Bibsworth, Finchley, Middlesex
The manor house is first mentioned in 1253, but was probably substantially rebuilt in the 15th century for Lord Hastings. In the early 16th century it was the 'great place of Bibbesworth' and in 1502 it comprised a chief messuage, orchard, and building within the moat and a great barn and long stable outside the moat. It was the largest house in the parish in 1664, being assessed at nineteen hearths, and by 1692, when it figured in a dispute between two Allen widows, it had fishponds on the northern side of East End Road (later a formal canal and now filled in and built over) and extensive pleasure gardens. The moated site of the old house can still just be discerned in the garden of the present house.
|Bibsworth House, from an old postcard.|
The present building was built for Thomas Allen c. 1723 north of the moated site. It is a large plain house of three storeys above a basement, seven bays by three and with the central bay stepped slightly forward; the entrance and garden sides are virtually identical. The interior has an unusual plan with four internal chimney stacks; the panelled entrance hall contains the original oak staircase with twisted balusters and fluted Corinthian newels. The adjacent three-bay reception room has plaster decoration on the walls and ceiling which may date from the early 20th century, at about which time a billiards room was added to the north-west. Upstairs are rooms with plain panelling on either side of a central corridor with pilasters. Since 1919 a chapel and classrooms have been built on the north-west and an attic storey has been added to the main block. An Ionic garden temple was removed to Surrey c. 1970.
The house (sometimes known alternatively as Maher House or Finchley House) was replaced as the principal residence on the estate when Edward Cooper built Avenue House nearby in 1859; Bibsworth passed to his sisters, but continued to be leased, as it had been since the early 19th century. It was used as a boys' school under William Fanning (1819-37) and Dr. Henry Worsley (1838-57). Miss Lucy Worsley was in occupation in 1859 and Miss H. Legeyt, who ran it as a girls' school, in 1862. In 1863 it was leased with 23 a. to George Plucknett, a magistrate who often heard cases in the hall of the house. Between 1882 and 1887 the lease passed to William Pearce Jones, who surrendered it c. 1905.
The estate was gradually sold off in the 19th century. In 1909, E. C. Arden sold most of the remaining land for building and The Express Dairy bought Sheephouse or College Farm. William Gamage (of the department store) bought the house with 29 a. in 1905 and sold it in 1919 to the convent of Marie Auxiliatrice. The convent carried out the 20th century extensions, and in 1984 the house became the Sternberg Centre for Judaism, which it remains today.
Descent: sold 1622 to Edward Allen (d. 1625); to son, Sir Thomas Allen, kt. (d. 1681); to son, Edward Allen (d. 1692); to nephew, Thomas Allen (d. 1764); to son, Edward Allen (d. 1774); to brother, Thomas Greenhalgh (later Allen) (d. 1780); to son, Edward Allen (d. 1830), who let it; after legal dispute among potential heirs, to Rev. Edward Philip Cooper (d. 1864); to daughters, Edith Cassandra Cooper (d. 1888) and Sophia Mary Leigh (d. 1888), wife of Frederick A.H. Fitzgerald; to cousin, Albert Henry Arden (d. 1897); to son, Edward Cooper Arden, who sold 1905 to William Gamage, who sold 1919 to Convent of Marie Auxiliatrice; sold 1984 to Sternberg Centre for Judaism.
Allen family of Bibsworth
The genealogical details below have been largely constructed from research in parish registers and wills. There are some obvious gaps, and I should be particularly grateful to anyone who provides additional information to strengthen the rather thin account given below.
Allen, Edward (1571-1626) of Bibsworth. Third son of Thomas Allen (d. 1584), haberdasher of London, and his wife Joan Woodgate, born 1571. Linen draper of Bread St., London, and an early investor in the East India Company. He joined the Fishmongers Company (Prime Warden, 1620) and became an alderman of London and Sheriff of London, 1620-21. A governor of Christ's Hospital, London. He married 1st, 30 August 1600, Elizabeth (1584-1605), daughter of William Bennett of London, fishmonger, and 2nd, Ellen (d. 1654), daughter of Richard Poyntell, and had issue:
(1.1) Elizabeth Allen (1602-43), baptised at St Margaret Moses, London, 25 April 1602; married, 1 June 1624, Sir Richard Lee, 2nd bt. (c.1600-60) of Langley, Acton Burnell (Shropshire) and had issue four sons and six daughters; buried at Acton Burnell, 31 August 1643;
(1.2) Sir Thomas Allen (1603-81), kt. (q.v.);
(1.3) Mary Allen (1605-78), baptised 5 May 1605; married, 29 May 1627, as his second wife, Sir Martin Lumley, bt. and had issue three sons and one daughter; buried at Great Bardfield (Essex), 2 October 1678.
(2.1) Helen (or Ellen) Allen (1606-1678), baptised 28 December 1606; married Sir Heneage Proby (1600-67) and had issue three sons and two daughters; died 12 June 1678 aged 72;
(2.2) Martha Allen (1608-37) of Enfield, baptised 2 October 1608; died unmarried; will proved 13 July 1637;
(2.3) Bridget Allen (1609-25), baptised 10 December 1609; died unmarried and was buried 21 November 1625;
(2.4) Sarah Allen (1610-15), baptised 24 March 1609/10; died young and was buried 31 August 1615.
He purchased the Bibsworth estate in Finchley (Middx) in 1622 for £5,000, and invested in other local properties later in the 1620s.
He was buried at St Mary le Bow, London, 25 April 1626. His first wife was buried 23 May 1605 at St Mary le Bow, London. His widow married 2nd, 1629, Sir Thomas Trevor, and died 1654.
Allen, Sir Thomas (1603-81), kt, of Bibsworth. Son of Edward Allen (d. 1626) and his first wife Elizabeth, daughter of William Bennett of London, fishmonger, baptised at St. Margaret Moses, London, 24 April 1603. Educated at Grays Inn, 1618-26 and St. John's College, Oxford (matriculated 1619; BA 1622; MA 1626); member of the East India Company; Governor of Barnet Grammar School, 1634-81 and Cholmeley's School, Highgate, 1653-81; knighted, 26 March 1639. He was a Royalist but not in arms during the Civil War, and his estate was sequestrated but returned to him on payment of a fine of £1000 in 1645; he was one of those loyal to the Crown who was proposed for the putative Order of the Royal Oak, 1660. JP and DL for Middlesex, 1660-81; MP for Middlesex, 1661-79, in which capacity he was consistently of the Court party; Commissioner for Recusants in Middlesex, 1675. He married, 1627, Mary (d. 1664), second daughter of Sir John Weld (d. 1622) of Arnolds, Southgate (Middx), and had issue:
(1) Mary Allen (b. 1628; fl. 1675), baptised 11 September 1628; living in 1675;
(2) Elizabeth Allen (d. 1640), buried 16 July 1640;
(3) Thomas Allen (b. 1630), baptised 2 April 1630; apprenticed to a London fishmonger; died before 1681;
(4) Edward Allen (1631-92) (q.v.);
(5) Martha Allen (b. c.1632; d. before 1680), baptised 31 January 1632/33; married at Finchley, Philip Storey of Cambridgeshire, and had issue;
(6) John Allen (b. 1634; fl. 1675), baptised 3 September 1634; apprenticed to a London skinner and merchant adventurer;
(7) Frances Allen (d. 1675); married 21 July 1658 at Finchley, John Tighe (d. 1663) esq. of Carlby (Lincs); died 1675 and will proved, 7 September 1675;
(8) Dorothea Allen (1638-62), baptised 2 October 1638; married, 11 December 1660 at Finchley, George Delaune of London, Hamburg merchant, and had issue one son; died in a house fire in Lothbury mentioned by Pepys, with her whole family, 29 December 1662;
(9) James Allen (1640-90) (q.v.)
(10) Anne Allen (b. c.1641; fl. 1675), baptised 3 February 1631/2; married, 1659 at Finchley, John Pulford of Tottenham High Cross;
(11) Richard Allen (1643-65), baptised 21 June 1643; died (probably of the plague), 1665;
(12) Charles Allen (c.1644-1703), baptised 6 January 1644/5; buried at Finchley, 30 December 1703; will proved 5 January 1704;
(13) Elizabeth Allen (b. 1647), baptised May 1647; married John Rogers;
(14) Sarah Allen (b. c.1651), baptised 24 February 1651/2; married, 26 January 1668/69, Samuel Waldo (c.1641-98) and had issue five sons and five daughters.
(15) Rachael Allen (fl. 1675); married Mr. Tuson.
He inherited the Bibsworth estate from his father in 1625. In 1630 he inherited property in London from his father's older brother, Thomas, and he purchased the manor of Old Fold in South Mimms in 1639, which thereafter descended with Bibsworth until 1841. From the 1650s he leased Dorchester House in Westminster.
He died 18 August 1681 and was buried at Finchley church, where he is commemorated by a fine Baroque monument. His will was proved 1 September 1681. His wife was buried 11 February 1663/4.
Allen, Edward (1631-92), of Bibsworth. Elder son of Sir Thomas Allen (d. 1681), kt. and his wife Mary, daughter of Sir John Weld of Arnolds, Southgate (Middx), baptised at Finchley, 25 August 1631. Apprenticed to a London merchant. Immediately after the death of his father he seized £500 belonging to his brother James stored in the manor house at Bibsworth, resulting in a lawsuit; he was also in dispute with his brother Charles. He married at St Bartholomew the Great, London, 5 January 1674/5, Elizabeth (d. 1708), daughter of Charles Cornwallis, and had issue:
(1) Mary Allen (d. 1758); married, before 1698, Oliver Corr (d. 1741) of London, merchant and had issue one son, Allen Heart (d. 1775);
(2) Elizabeth Allen (d. 1760); married, March 1695?, Edward Dryden (c.1668-1717), grocer of London and Canons Ashby (Northants) and nephew of the poet, John Dryden, and had issue five sons and three daughters;
(3) Rachael Allen (fl. 1706); married Gerard Puleston and had issue;
(4) Frances Allen (fl. 1692);
(5) Edward Allen (b. & d. 1683), baptised 25 October 1683; died in infancy;
(6) Anne Allen (b. 1684), baptised 12 October 1684;
(7) Philippa Allen (1686-1772); baptised 11 April 1686; married 24 April 1705, John Rooper of Berkhamstead Castle and Bloomsbury, Deputy Cofferer of the Household to Queen Anne, and had issue; died at Oxford, 19 February 1772;
He inherited the Bibsworth estate from his father in 1681. At his death it passed to Thomas, the son of his younger brother, James Allen (d. 1690).
He died in September 1692. His will was proved 15 October 1692. His widow moved to Muswell Hill and was buried at Finchley, 2 January 1708/9.
Allen, James (1640-91), of Hornsey. Younger son of Sir Thomas Allen (d. 1681), kt. and his wife Mary, daughter of Sir John Weld of Arnolds, Southgate (Middx), baptised at Finchley, 19 June 1640. Apprenticed to a London draper and merchant adventurer. He seems to have accumulated significant debts by the late 1680s. He married, about 18 May 1680, Elizabeth (d. 1704), daughter of Stephen Thompson of Spitalfields, Turkey merchant, and widow of John Barnes of Crouch End, Hornsey (Middx), and had issue:
(1) Mary Allen (b. 1681), baptised 17 March 1680/1;
(2) Thomas Allen (1682-1764) (q.v.);
(3) James Allen otherwise Alleyn (1683-1746) of Dorchester House, Westminster, born 4 May 1683; clerk to his half-brother, Thomas Barnes, in Cursitors Hall, 1701-12; Cursitor for Sussex and Worcestershire; Warden of Dulwich College, 1712-21 and Master, 1721-46; died unmarried, 28 October 1746 and was buried in Dulwich College chapel;
(4) Elizabeth Allen (1684-1759), baptised 19 June 1684; in 1703 she went to Scotland as companion to Rebecca, Lady Pitsligo, and after she died, Elizabeth married (in 1731) her widower, Alexander Forbes (1678-1762), 4th Baron Forbes of Pitsligo, who was active in the Jacobite cause in both 1715 and 1745 and who was attainted, 1746; died 1759;
(5) Anne Allen (b. 1687), baptised 24 November 1687; married William Greenhalgh of Myerscough Hall (Lancs).
He inherited the lease of Dorchester House, Westminster from his father. After his marriage he settled in Hornsey, until in 1688 he and his family moved to a lodge in Cowdray Park (Sussex). He also purchased land at Hayes (Middx), where his father also owned 300 acres.
He died in a drowning accident and was buried at Easebourne (Sussex), 21 February 1691, and his will was proved 12 May 1691. His widow moved back to Dorchester House, Westminster and married 3rd, c.1692/3, Rev. Francis Salisbury (d. 1697), formerly vicar of South Harting (Sussex), a non-juring High Anglican who was constantly under suspicion for his crypto-Catholic and Jacobite views, and who was eventually executed for fraud, 3 November 1697; her will was proved 4 July 1704.
Allen, Thomas (1682-1764), of Bibsworth. Son of James Allen (d. 1690) and his wife Elizabeth, daughter of Stephen Thompson of Spitalfields and widow of John Barnes of Crouch End, Hornsey (Middx), baptised 23 February 1681/2. He married, 6 July 1708 at St Clement Danes, London, Martha (d. 1755), daughter of Edward Noel of the Inner Temple and had issue:
(1) Edward Allen (d. 1774) (q.v.);
(2) Thomas Allen (né Allen, then Greenhalgh) (d. 1780) (q.v.)
He inherited the Bibsworth estate from his uncle, Edward Allen, in 1692. He expanded the estate and rebuilt the house in 1723.
He died and was buried at Finchley, 19 April 1764. His will was proved 16 April 1764. His wife was buried at Finchley, 16 April 1755.
Allen, Edward (d. 1774), of Bibsworth. Elder son of Thomas Allen (c.1681-1764). He was unmarried and without issue.
He inherited the Bibsworth estate from his father in 1764.
He died and was buried at Finchley, 9 February 1774. His will was proved 17 February 1774.
Allen (né Allen, then Greenhalgh), Thomas (d. 1780). Younger son of Thomas Allen (c.1681-1764). Educated at Grays Inn (Bencher, 1756; Treasurer, 1777). He changed his name to Greenhalgh and in 1774 reverted to Allen on inheriting the Bibsworth estate. He married, 5 June 1753 at Grays Inn Chapel, Anne (d. 1796), widow of John Edwards junior of Highgate, and had issue:
(1) Thomas Allen (d. 1830) (q.v.).
He inherited Myerscough Hall (Lancs) from his uncle by marriage, William Greenhalgh in 1742; this legacy became void when he inherited the Bibsworth estate from his elder brother in 1774. From 1775 he lived at 11 Henrietta Place, Henrietta Street, London; the drawing room of this house is now in the V&A Museum.
He was buried at Finchley, 26 April 1780; his will was proved 2 May 1780. His widow died in 1796.
Allen, Thomas (d. 1830). Son of Thomas Allen (d. 1780). He was unmarried and died childless, but may have had a relationship with his servant, Rosetta Exall, to whom he left £7,000 for life or until her marriage.
He inherited the Bibsworth estate from his father in 1780 but let it to John Trotter and later to William Fanning. After his death the ownership of the estate was disputed between rival claimants, but one of them, Rev. Edward Philip Cooper (d. 1864) bought out the interests of the others.
He died and was buried at Finchley, 15 April 1830.
VCH Middlesex, vol. 6, 1980, pp. 55-59; M.A. Wren & P. Hackett, James Allen: a portrait enlarged, 1968; B. Cherry and Sir N. Pevsner, The buildings of England: London 4 - North, 1998, p.124; http://www.historyofparliamentonline.org/volume/1660-1690/member/allen-sir-thomas-1603-81.
Location of archivesAllen-Cooper family of Bibsworth: records, 1458-1895 [London Metropolitan Archives, ACC/0351]
Coat of arms
Sable, a cross potent within a bordure engrailed or.
Revision & Acknowledgements
This post was first published on 27th December 2013 and last updated 3rd April 2015. I am grateful to Layle for additional information.