The Hammonds – a Shropshire family saga

What follows is a report of my research into the Hammond family of Hatton, in the parish of Eaton-under-Heywood (Shropshire), which later settled in Aston Botterell and Church Stretton, as well as Gawsworth (Chesire), Tolland (Somerset) and Charlecote (Warwickshire). The purpose of this article is not that of a classical blog post – to merely inform and entertain my readers – but to dispel some of the rumours and errors which populate a significant number of online Hammond family trees. Any corrections or new discoveries will be added to this article as they surface. Like any genealogist, I cannot pretend that my research is 100% accurate; however, I am confident that the conclusions and sources quoted will be enough to render my findings sufficient accuracy and credibility. If you have any comments or queries, or wish to make any suggestions or corrections, please email me via the address you will find under Contact.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: To quote this article or any information (including images) therein, please use the following reference: SMITH RAMOS, Daniel. “The Hammonds – a Shropshire family saga.” The Genealogy Corner (https://thegenealogycorner.com/). April 3 2022.

The first Hammonds

I have no reason to believe that all Hammonds in the world (or even in Shropshire, for that matter) are all descended from the same common Hammond ancestor. The family I am descended from – the subject of my research – appear to originate in Hatton, a hamlet of the parish of Eaton-under-Heywood, in Shropshire. There are references to Hammonds in the said parish as early as the 1600s, though the absence of documentation means it is impossible to establish a solid family link between the various individuals they refer to.

A family tree, preserved in Shropshire Archives under the reference Hamond/Gough (Hamond of Hatton; Gough of Oldfallings) Fletcher, W.G.D., 40 suggests a family link between the Hammonds of Hatton and the Goughs of Old Fallings (Staffordshire). A closer investigation into the information contained in this family tree, probably drawn up in the early 1800s, shows that it contains many mistakes and contradictions, which makes it a wholly unreliable source.

The Hammond family line begins with someone whom I will refer to as N.N. Hammond. This is because his name is unknown to me at the time of writing this article (spring 2022). What I do know is that this individual likely had at least four children (one son and three daughters). However, only the Christian names of two of them (John and Jane) are known, while the existence of the other two daughters is inferred through secondary sources. Indeed, in his own will drafted in early 1683, John Hammond explicitly refers to his three sisters as Jane Davies, Mrs Jenkes and “my sister Passie” (probably Passey, her married name). No further clues are offered as to the sisters’ abode, age or marital status at the time, although the will does mention a Thomas Jenkes and a William Passie. Another, more distant relative generically referred to in two sources as a “cousin” of the Hammonds is one German Hammond, who lived in Aston Botterell.

The Hammonds of The Ford, Aston Botterell (Shropshire)

Before delving into the main Hammond line (i.e. John’s), I will take a short detour to explore what little information I have been able to find on the life of the aforementioned German Hammond. I have not been able to locate his baptism record, although chances are he was probably born in Shropshire and that the original document has been lost to history. His date of birth therefore remains a mystery, though a rough calculation of about 1660 is probably a fair estimation considering he married in 1684 and died in 1729.

On 3 May 1684 German Hammond married Mary Low (d.1734) in the market town of Ludlow, a place with many associations with the Hammond family. No further clues are provided in the record as to their abode, their origin or indeed German’s occupation, but the couple lived at The Ford (presumably what is now known as Ford Farm) in the parish of Aston Botterell, near Bridgnorth. German and Mary Hammond may have had several children, but references survive for only two of them: William, who was baptised in Aston Botterell in June 1689, and Richard, who must have been very young when he died and was subsequently buried in the same parish almost exactly a year after his brother’s baptism. German Hammond died in July 1729, when he was probably in his 60s. His only surviving son, William, did not outlive him long, for he was buried on 1 September that same year. This information is consistent with a record dated 1732 [TNA ref. C 11/1786/23], which refers to Mary Hammond and Elizabeth Hammond as the widows of German Hammond and William Hammond, respectively. Both men are also referred to as “yeomen”, which gives us some indication as to their station.

When William Hammond died aged 40 in 1729, he left behind a wife and at least four children: Mary (born 1722), Thomas (1723), Elizabeth (1726) and Anne (1729), who was born a few weeks before her father’s death. William’s heir, Thomas Hammond, is referred to by name in the aforesaid record kept at the National Archives. He may well be the same Thomas Hammond “born in Aston near the market town of Ludlow” who in 1788 retired from the 2nd Troop of Horse Guards, after a service of 22 years serving in turn under Baron Cadogan, Lord Robert Bertie and Jeffery Amherst [TNA ref. WO 121/4/169].

The Hammonds of Hatton, Eaton-under-Heywood (Shropshire)

John Hammond, the son of N.N. Hammond, was born sometime during the first half of the 1600s. The absence of a baptism record means that his age at the time of his death in March 1683 can only be calculated through secondary information. John was married to a woman called Susan (or Susannah), whose maiden name and origins are unknown. Their marriage likely took place in the 1640s, since their third known child was born in approximately 1652. Seven children are known to have been born to the couple, though only the baptisms of the two youngest, Paul and Jane, survive. The other children were Mary, Vincent, John, Bernard and Susan. All but one of the seven are mentioned in their father’s will, dated 19 March 1683 [TNA ref. L6/1234]; it is likely that the missing child, Paul, predeceased his father.

A family tree showing John and Susan Hammond’s seven known children and their spouses. William Palmer, of Ticklerton, married Mary Hammond in 1672 and after her death, married her younger sister Susan in 1685.
Author’s property.

John Hammond’s will is quoted in online sources as being dated 1682 or 1683; the confusion arises from the fact that England did not adopt the Gregorian calendar until the mid-18th century, when the start of the year was moved from 25 March (known as Lady Day) to 1 January. In other words, according to contemporaries, John Hammond made his will in 1682 because it is dated 19 March, i.e. only a few days before the end of the calendar year according to the Julian calendar. From our point of view, John was actually living in the third month of 1683, if we applied the Gregorian calendar we use today. At any rate, John himself must have died very soon after making his will, as he was buried three days later on 22 March 1682/1683.

John Hammond’s signature as it appears on his will, drafted 19 March 1683 shortly before he died.
Herefordshire Archive and Records Centre.

In his will, John is referred to as “John Hammond of Hatton”. This hamlet is located within the boundaries of the Shropshire parish of Eaton-under-Heywood, approximately half way between Ludlow and Shrewsbury. The will makes very interesting reading, for it lists the various relatives to whom John Hammond left his properties and personal assets. Thanks to the will, it is also possible to infer several family relationships besides his children, namely his aforementioned sisters and cousin, as well as a grandson called John Hammond (the son of his eldest son Vincent, born in 1681).

John’s eldest daughter Mary is referred to in her father’s will as Mary Palmer, implying that she had married by then. This is consistent with the marriage entry, dated 28 April 1672 in Eaton-under-Heywood, which shows Mary Hammond of Hatton marrying William Palmer, of Ticklerton – Ticklerton being another hamlet within the same parish. I have found no evidence to suggest that William and Mary Palmer had any children of their own; in fact, Mary seems to have died shortly after her own father (she would have been most probably in her early to mid-30s). Because she was already married, and had therefore likely received a dowry upon marrying William Palmer, Mary was only endowed in her father’s will with £10 (roughly equating to £1,150 in 2017 values), while her younger sisters received significantly larger amounts.

On 19 June 1685 Mary’s widower William Palmer married her younger sister Susan Hammond, who had been bequeathed by her father a little under £34,000 in today’s money. Although the wedding took place in Bridgnorth, all six of their children (Elizabeth, Susannah, William, Thomas, Mary and John) would be baptised in Eaton-under-Heywood between 1686 and 1695. Of the six, only Susannah and John are mentioned by name in their uncle Bernard’s will of 1704 – although this is not necessarily indicative that the other brothers and sisters had passed away by then. Indeed, in early 1721 one of the middle sons, Thomas Palmer, married Lucretia Hibbins, the daughter of the late reverend Henry Hibbins, of Stokesay, Shropshire. The Hammonds’ links to members of the Anglican clergy would, as we will soon see, become a common trend throughout subsequent generations.

Entry of marriage in Bridgnorth for William Palmer, Gent. and Susanna Hamond (sic) in 1685.
FindMyPast.

William Palmer, of Ticklerton, died in 1705 and was buried on 22 May in Eaton-under-Heywood, where he had been church warden for a number of years. His widow Susan outlived him by almost 25 years, dying on 16 January 1730/1731 in Ludlow. Incidentally, the parish register for Eaton-under-Heywood mentions a marriage between a “Mrs Susannah Palmer” to the Rev. John Taylor in 1720, but she should not be confused with the aforementioned Susan Hammond who had married William Palmer 35 years before. In fact, John Taylor’s wife was Susan Palmer (née Hammond)’s daughter – the term Mrs being at the time used as a sign of deference for women of rank, rather than to exclusively denote married women. The confusion between mother and daughter arising from their names, which is admittedly a mistake very easily made, can be dismissed straight away considering that John and Susannah Taylor’s five children were all born between late 1720 and 1730, by which time Susan Hammond (later Palmer) would have been in her late 60s.

Now we have covered the lives of John Hammond’s two eldest daughters, let us focus on his third and youngest daughter, Jane, before turning out attention to John’s three surviving sons and their descendants. Jane Hammond was baptised on 13 December 1664. Like her elder siblings, she is mentioned as one of the beneficiaries in her father’s will in 1683. In the said document, she was to receive £260 (just under £30,000 in modern values) upon her father’s death, with an additional income of £10 per annum over the next three years, payable by her brothers Vincent and Bernard from the benefits arising from their respective livings. It would be another four years before Jane herself became a married woman, for on 29 April 1687, in the parish of Much Wenlock, she married Timothy Gravenor (sometimes spelt Grovenor or Grosvenor). Timothy is described in several sources as a “gentleman” and “of Whitbach and Upper Hayton”, near Stanton Lacy, just north of Ludlow. The couple appear to have had at least two children: Elizabeth, who died young and was buried in Cleobury North in early January 1693; and John, who was born in April 1692 and is mentioned in his uncle Bernard Hammond’s will twelve years later.

Timothy and Jane Gravenor lived in Cleobury North for a brief period in the early years of their marriage. It was in that location that Jane’s widowed mother, Susan, passed away in 1699, and it was also there where Jane’s brother Bernard drafted his will five years later.

Timothy Gravenor died in Stanton Lacy in 1734, while his widow passed away in April 1743, having outlived all of her siblings. The couple’s only known son, John Gravenor, is referred to in a 1717 document [TNA ref. 1037/21/87] as the couple’s heir and a gentleman “of Womaston”. By that time, John had been married for some years to a woman called Teverea, who ultimately died in 1749 and was buried in the cloister of St Mary’s Cathedral in Worcester. The couple had at least one son called Thomas who was baptised in Cleobury North in 1715, but little else is known about him. John Gravenor may be the same John Grosvenor (sic) who was buried in Stanton Lacy in 1760.

Let us now turn our attention to John Hammond’s three surviving sons: Vincent, John and Bernard. Although baptism records for the period are incomplete or have not survived, their birth order can be deduced thanks to a number of sources and supporting evidence. Vincent was unquestionably his parents’ eldest son (if not their eldest child), as he is described as “my eldest brother Vincent” in Bernard’s will in 1704. As the first-born son and heir to his father’s property in Hatton, Vincent was also the first to marry and sire children (he became a father by 1679).

On the other hand, John was almost certainly the second son. He was admitted “as a poor scholar” to Christ Church College, Oxford on 26 February 1668/1669 at the age of 16 – thus placing his year of birth at around 1652-1653. Additionally, The Manor of Gawsworth, by Raymond Richards, features a short summary of John Hammond’s career, and states that he died in April 1724 when he was in his 73rd year – which is also consistent with a probable birth year of 1652 (and not 1662, as many online sources suggest). This middle brother would not marry until his later 30s, after taking up the position of rector of Gawsworth, in Cheshire, as we shall see presently.

Bernard (who married in 1681) was therefore the youngest of the three brothers, having been born in around 1653 – if a later notation of his burial in 1723, when he was supposedly 70 years old, is to be given any credence. This is also consistent with the will left by the elder John Hammond in 1683, which specifically mentions his four youngest children in what we may suppose is their order of birth: “John, Bernard, Susan and Jane”. We may also consider the fact that, in the same will, John Hammond of Hatton bequeathed varying amounts of money to all his younger children, while his first-born son Vincent was granted the family property in Hatton. In view of this evidence, we may suppose that Vincent was very probably born in the late 1740s, followed by John in about 1651/1652 and Bernard around1652/1653.

Hatton Cottage, Eaton-under-Heywood. This old farmhouse turned parish workhouse still bears an inscription “H.V.E. 1679” for Vincent and his wife Eleanor Hammond.
Historic England.

Let us focus on the eldest son: Vincent Hammond, the eldest of his parents’ sons, inherited the Hatton properties bequeathed to him by his father in his will. He seems to have resided in Hatton most of his life, except for a brief period in the early years of his marriage, but besides that, I know very little about this ancestor of mine – he is my 9x-great-grandfather. By 1679 he had married a woman called Eleanor, whose maiden name and family origins are unknown. However, I suspect that she was probably not a native of Eaton-under-Heywood, because her and Vincent’s two eldest children were born in Atcham, near Shrewsbury – suggesting the couple resided there during the first few years of their marriage. The name of Vincent and Eleanor’s second-born son, Isaac, could be a clue as to her original identity, for in 1654 a girl born to Isaac and Christian (sic) Griffies – or Griffiths – was baptised at St Chad’s, Shrewsbury. The fact that Isaac is not a name used by earlier generations of Hammonds, one may suppose, could mean that it was introduced into the Hammond family by Eleanor herself, wishing to honour the memory of her father by naming her second-born son after his maternal grandfather. After all, her eldest son John was christened in honour of his paternal grandfather, John Hammond of Hatton. If Eleanor Hammond was indeed the same person as Eleanor Griffies, then it follows that she and her husband lived near Shrewsbury in the early years of their marriage – and it is also consistent with Eleanor’s child-bearing years stretching as late as 1696, when she would have been about 42 and when Eleanor actually gave birth to her eighth and last child.

The couple’s first daughter, Susanna, was born in Atcham in 1679, but sadly died there in May 1682 aged two and a half. Their next child, John, was also born in Atcham, but unlike his elder sister, he reached adulthood. He is also mentioned in his paternal grandfather’s will in 1683, when he would have been about two years old. Vincent and Eleanor moved to Eaton-under-Heywood in around 1683 – no doubt in order to take possession of the family property of Hatton following old John Hammond’s demise. By later that September, Eleanor gave birth to her second son, Isaac (died 1685), who was to be followed by Bernard (1686), Eleanor (1687), Katherine (1690), Samuel (1694) and Vincent (1696).

Burial entry of Vincent Hammond of Hatton, dated 11 October 1718.
FindMyPast.

Vincent Hammond of Hatton died in October 1718, when we would have been in his late 60s, and was buried in Eaton-under-Heywood, where his father’s remains had also been laid to rest. His wife Eleanor outlived him by eight years, dying in 1726, probably in her 71st year. Of their six surviving children, only three sons are known to have married: in 1703 John married Mary Hammond (a possible relation) and had six children; Bernard was married in 1710 to Rebecca Minton, one of the heiresses of Richard Minton of Minton, and had ten children; and Vincent, who married Mary Kyte in 1725, but probably remained childless. Eleanor, the eldest-surviving daughter, very probably became the wife of Samuel Pountney in 1709, by whom she had at least three sons.

Vincent’s brother Bernard Hammond – the third and youngest of John and Susan Hammond’s three surviving sons – was probably born in about 1653, as explained above. In 1681 – according to Alan Dakers’ book Ticklerton Tales, which is partially reproduced online – Bernard Hammond, of Ludlow, purchased a mesuage in Hatton from Richard Wredenhall, of Downton; the property had previously belonged to William Acton, of Henley, whose wife Jane had been the daughter of one Richard Hammond, of Hatton – a probable kinsman of Bernard’s. That same year, Bernard married Mary Cheffe, by whom he had five children named Elizabeth, Susanna, Anne, Richard and Mary, though only the eldest daughter seems to have lived to adulthood. Bernard and his wife Mary spent the first four years of their married life in Ludlow prior to settling in Eaton-under-Heywood. After becoming widowed, Bernard lived for some time in Cleobury North, prior to moving to Burwarton, where his eldest daughter lived after her own marriage. In 1705 he acted as executor of the will left by his late brother-in-law William Palmer, and is described as residing in Ticklerton at the time.

In 1697 Bernard suffered two great personal losses when his wife and youngest daughter Mary died within days of each other, possibly as the result of an infectious disease. With his other children already dead, this tragedy left only Bernard and his eldest daughter, Elizabeth, as the sole survivors within their immediate family unit. Five years later Elizabeth married Thomas Holland, of Ludlow, on the occasion of which she very likely received a substantial dowry from her father. This is inferred by his will, drafted the following year, in which Bernard only left his remaining daughter and her husband £5 each, while his remaining financial assets (worth over £128,000 in today’s values) were divided between his other relations. Those who benefitted the most from Bernard’s will were without a doubt the three sons of his elder brother John, who is already referred to in the document as rector of Gawsworth, Cheshire: John’s eldest son, also called John, was to receive £300 (worth approximately £32,000 today); Davenport Hammond was to receive £200, the same as his next brother George, while their remaining sister Susanna only got £100. Bernard Hammond also granted legacies to various other relatives: his nephew John Palmer, of Ticklerton (son of his sister Susan) received £50, as did his cousin John Gravenor, the son of Bernard’s sister Jane. On the other hand, his other nephew and namesake, Bernard Hammond (his brother Vincent’s second son) received £100 – which might suggest that he was the younger Bernard’s godfather.

Opening lines of the 1704 will left by Bernard Hammond of Cleobury North.
The National Archives.

While Bernard’s exact date of death is not recorded, a handwritten (and definitely non-contemporary) note on the Burwarton parish register records Bernard dying in 1723 aged 70 – thus making 1653 the likeliest year of his birth. This information, however, contradicts the fact that on Burwarton parish church there is a memorial to Thomas Holland, his wife Elizabeth and his father-in-law Bernard Hammond, on which it states that he died in 1724. Whatever the case may be, what is certain is that Bernard had passed away by February 1725, when his will was proved at Ludlow by his grandson William Holland (Elizabeth herself having predeceased her father in 1721).

As Bernard Hammond’s most senior living descendant, William Holland thus became the head of the family before he even attained his legal majority. Not long after turning 21, he married Anne Lea, of Little Hereford, by whom he had two sons and four daughters, though only one of the girls is thought to have married and had issue. The daughter in question, named Elizabeth in memory of her grandmother, contracted a somewhat late marriage in 1772 to Benjamin Baugh, gentleman, of Ludlow, by whom she had one known daughter called Harriet (1778-1854). In 1796 Harriet herself made an advantageous marriage by becoming the wife of the Hon. Gustavus Hamilton (later 6th Viscount Boyne), a scion of the Dukes of Abercorn and a direct descendant of the famous Gustavus Hamilton who fought at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 against the forces of the deposed James II – for which he was later ennobled by George I. The 11th and current Viscount Boyne is therefore a direct descendant of Bernard Hammond through his daughter Elizabeth Holland, and my 10th cousin (once removed).

The Hammonds of Gawsworth (Cheshire), Tolland (Somerset) and Charlecote (Warwickshire)

Sir Fulke Lucy (1623-1677), the MP for Cheshire and owner of Charlecote Park who posthumously became the father-in-law of John Hammond, rector of Gawsworth.
National Portrait Gallery.

But perhaps the most glittering of all marriages was that contracted between John Hammond’s middle son, John, to a member of the one of the oldest and most well-established families in England. Born in 1651 or 1652, being a younger son John Hammond‘s prospects of ever inheriting much of the family’s property in Shropshire were never very great. Knowing the financial limitations he would have faced, his parents decided at an early age to destine him for a career in the church. At the age of 16 he matriculated “as a poor scholar” at Christ Church College, Oxford, receiving his B.A. in December 1672 and his M.A. in July 1675. In 1683 he was appointed rector of the parish of Gawsworth, in Cheshire, where he would remain as the incumbent for the next 41 years. The move to Cheshire was to prove a fortuitous decision, for it was there that he probably became an acquaintance of Alice Lucy, daughter of the late Sir Fulke Lucy, of Henbury, MP. The Lucys had been a prominent in the West Midlands for many generations; Sir Fulke’s great-grandfather, Sir Thomas Lucy, is notorious for having been in conflict with – and allegedly prosecuting – William Shakespeare. Sir Fulke’s father, another Sir Thomas, was a politician who sat in the House of Commons on several occasions between 1614 and 1640. Upon his death that year, his son Fulke inherited Charlecote Park, in Warwickshire – which is today owned by the National Trust and is still recognised as one of the greatest country houses in England (albeit much altered since Sir Fulke’s day).

John Hammond, rector of Gawsworth, thus became acquainted with the family of Sir Fulke Lucy, and on 16 April 1689 married his eldest daughter, Alice Lucy. As she had four living brothers, little could John Hammond suspect at the time that almost a century later his own grandson would be called upon to inherit the Charlecote estate.

Extract of the parish register of Prestbury, Cheshire, showing the marriage of “Mr John Hammond[,] Parson, Ms Alice Lucy”.
FindMyPast.

John and Alice Hammond were soon blessed with the arrival of a son, whom they named John. The record of his baptism has not surfaced, but based on the evidence of his uncle Bernard’s will, and given that his younger brother was born in May 1691, there can be little doubt that John must have been born sometime in late 1689 or more probably in the first half of 1690. John’s birth was followed by those of Davenport (1691), George (1694), Henry (who died within days of his birth in 1694) and Susannah, who was born in October 1697. Some sources cite an additional daughter called Isabella, who later married Jeffrey Power in 1718 in Gawsworth, but there is no contemporary evidence to prove that Isabella was indeed John and Alice Hammond’s daughter.

A presumably posthumous portrait of the Reverend John Hammond (rector of Tolland) painted in around 1720 by an unknown artist. Although it is said to represent the eldest son of John Hammond and Alice Lucy, it is more likely to be of John Hammond, rector of Gawsworth.
National Portrait Gallery.

The rapid succession of births probably took its toll on Alice Hammond, who did not survive her fifth confinement and was buried two days after the baptism of her daughter Susannah.

Many online sources and family trees incorrectly state that Rev. John Hammond fathered additional children from a supposed second marriage to a Rebekah Bayly, of Macclesfield. While a marriage between Rebekah Bayly and John Hammond did indeed occur in Gawsworth in 1701, the groom was definitely not the same man as the local rector. There are several reasons for this deduction: firstly, the John Hammond who married in 1701 is not referred to in the marriage register as being the “rector” (unlike all other previous instances in which his name is mentioned in the parish books); instead, his occupation is – crucially – given as a butcher (see caption below). Secondly, there are no supporting documents (e.g. wills, memorials, etc.) which refer to Rev. John Hammond ever having taken a second wife. Thirdly, and perhaps more importantly, the various entries of baptism for John and Rebekah’s children throughout the next decade after their marriage all state that their father was a butcher. This is consistent with the baptisms I have been able to find so far for Joseph (1703), John (1704), Elizabeth (1707), Sarah (1707) and Edward (1709). In short, Alice Hammond, John Hammond’s first – and only – wife, died in 1697 leaving him to care for their four surviving children, namely John, Davenport (who married Mary Coldcraft in Westminster in 1724, and died childless in Wandsworth, Surrey in 1754), George (who became rector of Hampton Lucy and married Alice Underhill in 1724, having by her two short-lived sons) and Susannah (who married Jeremiah Henderson, of Kinderton, before dying a widow in Middlewich, Cheshire in 1775; none of her three children left any descendants).

The marriage entry in Gawsworth of one John Hammond, butcher, to Rebekah Bayly. It is often misattributed to be the second marriage of John Hammond, rector of Gawsworth, after the death of his wife Alice Lucy.
FindMyPast.

John Hammond, rector of Gawsworth, died in April 1724 and was buried on the 15th that same month. His eldest son, another John Hammond, also became a clergyman and was by then rector of the parish of Tolland, in Somerset. His marriage in 1717 to Sarah Morley produced seven children: Susanna (born in Minehead in around 1718); Sarah (who died unmarried aged 23), a son called Lucy (born in Hasle), Alice (who died unmarried in 1790 aged 66), Elizabeth (died of smallpox in 1730 aged 5), George (died that same year and of the same disease, aged 3) and John, whose life we shall explore subsequently.

John Hammond, the third clergyman in a line in his family, who in 1786 unexpectedly inherited Charlecote Park from his father’s cousin, subsequently taking the surname Lucy.
National Portrait Gallery.

John Hammond, rector of Tolland, died in the said Somerset parish in April 1757 when he was in his 67th year. He was survived by his wife and at least two of his children. His only surviving son, John Hammond, was also destined for an ecclesiastical career. He may well have remained an insignificant footnote in history, were it not for the death in 1786 of 71-year-old bachelor George Lucy, his first cousin once removed. George Lucy, who was a nephew of Alice Lucy, John’s paternal grandmother, had himself unexpectedly come into his family’s inheritance (including the Charlecote estate) after the death of his own uncle William Lucy (his father Fulke having been disinherited for being a drunkard and a gambler, and his elder brother being barred from the succession for being an “epileptic”). But George Lucy himself vowed never to marry, preferring to keep mistresses and enjoy the pleasures that life could afford him. On his death, the main Lucy line became extinct and, lacking close relations, he bequeathed his properties to John Hammond, the grandson of his paternal aunt, but on the condition that he use the Lucy surname from then on. Thus, in 1787 Rev. John Hammond became Rev. John Lucy, and took up residence in Charlecote.

His new situation now meant he must seek a wife to perpetuate the Hammond/Lucy lineage, and so, in 1788, 55-year-old John Lucy married Maria Lane, who was half his age. The couple had three sons, the youngest of whom died young. The middle son, John, followed his father’s steps and became a vicar, while the elder son, George Hammond Lucy, inherited Charlecote on his father’s death in 1823.

George Hammond Lucy’s marriage to Mary Elizabeth Williams, of Bodlewyddan, Denbighshire, is well documented in her memoir Mistress Of Charlecote, which was later published by the wife of one of her descendants. Charlecote itself underwent significant alterations during the 19th century, but none of the improvements helped the Hammond/Lucy family from financial ruin. The male line of the Hammond/Lucy family descended from Rev. John Hammond of Gawsworth became extinct in 1909, after ownership of Charlecote had passed to George Hammond Lucy’s granddaughter Ada. Her son, Sir Montgomerie Fairfax-Lucy, who inherited the residual estate in 1943, presented Charlecote to the National Trust in-lieu of death duties in 1946.

Charlecote Park, which was in the property of the Hammond (aka Lucy) family from 1786 to 1946.
Wikimedia Commons.

Selected sources:

  • FindMyPast, Ancestry and Melocki.org.uk
  • The National Archives
  • National Portrait Gallery
  • Mistress of Charlecote, a memoir by Mary Elizabeth Lucy
  • Ticklerton Tales, by Alan Dakers
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