Monday, 24 August 2020

(428) Baskerville of Bayworth

Baskerville of Bayworth 
The Baskervilles of Bayworth were a cadet branch of the Baskervilles of Eardisley (for whom see my next post), who descended from John Baskerville, the second son of Sir James Baskerville (fl. 1499) of Eardisley. John's son, William (b. 1514?), with whom the genealogy below begins, lived in Hereford and had four sons, at least three of whom pursued military careers. The eldest, Sir Thomas Baskerville (d. 1597) was a military commander of some repute, who was almost continuously abroad in the service of Sir John Norris, the Earl of Leicester, Lord Willoughby and the Earl of Essex in the 1580s and 1590s. He was married Mary Throckmorton, apparently in 1595, but was almost immediately sent abroad again with Sir Francis Drake's final expedition to the Caribbean and Central America, of which he assumed command after the Admiral's death. On his return to England he concluded the purchase of Bayworth Manor in Berkshire, but after only a few months at home he set off for France again, accompanied by his pregnant wife. His son, Hannibal Baskerville (1597-1668) was born in April, but in June Sir Thomas died in Picardy, his body being sent home to England for burial in St Paul's Cathedral. 
His widow, Mary (d. 1632) made a disastrously acrimonious second marriage to Sir James Scudamore (1568-1619) of Holme Lacy (Herefs) in 1599, which still produced nine children in eight years before they separated in 1607. Mary then retreated to Bayworth, where she lived with the son of her first marriage.

Hannibal Baskerville, who came of age in 1618, made a vow the following year to devote a third or a quarter of his income to charitable purposes for the rest of his life, and in pursuance of this he built a large barn at the rear of his manor house at Bayworth as a shelter for the 'wandering beggars' so excoriated in Tudor welfare legislation. He married in about 1629 and had a large family, but only his eldest son survived him: his wife died in 1644 and six other sons and two daughters had followed her by 1661. Not surprisingly, when Anthony Wood visited him in his old age he met 'a melancholy retired man' albeit one who was still studious and charitable. Hannibal's studies have been called antiquarian, but his surviving notes suggest his interests focused on his own family. His son, Thomas Baskerville (c.1629-1700), however, made a series of tours through England in the 1670s and 1680s, and kept a journal of the interesting things, both antiquarian and contemporary, which he observed, which he intended for publication. He died, however, before his wish could be fulfilled, and his only son, Matthew Thomas Baskerville (1687-1721) did not see it through either. According to Thomas Hearne, the diarist and antiquary (who had harsh words for Matthew's father), the young man was charming and attractive, but dissipated. By 1720 he had run through his inheritance and sold the Bayworth estate to his neighbour, Sir John  Stonehouse of Radley Hall. He was building a new house at Radley, and allowed the old house at Bayworth to fall down, so that by 1727 it had 'almost gone to ruin'. Matthew received an annuity from Stonehouse of £80 a year, but did not live to enjoy it, being buried at Sunningwell in February 1720/1, the last of his line.

Bayworth Manor, Sunningwell, Berkshire 


Bayworth belonged until the Dissolution of the Monasteries to Abingdon Abbey, and it seems likely the house was first built by the abbey for the use of its officials. It is described by Anthony Wood as 'a private and lone house, in or near to Bagley Wood...an old house situated in a romancey place', so retired that it was ideally suited for a man devoted to learning and devotion. Wood mentions a chapel on the first floor, which was at that time 'well furnish'd with velvet cusheons and carpets' and an excellent organ. The 'painted windows' had been defaced by Commonwealth soldiers in the Civil War.  The house, which in 1720–1 was 'a brave old thing, full of all conveniences' was apparently abandoned after it was acquired by Sir John Stonehouse. In 1723 he enclosed the open fields of Bayworth and Sunningwell and in 1721-27 he built a new country house at nearby Radley. By the time he moved in to Radley, Bayworth  had 'almost gone to ruin'. It is not known when the ruins were finally pulled down, but only minor earthworks are apparent on the site today; aerial photographs suggest these may be consistent with the house having consisted of a central hall range with two cross-wings, standing behind a forecourt. No visual record of the house is known to exist.

Descent: Abingdon Abbey; to Crown, 1538; granted 1545 to Robert Browne, Christopher Edmondes and William Wenlowe; sold 1546 to Sir John Williams, afterwards Lord Williams (d. 1559); to widow, Margery Williams; sold 1583 to her daughter Isabel, wife of Richard Huddleston (d. by 1589); to mortgagee, Richard Martin, who sold c.1596 to Sir Thomas Baskerville (d. 1597); to son, Hannibal Baskerville (1597-1668); to son, Thomas Baskerville (c.1629-1700); to son, Matthew Thomas Baskerville (1687-1721), who sold to Sir John Stonehouse (d. 1733). 


Baskerville family of Bayworth


Baskerville, Henry (b. 1514?). Only recorded son of John Baskerville (second son of Sir James Baskerville of Eardisley (Herefs), for whom seem the next post) and his wife Anne, daughter and heiress of John Bridges of Hereford, said to have been born about 1514. He married Anne, daughter of John Ratford or Rufford of Gloucester, and had issue (perhaps among others):
(1) Sir Thomas Baskerville (c.1540-97) (q.v.);
(2) Capt. Nicholas Baskerville (d. c.1605); pursued a military career in the Netherlands, and succeeded his brother as governor of Rammekens Castle near Flushing; married, 25 July 1599, Constance (1583-1652) (who married 2nd, Sir John Sidney and had issue one son, and 3rd, Thomas Lyte (1568-1638), genealogist, by whom she had one son and two daughters), daughter of George Huntley of Boxwell Court (Glos), and had issue two daughters (the elder, Mary (1601-44), married first, John Morgan, and second, her cousin, Hannibal Baskerville (1597-1668) for whom see below); he died at Flushing between 1603 and 1608;
(3) John Baskerville; died without issue;
(4) Capt. Arnold Baskerville (d. 1596); pursued a military career and was a sergeant-major in Drake's last expedition under his brother's command; he died without issue at Nombre de Dios, Panama, January 1596.
He lived in Hereford.
His date of death is unknown. His wife's date of death is unknown.

Baskerville, Sir Thomas (c.1540-97). Eldest son of Henry Baskerville (b. 1514?) of Hereford, and his wife Anne, daughter of John Ratford or Rufford of Gloucester, born about 1540. JP for Herefordshire, 1569-85 and escheator for that county, 1580-81. His military career probably began as a mercenary under Sir John Norris in the Netherlands before 1585. From that year he was commissioned to serve under the Earl of Leicester and later Lord Willoughby d'Eresby, who knighted him after the capture of Bergen-op-Zoom in 1588, and mentioned him in despatches to Lord Burghley. He continued to serve under Lord Willoughby in France in 1589-90, in the service of Henri IV, and was promoted to Serjeant Major General. He was appointed governor of Rammekens Castle, near Flushing, in August 1591, and was commissioned as a sergeant-major of foot under the earl of Essex in the same year, being present at the siege of Rouen in November. Between 1592 and 1594 he was mostly engaged in military duties in Brittany and the Netherlands under Sir John Norris, with whom he had fallen out but had now mended his differences. In 1595, Baskerville was appointed colonel-general in command of the land forces accompanying Sir Francis Drake and Sir John Hawkins on their last expedition to the Indies. When Drake died he succeeded to the command of the expedition and brought it home. His final overseas expedition was to Picardy in France in 1597, where he died. He was MP for Carmarthen Boroughs, 1593-97. He married, c.1595, Mary (d. 1632), daughter of Sir Thomas Throckmorton of Tortworth (Glos), and had issue:
(1) Hannibal Baskerville (1597-1668) (q.v.).
He bought a lease of the semi-timbered Goodrest Manor House on the edge of Wedgnock Park, Warwick (Warks) in or after 1584; his widow sold the remainder of the lease in 1598. He bought Bayworth a few months before his death overseas, but it seems likely he never occupied it.
He died 'of a burning fever' at Picqueny in Picardy (France) 4 June 1597, and was buried in the new choir of St Paul's Cathedral under a monument destroyed in the Great Fire of London, but the inscription of which is preserved in a copy appended to his son's monument at Sunningwell. His widow married 2nd, 11 April 1599 at St James, Clerkenwell (Middx), as his second wife, Sir James Scudamore (1568-1619) of Holme Lacy (Herefs), and is said to have had further issue four sons and five daughters, but it was a tempestuous marriage and she was separated from him temporarily in 1607 and permanently in 1608, when he disowned her; she lived latterly at Bayworth and was buried at Sunningwell, 17 October 1632.

Baskerville, Hannibal (1597-1668). Only child of Sir Thomas Baskerville (c.1540-97), born at St. Valery in Picardy (France), 5 April 1597. Educated by Henry Peacham, author of the Compleat Gentleman and at Brasenose College, Oxford (matriculated 1612). Supposedly an antiquarian, but his surviving papers 'amounted to little more than dabblings, predominantly relating to his own family'. He went to France in the train of an English ambassador in the reign of James I and made copies of inscriptions in the church at St. Denis. In old age he was described by Anthony Wood as 'a melancholy, retired man' and a 'great cherisher of wandring Beggars', having vowed in 1619 to give a proportion of his income (a third or a quarter) to alleviating the sufferings of those less fortunate than himself. He built for them a large barn, with a bell at his back door to pull if they wanted anything, conduct which saw him several times arraigned before the local magistrates charged with harbouring beggars. He married, 1629? (licence supposedly dated* 4 November), his cousin Mary (1601-44), daughter of Nicholas Baskerville and widow of John Morgan, and had issue**:
(1) Thomas Baskerville (c.1629-1700) (q.v.);
(2) Henry Baskerville (1631-56); buried at Sunningwell, 15 April 1656;
(3) Nicholas Baskerville (1632-56); buried at Sunningwell, 2 May 1656;
(4) William Baskerville (1633-65), baptised at St Cuthbert, Wells, 6 October 1633; buried in London, 1665;
(5) Gertrude Baskerville (1634-56); died unmarried and was buried at Sunningwell, 13 October 1656;
(6) Robert Baskerville (1635-54); died at sea, 1654;
(7) George*** Baskerville (1638-61); buried at Sunningwell, 10 November 1661;
(8) James Baskerville; died young and was buried at Wells (Som.);
(9) Constance Baskerville (b. 1640), baptised at St Cuthbert, Wells, 21 October 1640; died young and is said to have been buried at Somerton (Som.).
He inherited the Bayworth estate from his father and came of age in 1618. His stepfather disputed his right to the property, resulting in a court case in 1619, which he won.
He died 14 or 16 March, and 'nearly the whole value of his moveable goods was spent on his lavish funeral at Sunningwell church on 18 March' 1668, where he, his mother and his family are commemorated by a monument erected by his son in 1680.
* His eldest son recorded his date of birth as August 1629. If the licence is correctly dated November 1629 he may actually not have been born until 1630 as he is unlikely to have been illegitimate.
** Some sources state that he had sixteen sons and two daughters. This is due to a misreading of a correction on his monument in Sunningwell church.
*** There is also a baptism entry for a Hugh Baskerville, son of Hannibal and Mary, at St Cuthbert, Wells, 22 April 1638. Could this be an entry for this child, who became known as George later in life?

Baskerville, Thomas (c.1629-1700). Eldest son of Hannibal Baskerville (1597-1668) and his second wife, Mary, daughter of Nicholas Baskerville and widow of John Morgan, said to have been born in August 1629, but perhaps 1630. He referred to himself as 'the King of Jerusalem' after a religious experience on 11 January 1666. A 'whimsical antiquarian' according to Anthony Wood, but his volumes of notes and verse on his travels are concerned more with contemporary life than with antiquities. Thomas Hearne noted that he 'would ramble about all the Country and pick up all strange, odd Things, good and bad' and recorded 'many particulars of history, especially little matters, such as ballads, arches of bridges, &c.' but that he 'wanted both learning and judgment, and was not capable of writing any thing tolerable'. Baskerville contracted to have his writings printed, together with an engraving of himself and some of his verses, but died before this could proceed. He married Mary [surname unknown] (d. 1716) and had issue:
(1) Matthew Thomas Baskerville (1687-1721) (q.v.).
He inherited the Bayworth estate from his father in 1668, and Hearne says that he 'mightily improved' the estate.
He was buried at Sunningwell, 16 November 1700. His widow was buried at Sunningwell, 9 January 1715/6.

Baskerville, Matthew Thomas (1687-1721). Only son of Thomas Baskerville (c.1629-1700) and his wife Mary, born 26 September and baptised at Clapham (Surrey), 14 October 1687. According to Thomas Hearne he was a young man of great personal attractiveness, who by his profligacy got into serious debt. He was unmarried and had no legitimate issue.
He inherited the Bayworth estate from his father in 1700 and came of age in 1710, but sold the estate to Sir John Stonehouse in return for an annuity of £80 after getting into debt.
He died, according to Hearne, of a broken heart, and was buried at Sunningwell, 11 February 1720/1. He left no will.

Principal sources

Victoria County History of Berkshire, vol. 4, 1924, pp. 423-27; A. Clark (ed.), The life and times of Anthony Wood, antiquary, of Oxford, 1632-95, described by himself, 1900, i, pp. 269-70; ii, pp. 152, 191; iii, pp. 492-93; ODNB entries on Sir Thomas Baskerville, Hannibal Baskerville and Thomas Baskerville.

Location of archives

Baskerville, Hannibal (1597-1668): correspondence, 1612-40 [Bodleian Library, MS. Rawl letters 41]
Baskerville, Sir Thomas (d. 1597): love letters to his wife, 1590s [British Library, Harleian MS. 4762]
Baskerville, Thomas (1629-1700): topographical notes and epitaphs, 17th cent. [British Library, Harleian MS. 4716]; account of his travels in the reign of Charles II [British Library, Add. MS. 70523]

Coat of arms

Argent a chevron gules between three roundels azure.

Can you help?

  • Any additions or corrections to the account given above will be gratefully received and incorporated. If anyone has access to the early parish registers of Sunningwell, or to a transcript of them, and can provide any additional information I would be most grateful. In particular, who was the Thomas Baskerville who married, 30 May 1698 at Sunningwell, Mary Honney?
  • I should be most grateful if anyone can provide portraits of people whose names appear in bold above, and who are not already illustrated.

Revision and acknowledgements

This post was first published 24 August 2020.





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