Monday 25 April 2016

(215) Asquith of Mells Manor House, Earls of Oxford and Asquith

Asquith of Mells
Many of the families which appear in this blog owed their wealth and social status to a single exceptional individual, whose successors have more or less successfully husbanded their inheritance. Some have at intervals produced men and women of ability who have augmented or reinvigorated the fortune or reputation of the family. But few indeed, especially in the last century, have so consistently produced an array of intellectual, literary, artistic, political and diplomatic talent as the Asquiths.

The story really begins with Herbert Henry Asquith (1852-1928), who came from a modest middle-class nonconformist background in Yorkshire and rose to the highest office in the land, being Prime Minister from 1908-16. Despite a successful practice at the Chancery bar and three decades at the forefront of British politics, Asquith was never personally wealthy, and although his second wife brought some money into the marriage and introduced him to more exalted social circles, in his later years both 'H.H.' and his wife found it helpful to write semi-professionally to supplement their income. After leaving office in 1916, Asquith initially turned down the offer an earldom, preferring to remain in the Commons and to continue as Leader of the Liberal Party, but he accepted the peerage when the offer was renewed in 1925. He wished to take 'Earl of Oxford' as his title, but the Harley family - who had had this title in earlier centuries - complained and a compromise was reached when his peerage was gazetted as 'Earl of Oxford and Asquith'.

Archerfield House, East Lothian, rented by Asquith, 1907-11
The Wharf, Sutton Courtenay, built in 1912
by Walter Cave for the Asquiths.
The Asquiths lived modestly by the standards of the time, renting Archerfield House in East Lothian from 1907-11 and then building Wharf House at Sutton Courtenay (Berks, now Oxon) to the designs of Walter Cave in 1912, which remained their home for the rest of their lives. Asquith had five children by his first marriage and a further five by his second wife, Margot Tennant, although three of the latter died young. 

His eldest son, Raymond Asquith (1878-1916) showed every sign of having a career as prominent and successful as his father, but the outbreak of the First World War saw him join the army rather than entering Parliament and in 1916 he was killed on the Somme. It was Raymond's marriage to Katharine Horner in 1907 which ultimately brought the Horners' home, Mells Manor House in Somerset, into the Asquith family. 

The second son, Herbert ('Beb') was like his elder brother President of the Oxford Union, but pursued a literary career after the war rather than entering politics. Arthur, the third son, was a career soldier (and twice wounded during the war), while Cyril, who became a judge and ultimately one of the law lords, was an assiduous correspondent in The Times and sought diversion from severer disciplines in translating A.E. Housman's A Shropshire lad into Latin. The only daughter of Asquith's first marriage was Lady Violet, who married Sir Maurice Bonham Carter. Of all his children, she pursued the most political career, and in 1964 she became one of the first women appointed to the House of Lords when she was made a life peer as Baroness Asquith of Yarnbury.  The surviving children of
The Hon. Anthony Asquith (1902-68),
film director
the second marriage were Lady Elizabeth, who married the Romanian diplomat, Prince Antoine Bibesco, in 1919, and spent the rest of her life in Paris, Washington, Madrid and Romania while continuing to write fiction and poetry; and Anthony ("Puffin") Asquith (1902-68), who in the 1920s began a pioneering career as a British film director. Collectively, they were a glamorous and high-achieving family, who applied the intellectual ability of their father in diverse fields and were not shy of the social spotlight.

When 'H.H.' died on 15 February 1928 he was succeeded as 2nd Earl of Oxford & Asquith by his grandson, Julian Edward George Asquith (1916-2011), then a schoolboy at Ampleforth. The 2nd Earl's mother had converted to Roman Catholicism in 1923 and he and his siblings were brought up in that faith, which along with the intellectual and artistic interests so many members of the family have exhibited, has been a key part of their identity, and has given a particular character to their life at Mells Manor House. The 2nd Earl's mother (1885-1976) and his sister, Lady Helen Asquith (1908-2000) made Mells Manor House a hospitable centre for Catholic intellectuals, and numbered among their friends Monsignor Ronald Knox (1888-1957), who made his home at Mells for the last ten years of his life, and other prominent Catholic converts, including Evelyn Waugh (1903-66) and Siegfried Sassoon (1886-1967), who like Knox is buried in the churchyard. Another friend was Conrad Russell (1878-1947), whose deathbed conversion to Catholicism took place at Mells Manor House.

The Dowager Countess of Oxford and Asquith moved out of Mells Manor House in the 1960s, and the house was let to tenants while the 2nd Earl was serving overseas as a colonial administrator. By the early 1970s, Britain was running out of colonies to administer and he retired to Mells in 1975 "to cultivate my garden", both literally and metaphorically. The 2nd Earl never lost his intellectual curiosity, or his wide-ranging interests in politics, philosophy and religion, and he and his wife (d. 1998), maintained the reputation of Mells Manor for hospitality. Their two sons both became career diplomats, and their daughter, Lady Clare has sustained the family's literary tradition as a stalwart of The Spectator.

When the 2nd Earl died aged 94 in 2011 he was succeeded by his elder son, Raymond Benedict Bartholomew Michael Asquith (b. 1952), 3rd Earl of Oxford & Asquith, who with his wife has since restored the house. The present Lord Oxford, like his father and younger brother, was a career diplomat until 1997, when he went into the private sector. On inheriting the title he was rapidly elected to one of the seats in the House of Lords reserved for hereditary peers, where he sits as a Liberal Democrat. His wife, the author Clare Asquith, is noted chiefly for her book Shadowplay (2005), which claims Shakespeare was a crypto-Catholic, and which attracted praise and ridicule in almost equal measure. They have five children who show early promise of continuing the Asquith traditions of intellectual ability in diverse fields.

Mells Manor House, Somerset

Mells Manor House: entrance front showing the close proximity to the church.
A largely 16th century single-pile house with five gables on each of the long sides, mullioned and transomed windows, and a canted bay on the west end. It appears fairly uniform, but is actually of at least three main periods. The earliest part, beneath the central gable, is of the later 15th century, when the manor belonged to Glastonbury Abbey. After the Dissolution, the Crown sold the estate to Thomas Horner, and the western end of the present house was perhaps built for his nephew, Sir John Horner, c.1550-70. This extension is marked by two slender polygonal buttresses with concave sides. A little later, c.1590-1600, the house was extended to the east for Thomas Horner, and then in the early 17th century there were further additions  to the north, which formed an H-plan. The 17th century additions were however dismantled in the second half of the 18th century when the Horner family migrated to the new house they had built in the park, which became known as Mells Park. In 1794 the Gentleman's Magazine said 'half the old house is mouldering in ruins; the rest is occupied by a farmer'. It was rescued from deeper dereliction when it became an Anglican training college for craftsmen in the mid 19th century: some of the stained glass produced here can be seen in the church.

Mells Manor House: sketch of 1852, The house became a training college for craftsmen at about this time.

In 1901 the Horners sold Mells Park and moved back to the Manor House, which was restored for them by Sir Edwin Lutyens in 1901-05, although additions and alterations continued into the 1920s. The parlour at the west end has a geometrical ceiling made c.1905 based on a lost ceiling of 1650 at Merchant's Barton, Frome (Somerset). The drawing room at the east end has an early 16th century fireplace with a big frieze of five quatrefoils containing shields and fleurons, brought from a house in the village in the 1920s, and also a 17th century ceiling with simple corner sprays which is perhaps also an import. To the east of the drawing room is a single-storey extension by Lutyens containing a music room and adjoining garden room of c.1922. This has a neo-Tudor facade on the entrance front to keep in keeping, but glazed round arches opening south onto a Tuscan pergola. Lutyens planned a wing running west from the north-west corner of the house, but this was never built and instead a low kitchen range was added to the south by Owen Little in 1912.

Mells Manor House: garden front, 1994. Image: Nicholas Kingsley. Some rights reserved.

Since the 3rd Earl of Oxford & Asquith and his wife, the historian Clare Asquith, inherited the house in 2011, it has been gently and carefully restored while its romantic atmosphere has been carefully preserved. The restoration was celebrated by an account in Country Life in 2015, which was extensively illustrated with photographs of the interior.

Descent: Thomas Horner; to nephew, Sir John Horner (d. 1587); to son, Thomas Horner (c.1547-1612); to son, Sir John Horner (1576-1659); to son, Sir George Horner (b. 1604); to son, George Horner (b. 1646); to son, Thomas Horner (1688-1741); to brother, John Horner (1689-1746); to son, Thomas Horner (1737-1804); to son, Col. Thomas Strangways Horner (1762-1840); to son, Rev. John Stuart Hippisley Horner (1810-74); to son, Sir John Francis Fortescue Horner, KCVO (1842-1927); to daughter, Katharine Frances (1885-1976), widow of Raymond Asquith (1878-1916); to son, Sir Julian Edward George Asquith (1916-2011), 2nd Earl of Oxford & Asquith; to son, Raymond Benedict Bartholomew Michael Asquith (b. 1952), 3rd Earl of Oxford & Asquith.

Asquith family, Earls of Oxford and Asquith

Asquith, Joseph Dixon (1825-60). Son of Joseph Asquith (1778-1855), clothier, of Morley (Yorks WR) and his wife Esther Dixon (1794-1856), born 10 February and baptised 29 March 1825. Wool merchant at Morley (Yorks WR). He married, Jul-Sep 1850, Emily (1828-88), daughter of William Willans JP, of Huddersfield, and had issue:
(1) William Willans Asquith (1851-1918), born 23 June 1851; educated at Balliol College, Oxford (admitted 1871; BA 1875; MA 1879); school housemaster at Clifton College, Bristol; died unmarried, 7 November 1918; will proved 2 January 1918 (estate £13,576);
(2) Sir Herbert Henry Asquith (1852-1928), 1st Earl of Oxford and Asquith (q.v.);
(3) Emily Evelyn Asquith (1855-1937), born 20 May 1855; married, Jul-Sep 1878, Rev. William Wooding of Stoke Newington (Middx), Unitarian minister, and had issue four sons and one daughter; died 16 December 1937; will proved 25 January 1938 (estate £7,474);
(4) Lillian Josephine Asquith (1860-65), born 6 May 1860; died young and was buried at Rehoboth Chapel, Morley, 31 March 1865.
He lived at Croft House, Morley.
He died 16 June 1860 and was buried at the Rehoboth Chapel, Morley (Yorks WR); administration of his goods was granted to his widow, 16 April 1861 (effects under £450). His widow died 12 December 1888; her will was proved 8 January 1889 (effects £1,019).

Sir Herbert Henry Asquith,
1st Earl of Oxford & Asquith
Asquith, Sir Herbert Henry (1852-1928), 1st Earl of Oxford and Asquith. Second son of Joseph Dixon Asquith (1825-60) and his wife Emily, daughter of William Willans of Huddersfield, born 12 September 1852. Educated at City of London School, Balliol College, Oxford (BA 1874; Fellow, 1874; Hon. DCL 1904; Hon. Fellow 1908) and Lincolns Inn (called to bar 1876; QC 1890; bencher 1894; Treasurer, 1920). Barrister-at-law, practising at the Chancery bar, 1876-1905. Liberal MP for East Fife, 1886-1918 and for Paisley, 1920-24; Leader of the Liberal Party, 1908-26; an Ecclesiastical Commissioner, 1892-95; Home Secretary, 1892-95; Chancellor of the Exchequer, 1905-08; Prime Minister, 1908-16; Secretary of State for War and President of the Army Council, 1914 and 1916; Leader of the Opposition, 1920-22. In peacetime he was an urbane and conciliatory politician who achieved several significant social reforms, including the introduction of old age pensions and national insurance, although he remained an opponent of women's suffrage until 1917, when he was out of office. During the First World War he became exhausted and hesitant, and was eventually replaced by Lloyd George. Arguably we are still working through the implications of his passage of the Parliament Act in 1910 which began the process of limiting the powers of the House of Lords, and of his dispute with Lloyd George which led to the collapse of the Liberal party as a major force in British politics. He was appointed to the Privy Council, 1892 and to its judicial committee, 1925; and to the Privy Council of Ireland, 1916. He was made Rector of Glasgow University, 1905-28 and Aberdeen University, 1908-28; High Steward of Oxford University, 1927-28, and was an Elder Brother of Trinity House, 1909 and a Fellow of the Royal Society. He was created 1st Earl of Oxford and Asquith and Viscount Asquith, 9 February 1925, and made a Knight of the Garter later in 1925. He was awarded honorary degrees by the Universities of Oxford (DCL 1904), Edinburgh (LLD 1907); Glasgow (LLD 1907); Cambridge (LLD 1909); Leeds (LLD 1910), St. Andrews (LLD 1911); Bristol (LLD 1912); Durham (DCL 1913) and McGill (LLD 1921) and was a Freeman of the cities of London and Leeds. He was the author of Occasional addresses, 1916; The genesis of the war, 1918; Studies and sketches, 1924; Fifty years of Parliament, 1926; and Memories and reflections, 1928; his Letters to a friend were edited by Desmond MacCarthy in 1933-34; his Letters to Venetia Stanley were edited by Michael and Eleanor Brock in 1982. He married 1st, 23 August 1877, Helen Kelsall (1854-91), eldest daughter of Frederick Melland MD of Manchester, and 2nd, 10 May 1894, (Emma Alice) Margaret (k/a Margot) (1864-1945), sixth daughter of Sir Charles Tennant, 1st bt, and one of the intellectual and political group who were known as 'The Souls'. In 1912-15 he also had a romantic affair with Venetia Stanley (1887-1948), probably never consummated, which resulted in an extensive correspondence (he was writing two or three times a day, even during Cabinet meetings) of considerable historical value. By his two wives he had issue (with three other children of the second marriage who died at or soon after birth):
(1.1) Raymond Asquith (1878-1916) (q.v.);
(1.2) Hon. Herbert (k/a Beb) Asquith (1881-1947), born 11 March 1981; educated at Winchester, Balliol College, Oxford and Lincolns Inn (called to bar, 1907); President of the Oxford Union, 1901; author and poet; served in Royal Field Artillery (Capt.) in First World War; lived at Claverton Lodge, Bathwick Hill, Bath (Somerset); married, 28 July 1910, Lady Cynthia Charteris (1887-1960), daughter of 11th Earl of Wemyss & March and had issue three sons; died 5 August 1947; will proved 24 October 1947 (estate £4,622);
(1.3) Brig-Gen. the Hon. Arthur Melland (k/a Oc) Asquith (1883-1939), born 24 April 1883; educated at Winchester and New College, Oxford; an official in the Sudan civil service, 1906-11; served with Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve and Royal Navy Division in First World War (Hon. Brig-Gen., 1918) and was wounded, mentioned in despatches and awarded the DSO and the Croix de Guerre; controller of Appointments Dept. and member of council of Ministry of Labour, 1918-20; chairman of Kassala Cotton Co. and director of Westminster Bank and Sudan Plantation Syndicate; he married, 30 April 1918, Hon. Betty Constance (d. 1962), second daughter of John Thomas Manners-Sutton, 3rd Baron Manners and had issue four daughters; died 25 August 1939; will proved 24 October 1939 (estate £37,924);
(1.4) Lady (Helen) Violet Asquith (1887-1969), Baroness Asquith of Yarnbury, born 15 April 1887; President of Women's Liberal Federation, 1923-25, 1939-45 and of Liberal Party organisation, 1947-66; President of Royal Institute of International Affairs, 1964; a Governor of the BBC, 1941-46 and of the Old Vic Theatre, 1945; Vice-Chairman of United Europe Movement, 1947; member of the Royal Commission on the Press, 1947-49; patron of the United Nations Association and Trustee of the Glyndebourne Arts Trust, 1955; appointed DBE 1953 and created a life peer as Baroness Asquith of Yarnbury, 21 December 1964; awarded honorary degree by Sussex University (LLD 1963); author of Winston Churchill as I knew him, 1965; married, 30 November 1915, Sir Maurice Bonham Carter KCB KCVO (1880-1960), youngest son of Henry Bonham Carter, and had issue two sons and two daughters; died 19 February 1969; will proved 16 June 1969 (estate £49,742) [I will write more about the Bonham Carters in a future post on that family];
(1.5) Sir Cyril Asquith (1890-1954), Baron Asquith of Bishopstone (q.v.);
(2.1) Lady Elizabeth Charlotte Lucy Asquith (1897-1945), born 26 February 1897; "a precocious child of uncertain temper but great intelligence"; author and poet; married, 30 April 1919, Prince Antoine Bibesco (1878-1951), son of Prince Alexandre Bibesco of Romania, and had issue a daughter; but also had an affair in 1921 with the critic John Middleton Murry (1889-1957); lived chiefly in Paris although she travelled with her husband on his postings as Romanian ambassador to Washington, 1920-26 and Madrid, 1927-31; lived in Romania during WW2; died of pneumonia, 7 April 1945 and was buried at Mogosoaia Palace, Ilfov (Romania); administration of her goods (with will annexed) was granted to her husband, 2 June 1949 (effects in England £10,173);
(2.2) Hon. Anthony (k/a Puffin) Asquith (1902-68), born 9 November 1902; educated at Winchester and Balliol College, Oxford (BA); film director on projects including Tell England, 1930-31; Pygmalion, 1938; The Winslow Boy, 1948; The Browning Version, 1950; The importance of being earnest, 1952; The Millionaires, 1960; and The Yellow Rolls-Royce, 1964; a Governor of the British Film Institute; President of Association of Cinematograph, Television and Allied Technicians, 1937-68; Fellow of British Film Academy and Royal Society of the Arts; Commander of the Italian Order of Merit; a gentle, kind and creative aesthete, at ease with all classes of society; died unmarried, 21 February 1968; will proved 29 May 1968 (estate £64,231).
He rented Archerfield (East Lothian) from 1907-11 and in 1912 had Walter Cave rebuild The Wharf, Sutton Courtenay (Berks, now Oxon) where he lived until his death. Margot Asquith sold The Wharf in 1932 and lived thereafter in London, at various addresses of gradually declining grandeur as her resources diminished.
He died 15 February 1928 and was buried at Sutton Courtenay; he is commemorated by a monument in Westminster Abbey and by a tomb at Sutton Courtenay; his will was proved 9 June 1928 (estate £9,345). His first wife died of typhoid at Lamlash (Isle of Arran), 11 September 1891; her will was proved 16 October 1891 (effects £504). His widow died 28 July 1945 and was buried at Sutton Courtenay; her will was proved 13 February 1947 (estate £5,799).

Raymond Asquith (1878-1916)
Asquith, Raymond (1878-1916) of Mells Manor House. Eldest son of Herbert Henry Asquith (1852-1928), 1st Earl of Oxford & Asquith, and his first wife, Helen Kelsall, eldest daughter of Frederick Melland of Manchester, born 6 November 1878. Educated at Winchester, Balliol College, Oxford (where he was regarded as a brilliant Classical scholar, won three prizes and graduated with 1st class honours) and the Inner Temple (called to the bar, 1904). Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford, 1902. Barrister-at-law. A tall, handsome man, he was a member of "The Coterie", a group of Edwardian socialites and intellectuals, many of whom were the children of "The Souls". He was selected as Liberal candidate for Parliament in the Derby constituency, 1914, but on the outbreak of the First World War joined the London Regt. (2nd Lt., 1914) and later transferred to the Grenadier Guards (Lt., 1915). He was assigned to be a staff officer but his request to return to active duty was granted in 1916 just before the Battle of the Somme. He was shot in the chest while leading an assault on 15 September 1916, but famously lit a cigarette to hide the seriousness of his injuries, so that his men would continue the attack; he died while being carried back to British lines. After his death, his contemporary Winston Churchill wrote that he was 'so gifted and yet so devoid of personal ambition'. In 1923 his widow converted to Roman Catholicism and brought up her children in that faith; during her long widowhood she made Mells a centre for Catholic intellectuals, including most famously Monsignor Ronald Knox (1888-1957), who lived at Mells for the last ten years of his life and completed his translation of the Bible here. Raymond Asquith married, 25 July 1907, Katharine Frances (1885-1976), daughter of Sir John Horner KCVO of Mells (Somerset), and had issue:
(1) Lady Helen Frances Asquith (1908-2000), born 1908; educated at St Paul's Girls School and Somerville College, Oxford (BA 1930); granted rank of an earl's daughter, 1928; teacher and schools inspector in Wiltshire and Oxfordshire; trustee of Girls' Public Day Schools Trust; appointed OBE 1965 and awarded the papal medal Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice, 1989; died unmarried, 25 May 2000; will proved 13 September 2000;
(2) Lady Perdita Rose Mary Asquith (1910-96), born 1910; granted rank of an earl's daughter, 1928; suffered from acute depression; married, 14 January 1931, William George Hervey Jolliffe (1898-1967), 4th Baron Hylton and had issue two sons and one daughter; died 17 May 1996; will proved 11 October 1996;
(3) Sir Julian Edward George Asquith (1916-2011), 2nd Earl of Oxford and Asquith (q.v.).
His widow inherited Mells Manor House from her father in 1927.
He was killed in action at the Battle of the Somme, 15 September 1916, and buried in France, but he is commemorated by monuments in Amiens Cathedral (France) and in Mells church designed by Lutyens, with lettering by Eric Gill; administration of his goods (with will annexed) was granted to his widow 18 November 1916 (estate £3,189). His widow died 9 July 1976; her will was proved 14 January 1977 (estate £39,003).

Julian, 2nd Earl of Oxford & Asquith
Asquith, Sir Julian Edward George (1916-2011), 2nd Earl of Oxford and Asquith, of Mells Manor House. Only son of Raymond Asquith (1878-1916) and his wife Katharine Frances, daughter of Sir John Horner KCVO of Mells (Somerset), born 22 April 1916. Educated at Ampleforth and Balliol College, Oxford (MA). He succeeded his grandfather as 2nd Earl of Oxford and Asquith, 15 February 1928. Lt. in Royal Engineers, 1941-42. Assistant District Commissioner in Palestine, 1942-48; Deputy Chief Secretary to British Administration in Tripolitania, 1949-50; Director of Interior Tripolitania, 1951; adviser to Prime Minister of Libya, 1952; Administrative Secretary, Zanzibar, 1955; Administrator, St Lucia, 1958-62; Governor and Commander-in-Chief of the Seychelles, 1962-67; Commissioner of British Indian Ocean Territory, 1965-67; Constitutional Commissioner, Cayman Islands, 1971 and Turks and Caicos Islands, 1973-74. He was appointed CMG, 1961 and KCMG, 1964, and made a Knight of St John, 1962. He married, 28 August 1947 at Brompton Oratory, London, Anne Mary Celestine CStJ (1916-98), only daughter of Sir (Charles) Michael Palairet KCMG, HM ambassador to Greece, and had issue:
(1) Lady (Mary) Annunziata Asquith (b. 1948), born 28 July 1948; educated at Mayfield (Sussex) and Somerville College, Oxford; former model for Burberry Ltd; partner of Patrick John Anson (1939-2005), 5th Earl of Lichfield, who left her the bulk of his personal fortune;
(2) Lady Katharine Rose Celestine Asquith (b. 1949), born 16 October 1949; educated at Mayfield and King's College, London; married 1st, 18 July 1970 (div. 1976) Sir Adam Nicholas Ridley (b. 1942) (who m2, 1981, Margaret Anne Passmore) and 2nd, 16 February 1985, (John) Nathaniel Micklem Page, second son of Sir (Arthur) John Page MP, but had no issue;
(3) Raymond Benedict Bartholomew Michael Asquith (b. 1952), 3rd Earl of Oxford & Asquith (q.v.);
(4) Lady Clare Perpetua Frances Asquith (b. 1955), born 28 March 1955; deputy literary editor of The Spectator; partner of James Crain Mitchie (1927-2007) by whom she had issue one son;
(5) Hon. Sir Dominic Anthony Gerard Asquith (b. 1957), born in Zanzibar, 7 February 1957; educated at Ampleforth; an officer in the diplomatic service 1983-2013, 2016-date (Minister, Argentina, 1997-2001; Counsellor and Deputy Head of Mission, Saudi Arabia, 2001-2004; Counsellor and Deputy Head of Mission, Iraq, 2004; Director, Iraq, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, 2004-2006; ambassador to Iraq, 2006-07, Egypt, 2007-11 and Libya, 2011-13 (where he narrowly escaped assassination in 2012); High Commissioner in India, 2016); appointed CMG, 2004 and KCMG, 2012; senior adviser, Dentons LLP, 2013-date; married, May 1988, Louise E., only daughter of John E. Cotton of Wollaton (Notts) and had issue two sons and two daughters.
He inherited Mells Manor House from his mother in 1976.
He died 16 January 2011, aged 94. His wife died 19 August 1998.

Asquith, Raymond Benedict Bartholomew Michael (b. 1952), 3rd Earl of Oxford and Asquith. Elder son of Sir Julian Edward George Asquith (1916-2011), 2nd Earl of Oxford & Asquith, and his wife Anne Mary Celestine, only daughter of Sir (Charles) Michael Palairet KCMG, born 24 August 1952. Educated at Ampleforth and Balliol College, Oxford (MA). An officer in the diplomatic service, 1980-97 (First Secretary at Moscow, 1983-85; Counsellor in Kiev, 1992-97); he was appointed OBE 1992. Director of Dessna Co. Ltd., 1997-date, JKX Oil and Gas Ltd, 1977-2016; Executive Chairman of Zander Corporation Ltd., 2006-date (Chief Executive, 2002-06); Chairman of Meteor Asset Management Ltd; Director of Ferravale Ltd; non-executive director of Hansa Trust plc and Group DF, a Ukranian-based international corporate group. Director of the British Ukranian Society and a Trustee of the Ukranian Catholic Foundation. He succeeded his father as 3rd Earl of Oxford and Asquith, 16 January 2011. A Liberal Democrat in politics, he was elected by his peers to be a member of the House of Lords, October 2014. He married, 2 August 1978, (Mary) Clare (b. 1951), literary historian, elder daughter of Francis Anthony Baring Pollen, the Catholic architect, and had issue:
(1) Mark Julian Asquith (b. 1979), Viscount Asquith, born 13 May 1979; educated at St. Andrews University (MA 2001); investment banker; married, May 2008, Dr. Helen Sonia Clary (b. 1984), daughter of Christopher Norman Russell Prentice, and has issue one son;
(2) Lady Magdalen Katharine Asquith (b. 1981), born 30 December 1981; married, 4 July 2015 at Mells, Robert Picton Seymour Howard (b. 1971), elder son and heir of Sir David Howarth Seymour Howard, 3rd bt.;
(3) Lady Frances Sophia Asquith (b. 1984), born 27 April 1984; educated at St. Edmund Hall, Oxford; Russian picture expert with Sothebys, 2007-date, currently as Senior International Specialist in New York (USA);
(4) Lady Celia Rose Asquith (b. 1989), born 9 August 1989; educated at Bristol University (BA, 1st class hons.; John Gould Greek prize); administrator and lecturer at Free University of Georgia, Tbilisi;
(5) Lady Isabel Anne Asquith (b. 1991), born 31 May 1991.
He inherited Mells Manor House from his father in 2011 and restored the house.
Now living.

Cyril Asquith,
Baron Asquith of Bishopstone
Asquith, Rt. Hon. Cyril (1890-1954), Baron Asquith of Bishopstone. Fourth son of Herbert Henry Asquith (1852-1928), 1st Earl of Oxford & Asquith, and his first wife, Helen Kelsall, eldest daughter of Frederick Melland of Manchester, born 5 February 1890. Educated at Winchester, Balliol College, Oxford (BA, 1913; Hon. Fellow, 1947) and Inner Temple (called to bar, 1920; KC 1936; bencher, 1939). Fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford, 1913-14. Served in First World War as in 16th bttn, London Regiment (Capt.), 1914-16 and Ministry of Munitions, 1916-18. Barrister at law, 1920-37; Assistant Reader in Common Law at Council for Legal Education, 1925-28; member of Council for Legal Education, 1938-54; member of General Claims Tribunal, 1939-43; Recorder of Salisbury, 1937-38; Justice of King's Bench, 1938-46; Lord Justice of Appeal, 1946-51; Lord of Appeal in Ordinary, 1951-54. He was knighted, 1938, appointed to the Privy Council, 1946, and created a life peer as Baron Asquith of Bishopstone, April 1951. Chairman of the Commission for Higher Education in the Colonies, 1942-44 and Royal Commission on Equal Pay for Men and Women, 1944-46. The success of his legal career was to no small extent dependent upon the patronage of his former head of chambers, Lord Jowitt, who as Lord Chancellor made him a lord justice of appeal. Jowitt was not, however, blind to his faults, regarding him as having the finest mind on the bench but being lazy; his consistent promotion was widely seen as unmerited, but it was also recognised that ‘the higher he went the better he became’. In 1951 Churchill offered to make him Lord Chancellor but he wisely refused; his lack of political experience would quickly have told on the Woolsack. His conversation and writing have been described as showing ‘the same deliberation, dry humour and careful choice of words that marked his father's style’; he was an extensive and sometimes witty contributor to The Times and also wrote a successful manual, Trade Union Law for Laymen (1927), as well as a more récherché translation of some of A.E. Housman's A Shropshire lad poems into Latin. He married, 12 February 1918, Anne Stephanie (1896-1964), elder daughter of Sir Adrian Donald Wilde Pollock KCMG and had issue:
(1) Hon. Luke Asquith (1919-94), born 18 November 1919; educated at Winchester; served in WW2 as Capt. in 60th Rifles; with Kleinwort Benson, merchant bankers, 1947-79; married, 2 July 1954, (Ethel) Meriel (1934-2003), ballet dancer, elder daughter of Maurice Cann Evans, and had issue two daughters; died 26 August 1994; will proved 12 January 1995 (estate £152,519);
(2) Hon. Jane Asquith (1922-78), born 3 July 1922; lived in London; died unmarried, 4 January 1978 and was buried at Bishopstone (Sussex); will proved 16 March 1978 (estate £109,245);
(3) Hon. Frances Rose Asquith (b. 1925), born 4 October 1925; married, 8 December 1951, Sir John Frederick Eustace Stephenson (1910-98), kt., Lord Justice of Appeal, second son of Sir Guy Stephenson CB, and had issue two sons and two daughters;
(4) Hon. Paul Asquith (1927-84), born 4 January 1927; educated at Eton; served in Coldstream Guards, 1945-48; married 1st, 18 July 1953 (div. 1963), Helena Mary (1932-2014) (who married 2nd, 15 July 1963, James Francis Leslie Bayley, son of Thomas Eliot Bayley and had further issue one son and one daughter), elder daughter of Hon. Geoffrey John Orlando Bridgeman MC and had issue one son and one daughter; married 2nd, 16 July 1963, Caroline Anne (1933-2018), younger daughter of Sir John Gawen Carew Pole, 12th bt., and had issue a further son and daughter; died 12 November 1984; will proved 29 March 1985 (estate £71,526).
He lived in London and had a holiday house at Bishopstone (Sussex).
He died 24 August 1954 and was buried at Bishopstone (Sussex), where he is commemorated by a tombstone; administration of his goods was granted 25 October 1954 (estate £12,064). His widow died 19 February 1964 and was also buried at Bishopstone; her will was proved 19 March 1964 (estate £32,719).


Burke's Peerage and Baronetage, 2003, vol. 2, pp. 3036-39; A. Foyle & Sir N. Pevsner, The buildings of England: Somerset - North and Bristol, 2011, p. 556; C. Aslet, 'The Souls' delight: Mells Manor, Somerset', Country Life, 11 February 2015, pp. 56-63; ODNB entries on H.H. Asquith, 1st Earl of Oxford & Asquith; Julian Asquith, 2nd Earl of Oxford & Asquith, Margot Asquith, Countess of Oxford & Asquith; Anthony Asquith and Raymond Asquith; Wikipedia articles on the above and Sir Dominic Asquith.

Location of archives

Asquith family, Earls of Oxford and Asquith: family letters and papers, 19th-20th cents. [Private Collection: enquiries to Archives Sector Development, The National Archives]
Asquith, Anthony (1902-68), film director: correspondence, papers and film scripts, 20th cent. [British Film Institute Special Collections]
Asquith (later Bibesco), Elizabeth Charlotte Lucy (1897-1945): correspondence and papers, 1901-41 [Bodleian Library, Oxford: MSS. Eng. c.6718-19, d.3316, e.3292, d.3205, d.3207, d.3283, d.3287, c.6693-4, d.3308, c.6714, d.3318]
Asquith, Emma Alice Margaret ("Margot"), 1864-1945, Countess of Oxford & Asquith: diaries, 1876-1945 [Bodleian Library, Oxford, MSS. Eng. c.6665-6720, c.6729, d.3198-3218, d.3262-3319, e.3256-7, e.3280-92]
Asquith (later Bonham Carter), Lady Helen Violet (1887-1969), Baroness Asquith of Yarnbury: correspondence and papers, 20th cent. [Bodleian Library, Oxford]
Asquith, Herbert Henry (1852-1928), 1st Earl of Oxford & Asquith: political correspondence and papers, 1886-1929 [Bodleian Library, Oxford, MSS. Asquith]

Coat of arms

Sable, on a fess between three cross-crosslets argent, a portcullis of the field.

Revision and acknowledgements

This post was first published 25 April 2016 and was updated 1 July 2018 and 1 January 2019. I am most grateful to Craig Asquith for an additional image.

Monday 18 April 2016

(214) Aspinall of Standen Hall

Aspinall of Standen Hall
This family is said to have held Standen since the time of King Henry VII if not earlier, but their rise to gentry status was gradual. They were armigerous by the early 16th century, but as late as the early 18th century Alexander Aspinall (1693-1746) was still described as 'yeoman' in some documents. It seems to have been his eldest son, John Aspinall (1716-84), who was educated for the law and became one of the serjeants-at-law and Recorder of Clitheroe, who made the decisive shift into gentility, marked by the rebuilding of Standen Hall in 1757. Since neither of John's two marriages produced any children, he left the house at his death to his infant great-nephew, John Aspinall (1779-1851). It is not clear why the estate was left to this child rather than to his father, also John Aspinall (1749-97), who was a fustian manufacturer in Manchester. The estate was let during John's minority to Thomas Southwell (1742-96), 2nd Viscount Southwell.

John Aspinall (1779-1851) left only one son, John Thomas Walshman Aspinall (1812-65), who was the only member of the family to be elected to Parliament, although he was unseated on petition as a result of 'treating' by his agents in a previous election, which had led to his disqualification from office. Before his marriage in 1841, J.T.W. Aspinall had bought Little Mitton Hall, which he substantially rebuilt in the 1840s (probably to the designs of George Webster of Kendal) while retaining its magnificent medieval hall, and he seems to have made Little Mitton his main home even after he inherited Standen in 1851, although he did rebuild the service wing at Standen c.1858 to the design of G.E. Paley. He died unexpectedly at a relatively young age and his widow continued to live at Little Mitton until her death in 1873. His only surviving son, Ralph John Aspinall (1847-1913) moved into Standen, and from 1874 let Little Mitton to the prominent Bolton industrialist and MP, John Hick (1815-94), who made further changes to the house. In 1880 he and Hick jointly took legal action against factories which were polluting the River Ribble (and affecting their fishing rights) and won a landmark judgement which became an important legal precedent in controlling environmental pollution.

From the late 18th to the early 20th century, the Aspinalls played their part in public life. J.T.W. Aspinall, as we have seen, was very briefly an MP, and several members of the family were justices of the peace, deputy lieutenants, and militia officers. Ralph John Aspinall was more assiduous in his militia career than most, rising to become Hon. Colonel of the Duke of Lancaster's Own Militia, 1895-98, and three of his four sons were also in either the regular army or the territorials in the early 20th century. At his death in 1913 the Standen and Little Mitton estates passed to his eldest son, Maj. John Ralph Aspinall (1878-1946), who continued to use Standen as the family seat and to let Little Mitton. John Aspinall (1927-2017) inherited in 1946 and appears to have sold Little Mitton Hall in the 1960s, while retaining the estate and the lordship of the manor. Little Mitton was converted into a restaurant and hotel in 1966-68 and has since been enlarged and altered several times. Standen, by contrast, has remained very much a private house, and the Standen estate continues to play an important part in the life of Clitheroe town; something made very concrete by the approval of plans for a development of over a thousand new houses on land belonging to the estate between the town and the Hall, which attracted a good deal of opposition. After the death of John Aspinall, the estate passed to his first cousin once removed, Martin Aspinall (b. 1951), who has since overseen a splendid restoration and redecoration of the house.

Standen Hall, Clitheroe, Lancashire

Standen Hall: the grand east front of 1757, possibly designed by Timothy Lightoler. Image: Tim Boon

A house may have been built on the site of the present Standen Hall in the 15th century, but a plan of 1740 shows a south-facing H-shaped house, suggesting that any medieval building was probably replaced in the 17th century. This is likely to remain obscure because the H-shaped house was largely rebuilt again in 1757 by John Aspinall (d. 1784), more or less on the old plan, and possibly to a design by Timothy Lightoler. The rebuilt house has a fine Palladian seven-bay two-and-a-half storey east front, with the central three bays enriched by giant Doric columns, a triglyph frieze and a pediment, and by triangular and segmental pediments over the principal windows. The house is said to contain good mid 18th century interiors with nice joinery and chimneypieces, and a pretty staircase.
Standen Hall: engraving by Edward Twycross, 1846, showing the west range before rebuilding.

Some earlier fabric is said to have been retained when the house was rebuilt, and this may be apparent in an 1846 engraving showing the south front, where a lower, two-storey block links the Palladian east range to a taller two-bay two-storey wing. The lower link has a handsome Adamish porch with corner urns, which is now again the main entrance. 

Standen Hall from an early 20th century postcard, showing the west wing as rebuilt.
This west wing was itself rebuilt for John Aspinall around 1858, to the design of Edward Graham Paley of Lancaster. Although superficially very similar to its predecessor, it was now of three bays rather than two, and somewhat taller. This part of the house was largely given over to service accommodation, but also includes a Victorian drawing room. In 1876, a single-storey billiard room was added at the north-east end of the east wing, and by 1882 a new stable block had been built south-west of the house. A new straight drive was made to the east front between 1882 and 1886, which is now a well-grown avenue. The 6" map of 1886 shows landscaped grounds around the hall and formal gardens to the south of the new stable block. 

After the death of John Aspinall in 2017, the estate passed to the present owner, who has conducted a restoration and remodelling of the house, converting the largely redundant service accommodation to equip the house for a contemporary way of living, with a living kitchen, family rooms, a new octagonal atrium, and a separate kitchen and boot room for use during shoots.

Descent: James Aspinall (fl. 1513-53); to son, John Aspinall (d. 1582); to son, James Aspinall (d. 1632); to son, John Aspinall (1579-1641); to nephew, John Aspinall (d. 1702); to son, James Aspinall (d. 1726); to first cousin once removed, Alexander Aspinall (1693-1746); to son, John Aspinall (1716-84); to great nephew, John Aspinall (1779-1851) who let it to Viscount Southwell (d. 1796) during his minority; to son, John Thomas Walshman Aspinall (1812-65); to son, Ralph John Aspinall (1847-1913); to son, John Ralph Aspinall (1878-1946); to son, John Edward Ralph Aspinall (1927-2017); to first cousin once removed, Martin Mark Charles Aspinall (b. 1951).

Little Mitton Hall, Lancashire

Little Mitton Hall: drawing by John Ward, 1834, showing the house before Victorian reconstruction.

This was originally a timber-framed house of c.1490, built for Ralph Catterell, with the entrance on the east side. Of this the main survival is the timber-framed great hall in the centre of the east front, although even here the external features have been altered and moved around. The house seems to have been reconstructed in stone around 1600, incorporating the older great hall, perhaps because the quality of the woodwork was so high, or because of the associations of antiquity which it offered. The house as rebuilt at that time was not greatly altered again before it was first recorded in 1834 in a drawing made by John Weld which shows an H-plan house with mullioned and transomed windows. We are fortunate also to have a plan published in 1818, which corresponds well with Weld's drawing, and gives additional information about the parts of the building Weld does not depict, especially the north side of the north cross-wing, where there were service rooms and a further porch. 

Little Mitton Hall: ground plan before 1818, from Whitaker's History of Whalley

The house was remodelled in 1841-44 for John Aspinall, almost certainly by George Webster. While keeping to the overall form of the existing building, he made it slightly or considerably larger in almost every direction, especially to the north, where the service rooms were replaced by larger wings in 1844 which were further altered and extended later. As part of the 1840s changes, the house was encased in rubble stone covered in a render, although in some parts the render has later been stripped off. The result of all these changes is an east front with mullioned and transomed windows and straight gables with rather improbably corbelled-out ball-finials, and at the north end a big flat-roofed bay window which is a later addition to the Victorian dining room. 

Little Mitton Hall: early 19th century watercolour by W. Turner of the hall, facing the screens passage

Little Mitton Hall: watercolour by J.C. Buckler of the interior
of the hall, facing the 'upper end' of the room
Inside, there are a few Jacobean-style fireplaces and fragments of plasterwork, but the only coherent early survival is the magnificent hall, which has an open roof of six bays. At the screens passage end there is a 19th century lobby and the main entrance, out of line with the end bay. The end wall of the hall is timber-framed, with four round-arched openings in a line instead of the usual three, and above that a row of quatrefoils. The body of the hall is spanned by three great spere-trusses supporting cambered and moulded tie-beams, with blank tracery and grotesques in the spandrels, and above the tie-beam a pattern of diagonal struts forming a lattice. Until the 1980s there was a sumptuously carved early 16th century screen with early Renaissance motifs under the first spere-truss. It is astonishing and scandalous that it could have been taken out at such a late date. Behind the screen there rose, in the early 19th century, a steep and vertiginous staircase, ramping up in a series of dog-legs to a doorway in the gable end of the hall. The east side of the hall now has a 19th century gallery which may incorporate some older work, but which is not shown in early 19th century drawings and engravings, and must be a new creation of the 1840s or 1870s.
Little Mitton Hall: the screen recorded by John Ward in 1834 and apparently only removed in the 1980s.

From 1874 the house was leased to John Hick, a partner in the engineering firm of Hick, Hargreaves & Co. of Bolton, who made some additions to the house in c.1875-80, apparently to the designs of Paley & Austin of Lancaster, including the addition of a 'recreation block', with half-hipped roofs and bargeboards, to the south of the house and linked to it by a large conservatory; he also added a second storey to the north-west wing. The conservatory was remodelled in the 20th century and then replaced in 1984-86 by a new two-storey bedroom block when the house became an hotel. The further large addition of a function room was also made south of the old house in the 1980s. The present owner of the hotel has made some further changes which have mercifully removed the crasser and least tasteful decoration of the 1980s. The house now operates as Mitton Hall Hotel.

Little Mitton Hall: the interior of the hall in recent years.

Little Mitton Hall: the exterior from the north-east in 2014.
Descent: built c.1485-95 for Ralph Catterall; to son, John Catterall (b. c.1478); to son, Thomas Catterall (d. 1579) who settled estate 1560 on his daughter Dorothy, wife of Robert Sherburn (d. 1570); to son, Thomas Sherburn (d. 1636); to son, Robert Sherburn (fl. 1651); to son, Thomas Sherburn (d. 1664); to brother Richard Sherburn (d. 1665) who sold 1665 to Alexander Holt (c.1624-87); to grandson, Alexander Holt (c.1675-1713); to son, William Holt (d. 1737); to daughter, Elizabeth (d. 1791), wife of Richard Beaumont (1719-64) of Whitley Beaumont (Yorks); to son, Richard Henry Beaumont FSA (d. 1810); to brother, John Beaumont (d. 1831); to natural grandson, Richard Henry Beaumont (1805-57); who sold c.1833 to John Thomas Walshman Aspinall (1812-65); to son, Ralph John Aspinall (1847-1913), who leased to John Hick MP (1815-94) from c.1874; to son, John Ralph Aspinall (1878-1946); to son, John Edward Ralph Aspinall (b. 1927), who sold c.1966 for conversion into an hotel and restaurant. 

Aspinall family of Standen Hall

Aspinall, John (d. 1582) of Standen Hall.  Son of James Aspinall (fl. 1513-53) of Standen Hall and his wife Agnes. He married Alice [surname unknown] and had issue including*:
(1) James Aspinall (d. 1632);
(2) William Aspinall (d. 1570); buried 31 July 1570;
(3) Maud Aspinall; married, c.1569, Alexander Hoghton (d. 1583?) of Pendleton Hall, Whalley.
He inherited Standen Hall from his father.
He was buried 30 August 1582. His widow was buried 31 May 1592.
* Another son may have been Alexander Aspinall (c.1546-1624) MA (Oxon), who was Master of Stratford-upon-Avon Grammar School, 1582-1624 and the subject of a poem attributed to Shakespeare, who was described as 'of Lancashire' when admitted to Oxford.

Aspinall, James (d. 1632) of Standen Hall. Eldest son of John Aspinall (d. 1582) and his wife Alice. He married, c.1578, Margaret Greenwood, and had issue:
(1) John Aspinall (1579-1641) (q.v.);
(2) Alexander Aspinall (fl. 1641), born c.1581-91; married and had issue a daughter;
(3) William Aspinall (d. by 1641) (q.v.);
(4) Mary Aspinall (b. 1585), baptised 24 December 1585.
He inherited Standen Hall from his father.
He died in 1632.

Aspinall, John (1579-1641) of Standen Hall. Son of James Aspinall (d. 1632) of Standen Hall and his wife Margaret Greenwood, baptised at Clitheroe, 18 October 1579. He married, 21 August 1596 at Garstang (Lancs), Ellen (fl. 1641), widow of Thomas ?Rishworth, but had no issue.
He inherited Standen Hall from his father in 1632.
Will proved at York, 27 July 1641; an inquisition post mortem was taken 31 August 1641. His widow was buried 8 February 1668.

Aspinall, William (d. before 1641). Younger son of James Aspinall (d. 1632). He married and had issue:
(1) John Aspinall (d. 1702) (q.v.);
(2) James Aspinall (d. 1693) (q.v.);
(3) William Aspinall (d. 1716); mentioned in his uncle's will, May 1641; buried at Clitheroe, 29 April 1716.
He died before 1641.

Aspinall, John (fl. 1641; d. 1702) of Standen Hall. Elder son of William Aspinall. Yeoman. He married and had issue:
(1) Thomas Aspinall (1658-73), born 5 January 1658/9; died young and was buried 11 January 1673;
(2) James Aspinall (d. 1726) (q.v.);
(3) Rev. Nicholas Aspinall (1657-1727), of Bedford, born 9 October 1657; educated at Emmanuel College, Cambridge (BA 1681; MA 1696); secretary to Edward Castell, editor of the Polyglot Bible; Master of Bedford Grammar School, 1683-1718; curate, 1706-12 and vicar, 1712-22? of St Peter de Merton, Bedford; died unmarried, 7 October 1727 and was buried at St Peter de Merton, Bedford, where he is commemorated by a monument with a long Latin inscription;
(4) John Aspinall (d. 1678); died unmarried; will proved at Chester, 1678;
(6) William Aspinall (d. 1664); buried 6 April 1664;
(7) Alexander Aspinall (b. & d. 1662), baptised 6 April 1662; died in infancy and was buried 20 September 1662;
(7) Grace Aspinall (b. 1664), baptised 6 February 1664; married, by 1702, [forename unknown] Clegg;
(5) Jonathan Aspinall (b. 1666; fl. 1678), baptised 7 September 1666;
(8) Priscilla Aspinall (fl. 1697-1702); married 1st, 6 May 1696/7 at Clitheroe, John Bayns of Wood Plumpton, and 2nd, by 1702, [forename unknown] Whalley.
He inherited Standen Hall from his uncle in 1641.
He was buried at Clitheroe, 28 December 1702; his will was proved 18 January 1702/3.

Aspinall, James (d. 1726). Eldest surviving son of John Aspinall (d. 1702), born before 1657. He married Mary, daughter of Joseph Auty and had issue:
(1) Thomas Aspinall (fl. 1725) of London; perhaps died shortly before or after his father;
(2) A daughter.
He inherited Standen Hall from his father in 1702. At his death it passed to his first cousin once removed, Alexander Aspinall (1693-1746).
He was buried 20 March 1725/6. His widow married 2nd, 28 November 1727 at Downham (Lancs), Matthew Carr, and may be the Mary Carr who was buried at Clitheroe, 14 April 1774.

Aspinall, James (d. 1693), 'of the Fields', Clitheroe. Second son of William Aspinall. Mentioned in his uncle's will in 1641. He married, 5 November 1663, Margaret Haworth (d. 1713) of Clitheroe, and had issue:
(1) A daughter (name illegible in parish register), baptised at Clitheroe, 24 September 1664;
(2) Margery Aspinall (1666-1731), baptised 30 November 1666; died unmarried and was buried at Clitheroe, 28 January 1730/1; will proved 16 May 1732;
(3) A son (name illegible in parish register), baptised 6 January 1668; probably died young;
(4) John Aspinall (1671-1715) (q.v.);
(5) Thomas Aspinall (b. 1674), baptised at Clitheroe, 2 February 1673/4; married, 13 April 1697 at Downham (Lancs), Anne Hartley;
(6) James Aspinall (b. 1677; fl. 1715), baptised at Clitheroe, 29 April 1677; living in 1715;
(7) Nicholas Aspinall (b. 1680), baptised at Clitheroe, 8 December 1680.
He was buried 20 October 1693. His widow was buried 22 September 1713.

Aspinall, John (1671-1715) 'of the Fields', Clitheroe. Son of James Aspinall (d. 1693) and his wife Margaret Haworth of Clitheroe, baptised at Clitheroe, 21 December 1671. Churchwarden of Clitheroe in 1704. He married Margaret [surname unknown] (fl. 1715) and had issue including:
(1) Alexander Aspinall (1693-1746) (q.v.);
(2) Nicholas Aspinall of the Fields; married Elizabeth [surname unknown] (d. 1770) and had issue.
He was buried at Clitheroe, 6 May 1715; his will was proved 1 January 1716.

Aspinall, Alexander (1693-1746). Son of John Aspinall of the Fields, Clitheroe and his wife Margaret, born in 1693. Yeoman. He married, 13 January 1714/5, Jane (1691-1771), daughter of John Haythornthwaite of Tarnbrook (Lancs), and had issue:
(1) John Aspinall (1716-84) (q.v.).
(2) Catherine Aspinall (b. 1720), baptised at Clitheroe, 21 May 1720; married, 26 January 1737, William Parr (d. 1755) of Clitheroe, butcher and had issue two sons; her date of death has not been traced;
(3) James Aspinall (1723-64) (q.v.);
(4) Nicholas Aspinall (1726-1807) of the Fields, Clitheroe; baptised at Clitheroe, 7 August 1726; married, 23 May 1751 at Whalley, Elizabeth (d. 1770) Bulcock of Pendleton, and had issue four sons and two daughters; buried at Clitheroe, 17 June 1807;
(5) William Aspinall (b. & d. 1732), baptised at Clitheroe, 22 January 1731/2; died in infancy and was buried 26 April 1732;
(6) William Aspinall (b. 1733; fl. 1749), baptised at Clitheroe, 13 September 1733; apprenticed to his elder brother James as an attorney, 1749;
(7) Marjorie Aspinall (1738-40), baptised at Clitheroe, 10 December 1738; died in infancy and was buried 18 August 1740.
He lived at Clitheroe. He inherited Standen Hall from James Aspinall (d. 1726).
He was buried 25 December 1746. His widow was buried 23 June 1771.

Aspinall, John (1716-84). Eldest son of Alexander Aspinall (1693-1745) and his wife Jane Haythornthwaite, baptised at Clitheroe, 24 January 1716/7. Educated at Emmanuel College, Cambridge (admitted 1736) and Middle Temple (admitted 1735/6; called to bar 1740). Barrister on the northern circuit; Serjeant-at-law, 1763-84; Recorder of Clitheroe; JP and DL for Lancashire and JP for West Riding of Yorkshire; a governor of Clitheroe School. He was remembered in the 19th century as "a great luminary at the Bar, his reputation as spotless as his talents were brilliant", and he was commended for his hospitality by Thomas Pennant, with whom he corresponded on antiquarian subjects, c.1775-80. However a different view is provided by Elizabeth Strickland (of whom he was at one time an admirer and who may therefore not be an impartial witness), who referred to "scrubby, mean, underbred, low-lived, ungrateful, covetous, designing, undermining, stupid, proud Aspinall" and to "his large wife" when they found themselves of opposite sides of an electoral contest at Clitheroe in 1781. He married 1st, 6 August 1747 at Bradford-on-Avon (Wilts), Caroline Elton (d. 1762) and 2nd, 20 August 1764, Mary Assheton (d. 1794), daughter of Maghull Yates of Maghull (Lancs), but had no issue.
He inherited Standen Hall from his father in 1746 and rebuilt it in 1757. He purchased Penwortham Priory in 1749 but sold it in 1752.
He died 1 March and was buried at Clitheroe, 9 March 1784, where he is commemorated by a monument; his will was proved 20 September 1785. His first wife died 25 January 1762. His widow married 2nd, 15 March 1785 at Whalley, Henry Aspinwall of Lincolns Inn and died in 1794.

Aspinall, James (1723-64). Second son of Alexander Aspinall (1693-1745) and his wife Jane Hawthornthwaite, baptised at Clitheroe, 5 October 1723. Solicitor. Churchwarden of Clitheroe, 1742-43. He married, 9 July 1747 at Downham (Lancs), Anne (d. 1771), widow of Henry Lonsdale, and had issue:
(1) John Aspinall (1749-97) (q.v.);
(2) James Aspinall (b. 1750; fl. 1825), baptised 26 December 1750 at Burnley; solicitor at 5 Quality Court, Chancery Lane, London;
(3) Alexander Aspinall (1753-85?), baptised 3 July 1753; possibly to be identified with the surgeon of this name who married Mary Snow and was buried 6 February 1785 at St Peter Cornhill, London; his will was proved 12 February 1785.
He lived at Burnley (Lancs).
He was buried at Clitheroe, 26 July 1764; his will was proved at York, July 1764. His widow died 2 November and was buried at Burnley, 5 November 1771.

Aspinall, John (1749-97). Elder son of James Aspinall and his wife Anne, widow of Henry Lonsdale, baptised at Burnley, May 1749. Educated at Manchester Grammar School. Fustian manufacturer at Manchester. An officer in the Lancashire militia (Lt., 1778); DL for Lancashire. He married, 1 August 1775 at Manchester Cathedral, Hannah Cooper, and had issue*:
(1) Mary Ann Aspinall (1775-78), baptised 16 December 1775 at St Botolph Aldgate, London; died young and was buried at Manchester Cathedral, 11 September 1778;
(2) Hannah Aspinall (b. 1777), baptised 27 July 1777 at Manchester Cathedral; probably died young;
(3) John Aspinall (1779-1851) (q.v.);
(4) James Aspinall (b. 1781), baptised 27 April 1781 at St Ann, Manchester; probably died young;
(5) Nicholas Aspinall (1783-1841), of Everton, Liverpool, baptised 11 December 1783 at St Bride, Fleet St., London; soap boiler (bankrupt, 1826); married, 16 August 1810 at Kendal (Westmld), Elizabeth Sowden, and had issue one son and three daughters (of whom Elinor married her cousin, J.T.W. Aspinall of Standen Hall in 1841); buried 14 September 1841 at St George, Everton, Liverpool (Lancs).
He lived at Manchester.
He was buried at Clitheroe, 24 August 1797. His wife's date of death has not be traced.
* Baptisms of Ann Aspinall (on 26 July 1785) and Miles Aspinall (on 13 March 1789) at St Margaret, Lothbury, London may also be for children of this couple.

Aspinall, John (1779-1851) of Standen Hall. Elder son of John Aspinall and his wife Hannah Cooper, born 7 August and baptised 10 September 1779 at St Ann, Manchester (Lancs). Educated at Brasenose College, Oxford (matriculated 1798). JP and DL for Lancashire. Governor of Clitheroe Grammar School. He married 1st, 23 April 1804, Jane (1787-1821), daughter of Edmund Robinson of Sabden (Lancs), yeoman, and 2nd, 29 April 1828 at St. Marylebone, Harriet (1785-1856), daughter of William Brazier of Rye (Sussex) and widow of John Treacher and Ralph Blegborough MD, and had issue:
(1.1) Mary Aspinall (c.1805-39), baptised 7 August 1806; married, 19 April 1838 at Clitheroe, John L. Hammond Esq. of Catterick (Yorks NR) and later of Ferriby Hall, Bedale (Yorks NR) and had issue a daughter; died 14 February 1839;
(1.2) Helen Robinson Aspinall (1806-77), born 24 December 1806 and baptised 31 August 1808; married, 29 November 1836, John Lomax (1801-49) of Clayton Hall, Clayton-le-Moors (Lancs), son of Richard Grimshaw Lomax, but had no issue; as a widow lived at Dorset Sq., London; died at Ramsgate (Kent), 27 April 1877; administration of her goods with will annexed was granted 28 May 1877 (effects under £16,000);
(1.3) Elizabeth Walshman Aspinall (1808-86), born 13 June 1808 and baptised 9 October 1809; married, 22 October 1845 at Clitheroe, Rev. Samuel Brazier Arnott (1815-76), rector of Hollington (Sussex) and had issue one son (d. young) and one daughter; died 23 June and was buried at Egham (Surrey), 28 June 1886; will proved 23 October 1886 (effects £18,927);
(1.4) Walshman Aspinall (1813-18), born 2 May 1813 and baptised 24 August 1814 at St Mary, Lambeth (Surrey); died young, 23 December 1818;
(1.5) Jane Aspinall (1809-75), born 23 September and baptised 9 October 1809; married, 8 June 1847, Ralph Blegborough (1814-69) of Streatham (Surrey) but had no issue; died 11 April 1875; will proved 30 April 1875 (effects under £90,000);
(1.6) John Thomas Walshman Aspinall (1812-65) (q.v.).
He inherited Standen Hall from his great-uncle in 1784 and came of age in 1800; during his minority it was let to Viscount Southwell. He was obliged to sell some of the estates (property at Preston and Elswick (Lancs)) under an order in Chancery in 1813.
He died 7 February and was buried at Clitheroe, 14 February 1851; his will was proved 7 April 1851. His first wife died 20 November 1821. His widow died at Brighton (Sussex), 27 January 1856.

Aspinall, John Thomas Walshman (1812-65) of Standen Hall. Only son of John Aspinall (1779-1851) and his first wife, Jane Robinson of Sabden, baptised 3 March 1812. Educated at Richmond (Yorks), Trinity College, Cambridge (admitted 1829) and Lincolns Inn (admitted 1833). JP and DL for Lancashire. Governor of Clitheroe Grammar School, 1851. Elected Tory MP for Clitheroe, 1853, but unseated on petition. He married, 20 May 1841, his cousin Elinor (1816-73), youngest daughter of Nicholas Aspinall of Everton, Liverpool, and had issue:
(1) John Nicholas Aspinall (1842-47), born 29 January 1842 and baptised at Whalley, 12 December 1843; died young at Blackpool, 22 October 1847, aged 5;
(2) Katherine Aspinall (1843-1909) of The Mount, Great Glen (Leics), born 15 January and baptised at Whalley, 6 February 1843; died unmarried, 22 July 1909 and was buried at Great Glen where she is commemorated by a monument; administration of goods granted 6 November 1909 (estate £116,570);
(3) Henry Walshman Aspinall (1845-55), born 27 January and baptised 24 March 1845; died young, 29 January 1855, aged 10;
(4) Jane Robinson Aspinall (1846-84), born 19 March and baptised 12 June 1846; married, 13 May 1870 at Whalley, Maj. Walter Overbeck Wade (1836-92) (who married 2nd, 5 March 1885 at Poulton-le-Sands (Lancs), Eleanor Wright (1855-1940) and had further issue one daughter) of How End, Sawrey (Lancs) and had issue a daughter; died 7 August 1884; administration of goods granted 1 October 1884 (effects £24,871);
(5) Ralph John Aspinall (1847-1913) (q.v.);
(6) Elinor Maud Aspinall (1853-1931), born 11 June and baptised 11 November 1853; suffered from acute learning difficulties and was a patient at Normansfield Licenced House for Imbeciles, Hampton Wick (Middx) in 1911; died 9 September 1931; administration of goods granted 12 December 1931 (estate £75,225).
He purchased Little Mitton Hall before 1834 and remodelled it in 1841-44. He inherited Standen Hall from his father in 1851 and rebuilt the service wing c.1858.
He died 12 November and was buried at Clitheroe, 18 November 1865; his will was proved 7 June 1866 (effects under £80,000). His widow died 2 October and was buried at Clitheroe, 6 October 1873; her will proved 15 December 1873 (effects under £14,000).

Aspinall, Col. Ralph John (1847-1913) of Standen Hall. Only son of John Thomas Walshman Aspinall (d. 1865) and his wife Ellinor, daughter of Nicholas Aspinall of Liverpool, born at Little Mitton, 26 September 1847. Educated at Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge (admitted 1866; BA 1870; MA 1875). JP and DL for Lancashire and JP for West Riding of Yorkshire; High Sheriff of Lancashire, 1880. In 1880, with his tenant John Hick, he won a landmark legal case against the local cotton mills about pollution of the River Ribble. An officer in the Duke of Lancaster's Own Militia (Lt., 1865; Capt., 1870; Major, 1886; Lt-Col., 1887; Col. 1895-98). He married, 11 May 1876 at St Mary Abbots, Kensington (Middx), Mabel Frederica Frances Baynes (c.1853-1941), daughter of Robert Lloyd Jones-Parry of Aberdunant (Caernarvons.) and Plas Tregayon (Anglesey) and had issue:
(1) John Ralph Aspinall (1878-1946) (q.v.);
(2) Miles Edward Aspinall (1879-1900), born 18 December 1879; educated at Eton and Royal Military College, Sandhurst; an officer in Scots Guards (2nd Lt., 1899); died unmarried, 16 January and was buried at Pendleton, 20 January 1900;
(3) Capt. Charles Lewis Robert Aspinall (1883-1951) (q.v.); 
(4) Geoffrey Aspinall (1884-1944) of Cove House, Tiverton (Devon), born 25 June 1884; educated at Trinity College, Cambridge and the Inner Temple (admitted 1905; called to bar, 1909); barrister-at-law; married, 15 January 1914 at Holy Trinity, Sloane Street, London, Clara (1889-1940), only child of Sir John Ormerod Scarlett Thursby, 2nd bt. and had issue two daughters; died 24 September 1944; will proved 31 January 1945 (estate £22,153).
He inherited Standen Hall and Little Mitton Hall from his father in 1865; his inheritance was disputed by a false claimant who said he was the rightful heir, having been put out to nurse as an infant and switched for the nurse's own child. Little Mitton was leased from 1874.
He died 31 May 1913 and was buried at Pendleton with his second son. His widow died 11 April 1941.

Aspinall, Maj. John Ralph (1878-1946) of Standen Hall. Eldest son of Ralph John Aspinall (1847-1913) and his wife Mabel Frederica Frances Baynes, daughter of Robert Lloyd Jones-Parry of Aberdunant (Caernarvons.) and Plas Tregayon (Anglesey), born 11 April 1878. Educated at Eton and Trinity Hall, Cambridge (admitted 1896). JP for Lancashire. Major in Lancashire Hussars Yeomanry and Territorial Forces Reserve, 1914-19. He married, 1st, 16 February 1901, Florence Augusta (1875-1923), third daughter of Col. George Bluchner Heneage Marton of Capernwray and 2nd, 30 June 1926, Muriel Lena St. Clair (1891-1967), daughter of John Lawson Johnston of London, and had issue:
(1.1) Augusta Evelyn Rosemary Aspinall (1904-26), born Jan-Mar 1904; married, 12 June 1925 at Pendleton, Lt-Col. (Elliott) Nial Eveleigh DSO MC (1890-1964), but had no issue; buried 15 November 1926 at Pendleton;
(2.1) John Edward Ralph Aspinall (b. 1927) (q.v.).
He lived at Barraclough House, Clitheroe until he inherited Standen Hall from his father in 1913.
He died 16 March 1946; his will was proved 7 June and 17 October 1947 and a new grant was made following the coming of age of his heir, 22 June 1948 (estate £189,638). His first wife died 21 May 1923. His widow died 20 June 1967; her will was proved 19 September 1967 (estate £25,910).

John E.R. Aspinall
Aspinall, John Edward Ralph (1927-2017) of Standen Hall. Only son of John Ralph Aspinall (1878-1946) and his second wife Muriel Lawson, daughter of John Lawson Johnston of London, born 10 May 1927. Educated at Eton and Royal Agricultural College, Cirencester. President of Blackburn Symphony Orchestra, 1982-2014. He was unmarried and without issue.
He inherited Standen Hall from his father in 1946. On his death the estate passed to his first cousin once removed, Martin Aspinall (b. 1951).
He died 21 August 2017; his will was proved 13 August 2018.

Aspinall, Capt. Charles Lewis Robert (1883-1951). Third son of Ralph John Aspinall (1847-1913) and his wife Mabel Frederica Frances Baynes, daughter of Robert Lloyd Jones-Parry of Aberdunant (Caernarvons.) and Plas Tregayon (Anglesey), born 14 April 1883. An officer in the 21st Lancers, 1902-04 (2nd Lt.), and in the Royal Naval Air Service and Royal Air Force, 1914-19. Captain of Exmouth Golf Club in 1930s. He married, 21 April 1914 (div. 1933), Margaret Alice Mary (b. 1893), second daughter of William W. Middleton of Stuart Lodge, Malvern Wells (Worcs) and had issue:
(1) Charles Nicholas Bernard Aspinall (1915-89) (q.v.);
(2) Colum Lewis Mark Aspinall (1921-45).
He lived at Axmouth (Devon) and later Exmouth (Devon) after the First World War.
He died at Exmouth (Devon), 27 August 1951; his will was proved by his ex-wife, 11 February 1952 (estate £7,407).

Aspinall, Capt. Charles Nicholas Bernard (1915-89). Elder son of Capt. Charles Lewis Robert Aspinall (1883-1951) of Exmouth and his wife Margaret Alice Mary, second daughter of William W. Middleton of Stuart Lodge, Malvern Wells (Worcs), born in Northern Rhodesia, 3 March 1915. He served in the Second World War as an officer in the Royal Marines (2nd Lt., 1940; Lt. 1941; Capt.). He married Margaret Mary [surname unknown] (1922-2007?) and had issue:
(1) Martin Mark Charles Aspinall (b. 1951) (q.v.); 
(2) Richard Nicholas Charles Aspinall (b. 1952), born 17 December 1952; married, Jul-Sep. 1990, [forename unknown] Huggins;
(3) R.F.B. Aspinall (b. 1957), born 1 November 1957.
He lived in Durban (South Africa) in the 1950s and latterly at Midhurst (Sussex).
He died 29 June 1989; his will was proved 4 August 1989 (estate £47,302).

Aspinall, Martin Mark Charles (b. 1951). Eldest son of Capt. Charles Nicholas Bernard Aspinall (1915-89) of Midhurst (Sussex) and his wife Margaret Mary [surname unknown], born 28 April 1951 at Durban (South Africa). Educated at Redrice School. He married, 1990, Annette Katerine Taylor (d. 2011) and had issue
(1) Thomas Nicholas J. Aspinall (b. 1991);
(2) A daughter.
He lived at Holly Mount, Stanton (Glos) until he inherited the Standen Hall estate in 2017. He has since restored Standen Hall.
Now living.


Burke's Landed Gentry, 1952, p. 69; VCH Lancashire, vol. 6, 1911, pp. 388-96; The Genealogist, vol. 33, 1917, pp. 243-60; J.M. Robinson, The country houses of the north-west, 1991, p. 241; A. Taylor, The Websters of Kendal, 2004, pp. 36, 101, 118; C. Hartwell & Sir N. Pevsner, The buildings of England: Lancashire - North, 2009. pp. 247, 428-29;;

Location of archives

No substantial accumulation of records is known to survive, but there may still be papers in the custody of the family.

Coat of arms

Or, a chevron, between three griffins' heads erased, sable.

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.
  • The attribution of the 1757 rebuilding to Timothy Lightoler (then only just beginning an architectural career) is found in a number of places, but I have been unable to trace its source. Does anyone know on what grounds this suggestion has been made?
  • Can anyone provide information about the descent of Little Mitton Hall in the late 19th and 20th centuries?
  • Does anyone know the present whereabouts of the early 16th century screen from Little Mitton Hall, or how it came to be removed in the 1980s? Can anyone provide a good quality photograph of the screen when it was in situ?
  • If anyone is able to contribute additional career information, genealogical details or portraits for this family, especially for the earlier generations, I should be very pleased to hear from them.

Revision and acknowledgements

This post was first published 18 April 2016, and was updated 22 April and 11 November 2016, 31 August 2018, 1 January 2023 and 14 January 2024. I am most grateful to Colin Stansfield for providing information about both houses from his records.