|Abney of Willesley|
Sir Thomas Abney, Lord Mayor of London in 1700, was a younger brother of Sir Edward Abney and acquired by marriage Abney House at Stoke Newington (Middx) which was begun by his father-in-law, John Gunston.
|Willesley Hall in 1831, from A descriptive and historical guide to Ashby-de-la-Zouch and the neighbourhood|
Willesley Hall (historically Derbyshire, now Leicestershire) was an important, vanished house which belonged to the Abney family and their descendants from about 1424, when they married an heiress of the Ingewardby family, until 1919. In the mid to late 17th century, James Abney (1600-93) or his son, Sir Edward Abney (1631-1728), kt. rebuilt the house with a dramatic, completely rusticated, eleven bay hipped-roofed south front with a recessed centre and central doorway with a broken segmental pediment framed by giant pilasters. The facade was crowned by shaped gables – big ones over the three-bay projecting ends and small ones in the middle, the latter known to be an addition of 1840-45. Perhaps the most likely sequence is that the house was built for James Abney in the mid C17 with the shaped gables over the wings, and that the rustication and the pilasters of the recessed centre were changes made for Sir Edward Abney after he inherited in 1693.
|Willesley Hall in the late 19th century, showing the additions of the 1840s. Picture courtesy of Matthew Beckett|
Sir Edward Abney, who was MP for Leicester in the 1690s, was succeeded by his son, Sir Thomas Abney (1691-1750), who rose to eminence as a judge and was also of note as a Derbyshire antiquarian. His son, Thomas Abney (1725-90), had no son to inherit the estate and left it to his only daughter, Parnell, the wife of General Sir Charles Hastings (d. 1823), 1st bt., who took the name Abney-Hastings on coming into the inheritance. He committed suicide in 1823 and the estate passed to his elder son, Sir Charles Abney-Hastings (1792-1858), 2nd bt., for whom the house was altered in 1840-45, probably to the designs of Edward Blore. This was when the small shaped gables over the centre were added, and at the same time the east and west fronts were rebuilt, the latter repeating the motifs of the south front in brick and with mullioned and transomed windows and quoins. The west front was extended by a lower wing to link to the church, which was given a tower at this time. On the north side, between the wings of the old house, was built an extraordinary tall block with a flat balustraded top and four slim square ogee-capped turrets rising above the roof line of the entire house; Tudor-style chimneystacks were liberally sprinkled across the whole building.
On Sir Charles' death in 1858 the estate passed to his kinswoman, Edith Maud Clifton (1833-74), 10th Countess of Loudoun in her own right, who took the name Abney-Hastings in lieu of Clifton. Her son, Charles Edward (1855-1920), 11th Earl of Loudoun, again changed his name (to Rawdon-Hastings), and in 1919 sold the house to a Nottingham solicitor, Major Ashworth, who made the house into an hotel and sold the park in 1921 to the local golf club, which retains it. The hotel closed in 1936, and the house then stood empty and decaying until it was finally pulled down in 1953. The park of 155 acres was laid out in the late 18th century, and included a majestic serpentine lake of 24 acres which reputedly drowned the former village of Willesley. The church, the facade of the stables and the lake still exist, and a statue of Diana still stands near the ninth hole of the golf course.
Abney House, Stoke Newington
|Abney House on the eve of demolition in 1845, from Old & New London|
A three storey five bay house with a high basement and single storey two bay wings, begun c.1695 for Thomas Gunston, a London merchant, and finished after 1700 for his sister Mary and her husband, Sir Thomas Abney.
|Watercolour by T.H. Shepherd of workmen removing the panelling|
from Dr. Watts' bedchamber during the demolition of Abney House, 1845
The Abneys of Willesley
Lived at Willesley Hall.
Died 1 December 1505 and was buried at Willesley, with his wife.
Abney, George (d. 1578) of Willesley Hall. Son of John Abney (?1476-1505) (q.v.). Married 1st, Ellen Wolseley (d. 1571) of Wolseley (Staffs) and 2nd, Mary (fl. 1578) and had issue including:
(1.1) James Abney (d. 1620) (q.v.).
(1.2) Robert Abney (d. 1602) of Newton Burgoland (q.v.), from whom descended the Abneys of Measham
(1.3) Edmund Abney (d. 1604), mayor of Leicester in 1599, m. 1587, Catherine Ludlum and had issue
(1.4) Ann Abney (fl. 1578), m. Mr. Hawsey and had issue
(1.5) John Abney, m. 1583 Elizabeth Trowell and had issue
(1.6) Thomas Abney
(1.7) Walter Abney (fl. 1570) of Packington (Leics)
He inherited Willesley Hall from his father in 1505.
He died 1 March 1578
Abney, James (d. 1620) of Willesley Hall. Eldest son of George Abney (d. 1578) (q.v.) and his wife Ellen (née Wolseley). He married Mary Milward and had issue including:
(1) George Abney (1550-1645) of Willesley Hall
(2) Ellen Abney, m. Richard Adderley (d. 1641) of Coton Hall and had issue
He inherited Willesley Hall from his father in 1578.
He died 1620; will proved 7 April 1620
(2) Susan Abney, bur. at ‘Tutenhill’ (Staffs), 1594
(3) Philip Abney, bur. 16 July 1595
(4) James Abney (1600-93) of Willesley Hall (q.v.)
(5) Elizabeth Abney (fl. 1645)
(6) Bronthil Abney (fl. 1645)
(7) Mary Abney (fl. 1645)
He inherited Willesley Hall from his father c.1560.
He died in 1645, aged about 95.
Abney, James (1600-93), of Willesley Hall. Son of George Abney (1550-1645) (q.v.) and his wife Margery (née Lowe). Participated in the Royalist defence of Ashby Castle, but later served as a county commissioner for sequestrated estates and as High Sheriff of Derbyshire 1655. He married Jane Mainwaring of Whitmore (Staffs) and had issue
(1) James Abney, who d.s.p. in the lifetime of his father
(2) George Abney, who d.s.p. in 1662, in the lifetime of his father;
(3) Sir Edward Abney (1631-1728) (q.v.);
(4) Sir Thomas Abney (1640-1722) (q.v.);
(5) Abigail Abney, who married Ralph Cotton of Bellaport (Salop) and had issue
He inherited Willesley Hall from his father in 1645, and was probably responsible for the original building of the later house.
He died in 1693, aged about 93.
(1.3) a dau
(1.4) a dau
(2.1) James Abney, considered insane
(2.2) Sir Thomas Abney (1691-1750) (q.v.).
He inherited Willesley Hall from his father in 1693 and was probably responsible for remodelling the house with a new rusticated entrance front.
He died 3 January 1728, aged 96, having been blind for the last twenty years of his life
Abney, Sir Thomas (1691-1750), of Willesley Hall, barrister and judge. Son of Sir Edward Abney (1631-1728) and his second wife, Judith, dau of Peter Barr. Educated at Wadham College, Oxford (matric. 1707) and Inner Temple (admitted 1707; called to bar 1713; KC 1733); settled in Middlesex and was appointed Chairman of Middlesex Quarter Sessions 1731; KC 1733; Attorney General of Duchy of Lancaster 1733; knighted, 1735; Judge of Marshalsea Court, 1735; Baron of the Exchequer 1740-43; Judge of Common Pleas, 1743-50. As an antiquarian, in the 1720s Abney made substantial additions to the text of William Woolley's manuscript history of Derbyshire. He married Frances, daughter of Joshua Burton of Brackley (Northants) and had issue including:
(1) Thomas Abney (1725-90) (q.v.)
He inherited Willesley Hall from his father in 1731 and also had a home in Middlesex.
He died of gaol fever in 1750
He inherited Willesley Hall from his father in 1750.
He died in 1790
Abney-Hastings (né Hastings), General Sir Charles (d. 1823), 1st bt. of Willesley Hall. Illegitimate son of Francis Hastings, 10th Earl of Huntingdon (1729-89). General; Col. of 12th Regiment of Foot; GCH, 1819. Created 1st bt. of Willesley Hall in 1806. He married Parnell Abney, dau and heiress of Thomas Abney (1725-90) (q.v.) of Willesley Hall and had issue:
(1) Sir Charles Abney-Hastings (1792-1858) (q.v.);
(2) Frank Abney-Hastings (1794-1827);
(3) Selina Hastings, d. young.
He inherited Willesley Hall in right of his wife in 1790.
He committed suicide in 1823.
Abney-Hastings, Sir Charles (1792-1858), 2nd bt. of Willesley Hall. Born 1 October 1792, elder son of Gen. Sir Charles Abney-Hastings (d. 1823) and his wife Parnell, dau of Thomas Abney (1725-90) of Willesley Hall (q.v.). Succeeded his father as 2nd bt. in 1823. MP for Leicester 1826-31.
He inherited Willesley Hall from his father in 1823, and also lived at 6 Cavendish Square in London.
He died unmarried and without issue, 30 July 1858, when the baronetcy became extinct.
The Abneys of Abney House, Stoke Newington (Middx)
Died 6 February 1722 at Theobalds, aged 82, and was buried 16 February 1722 at St Peter, Cornhill, London
Location of archivesAbney-Hastings family of Willesley Hall: deeds, manorial records and estate papers, 12th-19th cents. (Huntington Library, San Marino, California, HU); family executorship and trust papers, 1829-65 (Derbyshire Record Office D2496); family trust papers, 19th-20th cents (Arundel Castle Archives). In the late 19th century the papers of the Abney-Hastings family became part of the archive of the Hastings family, Earls of Huntingdon, which was dispersed by sale in 1927. For a complete list of holdings, see the National Register of Archives.
Coat of arms
Or, on a chief gules, a lion passant argent.