Sunday, 26 July 2015

(178) Armitage of Moraston House, Bridstow

Armitage of Moraston
This post concerns a family which technically does not meet the selection criteria for my blog, but which I have stretched a point to include as they are interesting and have connections with a number of other gentry and aristocratic families.  The family tradition was that they derived from a branch of the Armytages of Kirklees (who will be the subject of a future post) which went to Ireland in the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. Their descent is only certain, however, from William Armitage (d. 1674), who was a soldier in the Cromwellian army in Ireland, and whose brother was pastor of a nonconformist chapel in Norwich. William was given a grant of confiscated lands in Co. Louth before the Restoration but these were restituted to the pre-Civil War owners under the Act of Settlement of 1662, despite the fact that William had invested a lot in improving the lands. With others in a similar position, William petitioned the Crown for redress, and in 1666 he received a grant of land in the townland of Coole at Ardee (Louth). Either then or later, he also secured a further grant of lands at Drumin in Dunleer (Louth); altogether the two properties amounted to some 600 acres.

At William's death in 1674 these properties passed to his son, Timothy Armitage (d. 1701), who was Portreeve of Ardee from 1674 to 1687 and reputedly also MP for Drogheda in the Irish Parliament. Perhaps because of the prominence these offices gave him, he was among the Protestant landowners included in the Act of Attainder passed by King James II's parliament in 1689, and he prudently fled to England. He presumably returned to Ireland after King William III had re-established Protestant control in Ireland in 1690, but his youngest son, Robert Armitage (1689-1766) was born in Liverpool and subsequently made a career there as a merchant, only returning to Ireland permanently at the end of his life to live with his married daughter at Killymon (Tyrone). Robert inherited some, but perhaps not all, of the family lands in Co. Louth on the death of his elder brother in 1715, and in due course passed them on to his own son, Robert Armitage (1727-87). The younger Robert was initially a merchant in Liverpool like his father, but a month before his father died in 1766 he married Caroline, the daughter of Col. John Braithwaite (d. 1740), and the money she brought him, plus the inheritance of Irish lands from his father, allowed him to give up business and move to the London area, where he and his wife moved on the fringes of literary circles. His fifteen minutes of fame came from being one of the jurors in the trial of Lord George Gordon for treason after the Gordon Riots.

Robert's elder son, Whaley Armitage (1767-1855) derived his unusual forename from the husband of his father's first cousin, Richard Chapell Whaley (d. 1769), who was rich and until December 1766, lacked a male heir. It may have been hoped that Whaley Armitage would inherit R.C. Whaley's estate, which included a town house in Dublin, an income of £7,000 a year from estates in Co. Wicklow, and £60,000 in cash, although this did not happen. Instead, Whaley Armitage was trained as a barrister, and practised in Chancery for some years. Around 1800, ill health obliged him to retire, and perhaps because he had been advised to seek cleaner air in the country, he took a post as receiver (effectively, agent) for the extensive Guy's Hospital estates in Herefordshire. He lived at first at Burton Court, Linton, which he may have improved by remodelling the house and laying out pleasure gardens, but in 1811-15 a new country house was built for him at Moraston in Bridstow parish on the Guy's Hospital estate. The house stood adjacent to the 400-acre Dadnor farm at Bridstow which Whaley seems to have owned, but the new house was apparently paid for by Guy's Hospital and stood on their land; it is not clear whether he rented it or had the use of it as a perk of his post. Whaley continued to act as receiver for Guy's Hospital until 1849, when he was 82, after which his younger son, Arthur Armitage (1812-92), who lived at Dadnor farm, took over the post. Whaley continued in residence at Moraston House until he died in 1855, after which it was either let or sold. From 1873-1910 it belonged to George Hayward Hadfield, whose grandson, Miles Hadfield (1903-82), the garden historian, wrote about the gardens in Country Life in 1967.

Moraston House, Bridstow, Herefordshire

Moraston House in the 1990s.

Moraston was a property on the Guy's Hospital estate, and a house is shown here on Bowen's map of Herefordshire in 1775, although a rental of c.1731 mentions only a barn. A new five bay two-storey hipped-roofed Regency house was built in 1811-15 by John Tristram of Ross for Guy's Hospital as a home for Whaley Armitage, their resident agent. The building agreement required that the work be carried out to the satisfaction of John Matthews of Belmont (Herefs), who was well-known in the county as a man of taste and who had employed Tristram to build a model farm at Belmont. Although Guy's Hospital owned the Moraston property, Armitage owned the adjoining farm at Dadnor, and he may have held a lease of Moraston rather simply occupying the house in his capacity as agent. Certainly he remained in occupation after he was succeeded as agent in 1849 by his son Arthur Armitage, and Guy's only sold the house after his death.

The white roughcast entrance front has five widely-spaced bays with the central one slightly projecting, and a central porch with paired hollow wooden Doric columns. The house was designed to engage with the gardens, and according to the building agreement the sitting room windows were to reach 'down to the floor having stone steps to each to go out upon the lawn', and the breakfast room was also to have French windows. All the windows on the entrance front now have external shutters. The side elevations were originally of three bays, but in the late 19th century two lower but three-storey late 19th century wings were added to the rear of the house, so the side elevations are now also of five bays. 
Moraston House: the entrance hall and staircase
Inside, the house has a wide entrance hall, with a good curved cantilevered staircase in a top-lit space at its rear; the staircase has alternating plain and enriched balusters and a mahogany handrail. The main rooms have good doorcases and fireplaces. 

Moraston House, from the OS 6" map of 1887.
At the rear of the house is a contemporary coach house with a central pediment. The house stands in fine grounds, which David Whitehead speculates were perhaps originally designed by either James Cranston of Kings Acre Nurseries, Hereford, who regularly worked as a surveyor for the Guy's Hospital estate, or Edward Wheeler, nurseryman, of Gloucester, who had previously worked with John Tristram at The Mynde. The layout created when the house was built survived largely unchanged until the late 19th century, when George Haywood Hadfield, who had visited Munstead Wood and shared Joseph Chamberlain's passion for orchids, made some changes. In 1885 Kelly's Directory commented that the house was 'surrounded by extensive and beautiful ornamental grounds and gardens'. After G.H. Hadfield's death the house was sold and it passed through several hands during the 20th century. During the Second World War it was used to house evacuated Chelsea Pensioners.

Descent: built for Whaley Armitage (1767-1855); let or sold to James Allaway, banker (d. 1878?)... sold 1873 to George Hayward Hadfield (d. 1910); sold after his death to Col. Newnham Smith (fl. 1913-24);... John F. Maclean (fl. 1933)... Mrs Mary Wetherell (b. 1951; fl. 2014)

Armitage family of Moraston House

Armitage, William (d. 1674). Possibly the son of Joseph Armytage (fl. 1608) of Kilkenny and brother of the Rev. Timothy Armitage (d. 1656), pastor of the Old Meeting Congregational Church in Norwich. A soldier in the Cromwellian army. He married 1st [name unknown] and 2nd Jane [surname unknown] and had issue:
(1.1) A daughter; married before 1672.
(1.2) Timothy Armitage (d. 1701) (q.v.); 
(2.1) Jerome/Jeremy Armitage (fl. 1674-1721) of Clonmel;
He was granted lands in Ardee (Louth) and laid out 'much money' on improving them, but they were subsequently returned to the previous owner under the Act of Settlement of 1662. He petitioned for compensation and he received a new grant of land at Ardee alias Atherdee, 1666.
He died intestate in 1674. His widow was living in 1697.

Armitage, Timothy (d. 1701). Son of William Armitage (d. 1674). MP for Drogheda in the Irish parliament. Portreeve of Ardee, 1674-87; presented the bells to Atherdee church. Attainted under the Act of Attainder passed by King James II's parliament in Ireland, 1689 and apparently fled to Liverpool. He married 1st, Mary, daughter of William Forbes of Knappernay (Aberdeens.) and 2nd, 1672, Jane, daughter of William Markham and had issue including:

(2.1) Anne Armitage (born after 1672; died before 1760); married her first cousin, Rev. Arthur Forbes (1670-1737), rector of Drumconrath and Clonkeen, and had issue eight sons and seven daughters;
(2.2) Timothy Armitage (1675-1715), MP for Randalstown 1703-13; married Priscilla Parkinson and had issue three daughters (one of whom married Lord Carrick and another, Richard Chapell Whaley MP); will proved at Drogheda, 26 July 1715;
(2.3) Robert Armitage (1689-1766) (q.v.);
He inherited his father's property at Ardee in 1674.
His date of death is unknown; his will was proved in Dublin, 25 June 1701. 

Armitage, Robert (1689-1766). Younger son of Timothy Armitage (d. 1701) of Atherdee and his wife Jane, daughter of William Markham, baptised at Liverpool, 24 May 1689. Merchant at Liverpool; Alderman of Liverpool (Lord Mayor, 1738). He married, 10 October 1717 at St Peter, Liverpool, Mary Newton (d. 1756) and had issue:
(1) Priscilla Armitage (b. 1720), born 24 February and baptised 9 March 1720 at St Peter, Liverpool; married, 1754 in Dublin, Rev. George Evans (c.1715-1807), rector of Killyman (Tyrone) 1758-75 and of Donaghmore (Tyrone), 1775-1807, son of Edward Evans of Kilkenny, and had issue two sons and one daughter;
(2) Timothy Armitage (b. 1723), born 27 June and baptised 5 July 1723 at St Peter, Liverpool; perhaps died young;
(3) Hannah Armitage (1724-61), born 22 November and baptised 3 December 1724 at St Peter, Liverpool; died unmarried, aged 37;
(4) Robert Armitage (1727-87) (q.v.);
(5) John Armitage (1728-30), born 17 December 1728 and baptised 2 January 1729; died in infancy and was buried 20 June 1730 at St Peter, Liverpool.
He inherited at least some of the family properties at Ardee and Drumin from his elder brother in 1715. At the end of his life he moved from Liverpool to Killyman (Tyrone).
He died at Killyman, 21 March 1766 and his will was proved in Dublin and also in Chester, 1766. His wife was buried at St Peter, Liverpool, 5 September 1756.

Robert Armitage 1727-87
Armitage, Robert (1727-87) Son and heir of Robert Armitage (1689-1766) of Liverpool, born 16 May 1727. Merchant in Harrington St., Liverpool until c.1768 but later moved to the outskirts of London. In 1781 he was a juror in the trial of Lord George Gordon for high treason. He married, 26 February 1766 at St Margaret's, Westminster (Middx), Caroline (1734-1802), eldest daughter of Col. John Braithwaite and had issue:
(1) Whaley Armitage (1767-1855) (q.v.);
(2) Caroline Armitage (1769-1831), born 24 January and baptised 23 February 1769; married, 24 July 1790 at St Luke's, Chelsea (Middx), William Chippindall (1765-1848?) and had issue three sons and three daughters; buried at St Mary Abbots, Kensington (Middx), 26 September 1831; her husband may have been the person of that name buried at Pรจre La Chaise Cemetery, Paris, 15 February 1848;
(3) Priscilla Cecilia Armitage (1770-1849), born 16 February and baptised 23 April 1770; married 1st, October 1790, Robert Shaw (1749-96) of Terenure Manor (Dublin) (who had m1, 20 April 1773, Mary Higgins (b. 1750) and had issue five sons and two daughters) and had issue two sons and two daughters; married 2nd, 7 November 1798, Col. Hugh Moore (1762-1848) of Eglantine House, Blaris (Co. Down) and had issue two sons and four daughters (the second of whom married, as his second wife, the 3rd Earl Annesley); died 12 April 1849 at Castlewellan (Down);
(4) William Armitage (1774-1830), of Barford Hall (Norfk) and later of Great Yarmouth (Norfk), born and baptised 15 May 1774 at East Barnet (Herts); married, 16 October 1794 at Norwich (Norfk), Elizabeth Page (b. 1773; d. after 1830) and had issue one son and two daughters; buried at Ludham (Norfk), 14 January 1830; will proved in PCC, 20 April 1830.
He lived in Liverpool until c.1768 and later moved to East Barnet (Herts) and by 1781 to Kensington (Middx).
He died 6 November 1787 and was buried at St Mary Abbots, Kensington, where he and his wife are commemorated by a monument; his will was proved in the PCC, 29 November 1787. His widow died 7 December and was buried at St Mary Abbots, 14 December 1802; her will was proved 14 December 1802.

Whaley Armitage 1767-1855
Armitage, Whaley (1767-1855). Elder son of Robert Armitage (1727-87) and his wife Caroline, eldest daughter of Col. Braithwaite, born 9 June and baptised at St Nicholas, Liverpool, 11 July 1767. Educated at Kensington (Middx), Trinity College, Cambridge (matriculated 1786; BA 1790; MA 1793) and Lincolns Inn (admitted 1785 and called to bar 1794); undertook a Grand Tour of Italy from June 1790 to the end of 1791, visiting Turin, Milan, Parma, Modena, Bologna, Florence, Siena, Rome, Naples, Sicily, Malta, Paestum, Spoleto, Perugia, Pisa, Leghorn, Genoa, Mantua, Vicenza, Padua, Venice and returning via Cologne. Barrister-at-law; practised in Chancery until ill-health obliged him to retire; then receiver for the Guy's Hospital estates in Herefordshire, c.1809-49. JP for Herefordshire. Henry Gunning, a college friend who met him again after many years in 1847, said he was ‘still blessed with much buoyancy of spirit and would enjoy a hearty laugh even on a Sunday.’ He married, 7 April 1796 at Richmond (Surrey), Eleonora (1775-1838), eldest daughter and co-heir of Edward Haistwell esq. of Kensington (Middx) and had issue:
(1) Caroline Armitage (1797-1853), born 10 January and baptised 9 February 1797 at St Luke, Chelsea (Middx); married, 20 January 1814 at Linton, Arthur Forbes (1776-1841) of Ailsa Lodge, Hollywood (Co. Down), son of Arthur Forbes MP and had issue four sons and eight daughters; died 16 September 1853 at Hollywood; will proved in PCC, 25 November 1853;
(2) Eleonora Armitage (1798-1863), born 14 February and baptised 14 April 1798 at St Luke, Chelsea (Middx); died unmarried, 23 March 1863 at Bath (Somerset); will proved 16 April 1863 (effects under £7,000);
(3) Rachel Armitage (1799-1852), born 27 April 1799; died unmarried, 26 August 1852; will proved in PCC, 30 October 1852;
(4) Grace Armitage (1801-54), born 14 May 1801; married, 6 May 1823, Col. Edmund Hardy (1785-1848) of Clifton (Glos) and had issue five sons and five daughters; died 20 December at St. Leonards-on-Sea (Sussex) and was buried at Clifton, 28 December 1853; will proved in PCC, 18 February 1854;
(5) Cecilia Armitage (1802-90), born 21 October 1802; married, 12 January 1833, Maj. Justinian Nutt (1786-1853) and had issue four sons and five daughters; died at 15 Lansdown Crescent, Cheltenham, 13 December 1890; will proved 8 January 1891 (effects £638);
(6) Rev. Braithwaite Armitage (1804-78), born 29 March 1804; educated at Rugby and Trinity College, Cambridge (matriculated 1823; BA 1827); ordained deacon, 1828 and priest, 1829; vicar of Peterchurch (Herefs) [a Guy's Hospital living], 1832-75; married, 28 September 1831 at St George-the-Martyr, Bloomsbury (Middx), Ann Susanna Longden (c.1807-75) and had issue two sons and one daughter; died in Lewisham (London), 6 November 1878 and was buried at Tooting Graveney, 9 November 1878; administration of goods granted 20 December 1873 (effects under £1,500);
(7) Rev. Robert Armitage (1805-52), born 28 May 1805; educated at Worcester College, Oxford (matriculated 1824; BA 1829; MA 1836); ordained deacon, 1830 and priest, 1831; curate of Tretire with Michaelchurch (Herefs), 1830-31, Sellack with Kings Caple (Herefs), c.1831; and Neenton (Shrops), c.1841; rector of Easthope (Herefs), 1843-52; author (anonymously) of two successful works of fiction, Dr. Hookwell, or the Anglo-Catholic family, 1842, and Ernest Singleton, 1847; married, 1 July 1836 at St Nicholas, Gloucester, Elizabeth Preece (c.1818-54?) but had no issue; died 31 January 1852; will proved in PCC, 13 March 1852;
(8) Emma Armitage (1807-82), born 25 July 1807; married, 8 June 1829 at Bridstow (Herefs), Col. John Willis Watson (1794-1870) and had issue two sons and five daughters; died 1 January 1882 in Upper Clapton Asylum, London and was buried in Highgate Cemetery; will proved 1 February 1882 (estate £31,620);
(9) Edward Armitage (1808-94), born 27 May 1808; articled as clerk to George Ryley of Hungerford (Berks), attorney, 1825; solicitor; died unmarried, 29 October 1894; will proved 26 November 1894 (effects £202);
(10) Frances Armitage (1809-28), born 3 August 1809; died unmarried 27 May 1828;
(11) Lt-Cmdr. Whaley Armitage (1811-1901), born 5 February and baptised 5 March 1811 at Linton; an officer in the Royal Navy (joined service 1822; Midshipman, 1824; Mate c.1828; Lt., 1838; Lt-Cmdr 1839; half-pay from 1839; retired 1860); retired to a farm at Little Stretton (Shropshire) where he lived as a boarder until he died unmarried aged 90, 2 October 1901; administration of goods granted 14 November 1901 (estate £5,444);
(12) Arthur Armitage (1812-92) of Dadnor, Bridstow (Herefs), born 16 December 1812; educated at Inner Temple (admitted, 1832; called to bar, 1836); barrister-at-law; succeeded his father as receiver for the Guy's Hospital estate; private in Herefordshire Volunteer Rifles; married 30 April 1851, Isabel Jane (1830-1921), daughter of Dudley Montague Perceval (and granddaughter of Spencer Perceval, the assassinated Prime Minister) and had issue five sons and four daughters; died 3 January and was buried at Bridstow 6 January 1892; will proved 23 August 1893 (effects £902);
(13) Octavia Armitage (1814-94), born 14 April 1814; died unmarried, 29 November 1894 in Bath (Somerset); will proved 17 January 1895 (estate £11,226);
(14) Henrietta Armitage (1820-1910), born 11 March and baptised 8 April 1820; secretary to her father at Moraston; died unmarried aged 90, 3 August 1910 in Bath (Somerset); will proved 26 August 1910 (estate £19,765).
He inherited properties at Coole (c. 239 acres) and Drumin (Louth) from his father. After moving to Herefordshire as agent for Guy's Hospital he first occupied Burton Court, Linton (Herefs) where he may have remodelled the house and improved the grounds, and from 1815 Moraston House, which was built for him.
He died 21 April 1855 and was buried at Linton (Herefs); his will was proved in the PCC, 8 June 1855. His wife died 12 May 1838 and was buried at Linton.


Burke's Landed Gentry, 1850, i, p. 22; J. Ingamells, A dictionary of British and Irish travellers in Italy, 1701-1800, 1997, pp. 25-26; D. Whitehead, A survey of historic parks and gardens in Herefordshire, 2001, pp. 279-80; A. Brooks & Sir N. Pevsner, The buildings of England: Herefordshire, 2nd edn, 2012, p.129;;

Location of archives

Guy's Hospital: plans of Moraston House, 1810-16 [Herefordshire Archives, C99/III/325]
Armitage, Whaley (1767-1855): journal of a tour in Italy 1790-91 [Trinity College Library, Cambridge, Add.a226, 37 (1)-(3)]

Coat of arms

Gules, a lion's head erased, between three cross-crosslets argent.

Can you help?

Here are a few notes about information and images which would help to improve the account above. If you can help with any of these or with other additions or corrections, please use the contact form in the sidebar to get in touch.

  • I have not had an opportunity to look at the Guy's Hospital estate records in the Herefordshire Archives yet. If anyone has done so, can they explain the nature of Whaley Armitage's interest in Moraston? Did he hold on lease or by virtue of his office as receiver?
  • Can anyone provide additional details of the 20th century ownership of Moraston House to make the descent of the property fuller and more accurate?
  • Can anyone supply better photographs of Moraston House, either historic or contemporary, which could be included in the blog as an illustration?

Revision and acknowledgements

This post was first published 26 July 2015 and updated 28 July 2015. 6 June and 28 July 2017, 4 February 2018 and 11 October 2020. I am grateful to Barbara Haines and Alan Melvin Brooks for additional information.


  1. Robert Armitage died 1766, will proved also at Consistory Court of Chester. Film 4421651, images 20-7,


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.