|Atwood of Sanderstead Court|
John Atwood (d. 1525) and his wife Denise (spelled Dionis, Denys, Denes etc), who died in 1531, are commemorated by a brass in Sanderstead church, and both their wills have survived. These sources suggest that they were married in about 1500, as their younger children were still minors when John died, but seem all to have been adults when his widow died six years later. There seems to be fairly strong evidence that the family followed the custom of Borough English, whereby the youngest son inherited all, or the majority, of the family property, and this explains why John's chief heir was his youngest son, John Wood alias Atwood (d. 1563?). Borough English is reasonably well attested as the custom for copyhold property on some Surrey manors, but its use in relation to freehold property is more unusual, and would have been a conscious choice in each generation of the family. John Atwood (d. 1563?) was likewise succeeded by his youngest son, Nicholas Wood alias Atwood (c.1539-86), who is said on his monument at Sanderstead to have served Queen Elizabeth since the second year of her reign. He is thought to have been connected with the Royal Mews at Charing Cross, but whether with the stables or the falconry element of the operation is unclear; it could be relevant that one John atte Wode was Keeper of the King's Goshawks in 1529.
Nicholas and his wife Olive (d. 1603) lived chiefly in London, and produced a large family, but when Nicholas died in early middle age in 1586 his youngest son and heir, Richard Atwood (1584-1604) was an infant. Olive married again and took her children to live with her second husband at Aldenham in Hertfordshire, where she died in 1603, shortly after her son Richard. At this point the tradition of Borough English seems to have been set aside, and Nicholas' eldest son, Harman Atwood (1570-1653), an attorney in Cliffords Inn, took possession of the estate, repudiating the claim of his youngest brother, John. His action apparently led to dissension in the family and (in 1631) to a lawsuit, following which at least three of his brothers - James and the two Johns - emigrated to America. There is a persistent tradition that other members of the family also crossed the Atlantic, which may or may not be accurate, but the suggestion found in some online sources that Alice Atwood did so is apparently wrong, as she is not named as one of Olive's surviving children on her monument at Elstree (Herts) in 1603.
In 1610, Harman Atwood, whose unusual forename was his mother's maiden name, also inherited a share in the manor of Sanderstead under the will of his childless cousin, John Ownsted (d. 1600), and by 1618 he had bought out his co-heirs, Ownsted's sisters-in-law. When he died in 1653, he left the enlarged Sanderstead estate to the second son of his second marriage, who shared not only his name but also his occupation as a lawyer. In a careful avoidance of the disputes which had arisen between siblings in the previous generation, John Atwood (1599-1676), Harman's eldest son and heir at law, also assigned any interest he had in the property to Harman junior. Harman Atwood junior (1608-77) was unmarried and 'distinguished by his zeal for the established church'; he also remodelled or rebuilt Sanderstead Court at the end of his life despite having no children to whom to bequeath it. His will shows him supporting a wide range of local charitable causes and an extended kinship network. It is clear, however, that he used his wealth to exert control over the lives of his dependent relatives. Even his ultimate heir, his nephew George Atwood (1652-1722) was only reluctantly forgiven for marrying without his consent 'because others have done so'.
George Atwood's inheritance, which he received in 1682 on the death of his aunt, Olive Atwood (1614-82), left him a wealthy man and by 1690 he was being named in acts of parliament as one of the commissioners for raising taxes in Surrey. He was probably a JP for the county, although that seems not to be recorded in published sources, and there seems to be no evidence that he pursued a career. When he died in 1722 he broke with family tradition and left his estate to his eldest surviving son, John Atwood (1688-1761), who was called to the bar in the following year. John proved to be the last of the Atwood line, since his marriage was childless. When his widow died in 1765 the Sanderstead estate passed to his sister's son, Thomas Wigsell, another lawyer. The Wigsells perpetuated the name Atwood as a forename until the death of Col. Atwood Dalton Wigsell in 1878, after which the property passed by marriage to the Arkwright family.
Sanderstead Court, SurreyThe abbots of Hyde Abbey, Winchester, owned the manor in the middle ages and had a grange at Sanderstead, which was replaced in the 16th century by a manor house called Sanderstead Place, built out of the materials of, and presumably on the site of, the grange: this house in turn was pulled down about 1800. The manor passed in the 1610s to the Atwood family, who already had a house nearby, known as Sanderstead Court, which remained the principal seat of the family and became the manor house.
|Sanderstead Court, from a watercolour by John Hassall, 1822, when the house was leased to Sir George Colebrooke.|
Image: Surrey History Centre 4348/2/3/2.
|Sanderstead Court: achievement of arms over the front door in the 1930s.|
Sanderstead Court was presumably 16th century in origin, but was either rebuilt or extensively remodelled by Harman Atwood (1608-77), who completed the work in 1676, less than a year before his death. As remodelled, the house had a recessed centre, far-projecting wings and a central Ionic doorcase (which was moved forward later when a porch was built behind it). Above the doorway was a large carving of the Atwood coat of arms in a Corinthian aedicule with a segmental pediment. The windows to either side of the doorway were very tall and arched, and formed a central three bay unit which was framed by giant pilasters and emphasised by a step up in the parapet. The house contained a two-storey hall - perhaps in origin the great hall of the 16th century house - which was redecorated with fluted Corinthian columns when the house was rebuilt or remodelled. Although I have not found an illustration of this room, it was described in 1875 as 'somewhat similar to the Mercer's Hall in London', a sufficiently grand standard of comparison!
|Sanderstead Court, from the Ordnance Survey 6" map surveyed in 1867.|
|Sanderstead Court: watercolour of the drawing room by Maria Lushington, c.1840. Image: Hazlitt, Gooden & Fox Ltd.|
Little is known of any late 18th or early 19th century alterations to the house, but there was obviously at least a partial refit in about 1840, as a watercolour of the drawing room of this date by Maria Lushington shows what is obviously a new decorative scheme. The lower wing to the north of the main house was added by J. Macvicar Anderson in 1866-67, and the same firm added further bedroom accommodation in 1895.
|Sanderstead Court in the 1930s, from an old postcard.|
|Sanderstead Court: the side elevation of the house in derelict condition in 1952.|
Image reproduced by permission of Surrey History Centre (ref. 4209/3/147/13).
Descent: John Wood alias Atwood (d. 1520); to Nicholas Wood alias Atwood (c.1539-86); to Harman Atwood (1570-1653), who bought out his co-heirs to the manor by 1618; to younger son, Harman Atwood (1608-77); to sister, Olive Atwood (1614-82); to nephew, George Atwood (1652-1722); to son, John Atwood (1682-1761); to widow (d. 1765) and then nephew, Thomas Wigsell (d. 1778) of London; to nephew, Atwood Wigsell (d. 1795); to brother, Rev. Thomas Wigsell (d. 1805); to niece, Susannah Wigsell (d. c.1807); to Rev. Atwood Wigsell Taylor (later Wigsell) (d. 1821); to son, Col. Atwood Dalton Wigsell (c.1821-78); to widow (who remarried 1886) and then to Capt. Frank Wigsell Arkwright (1848-93); to son, Esme Francis Wigsell Arkwright (b. 1882); sold 1919 and converted into an hotel in 1928; used by RAF in WW2 and burnt, 1944. In the early 19th century the house was mainly leased to tenants including Sir George Colebrooke (fl. 1822) and his son Henry Thomas Colebrooke (1765-1837).
Atwood family of Sanderstead Court
Wood (alias Atwood), John (d. 1525). Yeoman of Sanderstead. He married Denise [surname unknown] (d. 1531), and had issue:
(1) Henry Wood (alias Atwood) (fl. 1531);
(2) John Wood (alias Atwood alias Hewson) (d. 1573?); perhaps the person of this name buried at Sanderstead, 31 January 1572/3;
(3) Richard Wood (alias Atwood) (fl. 1531);
(4) Edward Wood (alias Atwood) (fl. 1525);
(5) John Wood (alias Atwood) (d. 1563?);
(6) Agnes Wood (alias Atwood) (fl. 1531); unmarried in 1531.
He probably lived at Sanderstead Court.
He died 30 July 1525 and was buried at Sanderstead, where he is commemorated by a monumental brass; his will was proved in the PCC, 5 September 1525. His widow's will was proved at Kingston, 17 March 1530/1.
Wood (alias Atwood), John (d. 1563?). Fourth son of John Wood (alias Atwood) (d. 1525) and his wife Denise. He married [name unknown], and had issue including:
(1) Thomas Wood (alias Atwood) (d. 1568); buried at Sanderstead, 10 August 1568;
(2) Robert Wood (alias Atwood) (d. 1570); buried at Sanderstead, 16 April 1570;
(3) Nicholas Wood (alias Atwood) (c.1539-86) (q.v.).
He inherited his father's estate at Sanderstead in 1525 and came of age before 1531.
He may have been the person of this name buried at St Martin in the Fields, 19 March 1562/3.
Wood (alias Atwood), Nicholas (c.1539-86). Third son of John Atwoode and his wife, born about 1539. An officer of the Royal Household from c.1560-86, probably connected with the royal mews or stables. He married, 30 January 1569/70 at St Martin-in-the-Fields, Westminster (Middx), Olive (1548-1603), daughter of James Harman of London, merchant, and had issue including:
(1) Harman Wood (alias Atwood) (1570-1653) (q.v.);
(2) Oliver Wood (alias Atwood) (1572-86), baptised at St Martin-in-the-Fields, 28 August 1572; said to have died young, 1586;
(3) Alice Wood (alias Atwood) (b. 1573?; fl. 1586); she was probably baptised at St Martin-in-the-Fields in 1573, when there is a gap in the register; living in 1586 but probably dead by 1603;
(4) Susan Wood (alias Atwood) (b. 1575; fl. 1603), baptised at St Martin-in-the-Fields, 16 July 1575; unmarried in 1603;
(7) Thomas Wood (alias Atwood) (b. 1579; fl. 1642), baptised at St Michael in the Fields, 4 July 1579;
(8) James Wood (alias Atwood) (1581-c.1644), baptised at St Michael in the Fields, 30 January 1580/1; leather-seller in London; emigrated to Plymouth, Massachusetts (USA) in about 1635; he married but had no issue; said to have died at Plymouth, c.1644;
(9) twin, John Wood (alias Atwood)* (b. 1582), baptised at Sanderstead, 4 February 1581/2; leather-seller in London; emigrated to America after 1631; married, 25 July 1612 at St Martin-in-the-Fields, Joan Coleson, and had issue; died in America;
(10) twin, Derick Wood (alias Atwood) (1582-83), baptised at Sanderstead, 4 February 1581/2; died in infancy and was buried at Sanderstead, 21 July 1583;
(11) Richard Wood (alias Atwood) (1584-1603), baptised at St Michael in the Fields, 26 June 1584; inherited the Sanderstead estate from his father in 1586; said to have died at Elstree before his mother, 1603.
He inherited his father's Sanderstead estate, probably in 1563 or 1573, and was resident at Sanderstead Court in 1568.
He died 10 May 1586 and was buried at St Martin-in-the-Fields, Westminster (Middx), 12 May 1586; he was commemorated by a monument in Sanderstead church. His widow married 2nd, 1590 (licence 26 May), William Marleville (d. 1591) of St Martin-in-the-Fields and probably had issue one son who died young; she married 3rd, 24 April 1592 at St Martin-in-the-Fields, John Buck of Aldenham (Herts), and had further issue one son; she was buried at Elstree (Herts), 1603, where she is commemorated by a monument.
* The existence of two John Woods in this generation, both of whom appear to have emigrated to America, makes it impossible to be certain whether the elder or the younger married in England.
Wood (alias Atwood), Harman (1570-1653). Eldest son of Nicholas Wood alias Atwood (d. 1586) and his wife, born 23 November 1570. Attorney of Clifford's Inn, London. His actions in taking possession of the Sanderstead estate on the death of his youngest brother in 1603 were contested by some of his siblings. He married 1st, 6 February 1598/9 at St Gregory by St Paul's, London, Elizabeth (d. 1604), daughter of Simon Lawrence, and 2nd, 19 August 1605 at Chislehurst (Kent), Joan (d. 1641), daughter of Arnold King of Beckenham (Kent), and had issue including:
(1.1) John Atwood (1599-1676) (q.v.);
(1.2) Ownsted Atwood (b. 1600), baptised at Sanderstead, 19 October 1600; probably died young;
(1.3) Olive Atwood (1602-04), baptised at Sanderstead, 3 October 1602; died in infancy and was buried at Sanderstead, 16 February 1603/4;
(1.4) Ann Atwood (1604-68?), baptised at Sanderstead, 19 August 1604; died unmarried after 1642; perhaps the person of this name who died of fever and was buried at St Botolph Aldersgate, London, 15 July 1668;
(2.1) Susan Atwood (1606-59), baptised at Sanderstead, 9 June 1606; died unmarried and was buried at Sanderstead, 2 August 1659;
(2.2) Rev. King Atwood (1607-74), baptised at Sanderstead, 16 August 1607; educated at Magdalen Hall, Oxford (matriculated 1623; BA 1626; MA 1629); ordained deacon, 1630 and priest, 1631; vicar of Sanderstead 1630-74; married, 27 June 1637 at Chislehurst (Kent), Elizabeth Brooke (d. 1642) and had issue one son (Harman (1641-1702)) and two daughters (Joan b. 1638; Susan b. 1639 m. John Till)); died 1 April and was buried at Sanderstead, 4 April 1674;
(2.3) Harman Atwood (1608-77) (q.v.);
(2.4) Thomas Atwood (1611-60), baptised at Sanderstead, 17 February 1610/11; died unmarried and was buried at Sanderstead, 23 February 1659/60;
(2.5) Olive Atwood (1614-82) (q.v.);
(2.6) John Atwood (1616-76), baptised at Sanderstead, 7 January 1616/7; died unmarried and was buried at Sanderstead, 21 February 1675/6.
He inherited Sanderstead Court from his youngest brother in 1603 and two-thirds of the manor of Sanderstead from John Ownsted the 1610s; he purchased the remainder of the manor from his co-heirs before 1618.
He died aged 83 and was buried at Sanderstead, 15 December 1653, where he was commemorated by a brass; his will was proved in London, 5 February 1654/5. His first wife was buried at Sanderstead, 26 August 1604, where she is commemorated by a ledger stone. His second wife died 3 January 1640/1 and was buried at Sanderstead, where she is commemorated by a monument.
Atwood, Harman (1608-77). Second son of Harman Atwood (1570-1653) and his second wife, Joan, daughter of Arnold King of Beckenham (Kent), baptised at Sanderstead, 18 December 1608. Educated at Inner Temple (admitted 1641). Attorney at Cliffords Inn, London. He was a patron of the poet, John Oldham, who wrote an elegy in his memory, according to which he was distinguished by his zeal for the established church; his will benefits an unusually large number of local charities and makes provision for members of an extended kinship network in terms which make it clear that he was an exacting and controlling patron. He was unmarried and without issue.
He inherited Sanderstead Court from his father in 1653, and rebuilt or remodelled it by 1676. At his death he bequeathed the estate to his surviving sister Olive (d. 1682) (q.v.), with remainder to the younger sons of his half-brother, John Atwood.
He died 16 February and was buried 22 February 1676/7; his will was proved 20 February 1676/7.
Atwood, Olive (1614-82). Daughter of Harman Atwood (d. 1653) and his second wife, Joan, daughter of Arnold King of Beckenham (Kent), baptised at Sanderstead, 20 March 1613/4. She rebuilt the rectory at Sanderstead in 1680. She was unmarried and without issue.
She inherited the Sanderstead Court estate from her brother in 1677.
She died 17 February 1681/2 and was buried at Sanderstead 23 February 1681/2.
Atwood, John (1599-1676). Eldest son of Harman Atwood (1570-1653) and his first wife, Elizabeth, daughter of Simon Lawrence, baptised at Aldenham (Herts), 28 May 1599. He married Joan [surname unknown] (d. 1690) and had issue:
(1) Harman Atwood (c.1634-1715), probably born before 1636*; married, 24 December 1677 at Sutton, Rebecca Burrows; died 1 January 1714/5 according to his monument;
(2) Elizabeth Atwood (fl. 1720), probably born before 1636; married, 7 February 1660 at St Michael Paternoster Royal, London, John Rogers; mentioned in the will of her brother, George in 1720;
(3) Joan Atwood (b. 1639), baptised at Sutton (Surrey), 17 October 1639;
(4) Mark Atwood (fl. 1676), probably born after 1642 as he is not mentioned in the will of his grandfather made in that year; married and had issue a son (George);
(5) John Atwood (b. 1647), baptised at Sutton, 20 April 1647;
(6) George Atwood (1652-1722) (q.v.).
He lived at Sutton (Surrey) and assigned his rights in the Sanderstead Court estate to his half-brother, Harman Atwood.
He was buried at Sanderstead, 21 February 1675/6. His widow was buried at Sutton, 3 December 1690.
* When the earliest surviving Sutton parish register commences.
Atwood, George (1652-1722). Fourth and youngest son of John Atwood (1599-1676) and his wife Joan, baptised at Sutton (Surrey), 30 March 1652. He acted as a commissioner for raising taxes in Surrey, 1690-1701. He married 1st, before 1676 and without the approval of his half-uncle and benefactor, [name unknown] and 2nd, 15 July 1683 at St Mary, Newington (Surrey), Elizabeth Pratt (d. 1705) and had issue:
(1.1) Charity Atwood (d. 1675); buried at St Mary, Newington, 4 June 1675;
(1.2) George Atwood (b. 1676), baptised at St Mary, Newington, 28 May 1676; died in infancy and was buried at St Mary, Newington, 2 August 1676;
(1.3) Margaret Atwood (b. 1677), baptised at St Mary, Newington, 15 July 1677; probably died young;
(1.4) Ann Atwood (d. 1678); died young and was buried at St Mary Newington, 15 July 1678;
(2.1) Mary Atwood (1686-1714), baptised at Sanderstead, 5 September 1686; married, 15 April 1707 at Sanderstead, Nicholas Wigsell (d. 1720) of Greenwich, maltster (who m2, 21 February 1716 at St Lawrence Jewry, London, Susanna Bailey), son of Thomas Wigsell, and had issue, from whom descended the late 18th century owners of Sanderstead Court; died 15 May 1714;
(2.2) George Atwood (1687-88), baptised at Sanderstead, 31 August 1687; died in infancy and was buried at Sanderstead, 12 December 1688;
(2.3) John Atwood (1688-1761) (q.v.);
(2.4) Thomas Atwood (1689-1714), baptised at Sanderstead, 17 October 1689; educated at Merton College, Oxford (matriculated 1707); died unmarried and was buried at Sanderstead, 5 January 1714, according to monument;
(2.5) Christopher Atwood (1690-1730), baptised at Sanderstead, 16 September 1690; married 25 February 1719/20 at St Katherine Coleman, London, Catherine (1690-1753), daughter of John Steward of Westminster (Middx), but apparently had no issue; buried at Sanderstead, 29 December 1730;
(2.6) George Atwood (1691-1758), baptised at Sanderstead, 1 September 1691; citizen and painter-stainer of London; lived at Blackfriars; married, 4 May 1718 at St Anne & St Agnes, London, Mary Grindell (d. 1748) and had issue two sons and four daughters; will proved 24 October 1758;
(2.7) Susanna Atwood (1694-1719), baptised at Sanderstead, 10 October 1694; died 24 December and was buried at Sanderstead, 30 December 1719;
(2.8) Olive Atwood (b. & d. 1695), born 27 August and baptised at Sanderstead, 10 October 1695; died in infancy and was buried at Sanderstead, 12 October 1695.
He inherited the Sanderstead Court estate in 1682 under the will of his half-uncle, Harman Atwood (d. 1677).
He died 15 July and was buried in the churchyard at Sanderstead, 22 July 1722, where he and his children are commemorated on a table tomb; his will was proved in the PCC, 12 September 1722. His first wife died before 1683. His second wife died 1 February and was buried 7 February 1704/5.
Atwood, John (1688-1761). Son of George Atwood (d. 1722) and his wife Elizabeth, baptised 9 October 1688. Educated at Merton College, Oxford (matriculated 1705) and Inner Temple (admitted 1713; called to bar, 1723). Barrister-at-law. He married 22 May 1718 at St Paul's Cathedral, London, Elizabeth Stacey (c.1680-1765), but had no issue.
He inherited the Sanderstead Court estate from his father in 1722. At his death the estate passed to his widow for life and then to his cousin, Thomas Wigsell, attorney-at-law.
He died 25 August and was buried at Sanderstead, 1 September 1761; his will was proved in the PCC, 4 September 1761. His widow died aged 85, and was buried at Sanderstead, 22 June 1765.
The Architect, 14 August 1875, p. 92; H.A.W., History of the Atwood family in England and the United States, 1888 [this publication needs to be treated with caution and cannot be relied upon for factual accuracy]; T. Mason, A register of the baptisms, marriages and burials in... St Martin in the Fields, 1550-1619, Harleian Soc., 1898; W.B. Bannerman, The parish registers of Sanderstead, 1908; VCH Surrey, vol. 4, pp. 237-43; Sir N. Pevsner & B. Cherry, The buildings of England: Surrey, 2nd edn., 1971, pp. 447-48; http://davidjatwood.com/uploads/Sanderstead__Surrey_England.pdf.
Location of archives
No substantial accumulation is known to survive.
Coat of arms
Gules a lion rampant argent between three acorns or. [Some members of the family seem to have used a variant with six acorns].
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 provide interior photographs of Sanderstead Court before its demolition?
- There are many unknowns about the genealogy of this family, especially in the 16th and early 17th century. If you have any further information about the family, please do get in touch.
Revision and acknowledgements
This post was first published 18 January 2017 and was updated 13 April 2017. I am grateful to Guy Wood for additional information.