Friday, 24 January 2014

(104) Alleyn of Gresley Hall

Alleyn of Gresley
In the 16th century, Sir John Alleyn (d. 1545) was twice Lord Mayor of London, and left his extensive fortune and property to be divided between two illegitimate sons.  One of these, Sir Christopher Alleyn (d. 1586), inherited the beautiful medieval manor house of Ightham Mote (Kent).  In 1556 Sir Christopher purchased the site of Gresley Priory in south Derbyshire, and he is said to have demolished the priory buildings and used the stone to build Gresley Hall. His purchase was made at about the time when he married Audrey, the daughter of the 1st Lord Paget, whose estates lay not far away in south Staffordshire, and it is possible that Gresley was acquired to make it easier for her to spend time with her family. Sir Christopher is said to have had eight children, but the only one of whom anything is known was his eldest surviving son, Charles Alleyn (d. 1592), who sold Ightham Mote in 1591 and made Gresley Hall his principal seat. (Since the family neither built Ightham nor held it for very long I have reserved an account of it to a future post on the Selby family, to whom it was sold).

Ightham Mote (Kent), home of the Alleyns in the 16th century.

Charles Alleyn's grandson, John Alleyn (d. 1646), was killed during the siege of Ashby-de-la-Zouch Castle by Parliamentarian forces during the Civil War, leaving a young family.  His elder son, John Alleyn, who came of age in about 1662, seems to have rebuilt Gresley Hall shortly afterwards, as the present house is dated 1664. John's grandson, Samuel Stephenson Alleyn (d. 1734), who died unmarried and may have suffered from epilepsy or intermittent mental health problems, was the last of his line, and following his death the estate was sold by his executors to the Meynell family of Meynell Langley Hall.

The Alleyns of Gresley are remarkably obscure in the historical record, and the genealogical details given below are unusually incomplete.  If any reader is able to supply more information, I should be particularly grateful to hear from them.

Gresley Hall, Church Gresley, Derbyshire

Gresley Old Hall. 

The house is reputed to have been built in 1556 for Sir Christopher Alleyn out of the materials of the demolished Gresley Priory, but the only survival of the 16th century house is a huge square chimneystack, once external but now encased in brick and within the house. It has four star-shaped brick flues on top of an ashlar stone lower part, all finely built, and there is a bevelled stone dripmould at the junction of the brick and stonework. However, the present building is dated 1664: it is an L-shaped two and a half storey brick house with curved Dutch gables on the south front, and could well be a fragment of a once larger E-shaped house.  There are now large, probably 19th century, east and north wings and flat-roofed mid 20th century extensions.  As built, the house had mullioned windows, but these have been replaced by unsympathetic steel-framed casements.  Inside, the house has a tall and impressive hall with a fine early 18th century staircase rising around three sides of the space.  In a cupboard in one of the attic cocklofts a plaster panel with the graffiti inscription "S.A. I.H. 1710" was found recently, which probably provides the date of the 18th century alterations to the house. The initials S.A. have been interpreted as referring to Samuel Alleyn, but since he had not yet inherited in 1710 and was only about ten years old, it is perhaps more likely that S.A. and I.H. were the initials of the craftsmen responsible for the work.

In the mid 18th century the house had an estate of 600 acres and was set in a fenced park, but in 1789 the house was said to be 'hastening fast to decay' and the property was subsequently dismembered for coal mining, the house tenanted as a farm and the outbuildings converted for use as a pottery in 1794.  In 1895, when the mining had destroyed too much of the estate for farming to be viable, it was converted into tenements.  It then lay derelict for some time before being purchased by a Miners' Welfare club, which employed Vernon Brice ARIBA to make it habitable in 1953.  The house now stands in a remnant of the former park, which has been somewhat enlarged by reclamation and landscaping in recent years.

Descent: sold 1556 to Sir Christopher Alleyn...John Alleyn (d. 1646); to son, John Alleyn; to son, John Alleyn (d. 1712); to son, Samuel Stevenson Alleyn (d. 1734); sold after his death to Littleton Poyntz Meynell... who let to Robert Bakewell, mayor of Derby and sold 1773 to Sir Nigel Gresley; to Sir Roger Gresley who sold 1828 to Marquess of Hastings; sold 1889 to John Hall (fl. 1895).. Miners Welfare Club; sold 1953 to National Coal Board.

Alleyn family of Gresley Hall

Alleyn, Richard (d. 1527) of Thaxted. He married and had issue:
(1) Sir John Alleyn (d. 1545), kt. (q.v.);
(2) John Alleyn of Thaxted (from whom descend the Alleyns of Hatfield Peverel)
(3) Christopher Alleyn, of London; married and had issue a son, Rafe Alleyn (from whom descended a family at Hayes Leigh (Essex).
He is said to have owned an extensive estate in Essex.
He died in 1527.

Alleyn, Sir John (d. 1545), kt. Son and heir of Richard Alleyn (d. 1527) of Thaxted (Essex). Sheriff of London, 1518; Lord Mayor of London, 1525 and 1535. Member of the Privy Council. He had illegitimate issue:
(X1) Sir Christopher Alleyn alias Gyllet alias Carleton (1505-85/6), kt. (q.v.);
(X2) Another son.
He died in 1545; by his will he left a gold collar of SS to be worn by the Lord Mayor of London and 'other noble gifts' to the city of London.

Alleyn (alias Gyllet alias Carleton), Sir Christopher (1505-85/6), kt. of Ightham Mote.  Elder of two illegitimate sons of Sir John Alleyn (d. 1545); born at Thaxted (Essex), 1505. Knighted at Westminster, 2 October 1553. JP for Kent from 1561. MP for New Romney, 1563. In 1564 he was described as 'conformable in religion' but ten years later he was said to keep 'a vile papistical house' and in 1585 his house was searched for 'relics' and his family and servants questioned. He married Audrey alias Etheldreda (c.1535-87), daughter of William Paget, 1st Baron Paget and had issue six sons and two daughters including:
(1) Charles Alleyn (c.1557-91/2) (q.v.).
He inherited from his father a widely scattered portfolio of real estate, including Ightham Mote. In 1556 he purchased the site and buildings of Gresley Priory (Derbys) and demolished them, building a new house from the stone.
He died 24 February 1585/6 and was buried at Ightham.

Alleyn, Charles (c.1557-91/2) of Ightham Mote, later of Gresley. Son of Sir Christopher Alleyn (1505-86) and his wife Audrey, daughter of William Paget, 1st Baron Paget, born about 1557. He married Elizabeth (b. c.1540), eldest daughter of Sir William Waller of Groombridge (Kent) and had issue including:
(1) Stephen Alleyn (fl. c.1600).
He inherited Ightham Mote and Gresley Hall from his father in 1586 but sold Ightham in 1591 and subsequently made Gresley his principal seat.
He died in 1591/92, aged 34.

Alleyn, Stephen (fl. c.1600) of Gresley Hall. Son of Charles Alleyn (d. 1591/2) and his wife Elizabeth, eldest daughter of Sir William Waller of Groombridge (Kent). He married Joan Apreece/Price of Washingley (Hunts), and had issue including:
(1) John Alleyn (d. 1646) (q.v.).
He inherited Gresley Hall from his father in 1592.

Alleyn, John (d. 1646). Son of Stephen Alleyn (fl. c1600) and his wife Joan Price of Washingley (Hunts).  He married 1st, Mary Powell and 2nd, Mary, daughter of Peregrine Stevens and had issue:
(1.1) Anne Alleyn; died in infancy;
(2.1) John Alleyn (b. c.1641) (q.v.);
(2.2) Mary Alleyn (b. c.1642); married John Berry (b. 1640) of Berrynarbor (Devon);
(2.3) Stephen Alleyn; married and had issue a daughter;
(2.4) Elizabeth Alleyn; died unmarried.
He inherited Gresley Hall from his father.
He died at the siege of Ashby-de-la-Zouch Castle, 1646. His widow married 2nd, Pole Turvile (d. 1686) of Tenby (Pembs).

Alleyn, John (b. c.1641) of Gresley Hall.  Elder son of John Alleyn (d. 1646) and his second wife Mary, daughter of Peregrine Stevens, born about 1641. He married Mary, eldest daughter of George Harper of Twyford, and had issue including:
(1) John Alleyn (c.1668-1712) (q.v.)
He inherited Gresley Hall from his father in 1646 and was presumably responsible for rebuilding it in 1664.
His date of death is unknown.

Alleyn, John (c.1668-1712).  Son of John Alleyn (b. c.1641), born about 1668. Educated at Queens College, Oxford (matriculated 1687).  He married, 3 October 1695, Esther (c.1673-1733), daughter of Samuel Stephenson, and had issue:
(1) Mary Alleyn;
(2) John Alleyn (1698-99); baptised 30 July 1698; died in infancy and was buried February, 1699;
(3) Esther Alleyn (b. 1700; fl. 1760); second daughter; married 1st, 4 March 1721, Thomas Cowper of Chester and had issue one son and two daughters; married 2nd, Lt-Col. Charles Gordon (d. before 1760);
(4) Samuel Stephenson Alleyn (c.1707-34) (q.v.);
(5) Anne Alleyn; married, 15 February 1732, Walter Warburton (fl. 1736) of the City of Chester.
He died 5 June 1712, aged 44, and was buried at Church Gresley, 7 June 1712; his will was proved 16 June 1712.  His widow died 5 May 1733 and was buried near her husband.

Alleyn, Samuel Stephenson (c.1707-34). Only surviving son of John Alleyn (c.1668-1712) and his wife Esther, daughter of Samuel Stephenson; born about 1707.  Educated at Christ Church, Oxford (matriculated 1722). He was unmarried and without issue, and he seems to have been known locally at the time as "Mad Allen", although his will and a subsequent legal case give no hint of mental instability. However a bequest of £210 to George Bateman of Derby "for his particular care and attendance of me", may hint at some disability that was not well understood at the time, such as epilepsy.
He inherited Gresley Hall from his father.  At his death it was left to two friends who sold it to the Meynell family.
His will was proved 25 February 1734.


Sir E. Brydges, The topographer, 1789, vol. 1, p. 458; M. Craven & M. Stanley, The Derbyshire country house, 2001, vol. 2, pp. 276-77; South Derbyshire Heritage News, 27, 2008, p.4 and 28, 2008, pp. 3-4.

Location of archives

No substantial archive is known to survive.

Coat of arms

Sable, a cross potent Or

Last revised 19th September 2014.


  1. Why is there such fluctuation between 'Alleyn', 'Alleyne' and an isolated 'Allen' ? Typos ?

  2. Touché! I think I began by recording the names as written in the records but belatedly decided to standardise on "Alleyn" and did not do this very consistently. I will revise in the interests of consistency. It remains true, however, that the family's name is spelled in an unusually varied way in the original records.

    1. My family name, Trewin,is in the past has been spelled Trewyn, Trewyne, Treween and I am sure there are other variants, the only constant being the Cornish 'Tre'. The same family members often used different spellings as late as the 1750's. The pronunciation was the only constant. Makes the geneologist's research that little bit more difficult.

      Incidently my mother's family, we believe, are descendents of John Berry of Berrynarbor, Devon, who married Mary Alleyn, daughter of John Alleyn.

  3. Brandy Allen-Ipock27 March 2015 at 17:45

    Thank you so much for providing this information. If I've done my research correctly this lineage of Alleyn's are direct ancestors of my father. Whose last name is Allen. Thank you again, I've learned so much.

  4. Hi who owns gresley old Hall now please

    1. I believe it is a pub or club, trading as CHURCH GRESLEY (OLD HALL) BAR SERVICES LIMITED. The Company Secretary is Sharon Bennett.


Please leave a comment if you have any additional information or corrections to offer, or if you are able to help with additional images of the people or buildings in this post.