Monday, January 10, 2011

The Longuevilles at Wolverton

This is a continuation of my post about the de Longueville family in Wolverton.

The de Longuevilles repeated the longevity of the first Wolverton ruling family and survived for over 300 years. Sir Frank Markham expresses the view that "successive generations of de Longuevilles followed two main lines of policy, first the acquisition of estates formerly held by priories, and second the enclosure of the common land of their manors." I will return to these two points later.

Sir John de Longueville, who had married Joan Hunt, the heiress of Wolverton lived to 1439. He was Sherrif of Buckingham in 1394 and no doubt took the opportunity (as did all holders of this office) to enrich himself and his family. His son and heir, Sir George lived to 1457. He had two sons - Richard, the eldest, and a younger son, George. It is not clear if Richard died before his father or later, but Sir George made the younger George heir before he died, even though Richard had a son, also called Richard.

Matters did not rest here, because in about 1485 the younger Richard's son, John, made a forcible entry to the Manor and asserted his rights as he perceived them. He was obviously successful because on George's death in 1499 John had in his hands a document renouncing any claims by George and his heirs on the manor.

This John, who was knighted, lived to the good age of 83 (although in one place he is accorded the great age of 103) and took the family into the 16th century. He had only one legitimate child, a daughter Anne. She married John Cheyne of the Chenies manor in Chalfont St Giles and the prospect of uniting the two manors, which were once part of the Wolverton barony must have been considered; however, Sir John de Longueville decided to will the Wolverton Manor to his illegitimate son Arthur, and accordingly inherited in 1541 and in the following year secured himself from any claim by his half sister.

The genealogy of the de Longuevilles can be rather murky. One genealogy gives him a first wife, Joan Tresham and no issue from this marriage, and then Anne Saunders, with whom he had four sons _ Thomas, Arthur, John and Richard. Other sources assign him one legitimate child, Anne. Probably, the marriage to Joan Tresham produced the daughter, Anne, but it seems that he did not marry Anne Saunders. Thomas died before his father without issue and the inheritance fell to Arthur. John Leland, a contemporary writer, is in no doubt about Arthur's illegitimacy:
The Langevilles of later tymes hath lyen and bilded fairly at Wolverstun in Bukinghamshie (nere Stony Stareatford).
Langeville an 103 yeres old made his landes from his heires general to his bastard sunne Arture. The yonger bastard is now heir. 
Arthur Longueville was the one who acquired Bradwell Priory, which had been originally endowed by the Baron Meinfelin in the 12th Century. It had never really propsered and by the time of the dissolution of the monasteries was not worth a great deal.  It had latterly been the property of Cardinal Wolsey but after his downfall it reverted to the crown. From here it was sold to Arthur Longueville. A detailed description can be found here.

The "younger bastard" died in 1557 leaving his widow Anne to manage the estate until his son Henry came of age. Henry died in 1618. The period was a momentous one for the Manor because land enclosures were largely effected during this century - a policy pursued by Arthur and more assiduously by his son Henry. I will write about this in a separate post.

The 17th century witnessed a rise in the Longueville fortunes and a tragic collapse. Most of Sir Henry's seven children made well-connected marriages and his heir, also Henry, died three years after his father, but his son and heir, Edward, was a great supporter of Charles I and the royalist cause and was rewarded with the baronetcy of Nova Scotia. However, his committment during the Civil War was costly, not only in the expense of raising arms for the King, but in the fines and penalties he paid for being on the losing side. In 1643 he was captured and imprisoned at Grafton House and assessed a fine of £330. In 1646 he was fined £800, a large sum for those times. In 1650 he sold Bradwell Manor to pay the fine.

Sir Edward died in 1661 and his son Thomas succeeded to the reduced estate. He had married an heiress, Mary Silvester of Iver in Buckinghamshire, which must have helped. Unfortunately, he was killed upon a fall from a horse in 1685.

The young Sir Edward, who was his only son, proved himself to be a man who preferred to spend rather than earn and he gradually dissipated the wealth of the Longuevilles. In 1712 he was forced to sell the entire manor, which was purchased by Dr. John Radcliffe for £40,000. Sir Edward, unluckily, met the same fate as his father. He was thrown from his horse during a race at Bicester and thus met his end. the date was 28th August 1718.

Sir Edward did not marry and had no issue. The baronetcy, and whatever money was left, passed to a cadet branch of the family in Wales.

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