Wednesday 1 April 2015

(162) Arcedeckne of Glevering Hall

Arcedeckne of Glevering Hall
In the 14th century there was a Cornish family of baronial status called Archdeckne, who bore the arms ‘Argent three chevronels Sable’ at the second Dunstable tournament of 1334 and later. The barony of Archdeckne fell into abeyance between the three daughters of the 3rd Baron in 1400 and the family disappears from the record after the 15th century. However, in the 17th century the same arms were used by members of an Archdeckne family living in Kilkenny, who were transplanted by the Cromwellian authorities to lands in the parish of Clontuskert in east Galway, later the Gortnamona estate.  This suggests that a connection was known or claimed between this family and the medieval Barons Archdeckne.  From the 18th century the family surname was usually spelled Arcedeckne, and the arms registered later by the Arcedecknes of Glevering Hall were a variation on the ancestral coat in having red chevrons rather than black chevronels as the main charge. The family name, however spelled, seems always to have been pronounced Archdeacon, and is occasionally found with that spelling. For consistency, however, the form Arcedeckne has been used throughout in this account.

The precise relationship between the Arcedecknes of Gortnamona in the parish of Clontuskert (Galway) and the Arcedecknes of Glevering Hall has not been established. Andrew Arcedeckne (1691-1765), whose fortune made in Jamaica laid the foundations for his son's purchase of Glevering Hall, is said to have been the son of Richard Arcedeckne of Gortnamona, but it is not clear whether this Richard was the owner of the estate or merely the younger son of an owner.  The earliest owner of Gortnamona whom I have been able to establish for certain is Matthew Arcedeckne, who was involved in legal disputes in the 1720s and 1730s and was probably responsible for building the earliest part of the present house there.  His son, Nicholas Arcedeckne (d. 1775/6) bequeathed the Gortnamona estate to his son-in-law, Robert Arcedeckne Burke, who in 1783-84 obtained a private Act of Parliament in Dublin to sell off parts of the estate to pay his debts. The house remained in the family and passed by marriage to the Blakes, who sold it only in 1917.

Andrew Arcedeckne, on the other hand, prospered mightily.  He renounced the Catholicism of his ancestors and that allowed him to train as a barrister at Grays Inn.  After completing his studies he emigrated to Jamaica, where he was working as a barrister by 1718. He is said to have later been appointed Attorney General of Jamaica, an office he was apparently holding in 1734 when he purchased the Golden Grove plantation in the east of the island. However, there is some confusion about the dates of his appointment, as one Matthew Cocanen is recorded as holding this office between 1732 and 1744.  
Golden Grove Plantation, Jamaica, from a lithograph by Augustus Duperly, c.1830.
In 1819 there were some 700 slaves on the estate.

At Golden Grove he established a sugar plantation, worked by African slaves, and it was this enterprise which provided the funds for the family's subsequent lifestyle.  His son, Chaloner Arcedeckne (1743-1809) was educated in England and is not known to have returned to Jamaica. After his father died in 1765 he relied on his brother-in-law as partner and his lawyer, Simon Taylor, as agent to look after his interests in the island.  Taylor's correspondence with Arcedeckne which is preserved among the Vanneck papers in Cambridge University Library is one of the richest sources for our understanding of the management of Caribbean plantations in the late 18th century. Chaloner made a more comfortable life for himself as a gentleman in England, and in due course became an MP and High Sheriff of Suffolk. He first rented Cockfield Hall (Suffolk) from the Blois family, and when his lease there was coming to an end, purchased the Glevering Hall estate in 1791. In the next three years he rebuilt the house there to the designs of John White and called in Humphry Repton to advise on laying out the grounds, although how much was done to Repton's plan is not clear. 

Chaloner Arcedeckne left a complex will which vested his estates in England and Jamaica in trustees for the benefit of his five children (three of whom died within a few years of their father). Andrew Arcedeckne (1780-1849) came into possession of Glevering Hall after his father's death but in the 1810s and 1820s was much preoccupied by litigation against the trustees, who were finding it difficult to realise profits from the Jamaican estates because of war damage, taxes and rising costs. Later on, he made further improvements to the house and grounds, including the construction of a new service wing and a splendid - though now derelict - orangery in the 1830s to the design of Decimus Burton.  

When Andrew died unexpectedly in London in 1849, his heir was his only son, Andrew Arcedeckne (1822-71), a bachelor clubman who seems to have brought the sporting outlook and waspish tongue of the early 19th century into the staider early Victorian world. Thackeray caricatured him as Harry Foker in Pendennis, but seems to have feared his put-downs, and he was seemingly as at home at the reins of a four-in-hand as at a prize fight or on board a yacht. When he died, just short of his fiftieth birthday, he had been Commodore of the Royal London Yacht Club for eighteen years. He lived mostly in London, and two years before his death he married a well-known actress, which may argue for a long-standing interest in the stage which would be consistent with what is known of his character. They had no children, so at his death Glevering and the Jamaican property passed to his elder sister Louisa (1817-98), Lady Huntingfield. She let the Glevering estate and either just before or after her death it was sold to Arthur Heywood.

Gortnamona House, Clontuskert, Galway

Gortnamona House in the late 19th century.

A three-bay three-storey house, perhaps first built for the Arcedecknes about 1720 but refronted with tripartite windows for either James Fitzpatrick Blake or his brother Patrick in about 1830.  As part of this alteration, an extra storey seems to have been added to the front range; at the rear the house remained two storeys with attics.  At the south-east corner of the house is a later two-bay two-storey Gothic Revival addition, built c.1860 for Valentine Fitzpatrick Blake, with a prominent gable, an oriel window and further traceried Gothic windows. Sadly, the house is now disused and derelict, as is the farmyard of c.1800 at the rear. 

Descent: Matthew Arcedeckne (fl. c.1730); to son, Nicholas Arcedeckne (d. 1775/6); to son-in-law, Robert Arcedeckne Burke; to son, Nicholas Arcedeckne Burke (d. 1823); to nephew, James Fitzpatrick Blake (d. 1832); to brother, Patrick Blake (d. 1857); to son, Valentine Fitzpatrick Blake (1831-70); to son, Valentine Alexander Blake (b. c.1868-1923) who leased the house and sold it in 1917 (the estate having been sold by the Irish Land Commission in 1907).

Glevering Hall, Hacheston, Suffolk

The first house on this site was a manorial centre from the medieval period onwards but may not have been large as the owners appear to have been non-resident until at least the 18th century.

The south and east sides of Glevering Hall from a print of c.1824.

The present house was built in 1791-94 for Chaloner Arcedeckne to the designs of John White and was altered by Decimus Burton in 1834-35. It is a stately house of white (really grey) stock brick, of two and a half storeys and seven by five bays.  On three sides the centre bay is very broad and has tripartite windows. The south front, originally intended as the entrance front, has further central emphasis in the form of coupled giant pilasters starting above the ground floor and supporting a pediment.  The main entrance was moved shortly before 1827 to the west side and here there is now a large stone porch dated 1899. In the 1827 it was said that part of the previous house that stood south of the new block but was linked to it, was kept as service accommodation for its successor, but this is not apparent in one of the earliest views of the house in 1819.

Glevering Hall: west front in 2013, showing the 1790s main block and the west service wing.

Inside, the house had three main reception rooms (drawing room, dining room and library/billiard room) all about 26 feet by 20, and a hall containing a staircase which starts in one arm and returns in two and has a simple but attractive iron balustrade.  By the 1930s the house was unoccupied and it later became a store and was stripped of its fittings and chimneypieces; even the plasterwork on the walls decayed. In the 1970s/80s it was bought back by descendants of the early 20th century owners and divided into separate dwellings. They have restored the original external appearance and some of the internal plasterwork. In 1974 the house was used as the set for Sir Peter Hall's film of Akenfield

Glevering Hall orangery, by Decimus Burton, 1834-35. Image: Historic England.

Glevering Park from the Ordnance Survey 6" map surveyed in 1883.
Adjoining the house are stables of c.1794, of grey brick, the front eleven bays long with three-bay pediments.  Inside there is a tower clock dated 1793. Also close by is the seven-bay orangery, designed by Burton, with a three-bay portico on Adamish columns and a glass dome in the centre on cast-iron palm-tree columns. This is now in very poor condition, although in 2014 the owners accepted an offer of grant-aid to repair it. The grounds were originally laid out by Repton, who wrote up his design in his Sketches of 1794, but were altered later, perhaps in the 1820s when the entrance arrangements were altered, or perhaps in the 1840s. It has been suggested that W.A. Nesfield might have been involved on the basis of a reference in his papers, but the attribution is not sustained in the recent biography of him. 

Descent: John Whimper (fl. 1777) sold 1791 to Chaloner Arcedeckne (1743-1809); to son, Andrew Arcedeckne (1780-1849); to son, Andrew Arcedeckne (1822-71); to sister, Louisa (1817-98), wife of Charles Andrew Vanneck (1818-97), 4th Baron Huntingfield, who leased to Roger Kerrison (fl. 1892) and later sold to Arthur Heywood (fl. 1899-1912)..N.A. Heywood (fl. 1936)...Michael Hurlock.

Arcedeckne family of Glevering Hall

Arcedeckne, Andrew (c.1691-1763). Reputedly the son of Richard Arcedeckne of Gortnamona, who came from a Catholic Anglo-Irish family.  Converted to Prostestantism, being reputedly the first of his family to do so. Educated at Grays Inn (admitted 1710), being described as "of Carrowmore, Galway". He emigrated to Jamaica and was a barrister in Spanish Town by 1716; he was appointed Attorney General of Jamaica, 1717, and was still in post in 1734 (although others are recorded as holding the post in between these two dates). He established the Golden Grove sugar plantation in Jamaica in 1734. He married Elizabeth Kersey, who  according to some accounts was of mixed race (although in view of his son's correspondence on mixed marriages this seems unlikely), and had issue:
(1) Chaloner Arcedeckne (c.1743-1809) (q.v.);
(2) Ann Arcedeckne (d. 1823); married Benjamin Cowell, who became Chaloner Arcedeckne's business partner in Jamaica, and had issue one son; died "in Berkshire" [perhaps Berkshire Hall (Jamaica)], 1823.
He inherited the Gurnamone estate in Galway, and purchased the Golden Grove estate at the extreme eastern end of Jamaica before 1734.
He died in Jamaica, 17 August 1763, aged 72.

Arcedeckne, Chaloner (c.1743-1809). Son of Andrew Arcedeckne (d. 1763) of Gortnamona (Galway), born about 1743. Educated at Eton, 1753-59 and Christ Church, Oxford (matriculated 1760) and undertook a grand tour in 1768, during which he visited Rome, Venice (where he bought a famous view of the Rialto bridge from Guardi) and Florence. MP for Wallingford, 1780-84 and Westbury, 1784-86; High Sheriff of Suffolk, 1797-98. He married, 1777, Catherine (1756-96?), daughter and co-heiress of John Leigh of North Court House (Isle of Wight) and had issue:
(1) Frances Catherine Arcedeckne (1778-1815), married, 2 April 1810, Joshua Vanneck (1778-1844) of Heveningham Hall (Suffolk), 2nd Baron Huntingfield (who m2, 6 January 1817, Lucy Anne (c.1799-1889), daughter of Sir Charles Blois, 6th bt and had further issue) and had issue one son and one daughter; died 3 August 1815;
(2) Andrew Arcedeckne (1780-1849) (q.v.);
(3) Mary Louisa Arcedeckne (1783-1816), born 5 May and baptised 5 June 1783; died unmarried, July 1816; will proved in PCC, 24 December 1816;
(4) Chaloner Arcedeckne (1785-1812), baptised 28 June 1785; educated at Eton, Jesus College, Cambridge (admitted 1804; BA 1806; MA 1809) and Inner Temple (admitted 1804); died unmarried on his way to Madeira, 1812; will proved 25 February 1812;
(5) Walter Arcedeckne (1796-1865), baptised 20 November 1796 and 7 September 1797; educated at Eton and St John's College, Cambridge (matriculated 1815; LL.B 1821); died unmarried, 5 January and was buried at Richmond (Surrey), 11 January 1865; will proved 23 March 1865 (estate under £70,000).
He inherited the Golden Grove and Bachelor's Pen estates in Jamaica from his father in 1763 but was an absentee proprietor. He leased Cockfield Hall (Suffolk) for 21 years in 1772 and purchased the Glevering Hall estate of some 330 acres about 1791, reputedly for £10,000; he then rebuilt Glevering Hall.  In his will he instructed his trustees to acquire further land to extend the Suffolk estate, which was 2,876 acres by 1936.
He died 20 December 1809 and was buried in a mausoleum designed for him (perhaps by John White) in Hacheston churchyard; his will was proved 12 February 1810. His wife died between May 1796 and 1804 and was perhaps the Catherine Archdeacon buried at St John Clerkenwell, 28 December 1796.

Arcedeckne, Andrew (1780-1849). Elder son of Chaloner Arcedeckne (c.1743-1809) and his wife Catherine, daughter of John Leigh of North Court House (Isle of Wight), born 8 January and baptised 10 February 1780. Educated at Eton, 1793-96 and Christ Church, Oxford (matriculated 1798). JP and DL for Suffolk; High Sheriff of Suffolk, 1819-20; MP for Dunwich, 1826-31. He married, 29 August 1816 at St George's Hanover Square, London, his cousin Anne Harriet (1795-1878), daughter of Francis Love Beckford of Basing Park (Hants) and had issue:
(1) Louisa Arcedeckne (1817-98) (q.v.);
(2) Andrew Arcedeckne (1822-71) (q.v.).
He inherited the Glevering Hall estate from his father in 1809, and a share in the Jamaican estates.
He died suddenly in London, 8 February 1849; his will was proved in the PCC, 24 March 1849. His widow died 27 March 1878; her will was proved 2 May 1878 (estate under £7000).

Arcedeckne, Andrew (1822-71). Son of Andrew Arcedeckne (1780-1849) and his wife Anne Harriet, daughter of Francis Love Beckford of Basing Park (Hants), born May and baptised 11 July 1822. Educated at Eton and Christ Church, Oxford (matriculated 1840). High Sheriff of Suffolk, 1856. He was the defeated Liberal candidate for Harwich at the General Election in 1857. Commodore of the Royal London Yacht Club, 1853-71. Described as "about five feet three inches, round as a cask, with a small singularly round face and head, closely cropped hair, and large soft a seal", he was reputedly the original of Thackeray's character Harry Foker in Pendennis, 1849 (and is said to have had the nickname "Phoca"). He was "eccentric in his mode of dressing, drove mail-coaches as an amateur, loved fighting dogs, game-cocks, and the prize-ring" but was no fool. Thackeray's caricature of him caused him a certain amount of ridicule but he contrived that the laughter should not all be on one side. According to Thackeray's biographer:
"Arcedeckne was that member of the Garrick whose presence and speech, Dean Hole observed, ''seemed to irritate Thackeray, and who found pleasure in exercising his power as a gadfly on a thoroughbred horse." One night in the club smoking-room Thackeray was in the middle of a story when Arcedeckne entered. Thackeray saw him, hesitated, stopped; whereupon his persecutor with bland smile and gracious manner encouraged him to continue ; "Proceed, sweet warbler," he said, "thy story interests me." It was Arcedeckne, too, who congratulated Thackeray on one of his lectures : " Bravvo ! Thack, my boy ! Uncommon good show. But it'll never go without a pianner! "
He visited Jamaica with friends in 1850 in order to visit the family plantations. He married, 17 February 1869, Jane (c.1826-79) (who as an actress took the stage name Miss Maria Elsworthy), daughter of Edward Elsworthy Pym, but had no issue.
He inherited the Glevering Hall estate and a share in the family's Jamaican plantations from his father in 1849, but lived mainly at his London house (45 Marlborough Hill, St John's Wood) and intermittently let the Glevering estate.
He died 31 May 1871 and his will was proved 28 July 1871 (effects under £7000). His widow died in Brighton, 5 October 1879 and was buried in Brighton Cemetery, where she is commemorated by a monument; her will was proved 20 October 1879 (effects under £4000).

Arcedeckne, Louisa (1817-98), Baroness Huntingfield. Daughter of Andrew Arcedeckne (1780-1849) and his wife Anne Harriet, daughter of Francis Love Beckford of Basing Park (Hants), baptised 2 October 1817. She married 6 July 1839 at St George's Hanover Square, London, Charles Andrew Vanneck (1818-97), later 3rd Baron Huntingfield (her half-cousin, unrelated to her by blood), and had issue:
(1) Hon. Catherine Vanneck (1840-64), baptised 12 September 1840; died unmarried at Schalbach (Germany), 4 July 1864; administration granted, 28 March 1898 (effects £6,250);
(2) Hon. Clara Louisa Vanneck (1841-57); died unmarried, 26 January 1857;
(3) Lt-Col. Joshua Charles Vanneck (1842-1915), 4th Baron Huntingfield, born 27 August 1842; served in Scots Guards, 1863-92; died unmarried, 13 January 1915; will proved 27 March 1915 (estate £139,510);
(4) Hon. Anne Jane Vanneck (1843-1933), born 20 September and baptised 18 December 1843; died unmarried, 16 May 1933; will proved 21 June 1933 (estate £31,219);
(5) Hon. Frances Vanneck (1844-1933), born Oct-Dec 1844; died unmarried, 2 February 1933; will proved 15 March and 5 May 1933 (estate £30,452);
(6) Hon. William Arcedeckne Vanneck (1845-1912), born 30 October 1845; married, 21 March 1882, Mary (d. 1919), daughter of William Armstrong MRCS of Toowoomba, Queensland (Australia) and had issue three sons and two daughters; died 6 November 1912; will proved 16 December 1912 (estate £83,685);
(7) Hon. Charles Andrew Vanneck (1848-97) of Tudor House, Sawston (Cambs), born 8 January 1848; died unmarried, 12 July 1897; administration granted 12 February 1898 (effects £2,402);
(8) Hon. Walter Vanneck (1849-1931), born 9 March 1849; married, 24 September 1877, Catherine Medora (d. 1932), daughter of William Armstrong MRCS of Toowoomba, Queensland (Australia) and had issue; died 17 September 1931; will proved 28 October 1931 (estate £2,578);
(9) Hon. Harriet Lucy Vanneck (1850-1922), baptised 10 September 1850; died unmarried, 29 September 1922; will proved 16 January 1923 (estate £11,697);
(10) Hon. Gerard Vanneck (1851-1904), born 19 April 1851; married, 29 April 1878, Harriet Oakley Beaton, daughter of James Ivory of Bundanoa, Queensland (Australia) and had issue a daughter; died 11 August 1904.
She inherited the Glevering Hall estate from her brother in 1871 but leased it out; it was sold in the 1890s.
She died 4 February 1898; her will was proved 7 July 1898 (estate £13,705). Her husband died 21 September 1897; his will was proved 6 January 1898 (estate £134,171).


Burke, Landed Gentry, 1871; J. Ingamells, A dictionary of British & Irish travellers in Italy, 1701-1800, 1997, p. 23; B. Wood & M. Lynn (eds), Travel, trade and power in the Atlantic, 1765-1884, Camden Miscellany XXXV, 2003; S.R. Evans, "William Andrews Nesfield (1794-1881), artist and landscape gardener, Ph.D. thesis, Plymouth Univ., 2007, Appendix 1, p. 40;

Location of archives

Arcedeckne family of Glevering Hall: English and Jamaican estate correspondence and papers, 18th-19th cent. [Cambridge University Library, Vanneck papers]

Coat of arms

Argent, three chevrons gules.

Revision and acknowledgements
This post was first published 1 April 2015 and was updated 24th July 2015 and 17 June 2018. I am grateful to Dr Lewis C. Forrest for additional information.


  1. The Clock has a brass circular plate which shows the position of the hands when winding the clock. On this face is written:-

    Anthony & John Thwaite, Clerkenwell, London. 1793

    1. Thank you for this information, which as you will see I have incorporated in the text. Has work begun yet on the restoration of the orangery? It will be great to see this restored.

  2. I live here! And no, it has not been restored yet:)


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.