Sunday, 12 September 2021

(468) Bayning of Little Bentley Hall, Viscounts Bayning

Bayning, Viscounts Bayning 
Seldom (if ever) in English history has ruthless acquisitiveness been so unfettered as in the Tudor and Jacobean age, and London was the epicentre of national wealth formation. Paul Bayning (c.1539-1616) and his brother Andrew (c.1544-1610), whose ancestors were small-scale merchants and yeomen in Essex and Suffolk, are prime examples of the rapacious Tudor merchant. Sons of Richard Baninge (the name is spelled in a bewildering variety of ways) of Dedham (Essex), they were quick to see the opportunities London offered, and had moved to the city by the early 1570s to work as overseas merchants, trading with Spain and the Mediterranean ports. When war with Spain presented barriers to conventional trade, they took to privateering, and they were quick to join the new trading monopolies, the Levant Company and the East India Company. In forty years, they made staggering profits, and since Andrew was unmarried and left the bulk of his estate to his brother, who left only one son, their wealth was focused rather than distributed in the next generation. Paul had largely retired from his mercantile activities before his death, and invested some of the capital he withdrew from the city in the purchase of manors lands in his home counties of Essex and Suffolk. Foremost among these was Little Bentley (Essex), where he either rebuilt or remodelled the manor house after 1609. In moving his investments from business to land, Paul was beginning the classic transition from rich merchant to landed gentleman. It seems likely that the family had an earlier connection with Little Bentley, for the will of Thomas Bayninge (d. 1605) of Little Bentley, yeoman, mentions both Paul Bayning and his brother Andrew in a context which suggests they were near relatives (perhaps cousins) though not brothers.

His son, Sir Paul Bayning (1588-1629), whose commercial instincts seem to have been as acute as his father's, was not educated as a gentleman at a university or one of the inns of court, but had been happy to pay the fees to be created a baronet in 1611. He continued to invest in land, but he also employed his large capital in providing loans to the Crown and to aristocratic families, acting in effect as a banker. These loans produced returns not only in interest payments but also in influence and obligation, enabling Sir Paul and his family to gain acceptance in some of the most elevated social circles in the land. In 1627 he cemented his social status by obtaining a viscountcy in return for the payment of 'a goodly sum'; it was the symbol of his arrival. Two years later, when the 1st Viscount died, he left seven manors and other lands and a massive £153,000 (about £30m today) in personal property, chiefly in money out on loan. This great wealth enabled him to provided generous portions for his four surviving daughters and thus to secure them socially advantageous marriages: the eldest married the heir to the Earl of Kingston; the second a commoner who was, however, a Groom of the Bedchamber to King Charles I; the third married the 2nd Viscount Grandison, who was the nephew of the King's favourite, the Duke of Buckingham, and later the 2nd Earl of Anglesey; while the youngest married the 14th Baron Dacre. Lady Grandison's only daughter was Barbara Villiers, Duchess of Cleveland and one of the mistresses of King Charles II. The ascent from a provincial counting house to the king's bed had been accomplished in just four generations.

The chief beneficiary of the 1st Viscount's will was his only son, a third Paul Bayning (1616-38), 2nd Viscount Bayning, who was a minor when his father died (and only came of age a few months before he died himself). To avoid his wardship being purchased by someone who would milk his estate until he came of age, he is said to have purchased it himself, for a whopping fine of £18,000. This unusual procedure may have been facilitated by Sir Robert Naunton, Master of the Court of Wards and Liveries, who became his father-in-law in 1634. By Sir Robert's daughter Penelope he produced two surviving daughters, the younger of whom was born after his death, but no son. The baronetcy and peerages which his father had invested so much to obtain therefore became extinct, but his daughters Anne and Penelope were great heiresses and were married on the same day, while still pre-pubescent children, to the rake-helly 20th Earl of Oxford and the rather more sober Hon. John Herbert. Neither lived long or produced children, and Lord Oxford and his wife pulled down Little Bentley Hall. Penelope died in 1657 and Anne in 1659, and although Lord Oxford retained the Little Bentley estate until his death, under the terms of the 1st Viscount's will most of the other family property then devolved upon the 1st Viscount's three surviving daughters, Mrs Anne Murray; Mary, Dowager Countess of Anglesey; and Elizabeth, Lady Dacre. 

In 1674, the family were further linked to the royal family when Anne, the King's illegitimate daughter by Barbara Villiers, was married to Lady Dacre's son, Thomas, 15th Lord Dacre.  To ensure appropriate rank and precedence for the young couple and their relatives, Thomas was made 1st Earl of Sussex, and his mother was made Countess of Sheppey for life. The Bayning viscountcy was resurrected for Mrs. Murray, but again, only as a peerage for life: it died with her in 1678. Lady Sheppey died in 1686. The Baynings, who had shot like a firework rocket to wealth and social status, died out in the male line in less than a century, leaving their wealth and property to drift slowly down through their female descendants, fading slowly like the starry train of the spent rocket.

Little Bentley Hall, Essex

Very little is known for certain about the 'stately and magnificent seat of Bentley Hall' mentioned by Philip Morant as having been built for Paul Bayning after he bought the estate in 1609. Yelloly Watson's 19th century local history refers, credibly enough, to "its lofty towers of red brick with stone dressings; its tall stone mullioned windows; its spacious halls; its noble arched entrance; its western front, overlooking a large sheet of water; [and] its extensive dormitories". This description sounds as though it might be based on depiction of the house although none is known today; it could perhaps have been on the estate map of 1627 which is known to have existed but does not survive. The house had a sadly short existence, being demolished in the mid 17th century by the 2nd Viscount Bayning's daughter and her husband, Aubrey de Vere, the 20th Earl of Oxford. The only survival today is a 16th or 17th century wall south of the present house which seems to have formed the north and east sides of a kitchen garden. Later maps, aerial photographs and LIDAR surveys tell us a little more: the site seems to have been a double moated platform south-west of the present house and immediately adjoining the present lake, perhaps indicating that the 17th century house stood on the site of its medieval predecessor. What may be a semi-circular forecourt south of the house suggests that the house was approached from the south at one time. An archaeological investigation of the site could perhaps tell us more.

Little Bentley Hall: plan of the site in 1874 from the 1st edition 6" map. The double moated platform of the old house can be seen on the left; the small building in the parkland to the north is the modern house.
The present three-bay two-storey house of white stock brick was erected on a different site in the middle of the small park in the mid 19th century: perhaps after John Woodgate began his tenancy in 1846. It has sash windows, a central Tuscan porch, and wide oversailing eaves that give it an Italianate air. At the rear is a lower but still two-storey projecting wing which is probably contemporary with the main block, although it could incorporate earlier work: there must have been a house of some sort here in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, when a new stable block (since demolished) and the octagonal gate lodge were built.

Descent: Sir William Pyrton (d. 1490), kt.; to son, William Pyrton (d. 1533) of Digswell (Herts); to son, Sir William Pyrton (d. 1551), kt.; to son, Edmund Pyrton (d. 1609); to cousin, Edmund Pyrton (d. 1617), who sold 1609 to Paul Bayning (d. 1616); to son, Sir Paul Bayning (1588-1629), 1st bt. and 1st Viscount Bayning; to son, Paul Bayning (1616-38), 2nd Viscount Bayning; to daughter, Anne (d. 1659), wife of Aubrey de Vere (1627-1703), 20th Earl of Oxford; the Earl having sold the reversion of this and other properties to a consortium of purchasers in 1680 an Act of Parliament was obtained after his death which allotted Little Bentley to William Peck; to son, William Peck, who sold c.1740 to John Moore of Southgate; sold 1761 to Admiral Sir Percy Brett RN (1709-81); to daughter, Henrietta... sold 1812 to Thomas Hamlet of London, goldsmith; sold 1826 to John Shaw of London; to daughter (d. 1868), wife of [forename unknown] Bond; sold after her death to the sitting tenant, John Woodgate (d. 1899); sold after his death... sold 1918 to W. Ford?; sold c.1941... sold 1974 to Christopher David Palmer-Tomkinson (b. 1942) and his wife Virginia.

Bayning family of Little Bentley Hall, Viscounts Bayning

Baninge, Richard. Son of Richard Banning of Dedham (Essex) and his wife Ann, daughter and heiress of Robert Raven of Creeting (Suffk). He married Ann, daughter of John Barker of Ipswich, and had issue (possibly among others):
(1) Paul Bayning (c.1539-1616) (q.v.);
(2) Andrew Baninge (c.1544-1610), born about 1544; merchant in London in partnership with his brother; member of the Worshipful Company of Grocers; alderman of London, 1605-10; died unmarried, 11 October 1610 and was buried at St Olave, Hart St., London, where he and his brother are commemorated by a monument.
He lived at Dedham (Essex).
His date of death is unknown. His wife's date of death is unknown.

Bayning, Paul (c.1539-1616). Elder son of Richard Baninge of Dedham (Essex) and his wife Ann, daughter of John Barker of Ipswich, born about 1539. He secured his freedom of the city of London not by serving an apprenticeship in one of the trading companies, but at the request of the lady mayoress, Elizabeth Ryvers, in November 1574: this unconventional loophole in the usual procedure was closed immediately after his admission. He became an overseas merchant in London, probably in partnership with his brother Andrew, trading with Spain, Portugal and Venice, and he was among the Venice merchants absorbed into the Levant Company when it was incorporated in 1592This was a hugely lucrative trade but was vulnerable to fluctuations in the international situation, and when Philip II ordered the seizure of English cargoes in 1585, Bayning and his partner sued for losses totalling £37,422. Not surprisingly, he was among the English merchants who turned to privateering, contributing a ship to the Cadiz expedition in 1587, and investing heavily in Sir James Lancaster's Pernambuco venture of 1595, and the Earl of Cumberland's Puerto Rico expedition of 1598. Like many of the leading privateering magnates of his generation, he was a sponsor of the East India Company at its inception, becoming its treasurer in 1600. Bayning's thrusting and abrasive manner made his relationship with the more conservative city establishment tense, although he eventually joined the Worshipful Company of Grocers (Warden, 1590), and accepted election as alderman in February 1593, sitting until 1602 and serving as sheriff for the year 1593-94. During his shrievalty, he fell out with the lord mayor by making a novel claim to an important piece of patronage, and the mayor also complained to the Privy Council that Bayning had failed to show him due respect, showing 'open contempt not so much of myself as of order and magistracy'. He obtained a grant of arms in 1588. By 1594 his second marriage had broken down and he expelled his wife from his house, although it is not clear whether this happened before, or was a consequence of, her having an affair with Jonas Bodenham, one of Sir Francis Drake's naval captains. In 1598 he was ordered to take his wife back, but in 1600 the case came before the high commission and a decree of separation was issued. He continued to harass his wife, failing to pay her maintenance and promoting a parliamentary bill against adultery with vexatious intent. On the other side, Bodenham joined forces with a former servant, James Abell, and the printer and playwright George Chettle, to make allegations of buggery against Bayning. Bayning was in line to become Lord Mayor, and it was claimed that he asked to be discharged as an alderman in 1602 to avoid the mayoralty, motivated by the desire to prevent his wife becoming Lady Mayoress, but it is more likely that by then he was withdrawing from his mercantile interests and investing in landed estates in Essex and Suffolk, where he owned seven manors and other property at his death. He married 1st, Elizabeth Mowse (d. 1579) of Needham Market or Creeting (Suffk), and 2nd, 3 January 1580/1 at Mistley (Essex) (sep. 1600), Susan (d. 1623), daughter and heiress of Edward Norden of Mistley, and had issue:
(2.1) Sir Paul Bayning (1588-1629), 1st bt. and 1st Viscount Bayning (q.v.);
In order to provide the hospitality attendant upon his shrievalty, he purchased a recently rebuilt city mansion called The Erber on the site of Cannon St. railway station, which was grand enough to be regularly requisitioned by the Government for lodging visiting ambassadors. He purchased the manor of Little Bentley Hall in 1609 and built a new house there before his death.
He died 30 September 1616. His first wife died of consumption in 1579. His widow married 2nd, 31 July 1617 at Stepney (Middx), as his second wife, Sir Francis Leigh (c.1579-1625) of Westminster and Apps Court (Surrey) (who m3, Margaret (d. 1648), daughter and co-heir of Sir John Brocket of Brocket Hall (Herts), former wife of Sir John Cutts of Childerley Hall (Cambs) and widow of Roger Dale of Tixover (Rutland)), and died in April 1623.

Bayning, Sir Paul (1588-1629), 1st bt. and 1st Viscount Bayning. Only son of Paul Bayning (c.1539-1616) and his second wife, Susan, daughter and heiress of Edward Norden of Mistley (Essex), baptised at St Olave, Hart St., London, 28 April 1588. High Sheriff of Essex, 1617-18. The wealth he inherited from his father enabled him to embark on a successful and lucrative career lending money to the king and other leading merchants and aristocrats. He was created a baronet, 24 September 1611 and knighted, 19 July 1614, and later purchased a peerage 'for a round sum', being created Baron Bayning of Horkesley-Bentley on 27 February 1627, and Viscount Bayning of Sudbury on 8 March 1627. He married, by 1612, Anne, daughter of Sir Henry Glemham, kt. of Glemham Hall (Suffk), and had issue (with a stillborn child buried in 1627):
(1) Hon. Cicely alias Cecilia Bayning (1613-39), baptised at St Olave, Hart St., London, 8 April 1613; married, by 1630, Henry Pierrepont (1607-80), Viscount Newark, later 2nd Earl of Kingston-upon-Hull and 1st Marquess of Dorchester (who m2, September 1652, Katherine, daughter of James Stanley, 7th Earl of Derby), and had issue two sons and two daughters; died in childbirth at Twickenham (Middx), 19 September, and was buried at Holme Pierrepont (Notts), 30 September 1639;
(2) Paul Bayning (1616-38), 2nd Viscount Bayning (q.v.);
(3) Henry Bayning (1617-19), baptised at St Olave, Hart St., London, 12 March 1616/17; died in infancy and was buried at St Olave, Hart St., London, 27 April 1619;
(4) Hon. Anne Bayning (1619-78), baptised at St Olave, Hart St., London, 23 September 1619; created Viscountess Bayning of Foxley (Berks) for life*, 17 March 1674; married 1st, 26 November 1635 at St Mildred, Poultry, London, Henry Murray (d. by 1673), groom of the bedchamber to King Charles I, and had issue at least four daughters; married 2nd, 1674 (licence 1 August), as his second wife, Sir John Baber, kt., MD (c.1625-1704) of Covent Garden (who m3, 1680/1 (licence 12 February), Bridget (d. 1696), Viscountess Kilmorey, daughter of Sir William Drury of Beesthorpe (Norfk) and widow of Charles Needham (d. 1660), 4th Viscount Kilmorey and Sir John Shaw (d. 1680) of Eltham (Kent)); died October 1678 and was buried in the Savoy church, London; will proved 30 October 1678;
(5) Hon. Mary Bayning (1624-72), baptised at St Olave, Hart St., London, 24 April 1624; married 1st, 31 October 1639 at St Margaret, Westminster (Middx), William Villiers (1614-44), 2nd Viscount Grandison of Limerick, son of Sir Edward Villiers, President of Munster and nephew of George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham, and had issue one daughter (Barbara Villiers (d. 1709), Duchess of Cleveland, mistress to King Charles II); married 2nd, 25 April 1648 at St Bartholomew-the-Less, London, Charles Villiers (d. 1661), 2nd Earl of Anglesey; married 3rd, about 1662, Arthur Gorges (1629-68) of Chelsea (Middx), son of Sir Arthur Gorges (1598-1661), but had no further issue; after she was widowed for a third time she evidently went to live with her friend Lady Widdrington at Blankney (Lincs), where she was buried, 23 January 1671/2; she and her third husband are commemorated by a monument which she erected in Chelsea Old Church (Middx); administration of her goods was granted 26 January 1671/2 and her will - evidently only found some time later - was proved 16 February 1676/7;
(6) Hon. Elizabeth Bayning (1625-86), baptised at Little Bentley, 20 October 1625; created Countess of Sheppey for life*, 6 September 1680; married 1st, 1641, Francis Lennard (1619-62), 14th Baron Dacre, and had issue one son and two daughters; married 2nd, before May 1664, Lt-Gen. David Walter (c.1610-79) of Godstow (Oxon), a groom of the bedchamber, but had no further issue; died in Covent Garden, London, July 1686, and was buried at Chevening (Kent); will proved 19 July 1686;
(7) Hon. Susan Bayning (1628-29), born 19 June 1628; died in infancy and was buried 25 May 1629.
He inherited Little Bentley Hall and scattered estates in Essex and Suffolk from his father in 1616.
He died at his house in Mark Lane, London, 29 July 1629, and was buried (after a long and insanitary interval!) in his father's tomb at St Olave, Hart St., London, 1 October 1629; his will was proved 14 October 1629 and left £153,000 of personalty (chiefly outstanding loans), as well as his real estate; an inquisition post mortem was held in 1629-30. His widow married 2nd, 14 June 1630, as his second wife, Dudley Carleton (1574-1632), 1st Viscount Dorchester, Secretary of State to King Charles I, 1628-32, and had one daughter who died in infancy; she died 10 January and was buried at Gosfield (Essex), 31 January 1638/9; her will was proved 15 January 1638/9.
* These two unusual life peerages were probably granted to give appropriate rank and precedence to the ladies concerned following the marriage in 1674 of their great-niece, Anne, the illegitimate daughter of King Charles II and Barbara, Duchess of Cleveland, to Thomas Lennard, 1st Earl of Sussex, who was Lady Sheppey's son by her first marriage.

2nd Viscount Bayning by van Dyck 
Bayning, Paul (1616-38), 2nd Viscount Bayning.
Only son of Sir Paul Bayning (1588-1629), 1st bt., 1st Baron, and 1st Viscount Bayning, and his wife Anne, daughter of Sir Henry Glemham, kt., of Glemham Hall (Suffk), baptised at St Olave, Hart St., London, 4 March 1615/6.  Educated at Brightwell (Berks) and Christ Church, Oxford (matriculated 1632; BA 1633). He succeeded his father as 2nd Viscount Bayning, 29 July 1629, and paid a fine of £18,000 to the King to purchase his own wardship; he came of age in 1637.  He married, 25 August 1634 at Hitcham (Suffk), Penelope (1620-c.1647), daughter of Sir Robert Naunton, kt., Secretary of State and Master of the Court of Wards and Liveries, and had issue*:
(1) Anne Bayning (1637-59), born 1 May and baptised at Little Bentley, 11 May 1637; married as a child, 18 June 1647 at St Martin-in-the-Fields, Westminster (Middx), Aubrey de Vere (1627-1703), 20th and last Earl of Oxford (who married 2nd, about April 1673, Diana (d. 1719), daughter of George Kirke (d. 1675) of Charing Cross (Middx) and Sheriff Hutton (Yorks) and by her had one son (who died young) and four daughters), but had no issue; died in the Tower of London (where her husband was held prisoner), 14 September, and was buried at Westminster Abbey, 27 September 1659;
(2) Penelope Bayning (1638-57), born posthumously, 3 November and baptised at St Olave, Hart St., London, 14 November 1638; married as a child, 18 June 1647 at St Martin-in-the-Fields, Westminster (Middx), and again on 6 June 1651 at Rotherhithe (Kent), Hon. John Herbert (1625-59), MP for Monmouthshire, 1646-48 and for Wilton, 1659, youngest son of Philip Herbert, 4th Earl of Pembroke and 1st Earl of Montgomery, but had no issue; she was buried at Westminster Abbey, 1 May 1657.
He inherited Little Bentley Hall and extensive scattered estates in Essex and Suffolk from his father in 1629 and came of age in 1637. Following the death of his widow and daughters, his estates were divided among his four sisters and their descendants.
He died 11 June 1638, when all his honours became extinct, and was buried at Little Bentley, 5 July 1638, where he was commemorated by a monument destroyed in the 19th century, when the Baynham vault was converted into a coal hole; his will was proved 9 October 1638 and made generous provision for his widow and numerous charitable bequests, including £300 to Christ Church, Oxford - a bequest which no doubt prompted a collection of commemorative poetry by the fellows of that college. His widow married 2nd, 28 March 1639, as his first wife, Lord Philip Herbert (1621-69), later 5th Earl of Pembroke and 2nd Earl of Montgomery, and had issue one son (later the 6th Earl); she died 18 September 1647 and was buried at Little Bentley, where she is commemorated by a monument; administration of her goods was granted 24 January 1647/8, although there were further grants in 1655 and 1661.
* His will, written in December 1634, mentions his wife and an unnamed daughter, but there is no other evidence of a child born before Anne, and if she existed she must have died young. Since his wife was anyway a child bride, a child born before the will was made would have been conceived before wedlock and when the mother was only 13 or 14 years of age.

Principal sources

Burke, Extinct and Dormant Baronetcies, 2nd edn., 1841, p. 47; P. Morant, The history and antiquities of the county of Essex, vol. 1, 1768, pp. 446-47; J. Yelloly Watson, The Tending hundred in the olden time, 1891; J. Bettley & Sir N. Pevsner, The buildings of England: Essex, 2007, p. 541.

Location of archives

Bayning of Little Bentley Hall, Viscounts Bayning: miscellaneous family and estate papers, 1614-1703 [National Archives, SP46/76-77; Essex Record Office, D/DL]

Coat of arms

Or, two bars sable, on each two scallop shells of the first.

Can you help?

  • Does anyone know the whereabouts of the lost 1627 estate map of Little Bentley or any other illustration of the Jacobean house? Can anyone provide a photograph of the present Little Bentley Hall?
  • Does anyone know more about Richard Baninge of Dedham and his family?
  • I should be most grateful if anyone can provide photographs or portraits of people whose names appear in bold above.
  • If anyone can offer further information or corrections I should be most grateful. I am always particularly pleased to hear from current owners or the descendants of families associated with a property who can supply information from their own research or personal knowledge for inclusion.

Revision and acknowledgements

This post was first published 12 September 2021, and was updated 10 January 2022. I am grateful to Guy Vincent for drawing the will of Thomas Bayninge (d. 1605) to my attention.

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