Wednesday 25 May 2016

(218) Astley of Dukinfield Lodge

Astley of Dukinfield
The Astleys of Dukinfield claimed descent from a younger son of the Astleys of Patshull (who will be the subject of a post shortly), but the connection is uncertain. Their rise to fortune was due to the activities of John Astley (1724-87), who was the son of an apothecary at Wem (Shropshire). Since he showed some promise as a painter when young he was sent to London to study portrait painting under Thomas Hudson, and later made his way to Italy, where he lived for some years and was the frequent companion of his contemporary, Sir Joshua Reynolds. In Italy he scraped a living executing copies of Old Master works for the English market, but was said to be so poor that on one occasion he was reduced to patching the back of a waistcoat with the canvas of one of his best works; judging by his later style, however, this may just have been a good advertising stunt. In about 1752 he came back to the British Isles and settled in Dublin, where he seems to have enjoyed some success as a portraitist, and where he married for the first time. By the late 1750s he was in England again and he apparently returned to the area where he had grown up, perhaps initially to sort out family affairs, as his first wife died in childbirth at Wem in 1758.

John Astley is said to have been a handsome man - his looks earned him the nickname 'Beau Astley' - but more importantly he was lucky. Shortly after his first wife died, he attended an assembly at Knutsford where he so captivated the recently widowed Lady Dukinfield Daniel that she requested him to paint her portrait, and when it was finished "intimated to him that if he was pleased with the portrait he might have the original." They were married in 1759 and she settled on him an estate at Over Tabley, where he built a new house in the 1760s. His wife died in 1762, however, and no children are recorded from the marriage. Her heir to the main Dukinfield and Daniel estates in Cheshire was her daughter by her first marriage, who was judged to be insane, but Astley's income from the Over Tabley estate and from portraiture was sufficient to allow him to take a lease of Schomberg House in Pall Mall, London in 1769. He divided this house into three, and remodelled the middle section which he retained for his own use as a London home. In 1771 his stepdaughter died, and as a result Astley came into the remainder of the Dukinfield estate, and was thenceforward a much wealthier man. He seems quickly to have built Dukinfield Lodge to his own designs to supersede the old Hall, and laid out the grounds there. He gave up exhibiting pictures, although he apparently went on painting, and seems to have repositioned himself as a gentleman amateur in architecture rather than a professional painter. In 1777 he married for a third time, to the daughter of a Manchester doctor who was a celebrated beauty and 37 years his junior, and in the next six years they produced five children.

John Astley died in 1787 leaving as his heir his young son, Francis Dukinfield Astley (1781-1825). In 1793 his widow married again, but the family continued to live at Dukinfield Lodge, and Francis seems to have taken up his responsibilities as landowner before coming of age, since as early as 1802, when he was 21, he was awarded a medal for planting 40,000 trees. Francis was a young man of great promise: he was rich, relatively good looking, artistic (he was a published poet and amateur artist), and had a deep concern for the welfare of his tenantry and estate. In 1812 he married and the following year he bought the Fell Foot estate in the Lake District, where he could enjoy fabulous views over Windermere. But tragedy was never far away. His first born son died when just a few weeks old from a fall from a window, and in his efforts to develop his estate and protect his tenants from the worst effects of the depression in trade occasioned by war with France he over-reached himself financially, and in 1817 he was declared bankrupt. However, the discovery of coal on his estate restored his fortunes without the loss of his property, and after many barren years his wife presented him with a son and heir in 1825. But just a few months later he died in his sleep while visiting his brother-in-law, Thomas Gisborne, in Derbyshire. There were accusations of murder, made in a scandalously public way at Astley's funeral, but an independent inquiry which Gisborne instigated to clear his name found no evidence of foul play and declared the death to be 'by visitation of God'. Some doubt must remain, however, as there seems to have been no autopsy, and because just a year later Gisborne married Astley's widow, his deceased wife's sister.

The heir to the Dukinfield estate was the infant Francis Dukinfield Palmer Astley (1825-68), who grew up into a young man possessed of all "his predecessors' talents and virtues with the advantage of more practical wisdom". Like his father his star quickly burned brightly: in 1847 he married and the following year he stood as the Liberal candidate for one of Cheshire's parliamentary seats and bought the Arisaig estate in Scotland. Arisaig seems to have replaced Fell Foot as the family's main home, and Fell Foot was sold in 1859. After withdrawing from parliamentary politics following his defeat in 1848, Astley threw himself into estate improvement. Always interested in engineering, between 1847 and 1858 he supervised the digging of a coal pit on the Dukinfield estate which for a time was the deepest mine in the world. He was also a keen yachtsman (childhood holidays on Windermere are probably to blame for that) and after acquiring a ship of his own he sailed for pleasure in Arctic waters and during the Crimean War took his boat to the Black Sea with a cargo of medical supplies and was involved in evacuating wounded soldiers to hospital. The tragedy that dogged his father was not far away, however. His beloved and talented wife soon began to exhibit the symptoms of consumption and died in 1862. He blamed her death on the damp situation of their house in Scotland, but even though he built a replacement on a new and much airier site in 1863-64 to the designs of the young Philip Webb, he too contracted the disease and died in 1868.

Yet again the Dukinfield estate was inherited by a minor: the last Francis Dukinfield Astley had been born in 1853 and was an Eton schoolboy of just fifteen when his father died. He and his sisters were brought up, chiefly in London, by family friends, and he went on from Eton to Sandhurst and joined the Scots Fusiliers. He resigned his commission in 1880 and went to Canada with a group of friends for a sporting holiday. This time Fate did not mess about, and he was drowned within a few weeks of arriving in Canada while shooting rapids in a boat with two Indian guides. The Dukinfield and Arisaig estates were not entailed, and although there were male cousins who could have inherited (descendants of John Astley's younger son, John William Astley (1784-1860)), the entire property passed to Francis' elder sister, Gertrude (1849-1920), who married a clerk in the House of Commons, Sir Arthur William Nicholson. The Dukinfield estate seems to have been broken up through piecemeal development from this time onwards, but Arisaig passed to their elder daughter, Charlotte Gertrude Astley Nicholson (d. 1961), who lived there (apart from a period during the Second World War when it was requisitioned and became the headquarters of the Special Operations Executive) until she gave it to her friend Miss Joan Becher (d. 1994) in 1955. The house was finally sold in the late 1970s, although Miss Becher built a smaller house to replace it and retained the estate until her death.

Over Tabley Hall, Cheshire

Over Tabley Hall in 2010. Image: Iain Lees. Some rights reserved.

The jolly nine-bay Gothick red brick front was built onto a plain earlier house between 1759 and 1771 by John Astley to his own designs. It has two storeys of pointed windows and a raised projecting centre, both centre and angles have clasping buttresses, and in the middle there is a broad arched doorway. The doorcase, window surrounds and buttresses are all decorated by large fat rosettes, and there are crocketed pinnacles on the buttresses and the pedimental gable in the centre. The first floor of the centre has an enormous window that must have lit Astley's studio. References in printed sources to partial demolition and the discovery of cellars at the back of the site suggest that the house may once have been larger; perhaps it was abandoned unfinished when Astley inherited the Dukinfield estate and turned his attentions to building a new house there. The house was renovated and extended to its original width after 2007, when it was converted into flats.

Descent: Piers Daniell (c.1485-1522); to son, Thomas Daniell (c.1503-51); to son, Peter Daniell (d. 1557); to son, Thomas Daniell (d. 1575); to son, Peter Daniell (d. 1590); to son, Peter Daniell (1584-1652); to son, Thomas Daniell (fl. 1666); to son, Sir Samuel Daniell (d. 1724), kt.; to niece, Sarah Parker, wife of Sir Charles Dukinfield (1670-1742), 2nd bt.; to son, Sir William Dukinfield Daniell (1725-58), 3rd bt.; to widow, Penelope (1722-62), later wife of John Astley (1724-87), to whom she gave the estate; it was let from 1784 or earlier; to son, Francis Dukinfield Astley (1781-1825), who sold to Sir John Fleming Leycester of Tabley House, after which it descended with that estate...sold 2007 and converted to flats.

Dukinfield Lodge, Dukinfield, Cheshire
Dukinfield Lodge was a completely new house designed by John Astley for himself after he came into the estate in 1771. The house seems to have been more or less triangular in plan, with a long irregular north front overlooking the River Tame, and shorter west and south fronts. The castellated entrance side was on the west, and had a Gothick loggia between projecting wings. The design bears a distinct resemblance to Over Tabley Hall in the use of large Gothick windows and a central tower-like feature, although Dukinfield Lodge was curiously less sophisticated than Over Tabley. 

Dukinfield Lodge: the west-facing entrance front, designed by John Astley for himself, from a Victorian photograph. 

The house contained a saloon, a great octagon room with painted windows, a hothouse and an open bath with an adjoining dressing room. John Aikin described the house as unfinished in 1775, and it was evidently extended in the early 19th century by a brick wing with a bowed end. In the late 18th and early 19th century John Astley and his son also built roads, two bridges across the River Tame, an inn, an iron foundry, and a model village for his foundry workers. 

Dukinfield Lodge: view from the River Tame, showing the long north side of the house.
According to John Aikin, there was a terrace in front of the house "affording a very pleasant view; and the precipitous rock descending from it has been cloathed with evergreens and other trees and shrubs. A fine wood occupies the space between it and the river, through which are cut several retired walks... Its beauties have given rise to a descriptive piece written by a young poet, Mr William Hampson." We know very little more, except that John Astley's son, Francis Dukinfield Astley, who was an amateur artist, added further pictures to the collection of his father's work which the house contained. The house was demolished in 1949.

Descent: built c.1771-75 for John Astley (1724-87); to son, Francis Dukinfield Astley (1781-1825); to son, Francis Dukinfield Palmer Astley (1825-68), who let it from c.1833 onwards; to son, Francis Dukinfield Astley (1853-80), who continued to lease it; to sister, Beatrice Emma (1858-1923), wife of John Frederick Cheetham (1834-1916)...demolished 1949.

Fell Foot, Newby Bridge, Lancashire (now Cumbria)

Fell Foot: the villa from a late 19th century engraving.

The house stood in a fine situation at the southern tip of Lake Windermere, with views up the lake. After the yeomen farmers who had owned this land for many years sold the estate about 1784, their modest farmhouse was enlarged into a plain white stucco villa of two and three storeys for Jeremiah Dixon, sometime mayor of Leeds. The main front had a central single-storey semicircular bow with attached Tuscan columns and tripartite windows above. In 1810 the grounds were improved by moving the road, which originally ran between the house and the lake, further inland, and in the early 19th century a fully glazed conservatory was built all along one side of the house, probably for Francis Astley, who had botanical interests. In the 1860s, a miniature dockyard with five castellated boathouses was built on the edge of the lake for Col. Ridehalgh, who was a sailing enthusiast; he also established a private gas supply in 1869. The house was demolished by Oswald Hedley in 1907 to make way for a new one, but this had progressed no further than the foundations when Mrs. Hedley died, and her husband abandoned the project. The other buildings at the site survive, and are now in the care of The National Trust.

Descent: Robinson family sold c.1784 to Jeremiah Dixon; sold 1813 to Francis Dukinfield Astley (1781-1825); to son, Francis Dukinfield Palmer Astley (1825-68), who sold 1859 to Colonel George John Miller Ridehalgh (1835-92); to cousin, George Ridehalgh (d. 1907); sold 1907 sold to Oswald Hedley (1884-1945) who demolished the house later that year; to widow, Mrs E.L. Hedley, who gave the estate in 1948 to The National Trust.

Arisaig House, Inverness-shire

When Francis Dukinfield Palmer Astley bought the Arisaig estate in 1848 it came with an early 19th century Gothic mansion by James Gillespie Graham. Believing that the dark, damp situation of the house had caused his wife to contract tuberculosis, Astley decided to build a replacement house in a better situation. He commissioned a design from the London architects, Stevens and Robinson, who submitted a proposal with many Dutch gables and a spire. By the time their drawing was submitted in 1863, however, Mrs. Astley had died, and Astley rejected their proposal but not the idea of rebuilding, and turned instead to Philip Webb, who designed a house that stood in a sheltered position but with fine prospects.

Arisaig House: as rebuilt by Philip Webb in 1863-64, from a photograph of c.1880.

It was Webb’s first big country house – the architect later called it “a product of his ignorance” – and was in a simplified style reminiscent of parsonages by Butterfield or Street, rather than the Scots Baronial style that was usual for Victorian mansions in the Highlands. The new house was built in 1863-64 and cost of £12,181, a modest figure reflecting the low cost of labour in the Highlands and the fact that local materials were used as far as possible. Webb braced the house against the hill on the east by a buttressed and battered plinth. To enable the new mansion to fit onto the limited flat area offered by the site, the kitchen and servants' hall were placed in the basement. The main rooms, all of which had access to the gardens on the south and west, were grouped around a large two-storey central hall on the ground floor. Upstairs there were twelve bedrooms and five dressing rooms on the first floor and a further twelve bachelors' bedrooms and Astley's billiard room suite were placed on the second floor.

Arisaig House: the drawing room in 1882, with Miss Gertrude Astley seated. Image: RIBA.

The dark entrance lobby on the north front opened into the high well-lit central hall, which had a fireplace with a large stone hood and a first-floor gallery. In the other reception rooms, Webb was careful not to detract from the magnificent views through the windows by too much architectural splendour; they were provided with window seats separated off from the body of the room by pointed stone arches that supported the upper walls, and panelled to about head-height with white-painted wainscoting.

Arisaig House, as reconstructed by Ian Hamilton in 1936-37.

The house was gutted by fire in 1935, but a walled garden of the 1860s survives to the south-east and Webb’s stables also survive. After the fire, the house was rebuilt in 1936-37 on a slightly smaller footprint by Ian Hamilton (of Hamilton & Lindsay) as a handsome but not very distinctive Arts & Crafts manor house.  The main survivor of the old building was the austere kitchen wing; little else of the Webb house survived the fire in recognisable form, although much of the walling was reused.  The interior is of course all of the 1930s, and has Art Deco touches like the cherrywood panelling of the dining room.  The main staircase has a neo-Caroline balustrade; the drawing room simple groin vaulting.  

During the Second World War, the house became the headquarters of the Special Operations Executive, which was so secret that its activities have only become public knowledge in recent years. In the 1970s, Miss Becher built a smaller house nearby at Druimindarroch, and sold Arisaig House, which became an hotel in 1982, and after briefly reverting to being a private home in 2002, it is now run as a bed and breakfast establishment.

Descent: sold 1848 to Francis Dukinfield Palmer Astley (1825-68); to son, Francis Dukinfield Astley (1853-80); to sister, Gertrude Susan (1849-1920), later wife of Sir Arthur William Nicholson (1852-1932); to daughter, Miss Charlotte Gertrude Astley Nicholson (d. 1961), for whom it was rebuilt after a fire in 1935 and from whom it was requisitioned by the War Office, 1939-46; given 1955 to Miss Joan Becher (d. 1995); sold late 1970s and again 1982 to Mr & Mrs. Smither; sold 2010 to Emma Weir (b. 1960) and run by her sister, Sarah Winnington-Ingram.

Astley family of Dukinfield Lodge

John Astley, from a self-portrait
with his horse
Astley, John (1724-87). Son of Richard Astley (1671-1754) of Wem (Shropshire), apothecary, and his wife Margaret (1685-1735), born 24 June 1724. A portrait painter and amateur architect, who studied with Thomas Hudson in London in the 1740s and then in 1747 went to study in Rome and Florence where he was friend and contemporary of Sir Joshua Reynolds; he remained there until about 1752, copying old masters for Lord Chesterfield and others. On returning to the British Isles he set himself up in Dublin as a portrait painter and worked there for some years before returning to England. Although he had talent as an artist, it was a second-rate talent, and he traded much on his good looks (which earned him the nickname 'Beau Astley') in building up "patronage among a vast circle of fashion". According to his contemporary, John Williams, "He thought that every advantage in civil society was compounded in women and wine... he was as ostentatious as the peacock and as amorous as the Persian Sophi", while Horace Walpole, who was an early patron and initially an enthusiastic promoter of Astley's career, commented that "he estimated his profession only by his gains, and having obtained a fortune, treated all future study with contemptuous neglect". He did, however, continue to paint if not to exhibit after he became wealthy, and also turned his hand to architecture, altering his house at Over Tabley (Cheshire) and designing Dukinfield Lodge, and making alterations to Schomberg House in Pall Mall (which he rented as a London residence from 1769), as well as designing a saloon and conservatory for Lady Archer's St Anne's House, Barnes (Surrey) and remodelling his own house there, Elm Bank. What is known of his works suggests that his preferred style was Gothick, 'handled a bit clumsily, but all the more engaging for that' (Pevsner). Called 'a ladykiller of the first water' he married 1st, 'an Irish lady... who died giving birth'; she could be the 'Mary, wife of John Astley of this town' buried at Wem (Shropshire), 19 April 1758; he married 2nd, 7 December 1759 at Rostherne (Cheshire), Penelope (1722-62), daughter of William Vernon and widow of Sir William Dukinfield Daniell (1725-58), 3rd bt.; and 3rd, 11 November 1777 at Stockport, 'a celebrated young beauty', Mary (1761-1832), daughter of William Wagstaffe of Manchester, surgeon, and had issue:
(1.1) Sophia Astley (c.1753-1831); she became the mistress of George Hyde Clarke (1743-1824), a prominent landowner in Cheshire and Jamaica (whom John Astley referred to in his will as an 'execrable villain') and had issue two sons (one born in Jamaica); she married, 20 September 1792 at St Marylebone (Middx), Louis Foncier (1745-1844), a Frenchman, and had issue one further son; buried at Waters Upton (Shropshire), 12 November 1831;
(3.1) Harriet Astley (1778-1858), baptised 26 August 1778 at Ashton-under-Lyne; married, 31 July 1800 at Ashton-under-Lyne, Rev. John Hayes Petit (d. 1822) and had issue ten children; lived latterly at Lichfield (Staffs); died 5 April 1858; will proved 18 June 1858 (effects under £5,000);
(3.2) Maria Astley (1780-1865), baptised 26 January 1780 at Ashton-under-Lyne; married Maj. George Younghusband (1784-1836), son of Thomas Younghusband of Lyham, Elwick & Marden, and had issue; died aged 86 on 28 August 1865 and was buried in St. Helier (Jersey);
(3.3) Francis Dukinfield Astley (1781-1825) (q.v.);
(3.4) Cordelia Emma Astley (1783-1857), baptised at Ashton-under-Lyne, 4 January 1784; married, 18 November 1807 at Stockport (Cheshire), Rev. George Hornsby (1781-1837), rector of Turkdean (Glos), 1807-37, and had issue; died 6 December and was buried at Turkdean, 12 December 1857; will proved 17 February 1858 (effects under £1,000);
(3.5) John William Astley (1784-1860*), baptised 1 January 1785; educated at Rugby; 2nd Lt. in Dukinfield Rifles, 1804; admitted a freemason, 1808; farmed at Cwmllecoediog, St. Tydecho (Merioneths.), where he built a new house and as a consequence ran into debt; an insolvent debtor, 1841; married, 19 January 1805 at Manchester, Mary (b. 1785), daughter of Samuel Barlow, and had issue twelve children; died at St. Helier (Jersey), 28 November 1860, aged 76.
At the time of his second marriage his wife settled on him the estate of Over Tabley (Cheshire). On the death of her insane daughter by her first marriage in 1771, he also inherited the Dukinfield estate, where he built Dukinfield Lodge to replace the old semi-timbered Dukinfield Hall. He also benefited from a legacy of £10,000 from his brother, Robert Astley.
He died 14 November and was buried 21 November 1787 at Dukinfield Old Chapel, where he is commemorated by a monument designed by Fishers of York in 1802; his will was proved 4 January and 20 February 1788. His first wife was perhaps buried at Wem, 19 April 1758. His second wife died 31 January 1762. His widow married 2nd, 28 January 1793, Rev. William Robert Hay (1761-1839), later vicar of Rochdale and Prebendary of York, and had further issue; she died 18 February 1832.
* Many sources give his date of death as 1823, but this is incorrect and I have been unable to trace the source of the error.

F.D. Astley (1781-1825)
Astley, Francis Dukinfield (1781-1825). Elder son of John Astley (1724-87) and his third wife, Mary, daughter of William Wagstaffe of Manchester, surgeon, baptised at Ashton-under-Lyne (Lancs), 22 August 1781. Educated at Rugby School. Captain of Dukinfield Independent Rifle Company, 1804; High Sheriff of Cheshire, 1807 (the procession at his installation was " attended by such a retinue of friends and tenants as was probably never equalled in Cheshire, and with a profuse splendour which is yet remembered as a notable event in the county, and especially in the city of Chester" and was recorded in a painting); JP for Cheshire, 1813; Provincial Grand Master of Free Masons for Lancashire, 1814-25. He was esteemed by contemporaries as a poet and published several volumes of serio-comic verse (one of which, Varnishando, reflects his own experience as the dupe of unscrupulous picture-forgers); a manuscript volume of his poems is now in the John Rylands University Library in Manchester. In 1802 he was awarded the Silver Medal of the Society for the Improvement of Agriculture for planting 40,000 trees, and he later published Hints to planters, 1807 and The planter's guide, 1814. He was also a keen horse-racing enthusiast and hunter, keeping his own pack of hounds at Fell Foot and building 'the Hunter's Tower' at Dukinfield. He invested unwisely in building an ironworks on his estate which failed, and is said also to have lost large sums 'by his benevolent efforts  to mitigate the distress caused in the district at the time of the war with France'. These factors may explain why he was declared bankrupt in May 1817 and in December 1817 proposed selling the Fell Foot estate; by February 1818 his brother-in-law, Thomas Gisborne of Horwich, had been appointed as his assignee in bankruptcy; his debts were finally cleared in November 1819, and the discovery of large deposits of coal on his estate subsequently restored his fortunes. He married, 10 June 1812 at Etwall (Derbys), Susan Fysche (1794-1878), daughter of Capt. Roger Fysche Palmer of Ickwell (Beds.) and had issue:
(1) John Dukinfield Astley (b. & d. 1813), born March 1813; killed by falling from a window, aged 16 weeks, 18 July 1813; buried at Dukinfield Old Chapel where he is commemorated by a monument designed by G. Napper;
(2) Francis Dukinfield Palmer Astley (1825-68) (q.v.).
He inherited Dukinfield Lodge from his father in 1787, and came of age in 1802. In 1813 he bought Fell Foot, a late 18th century villa on the edge of Lake Windermere. 
He died unexpectedly in the night on 29 July 1825 at the house of Thomas Gisborne and there were public accusations at his funeral at Dukinfield Old Chapel (where he is commemorated by a tomb designed by John Palmer) that he had been poisoned by Gisborne. Although there was no Coroner's inquest, Gisborne arranged for local doctors and magistrates to enquire into the circumstances of the death with a view to clearing his name. The enquiry concluded that the death was natural, but the press reports avoid much detail and it seems unlikely that the body was exhumed and a post mortem held. Thomas Gisborne subsequently married Astley's widow, who was the sister of his deceased wife Elizabeth (1789-1823), on 25 September 1826 at Newchurch (IoW); she died 22 January and was buried 26 January 1878 at Hampstead (Middx).

F.D.P. Astley (1825-68)
Astley, Francis Dukinfield Palmer (1825-68). Only surviving child of Francis Dukinfield Astley and his wife Susan, daughter of Capt. Roger Fysche Palmer of Ickwell (Beds), born at Fell Foot, 24 April 1825. Educated privately and at Trinity College, Cambridge (matriculated 1843). Landowner and proprietor of coal mines at Dukinfield. "He was a man who inherited his predecessors' talents and virtues with the advantage of more practical wisdom". From childhood he was a keen engineer and mechanic, and between 1847 and 1858 he dug what was then the deepest coalmine in the world on his estate. A Liberal in politics, he was a parliamentary candidate for Cheshire North in 1847, but withdrew before the poll; he stood again in 1848 - interrupting his honeymoon for electioneering - but was defeated. High Sheriff of Cheshire, 1854. JP and DL for Cheshire and DL for Inverness-shire. An officer of 4th Battn., Cheshire Rifle Volunteers (Capt., 1860; Lt-Col., 1860; retired 1866). He was a keen sailor and soon after coming into his estates and acquiring a yacht he visited Iceland and sailed in Arctic waters; in 1855 he sailed to the Crimea and made himself useful delivering medical supplies and ferrying injured soldiers to hospital. He had a wide reputation for benevolence and charitable works and was President of the Manchester & Liverpool Agricultural Society, 1861, and of the Ashton-under-Lyne District Infirmary and the Dukinfield Library & Institute. When he acquired the Arisaig estate he built new cottages for so many workers as the estate could reasonably support and paid for the emigration of the remaining tenants to Australia, in sharp contrast to the brutal way in which many landlords cleared their estates. He married, 7 October 1847 at Donnybrook (Co. Dublin), Gertrude Emma (1827-62), second daughter of Lt-Gen. Sir Henry David James GCB, and had issue:
(1) Gertrude Susan Astley (1849-1920) (q.v.);
(2) Constance Charlotte Astley (1851-1935), born about January 1851; a traveller and diarist, whose diary of a journey to New Zealand in 1897-98 has been published; died unmarried, 19 November 1935; will proved 2 March 1936 (estate £51,270);
(3) Francis Dukinfield Astley (1853-80) (q.v.);
(4) Beatrice Emma Astley (1858-1923), born 1 October 1858; married, 11 October 1887 at St Margaret's, Westminster (Middx), John Frederick Cheetham MP (1834-1916), cotton manufacturer and banker, but had no issue; lived at 33 Princes Gardens, Kensington (Middx) and later at Dukinfield Lodge, Bournemouth; died there, 23 April 1923; will proved 31 May 1923 (estate £101,994).
He inherited Dukinfield Lodge and Fell Foot from his father in 1825 and came of age in 1846. Dukinfield Lodge was let to Charles Hindley MP from c.1833 until c.1850. Astley sold many of the paintings from Dukinfield Lodge in 1851 and the house was later occupied by his agent, William Bass until c.1860, when it was let to Thomas Cheetham. Astley bought the Arisaig estate (Inverness-shire) in 1848 and rebuilt the house there in 1863-64. He sold Fell Foot in 1859. A proposal that he should sell Dukinfield Lodge and its grounds to the town council as a cemetery was rejected in 1864 but the grounds were subsequently acquired for this purpose and the cemetery opened in 1866.
He died of tuberculosis at Torquay, 26 March 1868 and was buried at West Dean (Sussex); his will was proved 9 April 1868 (effects under £16,000). His wife died of tuberculosis, 31 October 1862 and was also buried at West Dean.

F.D. Astley (1853-80)
Astley, Francis Dukinfield (1853-80). Only son of Francis Dukinfield Palmer Astley (1825-68) and his wife Gertrude Emma, daughter of Lt-Gen. Sir Henry David James GCB, born at Fell Foot, 29 May and baptised at Cartmel (Lancs), 30 June 1853. Orphaned at the age of fifteen he became a ward of Lord Abinger and Sir Willoughby Jones. He was educated at Eton and the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, and then joined the Scots Fusiliers (Capt.; retired 1880). He travelled to Canada with a party of friends for a sporting holiday in 1880, where he was accidentally drowned while shooting rapids on the River Natashquan in Quebec. He was unmarried and without issue.
He inherited Dukinfield Lodge and Arisaig House from his father in 1868 and came of age in 1874. He lived at 33 Princes Gardens, South Kensington (Middx). At the time of his death it was reported that his income was between £40,000 and £50,000 a year. By his will he provided each of his sisters with £25,000 and left Arisaig House and the remainder of his real estate to his eldest sister, Gertrude.
He died in a drowning accident in Canada, 2 August 1880 and his body was recovered four days later; his will was proved 25 October 1880 and 14 April 1881 (effects under £70,000).

Astley, Gertrude Susan (1849-1920). Eldest daughter of Francis Dukinfield Palmer Astley (1825-68) and his wife Gertrude Emma, daughter of Lt-Gen. Sir Henry David James GCB, baptised 1 January 1850 at Cartmel. She married, 30 April 1883 at Holy Trinity, Brompton (Middx), Sir Arthur William Nicholson KCB (1852-1932), Clerk in the House of Commons, son of Capt. William Smith Nicholson, and had issue:
(1) Francis (k/a Frank) Astley Stuart Nicholson (b. 1884), born 14 July and baptised 19 August 1884 at Holy Trinity, Brompton (Middx); living in 1920;
(2) Charlotte Gertrude Astley Nicholson (1886-1961), baptised 5 May 1886; inherited the Arisaig estate on her father's death in 1932 and gave it in 1955 to her friend, Miss Joan Becher (she sold the house in the late 1970s but retained the estate until her death, unmarried and without issue, in 1994); died 8 March 1961;
(3) William Dukinfield Nicholson (1888-1915), born 13 May 1888; served in WW1 as Lt. in Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders; married, 8 June 1914, Barbara Florence (who m2, 2 October 1923, Marcel Charles Koechlin), daughter of Rev. John Martin, but had no issue; killed in action in Flanders, 23 February 1915 and was buried at Dickebushe New Military Cemetery (Belgium);
(4) Arthur Stuart Nicholson (1889-1914), born Jul-Sept 1889; educated at Winchester; served as 2nd Lt. in Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders from 1911; killed in action, 14 September 1914; his body was never recovered;
(5) Helen Constance Nicholson (b. 1893), baptised 22 January 1894 at Funtington (Sussex); unmarried and living in 1949.
She inherited the Arisaig estate from her brother in 1880. After her husband's death in 1932 it passed to their elder daughter.
She died 4 September 1920; her will was proved in Scotland and sealed in London, 9 December 1921 (estate £93,985). Her husband died in 1932.


Burke's Landed Gentry, 1894, vol. 1, p. 44; The Ashton Weekly Reporter, and Stalybridge and Dukinfield Chronicle, 28 March 1868 - obituary of F.D.P. Astley; T. Middleton, Annals of Hyde and district, 1899, passimM. Girouard, The Victorian country house, 2nd ed., 1979, p. 430; P. de Figueiredo & J. Treuherz, Cheshire country houses, 1987, pp. 230-1, 261; J. Gifford, The buildings of Scotland: Highlands and Islands, 1992, p. 229; S. Kirk, Philip Webb, pioneer of Arts and Crafts architecture, 2005, pp. 104-11; M. Hyde & Sir N. Pevsner, The buildings of England: Cumbria, 2010, pp. 552-3; C. Hartwell, M. Hyde, E. Hubbard & Sir N. Pevsner, The buildings of England: Cheshire, 2nd edn., 2011, pp. 337, 522;

Location of archives

Astley & Nicholson families of Dukinfield and Arisaig: deeds and papers, 1779-1913 [Chetham's Library, Manchester, E8.1-8.2]

Coat of arms

Azure, a cinquefoil pierced ermine.

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.

  • Can anyone supply internal photographs of Over Tabley Hall before its conversion into flats in 2007?
  • Can anyone provide further information about the development of Dukinfield Lodge or any illustrations of the interior prior to demolition in 1949?
  • Can anyone provide additional views of Fell Foot, especially any showing the entrance front of the house?
  • Can anyone provide an illustration of the James Gillespie Graham house at Arisaig?
  • Does anyone have more information about the dispersal of the Dukinfield Lodge estate in the 20th century?
  • Does anyone know more about the lives of the children of Gertrude Susan, Lady Nicholson and why her eldest daughter inherited the Arisaig estate rather than her son?
  • Can anyone supply a portrait or photograph of Gertrude Susan, Lady Nicholson?

Revision and acknowledgements

This post was first published 25 May 2016 and revised 31 March and 7 April 2019 and 29 January 2020. I am grateful to Edward Beaumont and the Rev. Peter Dyson for additional information.

Friday 20 May 2016

(217) Astell of Everton House and Woodbury Hall

Astell of Everton
The Everton estate was bought in 1713 by a prosperous London timber merchant, William Astell, who later became one of the directors of the infamous South Sea Company. He had an annus horribilis in 1720-21, when the South Sea Company became a by-word for financial impropriety, his assets were seized by Parliament, and his second wife, a daughter and grandson were all killed in a fire at his London home. The scandal surrounding the South Sea Company arose because some of the directors had systematically talked up its stock price while secretly selling their own shares at the top of the market. When the bubble burst hundreds of shareholders were ruined, while the directors were left with massive profits. Parliament responded to the crisis by seizing the disposable assets of the directors and using them to help reimburse the losses of those who had suffered, but the directors themselves received an allowance - in William Astell's case, £10,000 - which still left them comparatively wealthy. 

The Everton estate was not liquidated, presumably because William Astell had settled it on himself and his children and thus only had a life interest in the property, and his business as a timber merchant continued and thrived in the 1720s and 1730s when he became a contractor to the Navy. At all events in about 1730 he was able to substantially rebuild the house at Everton. The name of his architect is not known, although as a timber supplier to the London building trade he would have had contacts with many of the leading figures in the field; indeed he is known, for example, to have supplied the timber for Hawksmoor's St Anne, Limehouse.

Unexpectedly, in 1731 the Moggerhanger estate at Blunham (Beds) also came into William Astell's hands under the terms of his daughter's marriage settlement, when her husband, Owen Thomas Bromsall, died without issue. Both Everton and Moggerhanger passed at his death in 1741 to his son, Richard Astell (1717-77), who, after briefly continuing his father's timber business, settled down as the conventional country squire and colonel of the Huntingdonshire militia. He married twice but had no children, and at his death Everton went - under the terms of his father's will - to his nephew, William Thornton (1734-1801), subject only to his taking the surname Astell. This was the first of four occasions on which the Astell name has been preserved in this way, which must be something of a record in less than 250 years! The Moggerhanger estate passed to William's younger brother, Robert Thornton (1735-1803), who was not required to change his name, and he sold it to a third brother, Godfrey Thornton (1737-1805) in 1784.  An account of Moggerhanger House is reserved for a future post on the Thornton family, but they must to some extent come into the story of the Astells, if only because when William Astell (né Thornton) died without issue in 1801 the Everton estate passed to his nephew and namesake, the second son of Godfrey Thornton. This second William Thornton was like his uncle required to take the name and arms of Astell, but whereas the first William Thornton simply became William Astell, he was always known subsequently as William Thornton Astell.

William Thornton Astell (1774-1847) was what his contemporaries would undoubtedly have called a man of parts: handsome and dynamic, he not only had a partnership in his family's business as Russia merchants but was also a director of the East India Company for almost fifty years and its Chairman three times. He diversified his interests into shipping and railways, being first Chairman of the Great Northern Railway, was MP for Bridgewater from 1806-32 and for Bedfordshire from 1841 until his death, and held senior appointments in a number of militia and volunteer regiments. He married into another Bedfordshire gentry family in 1800, and produced a large family, most of whom survived to adulthood and achieved successful careers or marriages. It seems likely, however, that this busy life kept him mainly in London, and although he did make some alterations to Everton House soon after he inherited it (to the design of Sir John Soane who was remodelling Moggerhanger for his elder brother Stephen Thornton at the same time), the house appears to have been rather neglected later. In 1835 it was advertised to let, and in 1850 the contents were sold the house was demolished shortly afterwards. 

The owner by this time was W.T. Astell's eldest son, Col. Richard William Astell (1804-64), a colonel in the Grenadier Guards, who was unmarried and childless, and who apparently felt that a large country house in poor condition was an encumbrance he did not require. Col. Astell's younger brother and eventual heir, John Harvey Astell (1806-87), evidently thought differently. He inherited more of his father's outlook and business interests, and in the 1830s spent time in China as the East India Company's last resident agent. He became a Director of the East India Company in about 1852 and also followed in his father's footsteps as an MP, and as a director of various British and overseas financial and railway companies. In 1858, perhaps miffed that he had not inherited or been allowed to buy his brother's unwanted house at Everton, he bought the estate next door, Woodbury Hall, an early 19th century house, which he proceeded to extend and remodel.

John Harvey Astell was the last of his family to have extensive mercantile interests. Perhaps mindful of his own disappointment in the matter of an inheritance of property, he left Woodbury to his eldest son, William Harvey Astell (1860-96), but bought Dale Lodge, Sunningdale (Berks) in about 1877 as a home for his younger son, John Henry St. Quintin Astell (1863-1945), who lived there until 1938.  William Harvey Astell pursued a military career in his father's lifetime, but retired from the army when he married and took over the family estate in 1886. He died young just ten years later, leaving a young son and two daughters, and his widow married again, to Lord de L'Isle & Dudley, with the result that his children were brought up not at Woodbury but in the infinitely grander surroundings of Penshurst Place (Kent). Woodbury was let until the mid-1920s, when the heir, Richard John Vereker Astell (1890-1969), having abandoned a career in the diplomatic service in 1919 and married three years later, moved in. The house was modernised and restored by Philip Tilden (who had worked for his sister at Long Crendon Manor (Bucks)) in 1931. During the Second World War the house was requisitioned, and Richard Astell went into the Royal Artillery for the duration. Sadly, just three days before D-Day, a fire at Woodbury caused major damage to the roof and one end of the building. Restoration had to wait until the 1950s, when the pressure on building licences had eased, and was conducted in 1951-55 to the designs of Sir Basil Spence, whose name is now forever associated with the modernist Coventry Cathedral, but who did a surprising amount of country house work, sometimes - as at Woodbury - in a traditional style.

When Richard Astell died in 1969 he left Woodbury to his nephew, Maj. Thomas Sidney Hohler (1919-89), the youngest son of his sister Laline and her husband, Lt-Col. Arthur Preston Hohler (1887-1919), subject to the life interest of his widow, Joan. Like the Thorntons at an earlier period, the Hohlers are an interesting family and associated with several country houses, and they too will be the subject of a future post. In compliance with the terms of the bequest, Maj. Hohler took the additional name of Astell in 1978, but in the event he died before Joan Astell, who died at the great age of 98 in 1993. As a result the estate passed in that year to Maj. Astell Hohler's only daughter, Isabelle (b. 1955), who had married in 1982 the 24th Earl of Erroll.  Lady Erroll also inherited from her father his own house, Wolverton Park (Hampshire), which he had bought in 1959. But the Errolls have preferred to live at Woodbury, and Wolverton has been let since her father's death. The Errolls have two sons and two daughters, and the intention would appear to be that their younger son will inherit Woodbury, as in 2015 he became the fourth member of the family to take the name Astell in lieu of his patronymic.

Everton House, Bedfordshire

Everton House: survey elevation by Sir John Soane, 1811. © Sir John Soane Museum 35/5/1.

Everton House: partial plan of the house by Sir John Soane, 1811. © Sir John Soane Museum 35/5/2.
William Astell acquired what was probably a 17th century manor house when he bought the Everton estate in 1713. The house stood immediately east of the parish church, and was partially rebuilt and greatly extended for Astell some years later. An agreement in 1729 with Clare College, Cambridge (which owned the rectory) allowed him to take part of the churchyard needed for the extension of the house in return for giving a larger piece of land to the north for the extension of the churchyard, and so the rebuilding probably took place in about 1730. The main block was of seven bays and two storeys with a basement and dormers, clamped between two-storey projecting wings, the irregularity of which suggests that they may have incorporated earlier structures. To the east, the service buildings were arranged around a courtyard to one side of the house and also appear to have incorporated part of the earlier manor house. Comparing Soane's survey drawing above with the view of c.1765 below, it would appear that an extra storey was added to this service range in the late 18th century.

Everton House: south front in c.1765 (artist unknown). Image: Bedfordshire Archives Service Z50/45/7.

A number of 18th and early 19th century drawings survive which collectively give a sense of the subsequent architectural development of the house. The south-facing entrance front seems to have remained largely as built in c.1730, but the north front, facing the park, saw more changes. A drawing of c.1806 appears to show the original arrangement, similar to the entrance side, with a seven-bay centre between two short projecting wings. Soane's plan shows that by 1811 a broad canted bay had been added in front of the two left-hand ground-floor windows, and this is confirmed by a drawing that may be dated to c.1830, which shows that an elaborate new doorcase had also been added, probably at the same time. Another change is that the dormer windows in the attic appear to have been blocked up between c.1806 and c.1830.

Everton House: north front in c.1806 (artist unknown). Image: Bedfordshire Archives Service Z50/45/8. 

Everton House: north front in c.1830 (artist unknown). Image: Bedfordshire Archives Service Z50/45/11.
In 1811-12 Sir John Soane, who was rebuilding Moggerhanger Park nearby for William Astell's older brother, Stephen Thornton, made designs for internal alterations and the addition of a new conservatory between the wings on the north front at Everton. These appear to have been executed, although the pitched roof shown in Soane's design for the conservatory appears in a view of c.1840 to have been replaced by a flat roof.

Everton House: design for conservatory on north front by Sir John Soane, 1811-12. Image: © Sir John Soane Museum 8/3/4

Everton House: north front in c.1840 (artist unknown). Image: Bedfordshire Archives Service Z50/45/10

This last view suggests faintly a feeling of decay, and it is thus perhaps no surprise that the house was advertised to be let in 1835 (when it was described as a large and excellent mansion), or that Col. R.W. Astell, who inherited in 1847, sold up the contents in 1850 and demolished the house.  A former laundry and service wing were converted into a house and survive. The building materials were apparently donated to Clare College, Cambridge, which authorised their sale in 1852. In 1866 it was reported that the house had been 'levelled to the ground'.

Descent: William Dale (d. 1537); to daughter, Joan, wife of William Wollascott; to son, William Wollascott (d. 1618); to son, William Wollascott (d. 1640); to son, William Wollascott (fl. 1653), who sold to Walter Carey, who sold 1713 to William Astell (1672-1741); to son, Richard Astell (1717-77); to nephew, William Thornton (later Astell) (1734-1801); to brother, Godfrey Thornton (1737-1805); to son, Col. William Thornton (later Astell) (1774-1847); to son, Col. Richard William Astell (1804-64), who demolished the house.

Woodbury Hall, Everton, Bedfordshire

Old Woodbury House, as remodelled in 1836-38.

The original house on this estate was Old Woodbury House, which still stands, half a mile to the north-east. Old Woodbury was described c. 1635 as lately built, and as a 'very pretty gentleman like house', but was extended for Lt-Gen. the Hon. George Lane Parker (1724-91) and then remodelled (or perhaps entirely rebuilt, although it appears to incorporate some earlier features) in Tudor Gothic style in 1836-38 for Rev. William Wilkieson. In association with this house, General Parker employed Nathaniel Richmond to landscape the park in a Brownian style in 1764.

Woodbury Hall: entrance front in the late 19th century. Image: East Sussex Record Office ACC 12684/42

Woodbury Hall: garden front in the late 19th century. Image: East Sussex Record Office ACC 12684/42

What is now Woodbury Hall was built on a new site within the park, north of the parish church and on the edge of the Greensand ridge, in 1803-06 for Rev. John Wilkieson, who bought the estate in 1803. The newly-discovered pictures above, which show the house after it was altered and enlarged in Victorian times, suggest that the original building was a rendered block of two storeys and five bays, with a projecting central bay fronted by the fine Ionic prostyle porch. The ground floor windows were recessed within superarches. The date of the Victorian additions is not known, and they need not necessarily have been all of one date, but the loosely Italianate style of them suggests they may largely have been the work of John Harvey Astell, who bought the estate in 1858. The additions included a new three-storey block on the right hand side of the entrance front, the addition of a third floor on the entrance side, and the construction of additional service accommodation to the left of the entrance front.

The Victorian additions were partly removed when the house was restored by Philip Tilden for R.J.V. Astell in 1931; Astell no doubt met Tilden through his sister, Laline Hohler, for whom Astell restored Long Crendon Manor. Soon after this rejuvenation, Woodbury Hall was requisitioned for military use during the Second World War and was badly damaged by a fire on 3 June 1944 which destroyed the south end of the building and the roof. 

Woodbury Hall: entrance front. Image: Orangeaurochs. Some rights reserved.

The house as it currently stands results from the post-fire reconstruction which took place in 1951-55 with Sir Basil Spence as architect. He truncated the south end of the house so that it is now of seven bays on both the front and back elevations, and reduced it to two storeys under a new hipped roof. On the entrance front, the house has an open pediment in the centre and the Ionic porch which survived from the original house. On the garden front there is a pedimented centre with quoins and garlands above a canted bay. On the north side there is a loggia between short wings designed by Philip Tilden, and the principal neo-Georgian interiors are his too. There are also some older fittings, moved from Everton House when this was taken down in the 1850s. The house was again restored in the late 1990s after the present owners took possession.

Descent: George Parker (c.1697-1764), 2nd Earl of Macclesfield; to younger son, Lt-Gen. Hon. George Lane Parker (1724-91); to brother, Thomas Parker (1723-95), 3rd Earl of Macclesfield; to son, George Parker (1755-1842), 4th Earl of Macclesfield, who sold 1803 to Rev. William Wilkieson (d. 1839), who built a new house in the park and leased it to Rev. Thomas Shore (1832-37); sold 1838 to Sir William Booth, kt., who sold 1858 to John Harvey Astell (1806-87); to son, William Harvey Astell (1860-96); to son, Richard John Vereker Astell (1890-1969), who came of age in 1911; to widow, Joan Astell (1895-1993) for life and then to great-niece, Isabelle (1955-2020), wife of Martin Sereld Victor Gilbert Hay (b. 1948), 24th Earl of Erroll. 

Wolverton Park, Hampshire

Wolverton Park: entrance front

The present house is a two-storey Georgian building faced in ashlar. The entrance was originally on what is now the garden side, and has seven bays, a balustraded parapet, an Ionic porch with coupled columns, and slightly lower recessed wings. On the present entrance front the centre is of five bays and the wings run forward to embrace an entrance court. The house perhaps took its present form after it was acquired by the 1st Duke of Wellington in 1837, but the core is probably 18th century. It was perhaps built for Sir Charles van Notten Pole, although it could be earlier; the wings are additions of the 1820s.  

Wolverton Park: entrance hall

Inside, the house has a two-storey entrance hall with a cantilevered staircase rising, as a result of the reorientation of the house, from just inside the front door. There is also an exceptionally handsome drawing room with simple plasterwork and a fine marble chimneypiece. 

Wolverton Park: yellow drawing room.

This is an ancient site: there was a royal deer park here in the 12th century, which was granted in 1215 by King John to Peter FitzHerbert, whose descendants owned it until the 15th century. The parish church, which stands above the park, was rebuilt in 1717 in classical style, and the park was landscaped in the 18th century. By 1810 there was a folly summerhouse with a spire in a plantation in the park.
Wolverton Park: folly in the woods, 1810

Descent: Thomas Dyneley (d. 1502); to widow, Philippa for life and then to daughter Elizabeth, wife of George Barrett (d. 1525) and later of Sir John Baker, kt.; to son, Edward Barrett (d. 1586); to grandson, Edward Barrett (d. 1644), 1st Lord Newburgh of Fife; sold by the trustees of his will to George Browne (fl. 1661-69); to son, Sir George Browne; to daughter, Elizabeth (1671-88), wife of Sir Jemmett Raymond; to son, Jemmett Raymond (1688-c.1772); to second cousin, Dame Elizabeth Worsley (d. 1774); to son, Edward Meux-Worsley of Gatcombe House (IoW), who sold 1782 to Sir Charles van Notten (later van Notten Pole), 1st bt. (d. 1813); to son, Sir Peter Pole, 2nd bt. (1770-1850), who sold 1837 to Arthur Wellesley (1769-1852), 1st Duke of Wellington; to son, Arthur Richard Wellesley (1807-84), 2nd Duke of Wellington; to nephew, Henry Wellesley (1846-1900), 3rd Duke of Wellington; to brother, Arthur Charles Wellesley (1849-1934), 4th Duke of Wellington; to son, Arthur Charles Wellesley (1876-1941), 5th Duke of Wellington; to son, Henry Valerian George Wellesley (1912-43), 6th Duke of Wellington; sold 1943 to Mrs H. Andreae of Moundsmere Manor; sold 1959 to Thomas Sidney Hohler (later Astell Hohler) (1919-89); to daughter, Isabelle (b. 1955), wife of Martin Sereld Victor Gilbert Hay (b. 1948), 24th Earl of Erroll. The house was leased by the Dukes of Wellington (tenants included Wallace James Walker) and is leased today.

Astell family of Everton and Woodbury

William Astell (1672-1741)
Astell, William (1672-1741) of Everton House. Son of John Astell* of London, joiner, born 1672. Apprenticed to his father, 1688. Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Joiners in the City of London, 1697 (Master, 1724 and 1735). A prosperous timber merchant whose yard was at Puddle Dock, London, who provided timber for building several of the new churches built in the early 18th century in London's growing suburbs; in the 1720s and 1730s he became a supplier to the Navy board, initially of timber but later also of ropes and other chandlery goods. He was also a director of the South Sea Company and was one of those whose assets were seized following the 'South Sea Bubble', although he was allowed to keep property to the value of £10,000 and evidently swiftly returned to prosperity. On 7 January 1720/1 "A fire broke out in the house of Mr. Wm. Astell, Merchant, Austin Friars, which destroyed that and another house and damaged several others. Mr. Astell's wife, a Daughter with an Infant Son at the breast and its nurse were all burnt in the house. A Servant maid threw herself out of a window to avoid the flames and was taken up alive, but dy'd in 3 hours of the hurt she received by the fall". He married 1st, 1697, Anne Palfreyman (1677-1707) and 2nd, 17 May 1708, Mary (d. 1720), daughter of John Bagnall, and had issue:
(1.1) A daughter (d. 1720); married and had issue a child, with whom she was killed in the fire at Austin Friars, 7 January 1720;
(1.2) Elizabeth Astell (1703-47); married 1st, Owen Thomas Bromsall (d. 1731) of Northill (Beds), and 2nd, 1742/3 (settlement 3 February), Humphrey Monoux** of Sandy, but had no issue; will proved in the PCC, 19 June 1747;
(1.3) Anne Astell (b. & d. 1706), baptised at St Benets, Pauls Wharf, London, 20 July 1706; buried in the same place, 30 July 1706;
(2.1) Mary Astell (1709-14), born and baptised at St. Benet's, Paul's Wharf, London, 26 March 1709; died young and was buried at St Benets, Pauls Wharf, London, 16 May 1714;
(2.2) Sarah Astell (1710-12), born 30 April and baptised 10 May 1710; died in infancy and was buried at St. Benet's, Paul's Wharf, London, 21 June 1712;
(2.3) Anne Astell (b. 1711), born 19 April and baptised at St. Benet's, Paul's Wharf, London, 23 April 1711;
(2.4) William Astell (b. & d. 1713), born 13 May and baptised 22 May 1713; died in infancy and was buried at St. Benet's, Paul's Wharf, London, 18 July 1713;
(2.5) Frances Astell (1714-64), baptised at St Peter-le-Poer, London, 6 October 1714; died unmarried and was buried at Everton, 9 May 1764;
(2.6) Margaret Astell (1715-53) (q.v.);
(2.7) Richard Astell (1717-77) (q.v.).
He lived at Old Broad Street, Austin Friars, London, and built up a considerable estate in Bedfordshire and Huntingdonshire, following his purchase of the Everton estate in 1713 from Walter Carey. In 1731 he unexpectedly came into possession of the Moggerhanger estate under the provisions of the marriage settlement of his daughter Elizabeth, following the death of her husband, Owen Bromsall.
He died 15 October 1741 and was buried at Everton where he is commemorated by a monument; his will was proved in the PCC, 13 November 1741. His first wife was buried at St Benet's, Paul's Wharf, London, 26 August 1707. His second wife died 7 January 1720/1 but her burial has not been traced.
* Burke's Landed Gentry gives his father as Roger Astell (1630-97), but the London records seem to show conclusively that his father was John.
**Early editions of Burke's Landed Gentry state that she married Sir Humphrey Monoux, 4th bt. in 1742, but her husband was Humphrey Monoux esq.; Sir Humphrey married in that year Jane Elizabeth Jones (née Sambrooke).

Richard Astell (1717-77)
Astell, Richard (1717-77). Only son of William Astell (1672-1741) and his second wife Mary, daughter of John Bagnall, born March 1716/7 and baptised at St Peter-le-Poer, London, 15 April 1717. He continued his father's business as a timber merchant and Navy contractor until about 1744 but then retired to the life of a county gentleman. Lt-Col. of the Huntingdonshire militia; JP and DL for Bedfordshire and Huntingdonshire. He married 1st, 8 April 1740, his first cousin, Sarah (1717-67), daughter of John Bagnall and 2nd, 23 May 1770, Hannah (1737-1807), daughter of Rev. Benjamin Kennett, vicar of Bradford (Yorks), but had no issue.
He inherited the Everton House and Moggerhanger estates from his father in 1741. At his death his property passed (according to the terms of his father's will) to his nephews, William Thornton (later Astell) and Richard Thornton.
He died 23 January 1777 and was buried at Everton, where he is commemorated by a monument. His first wife died 15 June 1767. His widow married 2nd, Thomas Pownall MP (1722-1805), Governor, Commander-in-Chief, and Vice-Admiral of Massachusetts and South Carolina, and Lt-Governor of New Jersey, and died 5 January 1807.

Margaret Astell (later Thornton)
Astell, Margaret (1715-53). Elder daughter of William Astell (1672-1741) and his second wife Mary, daughter of John Bagnall, born 22 November and baptised at St. Peter-le-Poer, London, 15 December 1715. She married, 12 April 1733 at Charterhouse chapel, London, Godfrey Thornton (1701-51) of Clapham (Surrey), a Director of the Bank of England, fourth son of John Thornton of Hull (Yorks ER), and had issue:
(1) William Thornton (later Astell) (1734-1801) (q.v.);
(2) Robert Thornton (1735-1803), born 9 January 1734/5; inherited Moggerhanger Park from his uncle in 1777 (and probably had the use of it before that) but later sold it to his brother Godfrey; married 1st, 10 August 1763 at Hull, his cousin Sarah (d. 1764), second daughter and co-heir of William Thornton of Hull and had issue one son (who died young); married 2nd, 10 February 1778 at St. Andrew Holborn (Middx), Elizabeth (1749-1817), daughter of Joseph Warner of Hatton Garden, London but had no further issue; died 29 November and was buried at St Andrew Holborn (Middx), 7 December 1803;
(3) Godfrey Thornton (1737-1805) (q.v.);
(4) Richard Thornton (b. 1740), baptised at All Hallows, Staining, London, 12 June 1740;
(5) Charles Thornton (1742-64), born 19 January 1741/2; merchant in London; died unmarried, 13 May and was buried at St Mary Aldermanbury, London, 18 May 1764;
(6) John Thornton (1750-77), born 30 May 1750; merchant in London; died unmarried, 28 December 1777 and was buried at St Mary Aldermanbury, London, 3 January 1778.
She and her husband lived in a house on the west side of Clapham Common (Surrey) and also had a house in Kensington (Middx).
She died 2 May 1753 and was buried at Everton. Her husband died 5 December 1751.

Thornton (later Astell), William (1734-1801). Eldest son of Godfrey Thornton of Clapham (Surrey) and his wife Margaret, daughter of William Astell of Everton (Beds), born 27 January 1733/4. He changed his name from Thornton to Astell by royal licence, 1777. High Sheriff of Bedfordshire, 1780. He married, 11 July 1758, his cousin, Elizabeth (1736-1809), daughter of Robert Thornton of Clapham (Surrey), but had no issue.
He inherited the Everton House estate under the will of his maternal grandfather, William Astell, on the death of Richard Astell in 1777. At his death the estate passed to his brother Godfrey Thornton and then to Godfrey's second son, William Thornton (later Astell) (1774-1847). 
He died 6 April 1801 and was buried at Everton, where he and his wife are commemorated by a monument. His widow died 9 March 1809 and was also buried at Everton.

Godfrey Thornton (1737-1805)
Thornton, Godfrey (1737-1805). Third son of Godfrey Thornton of Clapham (Surrey) and his wife Margaret, daughter of William Astell of Everton (Beds), born 16 October and was baptised at All Hallows Staining, London, 14 November 1737. Merchant and a Director of the Bank of England. He married, 31 July 1766 at Edmonton (Middx), Jane (1742-1811), second daughter of Stephen Peter Godin of Cullands Grove (Middx), and had issue:
(1) Stephen Thornton (1767-1850) of Moggerhanger House (Beds), born 8 July and baptised at St Mary Aldermanbury, London, 14 August 1767; a Director of the Bank of England and the Russia company; undertook a major remodelling of Moggerhanger Park to the designs of Sir John Soane, 1809-12; High Sheriff of Bedfordshire, 1814; married, 27 February 1794, Mary (d. 1846), second daughter of Thomas Littledale of Rotterdam (Holland) and had issue two sons; died 26 August 1850 [the Thorntons of Moggerhanger will be the subject of a future post];
(2) Almeria Thornton (b. & d. 1768), born 4 September and was baptised at St Mary Aldermanbury, London, 27 September 1768; died in infancy, 4 October and was buried at St Mary Aldermanbury, 6 October 1768;
(3) Anna Maria Thornton (1769-1834), baptised at St Mary Aldermanbury, London, 5 October 1769; married, 20 March 1800, Thomas Vigne (1771-1841) of Woodford (Essex) and had issue three sons and two daughters; died 5 December 1834 and was buried at Woodford;
(4) Juliet Thornton (1771-73), born 25 January and baptised at St Mary, Aldermanbury, London, 15 February 1771; died young and was buried at the same church, 2 June 1773;
(5) Caroline Thornton (b. & d. 1773), born 19 February 1773; died in infancy and was buried at St Mary, Aldermanbury, 8 March 1773;
(6) William Thornton (later Astell) (1774-1847) (q.v.);
(7) Claude George Thornton (1776-1866) of Marden Hill, Tewin (Herts), born 20 January and baptised at St Mary Aldermanbury, London, 17 February 1776; High Sheriff of Hertfordshire, 1838; married, 11 April 1806 at St Martin-in-the-Fields, London, Frances Anne, second daughter of Samuel Smith of Woodhall (Herts) and had issue; died 4 August 1866; will proved 14 September 1866 (effects under £35,000);
(8) Almeria Thornton (1778-1851), born 26 January and baptised at St Peter le Poer, London, 21 February 1778; a childhood friend of the poet Leigh Hunt; described on her marriage as "an accomplished amiable young lady"; married 4 April 1807, William Phillimore (1777-1860), barrister, of Deacon's Hill, Elstree (Herts) and had issue one daughter; buried at Edgware (Middx), 28 May 1851.
He purchased Moggerhanger Park from his elder brother Robert in 1784; altered the house to the designs of Sir John Soane from 1791 onwards, and landscaped the grounds to the designs of Humphry Repton from 1792. He inherited the Everton House estate from his eldest brother, William Astell, in 1801. He also had a house in Austin Friars in London.
He died 5 November 1805 and was buried at Blunham (Beds), where he is commemorated by a monument designed by John Bacon; his will was proved 19 November 1805. His widow died 17 March 1811; her will was proved in the PCC, 2 April 1811.

Col. William Thornton Astell
Thornton (later Thornton Astell), Col. William (1774-1847). Second son of Godfrey Thornton (1737-1805) of Moggerhanger Park (Beds) and his wife Jane, second daughter of Stephen Peter Godin of Cullands Grove (Middx), born 13 October 1774. He had royal licence for his family and himself to substitute the name of Astell for Thornton, 1807. A partner in Godfrey Thornton & Sons, Russia merchants, and a director of the East India Company, 1800-46 (Chairman, 1810-11, 1824-25, 1828-29 and 1830-31); he was also a director of the Russia Co., 1802 and the East India Dock Co., 1805-35, Chairman of the Great Northern Railway and a large shareholder in Kings College, London. MP for Bridgewater, 1806-32 and for Bedfordshire, 1841-47. He was a volunteer officer with the London & Westminster Light Horse, 1797; an officer of the Royal East India Volunteers (Major, 1803; Lt-Col., 1805; Col. 1820-34) and Lt. Col. of Bedfordshire militia, 1841. He married, 15 July 1800, Sarah (1779-1841), only daughter of John Harvey of Ickwell Bury (Beds) and Finningley Park (Yorks) and had issue:
(1) Sarah Thornton (later Astell) (1802-79), baptised at St Peter-le-Poer, London, 6 May 1802; married, 19 December 1851 at the British Embassy, Florence (Italy), Col. Sir Henry Fairfax (1790-1860), 1st bt., but had no issue; died 23 June 1879; will proved 5 July 1879 (estate under £30,000);
(2) Richard William Thornton (later Astell) (1804-64) (q.v.);
(3) Elizabeth Thornton (later Astell) (b. 1805), born 12 February  and baptised at St Peter-le-Poer, London, 3 April 1805; probably died young;
(4) John Harvey Thornton (later Astell) (1806-87) (q.v.);
(5) Louisa Astell (1811-98), born 22 July and baptised at Holy Trinity, Clapham (Surrey), 27 August 1811; married, 4 September 1832, Thomas St. Quintin (1805-76) of Hatley Park (Cambs) and had issue one son; died 8 June 1898; her will proved 27 June 1898 (effects £357);
(6) Caroline Astell (1812-39), born 19 August 1812; married, 20 October 1836 at Everton, Rev. William Rooper of Abbots Ripton (Hunts) and had issue one son; buried at Abbots Ripton, 18 November 1839;
(9) Harriet Astell (c.1813-95); married, 27 October 1849 at Everton, Capt. Edward Pardoe (c.1819-70) of 15th Regiment, son of John Pardoe of Leyton (Essex), and had issue; died 11 June 1895; will proved 11 July 1895 (effects £5,591).
(7) Henry Godfrey Astell (1815-1903) of Ickwell House, Biggleswade; born 10 November 1815; an officer in the Bengal Civil Service; married, 13 September 1842 at St George's, Hanover Square, London, Louisa Maria (c.1821-82), eldest daughter of Gen. Edward Wynyard of the Grenadier Guards, and had issue two sons and three daughters; died 6 July 1903;
(8) Maj-Gen. Charles Edward Astell (1818-1901) of West Lodge, Puddlehinton (Dorset), born 15 June 1818; an officer in the army (Ensign, 1837; Lt., 1839; Capt., 1848; retired on half pay and appointed a Staff Officer of Pensioners, 1850; Major, 1860; Lt-Col., 1871; Colonel; retired as Maj-Gen., 1878); Lt-Col. of 15th Regiment; JP for Dorset; married, 17 August 1848 at Killaloe Cathedral (Clare), Harriet Dare (d. 1904), daughter of Francis Spaight of Derry Castle (Tipperary) and had issue; died 26 February 1901 and was buried at Everton.
He inherited the Everton House estate from his father in 1805.
He died 7 May 1847 and was buried at Everton; his will was proved 12 June 1847. His wife died 15 May 1841 and was also buried at Everton.

Col. R.W. Astell (1804-64)
Astell, Col. Richard William (1804-64). Eldest son of Col. William Thornton (later Astell) (1774-1847) of Everton House and his wife Sarah, only daughter of John Harvey of Ickwell Bury (Beds) and Finningley Park (Yorks), born 9 January and baptised at St Peter-le-Poer, London, 5 March 1804. Educated at Harrow and Trinity College, Cambridge (admitted 1823). An officer in the Grenadier Guards (Lt., 1823; Capt., 1827; Lt-Col., 1838; Col., 1851; retired 1854). He was unmarried and without issue.
He inherited the Everton House estate from his father in 1847, but sold up the contents in 1850 and demolished the house in 1852; the demolition materials appear to have been granted to Clare College, Cambridge and were sold for the college's benefit.
He died 15 May 1864; his will was proved 1 July 1864 (effects under £80,000).

John Harvey Astell (1806-87)
Astell, John Harvey (1806-87) of Woodbury Hall. Second son of Col. William Thornton (later Astell) (1774-1847) of Everton House and his wife Sarah, only daughter of John Harvey of Ickwell Bury (Beds) and Finningley Park (Yorks), born in London, 20 March and baptised at St Peter-le-Poer, London, 9 May 1806. Educated at Haileybury. An employee (Director from c.1852) of the East India Company; he was the company's last agent in China, leaving in 1840. He was also a Director of the London & York Railway (Chairman, 1844), the Netherlands Land Enclosure Company (from c.1852), the Great Northern Railway, the Hatfield & St. Albans Railway (from 1862), the Imperial Life Assurance Co. (from c.1869) and the Trust & Loan Company of Canada (from c.1878) and a member of the committee of the Marine Society. JP for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire; DL for Bedfordshire and City of London. MP for Cambridge, 1852-54 (unseated on petition) and Ashburton, 1859-65. Captain in the Bedfordshire militia. He married, 7 June 1853 at Southbroom chapel, Bishops Cannings (Wilts), Anne Emilie (c.1828-1907), daughter of Robert Parry Nisbet MP of Southbroom House, and had issue:
(1) Annie Louisa Astell (1854-1939), born 1 April 1854; lived with her younger brother at Dale Lodge; died unmarried, 30 January 1939; administration of goods granted 16 March 1939 (estate £12,996);
(2) Henrietta Sarah Astell (1855-92), born 30 March 1855; died unmarried at St. Leonards on Sea (Sussex), 24 January 1892; administration of goods granted 9 April 1893 (effects £148);
(3) Clara Harriet Astell (1856-1933), born 18 June 1856; lived at Dale Lodge with her younger brother; died unmarried, 17 November 1933; will proved 27 December 1933 (estate £14,059)
(4) Alice Caroline Astell (1857-1916), born 12 August 1857; married, 22 July 1884 at St Mary, Everton (Lancs), Cecil Henry Law (1849-1931), 6th Baron Ellenborough, and had issue one son; died 3 November 1916; will proved 6 December 1916 (estate £2,529);
(5) Edith Jane Astell (c.1859-1922); married, 11 July 1890, Rev. Atherton Ernest Wauton (c.1856-1929), vicar of Ivinghoe (Bucks) and later of Ellesmere (Salop), Holwell (Beds) and Bowden Hill (Wilts), (who m2, 1924, Ethel Charlotte Annabella Mary (c.1873-1951), daughter of Dudley Albert Hambrough), and had issue one son; died 23 November 1922; will proved 11 January 1923 (estate £3,468);
(6) William Harvey Astell (1860-96) (q.v.);
(7) John Henry St. Quintin Astell (1863-1945), born 3 January and baptised at Gamlingay, 21 March 1863; JP for Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire; inherited Dale Lodge, Sunningdale (Berks) from his father, but sold it c.1938; died unmarried at Hove (Sussex), 18 April 1945; will proved 20 September 1945 (estate £35,118);
(8) Margaret Julia Agnes Fairfax Astell (1869-1900), born Jul-Sep 1869; married, 2 September 1897, Montagu Egerton Loftus MVO (1860-1934) (who m2. 19 October 1904, Colina Marion, daughter of Charles Hames Hale Munro), third son of Rt. Hon. Lord Augustus Loftus GCB (d. 1934); died 3 June 1900; will proved 4 August 1900 (estate £5,872).
He purchased the Woodbury Hall estate in 1858 from Sir William Booth, kt. and was probably responsible for the large Victorian additions to the house. He bought Dale Lodge, Sunningdale (Berks) in about 1877.
He died 17 January 1887; his will was proved 1 March 1887 (effects £136,305). His widow died 13 August 1907; her will was proved 24 September 1907 (estate £19,252).

Astell, William Harvey (1860-96). Elder son of John Harvey Astell (1806-87) and his wife Anne Emilia (d. 1907), daughter of Robert Parry Nisbet MP of Southbroom House, Bishops Cannings (Wilts), born 26 November 1860. JP for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire; DL for Cambridgeshire. An officer in the Bedfordshire militia (Lt., 1879) and the Grenadier Guards (2nd Lt., 1880). He married, 7 December 1886 at St Margaret, Westminster, the Hon. Elizabeth Maria (1861-1958), fourth daughter of Standish Prendergast Vereker, 4th Viscourt Gort, and had issue:
(1) Laline Annette Astell (1888-1969) (q.v.);
(2) Richard John Vereker Astell (1890-1969) (q.v.);
(3) Cynthia Elizabeth Violet Astell (1893-1966), born 10 August 1893; married, 30 March 1922, Sir Thomas Beaumont Hohler KCMG CB (1871-1946), British diplomat (minister at Copenhagen (Denmark), 1928-33) and had issue one son and one daughter; died 6 November 1966; will proved 25 January 1967 (estate £17,943).
He inherited the Woodbury Hall estate from his father in 1887.
He died at Calais (France), 20 April 1896; his will was proved 15 June 1896 (effects £6,432). His widow married 2nd, 12 June 1902, Philip Sidney (1853-1922), 3rd Baron De L'Isle & Dudley, but had no further issue, and died 19 July 1958; her will was proved 3 November 1958 (estate £3,669).

R.J.V. Astell (1890-1969)
Astell, Richard John Vereker (1890-1969). Only son of William Harvey Astell (1860-96) and his wife, the Hon. Elizabeth Maria (d. 1958), daughter of Standish Prendergast Vereker, 4th Viscount Gort, born 7 September 1890. Educated at Eton and Christ Church, Oxford (BA 1912). Entered the Diplomatic Service, 1913 (2nd secretary, 1919; retired, 1919). Served in Second World War as Captain in Royal Artillery, 1939-45. He married, 26 April 1922, Joan Evelyn (1895-1993), daughter of James Fortescue Crichton-Stuart, but had no issue.
He inherited the Woodbury Hall estate from his father in 1896 and came of age in 1911. The house was let until 1926, when he took up occupation. It was requisitioned during the Second World War and damaged by fire in 1944. He employed Sir Basil Spence to restore and remodel the house in 1951-55.
He died 18 June 1969; his will was proved 15 June 1970 (estate £568,303). His widow died aged 98 on 3 October 1993; her will was proved 4 November 1993 (estate £1,697,861).

Astell, Laline Annette (1888-1969). Elder daughter of William Harvey Astell (1860-96) and his wife, the Hon. Elizabeth Maria (d. 1958), daughter of Standish Prendergast Vereker, 4th Viscount Gort, born 1 October 1888. She married 1st, 9 April 1910, Lt-Col. Arthur Preston Hohler DSO (1887-1919) and 2nd, 3 February 1927, Col. Stanley Leonard Barry CMG CBE DSO MVO (d. 1943), and had issue:
(1.1) Henry Arthur Frederick Hohler (1911-2001), born 4 February 1911; educated at Eton and Royal Military College, Sandhurst; served in Grenadier Guards, 1931-33; diplomatic service, 1934-70 (early postings to Hungary, Switzerland, Finland and the USSR; Minister in Rome, 1956-60 (where he hunted with the Campania Hounds); Ambassador to Vietnam, 1960-63; British minister in Paris, 1963-66; Ambassador to Switzerland, 1967-70; retired 1970); appointed CMG 1954; emigrated to America after his retirement; married 1st, 10 May 1932, Mona Valentine (d. 1944), only daughter of Lt-Col. Arthur Murray Pirie DSO and had issue two sons; married 2nd, 31 October 1945, Eveline Suzanne, second daughter of Lt-Col. the Hon. Neville Albert Hood CMG DSO and had issue two daughters; died at Gloucester, Virginia (USA), 19 May 2001;
(1.2) Edward Christopher Hohler (1917-97), born 22 January 1917; educated at Eton and New College, Oxford; served in Second World War in Royal Signals and with military intelligence in Baghdad; historian and art historian; lecturer at Courtauld Institute of University of London, 1947-79 (Reader, 1964-79); married 1st, 14 November 1939 (div. 1961), Mary Alice Olga Sofia Jane (1919-2014) (who m2, 14 May 1962, Ronald Stratford Scrivener (1919-2001)), only child of Sq.-Ldr. Robert Charlton Lane of Glebe Manor, Havant (Hants) and had issue two sons and two daughters; married 2nd, 3 November 1961, Erla Karine, elder daughter of Erling Bergendahl of Oslo (Norway) and had further issue two sons and one daughter; after his retirement in 1979 he moved to Norway; died in Oslo, 15 February 1997;
(1.3) Thomas Sidney Hohler (later Astell Hohler) (1919-89) (q.v.).
On the death of her father-in-law in 1920 she inherited Long Crendon Manor (Bucks), which remained her home for the rest of her life, and which she restored with the help of Philip Tilden.
She died 22 April 1969; her will was proved 6 October and 10 November 1969 (estate £60,000). Her first husband died 7 March 1919; his will was proved 17 July and 6 September 1919 (estate £80,642). Her second husband died 22 December 1943; his will was proved 6 October 1944 (estate £23,693).

Hohler (later Astell Hohler), Maj. Thomas Sidney (1919-89). Third son of Lt-Col. Arthur Preston Hohler DSO (1887-1919) and his wife Laline Annette, daughter of William Harvey Astell of Woodbury Hall, born posthumously, 30 November 1919. Educated at Eton. Major in the Grenadier Guards; served in Second World War, 1939-45; awarded MC, 1944. Director of King & Shaxson plc, a discount house, 1946-89 (Chairman, 1965-84) and of Henry Sotheran Ltd., antiquarian booksellers and the Britannia International High Income Fund Ltd.  Chairman, London Discount Market Association, 1972. Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Grocers, City of London, 1956-89. He had royal licence to take the name and arms of Astell in lieu of Hohler, 1978. He married, 15 May 1952, Comtesse Julie Marie Isabelle Jeanne Jacqueline de Jouffroy, daughter of the Marquis de Jouffroy d'Abbans of Chateau d'Abbans, Doub (France), and had issue:
(1) Isabelle Jacqueline Laline Astell Hohler (b. 1955) (q.v.).
He bought Wolverton Park, Basingstoke (Hants) in 1959 and also kept a flat in London. At his death Wolverton passed to his widow and then to their daughter.
He died 29 April 1989; his will was proved 26 April 1990 (estate £4,370,293). His widow died 13 July 1996; her will was proved 26 February 1997.

Astell Hohler, Isabelle Jacqueline Laline (1955-2020), Countess of Erroll. Daughter of Thomas Sidney Hohler (later Astell Hohler) (1919-89) and Comtesse Julie Marie Isabelle Jeanne Jacqueline de Jouffroy, daughter of the Marquis de Jouffroy d'Abbans, born at Brussels (Belgium), 22 August 1955. High Sheriff of Bedfordshire, 2015-16. A trustee of the Moggerhanger House Preservation Trust since 1989 (Chairman 2009-). She married, 8 May 1982 in Winchester Cathedral, Martin Sereld Victor Gilbert Hay (b. 1948), 24th Earl of Erroll and Lord High Constable of Scotland [whose family will be the subject of a future post], and had issue:
(1) Harry Thomas William Hay (b. 1984), Lord Hay, born 8 August 1984;
(2) Lady Amelia Diana Jacqueline Hay (b. 1986), born 23 November 1986; suffers from Down's syndrome; educated at Grange School, Kempston (Beds);
(3) Lady Laline Lucy Clementine Hay (b. 1987), born 21 December 1987; educated at London College of Communication (BA); graphic designer with Bolter Design;
(4) Hon. Richard Merlin Iain Hay (later Astell) (b. 1990), born 14 December 1990; received royal licence to take the name and arms of Astell in lieu of Hay, 2015.
She inherited the Woodbury Hall on the death of her great-aunt in 1993. She inherited Wolverton Park on the death of her mother in 1996.
She died 13 January 2020.


Burke's Landed Gentry, 1965, pp. 392-3; Burke's Landed Gentry, 1969, pp. 22-23; P. Tilden, True remembrances, 1954, pp. 60-62; M. Bullen, J. Crook, R. Hubbuck and Sir N. Pevsner, The buildings of England: Hampshire - Winchester and the North, 2010, p. 729; J. Brown & J. Musson, Moggerhanger Park, Bedfordshire, 2012, passim; C. O'Brien & Sir N. Pevsner, The buildings of England: Bedfordshire, Huntingdonshire & Peterborough, 2nd edn., 2014, p. 165. The Astell family portraits  shown above mostly come from copies in Bedfordshire Archives Service Z50/141.

Location of archives

Astell of Everton and Woodbury: papers relating to alterations to Woodbury Hall by Sir Basil Spence, 1951-55 [Bedfordshire Archives Service, AD3939]. No substantial accumulation has been deposited in a public repository, but it is possible that some papers remain with the family.

Coat of arms

Gules, a lion passant per pale or and argent, between four cross crosslets of the last.

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.

  • Can anyone supply illustrations of Old Woodbury before its rebuilding in 1836-38?
  • Can anyone supply illustrations of Woodbury Hall prior to the Victorian additions, or as remodelled by Philip Tilden and before its reconstruction by Sir Basil Spence in the 1950s?
  • Can anyone supply portraits or photographs of members of the family for which they are not shown?
  • Any further details of the career of William Astell (d. 1741) would be gratefully received, as would any suggestions about the identity of the architect of Everton House.

Revision and acknowledgements

This post was first published 20 May 2016 and was updated 11, 17 and 20 December 2016, 2 March 2017, 3 March, 14 May and 9 November 2020, and 10 January 2022. I am grateful to David Underdown for his assistance with the Thornton family; to Chris Whittick for finding the illustrations of Woodbury Hall; to Fred Hohler for information about the family; and to Frank Storr and Dave Lawrence for corrections.