Saturday 23 March 2013

(18) Acton of Gatacre Park

Acton coat of arms
© Jimmy Nicolle. CC licence
Thomas Acton (1623-77), second son of Sir Edward Acton, 1st baronet of Aldenham (see previous post), inherited Gatacre Park at his father’s death in 1659.  The estate passed by descent to Edward Farrer Acton (1805-90), who inherited in 1822 and rebuilt the house in 1849-50, and who created a small Italianate formal garden and terrace and a larger woodland garden.  His son, Capt. Edward William Frederick Acton (1834-1920), whose only daughter, Helen Beatrice (1855-97), wife of John Kendall Brooke of Sibton Park (Suffolk) predeceased him, seems to have sold the estate c.1900.

Gatacre Park (Shropshire)

Gatacre Park.  © Roger Kidd.  Licenced under a Creative Commons Licence.
The late 16th century house on this site, once ‘celebrated for its curious rooms and hiding places’ where the Earl of Derby was concealed before the Battle of Worcester in 1651, was pulled down in 1849.  No illustration of it has been found and if anyone knows of one I should be most interested to see it.  The present two storey five bay Classical house of red brick with stone dressings and a slate roof was built in 1850.  It has a heavy stone eaves cornice and stone string courses, and rather resembles houses on the Calthorpe estate at Edgbaston.  The west (entrance) front has a projecting bays at either end and a porch on the fourth bay which projects further.  The first floor windows have architraves and the ground floor ones cornice hoods on console brackets.  The east elevation has a large stone semi-circular bay window on ground floor, and there is a three-storey service wing to the north. The interior contains some re-set panelling, probably from the former house on the site.  The gardens have all been created since 1923.  There is a woodland garden renowned for its profusion of azaleas, rhododendrons, and mature specimen trees, a small Italianate garden on the left of the lawn, with steps down to a pond and clipped yews, and a terrace walk with topiary of clipped yews, featuring eccentric shapes such as screws, teapots, teddy bears, and toadstools.  The house should not be confused with Gatacre Hall, nearby.

Descent: Humphrey Elliott; to son, John Elliott (b. 1625; fl. 1655); sold to Sir Edward Acton of Aldenham, 1st bt. (d. 1659); to younger son, Thomas Acton (1623-77); to son Thomas Acton (1665-1734); to nephew, Edward Acton (1704-67); to daughter, Frances Acton (1747-1803), wife of Elijah Barrer; to son, Edward Acton Barrer (1767-1822), who took the name Acton in lieu of Barrer in 1791; to son, Lt-Col. Edward Farrer Acton (1805-90); to son, Edward William Frederick Acton (1834-1920), who sold the house between 1891 and 1901 but retained the estate until after 1909...sold 1923 to Albert Edward Thompson (1866-1937); to son, Sir Edward Walter Thompson (1902-89); to son, Edward Martin Amphlett Thompson (b. 1933).

The Actons of Gatacre Park

Acton, Sir Edward (1600-59), 1st baronet, of Acton Scott Hall and Aldenham Park.  Son of Walter Acton (c.1575-1641) and his wife Frances, daughter of Edward Acton of Acton Scott; baptised at Morville, 20 July 1600.  MP for Bridgnorth, 1640-44; deprived of his seat as a Royalist.  Created a baronet, 17 January 1643/44.  In the Civil War he was a Colonel in the Royalist Dragoons and saw action at the Battle of Edgehill and the siege of Bridgnorth Castle (which he surrendered in 1646); compounded for his estates in 1646 for £5,242, later reduced to £2,000.  He married c.1620 Sarah (1598-1679), daughter of Richard Mytton of Halston (Shropshire) and had, with an unnamed daughter who died in infancy:
(1) Sir Walter Acton (1621-65), 2nd bt. (q.v.); 
(2) Edward Acton (b. 1621/22), baptised 2 January 1622; died young; 
(3) Thomas Acton (1623-77), from whom descend the Actons of Gatacre Park
(4) Frances Acton (1625-26), baptised 13 November 1625; buried 25 May 1626;
(5) Robert Acton (1628-54), baptised 2 November 1628; died without issue and was buried 29 March 1654;
(6) William Acton (1629-59) of Buildwas (Shropshire), draper; baptised 2 March 1629; m. 29 December 1653, Mary (d. 1715), daughter of Arthur Weaver and had issue, one son and one daughter; 
(7) Capt. Richard Acton RN (1633-74), baptised 21 April 1633; fought in First and Second Dutch wars; m. Lydia Pearson of London and had issue a daughter; buried 25 April 1674.
He inherited Aldenham Park and Acton Scott Hall from his father in 1641.  He also bought Gatacre Park after 1655.
He died in 1659 and was buried 29 June 1659.  His will was proved in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, 20 December 1659.

Acton, Thomas (1623-77). Second son of Sir Edward Acton (1600-59), 1st bt. and his wife Sarah, dau of Richard Mytton of Halston (Shropshire); baptised 25 January 1623.  Educated at Alban Hall, Oxford (matriculated 1640).  He married c.1661, Mabel, daughter of Clement Stonor, of London, mercer, and had issue:
(1) Edward Acton, (b. c.1662), d. young;
(2) Sarah Acton (c.1663-1752), m. John Whitmore of Luston (Shropshire) and had issue; died 20 June 1752;
(3) Thomas Acton (1665-1734) (q.v.);
(4) Clement Acton (1669-1727) (q.v.);
(5) Rachel Acton (1671-1706), m. Rev. John Eyton and had issue.
He inherited Gatacre Park from his father in 1659.
He died in 1677, aged 56, and was buried at Tasley (Shropshire).

Acton, Thomas (1665-1734).  Elder son of Thomas Acton (1623-77) and his wife Mabel, daughter of Clement Stonor of London, mercer.  Educated at Merton College, Oxford (matriculated 1683/4).  He inherited Gatacre Park from his father in 1677, but died unmarried and without issue, whereupon the estate descended to his nephew, Edward Acton (1704-67).  He died 4 October 1734 and was buried at Tasley (Shropshire), 7 October 1734.  His will was proved in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, 9 July 1735.

Acton, Clement (1669-1727), ironmaster at Halesowen.  Younger son of Thomas Acton (1623-77) and his wife Mabel, daughter of Clement Stonor of London, mercer.  He married 1690 Mary Hickman (d. 1742) and had issue:
(1) Thomas Acton (1701-41);
(2) Edward Acton (1704-67) (q.v.);
(3) Clement Acton (1706-64), m. his cousin, Jane Whitmore;
(4) Walter Acton (b. 1710); died before 1726;
(5) Mary Acton (1713-63), m. Peter Habberley and had issue;
(6) James Acton (1716-50);
(7) Mabel Acton (1720-72), died unmarried.
He died 13 February 1726/7.

Acton, Edward (1704-67).  Eldest son of Clement Acton (1669-1726) and his wife Mary (née Hickman), baptised 16 August 1704.  He married 1745 Anne York (1708-94) and had issue:
(1) Mabel Acton (1746-1831), m.1st, Rowland Hill, m.2nd, John Zouch, m.3rd, Thomas Haslewood, and m.4th Joseph Sparkes, but had no issue;
(2) Frances Acton (1747-1803), m.1st, 1767 Elijah Barrar (q.v.) and had issue and m.2nd, Goodwin Zouch.
He inherited the Gatacre Park estate from his uncle in 1734.
He died 22 November 1767 and was buried at Tasley (Shropshire).

Barrar (née Acton), Frances (1747-1803).  Younger daughter and heir of Edward Acton (1704-67) and his wife Anne (née York), baptised 22 April 1747.  She married 1st, at St. Dunstan, Stepney (Middx), 16 February 1767 Elijah Barrar (1733-69) of Amblecote in Oldswinford (Worcs), glassmaker, who was declared bankrupt the same year, and she married 2nd, 27 April 1775 at Claverley (Shropshire), Goodwin Zouch.  She had issue:
(1.1) Edward Acton Acton (né Barrer) (1767-1822) (q.v.);
(1.2) Mabel Barrar (b. 1768), m. 1794 John Bretland Hollings of Berington (Shropshire) and had issue 2 daughters.
She inherited the Gatacre Park estate from her father in November 1767, but let it.  The tenant in 1777 was Benjamin Stokes.
She died 24 April 1803, aged 56.

Acton (né Barrar), Edward Acton (1767-1822). Only son of Elijah Barrer and his wife Frances, daughter of Edward Acton, born 11 December 1767.  He assumed the name Acton in lieu of Barrer in 1791.  Captain in the Shropshire Militia.  He married at St Paul, Covent Garden, London, 27 December 1804 Frances Elizabeth (1784-1879), daughter of Rev. John Grove Spurgeon, rector of Clopton, and had issue:
(1) Lt-Col. Edward Farrer Acton (1805-90) (q.v.); 
(2) Frances Amelia Acton (1807-88), m. 1854 John James Harris of Hayne (Devon) and had issue; 
(3) Henry Spurgeon Acton (b. 1813);
(4) Emily Anne Acton (b. 1817).
He inherited Gatacre Park from his mother in 1803 but continued to let it and lived in Ipswich and later Lowestoft (Suffolk).
He died 5 April 1822, aged 54 and was buried at Oulton (Suffolk).

Acton, Lt-Col. Edward Farrer (1805-90). Only son of Edward Acton (1767-1822) and his wife Frances Elizabeth, daughter of Rev. John Grove Spurgeon; born 25 September 1805 in Ipswich (Suffolk).  Educated at Trinity Hall, Cambridge (matriculated 1825; scholar 1827; LLB 1832) and Lincolns Inn (admitted 1827); DL and JP for Shropshire; Lt-Col. of the Shropshire Militia.  He married, at St George's, Hanover Square, London, 10 April 1832, Mary Anne (1808-90), daughter of Rev. Horace Suckling, rector of Barsham (Suffolk) and had issue:
(1) Mary Henrietta Acton (c.1833-88), m. 1859 Rev. George Ayton Whittaker, rector of Henstead (Suffolk)
(2) Edward William Frederick Acton (1834-1920) (q.v.).
He inherited the Gatacre Park estate from his father in 1822 and rebuilt the house in 1849-50.
He died 28 November 1890 and was buried at Tuck Hill (Shropshire). Will proved in the Principal Probate Registry, 24 February 1891; estate £12,270.

Acton, Capt. Edward William Frederick (1834-1920).  Only son of Lt-Col. Edward Farrer Acton (1805-90) and his wife Mary Anne, daughter of Rev. Horace Suckling.  Captain in 76th Regiment, which was stationed in Canada, 1853-57, where he married and lived for a time after retiring from the regiment.  JP for Shropshire.  He married, 1855, Helen Maria (c1830-1887), daughter of William Parker Ranney of St. John's, New Brunswick (Canada) and had issue:
(1) Helen Beatrice Acton (1855-97), born 24 November 1855 in New Brunswick; married, 18 April 1882 at St George's, Hanover Square, London, John Kendall Brooke (1856-1939) of Sibton Park (Suffolk) and had issue five sons and three daughters; died in childbirth, 4 February 1897.
He inherited the Gatacre Park estate from his father in 1890; but sold it after his daughter's death in 1897.
He died 30 December 1920 aged 86 at The Leasowes, Tasley (Shropshire) and was buried 3 January 1921 in Bridgnorth Memorial Cemetery. Will proved in London, 24 February 1921; estate £45,724.


The London Magazine or Gentleman's Monthly Intelligencer, vol. 36, 1767, p. 691; Burke's Landed Gentry, 1898, vol 1, p. 2;;

Where are their papers?

Acton family of Gatacre Park: No significant archive is known to survive.

Revision and acknowledgements

This post was first published on 23 March 2013 and revised 4th July 2015 in the light of information provided in the comment below.


  1. Re: “(1) Helen Beatrice Acton (c1855-97), m. John Kendall Brooke of Sibton Park (Suffolk) and had issue.”
    Helen Beatrice Acton was born 24 Nov 1855 and died 4 Feb 1897.
    She was married on 18 April 1882 to John Kendall Brooke, born 31 March 1856 died 13 June 1939.
    The descendants of Helen Beatrice Acton and John Kendall Brooke are shown at:

    1. Many thanks for this additional information! As you will see, I have incorporated it in the main text above.


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.