Friday 30 August 2013

(68) Aitken of Cherkley Court, Barons Beaverbrook

Sir Max Aitken, 1st Baron Beaverbrook (1879-1964), the Canadian entrepreneur and politician who was proprietor of the Daily Express and Evening Standard, bought Cherkley Court from the Dixon family in 1911 and it remained his main and favourite residence for the rest of his life. The house was badly damaged by a bomb in 1943 and the main front had to be rebuilt. After Beaverbrook’s death, the house passed to his widow, Marcia (1910-94), but was then in poor condition. Following her death it was acquired by the Beaverbrook Foundation, which sold it in 2011 for conversion to a hotel, spa and golf club. Beaverbrook’s son, Sir Max Aitken (1910-85), who disclaimed the title for life, lived on the estate, but his successor, Sir Maxwell William Humphrey Aitken, 3rd Baron Beaverbrook (b. 1951), lives in London.  The 1st Baron was a complex and highly influential man, whose career and political networks have been the subject of many assessments (see Sources below), to which the reader is directed for more information.

Cherkley Court, Leatherhead, Surrey
Built on recently enclosed common land in 1866-70 for the Birmingham merchant Abraham Dixon (1815-1907), brother of George Dixon, mayor of Birmingham, MP and promoter of free education, and rebuilt for him in an eclectic style strongly influenced by French Renaissance chateaux in 1894 after a fire caused by lightning in July 1893.  
Cherkley Court: south front.  Image: Ian Capper per Wikimedia Commons

Following the death of his widow in 1909 the house was sold in 1911 to Sir Max Aitken (later 1st Baron Beaverbrook) who updated it and made various additions.  Wartime damage included a fire in 1942 which burned down the conservatory (not replaced), and bomb damage in 1943 which required the rebuilding of the front of the house.  
Cherkley Court: east front
Lord Beaverbrook lived here until 1964, and after the death of his widow in 1994 the house passed to the Beaverbrook Foundation, which conducted an expensive restoration with interior decoration by David Mlinaric, and opened it to the public for a few years, 2003-10. The formal gardens were redesigned by landscape architect Simon Johnson, and a new shell grotto was created by the artist Belinda Eade.  In 2010 the Foundation decided this was uneconomic and the following year sold the house for conversion to a ‘world class hotel, spa and golf club’. Plans for the development were approved in 2012 by the local council, but quashed by the High Court at a judicial review in August 2013.  The grounds remain open to the public.

Cherkley Court: shell grotto by Belinda Eade. Image: Ian Capper per Wikimedia Commons

Descent: Abraham Dixon (1815-1907); to widow, Margaret Dixon (née Rathbone) (c.1821-1909); sold 1911 to Sir Max Aitken, 1st Baron Beaverbrook (1879-1964); to widow, Marcia Aitken (née Christoforides, then Dunn), Lady Beaverbrook (1909-94); to Beaverbrook Foundation, which sold 2011 to Longshot Cherkley Court Ltd.

Aitken family, baronets and Barons Beaverbrook

Aitken, Rev. William Cuthbert (1834-1913).  Second son of Robert Aitken (d. 1875) of Tartraven (West Lothian), born 28 February 1834.  Educated at Bathgate Academy and Edinburgh University; licensed to preach 1858 and ordained 1864; Church of Scotland minister at Cobourg, Ontario, Canada 1864–65, Vaughan, Maple, Ontario, 1865–80 and Newcastle, New Brunswick, 1880–1902.  He married, 8 May 1867, Jane (d. 1927), daughter of Joseph Noble of Ontario (Canada) and had issue: 
(1) Sarah Nob Margaret Jane Aitken [Rahno] (1868-1945), superintendent of Hospital of the Good Samaritan, Los Angeles, California, m. 1907 Horatio Walker MD; 
(2) Annie Anderson Aitken [Nan] (1870-1942), superintendent of Rutland Hospital, Vermont; 
(3) Maj. (Robert) Travers Donaldson Aitken BA LLB (1873-1939), married 1st, 1901, Agnes Jean (d. 1906/7), daughter of Samuel Thompson KC and had issue; married 2nd, 1912, Aileen, daughter of Gen. K. Leeson and had issue; 
(4) Katie Aitken (c.1875-c.1881); 
(5) Capt. (Joseph) Magnus Aitken [Mauns] (1878-1950), manager, Royal Bank of Canada, Toronto, m. 1902 Katherine Margaret (d. 1954), daughter of John McAffee and had issue;
(6) Sir William Max(well) Aitken (1879-1964), 1st bt. and 1st Baron Beaverbrook (q.v.); 
(7) Capt. Arthur Noble Aitken BA MD (1883-1969/70), m. 1921 Frances Emma Wargarel Hughes; 
(8) Jean Noble Aitken [Gyp] (1885-1972), librarian, m. 1919 William Stickney; 
(9) Maj. Allan Anderson Aitken MC [Buddie] (1887-1959), stockbroker, m. 1929 as her second husband, Phyllis Dean, daughter of Gordon Osler of Toronto and had issue; 
(10) Laura Katherine Aitken BA (1892-1954), m. 1925 Douglas Monro Ramsay DL (d. 1951) of Bowland, Stow (Midl.) and had issue.
He died 13 December 1913, aged 79.  His widow died 6 August 1927.

Sir Max Aitken, 1st Baron Beaverbrook.
Image: Library & Archives Canada, per Wikimedia Commons
Aitken, Sir (William) Max(well) (1879-1964), 1st bt. and 1st Baron Beaverbrook.  Third son of Rev. William Cuthbert Aitken (1834-1913) and his wife Jane, daughter of Joseph Noble of Ontario (Canada), born 25 May 1879. Entrepreneur in Canada 1895-1910; moved to England, 1910; MP for Ashton-under-Lyne 1910-16; knighted 20 June 1911; proprietor of Daily Express 1916-64 and the Evening Standard 1923-64; created a baronet 3 July 1916 and elevated to the peerage, 2 January 1917; PC 1918; Chancellor of Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for Information, 1918-19; Minister of Aircraft Production 1940-41; Minister of Supply 1941-42; Lord Privy Seal 1943-45; Chancellor of the University of New Brunswick, 1947-64. He married 1st, 29 January 1906, Gladys Henderson (1887/8-1927), second daughter of Maj-Gen. Charles William Drury CB of Halifax, Nova Scotia and 2nd, 7 June 1963, Marcia Anastasia (1909-94), daughter of John Christoforides of Leyswood, Groombridge (Sussex), a Greek Cypriot tobacco merchant, and widow of Sir James Hamet Dunn, 1st bt. (1874-1956), and had issue: 
(1.1) Hon. Janet Gladys Aitken (1908-88), born 9 July 1908; married 1st, 1927 (div. 1934), Ian Campbell, 11th Duke of Argyll (1903-73)  and had issue a daughter; married 2nd, 1935, Hon. William Drogo Sturges Montagu (kia 1940), second son of 9th Earl of Sandwich and had issue a son; married 3rd, 1942, Maj. Thomas Edward Dealtry Kidd MBE (d. 1979) of Slythehurst, Ewhurst (Surrey), elder son of Hon. Lt-Col. Canon William Ennis Kidd MC MA of Kingston, Ontario and had issue one son (whose children include the model, Jodie Kidd) and one daughter; died 18 November 1988;
(1.2) Sir (John William) Max(well) Aitken, 2nd bt. (and 2nd Baron Beaverbrook) (q.v.); 
(1.3) Hon. Peter Rudyard Aitken (1912-47), born 22 March 1912; educated at Westminster School; served in WW2 as Capt. in Royal Fusiliers (wounded); married 1st, 1934 (div. 1939), Janet Ruth Murrenne, daughter of Prof. Murray Macnell of Dalhousie, Nova Scotia and had issue one daughter; married 2nd, 1942, (Marie) Patricia (who m.2, 1948 (div. 1956) Richard David Raft Lycett Green (d.1969)), elder daughter of Michael Joseph Maguire of Melbourne (Australia) and had issue two sons; died 4 August 1947, aged 35, following a fall from a yacht.
He purchased Cherkley Court, Leatherhead, Surrey in 1911; after his death his widow lived there until her death; it then passed to the Beaverbrook Foundation which sold it in 2011.
He died 9 June 1964 and and his ashes were buried at Newcastle, New Brunswick, Canada, on 25 September 1964; administration of effects in England with will annexed, 9 September 1965 (estate in England £379, 530).  His widow left an estate of £891,267 when her will was proved in 1997.

Aitken, Sir (John William) Max(well) (1910-85), 2nd bt. (& 2nd Baron Beaverbrook). Elder son of Sir William Max(well) Aitken (1879-1964), 1st bt. and 1st Baron Beaverbrook and his first wife Gladys Henderson, daughter of Maj-Gen. Charles William Drury of Halifax, Nova Scotia, born 15 February 1910.  Educated at Westminster School and Pembroke College, Cambridge; amateur pilot; entered RAAF 1935; served WW2 in RAF (ending as Group Captain, DSO DFC); MP for Holborn, 1945-50; entered family newspaper business 1946; succeeded father as Chairman of Beaverbrook Newspapers Ltd, 1964; disclaimed the peerage for life in 1964; he was a power boat enthusiast and founded the Boat Show at Earls Court in 1954; Chancellor of the University of New Brunswick, 1964-82 (Hon. LLD, 1966). He married 1st, 26 August 1939 (div. 1944), Cynthia Helen Glencairn, daughter of Col. Hugh Glencairn Monteith DSO OBE and 2nd, 15 August 1946 (div. 1950), (Ursula) Jane (who m.3, 1951, Robert Crompton), younger daughter of Capt. Orlando Rudolph Kenyon-Slaney of Hatton Grange (Salop) and formerly wife of Peter Lindsay DSO, and 3rd, 1 January 1951, Violet (who was Chancellor of the University of New Brunswick 1982-93 and Chair of the Beaverbrook Canadian Foundation), third daughter of Sir Humphrey Edmund de Trafford, 4th bt. and had issue: 
(2.1) Kirsty Jane Aitken (b. 1947), married 1st, 1966 (div. 1973), Jonathan Derek Morley, younger son of Brig. Michael Frederick Morley MBE of Biddlestone Manor (Wilts) and had issue two sons; married 2nd, 1975, Christopher Martin Smallwood, son of Canon Graham Marten Smallwood of Brook House, Childswickham (Worcs) and had issue one daughter; 
(2.2) Lynda Mary Kathleen Aitken (b. 1948), married 1st, 1969 (div. 1974), Nicholas Saxton, son of Richard Saxton of La Jolla, California; married 2nd, 1977, Jonathan James Dickson and had issue two sons; 
(3.1) Sir Maxwell William Humphrey Aitken (b. 1951), 3rd bt. and 3rd Baron Beaverbrook, born 29 December 1951; educated at Charterhouse and Pembroke College, Cambridge; with Beaverbrook Newspapers Ltd., 1973-77; director of Ventech Healthcare Corporation, 1983-86, 1988-92 and Chairman, 1986, 1988-92; Chairman of the Beaverbrook Foundation, 1985-date; a Lord in Waiting (Gov whip), 1986-88 and Treasurer of the Conservative Party and the European Democratic Union, 1990-92; member of Council, Homeopathic Trust, 1986-92; chairman of National Association of Boys Clubs 1989-92; winner of European GT Racing Car Championship, 1998; Honorary Air Commodore of 4624 Squadron, RAAF, 2004 and Air Vice-Marshal and Hon. Inspector General, RAAF, 2009; married 19 July 1974 Susan Angela, daughter of Francis More O'Ferrall of Hermonges, Rudgwick (Sussex) and has issue two sons and two daughters;
(3.2) Laura Aitken (b. 1953), journalist, formerly on staff of The Tatler; married 1st, 1984 (div. 1989), David Victor Mark Mallet, son of Sir Victor Mallet GCMG CVO and had issue one son; married 2nd, 1992, Martin K. Levi, powerboat designer, son of R. Levi and had issue one son and one daughter.
He lived in a house on the Cherkley Court estate.
He died 30 April 1995, aged 75.


Location of archives
Aitken, Sir Max (1879-1964), 1st Baron Beaverbrook: correspondence and papers 1910-64 (Parliamentary Archives, BBK); Canadian correspondence and papers 1902-64 (Lib & Archives Canada MG27 IIG1; Univ. of New Brunswick Lib, no ref.) 

Coat of arms
Argent, two barrulets wavy azure between in chief two maple leaves slipped and in base a thistle eradicated gules, a bordure sable charged with eight bezants.

Monday 26 August 2013

(67) Aitchison of Lemmington Hall and Coupland Castle, baronets

Sir Stephen Harry Aitchison (1863-1942) was an employee who married the daughter of Walter de Lancey Willson (d. 1907) of Kirklinton Park (Cumbld), the founder of the northern grocery supermarket chain, Walter Wilson Ltd, and inherited the business; he was knighted in 1928 and given a baronetcy in 1938.  The firm remained in the hands of the family until the last 48 stores were sold to Alldays in 1998.  In 1913 Aitchison bought the ruined shell of Lemmington Hall (Northbld) and by 1916 had restored it as a country house.  His son, Sir Walter de Lancey Aitchison, 2nd bt. (1892-1953), bought Coupland Castle (Northbld) in 1938.  In 1947, having inherited Lemmington but preferring to live at Coupland, he lent Lemmington to the Convent of the Sacred Heart.  His widow continued to live at Coupland until her death in 1972. Sir Stephen Charles de Lancey Aitchison, 3rd bt. (1923-58) having shot himself soon after his wife left him (whether accidentally or on purpose was not clear), her heir was the present baronet, Sir Charles Walter de Lancey Aitchison, 4th bt. (b. 1951), who sold Coupland by 1979.  When the convent moved out of Lemmington Hall in the 1990s he recovered possession of the house and it was used for some time for the storage of a collection of architectural salvage materials, but later sold.  For some years in the 1990s and 2000s he lived at  Park House, Barbon (Westmld) (formerly Underfell), but by 2006 this too had been sold.

Lemmington Hall, Northumberland

Lemmington Hall. Image: Nicholas Kingsley.  Licenced under a Creative Commons licence.

A mid 18th century country house altered towards the end of the 18th century by William Newton.  By the end of the 19th century the house had become a roofless ruin.  It was bought in 1913 by Sir Stephen Aitchison and restored in 1913-16.  The south front has nine bays and a projecting centre bay with a Venetian doorway under a tripartite window and pediment.  The two bays at either end are set slightly back; it is not apparent that those at the right end are the refaced south wall of a 15th century L-plan tower house.  From the rear the tower house is more apparent, although the traceried windows and embattled parapet are all early 20th century.  Inside, the basement barrel vault and part of the newel stair of the tower survive.  The first floor of the tower is a chapel, with panelling from the chateau at Bar-le-Duc.  The remainder of the house is mostly early 20th century inside, with older material from Camelford House, Park Lane, London (stair balustrades, door surrounds etc.).  The house was a convent from 1947 to the 1990s, but has since been restored as a private house.  
Lemmington Hall: the Felbridge column.  Image: Nicholas Kingsley.  Licenced under a Creative Commons licence.

In the grounds, half a mile south of the hall is a column of 1786 by Sir John Soane, commemorating the parents of James Evelyn, a distant relative of the diarist.  It was originally erected at Felbridge Park in Surrey and was brought to Lemmington as an ornament in 1928.

Descent: Sir James Clavering of Axwell Park, 2nd bt. (1668-1707); to daughter, Elizabeth Clavering (1692-1732), second wife of Nicholas Fenwick MP (c.1693-1752); to son, Robert Fenwick (1714-1802); to son, Nicholas Fenwick (1750-1823) who let to Sanderson Ilderton;  sold 1825 to William Pawson of Shawdon Hall, who let to John Allan Wilkie (fl. 1839) and the Misses Davidson (fl. 1855)... sold 1913 to Sir Stephen Aitchison, 1st bt. (1863-1942); to son, Sir Walter de Lancey Aitchison, 2nd bt. (1892-1953), who loaned the house 1947 to the Convent of the Sacred Heart; returned in 1990s to Sir Charles Walter de Lancey Aitchison (b. 1951), who sold c.2000 to Ruff family.

Coupland Castle, Northumberland

Coupland Castle. Image: © North of the Tyne

A late tower house built of softly-coloured volcanic rock with buff sandstone dressings, possibly in 1594, the date scratched on the jamb of a ground-floor doorway.  The tower is T-shaped, and a broad square newel stair in the projecting wing rises to the first floor.  Above this point a narrower round newel stair is corbelled out in the angle between the stair wing and the main block.  The basement of the tower is tunnel-vaulted, and on the first floor is the former hall, containing a big fireplace dated 1619 with the initials of George and Mary Wallis.  The tower has a pitched roof and a walkway behind a plain corbelled-out parapet.  It is not clear how long the tower stood alone; there is a 16th or 17th century doorway into the kitchen range to the rear, and at the south end of the house is a three-bay 18th century block.  Most of the additions to the house were, however, rebuilt in the neo-Tudor style in 1820-25 by an unrecorded architect, who did a competent job both at the house and in the two lodges, which display some originality.  In the grounds are a decayed icehouse and a complex multi-faceted sundial of the Scottish type, c.1700.

Descent: sold 1584 to Wallis family… George Wallis (fl. 1618)… James Wallis (fl. 1663)… Ralph Wallis alias Wallace sold before c.1715 to Admiral Sir Chaloner Ogle RN (1680-1750); to nephew, Nathaniel Ogle of Kirkley (1715-62); to brother, Very Rev. Dr. Newton Ogle DD, Dean of Winchester (1726-1804); to son, Nathaniel Ogle (1765-1813), who sold 1806 to Thomas Bates (d. 1830); to nephew, Matthew Culley (1786-1834); to son, Matthew Tewart Culley (1832-89); to son, Rt. Rev. Monsignor Matthew Culley (1860-1920); to brother, John Henry Culley (1864-), who sold 1924 to Alderman J.F. Weidner who sold 1938 to Sir Walter de Lancey Aitchison, 2nd bt. (1892-1953); to widow, Sheena (née Fraser), Lady Aitchison (d. 1972); to grandson, Sir Charles Walter de Lancey Aitchison, 4th bt. (b. 1951), who sold c.1975... sold 1979 to Robin Jell (fl. 2017)

The Aitchisons of Lemmington Hall, baronets

Aitchison, Sir Stephen Harry (1863-1942), kt. and 1st bt., of Lemmington Hall. Son of John Gordon Aitchison of Devizes (Wilts), born 16 January 1863.  An employee of Walter Wilson Ltd., the grocery chain store; JP for Northumberland and Newcastle-on-Tyne; knighted, 1928; created a baronet, 31 January 1938.  He married, 2 June 1891, Alice Mary (d. 1932), daughter of Walter de Lancey Willson of Kirklinton Park (Cumberland), owner of Walter Wilson Ltd, and had issue:
(1) Sir Walter de Lancey Aitchison (1892-1953), 2nd bt. (q.v.);
(2) Commander John Gordon Aitchison RN (1893-1964), born 5 August 1893; served in Royal Navy; official commentator for Hurlingham Polo Association; married 31 October 1919, Eveline Betty (d. 1961), daughter of William Tudor Sutherland of Skibo Castle (Sutherland) and widow of Arthur Walter Forbes DSO RN and had issue two sons; died 15 August 1964;
(3) Aline Mary Aitchison (c.1895-c.1963), married 1918 Brigadier Harrison, Indian Army, and died c.1963;
(4) Stuart Willson Aitchison (1896-1955), born 19 May 1896; died 3 November 1955;
(5) Stephen Villiers Aitchison (1902-84), born 7 April 1902; educated at Harrow and Christ's College, Cambridge; married 1st, 1925, Alice A. Stamper and had issue one daughter; married 2nd, 1955, Jessie Ethel, daughter of Vernon Lovell; died 15 March 1984.
He purchased Lemmington Hall in 1913 and restored it from ruin, 1913-16.
He died 26 August 1942, and his will was proved 20 February 1943 (estate £455,182).  His wife died 8 April 1932.

Aitchison, Sir Walter de Lancey (1892-1953), 2nd bt., of Coupland Castle. Eldest son of Sir Stephen Harry Aitchison (1863-1942), 1st bt., and his wife Alice Mary, daughter of Walter de Lancey Willson, born 14 May 1892.  Educated at University College, Oxford (MA); Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries.  He married, 18 April 1922, Sheena Lennox (d. 1972), daughter of Dr. Charles Lennox Fraser MD FRCS FRCP, and had issue:
(1) Sir Stephen Charles De Lancey Aitchison (1923-58), 3rd bt. (q.v.);
(2) Lennox Gordon Fraser Aitchison (1925-66), born 27 September 1925; educated at Rugby and Trinity College, Oxford (BA 1949; MA 1954); died unmarried in an aeroplane accident on Scafell in the Lake District, 17 September 1966;
(3) Shena Diana Aitchison (b. 1927)
(4) David Lachlan Aitchison (b. 1928), born 25 November 1928; educated at Rugby School; managing director of Walter Willson Ltd. and De Lancey Lands Ltd; married, 12 September 1955, Dorothy Hazel, daughter of Swinburne Kindred Walton and had issue one son and one daughter.
He purchased Coupland Castle in 1938 and inherited Lemmington Hall from his father in 1942, but leased it as a convent in 1947.  At his death Coupland Castle passed to his widow for life.
He died 14 October 1953, and his will was proved 1 June 1954 (estate £155,756).  His widow died 21 November 1972.

Aitchison, Sir Stephen Charles De Lancey (1923-58), 3rd bt., of Coupland Castle.  Eldest son of Sir Walter de Lancey Aitchison (1892-1953), 2nd bt., and his wife Sheena Lennox, daughter of Dr. Charles Lennox Fraser, born 10 March 1923.  Educated at Rugby and University College, Oxford; served in the army as a Major in 13th/18th Hussars; managing director of Walter Willson Ltd. and De Lancey Lands Ltd.  He married, 2 September 1950 (separated), (Elizabeth) Anne Milburn MB BS (who m.2, 1974, Roland Antony Cookson CBE DCL), daughter of Lt-Col. Edward Reed, and had issue:
(1) Sir Charles Walter de Lancey Aitchison ARICS (b. 1951), born 27 May 1951; educated at Gordonstoun; Lt. in 15th/19th King's Royal Hussars, 1974-78; married 1984, Susan, daughter of Edward Ellis of Hest Bank (Lancs) and had issue one son and one daughter; lived at Park House, Barbon (Cumbria) in the 1990s;
(2) (Stephen) Edward Aitchison  (b. 1954), born 27 March 1954; educated at Fettes College and Newcastle Polytechnic; chairman and managing director of Walter Willson Ltd. to 1998, and of De Lancey Lands Ltd.; married 1st, 1978 (div.), Mrs. Harriet N. Thompson, daughter of Dr. Henry Miller, and had issue one son and one daughter; married 2nd, 10 July 1997, Suzannah Heather, daughter of David Wiggs, and had issue one daughter.
He died 12 May 1958 as a result of gunshot wounds; an inquest determined there was insufficient evidence to show whether it was accident or suicide.


Burke's Peerage and Baronetage, successive editions; Pevsner, Richmond et al., The buildings of England: Northumberland, 2nd edn., 1992, pp. 243, 374-75

Location of archives

No significant archive is known to survive.

Coat of arms


Revision and acknowledgements

This post was first published 26 August 2013, and was updated 4 December 2017. I am grateful to Fiona Jell for a correction.

Sunday 25 August 2013

(66) Airmyn alias Armine of Osgodby, baronets

Airmine of Osgodby
The name of this family is erratically spelt in contemporary documents, with Armine (occasionally Ermin) being most common in earlier centuries and Airmyn or Airmine in the 17th century.  The ancestry of the family can be traced back to Gilbert Armine of Newland-upon-Aire (Yorks ER), who was living in 1164, but the first to settle at Osgodby was Sir William Armine (fl. 1349), who presumably built the manor house in which the family later lived.  The estate descended from father to son until the 17th century, and the house seems to have been rebuilt in the early 17th century, probably by Sir William Airmyn (1561-1622).  

Sir William Armine (fl. 1409) was treasurer of Calais, but otherwise the family do not seem to have made much of a mark beyond their native county until the late 16th century, when Sir William Airmyn (1561-1622) became an MP.  Sir William was notable for maintaining a 'godly household'; according to a Puritan chronicler he was "a vigerous Suppresser of vice and debauchery, a Religious Gentleman and one that kept a very well Ordred family".  He took special care over the upbringing of his children, being determined that his heir should be 'good as well as great', and his efforts met with the approbation of a neighbouring Puritan minister.  The eldest son, Sir William Airmyn (1593-1651) was made a baronet in his father’s lifetime and followed him into national politics, being MP for Boston, Grantham and Lincolnshire at different times between 1621 and 1641.  He was a strong Puritan, a prominent opponent of the king before the Civil War, and an active Parliamentarian during it; his second son, Theophilus (1623-44) was a colonel in the Parliamentarian Army and was killed at the siege of Pontefract Castle.  His estates were occupied by Royalist opponents in 1643 and he later claimed to have had no income from them for three years.  In 1648 he was appointed one of the judges to try the king but refused to sit, and from 1649-51 he was a member of the Council of State.  

His widow, Lady Mary Armine (d. 1675) was a generous benefactress of Puritan clergy who were displaced from their livings after the Restoration.  His elder son, Sir William Airmine (1622-58), 2nd bt., was MP for Cumberland 1646-53.  When he died without sons the baronetcy and estate passed to his brother Sir Michael Airmyn (1625-68), 3rd bt., who found the estates embarrassed and who left considerable debts at his death.  In a complex will which subsequently led to Chancery litigation he divided his property between his surviving kin, including his uncle, Evers Armine MP (1599-1680), and his nieces, Susan (c.1650-1713), Baroness Belasyse and Anne (d. 1719), who was successively Lady Wodehouse, Lady Crewe and Countess of Torrington.  By the end of the 17th century the estates had been divided between the co-heiresses and the Airmine name had disappeared.   

Osgodby Manor House, Lincolnshire

The original moated medieval house at Osgodby was replaced, probably in the early 17th century, by a new house on an adjacent higher site.  While 19th and 20th century maps and photographs show a relatively small L-shaped building, this was evidently a fragment of a house at least four times the size, which had 39 hearths in 1677, making it the second largest house in Kesteven.  The pediment above the buttress and the oeil-de-boeuf window in the gable suggest there were later 17th century alterations too.

Osgodby Manor House: east end c.1900.

Osgodby Manor House: north front, 1913.
The house was plundered by Royalist troops under Sir Baptist Noel in June 1643, and was probably reduced in size after it became a farmhouse on the Grimsthorpe estate in 1720.  In 1912 it was described thus by Alan Flea: "a sturdy old Tudor house...the greater part of the rooms are bare.  That greeny film so attractive in a sketch has become rooted to the casements...[there is an] oak staircase with giant balusters.  Another staircase leads to 'the Barracks' a bare roof of huge beams.  Chapel forlorn and dilapidated, retains some ornamental designs upon the walls and there are some signs of carving about the fireplace".   

Osgodby Manor House: staircase, 1913

The house was sold in 1913 and then consisted of three reception rooms, five bedrooms and six attics, plus service accommodation. The remaining parts were largely demolished in 1947 and c.1970, and only a single chimneystack survives today.  The remains of the early medieval moat were preserved as part of a later garden layout, and this pond and a mound survived as earthworks into the 1960s, but appear now to have been levelled and are under crops.

Descent: Sir William Armine (fl. 1349); to son, Sir William Armine, treasurer of Calais (fl. 1409); to son, Sir William Armine (c.1360-c.1430); to son, Sir William Armine (d. 1448); to son, William Armine (d. 1487); to son, Thomas Armine (d. 1498); to brother, William Armine (d. 1532); to son, William Armine (d. 1558); to son, Bartholomew Armine (c.1541-98); to son, Sir William Armyn alias Airmine (1561-1622); to son, Sir William Airmine, 1st bt. (1593-1651); to son, Sir William Airmine, 2nd bt. (1622-58); to brother, Sir Michael Airmine, 3rd bt. (1625-68); to neices, Susan, Lady Belasyse (1649/50-1713) and Anne, Countess of Torrington (1654-1719); sold 1720 to Sir Gilbert Heathcote and became part of the Grimsthorpe estate; sold 1913...

Airmine family of Osgodby

Armine, Sir William (b. c.1310), kt.  Eldest son of William Armine, lord of Scarth (d. 1338) and his wife (nee Harrington), born c.1310.  'Commander of the Ships at Boston (Lincs)' and knighted, 1349.  He married Joan, daughter of Nicholas St. Mark of Osgodby and had issue: 
(1) Sir William Armine (c.1335-c.1410), kt. (q.v.); 
(2) Richard Armine (fl. 1363); 
(3) Margaret Armine, m. John Neville; 
(4) Mary Armine, m. Thomas Selford of Kirkby La Thorpe (Lincs).
He inherited Osgodby in Lenton (Lincs) in right of his wife and perhaps built the manor house there.
His date of death is unknown.

Armine, Sir William (c.1335-c.1410), kt.,of Osgodby. Elder son of Sir William Armine (b. c.1310) and his wife Joan, daughter of Nicholas St. Mark, born about 1335. Treasurer of Calais.  He married Joane, daughter of Sir Hugh Willoughby (or by some accounts of John Harrington) and had issue:
(1) Sir William Armine (c.1360-c.1430), kt. (q.v.); 
(2) Margaret Armine, m. Mr Harrington of Paunton; 
(3) John Armine; 
(4) Henry Armine.
He inherited Osgodby in Lenton (Lincs) from his father.
He died about 1410.

Armine, Sir William (c.1360-c.1430), kt.,of Osgodby.  Eldest son of Sir William Armine (c.1335-c.1410) and his wife Joane, daughter of Sir Hugh Willoughby, born about 1360.  He married first "the heiress of Brittaine and Burmiston" (d. 1416/7) and second, Margaret (fl. 1469), daughter of Sir Adam Everingham of Birkin and had issue:
(1.1) Sir William Armine (d. 1448), kt. (q.v.); 
(1.2) Margaret Armine, m. Robert Woodville; 
(1.3) Jane Armine, m. John Trusdale; 
(1.4) Anne Armine, m. William Burnswell; 
(2.1) Margaret Armine (b. 1418).
He inherited Osgodby in Lenton (Lincs) from his father in about 1410.
He died about 1430.

Armine, Sir William (d. 1448), kt., of Osgodby.  Only son of Sir William Armine (c.1360-c.1430) and his first wife.  He married (before 1437/8) Isabella (fl. 1467), daughter of Sir Hugh Wriothesley and had issue: 
(1) William Armine (d. c.1490) (q.v.); 
(2) Thomas Armine (fl. 1443-87); 
(3) Catherine Armine, m. John Bratoft; 
(4) Isabell Armine, m. James Dacres.
He inherited Osgodby in Lenton (Lincs) from his father in about 1430.
He died in 1448.

Armine, William (d. c.1490), of Osgodby.  Elder son of Sir William Armine (d. 1448) and his wife Isabel, daughter of Sir Hugh Wriothesley.  He married Margaret Langholme (d. 1506), sister of William Langholme of Conisholme, and had issue: 
(1) Thomas Armine (d. 1498); died unmarried and without issue, 2 October 1498;
(2) William Armine (d. 1532) (q.v.); 
(3) Margaret Armine (d. 1508/9), m.1 (after 1487/8) James Dene of Barrowby and m.2 (before 1505/6) Sir John Markham of Sedgebrook; 
(4) John Armine of Luddington; 
(5) Richard Armine of Walton; 
(6) Anne Armine (fl. 1522), prioress of Choudham.
He inherited Osgodby in Lenton (Lincs) from his father in 1448. On his death it passed to his eldest son Thomas (d. 1498) and then to his second son, William (d. 1532).
He died after 1 April 1487, probably about 1490.

Armine, William (d. 1532), of Osgodby.   Second son of William Armine (d. c.1490) and his wife Margaret Langholme.  He married Elizabeth, daughter of Hugh Bussey of Hougham and had issue: 
(1) William Armine (d. 1558) (q.v.); 
(2) Richard Armine; died without issue;
(3) Anne Armine; 
(4) Margaret Armine; 
(5) Jane Armine.
He inherited Osgodby in Lenton (Lincs) from his father in c.1490.
He died 23 September 1532.

Armine, William (d. 1558), of Osgodby.  Elder son of William Armine (d. 1532) and his wife Elizabeth, daughter of Hugh Bussey of Hougham.  He married first, 1525/6, Katherine, daughter of Sir John Thimelby of Irnham and second, 1550, Dorothy (fl. 1558), daughter of George Mackworth of Mackworth and Empringham (Lincs) and had issue: 
(1.1) William Armine (d. young); 
(1.2) John Armine; 
(1.3) Anthony Armine
(1.4) Bartholomew Airmine (c.1541-98) (q.v.); 
(1.5) Margaret Armine (d. 1585), m1 Francis Armstrong of Corby and m2, 1568, John Merridale; 
(1.6) Elizabeth Armine, m.1 William Smith and m.2, Christopher Wimberley of Bitchford (1508-after 1568); 
(1.7) Katherine Armine, m. William Tullis; 
(1.8) Dorothy Armine, m. Mr. Littleton; 
(1.9) Jane Armine m. Robert Brian; 
(1.10) Thomasine Armine, m. John Wenslow.
He inherited Osgodby in Lenton (Lincs) from his father in 1532.
He died 25 December 1558.

Airmine, Bartholomew (c.1541-98), of Osgodby.  Fourth but eldest surviving son of William Armine (d. 1558) and his first wife, Katherine, daughter of Sir John Thimelby of Irnham, born about 1541.  Sheriff of Lincolnshire, 1586. Commissioner of Sewers for Lincolnshire, 1564-98. He married first Mary, daughter of Henry Sutton of Burton-by-Lincoln, second Catherine (d. 1591), daughter of George Chaworth of Crophill Butler and third, Anne (d. 1616), daughter of William Dymoke of Friskney, and had issue: 
(1.1) Sir William Airmine (1561-1622), kt. (q.v.); 
(1.2) Magdalen Armine (d. c.1595), m. John Cave (1550-1629) of Pickwell (Leics) and had issue; 
(1.3) Sir John Armine (d. c.1582), educated at Queens' College, Cambridge (matriculated 1579) and Lincolns Inn (admitted 1581); knighted; died unmarried at Lincoln's Inn; 
(1.4) Catherine Armine (d. 1605).
He inherited Osgodby in Lenton (Lincs) from his father in 1558.
He died 11 September 1598 and was buried at Lavington (Lincs).

Airmyn, Sir William (1561-1622), kt., of Osgodby. Elder son of Bartholomew Airmine (c.1541-98) of Osgodby and his first wife, Mary, daughter of Henry Sutton of Burton-by-Lincoln, born about May 1561.  MP for Grantham, 1589; High Sheriff of Lincolnshire, 1603-04; knighted 23 April 1603.  He married first, Martha (c1569-1601/2), daughter of William Eure, 2nd Baron Eure and second, 9 March 1606/7, Anne (d. 1619), sister of Sir John Prettyman and widow of Christopher Wase of London, and had issue: 
(1.1) Margaret Airmyn (1591-1661), born 15 February 1590/91; married 29 April 1622, Thomas Lister (1597-1668) of Rippingale and Coleby Hall (Lincs); died without issue and was buried at St Paul, Covent Garden, 14 November 1661;
(1.2) Martha Airmyn (b. and d. 1592); born 3 April and buried 15 June 1592;
(1.3) Anne Airmyn (b. 1593), born 4 April 1593; married, 25 December 1616, Norris Cave (d. 1648) of Grantham; 
(1.4) Sir William Airmyn (1593-1651), 1st bt. (q.v.); 
(1.5) Bartholomew Airmyn (1596-1600); born 10 June 1596; died 1600
(1.6) Mary Airmyn (b. 1597); born 14 September 1597; died young;
(1.7) Martha Airmyn (1598-1600); born 12 October 1598; died young 9 October 1600; 
(1.8) Eure (alias Evers) Armyne (1599-1680) (q.v.); 
(1.9) Elizabeth Airmyn (1601-86), born 12 January 1601; died unmarried, 17 April 1686; will proved in London, 22 April 1686.
He inherited Osgodby in Lenton (Lincs) from his father in 1598, and was probably responsible for rebuilding the house in the early 17th century.
He died 22 January 1621/22.

Airmyn, Sir William (1593-1651), 1st bt., of Osgodby.  Elder son of Sir William Airmyn (1561-1622), kt. and his first wife, Martha, daughter of William, Lord Eure; born 11 December 1593.  Educated at Oakham School and Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge (matriculated 1610); MP for Boston 1621-22, 1624-25, Grantham 1625, 1641, Lincolnshire 1626, 1628-29; for his parliamentary career see here; served as a Commissioner of Sewers in Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire, 1619-46; a prominent Puritan, he was a member of the committee which drafted the Solemn League and Covenant, 1643; appointed one of the judges to try the king, 1648, but refused to sit; member of the Council of State 1649-51; created a baronet, 28 November 1619; JP for Lincolnshire (Kesteven), 1622-26, 1628-36 and 1639-51 and for Holland and Lindsey by 1650; DL for Lincolnshire, 1623-45; sheriff of Lincolnshire 1629-30 and of Huntingdonshire 1639-40; commissioner of River Welland navigation, 1623-34.  He married first, 14 December 1619, Elizabeth (c.1602-26), daughter of Sir Michael Hicks of Beverstone Castle (Glos) and of Ruckholte in Leyton (Essex); and second, 28 August 1628, Mary (c.1594-1675), daughter and co-heir of Hon. Henry Talbot, fourth son of George, Earl of Shrewsbury and widow of Thomas Holcroft of Vale Royal (Cheshire), and had issue: 
(1.1) Elizabeth Airmine (1620/1-79), born 3 March 1620/1; m. Sir Thomas Style (1624-1702), 2nd bt. of Wateringbury (Kent) and had issue two sons and four daughters; died 10 December 1679
(1.2) Sir William Airmyn (1622-58), 2nd bt. (q.v.); 
(1.3) Col. Theophilus Airmine (1623-44), born 25 June 1623; educated at Greys Inn (admitted 1639); colonel in Parliamentarian army, killed at siege of Pontefract; died unmarried and without issue;
(1.4) Anne Airmine (1624-71), born 6 and baptised 8 August 1624; married, before 1643, Sir Thomas Barnardiston (1618-69), kt. & 1st bt. of Kedington (Suffk) and Great Coates (Lincs), and had issue seven sons and six daughters; buried at Kedington, 25 August 1671;
(1.5) Sir Michael Airmyn (1625-68), 3rd bt. (q.v.); 
(2.1) Talbot Armine (b. 1630); died unmarried;
He inherited Osgodby in Lenton (Lincs) from his father in 1622.  Through his second wife he acquired Orton Hall at Orton Longueville (Hunts) where he lived in the 1630s, but this and other property passed at her death to her relations not his descendants.
He died about 10 April 1651 and was buried at Lenton; he died intestate and administration of his goods was granted 10 December 1651 to his widow; she died in London, 6 March 1674/5 and was buried at Orton Longueville (Hunts); her will was proved 26 March 1675. In her widowhood and testamentary bequests she was a considerable benefactress to the Protestant cause, founding almshouses on her family estates at Monk Bretton (Yorks), Cromford (Derbys) and Orton Longueville (Hunts), giving £500 for the relief of ejected Puritan ministers in 1662 and making annual contributions to the conversion of native American Indians to Christianity.

Airmyn, Sir William (1622-58), 2nd bt., of Osgodby.  Eldest son of Sir William Airmyn (1593-1651), 1st bt., and his first wife, Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Michael Hicks of Beverstone Castle (Glos), born at Ruckholte, Leyton (Essex), 14 July 1622.  Educated at Grays Inn (admitted 1639); MP for Cumberland, 1646-53.  He married, 26 August 1649 at Chilton (Suffolk), Anne (1631-62), daughter and co-heir of Sir Robert Crane, 1st bt. of Chilton (who m.2, 11 July 1659, John, 1st Baron Belasyse of Worlaby) and had issue: 
(1) Susan Airmyn (c.1649/50-1713), Baroness Belasyse (q.v.);
(2) Anne Airmyn (1652-1719) (q.v.);
(3) Elizabeth Airmyn (1653-54), born 7 November 1653; died in infancy, 30 April 1654.
He inherited the Osgodby estate in Lenton (Lincs) from his father in 1651.
He died in London, 2 January and was buried at Lenton, 17 January 1657/8.  His widow died 11 August and was buried 20 August 1662 at St. Giles in the Fields, London.

Airmyn, Sir Michael (1625-68), 3rd bt., of Osgodby.  Youngest son of Sir William Airmyn (1593-1651), 1st bt., and his first wife, Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Michael Hicks of Beverstone Castle (Glos),, born 21 September 1625.  Sheriff of Lincolnshire, 1666-67.  He married, 1658, Mary (d. 1667), daughter of John Chaworth, 2nd Viscount Chaworth of Armagh but had no issue.
He inherited Osgodby in Lenton (Lincs) from his elder brother in 1658.  At his death his estates were divided between his uncle, Evers Armyne, and his two neices.  
He died after 17 June 1668; his will was proved 4 December 1668.  His wife died in 1667 and was buried at Lenton.

Armyne, Eure alias Evers (1599-1680), of Kettlethorpe Hall, Ketton (Rutland). Youngest son of Sir William Armine (1561-1622) and his wife Martha, daughter of William, Lord Eure, born 15 February 1599.  Educated at Oakham School, Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge (matriculated 1614) and Grays Inn (admitted 1616; called to the bar; ancient, 1645; bencher, 1648; reader, 1661).  MP for Grantham, 1626; Commissioner of Sewers in Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire, 1625-34, 1642, 1654-59, 1660-70; Commissioner of Swans in Lincolnshire, 1642; Sequestration Commissioner for Rutland, 1642-50; JP for Rutland, 1638-60 and DL by 1644.  He married 1635 Cecilia (1603-77), daughter of John Tredway of Easton-on-the-Hill (Northants) and had issue: 
(1) Mary Armyne (b. 1637); baptised 27 August 1637;
(2) Elizabeth Armyne (b. 1639), baptised 24 April 1639; m. John Bullingham (1622-90) of Ketton (Rutland) and had issue two sons; 
(3) Evers Armyne (b. 1640); baptised 25 May 1640;
(4) Cecily Armyne (1643-74), baptised 12 April 1643; m. Samuel Sanders (1641-88) of Little Ireton (Derbys), antiquary; died without issue, 7 June 1674
(5) Margaret Armyne (b. 1644/5); baptised 9 January 1645.
He lived in London until 1644 and then at his wife's property of Kettlethorpe Hall, Ketton (Rutland).  In 1668 he inherited the manors of Pickworth and Silk Willoughby (Lincs) from Sir Michael Airmyn; after his death these manors passed to Thomas Style of Wateringbury (Kent) but were the subject of extensive Chancery proceedings.
He died before 5 July 1680.  His wife was buried 20 November 1677.

Susan Airmyn,
Baroness Belasyse
Belasyse (née Airmyn), Susan (c.1649/50-1713), Baroness Belasyse. Elder daughter of Sir William Airmyn (1622-58) and his wife Anne, daughter of Sir Robert Crane, bt. of Chilton (Suffolk), born 1649 or 1650.  She married first, 20 October 1662 (aged about 13) at Kensington (Middx), her step-brother, Sir Henry Belasyse (c.1639-67), kt., son of John, 1st Baron Belasyse, who was killed in a duel; and second, 13 July 1676 at St James, Paddington (Middx), James Fortrey (1656-1719) of Fortreys Hall, Mepal (Cambs).  Between her two marriages she was at Court, where she was given a written offer of marriage in 1673 by James, Duke of York (later King James II). Bishop Burnet records "the Duke was now looking for another wife. He made addresses to the Lady Bellasis, the widow of the Lord Bellasis' son. She was a zealous protestant though she married into a popish family. She was a woman of much life and vivacity, but of a very small proportion of beauty... The King sent for the Duke and told him it was too much that he had played the fool once: that was not to be done a second time and at such an age. The lady was also so threatened that she gave up the promise, but kept an attested copy of it as she herself told me." It was no doubt in compensation for this breach of promise that the Duke secured her elevation to a life peerage as Baroness Belasyse of Osgodby, 1 April 1674 and the award of a pension of £2,000 a year.  Her pension gave her independent means and she is reputed to have lived apart from her second husband: he lived at his family seat in the Cambridgeshire fens (which he remodelled, and where he laid out gardens) and she lived in Westminster.  She had issue:
(1.1) Henry Belasyse (c.1667-91), 2nd Baron Belasyse of Worlaby.
With her sister, she was co-heiress of the Osgodby estate in Lenton (Lincs).
She died 6 March and was buried 12 March 1712/3 at Twickenham (Middx); her will was proved 11 March 1713.  Her first husband was buried in St Giles in the Fields, London, 16 August 1667.  Her second husband died 18 August 1719 and is commemorated by a monument in Mepal church (Cambs).

Anne Airmyn,
Countess of Torrington
Herbert (née Airmyn, then Wodehouse, then Crewe), Anne (1652-1719), Countess of Torrington.  Younger daughter of Sir William Airmyn (1622-58), 2nd bt., and his wife Anne, daughter of Sir Robert Crane, bt. of Chilton (Suffolk), born 1652.  She married first, before 1668, Sir Thomas Wodehouse (1638-71), kt. of Kimberley Hall (Norfolk); second, 1674, Thomas Crewe (1624-97), 2nd Baron Crewe of Steane (Northants); and third, 1 August 1704, Admiral Arthur Herbert, 1st Earl of Torrington (c.1648-1716), and had issue:
(1.1) Anne Wodehouse (1668-1727);
(1.2) Sir John Wodehouse (1669-1754), 1st bt. of Kimberley Hall; born 23 March 1669; died 9 August 1754;
(2.1) Jemima Crewe (c.1675-1728), m. Henry de Grey (d. 1740), 1st Duke of Kent, of Wrest Park (Bedfordshire) and had issue two sons and four daughters; died 2 July 1728;
(2.2) Airmyn Crewe (d. 1728), m. Thomas Cartwright of Aynho (Northants) and had issue; she died 3 February 1728;
(2.3) Elizabeth Crewe (c.1680-1756), m. Charles Butler (1671-1758), 1st Earl of Arran; she died 21 May 1756;
(2.4) Catherine Crewe (1682-1744), born 28 October 1682; married Sir John Harpur (1679-1741), 4th bt., of Calke Abbey (Derbys) and had issue; buried 24 June 1744 at Calke.
With her sister, she was co-heiress of the Osgodby estate in Lenton (Lincs).
She died 2 April 1719.


[G.E. Cokayne], Complete Baronetage, vol. 1, pp. 130-31; Annual Report of the Lincolnshire County Archivist, 1956-57, pp. 46-50; J.T. Cliffe, The Puritan Gentry besieged 1650-1700, passim; T.R. Leach, Some Lincolnshire Country Houses and their families, 1990, pp. 83-85; R. Pacey, Lost Lincolnshire country houses, vol. 6, 2010, pp. 23-27; 1 pedigree on, accessed 16 October 2012.  I am most grateful for the help of Robert Wheeler in researching this account.

Location of archives

Airmine family of Osgodby, baronets: deeds and family papers, 15th-18th cents (Lincolnshire Archives ANC, RED)

This post was last revised 14th February 2015.

Coat of arms

Ermine, a saltire engrailed gules, on a chief of the last a lion passant or, armed and langued azure.

Revision and acknowledgements

This post was first published 25 August 2013 and updated 2 March 2017, 31 October 2019 and 26 December 2023.

Thursday 22 August 2013

(65) Ainsworth of Smithills Hall and Moss Bank

Ainsworth of Smithills
Peter Ainsworth (1713-80) set up a bleaching business at Halliwell near Bolton in 1739 and after inheriting a large legacy from the lexicographer, Robert Ainsworth of Stepney in 1743 he settled at Lightbounds House near the works.  His son, Peter Ainsworth (1736-1807) successfully developed chemical bleaching technology which made the company far more efficient and profitable.  In 1786-90 he built Moss Bank House near the bleachworks and created a parkland setting for the new mansion, but he continued to live at Lightbounds and installed his son, Richard Ainsworth (1762-1833) in the new house.  Richard seems to have enlarged the house as the profits of the bleaching business accumulated.  In 1801 he bought the adjacent Smithills Hall estate, which included a large tract of moorland stretching up to Winter Hill from which the water for his bleachworks was derived.  Securing this, rather than the ancient mansion, was probably the motivation for his purchase.  In 1814 he also bought Halliwell Hall near the works, making him the owner of three large houses.  When he died in 1833, however, his eldest son, Peter Ainsworth (1790-1870) withdrew from the bleaching business and devoted himself to politics, becoming MP for Bolton 1834-47 and settling as a gentleman at Smithills Hall, where he remodelled the west wing as a picturesque but comfortable house.  It was left to his younger brother, John Horrocks Ainsworth (1800-65) to continue the business and to occupy Moss Bank House, which was again extended in 1852-54, when the surviving aviary and observation tower were built in the grounds.

Peter Ainsworth of Smithills Hall died in 1870 without issue, and the estate passed to John’s son, Col. Richard Henry Ainsworth (1839-1926), who had already inherited Moss Bank and the bleachworks.  He chose to live at Smithills and employed George Devey to restore and remodel the rest of the house in 1874-78 and 1882-84.  Moss Bank House was abandoned by the family after 1870 and either let (William Hargreaves of Hick Hargeaves was the tenant at one time) or used to house old retainers of the family.  In 1900 Col. Ainsworth sold the bleaching business and moved to Winwick Warren (Northants), a much smaller house which he seems to have bought about 1880.  Thereafter Smithills Hall seems to have been used only occasionally, and when Col. Ainsworth died without issue in 1926 it passed to his sister’s grandson, John Francis Combe (1917-2005) on condition that his father, Nigel Victor Combe (1873-1951) and the whole family took the name Ainsworth.  This they agreed to do, and Nigel Ainsworth acted as trustee for his son and ran the estate until 1938, but never moved from his home in Sussex to Smithills.  The hall was repaired and the fabric of the house restored at this time.  Negotiations had been in progress since 1915 for the sale of Moss Bank Park to Bolton Corporation as a public park and this was completed in 1926; the house was demolished in 1951.  Smithills Hall and the whole estate was also sold to the Corporation in 1938, for £70,000.  Part of the house was initially used as old people’s accommodation and later as a daycare centre, but from 1963 it was opened to the public as a museum.

Moss Bank House, Bolton, Lancashire
Moss Bank House, from an old photograph

A large classical house built in 1786-90 and enlarged several times in the 19th century; grounds became public park in 1926; house demolished 1951.

Descent: Peter Ainsworth (1737-1807); to son, Richard Ainsworth (1762-1833); to son, John Horrocks Ainsworth (1800-65); to son, Col. Richard Henry Ainsworth (1839-1926); to great-nephew, John Francis Combe (later Ainsworth) (1917-2005), who sold 1926 to Bolton Corporation.

Smithills Hall, Bolton, Lancashire
Smithills Hall: a naive painting of the house c.1820, showing it as it was when acquired by the Ainsworth family. 
Image: Bolton Museums

Smithills Hall is a large and picturesque country house of stone and timber-framing on the moorland edge north of Bolton, consisting of three ranges surrounding a courtyard open on the south side, and a large 19th century west wing. William Radcliffe obtained the manor in 1335 and the nucleus of the present house appears to date from the mid 14th century: the hall with its screens passage at the west end, buttery and pantry in line, and a kitchen (originally detached) slightly further west. The solar was in an unusual position over the buttery and pantry and it is not now clear how it was originally accessed. A new family cross-wing was added east of the hall rather later, perhaps in the early 15th century. In 1485 the estate passed by marriage to John Barton (d. 1517).

Smithills Hall: view of the courtyard c.1890. Image: English Heritage

Either John Barton or his son, Andrew Barton (d. 1549) was responsible for adding the east and west wings to the hall range. The east range with its large square bay is nearly detached from the rest of the house, and has an external timber stair at the junction with the hall range, from which spring corridors along the courtyard side on both floors of the east range, as at Speke Hall. The stone chapel at the south end of the range was built c.1580-90, although its west end was rebuilt after a fire in 1856. In the early 16th century a west range was built south from the kitchen. This had two-storey corridors matching those of the east wing, but they were open, like those of an inn. Early 19th century sketches are said to show a gate arch at the south end of the west wing, but it is not certain whether the court was ever closed by a south range.

The house descended in the Barton family until 1659, when on the death of Sir Thomas Barton (c.1582-1659), kt., the estate passed to his grandson, Thomas Belasyse (d. 1700), 2nd Viscount and 1st Earl Fauconberg, whose younger brother, Sir Rowland Belasyse (d. 1699) occupied the house. In the 1720s the 4th Viscount sold Smithills to the Byrom family, and in 1801, after the death of Edward Byrom, the estate was sold to Richard Ainsworth (1762-1833), who was probably initially concerned as much to protect the water rights for his nearby bleaching works as to acquire the old house. However, by 1850 they had made the west wing into a fashionable residence, although beyond the hall the east range was falling into decay. Col. Richard Henry Ainsworth (1839-1926) inherited in 1870 and engaged George Devey in 1874-78 and again in 1882-84 to remodel and extend the west wing. It is this, with its gaily unconvincing black-and-white work, that makes the strongest initial impact.

Smithills Hall: west range by George Devey, 1874-84. 

Smithills Hall: the hall and screens passage are amongst the earliest parts of the house.  Image: Halliwell LHS

The house and estate, stretching NW right up to Winter Hill, were sold to Bolton CBC in 1938 and have been open to the public since 1963. Inside, the massively timbered 14th century hall is an impressive room, although the floor levels have built up so that the plinths are buried and the doors dwarfed. The roof with its three tiers of quatrefoil braces sits on the original eaves and retains its steep pitch; outside the walls have been raised and support a later shallower-pitched roof along the original one. There are the usual three service doors to kitchen, buttery and pantry, plus a fourth which probably led (as at Chorley Old Hall in Cheshire) to the solar.

Smithills Hall: ground plan excluding the 19th century west wing from Victoria County History, 1911

Smithills Hall: Withdrawing Room. Image: Michael D. Beckwith.

The semi-detached 16th century east range is connected awkwardly to the rest of the house by the porch-cum-stair-tower. The ground floor withdrawing room, with its finely moulded ceiling joists, is fully panelled with complicated linenfold and some decorative panels. At the south end of the range is the chapel, remodelled after a fire in 1856, when the original vestry was made into a transept with a family pew above; the east window has a remarkable display of mid 16th century heraldic stained glass. There are two good Ainsworth monuments, to Richard (d. 1833) and Peter (d. 1870). 

Smithills Hall: Col. Ainsworth's Room

In the west range the former existence of a detached kitchen has imprinted itself on the structures that grew up around it and its crooked orientation has affected the whole range. The main rooms looking onto the courtyard are the Col. Ainsworth's Room and Mrs. Ainsworth's Drawing Room, both essentially 16th century in fabric and Devey in decoration, but with narrow pointed Gothick doorways that are presumably early 19th century. 

Smithills Hall: the library

The Library is a dark and rich late 19th century room, with pieced-together panelling and carving. Next door to that is the teashop, formerly the Oak Dining Room, built by Peter Ainsworth and made the same size and shape as the Withdrawing Room in the east wing so that the panelling from that room could be moved here; it was only returned to its original location after Bolton Council bought the house in 1938. The main stair is wide and oaken, but has a fireplace in the Chinese taste halfway up, set underneath a window. The billiard room lies at the extreme west end of the house, and is fully panelled with a pendant ceiling and a giant inglenook. A good deal of the warren-like upper floor is disused. The stone and half-timbered stables are a picturesque building by George Devey, 1874-78.

Descent: Sir Ralph Radcliffe (d. c.1460); to nephew, Ralph Radcliffe; to daughter, Cecily, wife of John Barton of Holme nr Newark, who settled the estate in 1514 on his son Andrew Barton (d. 1549); to son, Robert Barton (c.1525-80); to brother, Ralph Barton (d. 1592); to son, Randle Barton; by 1620 to son Sir Thomas Barton; to daughter Grace, wife of Hon. Henry Belasyse (d. 1647); to younger son, Sir Rowland Belasyse (1632-99); to son, Thomas Belasyse, 3rd Viscount Fauconberg (d. 1718); to son, Thomas Belasyse, 4th Viscount Fauconberg (1699-1774), who sold 1722/3 to Joseph Byrom of Manchester (1659-1733); to son, Edward Byrom (1702-60); ?to cousin, John Byrom (1692-1763); to ?son, Edward Byrom; sold after his death 1801 to Richard Ainsworth (1762-1833); to son, Peter Ainsworth (1790-1870); to nephew, Col. Richard Henry Ainsworth (1839-1926); to nephew, Nigel Victor Combe (later Ainsworth) (1873-1951), who sold 1938 to Bolton Corporation.

The Ainsworth family of Smithills Hall and Moss Bank

Ainsworth, Peter (1713-80) of Lightbounds House.  Son of Peter Ainsworth of The Holcroft, Bolton (Lancs), bleacher, and his wife Mary (née Hilton); born 1713 and baptised at St Peter Bolton, 12 January 1715.  Apprenticed to his father at an early age; he established Halliwell bleach works near Bolton in 1739.  In 1743 he inherited a large legacy from his cousin, the lexicographer Robert Ainsworth of Stepney (Middx), and bought Lightbounds House near the bleachworks. He married c.1735 Alice Galland (1712-87) and had issue, with one further son who died in infancy (NB Some of the information provided below about this couple's children is taken from plausible but unverified Internet sources and may be unreliable):
(1) Peter Ainsworth (1736-1807) (q.v.); 
(2) Ann Ainsworth (1738-89), baptised at Bolton, 5 August 1739; married, 29 November 1768, John Cort (d. 1791) and had issue three sons and one daughter; 
(3) Mary Ainsworth (1740-43); baptised at Deane, 31 January 1742; reputedly drowned aged 3 when she fell into the Holy Well in Moss Bank Park (which was subsequently filled in);
(4) Richard Ainsworth (b. 1743), baptised at Deane, 13 October 1743; married 1765, Betty Morris and had issue three sons and three daughters; 
(5) Robert Ainsworth (1743-51); died aged 8;
(6) John Ainsworth (b. 1746), m. 1768 in Manchester Cathedral, Betty Nield; 
(7) James Ainsworth (b. 1748), baptised 16 December 1748; m.1, 18 June 1771, Betty Mason dsp; m.2, Molly Green and had issue one son; m.3, Molly Burgess and had issue one son; m.4, 4 March 1780, Betty Nuttall and had issue two sons and two daughters; 
(8) Alice Ainsworth (b. 1754), baptised 20 February 1754; m.1, 1774, Charles Charlton and had issue three sons and one daughter; m.2. 1783. Thomas Parkinson and had issue one daughter; m.3, 7 March 1790, Thomas Cocksey and had issue one son and one daughter; 
(9) Jenny Ainsworth (b. 1756), baptised 9 May 1756; m. Thomas Hanby and had issue two sons and three daughters; 
(10) Thomas Ainsworth (b. 1758), born 14 December 1758 and baptised 12 January 1780; married, 16 January 1782, Betty (1751-1828), daughter of Rev. James Wraith of Bolton Independent Chapel, and had issue seven sons and seven daughters.
He lived at The Moss, Bolton (Lancs).
He died 12 April 1780; buried in family vault on the south side of Bolton parish church, but reinterred at Tonge Cemetery in 1902.

Peter Ainsworth (1737-1807)
Ainsworth, Peter (1736-1807), of Moss Bank House.  Eldest son of Peter Ainsworth (1713-80) and his wife Alice Galland, born 1736.  Worked in the family bleaching business, and pioneered chemical bleaching technology which greatly increased the efficiency and profitability of the Halliwell bleachworks, reducing the time taken to bleach cloth from three weeks to one hour.  Known as "the opulent bleacher" because of the financial success which this commercial advantage brought him; for another portrait of him, see here.  He married, 17 July 1761, Alice Aspinall of Carrington (Cheshire) and had issue: 
(1) Richard Ainsworth (1762-1833) (q.v.).
He built Moss Bank House in 1786-90.
He died in 1807.

Ainsworth, Richard (1762-1833), of Moss Bank House and Smithills Hall.  Only son of Peter Ainsworth (1736-1807) and his wife Alice Aspinall, born 1762.  Chemical bleacher; inherited the Halliwell bleach works from his father in 1807.  He married, 20 November 1788, Sarah, daughter of James Noble of Lancaster and had issue: 
(1) Peter Ainsworth (1790-1870) (q.v.); 
(2) Sarah Ainsworth (c.1796-1861), married, 14 August 1818, The Hon. Henry Arthur Annesley (1792-1818), younger son of 1st Earl of Mountnorris but had no issue (he died six days after their marriage); lived in Westminster; died 23 March 1861; will proved 11 June 1861 (estate under £25,000);
(3) Alice Ainsworth (c.1797-1859); lived with her elder sister in Westminster; died unmarried, 20 October 1859; will proved 17 January 1860 and further administration, 29 April 1872 (estate under £16,000);
(4) John Horrocks Ainsworth (1800-65) (q.v.); 
(5) Hannah Ainsworth (1802-83), baptised 22 May 1802; m. 1834 Edward Webster of Lincolns Inn and had issue a daughter; died 9 October 1883; grant of administration of effects, 1 May 1884 (estate £8,065).
He inherited Moss Bank House, Bolton (Lancs) from his father in 1807 and bought Smithills Hall nearby in 1801.
He died 11 April 1833.

Ainsworth, Peter (1790-1870), of Smithills Hall.  Elder son of Richard Ainsworth (1762-1833) and his wife Sarah, daughter of James Noble of Lancaster, born 24 November 1790.  He joined his father's business at the Halliwell bleachworks at an early age and inherited a share of the company from his father in 1833, but immediately gave up active involvement in the business for the life of a country gentleman; JP; DL; MP for Bolton 1834-47.  He married, 15 August 1815, Elizabeth (c.1793-1867?), daughter and co-heir of Ashton Byrom of Fairview, Liverpool, but died without issue.
He inherited Smithills Hall, Bolton (Lancs) from his father in 1833.
He died 18 January 1870, aged 79.  His will was proved 24 May 1870 (estate under £50,000).

Ainsworth, John Horrocks (1800-65) of Moss Bank House.  Younger son of Richard Ainsworth (1762-1833) and his wife Sarah, daughter of James Noble of Lancaster, born 1800.  Educated at Bolton and Rugby Schools.  He inherited a share of the Halliwell bleachworks from his father in 1833 and took on full responsibility for the management of the business when his elder brother withdrew from active involvement the same year.  He married 1833 Elizabeth (d. 1870), daughter of John Shaw of London and had issue: 
(1) Gertrude Sophia Ainsworth (1837-92); baptised 13 April 1837; married, 1878 Hector Graham Browne, son of William and Lady Letitia Browne of Browne's Hill (Carlow); died without issue, 7 December 1892; will proved 24 December 1892 (estate £2,222);
(2) Col. Richard Henry Ainsworth (1839-1926) (q.v.); 
(3) Emily Alice Ainsworth (1841-1925), baptised 19 May 1841; m. 1863 Capt. Russell England (c.1834-1924), 4th Hussars and had issue; died 26 December 1925; will proved 27 May 1926 (estate £2,002);
(4) Louisa Sarah Ainsworth (1842-97), baptised 22 September 1842; married, 24 October 1866, Dr Matthew Combe MD (c.1825-89) and had issue a son, Nigel Victor Combe (later Ainsworth) (q.v.); died 15 November 1897; will proved 10 December 1897 (estate £5,140);
(5) Florence Mary Ainsworth (b. 1844), baptised 15 August 1844; married Signor Campodonia.
He inherited Moss Bank House, Bolton (Lancs) from his father in 1833.
He died 1 April 1865; no will has been found for him. His widow died 16 April 1870; her will was proved 25 August 1870 (effects under £4,000).

Ainsworth, Col. Richard Henry (1839-1926), of Smithills Hall.  Only son of John Horrocks Ainsworth (1800-65) and his wife Elizabeth, daughter of John Shaw of London, born 14 January and baptised 11 February 1839.  Educated at Christ Church, Oxford (matriculated 1857).  He inherited the Halliwell bleachworks from his father in 1865 but sold the business in 1900; Col. of the Duke of Lancaster's Own Yeomanry; High Sheriff of Northamptonshire 1882.  He married, 22 April 1866, Isabella Margaret (d. 1925), daughter of Rev. John James Vaughan, rector of Gotham (Notts) but died without issue.
He inherited Moss Bank House, Bolton (Lancs) from his father in 1865 and Smithills Hall, Bolton from his uncle in 1870.  He bought Winwick Warren (Northants) c.1880, and thereafter spent an increasing proportion of his time in Northamptonshire.
He died 23 June 1926 and was buried at St Peter Halliwell, 26 June 1926; his will was proved 5 November 1926 (estate £334,741).

Ainsworth (né Combe), Nigel Victor (1873-1951).  Son of Dr Matthew Combe MD (c.1825-89) and his wife Louisa Sarah, daughter of John Horrocks Ainsworth, born 12 January 1873. Educated at Charterhouse and Trinity College, Cambridge (admitted 1891); JP Sussex 1914; MBE 1920; Hon. Sec. of West Sussex Soldiers and Sailors Families' Assoc in WW1. He changed his name to Ainsworth by royal licence in 1927.  He married, 1903, Margaret Hornby (1876-1958), daughter of Ven. J.R. Walker, archdeacon of Chichester and had issue: 
(1) Freda Margaret Combe (1905-93), born 16 November 1905; married, 8 April 1931, Maj. Frederick Yelverton Goring (1893-1938) and had issue two sons; died 6 February 1993; will proved 22 March 1993 (estate £94,813);
(2) Richard Nigel Combe (1910-15); died young;
(3) Maj. John Francis Combe (later Ainsworth) (1917-2005), born 19 March 1917; an officer in the army (Maj.); inherited Smithills Hall and Moss Bank House from his great-uncle, Col. Ainsworth, in 1926 but sold them to Bolton Corporation in 1938 and 1926 respectively and lived latterly at Chichester (Sussex); died unmarried, 9 March 2005; will proved 19 July 2005.
When his son inherited Smithills Hall, Bolton (Lancs) and Moss Bank House, Bolton from his great-uncle in 1926 Nigel acted as Trustee.  Moss Bank was sold later that year and Smithills in 1938, both to Bolton Corporation.  He lived latterly at Woolbeding Glebe, Sussex.
He died 14 March 1951, and his will was proved 26 July 1951 (estate £15,025). His widow died 14 February 1958; her will was proved 22 April 1958 (estate £2,893).

Burke's Landed Gentry, successive editions; J.M. Robinson, A guide to the country houses of the North-West, 1991, pp. 238-39; Hartwell, Hyde & Pevsner, The buildings of England: Lancashire - Manchester and the south-east, 2004, pp. 169-72;

Location of archives
Ainsworth family of Smithills Hall and Moss Bank: deeds, estate and family papers, 1620-1967 (Bolton Archives ZAH, ZRU)

Revision and acknowledgements
This post was first published 22 August 2013 and was updated 20-23 July 2020, 20 May 2021 and 26 January 2023. I am grateful to Billy Pilgrim for a correction.