|Atkinson of Stowell|
Robert and his wife Joyce produced two sons and five daughters. The two sons inherited Stowell and Robert's other property in Gloucestershire (at Little Taynton and Kilcot) in turn. The elder, Henry Atkinson, seems to have died in 1631, but the younger, John Atkinson, survived until 1662. In 1627, when it was probably clear that both the brothers were likely to die childless, Henry executed a settlement in favour of his nephew Thomas Wentworth, the son of his sister Anne (who had died in 1611) and her husband William Wentworth of Wentworth Woodhouse (Yorks WR). Thomas, who became a prominent supporter of King Charles I during the years of his personal rule, and who was Lord Deputy of Ireland, 1632-40, was made Baron Wentworth and later 1st Earl of Strafford. However, in 1641 he was attainted by Parliament for his high-handed conduct in Ireland and condemned to death. With much reluctance, Charles I signed his death-warrant and he was duly executed on Tower Hill on 12 May 1641.
When Henry Atkinson died, probably in June or July 1631, his Gloucestershire estates passed to his younger brother John, who was educated at Oxford and perhaps later at one of the inns of court. In his father's will he was left a house in Chancery Lane and his father's books, so it seems probable he was a lawyer. Like Lord Strafford, he was a supporter of the Crown and a Royalist during the Civil War. Nothing seems to be recorded of his activities in the war, and I have not found a record of his estate being sequestered, but in the 1650s he was still of concern to the Commonwealth authorities. In 1658, when he was perhaps ailing, he had licence to travel to Spa (Belgium), and he was officially pardoned by the Commonwealth the following year. When King Charles II was restored to the throne the following year, he was knighted, perhaps as a token reward for his support or privations in the preceding decades. He had sold his property at Kilcot in 1653 and Little Taynton in 1656, which may imply that he was in straightened circumstances. He died in 1662, and under the terms of the 1627 settlement the Stowell estate passed to his great-nephew, William Wentworth, 2nd Earl of Strafford (1626-95), who sold it in 1689.
Stowell Park, Gloucestershire
Stowell must be one of the least-known large country houses in the Cotswolds, due largely to its isolated position in the empty country south of Northleach. It incorporates a late medieval stone house, which was extended and refronted in the 17th century and refitted, redecorated and enlarged by Sir John Belcher for the 3rd Earl of Eldon in 1886-98.
|Stowell Park: north front. Image: Nicholas Kingsley. Some rights reserved.|
|Stowell Park: west front. Image: Nicholas Kingsley. Some rights reserved.|
|Stowell Park: window on the west front.|
Image: Nicholas Kingsley Some rights reserved.
“I now remember the place, but never took notice of the house, but it is a very little one; one Mr Stevens dwelt in it, and I fear much too little for your Grace ... The rooms are very little, all but the parlour and hall, which are fit for a country gentleman ... I wish it were your Grace's inheritance, for it is a very fine country and a very fine site to build upon ...”In about 1689 the 2nd Earl of Strafford sold the estate to John Howe, who was born about 1660, and was then MP for Cirencester. He became one of the members for Gloucestershire in 1698-1705. As a strong Tory, Howe was made a privy councillor in 1702 and was joint paymaster-general from 1703-14. His son, who inherited the Chedworth, Withington and Cassey Compton estates from his cousin, Sir Richard Howe, in 1730, was created Lord Chedworth in 1741. Cassey Compton seems at first to have become the family seat, but the first three Lords Chedworth used Stowell when they were not in London. After the 3rd Baron died at Stowell in 1781, however, the 4th and last Lord Chedworth (d.1804), who disliked his Gloucestershire property, lived in Suffolk. All the household goods were offered for sale in 1782 and, when the whole estate of over 7,600 acres was put on the market in 1811, Stowell was described as 'an ancient mansion, now a farmhouse', and the park was said to contain 'several beautiful sites for building upon'.
The purchaser of 1812 was Sir William Scott, judge of the Admiralty Court and MP for Oxford University. In 1821 he was raised to the peerage as Lord Stowell, but following his death in 1836 and that of his daughter, Lady Sidmouth, in 1842, the estate passed to his nephew, the Earl of Eldon. Like the last Lord Chedworth, Lord Stowell and the Earls of Eldon let Stowell for most of the 19th century, but the 3rd Earl (who came of age in 1866, having inherited at the age of nine) preferred Stowell to the family seat of Encombe in Dorset, and employed Sir John Belcher to carry out a considerable enlargement of the house in 1886-98.
|Stowell Park: Sir John Belcher's new south-west range.|
|Stowell Park: the design for the Green Court, published in The Builder, 1887.|
In 1923, however, the ageing Earl of Eldon decided that he could not afford to maintain two full-scale country houses, and since his surviving sons were all comfortably settled in smaller properties, determined to sell off his Gloucestershire estate, leaving Encombe to be inherited by his grandson and heir. Despite expectations that the estate would be broken up, as so many others were at that time, the house and 2,379 acres were sold by private treaty to the Hon. Samuel Vestey in September 1923. Much of the remaining 4,000 acres of the estate was sold at auction, chiefly to the occupiers of the properties concerned, but Lord Vestey (as he became on the death of his father in 1940) subsequently bought some of them back, including the strategically placed Cassey Compton. The estate, which now belongs to the present Lord Vestey, comprises some 6,000 acres and is in excellent heart.
|Stowell Park: the house as reduced in size by Christopher Buxton for Lord Vestey c.1981.|
Image: Nicholas Kingsley. Some rights reserved.
Descent: Thomas Limerick (d. 1486); to daughter, Agnes, wife of William Tame and later Sir Robert Harcourt (d. by 1504); to son, Thomas Tame (d. c.1545) to widow and then daughter, Elizabeth, wife of Edmund Horne (d. 1553); to daughter Elizabeth, wife of Anthony Bourne, who sold 1577 to Robert Atkinson (c.1535-1607); to son, Henry Atkinson (d. 1631?); to brother, Sir John Atkinson (d. 1662); to great-nephew, William Wentworth (1626-95), 2nd Earl of Strafford, who sold 1689 to John Grubham Howe MP (d. 1722); to son, John Howe (d. 1742), 1st Baron Chedworth; to son, John Thynne Howe (d. 1762), 2nd Baron Chedworth; to brother, Henry Frederick Howe (d. 1781), 3rd Baron Chedworth; to nephew, John Howe (d. 1804), 4th Baron Chedworth; to trustees who sold 1812 to Sir William Scott (1745-1836), 1st Baron Stowell; to daughter, Marianne (d. 1842), wife of Henry Addington (1757-1844), 1st Viscount Sidmouth; to kinsman, John Scott (1805-54), 2nd Earl of Eldon; to son, John Scott (1845-1926), 3rd Earl of Eldon; sold 1923 to Samuel Vestey (1882-1954), 2nd Baron Vestey; to grandson, Samuel George Armstrong Vestey (b. 1941), 3rd Baron Vestey.
Atkinson family of Stowell Park
Atkinson, Richard (c.1500-74). Parentage unknown. A draper in Oxford, who was in business on his own account by 1526 when he took his first recorded apprentice. He was a member of the Common Council from 1530-46 and Alderman, 1546-74; Chamberlain, 1533; Bailiff, 1539; Mayor, 1548-50, 1553-54, 1559-60, 1567-68; Coroner, 1549. He was mayor at the time of Queen Mary's coronation and may have performed the traditional role of the mayor of Oxford as butler at the coronation feast. He married 1st, Agnes [surname unknown] (d. 1569) and 2nd, 3 September 1570 at St Peter-in-the-East, Oxford, Joan Barton, and had issue by his first wife five sons and six daughters, including:
(1) Robert Atkinson (c.1535-1607) (q.v.).
He lived in Oxford, but by 1568 was living in the suburbs of the town.
He died 31 May 1574 and was buried at St. Peter-in-the-East, Oxford, 2 June 1574, where he was commemorated by a marble tomb with a brass inlaid in its top; the brass survives in the church which is now the library of St. Edmund Hall. His first wife was buried at St Peter-in-the-East, 18 May 1569. His widow's date of death is unknown.
Atkinson, Robert (c.1535-1607). Only surviving son of Richard Atkinson (d. 1574) of Oxford, draper, and his first wife Agnes (d. 1569), born about 1535. His father having been mayor of Oxford five times, he was made a freeman of the city in his teens, in 1549. Educated at the Inner Temple (admitted, 1554/5; called to bar, 1561). Barrister at law; A member of the Common Council of the city of Oxford, 1560/61; MP for Appleby (Westmld), 1563. In 1570 he was expelled from the Inner Temple with others who had refused to conform to the Elizabethan religious settlement, and his reinstatement is not recorded but apparently did not take place until after 1577. He continued to be under suspicion of recusant sympathies, perhaps largely because his wife was an avowed Catholic, but he managed to steer a middle line between conscience and conformity, and in his will made his property legacies to his children conditional on their conforming. Mysteriously his exclusion from legal practice in the 1570s does not seem to have affected his position as Recorder of Oxford, which he held 1566-1607 (although he acted by deputy after 1580), even though Oxford was then a Puritan stronghold. As Recorder he also made the official speech of welcome when Queen Elizabeth visited the city in 1592. He married Joyce, daughter of Humphrey Ashfield of Heythrop (Oxon), and had issue:
(1) Anne Atkinson (c.1567-1611); married, 1590, Sir William Wentworth (c.1562-1614), 1st bt. of Wentworth Woodhouse (Yorks WR) and had issue eight sons and three daughters including Thomas Wentworth (1593-1641), 1st Earl of Strafford, whose son inherited the Stowell estate in 1662; died 22 July 1611 and was buried at Wentworth, 23 July 1611;
(2) Mary Atkinson; married, before 1598, Sir Francis Trappes (later Trappes-Byrnand) (1570-1643), kt. of Harrogate and Nidd (Yorks WR) and had issue six sons and ten daughters;
(3) Joyce Atkinson; married 1st, 15 July 1595 at St Dunstan in the West, London, as his second wife, Richard Josselyn (1564-1605) of Hyde Hall, Sawbridgeworth (Herts) and had issue one son; married 2nd, 30 January 1605/6 at St Olave, Hart St., London, William Bennett;
(4) Henry Atkinson (d. 1631?) (q.v.);
(5) Eleanor Atkinson (d. c.1605); married, 6 December 1600 at St Dunstan in the West, London, Sir Thomas Bold (d. 1612), kt. of Bold (Lancs) (who married 2nd, 9 April 1607, Bridget, daughter of William Norres of Speke (Lancs)), illegitimate son of Richard Bold of Bold, but had no issue; died before 1607;
(6) Sir John Atkinson (d. 1662), kt. (q.v.);
(7) Elizabeth Atkinson; married, 4 April 1597 at St Dunstan in the West, London, Sir John Leake (fl. 1609), son of Jasper Leake of Wyre Hall, Edmonton (Middx) and had issue two sons and five daughters; died before 1605.
He purchased the Stowell estate in 1577 and the manors of Little Taynton and Kilcot, Newent (Glos) in 1604.
He died before 17 September 1607; his will was proved in the PCC, 10 November 1607. His wife died before 1605.
Atkinson, Henry (d. 1631?). Elder son of Robert Atkinson (d. 1607) of Stowell and his wife Joyce, daughter of Humphrey Ashfield of Heythrop (Oxon). There is a suggestion in his father's will that the two men may not have been on good terms, as provision was made for him to forfeit his inheritance if he disputed the provision made for his siblings. He married Ursula, daughter of Sir Francis Stonor of Stonor Park (Oxon), and had issue:
(1) Robert Atkinson; died in infancy;
(2) Mary Atkinson; died in infancy.
He inherited the Stowell and Little Taynton & Kilcot estates from his father in 1607.
He died in 1630 or 1631, and is probably to be identified with the Henry Atkinson of Drury Lane, London, whose will was proved 8 July 1631 and whose only legacy was to his brother John. His wife probably predeceased him.
Atkinson, Sir John (d. 1662), kt. Younger son of Robert Atkinson (d. 1607) of Stowell and his wife Joyce, daughter of Humphrey Ashfield of Heythrop (Oxon). Educated at St John's College, Oxford (admitted 1603). His father left him his house in Chancery Lane, London, and his books, so he was probably trained as a lawyer, but I have not traced his admission to any of the inns of court. He acted as an arbitrator for the borough of Northleach in 1625 and was later one of the feoffees of the borough. He was evidently a Royalist during the Civil War and remained of concern to the Commonwealth authorities until he was pardoned by Parliament in 1659. This may explain why he was knighted after the Restoration, 22 November 1660. He married [name unknown] but had no issue.
He inherited the Stowell and Little Taynton & Kilcot estates from his brother Henry in about 1631. He sold Kilcot in 1653 to John Bourne and Little Taynton in 1656 to Charles Pitfield of Hoxton (Middx). At his death the estate passed to his great-nephew, William Wentworth, 2nd Earl of Strafford.
He was buried at Hampnett (Glos), 3 April 1662. His wife endowed a charity school at Northleach for a limited period.
VCH Gloucestershire, vol. 9, pp. 208-17; vol. 12, pp. 46, 328; Visitation of Glos in 1623, p. 5; E.R. Delderfield, West Country Historic Houses: vol. 3, The Cotswolds, 1973, pp. 92-95; N.W. Kingsley, The country houses of Gloucestershire, vol. 1, 1500-1660, 2001, pp. 210-11.
Location of archives
No significant accumulation is known to survive.
Coat of arms
Azure, a cross patonce between four lions rampant argent.
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