the lifetime of his father, 1531.

Ashburnham, John (d. 1563). Only son of John Ashburnham (d. 1431) and his wife Lora, daughter of Thomas Berkeley of Aram (Hants). Educated at Grays Inn (admitted 1542). MP for Sussex, 1554-55. Active on local commissions, including as a commissioner for the survey of the bishopric of Chichester, 1559. JP for Sussex, 1554-63; High Sheriff of Surrey and Sussex, 1557-58. He married, probably by 1546, Isabel (b. c.1525), daughter of John Sackville of Withyham and Chiddingly (Sussex) and had issue:
(1) John Ashburnham (1545-91) (q.v.);
(2) Thomas Ashburnham (b. 1549; fl. 1584), baptised at Ashburnham, 1549; living in 1584;
(3) William Ashburnham (fl. 1562; fl. 1592?); perhaps the person of that name listed as a recusant in 1592; died unmarried;
(4) Eleanor Ashburnham (fl. 1618); listed as a recusant in 1592 when she was living in Willingdon (Sussex); died unmarried;
(5) Anne Ashburnham (fl. 1562); married Thomas Pemberton/Penderton of Suffolk;
(6) Margaret Ashburnham (fl. 1562); married [forename unknown] Jones of Monmouth.
He inherited the Ashburnham estate from his grandfather between 1530 and 1532 and came of age at 22.
He died in 1563; his will was proved 18 May 1563. His widow lived at Lambeth (Surrey) and was buried at St Mary Overy, Southwark (Surrey) in 1584; her nuncupative will was proved 26 May 1584.

Ashburnham, John (1545-91). Eldest son of John Ashburnham (d. 1563) and his wife Isabel, daughter of John Sackville of Withyham and Chiddingly (Sussex), baptised at Ashburnham, 1545. He was accused of recusancy in 1574 and because of unpaid fines had his estates sequestered by the Crown in 1588. He married, 27 July 1569 at St Olave, Hart Street, London, Mary, daughter of George Fane (c.1521-72) of Badsell in Tudeley (Kent) and had issue:
(1) Sir John Ashburnham (1571-1620), kt. (q.v.);
(2) Thomas Ashburnham (b. 1573), baptised at Ashburnham, 1573; died unmarried;
(3) William Ashburnham (b. 1582), baptised at Ashburnham, 1582; died unmarried;
(4) George Ashburnham (b. & d. 1585), baptised at Ashburnham, 1585 and was buried there the same year;
(5) Walter Ashburnham; died unmarried;
(6) Mary Ashburnham (d. 1641); listed as a recusant in 1592; married George Wentworth (1576-1638) of Bretton (Yorks) and had issue six sons and four daughters; buried at Silkstone (Yorks WR), 1641;
(7) Katherine Ashburnham; listed as a recusant in 1592; married George Aldwick of Yorkshire.
He inherited the Ashburnham estate from his father in 1563, but it was sequestered by the Crown in 1588 for unpaid fines for recusancy and in 1591 farmed out to William Cordell, the Queen's Master Cook.
He died 14 October 1591. His wife died in 1572.


Sir John Ashburnham (1571-1620) in 1591
by Hieronimo Custodis
Ashburnham, Sir John (1571-1620), kt. Eldest son of John Ashburnham (1545-91) and his wife Mary, daughter of George Fane of Badsell (Kent), born at Tudeley (Kent), 1 January 1570/71. He conformed in matters of religion and thus was able to recover the Ashburnham estate from the Crown when he came of age in 1592, and he was knighted at the Tower of London, 1604. He 'wasted his patrimony by undertaking too lightly the financial burdens of his friends', and was obliged to sell the Ashburnham estate for £8,000; this was apparently insufficient to cover his debts as he was confined to the Fleet Prison and died there. He married, 27 November 1594, Elizabeth (1576-1651), daughter of Sir Thomas Beaumont of Stoughton (Leics) and had issue:
(1) John Ashburnham (b. & d. 1596);
(2) Anne Ashburnham (b. & d. 1597);
(3) Frances Ashburnham (b. 1599; fl. 1650); married Frederick Turville;
(4) Mary Ashburnham (1600-19); died unmarried, 25 November 1619 and was buried at St Botolph, Aldgate, London;
(5) Elizabeth Ashburnham (1601-44), baptised 24 July 1601 at St James, Clerkenwell (Middx); maid of honour and later lady of the bedchamber to Queen Henrietta Maria; married, 1631, Sir Frederick Cornwallis MP (1611-62), 1st bt. and 1st Baron Cornwallis, and had issue four children; died January 1643/4;
(6) John Ashburnham (1602-71) (q.v.);
(7) William Ashburnham (c.1604-79) (q.v.); 
(8) Anne Ashburnham (c.1605-28); married, 1 January 1625, as his second wife, Sir Edward Dering (1598-1644), 1st bt. and had issue one son; buried at Pluckley (Kent), 17 April 1628 aged 23;
(9) Edward Ashburnham (b. & d. 1606);
(10) Catherine Ashburnham (b. 1614); married 1st, 14 July 1634 at Barking (Essex), Sir John Sherlock, kt. (c.1603-52), Lt-Col. of Lord Lambert's Regiment in the Civil War; married 2nd, about December 1660, Alderman John Preston (1611-86), mayor of Dublin in 1654, son of Hugh Preston of Bolton (Lancs) but had no issue.
He recovered the Ashburnham estate from the Crown in 1592, but was obliged to sell it to the Relf family before 1620.
He died in the Fleet Prison, 29 June 1620 and was buried at St. Andrew, Holborn (Middx), where he was commemorated by a monument erected by his widow the following year. His widow married 2nd, 14 December 1626, Sir Thomas Richardson (1569-1635), Lord Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, and was created Baroness Cramond in the peerage of Scotland for life in 1628, with remainder to the son by a former wife of her second husband; she was granted a pension of £300 a year in 1629, and published 'a little book of pleasant piety' entitled A Ladie's Legacie to her Daughters, 1645; she was buried with her first husband in St. Andrew, Holborn, 3 April 1651.


John Ashburnham 1603-71
by Daniel Mytens
Ashburnham, John (1602-71). Elder son of Sir John Ashburnham (d. 1620), kt. and his wife Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Thomas Beaumont of Stoughton (Leics), baptised 12 June 1602. Educated at Grays Inn (admitted 1618) and Peterhouse, Cambridge (admitted 1619). As a very young man he began a career as a courtier in the household of his kinsman, George Villiers (d. 1628), 1st Duke of Buckingham. By 1627 he was personally known to the King and after the Duke's assassination he became a Gentleman of the Bedchamber 1628-42 and Groom of the Bedchamber 1642-47. He was MP for Hastings, 1628, 1640-44; Captain of a company of foot in the Earl of Northumberland's regiment, 1640; member of the Royalist Council of War and Treasurer at War, 1643-45. While the Court was at Oxford he fought a duel in Christchurch Meadow with Lord John Stuart, brother of the Duke of Richmond, 15 March 1642/3. In 1646 he was the only person in attendance on the King when he left Oxford and he was with the King on 11 November 1647 when he left Hampton Court and fled to Sir John Oglander's house on the Isle of Wight. John then sought the assistance of Robert Hammond, the Governor of the island, but he made the mistake of bringing Hammond to the king's hiding place before ensuring his loyalty, and when the King realised this he is said to have exclaimed "Oh Jack, thou has undone me!", and indeed the King was then continuously in custody until his execution, 30 January 1649, at which Ashburnham is said to have been present. Through his second marriage he acquired an estate in Wiltshire and Somerset and Charles II gave him permission to stay in England and look after it, but the fact that he stayed in England rather than living abroad with the King like many Royalists gave rise to suspicions of his loyalty, and Clarendon considered that the general opinion was that he had been outwitted if not corrupted by Cromwell. However, the Parliamentary forces harassed him: he was sued for debts contracted by Charles I, forced to compound for half his estate (an exceptional fine), bound to appear before the Council of State at will and subjected to controls on his movements, and he was imprisoned at intervals in the Tower of London and on Guernsey. It seems possible that he was kept in England by Charles II to organise the transfer of funds to the royal court in exile, as such transfers were the matter on which he was hardest pressed by the Parliamentarians. At the Restoration he was restored to his post as Groom of the Bedchamber, 1661-70 and received some financial rewards; he was made one of the Guardians of the young Duke of Monmouth, and his house at Chiswick was bought by the Crown as a seat for the Duke, but he did not receive a peerage, perhaps because his estate was too impoverished to support the dignity; nor, more notably, did he receive a knighthood. He was MP for Sussex again 1661-67, when he was expelled for taking a bribe. JP for Sussex, 1640-44, 1661-70; DL for Sussex, 1660-70 and for Middlesex, 1661-70; commissioner for assessment in Sussex, 1640 and in Middlesex 1661-69 and Westminster 1661-62 and 1665-69. He was made a Freeman of Portsmouth in 1662. He married 1st, 1629 (licence 24 September), Frances (1613-49), daughter and heir of William Holland of Westburton, who brought him 'an exceeding great portion' and 2nd, c.1651, Elizabeth (1593-1663), daughter and heiress of Christopher Kenn of Kenn (Somerset) and widow of John Poulett (1586-1649), 1st Baron Poulett, and had issue:
(1.1) William Ashburnham (c.1630-55?) (q.v.);
(1.2) Frances Ashburnham (1632-c.1673); married, c.1650, Sir Denny Ashburnham (c.1628-97), 1st bt. of Broomham (Sussex) and had issue four sons (who all died young) and two daughters; died between 1670 and 1675;
(1.3) Anne Ashburnham (c.1637-97); married, before 1659 (post-nuptial settlement, 25 July 1666), Sir Hugh Smyth (1632-80), 1st bt. of Ashton Court (Somerset) and had issue three sons and four daughters; died 26 June 1697 'aged about 60 years' and was buried at Long Ashton where she is commemorated on a monument;
(1.3) John Ashburnham (b. 1642); baptised 4 August 1642; died after 1657;
(1.4) Bertram/Bertrand Ashburnham (1644-81), baptised at Oxford, 1 February 1643/4; educated at Christ Church, Oxford (matriculated 1660) and the Middle Temple (admitted 1660; called to bar 1669); barrister-at-law; will proved 16 March 1681;
(1.6) Charles Ashburnham (b. c.1645), born about 1645; educated at Christ Church, Oxford (matriculated 1660) and the Middle Temple (admitted 1660); living in 1670;
(1.7) Elizabeth Ashburnham (fl. 1650-70);
(1.8) A daughter (d. before 1650); died young.
He sold his first wife's estates and this enabled him to buy back Ashburnham in 1639; he and his brother rebuilt the house there in the 1660s and 1670s; he also rebuilt Ashburnham church in the Gothic style in 1665. He extended the estate in Sussex, buying additional land whenever opportunity arose and his finances permitted. His second wife brought him Chiswick House (Middx), which he sold to the Crown in 1664 as a home for James, Duke of Monmouth.
He died 15 June 1671 and was buried at Ashburnham, where he and his two wives are commemorated by a monument attributed to Thomas Burman and made c.1651, although the effigies of John and his second wife were added c.1671. His first wife died 1649, aged 37. His second wife died 23 November 1663, aged 70.


Maj-Gen. William Ashburnham,
by Sir Peter Lely, 1650
Ashburnham, Maj-Gen. William (c.1604-79). Second surviving son of Sir John Ashburnham (d. 1620), kt. and his wife Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Thomas Beaumont of Stoughton (Leics), born about 1604; in the 1620s he fought in the service of the States General in the Netherlands, but he returned home to serve the King, perhaps on the recommendation of his brother; JP for Hampshire and Wiltshire, 1634-46 and DL for Hampshire 1640-42; MP for Ludgershall, 1640-41, when he was expelled by Parliament for his part in the Army plot. He was an officer in the Royalist army (Lt-Col., 1639; Col., 1640; Maj-Gen. 1643) and Col. of the King's 8th Regiment; Governor of Weymouth, 1644. He served as Cofferer of the Royal Household, 1642-46. In 1654 he was arrested and examined on a charge of complicity in the plot of Col. John Gerard to murder the Lord Protector, and although nothing was proved against him he was imprisoned until 1659. After the Restoration he was restored to his place as Cofferer, 1660-79 and again returned as MP for Ludgershall, 1661-79. Like his brother he was one of guardians of the young Duke of Monmouth, 1665-70, and he was JP for Middlesex and Westminster, 1661-79. His position as cofferer offered significant opportunities for personal enrichment, and a pamphlet accused him of having 'got by the court £50,000'; his private investments included a substantial share in the Duke of York's Theatre. He was appointed a member of  Society of Mineral & Battery Works and of the Society of Mines Royal, 1662-79 (Deputy Governor of the former 1664-79 and of the latter, 1675-79) and he was a member of the Royal Africa Co. from 1672 and the Royal Fisheries from 1677. He married, c.1627 at Bramfield (Suffolk), Jane (1604-72), daughter of John Boteler, 1st Baron Boteler of Brantfield and widow of James Ley, 1st Earl of Marlborough, but had no issue.
He had no inheritance of land but through his wife he acquired an estate at Tidworth (Wilts), which he sold in 1650. After the Restoration he bought land in Sussex including the manor of Mountford. Among the rewards he received from King Charles II was a grant of the royal park and hunting lodge at Ampthill (Beds) which he leased to the Earl & Countess of Ailesbury. He also received the site of the prior's house at Westminster Abbey, which he redeveloped as Ashburnham House, probably to the designs of William Samwell, as a town residence. In 1671 he received a bequest of Moulton Park (Northants) from his brother in lieu of a debt of £5,000. After his brother's death in 1671 he managed the Ashburnham estate until his great-nephew came of age in 1677, and this included completing the new house there.
He died 9 December 1679 in his 75th year, and was buried at Ashburnham where he is commemorated by a monument to him and his wife designed by John Bushnell at the time of his wife's death in 1672.


Ashburnham, William (c.1630-55?). Only son of John Ashburnham (1602-71) and his first wife Frances, daughter and heir of William Holland of Westburton. Perhaps the young man of this name who undertook a Grand Tour of France and Italy under the guidance of Isaac Basire, archdeacon of Northumberland in the late 1640s. He married Hon. Elizabeth (c.1630-90), daughter of John Poulett, 1st Baron Poulett of Hinton St. George (Somerset) and had issue:
(1) John Ashburnham (1656-1710), 1st Baron Ashburnham (q.v.).
According to most sources, he died in the lifetime of his father, 1655*; could he be the William Ashburnham esq. who was murdered in London in August 1656, probably in a duel? His widow married 2nd, 1668/9 (settlement 4 December 1668) as his second wife, Sir William Hartopp (c.1626-92) of Rotherby (Leics) and died 18 August 1690; her will was proved in the PCC, 21 August 1690.
* Some sources say 1665.


John, 1st Baron Ashburnham,
attributed to William Wissing
Ashburnham, John (1656-1710), 1st Baron Ashburnham. Only and posthumous son of William Ashburnham (c.1630-55?) and his wife Hon. Elizabeth, daughter of John Poulett, 1st Baron Poulett of Hinton St. George (Somerset), born at Chiswick (Middx), 15 January 1655/6. Educated at Eton and Peterhouse, Cambridge (admitted 1670; MA 1671). He was MP for Hastings, 1679-81, 1685-87 and 1689 and was one of the barons of the Cinque Ports chosen to hold the canopy of state over the king at the coronations of James II and William III; his willingness to perform the office in 1689 shows that he must have become disenchanted with King James' rule and have welcomed William's invasion.  This no doubt explains why he was created Baron Ashburnham, 20 May 1689 by King William III when his grandfather did not secure an equivalent honour from Charles II despite his sacrifices for the Stuart cause. He served as Custos Rotulorum of Breconshire, 1702-10. He married, 22 July 1677 at Westminster Abbey, Bridget (d. 1719), only daughter and heiress of Walter Vaughan of Porth-Aml House (Brecons) and had issue:
(1) William Ashburnham (1679-1710), 2nd Baron Ashburnham (q.v.);
(2) John Ashburnham (1687-1737), 3rd Baron & 1st Earl of Ashburnham (q.v.);
(3) Hon. Bertram Ashburnham (d. 1743); lived in Westminster; travelled in Holland, Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Italy, 1733-34; died unmarried and without issue, October 1743; administration of goods with will annexed granted to his residuary legatee, James Stuart, 1753;
(4) Hon. Elizabeth Ashburnham* (fl. 1731); married, about April 1709, James Hayes (1676-1731) of Bedgebury Park (Kent) but had no issue; financial worries and litigation in Chancery took their toll on her husband's mental health and by 1728 she was managing his affairs; died after December 1731; 
(5) Hon. Anne Ashburnham; died young;
(6) Hon. Jane Ashburnham* (d. 1732); married 1st, 10 September 1716 at St Luke, Chelsea (Middx), Robert Cholmondeley (d. 1728) of Holford Hall (Cheshire) and 2nd, November 1628, Seymour Cholmondeley (1689-1739); died 26 January/7 February 1732.
He inherited the Ashburnham estate from his grandfather in 1671 but this was managed on his behalf by his great-uncle until he came of age in 1677. He inherited Ampthill, Ashburnham House, Westminster and additional property in Sussex from his great-uncle in 1679. He appears to have lived chiefly at Ashburnham until in 1690 he bought back the lease of Ampthill, where he laid out the gardens in the 1690s and remodelled the house in 1704-07. Through his marriage in 1677 he acquired large estates at Pembrey (Carmarthenshire) and Porth-Aml near Talgarth (Breconshire) in Wales.
He died at his house in Southampton St., Bloomsbury, 21 January and was buried at Ashburnham, 1 February 1709/10; his will was proved 6 February 1709/10. His widow died 12 May and was buried at Ashburnham 19 May 1719.
*Most sources confuse the spouses of Jane and Elizabeth Ashburnham but a Chancery suit in the National Archives (C11/2624/52) clarifies the relationships.

Ashburnham, William (1679-1710), 2nd Baron Ashburnham. Eldest son of John Ashburnham (1656-1710), 1st Baron Ashburnham and his wife Bridget, daughter of Walter Vaughan of Porth-aml House (Brecons), born 20 May and baptised at St Martin-in-the-Fields, Westminster (Middx), 22 May 1679. Tory MP for Hastings, 1702-10. Succeeded his father as 2nd Baron Ashburnham, 21 January 1709/10. He married, 16 October 1705 at Corby (Lincs), Catharine, daughter and sole heir of Thomas Taylor of Clapham (Beds) but had no issue.
He inherited the Ampthill, Ashburnham, Pembrey and Porth-Aml estates from his father in 1710. Through his wife he inherited the Clapham (Beds) estate. At his death his title and estates passed to his younger brother.
He died of smallpox, 16 June 1710 and was buried at Ashburnham. His widow died of the same disease, 11 July 1710 and was also buried at Ashburnham; administration of her goods was granted to her mother, 26 July 1710.


1st Earl of Ashburnham by Michael Dahl
Ashburnham, John (1687-1737), 3rd Baron & 1st Earl of Ashburnham. Second son of John Ashburnham (1656-1710), 1st Baron Ashburnham and his wife Bridget, daughter of Walter Vaughan of Porth-Aml House (Brecons), baptised at St Margaret, Westminster (Middx), 13 March 1687. Tory MP for Hastings, Feb-June 1710; Col. of 1st Troop of Horse Guards, 1713-15; Lord of the Bedchamber to Frederick, Prince of Wales, 1728-31; Captain of the Yeomen of the Guard, 1731-36. He succeeded his brother as 3rd Baron Ashburnham, 16 June 1710, and was further created Viscount St. Asaph and Earl of Ashburnham, 14 May 1730. He married 1st, 21 October 1710, Lady Mary (c.1681-1712), daughter of James Butler, 2nd Duke of Ormonde; 2nd, 24 July 1714 at the Chapel Royal, Whitehall, Henrietta Maria (c.1687-1718), Baroness Strange in her own right, daughter and heiress of William Stanley, 9th Earl of Derby and widow of the 4th Earl of Anglesey; and 3rd, 14 March 1723/4 at St James, Westminster (Middx), Lady Jemima (c.1699-1731), daughter and co-heir of Henry de Grey, 1st Duke of Kent, and had issue:
(2.1) Hon. Henrietta Bridget Ashburnham (c.1717-32), Baroness Strange; succeeded her mother as Baroness Strange, 26 June 1718; died unmarried aged 15, 8 August 1732, when her barony passed to her great-uncle, James Stanley, 10th Earl of Derby; she was buried at Ashburnham, 12 August 1732;
(3.1) John Ashburnham (1724-1812), 2nd Earl of Ashburnham (q.v.).
He inherited the Ampthill, Ashburnham, Clapham, Pembrey and Porth-Aml estates from his elder brother in 1710. In 1720 he sold the Ampthill estate to Lord Fitzwilliam and in 1730 he sold Ashburnham House, Westminster to the Crown (it was used at first to house the Cottonian Collection of manuscripts, which was partly destroyed in a fire there, and later became part of Westminster School). In 1710 he paid £3,700 for 3 St James' Square and in 1712-16 he rebuilt it, apparently to the designs of Nicholas Hawksmoor, but he had leased it by 1716 and subsequently sold all his interest.
He died 10 March 1736/7 at his house in St. James's, Westminster, and was buried at Ashburnham; his will was proved later that month. His first wife died in childbirth (to the distress of her friend, Jonathan Swift, who wrote  'She was my greatest favourite, and I am in excessive concern for her death. I hardly knew a more valuable person on all accounts'), 2 January 1712/3 and was buried at Ashburnham. His second wife died 26 June 1718, aged 31 and was buried at Ashburnham; administration of her goods was granted to her husband, 26 July 1718. His third wife died 7 July 1731, aged 32 and was buried at Ashburnham.


2nd Earl of Ashburnham
Ashburnham, John (1724-1812), 2nd Earl of Ashburnham. Only son of John Ashburnham (1687-1737), 1st Earl of Ashburnham and his third wife, Lady Jemima, daughter and co-heir of Henry de Grey, 1st Duke of Kent, born 30 October 1724. Educated at Westminster School, 1736-41 and  Trinity College, Cambridge (admitted 1741; LLD 1749); he undertook a Grand Tour in 1745-46 with a tutor, Edward Clarke, visiting Venice, Padua and Florence (where he contracted smallpox), but not Rome. He succeeded his father as 2nd Earl of Ashburnham, 10 March 1736/7, and was a courtier under both George II and George III. According to Horace Walpole (always acid) he was 'a most decent, reserved and servile courtier...he did not want sense, but it all centred in self-interest' while George Selwyn recorded  'I have the greatest opinion of his judgment in the conductive part of life... if any man ever went through life with consummate discretion, it has been himself, and he has preserved his reputation at the same time'. He served as a Lord of the Bedchamber, 1748-62; Lord Lieutenant of Sussex, 1754-57; Keeper of Hyde Park and St James' Park, 1753-62; Master of the Great Wardrobe, 1765-75; and First Lord of the Bedchamber and Groom of the Stole, 1775-82, but he resigned his offices in a fit of pique in 1782 when he was passed over for appointment as a Knight of the Garter. He was appointed to the Privy Council in 1765. He was originally a Whig in politics, but became more conservative with age and latterly joined the Tories. He married, 28 June 1756 at St George, Hanover Square, London, Elizabeth (1727-81), daughter and heiress of John Crowley of Barking (Suffolk), ironmaster and alderman of London (who reputedly brought him a fortune of £200,000), and had issue:
(1) George Ashburnham (b. & d. 1758), Viscount St. Asaph, born 2 February and died in infancy, 13 February 1758;
(2) Lady Henrietta Theodosia Ashburnham (1759-1847), born 8 November 1759; lived at Nightingale Hall/Cottage, The Hill, Richmond (Surrey); died unmarried at Richmond (Surrey), 30 March 1847 and was buried at Kensal Green (Middx), 7 April 1847; will proved in the PCC, 21 April 1847;
(3) George Ashburnham (1760-1830), 3rd Earl of Ashburnham (q.v.);
(4) Lady Jemima Elizabeth Ashburnham (1762-86), born 1 January 1762; married, 26 February 1785, James Graham (1755-1836), Marquess of Graham and later 3rd Duke of Montrose and had issue one son who died in infancy; died 18 September 1786;
(5) Lady Elizabeth Frances Ashburnham (1763-1854), born 10 May 1763; lived at Nightingale Hall/Cottage, The Hill, Richmond (Surrey); died unmarried, 16 April 1854, aged 90 and was buried at Kensal Green, 22 April 1854;
(6) Lady Theodosia Maria Ashburnham (1765-1822), born 16 June 1765; married, 4 June 1788, Robert Vyner (1762-1810) of Gautby (Lincs) and had issue four sons and one daughter; died 7 December and was buried at Gautby, 17 December 1822.
He inherited the Ashburnham, Clapham, Pembrey and Porth-Aml estates from his father in 1736 and came of age in 1745. Through his wife he acquired the Barking estate in Suffolk in 1782.
He died 8 April 1812 and was buried at Ashburnham; his will was proved 6 June 1812. His wife died at Bath, 5 February 1781, but was buried at Ashburnham.


3rd Earl of Ashburnham
Ashburnham, George (1760-1830), 3rd Earl of Ashburnham. Second but oldest surviving son of John Ashburnham (1724-1812), 2nd Earl of Ashburnham and his wife Elizabeth, daughter and heiress of John Crowley, ironmaster and alderman of London, born 25 December 1760 and baptised 29 January 1761. Educated at Westminster School (from 1771) and Trinity College, Cambridge (admitted 1778; MA 1780); undertook a grand tour, 1781-83, from which his diary survives, showing he visited France and Italy. Lord of the Bedchamber to the Prince of Wales, 1784-95. A Tory in politics. He was known by the courtesy title of Viscount St. Asaph from birth until 1812, was summoned to Parliament by writ in his father's barony as Lord Ashburnham, 23 March 1803; succeeded his father as 3rd Earl of Ashburnham, 8 April 1812; and was appointed a Knight Grand Cross of the Hanoverian Order, 1827 and Knight of the Garter, 1829. He was a Trustee of the British Museum, 1810-30 and had antiquarian interests, becoming FSA 1827 and publishing A narrative by John Ashburnham of his attendance on Charles I prefixed to which was a vindication of his character, 1830. In a preface to this work Lord Ashburnham reflected on his own character, mentioning his disinclination to public service, and his 'predominant infirmities; a constitutionally morbid indolence, and reserve'; Farington notes that he was a pleasant man who could nevertheless be silent for days at a time. His indolence does not seem to have extended to procreation: he married 1st, 28 August 1784 at her father's house in Arlington St., Westminster, Lady Sophia (1763-91), daughter of Thomas Thynne, 1st Marquess of Bath and 2nd, 25 July 1795 at Orwell Park (Suffolk), Lady Charlotte (1776-1862), daughter of Algernon Percy, 1st Earl of Beverley and sister of George Percy, 5th Duke of Northumberland, and had issue:
(1.1) George Ashburnham (1785-1813), Viscount St. Asaph, born 9 October 1785; educated at Hitcham School (Berks) and Trinity College, Cambridge (admitted 1803; MA 1805); said by his schoolmaster to have had the same 'bilious and irritable' constitution as his father, but to have lacked his mental ability; served in Sussex Yeomanry (Cornet, 1803; Lieutenant, 1803; Lt-Col. 1809); Tory MP for New Romney, 1807-12 and Weobley 1812-13; died unmarried in the lifetime of his father, 7 June and was buried at Ashburnham, 15 June 1810;
(1.2) Lady Elizabeth Sophia (1786-1879), born 16 September 1786; died unmarried, 13 March 1879, aged 92; will proved 26 April 1879 (effects under £18,000);
(1.3) Hon. John Ashburnham (1789-1810), born 3 June 1789; drowned 1810;
(2.1) Bertram Ashburnham (1797-1878), 4th Earl of Ashburnham (q.v.);
(2.2) Hon. Percy Ashburnham (1799-1881) of Shernfold Park (Sussex), born 22 November 1799; married, 23 August 1838, Esther (d. 1848), daughter of Lt-Col. John By of Shernfold Park and the Royal Engineers (who founded the city of Ottawa in Canada) and had issue two daughters who died young; died 25 January 1881; will proved 23 February 1881 (effects under £100,000);
(2.3) Lady Charlotte Susan Ashburnham (1801-65) of Southwood House, St. Lawrence (Kent), born 23 February 1801; died unmarried, 26 April 1865; will proved 3 June 1865 (effects under £8,000);
(2.4) Lady Theodosia Julia Ashburnham (1802-87), born 27 March 1802; lived at The Holms, Nightingale Lane, Clapham (Surrey); died unmarried, 22 August 1887; will proved 15 September 1887 (estate £1,044);
(2.5) Hon. Charles Ashburnham (1803-48), born 23 March 1803; educated at Westminster School, 1811, 1815-18 and Trinity College, Cambridge (admitted 1820; MA 1824); had a career in the diplomatic service (Secretary of HM Legations in Mexico and Constantinople); married, 8 February 1832 at St George, Hanover Square, London, Sarah Joanna (c.1807-89), second daughter of William Murray of Jamaica (who m2, 10 July 1851 at St Paul, Knightsbridge (Middx), Sir Godfrey Webster (d. 1853), 6th bt.) but had no issue; died 22 December 1848; will proved in the PCC, 4 July 1849;
(2.6) Lady Georgiana Jemima Ashburnham (1805-82), born 11 May 1805; married 1st, 28 February 1828 at Ashburnham (div. by Act of Parliament, 1841 for criminal conversation with her second husband), Henry Reveley Mitford (1804-83) of Exbury House (Hants) and had surviving issue three sons; married 2nd, 1842, Hon. Francis George Molyneux (1805-86) and had further issue a daughter; died 22 May 1882; will proved 6 July 1882 (effects £9,452);
(2.7) General the Hon. Thomas Ashburnham (1806-72), born 1806; an officer in the army (Lt., 1823; Capt., 1826; Lt-Col., 1835; Col., 1846; Maj-Gen., 1851); served in India during First Anglo-Sikh War, 1845-46 and commanded British troops in China and Hong Kong, 1857; Col. of 82nd Foot, 1860 (an appointment which The Spectator regarded as unjustified by his record); appointed CB; married, 8 February 1860, Hon. Adelaide Georgiana Frederica (1822-61), youngest daughter of Thomas Foley, 3rd Baron Foley but had no issue; died 2 March 1872; will proved 8 May 1872 (effects under £20,000);
(2.8) Lady Jane Henrietta Ashburnham (1809-96), born 19 July 1809; married, 19 May 1836, Adm. Charles H. Swinburne RN (1797-1877) and had issue two sons and four daughters, including the poet Algernon Swinburne; died 26 November 1899 and was buried at Bonchurch (Isle of Wight); will proved 26 January 1897 (effects £5,160);
(2.9) Lady Katherine Frances Ashburnham (1812-39), born 31 March 1812; married, 21 June 1838, Henry William Beauclerk (1812-94) and had issue a daughter; died 6 April 1839;
(2.10) Lady Eleanor Isabel Bridget Ashburnham (1814-95), born 28 July 1814; married, 26 November 1844, Rev. Algernon Wodehouse (1814-82), rector of Easton (Hants), son of the Hon. & Rev. William Wodehouse, and had issue five sons and one daughter; died 6 March 1895; will proved 18 June 1895 (effects £3,017);
(2.11) Lady Mary Agnes Blanche Ashburnham (1816-99), born 23 January 1816; married, 29 August 1839, Sir Henry Percy Gordon (1806-76), 2nd bt. and had issue a daughter; died 22 April 1899; will proved 15 June 1899 (estate £83,216);
(2.12) Hon. Reginald Ashburnham (1819-30), born 3 February 1819; died young, 5 March 1830.
He lived at Barking Hall (which he remodelled) until he inherited the Ashburnham, Barking, Clapham, Pembrey and Porth-Aml estates from his father in 1812. He then employed George Dance to remodel the house at Ashburnham. He broke the entail on the Welsh estates and mortgaged them; he also built a new house at Pembrey in 1823. He lived for some years at the Villa Pasquale (probably now the Villa di Quarto) near Florence (Italy) at the end of his life.
He died 27 October 1830 and was buried at Ashburnham. His first wife died in childbirth at Barking Hall, 9 April 1791. His widow died 26 November 1862.


4th Earl of Ashburnham
Ashburnham, Bertram (1797-1878), 4th Earl of Ashburnham. Eldest surviving son of George Ashburnham (1760-1830), 3rd Earl of Ashburnham, and his second wife Lady Charlotte, daughter of Algernon Percy, 1st Earl of Beverley, born 23 November 1797. Educated at Westminster School, 1811-14 and St. John's College, Cambridge. In his youth he was a great traveller, visiting not only France and Italy, but also to places further east; during his travels and afterwards he collected an extensive library of early and rare books and an enormous collection of manuscripts. These included the Libri collection of early codices and illuminated manuscripts; the Barrois collection of French poetry and romances; and the Duke of Buckingham's Stowe collection; after his death the whole was offered to the Government for £160,000, but in the end only the Stowe MSS and library were purchased and divided between the British Museum and the Royal Irish Academy in Dublin; most of the Libri collection and some Dante manuscripts were later bought by the Italian Government for the Laurentian Library in Florence. He succeeded his father as 4th Earl of Ashburnham, 27 October 1830, and was a Conservative in politics; after about 1850 he settled down at Ashburnham and devoted himself to ' the care of his collections and to the government of his estate and dependents in the despotic and patriarchal manner of his ancestors, a manner of which he must have been one of the last English exemplars'. He married, 8 January 1840, Katherine Charlotte (1819-94), daughter of George Baillie of Jerviswood and had issue:
(1) Bertram Ashburnham (1840-1913), 5th Earl of Ashburnham (q.v.);
(2) Lady Katherine Ashburnham (1841-85), born 23 November 1841; married, 20 January 1874, as his second wife, Sir Alexander Bannerman (1823-77), 9th bt. but had no issue; died 30 September 1885;
(3) Hon. John Ashburnham (1845-1912) of Shernfold Park (Sussex), born 6 March 1845; educated at Westminster School, 1858; in HM Diplomatic service, 1866-83 (attach√©, 1867; third secretary, 1870; second secretary, 1872), with postings in Lisbon, 1869, Madrid, 1871 and Constantinople, 1872-79; acting agent and consul-general in Sofia, 1880; retired in 1883 after inheriting Shernfold Park from his uncle, 1881; JP for Sussex; married, 21 May 1906, Maud Mary* (1865-1927), daughter of Charles Royal-Dawson but had no issue; died suddenly, 12 April 1912 and was buried at Frant (Sussex) where he is commemorated by a monument; will proved 10 May 1912 (estate £37,390);
(4) Hon. William Ashburnham (1847-97), born 29 March 1847; educated at Westminster School, 1858, Trinity College, Cambridge (admitted 1866; BA 1869) and Inner Temple (admitted 1869; called to the bar, 1874); barrister-at-law who practised for some years, probably on the Chancery side; died unmarried, 27 May 1897; will proved 5 June 1897 (estate £4,844);
(5) Hon. & Rev. Richard Ashburnham (1848-82), born 27 July 1848; educated at Trinity College, Cambridge (admitted 1866; BA 1872; MA 1875); ordained deacon, 1875 and priest, 1877; curate of Narberth with Robeston Wathen (Pembs), 1875-78; rector of Combs (Suffk), 1878-82; died unmarried at Combs, 8 December 1882; will proved 12 January 1883 (effects £19.867);
(6) Lady Margaret Ashburnham (1851-1933) (q.v.); 
(7) Lady Anne Ashburnham (1853-57), born 21 March 1853; died young, 1 December 1857;
(8) Thomas Ashburnham (1855-1924), 6th Earl of Ashburnham (q.v.);
(9) Hon. Edward Ashburnham (1857-59), born 23 December 1857; died in infancy, 30 March 1859;
(10) Lady Mary Ashburnham (1859-1947), born 21 December 1859; married, 23 January 1883, Sydney George Holland (1855-1931), 2nd Viscount Knutsford and had issue two daughters; died 3 May 1947 and was buried at Bassingbourn (Cambs) where she is commemorated by a monument; will proved 29 August 1947 (estate £23,411);
(11) Hon. George Ashburnham (1863-1911), born 21 October 1863; died unmarried, 22 March 1911; will proved 4 March 1912 (estate £18,624).
He inherited the Ashburnham, Barking, Clapham, Pembrey and Porth-Aml estates from his father in 1830 and remodelled Ashburnham House in 1853-62. A large part of the Clapham estate was sold in 1862 and the remainder was sold in small parcels over the next sixty years.
He died 22 June 1878 and was buried at Ashburnham; hatchments were placed on his houses at Ashburnham and Barking and the latter survives in the church there; his will was proved 8 October 1878 (effects under £90,000). His widow lived at Barking Hall and died 6 February 1894; her will was proved 3 April 1894 (effects £10,112).
*Internet sources often state that she married 2nd, after 1912, G.V. Grose, but I can find no evidence of such a marriage and her death was registered in the name of Ashburnham.



Bertram, 5th Earl of Ashburnham
Ashburnham, Bertram (1840-1913), 5th Earl of Ashburnham. Eldest son of Bertram Ashburnham (1797-1878), 4th Earl of Ashburnham and his wife Katherine Charlotte, daughter of George Baillie of Jerviswood, born 28 October 1840. Educated at Westminster School, 1854-57 and at Fontainebleau (France). DL for Breconshire and JP for Sussex, Breconshire and Carmarthenshire. He was received into the Roman Catholic church in 1872 and received papal honours (Knight Grand Cross of the Sovereign Order of Malta and Knight Grand Cross of the Pontifical Order of Pius) in recognition of his work for that faith and for the attempt to restore Don Carlos to the Spanish throne. In support of his CarlistLegitimist and Jacobite views he founded the Society of the Order of the White Rose in 1886 and assisted military preparations for a Carlist coup d'√©tat in Spain in 1899, including allowing military training on his estates in Wales and attempting to deliver a shipment of rifles to his contacts in Spain. He was also an advocate of Home Rule for Ireland and was elected Chairman of the British Home Rule Association in 1886, but he was not generally active in UK politics. After the death of his wife he retired to his estates and took little further part in public affairs, although the Carlist pretender to the Spanish throne was a regular visitor to Ashburnham. He succeeded his father as 5th Earl of Ashburnham, 22 June 1878 and dispersed his father's library and manuscript collections by sale between 1883 and 1901. He married, 25 February 1888 (though the marriage was not announced until 1893) at a registry office in London, Emily (d. 1900), daughter of Richard Chaplin, advertising agent, and had issue:
(1) Bertram Richard Ashburnham (b. & d. 1888), Viscount St. Asaph, born 2 March and died 4 March 1888;
(2) Lady (Mary) Catherine Charlotte Ashburnham  (1890-1953) (q.v.).
He inherited the Ashburnham, Barking, Pembrey and Porth-Aml estates from his father in 1878; they comprised some 24,500 acres in Sussex, Suffolk, Carmarthenshire and Breconshire, worth about £24,000 a year. By the time of his death, mortgages on the Welsh estates amounted to £87,000.
He died at a hotel in Paris, 15 January and was buried at Ashburnham, 23 January 1913; his will was proved 13 February 1913 (effects £250,000). His wife died of pleurisy, 12 February and was buried at Ashburnham, 16 February 1900; administration of her goods was granted to her husband, 31 March 1900 (effects £5,905).

Ashburnham, Capt. Thomas (1855-1924), 6th Earl of Ashburnham. Fifth son of Bertram Ashburnham (1797-1878), 4th Earl of Ashburnham and his wife Katherine Charlotte, daughter of George Baillie of Jerviswood, born 8 April 1855. Educated at Adams Grammar School, Newport (Shropshire) and Trinity College, Cambridge (admitted 1873 but did not graduate). An officer in the 7th Queens Own Hussars (Lt.; Captain; retired 1889), he served in South Africa in 1881 and in the Egyptian campaign, 1882; ADC to Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, 1885-86; awarded Order of Medjidideh, 5th class. After leaving the army he was appointed Conservative party agent for the Eye parliamentary division in Suffolk, 1890. In 1901 he emigrated to Canada and settled in Fredericton, New Brunswick, where he married the local telephone operator. When he succeeded his brother as 6th Earl of Ashburnham, 15 January 1913, he and his wife attempted to settle in England but they returned to Canada in 1914. In 1924 they planned a six-month visit to England but Lord Ashburnham contracted pneumonia on the voyage across and died soon after his arrival. He married, 10 June 1903 at Fredericton, Maria Elizabeth OStJ (1858-1938), daughter of W.H. Anderson of Fredericton, but had no issue.
In the 1890s he lived at Rosehill House, Farnham (Suffolk), but he emigrated to Canada in 1903, where he bought his wife's family home and the inn next door and converted them into a single house known later as Ashburnham House. He inherited the Ashburnham Place, Barking, Pembrey and Porth-Aml estates from his elder brother in 1913, but sold Porth-Aml in 1913, Barking before 1917 and Pembrey in 1922. At his death Ashburnham Place passed to his niece, Lady Catherine Ashburnham.
He died in London on 12 May and was buried at Ashburnham, 15 May 1924, when his peerages became extinct; administration of his goods in England was granted 18 July 1924 (estate £18,584). His widow retired to Ashburnham House in Fredericton and died 9 October 1938.

Ashburnham, Lady (Mary) Catherine Charlotte (1890-1953). Only surviving child of Bertram Ashburnham (1840-1913), 5th Earl of Ashburnham, and his wife Emily, daughter of Richard Chaplin, born 3 January 1890. Brought up by her father as a Catholic and educated at the Convent of the Sacred Heart, Putney, where in 1913 she was said to be a nun, although she seems not to have taken her vows and she probably withdrew after it became clear she would eventually inherited the Ashburnham estate. Later JP for East Sussex. She was unmarried and without issue.
She inherited the Ashburnham estates from her uncle in 1924. At her death they passed to her kinsman, Rev. John Bickersteth.
She died 5 January 1953 and was buried at Ashburnham, where she filled the last space in the family vault; after her death the ancient custom was observed of placing a hatchment of her arms over the door of her house, as can be seen in the image of 1953 above. Her will was proved 27 March and 15 May 1953 (estate £682,794).

Ashburnham, Lady Margaret (1851-1933). Second daughter of Bertram Ashburnham (1797-1878), 4th Earl of Ashburnham and his wife Katherine Charlotte, daughter of George Baillie of Jerviswood, born 4 April 1851. She married, 3 August 1882, John Joseph Bickersteth (1850-1932), barrister, Clerk of the Peace and later of the County Council for the East Riding of Yorkshire, son of Rt. Rev. Robert Bickersteth, Bishop of Ripon, and had issue;
(1) Ruth Bickersteth (1885-); served in WW1 with Voluntary Aid Detachment; died unmarried after 1933;
(2) Lt-Col. Edward Robert Bickersteth (1889-1945) (q.v.);
(3) John Richard Bickersteth (1897-1967) of Agmerherst House, Battle (Sussex), born Jan-Mar 1897; educated at Shrewsbury School; served in WW1, 1915-18 with Yorkshire Hussars and Royal Flying Corps; land agent to Ashburnham estate; Chairman of East Sussex Agricultural Executive Committee; member of East Sussex County Council and Chairman of its Records Committee; appointed CBE, 1952; married, Jan-Mar 1925, Cecily Mary, daughter of Michael O'Shea and widow of H. Percival; died 5 October 1967; will proved 11 December 1967 (estate £55,310).
She lived latterly at Lakeside, Dorman's Park, Surrey.
She died 4 July 1933; her will proved 7 September 1933 (estate £9,178). Her husband died 22 September 1932; his will was proved 28 December 1932 (estate £6,878).

Bickersteth, Lt-Col. Edward Robert (1889-1945). Elder son of John Joseph Bickersteth (1850-1932) and his wife Lady Margaret, daughter of Bertram Ashburnham, 4th Earl of Ashburnham, born 13 October 1889. Served in WW1 as a Lt. in Royal Garrison Artillery. He married, 1915, Evelyn Mary (c.1886-1957), daughter of D. Fowler-Burton JP of Cherry Burton (Yorks) and had issue:
(1) John David Bickersteth (1926-91) (q.v.);
(2) Margaret Bickersteth (1916-64), born 1916; married, 6 May 1941, Angus Martin Burnett-Stuart (1913-2005) and had issue; died 12 April 1964;
(3) Anne Bickersteth (b. 1919).
He lived at Paul's Hill, Leigh (Kent).
He died at Leeds Infirmary, 4 January 1945; his will was proved 26 July 1945 (estate £18,675). His widow died 8 March 1957.


Rev. John Bickersteth
Bickersteth, Rev. John David (1926-91) of Agmerherst House. Only son of Lt-Col. Edward Robert Bickersteth (1889-1945) and his wife Evelyn Mary, daughter of D. Fowler-Burton of Cherry Burton (Yorks), born 4 April 1926. He married, 1961, Marlis Kindlimann (d. 2012) and had issue:
(1) Edward Richard Bickersteth (b. 1962) of Agmerhurst House, Battle (Sussex), born February 1962; married, Jul-Sep 1995, Rachel Louise Casey (b. 1966) and had issue three sons;
(2) Robert David Bickersteth (b. 1964), born May 1964;
(3) Caroline Margaret Bickersteth (b. 1967), born Jan-Mar 1967; educated at Westminster College, Oxford; married, Apr-Jun 1996, Rev. Cameron J. Collington, vicar of St Simon, Ealing (Middx), son of Rev. Ted Collington of Strathkinness (Fife) and had issue five children.
He inherited the Ashburnham Park estate from his first cousin once removed, Lady Catherine Ashburnham, in 1953; he demolished most of the house in 1959 and gave the estate to the Ashburnham Christian Trust in 1960. He lived at Agmerhurst, formerly a farmhouse on the Ashburnham estate.
He died 30 October 1991; his will was proved 13 February 1992 (estate £1,289,081). His widow died 9 December 2012; her will was proved 15 August 2013.

Sources
G.E. Cokayne, Complete Peerage, vol 1, 1910, pp. 271-75; L.G. Pine, The new extinct peerage, 1972, pp. 12-15; J. Collett White, Inventories of Bedfordshire country houses, 1714-1830 (1995), p.12; J. Ingamells, A dictionary of British and Irish travellers in Italy, 1701-1800, 1997, pp. 30-31, 834-35; J. Farrant (ed.), Sussex depicted: views and descriptions, 1600-1800, Sussex Record Society 2001, pp. 150-51; E. Hingston, 'Ashburnham Place, East Sussex', Garden History, (29:1), 2001, pp. 91-101; W.M. Roberts, Lost country houses of Suffolk, 2010, pp. 19-21; N. Antram & Sir N. Pevsner, The buildings of England: Sussex - East, 2013, pp. 94-96; J. Stourton, Great houses of London, 2nd edn, 2015, pp. 26-31; ODNB articles on John Ashburnham (1602-71) and William Ashburnham (c.1604-79); http://www.ashburnham-past.co.uk/2.html; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Ashburnham,_6th_Earl_of_Ashburnham.

Location of archives
Ashburnham family of Ashburnham etc.: deeds, estate papers, diaries, family papers and correspondence, 12th-20th cents. [East Sussex Record Office, ASH, RAF]; Clapham (Beds) deeds and estate papers, 16th-19th cents [Bedfordshire & Luton Archives & Records Service S/AM, Z659]; Blackheath and Greenwich estate papers, 1700-1882 [Kent History & Library Centre, U444]; London and Westminster deeds, 17th-19th cents [London Metropolitan Archives, ACC/0524]; Barking estate deeds and estate papers, 14th-20th cents [Suffolk Record Office, Ipswich, HA1, HB11]; Wiltshire deeds, 1641-1707 [Wiltshire & Swindon Record Office, WRO 261]; Breconshire and Carmarthenshire deeds and estate papers, 14th-20th cents [National Library of Wales, Ashburnham Groups]

Coat of arms
Gules, a fesse between six mullets argent.

Can you help?
Here are a few notes about information and images which would help to improve the account above. If you can help with any of these or with other additions or corrections, please use the contact form in the sidebar to get in touch.
  • Can anyone confirm whether the William Ashburnham murdered in Westminster in 1656 is to be identified with William, son of John Ashburnham (1602-71)?
  • Can anyone supply a portrait of the 2nd Baron Ashburnham or photographs of the 5th or 6th Earls?

Revision and acknowledgements
This post was first published 26th December 2015 and was updated 27th & 31st December 2015 and 24 October 2017. I am grateful to Christopher Whittick for his advice and suggestions about this family and to Teresa Brunton for a correction.

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