Saturday, 16 October 2021

(471) Baesh alias Bashe of Stanstead Bury

Baesh of Stanstead Bury
This account of the Baesh family of Stanstead Bury (Hertfordshire) has perforce to leave a great deal uncertain. Not only are the family unusually difficult to trace in the records because of the bewildering variety of ways in which their name is spelt
 (Bashe, Bash, Baesh, Baeshe, Basshe and Baesshe are common and Bache, Bacsh and other variants are also found), but the fact that the Stanstead Abbots parish registers do not survive before 1679 means that much basic genealogical detail is absent. It follows that if anyone is able to add even trivial details to the biographies below from other sources, I shall be most grateful to receive the information.

Like so many of the newly wealthy families of Tudor England, the Baeshes rose to prominence through the talent-spotting prowess of Henry VIII's ministers. Edward Baesh (c.1507-87), with whom the genealogy below begins, was one of Thomas Cromwell's recruits to royal service. Unfortunately his origins are obscure, as there would seem to have been two nearly contemporary men of the same name who were educated respectively at Lyon's Inn and the Inner Temple, and were granted arms in 1550 and 1572. According to the Visitation of Hertfordshire, the Edward we are concerned with was the eldest son of Alexander Baesh, but the Visitation of London says Alexander died without issue, and that Edward was the son of Richard Baesh of Worcester. The latter seems more likely to be correct, since it accords with the biographical information given in a later lampoon, the 'Libell written against Baeshe', in which his early life was set out in exotic and, no doubt, largely fictitious detail. The anonymous author, who seems to have been a rival for the affections of Baesh's second wife Jane, mocked him as 'the new made squire of Stansted', for his humble origins, and for his alleged taste for strong ale. The first official appointment in which he can be traced was in 1538 as deputy secretary to the Council for the Marches of Wales, but by 1545 he had begun working on the victualling of the navy, and he became joint Surveyor of Victualling in 1547 and sole Surveyor in 1550. He continued in post through the reign of Queen Mary I and was confirmed in office by Queen Elizabeth I in 1560. In April 1565 the victualling service was reorganized and the surveyor was given a contract to provide for a given number of men at fixed rates, rather than an annual salary. Inflation in food prices made this challenging for Baesh, and he complained constantly about the difficulty of operating within the budget, even though the per capita rate was twice raised. He seems, however, to have been honest and effective, as there were few complaints about the victuals he provided, and he contrived to prosper sufficiently to invest in property. He held the Surveyorship until 1582, when he retired, although he continued to shower unsolicited advice on naval matters on the Lord Treasurer, Lord Burghley.

Throughout his career, Baesh was assiduous in acquiring lands as a way of investing his steadily growing capital. His earliest acquisitions were the the rectory and advowson of Feltham (Middx) in 1549, and in 1550 the manor of Cullynges in Hertfordshire. He lived in London at this time but in about 1556, he moved to Hertfordshire, and became a JP for the county. In 1559 he bought the manor of Stanstead Abbotts (Herts) and also teamed up with his fellow navy official, Sir William Winter, to buy lands in the Forest of Dean and Dorset, and he later acquired other small properties scattered around the Home Counties, most of which were later sold. He settled at Stanstead Bury, where he remodelled and enlarged the house, so that he was able to entertain Queen Elizabeth there on two occasions in 1571 and 1576.

According to his monument at Stanstead Abbotts, Baesh had two sons and three daughters by his second marriage. His will suggests that only his widow and the two sons survived at the time of his death, and neither of the sons lived very long. The elder, Ralph Baesh (d. 1598) was, however, married while still a child, and left one surviving son, Sir Edward Baesh (1594-1653), kt.  Ralph's widow married a neighbour, Sir George Manners (c.1580-1641), who in 1532 inherited the earldom of Rutland. Manners seems to have been largely responsible for Edward's upbringing, and it was no doubt his influence which secured Edward's knighthood in 1616 and his election to Parliament for seats in Lincolnshire, where the Manners influence was strong. Although he married twice, Sir Edward produced no children, and on his death in 1653 his estates passed, under a settlement of 1635, to his kinsman, Sir Ralph Bashe (d. c.1663).

At the time when the settlement of 1635 was drawn up, Sir Edward's heir presumptive was Edward, son of Nicholas Bashe (d. 1591) of Stanstead St. Margarets (Herts), whose precise relationship to Sir Edward is unclear, as Nicholas Bashe's origins are obscure. The Visitation of Hertfordshire makes him the son of Alexander Baesh and the brother of Edward Baesh (c.1507-87), but there is evidently some confusion here. He was married in or before 1563 to Dorothy, the daughter of William Tooke (1508-88), auditor of the Court of Wards and Liveries, so it seems possible that he was a generation younger than Edward (c.1507-87). He is unlikely to be Edward's son by his first wife - although this would fit chronologically - as he is not mentioned in Edward's will, and there is no mention of him on Edward's monument. Perhaps his father was Alexander, who might have been a brother or half-brother of Edward (c.1507-87)?

By the time Sir Edward died in 1653 his cousin Edward had died, and the operation of the entail brought the Stanstead Bury estate to Edward's son, Ralph or Rafe Bashe (c.1623-c.1663), who had been an enthusiastic Royalist in the Civil War and had amassed heavy debts as a result. When the Restoration came he was - like so many loyal supporters - rewarded with honours rather than cash, being made a Knight of the Bath in 1661. In the same year he obtained an act of parliament allowing him to sell part of his settled estate. He died shortly afterwards, probably in 1663, leaving a widow and a son and daughter. His son, Sir Edward Bashe (c.1653-1708), was educated at Cambridge and married in 1671 to Anne Wade of Battles, Manuden (Essex). He inherited a poor financial position from his father, and it seems to have got rapidly worse, so that in 1678 he was obliged to sell the remainder of the Stanstead Bury estate. In 1677, he is recorded as joining the army as an ensign, but there is no record of his promotion and his career was probably brief. By 1698 he was said to have sold all his property, and to be 'very poor', and he was involved in a series of legal cases about his wife's interest in the Battles estate. With his death without issue in 1708 and that of his widow in 1714, the line of the landowning Bashes came to an end.

Stanstead Bury, Stanstead Abbotts, Hertfordshire

The house as it stands is a complex and confusing building, with work of successive periods so overlaid one upon another that very little of the medieval and 16th century house is now apparent. Fortunately, the house has been thoroughly investigated by the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England, and the account that follows is largely a precis of their analysis.

The manor belonged to Waltham Abbey until 1531, and the oldest part of the present house - the 15th century west end of the south range - was presumably built by the abbey or one of its tenants. The surviving work of this date seems to be part of a open hall house with a crown post roof (although the tie beams and crown posts do not survive). In 1531 the manor was exchanged with the Crown for lands in Essex, and soon afterwards Henry VIII gave Stanstead Abbotts to Anne Boleyn, although it reverted to the Crown after Anne's execution in 1536. The estate was, however, let, first to John Rodes (c.1522-42) and later to Philip Paris. It was most probably Rodes who made the first known alterations to the house, building a brick range to the east of, and at right-angles to, the earlier hall, with a principal floor built above an undercroft. The depth of the block (22 feet) suggests it may have been built as a new hall range, which would imply a complete reworking of the older house to provide new service accommodation. In 1556 it was said that 'the manor place is in decay and will ask much reparation in timber and tiling', and in 1559 Queen Elizabeth I granted the estate to Edward Baesh (c.1507-87). He evidently restored and extended the house, for in 1571 and 1576 he was able to entertain the Queen and her entourage at Stanstead. Baesh's addition, perhaps of 1563 (the date on some reset stained glass) was a large square block to the north, probably comprising a parlour with a great chamber above and a cellar below. A timber-framed stair turret containing a fine newel stair provided access between the floors. Baesh was probably also responsible for the construction of a two-storey gatehouse, entered through a four-centred arch.

Stanstead Bury: an engraving of the house from the east by J. Drapentier, published in Chauncy's history of Hertfordshire in 1700.
Note the gatehouse on the left and the second house peeking out from behind the main building.
At some point in the late 16th or early 17th century, a second house was built next to the main building. Although examples of this 'one site, two houses' arrangement are found occasionally in vernacular buildings - for example where two brothers inherited a farm jointly and built separate houses for their families - it is almost unheard of in high status buildings, where it would be more usual to provide separate apartments within a single structure, or to build two houses a substantial distance apart. The principal rooms of the second house were evidently on the first floor, for a view of c.1800 shows large mullioned and transomed windows on the upper floor, and four light mullioned windows on the ground floor. The appearance implies a 16th century origin for the building, with later improvements to the upper floor, perhaps in the early 17th century. It is possible that the second house was constructed originally to form additional lodgings in order to accommodate the royal retinue when Queen Elizabeth visited; an alternative context would be that it was built to provide a home for Edward Baesh's widow Jane (d. 1614), who is known to have remained at Stanstead Bury after her husband's death.

Stanstead Bury: the house in 1798, before the demolition of the second house and the reconstruction of the south wing.
Image: Historic England/estate of A.G. Trower.
Sir Ralph Baesh paid tax on 35 hearths in 1662 and two years later his widow paid tax on 39 hearths, so the two buildings together made a very substantial property. The Baesh family sold the house in 1678 to Sir Thomas Field (d. 1689), and his son Edward Field remodelled the north range to create a new, regular, seven bay east front in the first years of the 18th century. His facade has a three-bay centre supporting a pediment and dormer windows with alternate triangular and segmental pediments. Inside, a fine large staircase hall occupies the left hand two bays of the new block, with a drawing room in the centre and a dining room beyond it.

In 1794 the house was sold away from its estate to George Porter, from whom it passed to Capt. Robert Jocelyn RN, and it was probably he who remodelled the eastern end of the south front as a three bay two-storey block with floor levels matching those of the 18th century block. It had a three-bay south front with windows in arched recesses, and a new entrance which continued in use as the main front door until 1930. Jocelyn is also believed to have demolished the second house to the south-west.

Stanstead Bury: the west (entrance) front today, with the semi-timbered staircase tower on the right.

Stanstead Bury: the east front today, with the service wing of 1930-31 on the right.
The house was advertised to let in 1833, when it was said to have 'recently undergone a most complete and thorough repair in every respect, painted, papered. etc. in very superior style, and furnished in [a] corresponding manner', and it continued to be let throughout the 19th century. Between 1842 and 1852 it was a 'hydropathic establishment', but after that it passed to the Trower family as private tenants, who in 1907 bought the freehold. In 1930-31, Sir William Gosselin Trower carried out extensive alterations, including building a new service wing north of the existing house and moving the entrance from the south side to the west front. The house remains the property of the Trower family today.

Descent: Waltham Abbey exchanged 1531 with the Crown; granted 1532 to Anne Boleyn (d. 1536), Marchioness of Pembroke and later second wife of King Henry VIII; reverted to Crown on her attainder and execution; granted 1559 to Edward Baesh (c.1507-87); to son, Ralph Baesh (d. 1598); to son, Sir Edward Baesh (1594-1653), kt.; to kinsman, Sir Ralph Bashe (c.1623-c.1663), KB; to son, Sir Edward Bashe (c.1653-1708), kt., who sold 1678 to trustees for Sir Thomas Field (d. 1689), kt.; to son, Edmund Field; to son, Thomas Field (1701-19); to brother, Edmund Field (1704-29); to brother, Paul Field (1711-83); to first cousin once removed, William Henry Feilde (1755-1833); house sold separately from manor in 1794 to George Porter; sold 1802 to Capt. Robert Jocelyn RN (d. 1806); to son, Robert Salusbury Jocelyn (1780-1812); to mother, Elizabeth Jocelyn (d. 1817);to daughter, Caroline Mary (d. 1854), wife of Lt-Col. John Powell ffoulkes (1770-1826), who let the house from 1833. The tenant from 1852 was Capt. Edward Spencer Trower (d. 1896), whose son, Sir Walter Trower (1853-1924), kt. bought the freehold in 1907; to son, Sir William Gosselin Trower (1889-1963), kt.; to son, Anthony Gosselin Trower (1921-2005); to son, Jonathan Charles Gosselin Trower (b. 1958).

Baesh alias Bashe family of Stanstead Bury

Baesh, Edward (c.1507-87). Parentage uncertain, but possibly the eldest son of Richard or Robert Bashe of Worcester, evidently a shoemaker or shoehorn maker, and his wife Joyce, daughter of Thomas Bolte of Worcestershire, born about 1507. Educated at Lyon's Inn (admitted c.1526) or Inner Temple. He began his career as an official in the service of Thomas Cromwell, and was appointed deputy Secretary of the Council for the Marches of Wales c.1538. By 1545 he was acting as one of the agents engaged in victualling the royal navy, and he became joint Surveyor of Victuals for the Navy in 1547 and Surveyor General in 1550; his appointment being confirmed for life in 1560. In 1565 he contracted to undertake the whole of the victualling for a fixed sum per head of naval personnel, and although this sum was increased in 1575 it proved insufficient and he was for a time heavily indebted to the Crown. He was Constable of Porchester Castle and lieutenant of Southbere Forest, 1557-60, and MP for Rochester, 1554, 1559, 1563 and for Preston, 1571. JP for Hertfordshire from c.1556, and for Middlesex from 1562; High Sheriff of Hertfordshire, 1571-72 and 1584-85. He married 1st, 30 November 1538 at St. Dionis Backchurch, London, Thomasine (fl. 1567), daughter of [forename unknown] Ager*, and 2nd, 1567x1574, Jane (d. 1614), daughter of Sir Ralph Sadler (1507-87) of Standon (Herts), and had issue by his second wife, with three daughters who probably died young, as they are not mentioned in his will:
(2.1) Ralph Baesh (d. 1598) (q.v.);
(2.2) William Baesh; living in 1587 but said to have drowned under London Bridge.
He purchased Rye House in the 1540s and was granted the manor of Stanstead Abbotts in 1559, and also acquired a town house in London and estates in other counties, most of which he re-sold. He remodelled and enlarged the house at Stanstead Bury, where he twice entertained Queen Elizabeth, in 1571 and 1576.
He died 2 May 1587, and was buried at Stanstead Abbotts, where he is commemorated by a monument; his will was proved in the PCC, 17 October 1587 and an inquisition post mortem was held in 1587. His first wife was living in 1567. His widow died 7 April 1614 and was buried with her husband; her will was proved in the PCC, 19 May 1614.
* Thus in the parish register, although it was recorded in later centuries as Baker, which is perhaps the result of aural corruption and the substitution of a familiar name for a more unusual one.

Baesh, Ralph (d. 1598). Elder son of Edward Baesh (c.1507-87) and his second wife, Jane, daughter of Sir Ralph Sadler of Standon (Herts). He married, 1586, when they were probably both children, Frances (d. 1653), daughter of Sir Edward Carey (d. 1618), kt., of Aldenham (Herts), Master of the Jewel House, and had issue:
(1) Ralph Baesh; died in infancy;
(2) Edward Baesh (1594-1653) (q.v.);
(3) William Baesh; probably died young;
(4) Frances Baesh (d. 1596); died in infancy, 20 July 1596.
He inherited the Stanstead Bury estate from his father in 1587.
He died 8 May 1598 and was buried at Stanstead Abbotts, where he is commemorated by a plaque on his father's monument. His widow married 2nd, 3 March 1605 at Aldenham (Herts), Sir George Manners (c.1580-1641) of Fulbeck (Lincs) and The Savoy, Westminster (Middx), later 7th Earl of Rutland, but had no further issue; she died 16 March 1653.

Baesh, Sir Edward (1594-1653). Second, but first surviving son of Ralph Baesh (d. 1598) and his wife Frances, daughter of Sir Edward Carey, kt., master of the Jewels 1595-1618, of Aldenham (Herts), born at Aldenham, 1 January 1594. After his father's death, he became a ward of his maternal grandfather, Sir Edward Carey, but was brought up mainly by his stepfather, Sir George Manners (later 7th Earl of Rutland), who was no doubt responsible for his election to parliament. Educated at Peterhouse, Cambridge (matriculated 1608). He was knighted, 6 June 1616. MP for Lincoln, 1614, Stamford, 1628-29 and Grantham, 1640. Chamberlain of the Exchequer, 1625-53. JP for Hertfordshire, 1626-37, after which he was removed for non-attendance. By a deed of 1635 he endowed a free grammar school and a row of almshouses in Stanstead Abbotts. He was named by the king as a commissioner of array in 1642, and his estate in London and Hertfordshire was sequestrated in 1643, but recovered after he paid fines and charges totalling £800; he thereafter maintained a position of neutrality during the Civil War. He married 1st, Sara, daughter of David la Maire of Aldgate, London, a foreign merchant, and 2nd, 24 April 1633 at St Botolph, Bishopsgate, London, Mary (b. c.1614), daughter and co-heir of Sir Charles Montagu of Cranbrook, Barking (Essex), but had no issue.
He inherited the Stanstead Bury estate from his father in 1598, and came of age in 1615. In 1620 he purchased the adjoining Rye House estate. After his death without issue the whole estate passed to his kinsman, Sir Ralph Bashe (c.1623-c.1663).
He died 12 May 1653 and was buried at Stanstead Abbotts; his will was proved in the PCC, 28 May 1653. His first wife died between 1618 and 1633. His widow is said to have married 2nd, one of his Carey cousins, but neither her remarriage nor her burial have been traced.


Baesh, Nicholas (d. 1591). Parentage uncertain, but possibly a younger son or grandson of Richard or Robert Bashe of Worcester, shoemaker or shoehorn maker, and his wife Joyce, daughter of Thomas Bolte of Worcestershire, and thus the brother or nephew of Edward Baesh (c.1507-87) of Stanstead Bury. He married, in or before 1563, Dorothy (fl. 1591), daughter of William Tooke (1508-88) of Popes (Herts), auditor of the Court of Wards and Liveries, 1544-88, and had issue:
(1) Edward Bashe (fl. 1590-1625) (q.v.),
He lived at Stanstead St. Margarets (Herts).
He died in February 1590/1; an inquisition post mortem was held in 1591. His widow married 2nd, 1591 (licence 18 November) Robert Booth (fl. 1616), but her burial has not been traced.

Bashe, Edward (fl. 1590-1635). Son of Nicholas Baesh (d. 1591) of Stanstead St. Margaret's (Herts) and his wife Dorothy, daughter of William Tooke of Popes (Herts), auditor of the Court of Wards and Liveries. He married 1st, [forename unknown] Duncombe, and 2nd, 29 June 1620 at Widford (Herts), Frances Wright of Northampton, and had issue:
(2.1) Edward Bashe (c.1621-c.1645); educated at St Catherine's College, Cambridge (admitted 1639); died unmarried aged 24 and was buried at Stanstead Abbotts;
(2.2) Sir Ralph Bashe (c.1623-c.1663) (q.v.);
(2.3) Philadelphia Bashe; married, before 1648, Michael Lilly of Great Parndon (Essex) and Yardley (Herts), and had issue one daughter.
He lived at Stanstead St. Margarets (Herts).
He died between 1635 and 1653. His first wife died before 1620. His second wife's date of death is unknown.

Bashe, Sir Ralph (c.1623-c.1663), kt. Son of Edward Bashe (fl. 1590-1635) of Stanstead St. Margaret's and his second wife Frances Wright of Northampton, born about 1623. Educated at St Catherine's College, Cambridge (matriculated 1639). He was a Royalist in the Civil War and was suspected of complicity in Sir George Booth's uprising in 1659, when his estate was sequestered briefly. As a result, he accumulated many debts, in recognition of which he was made a Knight of the Bath at the Coronation of King Charles II, 1661. He married, c.1650, Anne (b. 1622), daughter of Edward Skipwith of Gosberton (Lincs), and had issue:
(1) Sir Edward Bashe (c.1653-1708) (q.v.);
(2) Anne Bashe (d. c.1700?); married Sir William Duncombe (1658-1706), 2nd and last bt., of Tangley (Surrey) but died without issue; she predeceased her husband but her date of death has not been traced.
He inherited the Stanstead Bury estate from his cousin, Sir Edward Baesh, in 1653, and in 1661 obtained an Act of Parliament allowing him to sell part of the estate to the value of £300 a year.
He died between 1662 and 1664 and was buried at Stanstead Abbotts; his will is said to have been proved in 1664. His widow was living in 1673.

Bashe, Sir Edward (c.1653-1708), kt. Son of Sir Ralph Bashe (c.1623-c.1663) and his wife Anne, daughter of Edward Skipwith of Gosberton (Lincs), born about 1653. Educated at St John's College, Oxford (matriculated 1668) and Grays Inn (admitted 1670); also admitted at Cambridge University, 1668, and awarded an MA there in 1682. He was knighted at Whitehall, London, 20 March 1671/2. An officer in the army (Cornet, 1677) who was 'employed about the Charles galley at Tangiers', 1677. He was permanently short of money and had sold all his real estate by 1698, when he was described as 'very poor'. He married, 1671 (licence 26 July), at the Savoy Chapel, Anne Wade (c.1650-1714) of Battles, Manuden (Essex), but had no issue.
He inherited the Stanstead Bury estate from his father in about 1663, but sold it in about 1676 to Edward Field of Marden (Herts).
He was buried at Manuden (Essex), 26 October 1708. His widow was buried at Manuden, 14 May 1714.

Principal sources

VCH Hertfordshire, vol. 3, 1912, pp. 366-73; J.T. Smith, English Houses 1200-1800: the Hertfordshire evidence, RCHME 1992, pp. 131-32; J.T. Smith, Hertfordshire Houses: a selective inventory, RCHME 1993, pp. 179-81; Sir J. Baker, The men of court, 1440-1550, 2012, vol. 1, p. 276; J. Bettley, Sir N. Pevsner & B. Cherry, The buildings of England: Hertfordshire, 3rd edn., 2019, p. 532; History of Parliament biographies of Edward Bashe (d. 1587) and Sir Edward Baesh (1594-1653); Oxford Dictionary of National Biography article on Edward Baeshe (d. 1587).

Location of archives

No significant accumulation of records is known to survive.

Coat of arms

Per chevron, argent and gules, in chief two cocks sable in base a saltire or. [NB Some earlier blazons give moorhens rather than cocks.]

Can you help?

  • As noted at the head of this article, the genealogical information for this family is unusually deficient, and I should be most grateful to anyone who can provide additional information from reliable sources. 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.
  • I should be most grateful if anyone can provide portraits of any of the people whose names appear in bold above.

Revision and acknowledgements

This post was first published 16 October 2021.

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