Sunday, 19 March 2017

(254) Austen of Horsmonden, Kippington House and Capel Manor

Austen of Horsmonden
Austen is a common name in Kent, and a great deal of ink has been expended on trying to disentangle the origins of this family from other contemporary people of the same name. The effort has been made chiefly because in the 18th century a junior branch of the family produced one of England's greatest novelists, Jane Austen (1775-1817). Fortunately, for our purposes we need go back no further than John Austen (1560-1621), who was a yeoman and clothier at Goudhurst and Horsmonden in mid Kent. He seems to have been the member of the family who acquired the house called Broad Ford (or Broadford) at Horsmonden, and there is evidence in the Quarter Sessions records that he was living there by 1602. It probably passed at his death to his eldest son, John Austen (1585-1650), who was apparently unmarried and died without issue. He left as his principal heir his next surviving brother, Francis Austen (1600-88), also a clothier, who had acquired a landed estate of several manors around Horsmonden, including the small manor house called Grovehurst, where he actually lived.
Grovehurst, Horsmonden.
Since Broad Ford was evidently substantially extended and remodelled in the third quarter of the 17th century, it may well be that Francis made this property available to his eldest son, John Austen (1629-1705), who coincidentally came of age in the year when Francis acquired it, and who was married in 1654.

John Austen (d. 1705) had only one son who survived to maturity, another John Austen (1657-1704). He seems to have been something of a spendthrift, inclined to borrow against the security of his expectations from his father. Unfortunately he died before his father, leaving his widow very little except debts, and when his father followed him to the grave later in 1705 his substantial property was transferred to trustees until his children should come of age. For reasons which are not now clear, the trustees seem to have been unwilling to support John junior's family in the style to which they were accustomed, and his widow was obliged to take a post as housekeeper to the master of Sevenoaks school, where her six sons became pupils. Her eldest son, John Austen (1696-1728) came into his inheritance from his grandfather in 1717; four of his brothers, with smaller portions, were apprenticed to suitable trades and professions: Francis Austen (1698-1791) as a lawyer; Thomas Austen (1699-1772) as an apothecary; William Austen (1700-37) as a surgeon; and Stephen Austen (1704-51) as a bookseller; Robert Austen (1702-28) apparently died before embarking on a career.

The Broad Ford and Grovehurst properties descended from John Austen (1696-1728) to his son, John Austen (1726-1807), and after his widow died in 1811, passed to a younger grandson of Francis Austen (1698-1791), the Rev. John Austen (1777-1851).

Francis Austen (1698-1791), the second son of John Austen (1657-1704), was responsible for the next step up in the family fortunes. In 1722 he began practice as an attorney in Sevenoaks 'with £800 and a bundle of pens' as he put it. He became a specialist in land law, and in due course also had chambers in Cliffords Inn in London, where he was consulted on the strict settlement of estates by many of the leading families in the land. Alongside this, he became an increasingly important figure in the local government of Kent, and from 1753-73 he was Clerk of the Peace for the county, an office which he then handed over to his son, Francis Motley Austen (1747-1815). From his busy and extensive practice, he became fairly wealthy, and when his nephew George Austen (1731-1805) and his sisters were orphaned in 1737 he was happy to take responsibility for their upbringing, including paying for George to attend university, and after he had taken holy orders, to help him acquire a comfortable living. Not surprisingly, therefore, Francis remained close to George and his family in later years, and in 1788 he was visited at Sevenoaks by George's two daughters, Cassandra (1773-1845) and Jane (1775-1817). It is thought that the places and people with whom Jane Austen became familiar during this visit at least informed some of the characters and settings in her novels, even if they are not portrayed directly.

When Francis Austen died in 1791 the heir to his practice and property was Francis Motley Austen (1747-1815), the only child of his first marriage. Whereas his father comes across from the records and his portrait as shrewd but avuncular, F.M. Austen seems to have been more grasping and litigious.
Court Lodge, Lamberhurst in 1809.
In his father's lifetime, he rented Court Lodge at Lamberhurst on the Kent/Sussex border from the Morland family (whose descendants still own it), but in the mid 1790s he foreclosed on a mortgage on the Kippington House estate near Sevenoaks and evicted the Farnaby family, whose home it had been since the 17th century, and installed his own family in this rather grander house. His eldest son and heir apparent, Francis Lucius Austen (c.1773-1815) became mentally unstable in the last few years of his life, and although he was never certified, it may have been a considerable relief to the family when he died a couple of months before his father. The Kippington House estate went first to F.M. Austen's widow, and when she died in 1817, to their second son, Col. Thomas Austen (1775-1859), who had forged a successful military career that culminated in a period as Governor of the Algarve during the Peninsular War. Colonel Austen married twice but had no children, and when he died in 1859 his property passed to a nephew, John Francis Austen (1817-93), the son of his brother, the Rev. John Austen (1777-1851), who as we saw earlier, had inherited the family's property at Horsmonden.

John Francis Austen thus acquired both his family's ancient estates around Horsmonden, including Grovehurst and Broad Ford from his father in 1851, and the Kippington estate from his uncle in 1859. He sold Kippington in 1865, by which time he had built a new house called Capel Manor at Horsmonden, to the designs of T.H. Wyatt. This was an Italian Gothic style building with eclectic interiors, which stood on a completely new site close to Broad Ford. It is said that Austen exerted a substantial influence on the design, and that may account for the curious inconsistency of the building. Capel Manor became the family home until J.F. Austen died in 1893, and his widow remained in occupation until her death in 1931. Within two years, the last of J.F. Austen's children had also died, and Capel Manor appears to have been sold by his trustees, although the ownership history of the property is unclear until the late 1960s. After military use and neglect during the Second World War, the house itself was pulled down either in the 1950s or in 1966, having stood for barely a century. The family's older homes are fortunately all still standing.

Broad Ford, Horsmonden, Kent

Broad Ford, Horsmonden: the much-altered house has work of every period from the 15th century onwards.

Not a country house, but a substantial village house that became the home of a gentry family of considerable importance. At its core is a 15th century timber-framed house, probably of standard Wealden type. It was altered and extended in each succeeding century, and perhaps especially for John Austen (1629-1705), who may have lived here in his father's lifetime. The main north-facing front is now a jettied timber-framed structure, with three broad jettied gables, which the late 18th or 19th century concealed by a cream-painted roughcast and gave bulls-eye windows in the gables. The rather strange window frames are thought to be 17th century in origin, though in their present form they may have been altered in the 19th or early 20th century. The central porch has an ogee arch and ogee windows on either side, and on the eastern end elevation is a canted bay window with more ogee windows; these must be additions of the late 18th or early 19th century. To the south of the bay window, some 16th or 17th century timber framing is exposed. The right-hand bay of the north front is the earliest part of the house, and belonged at first to a hall house facing east. Inside, it has a mid 16th century hall fireplace with profile roundels and caryatids, and the Austen family crest. An upstairs room has similar work made up into a chimneypiece in the 18th century, and there is also an 18th century staircase and a Rococo chimneypiece in the drawing room. To the west of the house is a nine-bay, late 17th century, one and a half storey stable block of chequered brick with sandstone quoins and a low hipped roof, which was converted into a house in 1947 and the late 20th century.

Descent: John Austen (1560-1621); to son, Francis Austen (1600-88); to son, John Austen (1629-1705); to grandson, John Austen (1696-1728); to son Austen (1726-1807); to first cousin once removed, Rev. John Austen (1777-1851); to son, John Francis Austen (1817-93); to widow, Georgiana Frederica Austen (1843-1931)...

Kippington House, Sevenoaks, Kent

Kippington Hall: the 17th century house, engraved by Kip for Harris' History of Kent, 1719.

Thomas Farnaby bought the estate in 1630 out of the profits of teaching the sons of the gentry and nobility in London, and is said to have built the house here which was engraved for Harris' History of Kent in 1716. However, this view shows an east-facing three-storey front with a deeply recessed three-bay centre and projecting two-storey wings with attics and Dutch gables, which looks more as though it dates from the 1650s or 1660s than from the pre-Civil War period, so perhaps it was Thomas' son Francis who actually built the house. Round the corner to the north was a much longer front, composed of the five-bay side of the late 17th century front block and beyond this a further five less regular bays which may represent the refronted and surviving portion of an earlier house.

Kippington House as rebuilt for Sir Charles Farnaby, from Neale's Views of Seats, 1818. Image: British Library.

The house was largely rebuilt by Sir Charles Farnaby (later Farnaby-Radcliffe), 3rd bt., after he inherited it in 1760, with a plain seven bay east front of two storeys under a parapet, with the central three bays projecting slightly under a pediment. His architect is unknown, but Sir Charles obtained designs for chimneypieces and tables from Robert Adam in 1764-65 and at least the marble chimneypiece in the hall was made according to Adam's design. In 1796, Sir Charles sold the Kippington estate to Francis Motley Austen (1747-1815). He perhaps was responsible for rendering and painting white the brickwork of the mid 18th century house, perhaps at the same time as a four-column Greek Doric porch was added. This is shown in the print in Neale's Views of Seats, 1818.  

Kippington House: entrance front

There is a three-storey range of indeterminate date at right-angles to this front, which occupies a very similar footprint to the rear wing shown in the 1719 engraving of the house, and it seems likely that it is a remodelling of the earlier fabric. The present appearance of the range is however 19th century, but its date remains obscure. The tripartite windows and the full-height arched recesses in which some of the windows are set suggest the early to mid 19th century, but the house is said to have been subject to 'extensive alterations' in 1874. Could the wing in its present form be as late as that? The first Ordnance Survey map of 1868 suggests that the footprint was then very much the same as it was in 1895, which would imply that the wing was already in its present form. 

Kippington House: the long north wing probably incorporates elements of the 17th century house. Image: Trevor Hayman.
What was very probably done in 1874 was the alteration of the south-facing return elevation of the main block by the addition of a full-height bay window in place of the westernmost two bays, and a glazed verandah. 

In the late 19th century, W.J. Thompson began the suburban development of the Kippington estate, initially by building a few large villas, but almost the whole of the once large park has now been covered by housing. Rather surprisingly, Kippington House itself survives. It was made into a home for the elderly in 1951 and after this closed was restored and divided into flats. At some point in this process the front porch was enclosed and the original Doric columns were altered into their present form. As part of the recent restoration work, the porch is now once more open, and it is to be hoped that the original form of the columns can also be restored.

Descent: sold 1630 to Thomas Farnaby (d. 1647); to son, Francis Farnaby (fl. 1674); to son, Sir Charles Farnaby (1674-1741), 1st bt.; to son, Sir Thomas Farnaby (c.1708-60), 2nd bt.; to son, Sir Charles Farnaby (later Farnaby-Radcliffe) (c.1740-98), 3rd bt., who sold 1796 to Francis Motley Austen (1747-1815); to son, Thomas Austen (1775-1859); to nephew, John Francis Austen (1817-93), who leased the house to a Mr Fay and sold 1865 to William James Thompson (1817-1904)...converted to a home for the elderly in 1951...

Capel Manor, Horsmonden, Kent

Capel Manor: the house of 1859-62, demolished in 1966.

An Italian Gothic style house, designed by T.H. Wyatt in 1859-62 for John Francis Austin (1817-93), who according to Eastlake exerted considerable influence on the design.  Three colours of stone were used, and there was much carving. Inside, the house had a vast square top-lit staircase hall and interiors which mixed classical and Gothic forms eclectically.

Capel Manor, Horsmonden: staircase hall. Image: Historic England.
During the Second World War the house and grounds were a base for many military units and a unit of the National Fire Service, and at the end of the war the house was in poor condition. It was demolished either in the 1950s or in 1966 (perhaps partly at one time and the rest later), leaving only the foundations, an arcaded terrace with balustrades and the shell of the conservatory.

Capel Manor: the Modernist house designed by Michael Manser in 1970. Image: Gyles Portman. Some rights reserved.

In 1969-70 Michael Manser Associates built a small new Modernist house on the site of the Victorian building for John Howard MP (1913-82), an adviser to Edward Heath. Placing the new building - which had no pretensions to country house scale - on this site allowed it to appropriate the gardens and landscaping of its predecessor, but it may also have been a symbolic opportunity for one of the high priests of British Modernism to plant his standard on the ruins of historicist architecture. Manser's Capel Manor is not unpleasing in its own terms, looking back as it does to the pure early Modernism of Mies van der Rohe. Its failing is one of scale and ambition, not of presence. It has a steel frame on a concrete podium clad in dark blue quarry tiles. The windows have bronze-tinted glass in aluminium frames. Inside, the roof is clad in pine boarding and the internal walls are of dark brown brick. A swimming pool was constructed within the ruins of the Victorian conservatory. The original house had only two bedrooms, and a pair of detached guest pavilions, designed by Ewan Cameron Architects of Glasgow, was added to the site in 2011 in a style which echoes the Miesian spirit of the main building without directly copying its forms. 

Descent: built 1859-62 for John Francis Austen (1817-93); to widow, Mrs. Georgiana Frederica Austen (1843-1931); sold after her death but apparently unoccupied until WW2, when requisitioned for military use; after the war there was a nursery in the grounds and the house may have been unoccupied until it was demolished in 1950s/1966; site sold to John Howard MP (1913-82), who built a new house;... sold 1999 to Remy Blumenfeld.

Austen family of Capel Manor

Austen, John (1560-1621). Son of Robert Austen (d. 1603) of Goudhurst and Horsmonden, clothier, and his wife Elizabeth (d. 1608), baptised at Goudhurst, 26 April 1560. Yeoman and clothier. He married, 14 September 1584 at Lydd (Kent), Joan (1568-1604), daughter of Jeffery Berry of Midley (Kent), and had issue:
(1) John Austen (1585-1650), baptised at Horsmonden, 1 August 1585; probably inherited Broad Ford from his father in 1621; died without issue and probably unmarried, and was buried at Horsmonden, 30 September 1650; will proved 26 October 1650;
(2) Jeffery Austen (1588-1636), baptised at Horsmonden, 2 June 1588; married, c.1620, Elizabeth Apsley (d. 1638), and had issue one son and one daughter; buried 19 March 1636;
(3) Benjamin Austen (1591-1637), baptised at Horsmonden, 16 May 1591; clothier at Goudhurst; married, 16 June 1626 at Tonbridge (Kent), Susannah, daughter of Richard Brattle, and had issue four sons and two daughters; buried at Goudhurst, 22 May 1637; will proved 17 May 1637;
(4) Robert Austen (1594-c.1645), baptised at Horsmonden, 22 October 1594; clothier at Brenchley (Kent); married Elizabeth Keyley and had issue two sons and two daughters; his will was proved in 1645;
(5) Joan Austen (b. 1597), baptised at Horsmonden, 10 July 1597; married, before 1619, John Perryn, and had issue two sons and five daughters; died between 1636 and 1650;
(6) Francis Austen (1600-88) (q.v.);
(7) Peter Austen (1602-38), baptised 3 October 1602; married c.1630, Elizabeth [s.u.] and had issue two sons and one daughter; died about 5 May 1638;
(8) twin, Richard Austen (b. 1604), baptised at Horsmonden, 9 December 1604; married (perhaps 15 March 1637 at Rochester (Kent)), Ann (Keylen?) and had issue three sons and two daughters; living in 1650;
(9) twin, Thomas Austen (b. 1604), baptised at Horsmonden, 9 December 1604; apparently lived at Goudhurst; married; and had issue three sons and one daughter; living in 1650.
He was brought up at Goudhurst but after his marriage moved to Horsmonden, where he had acquired Broad Ford by 1602. After his death this property probably passed to his eldest son, John, and when he died in 1650 went to the next surviving brother, Francis Austen (1600-88).
He was buried at Horsmonden, 5 March 1620/1; his will was proved 22 March 1621. His wife died in childbirth, 9 December 1604 and was buried at Horsmonden, where she is commemorated by a monument.

Austen, Francis (1600-88). Fifth son of John Austen (1560-1621) of Broad Ford, Horsmonden, and his wife Joan, daughter of Jeffery Berry of Midley, baptised at Horsmonden, 11 May 1600. Clothier. He married, c.1620, Ellen [surname unknown], and had issue:
(1) John Austen (1629-1705) (q.v.);
(2) Eleanor Austen (1631-1719?), baptised at Horsmonden, August 1631; married, 23 June 1657 at Cranbrook (Kent), John Springett of Brenchley (Kent) and had issue two sons and four daughters; perhaps the woman of this name buried at Boxley (Kent), 16 December 1719;
(3) Francis Austen (b. 1633), baptised at Goudhurst; died young;
(4) Thomas Austen (b. 1637), baptised at Goudhurst, 21 January 1637;
(5) Anne Austen (b. 1641); baptised at Goudhurst, 7 November 1641; married, 23 December 1661 at Hawkhurst (Kent), Nathaniel Pix (b. c.1636) and had issue one son and two daughters;
(6) Francis Austen (b. 1644), baptised at Goudhurst, 28 April 1644;
(7) Elizabeth Austen (b. 1646), baptised at Goudhurst, 25 January 1645/6; married, 14 February 1662/3 at Hawkhurst, John Maule (b. 1639) and had issue two daughters;
(8) Samuel Austen (b. 1648), baptised at Goudhurst, 20 August 1648; living in 1663.
He is said to have purchased the manors of Grovehurst, Hoathe, Smeeth and Capel, and probably inherited Broad Ford from his elder brother in 1650. He lived at Grovehurst.
He was buried at Horsmonden, 15 March 1687/8; his will was proved 11 April 1688. His wife's date of death is unknown.

John Austen (1629-1705)
Austen, John (1629-1705). Only son and heir of Francis Austen (1600-88) of Broad Ford and Grovehurst, Horsmonden, and his wife Ellen, born 1629. He married, 1654, Jane (1639-86), daughter of John Atkins of Brightling (Sussex), and had issue:
(1) Jane alias Joan Austen (1655-1725), born 21 November 1655; married, 11 May 1680 at Goudhurst, Stephen Stringer (d. 1717) of Goudhurst and had issue five daughters; buried at Goudhurst, 27 November 1725;
(2) John Austen (1657-1704) (q.v.);
(3) William Austen (b. c.1659); died in infancy;
(4) Ellen Austen (b. c.1661); married, 8 December 1687, Edward Osborne (1657-1716) of Horsmonden, but had no issue; died before 1690, when her husband married again;
(5) Anne Austen (d. 1742), born either c.1663 or c.1669; married, 7 November 1688 at Horsmonden, John Holman (b. c.1660) of Tenterden (Kent) and had issue one son and nine daughters; died 5 February 1742.
He inherited Broad Ford and Grovehurst, Horsmonden from his father in 1688. At his death in 1705 he was succeeded by his grandson, John Austen (1696-1728).
He died 13 July 1705 and was buried at Horsmonden, where he is commemorated by an inscription; his will was proved 24 November 1705. His wife was buried at Horsmonden, 2 March 1685/6.

Austen, John (1657-1704). Only son of John Austen (1629-1705) and his wife Jane Atkins, born at Broad Ford, 1657. He seems to have been a careless, easy-going man, who thought frugality unnecessary, as he would succeed to the estate on his father's death, but he predeceased his father and died leaving substantial debts, which it fell to his widow to clear. He married, 19 January 1693 at Tonbridge (Kent), Elizabeth (1671-1721), daughter of Thomas Weller, and had issue:
(1) Elizabeth Austen (b. 1695), born 16 June and baptised at Horsmonden, 30 June 1695; married, George Hooper (1691-1752) of Tonbridge, attorney at law, and had issue two sons and three daughters; 
(2) John Austen (1696-1728) (q.v.);
(3) Francis Austen (1698-1791) (q.v.);
(4) Thomas Austen (1699-1772), born 13 October and baptised 23 October 1699; educated at Sevenoaks School; apothecary at Tonbridge; married Elizabeth Burgess and had issue one son; died 1772; will proved 10 April 1772;
(5) William Austen (1700-37), born 3 February and baptised at Horsmonden, 18 February 1700; educated at Sevenoaks School; surgeon in Tonbridge; married 1st, 12 January 1727 in London, Rebecca Walter (c.1695-1733) and had issue one son (Rev. George Austen, the father of Jane Austen, the novelist) and three daughters; married 2nd, 20 May 1736, Susannah Kelp (1688-1766) but had no further issue; died 7 December and was buried at Tonbridge, 12 December 1737;
(6) Robert Austen (1702-28), born 16 September and baptised at Horsmonden, 30 September 1702; educated at Sevenoaks School; died unmarried of smallpox, 27 January 1727/8 and was buried at Tenterden, where he is commemorated by a ledger stone;
(7) Stephen Austen (1704-51), born 27 January and baptised at Horsmonden, 11 February 1703/4; educated at Sevenoaks School; bookseller at Newgate St., London; married Elizabeth [surname unknown] and was buried at Horsmonden, 7 January 1750/1; his will was proved 24 January 1750/1.
He died of consumption, 21 September 1704, in his father's lifetime, and was buried at Horsmonden, where he is commemorated by a ledger stone; his will was proved 19 January 1704/5. After his death, his widow took employment as housekeeper to the headmaster of Sevenoaks School; she died in Tonbridge in 1720/1.

Austen, John (1696-1728). Eldest son of John Austen (1657-1704) and his wife Elizabeth Weller, born 14 August and baptised at Horsmonden, 20 August 1696. Educated at Sevenoaks School. Farmer and landowner at Horsmonden and East Guldeford (Sussex). He married, c.1720, his cousin, Mary (1699-1759), daughter of Stephen Stringer, and had issue:
(1) Jane Austen (c.1723-70); died unmarried, 6 September and was buried at Horsmonden, 11 September 1770;
(2) Elizabeth Austen (1724-1800), baptised at Sevenoaks, 7 April 1724; married, 1746, Rev. John Fermor alias Boorder (1719-73), rector of Crayford (Kent), and had issue two sons (who both predeceased her); buried at Sevenoaks, 5 September 1800;
(3) John Austen (1726-1807) (q.v.).
He inherited Broad Ford and Grovehurst, Horsmonden, from his grandfather in 1705 and came of age in 1717.
He was buried at Horsmonden, 17 September 1728; his will was proved 3 March 1728/9. His widow was buried at Horsmonden, 17 October 1759.

Austen, John (1726-1807). Only son of John Austen (1696-1728) and his wife Mary Stringer, born 1726.  Farmer and landowner at Horsmonden and East Guldeford (Sussex). He married, 1759, Joanna Weekes (1739-1811), and had issue:
(1) Mary Austen (1760-1803), born 1760; died unmarried and was buried at Horsmonden, 28 March 1803.
He inherited Broad Ford and Grovehurst, Horsmonden, from his father in 1728 and came of age in 1747. At his death his property passed to his widow for life and then to his first cousin, once removed, the Rev. John Austen (1777-1851) of Chevening.
He died in January 1807 and was buried at Horsmonden, 3 February 1807; his will was proved 18 March 1807. His widow died 9 July and was buried at Horsmonden, 16 July 1811; her will was proved 17 August 1811.

Francis Austen (1698-1791)
Austen, Francis (1698-1791). Second son of John Austen (1657-1704) and his wife Elizabeth Weller, born 25 February and baptised at Horsmonden, 15 March 1697/8. Educated at Sevenoaks School. Established a legal practice in Sevenoaks 'with £800 and a bundle of pens' in 1722; became a specialist in land law, with a practice in Clifford's Inn, of which he was at one time Principal, in addition to his firm in Sevenoaks; Under-Sheriff for Kent from 1733; Clerk of the Peace for Kent, 1753-73; Governor of Sevenoaks School; trustee of eleven turnpike trusts and many similar posts in Kent. After the death of his brother William, he acted almost as a surrogate father for his nephew, Rev. George Austen (father of the novelist, Jane Austen), paying for him to attend University, and he continued to take a keen interest in his nephew's career and family; his second wife acted as one of Jane Austen's godparents at her christening in 1776, and Jane and her sister were taken to stay with him at Sevenoaks in 1788. He married 1st, 2 January 1746/7 at Tonbridge, Anne, daughter and heiress of Thomas Motley, and 2nd, 19 August 1758 at St Dunstan in the West, London, Jane (c.1715-82), the daughter of [forename unknown] Chadwick and widow of Samuel Lennard of West Wickham (Kent), and had issue:
(1.1) Francis Motley Austen (1747-1815) (q.v.);
(2.1) Rev. Sackville Austen (1759-86), baptised at Sevenoaks, 10 July 1759; educated at Queens' College, Cambridge (matriculated 1778; BA 1781; MA 1785); ordained deacon, 1783 and priest, 1784; rector of West Wickham (Kent), 1784-86 and of Horsted Keynes (Sussex), 1785-86; married, 18 January 1785, Anne (1759-1826), daughter of Thomas Lambard of Sevenoaks, but had no issue; died 3 July 1786;
(2.2) Maj. John Austen (1761-1831), born at Sevenoaks, 1761; an officer in 36th Foot (Capt. by 1789; Maj., 1794; retired 1796); DL for Kent; married, 8 August 1793 at Lamberhurst (Sussex), Harriet (d. 1811), daughter of Thomas Hussey of Burwash (Sussex) and Ashford (Kent), and had issue two sons and one daughter; died at Hastings, 8 February 1831.
He lived at the Red House, High St., Sevenoaks. He amassed considerable wealth during his long career in the law, much of which was invested in property in Kent and Sussex, but he seems never to have bought a country house.
He died in 1791; his will was proved in the PCC, 6 July 1791. His first wife was buried at St Swithin, Walcot, Bath (Somerset), 11 November 1755. His second wife died in 1782.

Francis Motley Austen (1747-1815)
Austen, Francis Motley (1747-1815). Only child of Francis Austen (1698-1791) and his first wife Anne, daughter and heiress of Thomas Motley, born 7 November and baptised at Beckenham (Kent), 11 November 1747. Educated at Hertford College, Oxford (matriculated 1765) and Middle Temple (admitted 1764), he followed his father into the legal profession and had chambers in the Middle Temple; Clerk of the Peace for Kent, 1773-1808; Governor of Sevenoaks School; a trustee of several turnpike trusts etc. An officer in the Holmsdale Volunteers (Maj., 1803). He married, 11 June 1772 at St. Anne, Soho, London, Elizabeth (1751-1817), daughter of Sir Thomas Wilson of West Wickham (Kent), and had issue:
(1) Francis Lucius Austen (c.1773-1815), born in London, about 1773; an officer in the Kent Militia (Ensign, 1796; Lt., 1797; Capt., 1798; Maj., 1803); DL for Kent, 1802; lived at Wilmington (Kent); married, 7 February 1805 at St Marylebone (Middx), Penelope (1783-1833), daughter of Montague Cholmeley of Easton (Lincs) and had issue four daughters; became mentally unstable in about 1813; died 19 February 1815; will proved 13 May 1815;
(2) Col. Thomas Austen (1775-1859) (q.v.);
(3) Jane Austen (c.1776-1857), born in London about 1776; married, 10 January 1797 at St George, Hanover Square, London, William Campion (1770-1855) of Danny Park (Sussex), son of Henry Courthope Campion of Danny, and had issue nine children; died 10 March 1857;
(4) Rev. John Austen (1777-1851) (q.v.);
(5) Lt-Col. Henry Austen (1779-1850), born 14 May and baptised at Wilmington (Kent), 17 July 1779; an officer in the army (Capt., 1798; Maj., 1807; Lt-Col., 1813); died unmarried at Bellevue, Sevenoaks, 27 September 1850;
(6) Elizabeth Austen (1780-1858), born 10 July and baptised at St James, Westminster, 17 July 1780; died unmarried, 1858;
(7) Marianne Austen (1781-96), baptised at Lamberhurst, 29 September 1781; died young, 1796;
(8) George Lennard Austen (1782-1844), baptised at Lamberhurst, 22 October 1782; an officer in the Kent (Sevenoaks & Bromley) Militia (Capt., 1801); articled to Thomas Clarke of London, attorney, 1801; solicitor at Sevenoaks, in partnership with William Francis Holcroft; married, 6 August 1814 at Sevenoaks, Harriet Hughes, but had no issue; died at Sevenoaks, 8 November 1844, and was buried there; will proved 17 January 1845;
(9) Frances Austen (b. c. 1783), born about 1783; probably died young;
(10) Edward Austen (1785-1815), baptised at Lamberhurst, 15 February 1785; died unmarried, 1815;
(11) Rev. William Austen (1787-1854), baptised at Lamberhurst, 24 December 1787; educated at Brasenose College, Oxford (matriculated 1806; BA 1809); ordained priest, 1812; rector of Horsted Keynes (Sussex), 1815-40; married, 15 December 1814, Elizabeth Matilda, daughter of John Butler Harrison, and had issue; died at Southampton, 5 April 1854; will proved 28 August 1854.
He lived at Court Lodge, Lamberhurst (a property owned by the Morland family) until he foreclosed on a mortgage on the Kippington House estate near Sevenoaks in 1796 and moved there.
He died 14 April 1815 and was buried at Sevenoaks; his will was proved in the PCC, 13 May 1815. His widow died in 1817 and was buried at Sevenoaks.

Col. Thomas Austen (1775-1859)
Austen, Col. Thomas (1775-1859). Second son of Francis Motley Austen (1747-1815) and his wife Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Thomas Wilson of West Wickham (Kent), born 1775. Educated at St John's College, Cambridge (admitted 1793), but entered the army, 1794 (Capt., 1796; Maj., 1801; Lt-Col., 1805; Col., 1813). He was Governor of the Algarve during the Peninsula Wars, and later Chief Aide to Charles Whitworth, 1st Earl Whitworth, as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, 1813-17. High Sheriff of Kent, 1823-24; MP for West Kent, 1846-47. He was a second cousin of the novelist Jane Austen, and a friend of Jane's brother, Edward Knight; both men played cricket for the Duke of Dorset's team, The Gentlemen of Kent. He married 1st, 30 April 1803 at St Swithin, Walcot, Bath (Somerset), Margaretta (1777-1825), daughter of Thomas Morland of Court Lodge, Lamberhurst (Sussex), and 2nd, 5 July 1826 at St Mary, Bryanston Square, London, Caroline Catherine (1801-94), daughter of William Manning, but had no issue.
He inherited the Kippington House estate from his father in 1815 and gained possession on the death of his mother in 1817. At his death it passed to his nephew, John Francis Austen (1817-93).
He died at Kippington, 23 July 1859. His first wife died at Sevenoaks, January 1825, and was buried there. His widow died 1 January 1894; her will was proved 19 February 1894 (effects £17,683).

Austen, Rev. John (1777-1851). Third son of Francis Motley Austen (1747-1815) and his wife Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Thomas Wilson of West Wickham (Kent), born 6 June and baptised at Wilmington (Kent), 17 July 1777. Educated at Oriel College, Oxford (matriculated 1794; BA 1799; MA 1803). Ordained deacon, 1800 and priest, 1801. Rector of Crayford (Kent), 1806-13 and of Chevening (Kent), 1813-51; domestic chaplain to 4th Duke of Dorset at Knole, 1806 and to 4th Earl Stanhope at Chevening, 1817. He married, 7 September 1813 at Seal (Kent), Harriet (1785-1873), daughter of Thomas Lane of Bradbourne (Kent), and had issue:
(1) John Francis Austen (1817-93) (q.v.);
(2) Lt-Col. Charles Wilson Austen (1818-64), baptised at Chevening, 20 September 1818; an officer in the infantry (Ensign, 1838; Lt., 1840; Capt., 1848; Maj., 1856; Lt-Col., 1858); married, c.1852, Elizabeth (b. 1825), daughter of Thomas Tiesdell Killick, and had issue one son and one daughter; died 7 December 1864 from wounds received in action in New Zealand; will proved 8 April 1865 (effects under £5,000);
(3) Elizabeth Austen (1820-96), baptised at Chevening, 11 July 1820; married, 11 September 1856 at Sevenoaks, Maj-Gen. Henry Terrick FitzHugh JP (1827-1910), second son of Rev. W.A. FitzHugh, rector of Street (Sussex); died 23 August 1896; will proved 11 September 1896 (effects £102);
(4) Catherine Frances Austen (1821-1907), baptised at Chevening, 19 August 1821; lived at The Old House, Sevenoaks; died unmarried, 4 October 1907; will proved 31 October 1907 (estate £26,087);
(5) Rev. Henry Morland Austen (1823-1904), baptised at Chevening, 6 March 1823; educated at Winchester and Christ Church, Oxford (matriculated 1841; BA 1845; MA 1849); ordained deacon, 1847 and priest, 1848; rector of Crayford (Kent), 1851-73; married, 15 September 1853 at Sturminster Marshall (Dorset), Mary, daughter of William Parke of Sturminster Marshall and 'The Thickets', Jamaica, but had no issue; died 4 May 1904; will proved 2 June 1904 (estate £14,857);
(6) Henrietta Louisa Austen (b. 1824), baptised at Chevening, 30 May 1824; probably died young;
(7) Marianne Austen (1825-92), baptised at Chevening, 31 October 1825; lived with her sister Catherine at The Old House, Sevenoaks; died 31 March 1892; will proved 29 April 1892 (estate £9,989).
He lived at Chevening. In 1807 he seems to have inherited the family property at Horsmonden under the will of his first cousin once removed, John Austen (1726-1807).
He died at Chevening Rectory, 22 September 1851; his will was proved 6 October 1851. His widow died 9 January 1873; her will was proved 14 February 1873 (effects under £2,000).

Austen, John Francis (1817-93). Eldest son of Rev. John Austen (1777-1851) and his wife Harriet, daughter of Thomas Lane of Bradbourne (Kent), born 13 September and baptised at Chevening, 15 September 1817. Educated at Christ Church, Oxford (matriculated 1836; BA 1840) and the Inner Temple (admitted 1840). JP for Kent from 1867. He married 1st, 21 July 1855 at Sturminster Newton (Dorset), Charlotte (c.1820-62), only child of William Tucker of Lower Henbury, Sturminster Marshall (Dorset), and 2nd, 27 June 1868 at Old Windsor (Berks), Georgiana Frederica (1843-1931), eldest daughter of Charles Pearse of London, and had issue:
(1.1) Charlotte Marianne Austen (1857-1910), born 31 October and baptised at St Paul, Knightsbridge (Middx), 2 December 1857; married, 19 April 1887 at All Saints, Knightsbridge (Middx), as his first wife, Sir William Smith-Marriott (1865-1943), 8th bt., eldest son of John Bosworth Smith-Marriott of The Grove (Kent), and had issue one daughter; died 23 March 1910; will proved 15 June 1910 (estate £13,670);
(1.2) Roma Catherine Mary Austen (1859-1932), born in London, 20 February 1859; musician and charity worker; married*, 5 September 1925 in Marylebone (Middx), Henry Hugo Meyer (1873-1931) of Roehampton (Surrey), private detective; died 7 April 1932; will proved 9 July 1932 (estate £11,353);
(2.1) Georgina Catherine Florence Austen (1870-85), born in London, 9 April 1870; died young, 23 May 1885;
(2.2) Frances Elizabeth Margaret Austen (1880-1930), born in London, 6 October 1880; died unmarried at Capel Manor, 1 July 1930; will proved 26 August 1930 (estate £7,816).
He lived in London. He inherited the Kippington House estate from his uncle in 1859 but let it and then sold it in 1865. He built Capel Manor at Horsmonden in 1859-62. After his death Capel Manor was occupied by his widow and her surviving unmarried daughter.
He died 27 October and was buried at Horsmonden, 1 November 1893; his will was proved 16 December 1893 (effects £77,389). His first wife died 19 December and was buried at Horsmonden, 26 December 1862. His widow died 22 May 1931; her will was proved 24 July 1931 (estate £7,139).
* This may have been her second marriage as press reports of it give her maiden name and add "(Mrs Webster)"; there is no trace of a Webster marriage in England and it may have taken place in South Africa, where she evidently had links.


Burke's Landed Gentry, 1925, p. 51; D. Le Faye, A Chronology of Jane Austen and Her Family: 1700-2000, 2006, passimJ. Newman, The buildings of England: Kent - West and The Weald, 4th edn., 2012, pp. 307, 531-32; H. Dyke, 'Jane Austen's family and Court Lodge', Austentations, 2013;

Location of archives

Austen family of Horsmonden & Kippington: deeds and estate papers, c.1600-1930 [East Sussex Record Office, Acc. 8293]

Coat of arms

Or, on a chevron between three lions' gambs erect, erased sable, as many plates.

Can you help?

Here are a few notes about information and images which would help to improve the account above. If you can help with any of these or with other additions or corrections, please use the contact form in the sidebar to get in touch.

  • Can anyone explain the ownership history of Capel Manor and Broad Ford after 1931? J.F. Austen's trustees sold the contents of Capel Manor in 1931 but I cannot find any record of the sale of the estate or of its subsequent owners until the 1960s.
  • Can anyone explain the ownership history and use of Kippington House after 1904?
  • Can anyone provide more information about the careers and marriages of the children of Francis Austen (1600-88)?
  • Can anyone tell me more about the life and career of Roma Catherine Mary Austen (1859-1932)? In addition to extensive good works and musical interests, she was a member of the Roentgen Society. She may have spent some time in South Africa in the 1890s or 1900s and was perhaps briefly married to a Mr. Webster, but later reverted to her maiden name and was living in London by 1910. In 1925 she married H.H. Meyer, a London private detective.

Revision and acknowledgements

This post was first published 19 March 2017.

Sunday, 12 March 2017

(253) Austen of Heronden, Hall Place and Boxley Abbey, baronets

Austen of Hall Place, baronets
William Austen (1556-96), who was bailiff of Tenterden in 1585-86, had a large family. His eldest son, Edward Austen (1582-1610) was granted a coat of arms in 1603, but it was his younger brothers John Austen (1586-1655) and Sir Robert Austen (1587-1666), 1st bt., who made the greatest mark and raised the family into the landed gentry. John Austen, who was probably a lawyer, was Mayor of Tenterden in 1631 and 1634 and soon afterwards purchased the Heronden estate on the edge of the town. As he was unmarried and had no children, he left this property to his nephew, Col. Robert Austen (1642-96), the second son of Sir Robert Austen. Sir Robert himself had a career as a merchant and clothworker in London. He purchased the Hall Place estate at Bexley in about 1640, and although his plans for remodelling it were no doubt interrupted by the Civil War, he commenced work as soon as hostilities began to die down in 1647 and had largely completed a doubling of the size of the house by 1653.

At the age of fifty, Sir Robert married for a second time and produced four sons who survived to maturity. The eldest, Sir John Austen (1641-98), 2nd bt., inherited Hall Place. The second, as we have seen, inherited Heronden Hall. Edward Austen (c.1649-1712), the third son, was established in a substantial property known as High Street House at Bexley, which was rebuilt in the 18th century by the antiquary John Thorpe, but which was never more than a handsome and comfortable village house. The youngest son, Samuel Austen (c.1650-81), joined the East India Company and lived in the English settlement at Surat as a merchant from 1674-81, where he died at an early age.

Sir John Austen (1641-98) was educated as a gentleman, including a Grand Tour during which he enrolled at the University of Padua. On his return to England he was a JP by 1665 and he was elected MP for Rye in 1667, soon after inheriting the Hall Place estate and his father's other property, which lay close to Rye. He was succeeded, both at Hall Place and in his Parliamentary seat, by his eldest son, Sir Robert Austen (1664-1706), 3rd bt., but Robert lacked the abilities and perhaps the political instincts of his father. He introduced a Bill in Parliament to address the silting up of Rye Harbour, and when this failed to progress he seems to have fallen out with the corporation and was not re-elected. When he died at the age of just 42 in 1706 he left a widow with a large young family and some significant debts. She married again, her second husband being William Winde, the son of the famous architect of the same name. The heir to Hall Place was Sir Robert Austen (1697-1743), 4th bt, who came of age in 1718. It is not clear whether his father's debts had been cleared during his long minority, but if they had, he soon ran up new ones. When he died in 1743 the cash legacies in his will and the debts owing exceeded the value of the estate, which was placed under the direction of the court of Chancery. His younger brother and heir, Sir Sheffield Austen (1698-1756), 5th bt., therefore never really gained possession of Hall Place, and lived in Ireland. When he died, the estate passed under the will of the 4th baronet to Sir Francis Dashwood (later 15th Baron Le Despencer), and Hall Place was thereafter generally let.

When Sir Sheffield Austen died in 1756, the baronetcy passed to his kinsman, Sir Edward Austen (1705-60), 6th bt., who was the eldest grandson of Col. Robert Austen, the son of the first baronet who had inherited the Heronden estate in 1655. Col. Austen, who died in 1696, left debts of £3,000, and his son, Robert (d. 1728) also seems to have been perennially short of funds. Robert produced three surviving sons and a daughter. The eldest son, William Austen (c.1704-42) inherited Heronden but died young and unmarried, and left Heronden to a distant cousin: his will was contested by his brother Edward, but upheld by the courts. Edward seems to have fallen out with both his parents and possibly with his siblings as well, and was cut out of his father's will entirely. In 1746, however, his mother inherited the Barrington Court estate in Somerset on the death of her brother, and since this was entailed she could not prevent it passing to Edward as her eldest surviving son when she died in 1751. He sold it in 1756, by which time he had bought Boxley Abbey House from Francis Austen of Tonbridge, whose relationship to this family I have not established. He left Boxley to his widow, who died in 1772, and then to her relatives, not his own: clearly the rifts within the family in the 1720s had not healed! When Sir Edward died in 1760, the baronetcy passed to his younger brother, Sir Robert Austen (1708-72), 7th bt., who was married to the 'accomplished and fascinating' Ann Richardson, but had no issue. He lived in London, and the baronetcy died with him.

Heronden Hall, Tenterden, Kent

The large Heronden estate at Tenterden was owned by the eponymous Heronden family as early as 1215, and remained in their possession until the 17th century, when it was broken up by sales, which led to no less than four substantial houses having 'Heronden' in their names. Confusingly, there is also another Heronden in Kent, at Eastry near Sandwich, where the estate has even earlier recorded origins (it is mentioned in a charter dated 958), and where there is a fine Georgian house, written up by Country Life in 1960. And as if all that wasn't enough, the Tenterden Heronden is often 'Herndon' in earlier documents!

The original principal house at the Tenterden Heronden is said to have been built in 1585 and was no doubt a timber-framed hall house like many others in the weald of Kent. After the estate was divided it was sometimes called Heronden Hall. This property passed to the Austens in about the 1630s and although we have no evidence that it was altered by them, it may well have been. The Elizabethan house was pulled down by Jeremiah Curteis of Rye after he bought the estate in 1782, and I have not been able to find any record of its appearance. For a while there was no principal seat here. In 1818 a large Georgian house was, however, built on one of the other parts of the estate, and this has always just been called Heronden. It is built of white brick, always an unprepossessing material, and has a five bay two storey front with a diminutive pediment set against the parapet. A large service wing to one side may be a little later than the main block.

Heronden Hall: entrance front
A new Heronden Hall was built in 1853 to the designs of W.J. Donthorn for William Curteis Whelan (1817-69), who seems to have bought the estate in the 1840s. It is a grey stone building in a then rather old-fashioned symmetrical Tudor Gothic style with tall chimneystacks. The entrance front is framed by gables above battlemented two-storey bay windows, with three double-height windows with Perpendicular-style tracery between them; the central window has an armorial gable. A large porch stands rather incongruously in front of the middle window, but was apparently part of the original design. The garden front at the back has a quite different and more Victorian feel, largely because an off-centre tower with a bellcote introduces an element of asymmetry. Inside, the inevitable great hall has a hammerbeam roof, and there is much dark wood panelling, including a library where the glazed bookcases reach to the ceiling and a dining room with a black marble chimneypiece. An arched gate lodge at the entrance to the estate, also presumably by Donthorn, was damaged by a fallen tree in the Great Storm of 1987 but has recently been restored as a separate dwelling after many years of disrepair.

Descent: [Forename unknown] Heronden sold c.1630s to John Austen (1586-1655); to nephew, Robert Austen (c.1641-96); to son, Robert Austen (1670?-1728); to son, William Austen (c.1704-42); to cousin, Richard Righton (d. 1772); to son, Benjamin Righton, who sold 1782 to Jeremiah Curteis (d. 1828); to son, Edward Jeremiah Curteis (1762-1835)... William Curteis Whelan (1817-69); to daughter, Elizabeth Curteis Whelan (b. 1852), later wife of James Dampier Palmer (1851-99); to son, Capt. Vivian Trestrail Dampier Palmer (1876-1946)...; sold to Kevin Godley (b. 1945), musician...; sold to Timothy Gledhill (b. 1967; fl. 2016).

Hall Place, Bexley, Kent

This is an ancient freehold estate within the Archbishops of Canterbury's manor of Bexley, and belonged to the At-Hall family until 1368, when it passed to the Shelleys. They had permission from the Archbishop to rebuild the house in 1469, but little or nothing of that time survives in the present house, which is very largely of two periods: a Tudor building of chalk and flint that was probably erected soon after Sir John Champneys, a London merchant and former Lord Mayor, bought the estate in 1537; and a large extension to the south, built around three sides of a courtyard for Sir Robert Austen between about 1647 and 1653.

Hall Place, Bexley: the north-facing Tudor facade. Image: Caroline Derry.

The Tudor house is built to a half-H plan and incorporates a lot of reused medieval masonry, which suggests it may have been constructed using rubble from one of the dissolved local monasteries, such as Lesnes Abbey. The house consisted at this time of a hall range, entered from the south through a porch which has long gone, with irregular one- and two-storey cross-wings stretching out behind to the north. The east wing contained the kitchen and service rooms, the west wing the family accommodation, which seems to have consisted of a parlour and chapel, with a great chamber above. On the north front, a large bay window lit the dais end of the hall.

Hall Place, Bexley: interior of the Great Hall, with a ceiling that may date from the mid 16th century. Image: Bexley Heritage Trust.

After Sir John Champneys died in 1556, his son, Sir Justinian Champneys altered the house. To make the north front symmetrical, he replicated the hall bay window on the other side of the central doorway. He also enlarged the east wing and made the whole length of the west wing two-storeyed, and he probably added bay windows to the parlour and to the great chamber above it, and built the staircase tower on the west front which connects them. Inside, the ceiling of the Great Hall may be of Sir Justinian's time.

Hall Place: the south and west fronts added by Sir Robert Austen c.1647-53. Image: Bexley Heritage Trust

After Sir Robert Austen bought the estate he more than doubled the size of the house by building three new ranges to the south side of the old house enclosing a courtyard; the external faces of the new ranges are eleven bays by eleven. His additions have hipped roofs and are of red brick, with stone quoins at the angles and vertical stone laces which break up the horizontality of the facades and give the side elevations a 2-7-2 rhythm. In the courtyard a new square brick staircase tower was built adjoining the hall, containing a robust open-well staircase with simple chunky balusters and ball finials on the newels. The stair tower is topped by a turret, which can be seen rising above the Tudor hall from the north, but is otherwise only visible from the courtyard itself. The courtyard was originally arcaded, with brick piers and arches that had stone keystones and a stone string course. In the courtyard, some of the (much restored) wooden cross windows are still in place, but on the more visible external faces of the house they have been replaced by 18th century sashes. 

Hall Place, Bexley: the mid 17th century staircase. Image: Bexley Heritage Trust.

Rather unexpectedly, the new ranges consisted very largely of additional service accommodation rather than grand new rooms, but Austen did redecorate the great chamber of the Tudor house, giving it a superb coved plaster ceiling in which rather naive classical wreaths in the central panels are mixed with more traditional foliage patterns and half-figures on the coving: it is a fascinating illustration of the transition from the vernacular to the classical tradition.

Hall Place, Bexley: the ceiling of the Great Chamber before restoration, with the dust of ages helpfully picking out the design. 
Image: Historic England.
Later owners of Hall Place made relatively few changes to the house. Sir Robert Austen, 4th bt. (d. 1743) was probably responsible for adding the fine wrought-iron gates to the north forecourt. After the house passed to the Dashwoods, the house was let and became a school for young gentlemen for some seventy years from 1800 onwards. The estate was put up for sale in 1912 but withdrawn when it failed to reach its reserve, and in 1917 it was leased to May, Countess of Limerick (1862-1943), who was separated from her husband, the owner of Dromore Castle in Co. Limerick. She entertained lavishly and filled the house with antique furniture, and also made some alterations to the house, stripping off plasterwork to expose stonework and beams in what would now be seen as a very reprehensible fashion. In 1926, Lady Limerick's son-in-law, James Cox Brady, who was a rich American, bought the freehold from the Dashwoods, but he died soon afterwards and his trustees sold the estate to Bexley Borough Council, subject to Lady Limerick having a life tenancy. After she died during the Second World War, the house was used briefly by the American army, and then became part of Bexley High School for Girls, with the grounds open as a public park from 1952. 

Hall Place, Bexley: the west side of the house during local authority ownership, 1989. Image: Historic England

In 1968 the house was repaired and became the borough Local Studies Library and Archives. It was a use that was equally inappropriate for the building and for the collections stored within it, but that did not stop it being a fashionable approach to finding new homes for burgeoning local authority collections, and one which is still sometimes proposed today, until wiser counsels can prevail. In Bexley, the lack of maintenance that has bedevilled local authority owned historic buildings took its toll on Hall Place, and by the late 1990s the house needed major restoration investment. It was decided to transfer the house, along with nearby Danson House, to the newly set up Bexley Heritage Trust, which successfully raised £2m for the restoration of the building, which is now open to the public. The Trust continued to receive a subsidy from Bexley Council, and when it was announced in 2016 that this would be phased out, the Trust gave notice of its intention to return Hall Place to the Council. The Council has confirmed its intention of maintaining the house as a visitor attraction and wedding venue, but in the current state of local authority finances it must be feared that maintenance will once again suffer.

Descent: William Shelley sold 1537 to Sir John Champneys (d. 1556); to son, Sir Justinian Champneys (d. 1596); to son, Richard Champneys (d. 1653), who sold c.1640 to Sir Robert Austen (d. 1666), 1st bt.; to son, Sir John Austen (d. 1698), 2nd bt.; to brother, Sir Robert Austen (d. 1704), 3rd bt.; to son, Sir Robert Austen (d. 1743), 4th bt.; to brother, Sir Sheffield Austen (d. 1758), 5th bt.; to kinsman, Sir Francis Dashwood (1708-81), 15th Baron Le Despencer... Maitland Dashwood (fl. 1870)... let from 1917-43 to May (1862-1943), Countess of Limerick; sold c.1929 to Bexley Borough Council; transferred 1965 to London Borough of Bexley; given c.1999 to Bexley Heritage Trust.

Boxley Abbey, Kent

Boxley Abbey from the north-west in 1801, from a sketch on an estate map. Image: Archaeologia Cantiana.

A Cistercian abbey was founded at Boxley in 1146 by William of Ypres and survived until it was suppressed in 1538. Although most of the abbey buildings have long since been demolished or reconstructed, the layout of the site has continued to shape the arrangement of later structures. The abbey came into the hands of the Wyatt family in 1541, and they created a substantial mansion that incorporated the west range of the claustral buildings. There was a substantial rebuilding in red brick in about 1740, and most of the surviving part of the medieval building was demolished at some point after 1801. 

Boxley Abbey: view of the house from the south terrace, showing the ancient windows and chimneys that survived on the east side of the west claustral range until it was demolished.

The cloister garth formed the centre of the garden attached to the house, and the terrace which overlooks it from the south overlies the site of the abbey church. The retaining wall onto the cloister represents the south wall of the church, and on the north side of the terrace is a stone parapet with a 16th century moulded coping that suggests the terrace was constructed as a viewing platform facing the North Downs and providing views of hunting in the park. It seems likely that the bank is constructed largely of rubble stone from the demolished monastic buildings on the site. The other main survival from the abbey is a very large barn, 186 feet long, with a fine timber roof of tie-beams and scissor-trusses, which appears to have been built in about 1385.

The surviving fragment of the house of the Wyatts and their successors preserves one 16th century ragstone chimney-breast carrying three lozenge-shaped stacks. The brick north wall, of four bays and three storeys, is all of of c.1740 and preserves contemporary sash windows with thick glazing bars, and a long arched window in the easternmost bay that lights the staircase. A sketch of the house in 1801 shows that this Georgian block originally extended a further three bays to the west, but was truncated when the remodelled medieval range running south from it was taken down. The roof, with its series of narrow gables, has an Arts & Crafts feel, and was perhaps altered in about 1900.

Descent: Crown granted 1541 to Sir Thomas Wyatt; to son, Sir Thomas Wyatt (executed 1553); forfeit to Crown but granted 1571 to son, George Wyatt (d. 1624); to son, Sir Francis Wyatt (d. 1644); to son, Henry Wyatt; to daughter Frances, wife of Sir Thomas Selyard, whose title to the estate apart from the house was however disputed by Henry's brother, Edwin Wyatt (c.1629-1714), who recovered possession; the house descended to Sir Thomas Selyard; to his two daughters who sold to Francis Austen of Sevenoaks; sold to kinsman, Sir Edward Austen (d. 1766), 6th bt.; to widow, Susannah, Lady Austen (d. 1772); and then to his kinsman, John Amherst (fl. 1797)...

Austen family of Heronden and later of Boxley Abbey

Austen, William (1556-96). Son of John Austen and his wife, baptised at Tenterden, 7 February 1556/7. Bailiff of Tenterden, 1585-86. He married, 20 January 1577/8 at Tenterden, Elizabeth (d. 1611?), daughter of Edward Hales esq. of Tenterden, and had issue:
(1) Margaret Austen (b. 1578), baptised at Tenterden, 16 November 1578; married, 1602 or 1603 at Tenterden, Peter Holnest or Joshua Harman; died before 1654;
(2) Mary Austen (1579-1630), baptised at Tenterden, 20 December 1579; married, 9 July 1604 at Tenterden, Anthony Whetenhall esq. of East Peckham, and had issue; buried at Tenterden, 12 June 1630;
(3) Elizabeth Austen (1581-1667), baptised at Tenterden, 17 March 1580/1; married Samuel Short (fl. 1654) of Tenterden, solicitor and counsel-general for the Cinque Ports, and had issue six sons and four daughters; buried at Tenterden, 3 October 1667;
(4) Edward Austen (1582-1610), baptised at Tenterden, 3 June 1582; granted a coat of arms in 1603; married Rebecca (d. 1637), daughter of Sir Edward Easton, kt. of Mersham, and had issue one son (also Edward (1609-39)); buried at Tenterden, 30 April 1615;
(5) Rebecca Austen (b. 1583), baptised at Tenterden, 22 December 1583; married, 21 September 1612 at Ashford (Kent), Arthur Smarsett, and had issue two daughters who were mentioned in will of her brother, Sir Robert;
(6) Sarah Austen (1585-86), baptised at Tenterden, 11 July 1585; died in infancy and was buried at Tenterden, 6 July 1586;
(7) John Austen (1586-1655) (q.v.);
(8) Sir Robert Austen (1587-1666), 1st bt. [for whom see below, Austen of Hall Place and Boxley Abbey];
(9) Abigail Austen (b. 1589), baptised at Tenterden, 16 February 1588/9; married, 17 February 1614/5 at Tenterden, Edward Jervis of Tenterden, yeoman, and had issue;
(10) Samuel Austen (b. 1591), baptised at Tenterden, 20 February 1590/1; died before 1596;
(11) Martha Austen (1594-1612), baptised at Tenterden, 24 August 1594; died unmarried and was buried at Tenterden, 13 May 1612;
(12) Susanna Austen (1595-1614), baptised at Tenterden, 19 October 1595; died unmarried and was buried at Tenterden, 6 May 1614.
He lived at Tenterden.
He was buried at Tenterden, 4 November 1596. His widow was perhaps the person of this name buried at Tenterden, 10 January 1610/11.

Austen, John (1586-1655). Second son of William Austen (1556-96) of Tenterden and his wife Elizabeth, daughter of Edward Hales of Tenterden, baptised at Tenterden, 21 August 1586. Mayor of Tenterden, 1631 and 1634. He was unmarried and without issue.
He purchased the Heronden estate in Tenterden. At his death the estate was left to his nephew, Col. Robert Austen (1642-96).
He died 11 December and was buried at Tenterden, 13 December 1655; his will was proved 14 May 1656.

Austen, Col. Robert (1642-96). Second son of Sir Robert Austen (c.1587-1666), 1st bt., and his second wife, Anne, daughter of Thomas Mun of London and Bearsted (Kent), baptised at St Bartholomew Exchange, London, 3 August 1642. Educated at Grays Inn (admitted 1657). Colonel of the Cinque Ports Militia. Deputy Mayor of Winchelsea, 1668; MP for Winchelsea, 1666-79, 1689-96; a Lord of the Admiralty, 1691-96; a Commissioner for the Public Accounts, 1691-92; and a Commissioner for Greenwich Hospital, 1695. He married, 16 October 1669 at Hannington (Wilts), Judith (c.1652-1716), daughter and co-heir of Ralph Freke esq. of Hannington, and had issue:
(1) Robert Austen (1670?-1728) (q.v.);
(2) Cecilia Austen (b. & d. 1672), baptised at Hannington, 14 February 1672; died in infancy and was buried there, 18 February 1672;
(3) Anne Austen (b. 1674), baptised at Tenterden, 14 April 1674; died, probably unmarried, before 1716;
(4) Judith Austen (fl. 1716); married, 26 December 1716 at Willesborough (Kent), Isaac Sature; living in 1728;
(5) John Austen (1676-91), baptised at Tenterden, 21 July 1676; died young and was buried at Tenterden, 1 September 1691;
(6) Edward Austen (1678-1705), baptised at Tenterden, 20 October 1678; died unmarried and was buried at Tenterden, 21 July 1705;
(7) George Austen (b. & d. 1680), baptised at Bethersden (Kent), 21 March 1679/80; died in infancy and was buried at Tenterden, 23 December 1680;
(8) Thomas Austen (b. 1682), baptised at Tenterden, 27 August 1682; living in 1716, when his mother cut him out of her will with £5 'haveing approved himself the whole course of his life, the worst, the most undutifull and unnatural in all his words and actions to me';
(9) Elizabeth Austen (fl. 1716); unmarried in 1716;
He inherited Heronden in Tenterden from his uncle John Austen in 1655 and came of age in 1663.
He was buried at Bexley, 23 August 1696; his will has not been traced, but he is said to have made no provision for his younger children and to have left debts of £3,000. His widow died 19 May, and was buried in Westminster Abbey, 24 May 1716; her will was proved 26 November 1717 and left a number of token legacies to relatives who had shown kindness 'to my unfortunate family'.

Austen, Robert (1670?-1728). Eldest son of Col. Robert Austen of Heronden and his wife Judith, daughter and co-heir of Ralph Freke of Hannington (Wilts), perhaps the person of this name baptised at Hollingbourne (Kent), 19 December 1670. An officer in Cinque Ports Militia under his father and then in the Marines, 1691-98 (2nd Lt, 1691; Lt., 1692) and Grenadier Guards (2nd Lt., 1702). Freeman of Winchelsea, 1696. JP for Kent. MP for Hastings, 1695-98 and for Winchelsea, 1701-02. For ten years after 1711 he was in dispute with the corporation of Tenterden over his liability to pay town scot, and in 1721 forcibly detained the chamberlain and serjeants when they were sent to collect it. He married, 1703 (licence 30 March; settlement 8 September), probably at St Giles in the Fields, London, Jane (d. 1751), daughter of William Strode esq. of Barrington (Somerset) and had issue:
(1) William Austen (c.1704-42) (q.v.);
(2) Sir Edward Austen (1705-60), 6th bt. (q.v.);
(3) Ralph Austen (1706-07), baptised at Tenterden, 25 November 1706; died in infancy and was buried at Tenterden, 15 March 1706/7;
(4) Robert Austen (1708-72), 7th bt. (q.v.);
(5) Jane Grace Austen (1709-33) (q.v.).
He inherited Heronden in Tenterden from his father. His widow inherited Barrington Court (Somerset) from her brother in 1746; at her death it passed to her eldest surviving son, Edward.
He was buried at Tenterden, 16 August 1728; his will (which curiously makes no provision for his second son Edward and indeed does not mention him at all) was proved 5 September 1728. His widow lived latterly at Twickenham (Middx); her will was proved 15 November 1751.

Austen, William (c.1704-42). Eldest son of Robert Austen (1670?-1728) and his wife Jane, daughter of William Strode esq. of Barrington (Somerset), born about 1704. His portrait was painted by Sir Godfrey Kneller according to his mother's will, and passed to his youngest brother. He was unmarried and without issue.
He inherited Heronden in Tenterden from his father in 1728. At his death he left it to a cousin, Richard Righton, a coast waiter in the Custom House at London.
He was buried at Tenterden, 2 December 1742; his will was challenged by his brother, Edward Austen but accepted by the courts and proved 17 May 1743.

Austen, Sir Edward (1705-60), 6th bt. Second son of Robert Austen (1672-1728) and his wife Jane, daughter of William Strode esq. of Barrington (Somerset), baptised at Tenterden, 21 July 1705. Educated at Middle Temple (admitted 1722). He evidently fell out with his family as he was entirely excluded from his father's will and was subsequently involved in a Chancery dispute with his mother and siblings in 1732; his mother could not prevent him succeeding her in the Barrington estate. He succeeded his kinsman, Sir Sheffield Austen, as 6th baronet in January 1756. He married, 28 August 1740 at Old Charlton (Kent), Susanna (c.1717-72), daughter of Edward Walsingham, but had no issue.
He purchased Boxley Abbey House from his kinsman, Francis Austen; at his death it was left to his widow for life and then to his cousin, John Amherst. He also inherited and purchased extensive property in the Appledore area which was left to his widow and then to various members of the Amherst family. In 1751 he inherited Barrington Court (Somerset) from his mother, but he sold it in 1756. 
He died 16 December, and was buried at Allington (Kent), 28 December 1760; his will was proved 3 February 1761. His widow died 20 September 1772 and was also buried at Allington; her will was proved 23 January 1773 and a codicil was proved 6 May 1774.

Austen, Sir Robert (1708-72), 7th bt. Third son of Robert Austen (1672-1728) and his wife Jane, daughter of William Strode esq. of Barrington (Somerset), baptised at Tenterden, 11 April 1708. Educated at Merton College, Oxford (matriculated 1725). He succeeded his brother as 7th baronet, 28 December 1760. He married, 23 June 1755 at St Margaret, Westminster, the 'accomplished and fascinating' Ann (1736-1802), daughter of John Richardson, but had no issue.
He lived in London.
He died 13 February 1772, when the baronetcy expired, and and was buried at Haslemere (Surrey), 18 February 1772; his will was proved 28 February 1772. His widow, who was a friend of the poet, William Cowper, married 2nd, 1796 (settlement 16 July), Count Claude Tardiff du Granger, also a poet, and died in Paris, 12 August 1802; her will was proved 23 September 1802.

Austen, Jane Grace (1709-33). Only daughter of Robert Austen (1672-1728) and his wife Jane, daughter of William Strode esq. of Barrington (Somerset), baptised at Tenterden, 12 June 1709. She married, 23 November 1731 at St Andrew, Holborn (Middx), Richard Windsor (1706-85) of Tottenham (Middx), mercer, son of Shadrack Windsor, mercer, and had issue:
(1) Sarah Windsor (1733-72) (q.v.);
She was buried 30 December 1733 in the chapel of the Mercers' Hall, London. Her husband married 2nd, 1736 (licence 23 November), Mary Tillotson, and had further issue five sons and three daughters, and was buried in the chapel of Mercer's Hall, London, 4 March 1785; his will was proved 23 March 1785.

Windsor, Sarah (1733-72). Only daughter of Richard Windsor esq. of Tottenham (Middx) and his wife Jane Grace, only daughter of Robert Austen of Heronden, Tenterden (Kent), baptised at St Peter le Poer, London, 9 December 1733. She married 1st, 14 January 1755 at St Peter le Poer, Edward Constable (d. 1757), citizen and clothworker of London, and 2nd, 17 August 1765 at Hackney (Middx), as his second wife, James Bristowe (d. 1768) of Westminster, gent., and had issue:
(1.1) Mary Constable (1755-1837), baptised at St Helen Bishopsgate, London, 22 December 1755; married, 23 December 1776 at Tottenham, Rev. Thomas Roberts (1751-1824), vicar of Tottenham, 1798-1824 and rector of St Peter Cornhill, London, 1797-1824, and had surviving issue one son and four daughters; died 19 July 1837 and was buried at Tenterden, where she and her children are commemorated by a ledger stone;
(1.2) Anne Constable (1757-1833), baptised 24 February 1757; married, 9 November 1776 at Tottenham, Sir William Curtis (1752-1829), 1st bt., Lord Mayor of London and MP for London, 1790-1818, 1820-26 and for Bletchingley, 1819-20, and had issue four sons and two daughters; died 7 August 1833.
She died in 1772; her will was proved, 19 March 1772. Her first husband was buried at St Andrew Holborn, London, 7 April 1757. Her second husband died in debt in 1768; administration of his goods was granted to one of his creditors, 9 December 1768.

Austen family of Hall Place

Austen, Sir Robert (1587-1666), 1st bt. Youngest son of William Austen of Tenterden and his wife Elizabeth, daughter of Edward Hales of Tenterden, baptised at Tenterden, 15 October 1587. Clothworker and merchant in London. Alderman of the City of London, 1656; High Sheriff of Kent, 1660-61. He took no discernible part in the Civil War, but was created a baronet by King Charles II, 10 July 1660. He married 1st, Margaret (d. 1627?), daughter of William Williamson of London, citizen and vintner of London, and 2nd, 1 September 1638 at Bearsted (Kent), Anne (c.1613-87), daughter of Thomas Mun of London and Bearsted, and had issue (with others who did not survive):
(1.1) John Austen; died in infancy;
(1.2) Elizabeth Austen (b. 1623?), perhaps the child of this name baptised at Tenterden, 13 August 1623; married 1st, before 1644, Sir Thomas Dacres, kt., of Cheshunt (Herts) and 2nd, [forename unknown] Chalcock?; living in 1680;
(2.1) Anne Austen (1640-c.1673), baptised at St Bartholomew Exchange, London, 5 June 1640; married, c.1655 (settlement dated 1655), Sir Oliver Boteler (c.1637-89), 2nd bt. of Barham Court, Teston (Kent), but had no issue; died after 1680;
(2.2) Sir John Austen (1641-98), 2nd bt. (q.v.);
(2.3) Robert Austen (1642-96) of Heronden [for whom see above, under Austen of Heronden];
(2.4) Ursula Austen (b. c.1643), baptised at St Bartholomew Exchange, London, 16 January 1643/4; married 1st, 1662 (licence 29 March), George Stawell (d. 1669) of Cothelstone (Somerset), son of Sir John Stawell KB and had issue; married 2nd, between 1671 and 1674, Henry Seymour (1612-86) of Langley Park (Bucks) and had further issue;
(2.5) William Austen (b. 1645), baptised at St Bartholomew Exchange, London, 12 August 1645; probably died young;
(2.6) Edward Austen (c.1649-1712), of High St. House, Bexley; married 1st, Mary, daughter of Edward Napier of Dorset, but had no issue; and 2nd, 17 June 1686 at Bexley, Elizabeth (d. 1704), daughter of Edward Manning of Kivington in St Mary Cray (Kent), and had issue one son and one daughter; died aged 63, August 1712, and was buried at Bexley, where he is commemorated by a monument;
(2.7) Samuel Austen (c.1650-81), born about 1650; an East India Company employee and merchant living at Surat (India) from 1674-81; died without issue in Surat, probably soon after writing his will on 1 February 1680/1; will proved 9 March 1682/3.
He purchased Hall Place, Bexley, in about 1640.
He died 30 October 1666 and was buried 5 November 1666 at Bexley, where he is commemorated by a monument; his will was proved 1 December 1666. His first wife may be the Margaret Austen buried at St George, Southwark (Surrey), 8 October 1627. His widow lived latterly at High St. House, Bexley, which she refronted and left to her third son, Edward Austen; she was buried at Bexley, 3 November 1687.

Austen, Sir John (1641-98), 2nd bt. Elder son of Sir Robert Austen (d. 1666), 1st bt., and his second wife, Anne, daughter of Thomas Mun of London and Bearsted (Kent), baptised at St Bartholomew Exchange, London, 1 April 1641. Educated at Grays Inn (admitted 1657) and Padua University (Italy) (admitted 1660), no doubt as part of a Grand Tour. He succeeded his father as 2nd baronet, 30 October 1666. JP for Kent, 1665-88, 1688-99; DL for Kent, 1668-85?, 1689-93?; MP for Rye, 1667-79, 1689-90, 1695-98; a Customs Commissioner, 1697-98. He married, 6 December 1661 at St Bartholomew the Great, London, Rose (c.1645-95), daughter and heir of Sir John Hale, kt., of Stagenhoe (Herts), and had issue:
(1) Sir Robert Austen (1664-1706), 3rd bt. (q.v.);
(2) John Austen (b. 1665), baptised at St Paul's Walden (Herts), 13 January 1665; probably died young;
(3) Anne Austen (fl. 1712); married, August 1704 at St Clement Danes, Westminster, Robert Rodes, and had issue one son (who died in infancy); living in 1712;
(4) Elizabeth Austen (1669-1702), baptised at Bexley, 6 March 1668/9; died unmarried and was buried at Bexley, 3 May 1702;
(5) William Austen (b. 1670), baptised at Bexley, 21 September 1670; probably died young;
(6) Lt-Col. Edward Austen (1672-1707), baptised at Bexley, 4 August 1672; an officer in the 1st Foot Guards (Lt-Col.); married Susan [surname unknown] but died without issue when he was killed at the battle of Almanza, 25 April 1707; commemorated on the Guards Officers' Memorial in the chapel at Wellington Barracks, 1882; will proved 30 October 1707, in which he left his estates 'in and about Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and the City of London' to his widow and her son (presumably from a previous marriage), Samuel Strickson;
(7) Rose Austen (b. 1673), baptised at St Paul's Walden, 2 November 1673; married Capt. Comberford Brooke (c.1675-1711) of Madeley Court (Shrops.) and Comberford (Staffs), and had issue one son and two daughters;
(8) Thomas Austen (b. 1676), baptised at St Paul's Walden, 5 September 1676; probably died young.
He inherited Hall Place, Bexley, from his father in 1666.
He died in Red Lion Square, London, 5 January 1698/9; his will was proved 27 September 1699. His wife died in May 1695 and was buried at St Paul's Walden (Herts) [date illegible in register].

Austen, Sir Robert (1664-1706), 3rd bt. Elder son of Sir John Austen (1641-98), 2nd bt. and his wife Rose, daughter and heir of Sir John Hale, kt., of Stagenhoe (Herts), baptised 19 March 1663/4. Educated at St. Albans and Peterhouse, Cambridge (admitted 1680). He succeeded his father as 3rd baronet, about January 1699. MP for Rye, 1699-1701; he introduced a bill for the renovation of the town's badly silted up harbour but it failed to progress, and on this account he appears to have fallen out with the town corporation; he made no attempt to stand again for Rye but was nearly elected for Kent in 1705. He married, c.1687, his first cousin, Elizabeth (1668-1725), daughter and co-heir of George Stawell esq. of Cothelstone (Somerset) and had issue:
(1) John Austen (b. & d. 1688), born 14 and baptised at St Martin-in-the-Fields, Westminster (Middx), 16 July 1688; died in infancy and was buried at Bexley, 23 July 1688;
(2) John Austen (b. & d. 1690), baptised at St Martin-in-the-Fields, 24 February 1689/90; died in infancy and was buried at Bexley, 16 March 1689/90;
(3) Rose Austen (1691-1734), baptised at St Martin-in-the-Fields, 11 October 1691; married, 1730 (settlement 27 July), Sherrington Grosvenor (d. 1744) of Holt (Warks) and Langley Place (Bucks), but had no issue; buried at Langley Marish (Bucks), 9 October 1734; will proved 4 November 1734;
(4) Elizabeth Austen (1692-93), baptised at Bexley, 15 October 1692; died in infancy and was buried at Bexley, 20 January 1692/3;
(5) Anne Austen (1693-1758), baptised at Bexley, 17 January 1693/4; died unmarried and was buried at Bexley, 17 August 1758; will proved 15 August 1758;
(6) Mary Austen (b. 1695), baptised at Bexley, 16 February 1694/5; living and unmarried in 1734;
(7) Elizabeth Austen (1696-1728), baptised 27 June 1696; died unmarried and was buried at Bexley, 1 July 1728; will proved 3 July 1728;
(8) Sir Robert Austen (1697-1743), 4th bt. (q.v.);
(9) Sir Sheffield Austen (1698-1758), 5th bt. (q.v.);
(10) Stawell Austen (f.) (1700-48), baptised at Bexley, 23 March 1699/1700; died unmarried and was buried at Bexley, 28 September 1748; will proved 10 October 1748;
(11) John Austen (1701-50), baptised at Bexley, 3 July 1703; probably unmarried and without issue; buried at Bexley, 19 October 1750.
He inherited Hall Place, Bexley from his father in 1698.
He was buried at Bexley, 5 July 1706; his will was proved 15 August 1706. His widow married 2nd, 28 April 1716 at Westminster, William Wynde (d. 1742) of Bexley and South Wootton (Norfolk), chamberlain to the Princess Sophia until her death in 1714 and Commissioner of Salt Duties, 1727-42, son of William Winde, the architect, and died in 1725; her will was proved 2 December 1725.

Austen, Sir Robert (1697-1743), 4th bt. Eldest son of Sir Robert Austen (d. 1706), 3rd bt., and his wife Elizabeth, daughter and co-heir of George Stawell of Cotherstone (Somerset), born 6 October and baptised at Bexley, 17 October 1697. Educated at Oriel College, Oxford (matriculated 1715). He succeeded his father as 4th baronet, June/July 1706. High Sheriff of Kent, 1724; MP for New Romney, 1728-34, 1736-41. He married, 4 November 1738, Rachel (c.1706-88), daughter of Sir Francis Dashwood of West Wycombe (Bucks), but had no issue.
He inherited Hall Place, Bexley from his father in 1706. At his death it passed to his next brother, Sir Sheffield Austen.
He died 'at Cheltenham Wells in Gloucestershire (whither he went to drink the waters)', so much in debt that the total of his debts and legacies exceeded the value of his estate, which was therefore administered in Chancery; he was apparently buried at Churchdown (Glos), 27 September 1743, although some sources give his date of death as 7 October and the newspaper report of his death 'a few days since' was published on 20 October; his will was proved 9 November 1743. His widow, on the death of her brother without legitimate issue, assumed the title of Baroness Le Despencer, under the erroneous impression that the termination of the abeyance of that ancient barony in favour of her brother in 1763 was tantamount to its having been restored in favour of their mother, who had been one of the coheirs; she died 16 May 1788; her will, in which she styles herself Baroness Le Despencer, was proved 21 May 1788.

Austen, Sir Sheffield (1698-1756), 5th bt. Second son of Sir Robert Austen (d. 1706), 3rd bt., and his wife Elizabeth, daughter and co-heir of George Stawell of Cotherstone (Somerset), baptised at Bexley, 25 October 1698. Educated at Charterhouse School, 1710-16. He succeeded his elder brother as 5th baronet, 7 October 1743. He married Susanna [surname unknown] (d. c.1780), but had no issue.
He inherited Hall Place, Bexley from his elder brother in 1743, but was living in Ireland at the time of his death. At his death the property passed under his brother's will to Sir Francis Dashwood, 15th Baron Le Despencer, of West Wycombe.
He died in Britain St., Dublin in January 1756; administration of his goods with will annexed was granted, 17 November 1758. His widow's date of death is unknown; her will was proved in Dublin in 1780.


Burke's Extinct & Dormant Baronetcies, 2nd edn., 1841, p. 29; P.J. Tester, 'Excavations at Boxley Abbey', Archaeologia Cantiana, vol. 88, 1973; B. Cherry & Sir N. Pevsner, The buildings of England: London 2 - South, 1983, pp. 135-36; C. Knight, London's country houses, 2009, pp. 67-70; J. Newman, The buildings of England: Kent - West and the Weald, 4th edn., 2012, p. 591;

Location of archives

Austen family of Hall Place, Bexley, baronets: deeds and papers, 1685-18th cent. [Bexley Local Studies & Archives, L1-361]; estate map, 1768 [Bexley Local Studies & Archives, BU/COB]

Coat of arms

Or, a chevron gules, between three lions' paws erect and erased sable.

Can you help?

Here are a few notes about information and images which would help to improve the account above. If you can help with any of these or with other additions or corrections, please use the contact form in the sidebar to get in touch.

  • Can anyone supply an illustration of the Elizabethan Heronden Hall?
  • Does anyone know how Francis Austen, who sold Boxley Abbey to Sir Edward Austen, was related to the family, or exactly when this transaction occurred?
  • Can anyone supply information about the ownership history of Boxley Abbey House after 1800?
  • There are many missing genealogical details for this family. If anyone can supply additional information, I should be pleased to receive it.
  • Can anyone supply portraits of any members of this family?

Revision and acknowledgements

This post was first published 12 March 2017.