Genealogy of the Thornton and Astell Families

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Robert Thornton, born c. 1579 in Yorkshire, educated at Pembroke College, Cambridge, from 1597, Got BA in 1603 and MA in 1606. Ordained a priest in York in 1604-5 and rector of Birkin, East Riding from 1612. Married Alice Hymsworth in 1613. Rector of Garforth, East Riding 1615 – 44. During the Civil War (1642-) he had his land confiscated under the protectorate of Oliver Cromwell and died in 1645.It was restored by Charles II in 1670s.

His son Robert took Holy Orders

Robert’s grandson John became a merchant in the Russian trade. Married Jane Field and had six sons and two daughters and moved to Clapham, then in Surrey.

5th son Godfrey Thornton married Margaret, daughter of William Astell of Woodbury Hall in 1733. They had eight sons and two daughters. Robert was a director of the Bank of England as was his son Godfrey and grandson Stephen. The whole family had connections in the army, the Guards and in the City of London, through their banking activities and trading interests, particularly with Russia.

(Richards, R. ‘The Thorntons of Moggerhanger’, January 1999)


Geoffrey Thornton, b. December 1701 and lived in Clapham, London. He was the 4th son of John Thornton and Jane Field and became a director of the Bank of England. On 12th April 1733 he married Margaret, 2nd daughter of William Astell. He died December 1751. Margaret died in May, 1753 and is buried in Everton. They had two sons (and other children)

a.                     William Thornton Astell born 27th January 1733-34. He married his cousin Elizabeth, daughter of Richard Thornton, MP for Southwark on 11th July 1758. When his uncle Richard Astell died on 23rd January 1777 he inherited the Astell estate in compliance with the will of his grandfather, William Astell. He obtained a royal sign manual dated 21st February 1777 to assume the additional surname and arms of Astell. He then lived at Everton and died without children on 6th April 1801. Buried at Everton. The Everton estate then passed to his brother Godfrey Thornton and, under the will of Mrs Hannah Pownall, wife of Richard Astell, to his nephew.


b.                     Godfrey Thornton, the third child, was born 16th October 1737, lived at Moggerhanger House. One time Chairman of Lloyds of London, member of the Russian Company, a Russian merchant of Austin friars and Aldermanbury, Director of the Bank of England 1772 – 1801, Deputy Governor 1791 – 93 and  Governor 1793 – 95. High Sherrif of Bedfordshire in 1803.  He married Jane Godin, co-heiress of Peter Godin on 31st July 1766. They had five children. He inherited Everton estate from his brother in 1801 and died on 12th November 1805 and was buried at Blunham. Jane died in 1811 and was buried at Blunham leaving.

a.      Stephen Thornton,

b.      William Thornton (later Astell), born 13th October 1774. On 15th July 1800 he married Sarah, only daughter of John Harvey of Ickwell Bury and (F?)Hinningly Park, Yorkshire. He became MP for Bridgewater 1806 – 1832. On 12th June 1807 he obtained a second sign manual for himself and his descendants to assume the name Astell only. Lieutenant- Colonel in Bedfordshire Militia, the last Colonel of the Royal East India Volunteers and Chairman of the Honourable East India Company. MP for Beds. 1841 – 47 and lived in Everton House. Died 7th May 1847 leaving


        1. Richard William Astell, born 9th January 1804, became a Colonel in the Grenadier Guards. He lived in Everton House and died in 1864.
        2. John Harvey Astell, John Harvey Astell was born 20th March 1806, rose to Captain of the Bedfordshire Militia and became one of the last directors of the Honourable East India Company. He lived in Woodbury Hall and was JP for Bedford, Cambridge and Huntingdon, DL for Bedford and City of London and MP for Cambridge 1852 – 1854 and MP for Ashburton 1855 - 65. Married Anne Emelia, daughter of Robert Parry Nisbet of Southbroome House, Wiltshire, MP for Chippenham on 7th June 1853. He died 17th January 1887 and she died 13th August 1907 leaving.
          1. William Harvey Astell, b. 26 November 1860, and lived in Woodbury Hall, D.L. for Cambridgeshire, JP for Bedford, Cambridge and Huntingdon, Lieutenant in the Grenadier Guards, served in the Bedfordshire Militia. Married Hon. Elizabeth Maria Vereker, Order of Mary (1911) 4th daughter of Standish, 4th Viscount Gort. on 7th December 1886. He died 20th April 1896.

                                                                                                                                      i.      Richard John Vereker Astell b. 7th September 1890, educated at Eton and Christ’s Church, Oxford. He entered the Diplomatic Service in 1913 and rose to become second secretary in 1919 before he retired. He married Joan Evelyn, daughter of James Fortescue, Crichton Street. He served in World War Two as a Captain, B.A.

                                                                                                                                    ii.      Laline Annette, born 1st October 1888. Lived at Long Crendon Manor, Aylesbury, Bucks. On 9th April 1910 she married Lt-Colonel Arthur Preston Hohler, DSO,, Middlesex Regiment . He died 7th March 1919. She then married Colonel Stanley Leonard Barry, CMG, CBE, DSO, MVO., late 10th Hussars, He died 22nd December 1943.

                                                                                                                                  iii.      Cynthia Elizabeth Violet, On 30th March 1922 she married Sir Thomas Beaumont Hohler, KCMG, CB, British Minister at Copenhagen 1928 – 1933. He died 23rd April 1946 and she died 6th November 1966 leaving children. (? Isabelle Astell Hohler, only daughter of T. S. Astell Hohler, of Wolverton Park, Basingstoke, who married The Earl of Errol, elder son of Sir Iain Moncreiffe, Perthshire and of the late Countess of Errol, on ***)

Elizabeth then married 3rd Baron De L’Ise and Dudley on 12th June 1902. He died 24th December 1922  and she died 19th July 1958

          1. John Henry St Quintin Astell, born 3rd January 1863. JP for Beds. and Cambs. Lived at Dale Lodge Sunningdale, Berkshire. Died unmarried on 18th April 1945.
          2. Annie Louisa, died unmarried on 30th January 1939
          3. Henrietta Sarah, died unmarried on 24th January 1892
          4. Clara Harriet, died unmarried on 17th November 1933.
          5. Alice Caroline, married 6th Baron Ellenborough, Cecil Henry Law, Major in 2nd Dorsetshire Regiment, 2nd son of Hon. Henry Spencer Law, on 22nd July 1884. She died 3rd November 1916 and he died 22nd January 1931.

                                                                                                                                      i.      Henry Astell born 11th July 1889

          1. Edith Jane, married Rev. Atherton Wauton, MA, vicar of Ivinghoe, Bucks. 11th July 1890 and died 22nd November 1922 leaving children.
          2. Margaret Julia Agnes Fairfax, married Montagu Egerton Loftus, MVO., 3rd son of Lord Augustus Loftus, P.C. G.C.B. on 2nd September 1897. She died on 3rd June 1900 and he died 27th June 1934.


1.      Henry Godfrey Astell , born 10th November 1815, joined the Bengal Civil Service. Married Louisa Maria, eldest daughter of General Edward Wynyard of the Grenadier Guards on 13th September 1842 and lived at Ickwell House. She died in May 1882. He died 6th July 1903. They had five children.

a.      Eldest was Godfrey, born 25th August 1848, and lived in Westfield, Nairn. Became a Captain, then Major of the 2nd Battalion of the King’s Royal Rifle Corps. Colonel of the 7th Battalion of the King’s Royal Rifle Corps. On 18th July 1883 he married Emily, daughter of John Grant of Glen Moriston, Inverness-shire and died 18th August 1930. He had two sons:

a.      Ian Wynyard, born 24th May 1884. Died unmarried 17th March 1954.

b.      Godfrey Grant, born 17th March 1887. On 1st February 1913 married Margery Helen (56 Heath Road, Petersfield, Hants), daughter of late Hugh March-Phillips of Chapel Court, Kenn, nr Exeter) and died 2nd September 1964  leaving

                                                                                                                                                  i.      Henry Thornton, born 27th August 1915, educated at Bradfield and RMC, Sandhurst. Married Kathleen Anne, daughter of H. T. Rees, of Braintree, Essex on 15th January 1942. (Dissolved by divisional court in 1957 – 1st recorded divorce in Astell/Thornton line). Major in the Sherwood Foresters, retired in 1964, insurance broker. Lived in The View, Bishop’s castle, Salop. In the Naval and Military Club.

1.      Richard William Godfrey, born 27th September 1944, Tissington Hall, Derby. Educated at Grenville College.

2.      Rosemary Caroline Wyniard born 7th February 1952

He then married Esme Shila, formerly wife of Reginald Thomas, of Rawsthorne, daughter of Robert Clarke, of Nottingham

1. Robert Henry, born 18th October 1958

                                                                                                                                                ii.      William, born 1st April 1920.  Flight Lieutenant in R.A.F. DFC. Killed in action 17th May 1943 on the Mohne and Eder Dam raid.

                                                                                                                                              iii.      Mary, born 25th April 1914. Lived at 17 Harrington Gardens.

                                                                                                                                               iv.      Elizabeth Margery (Lake Bariago, PO Box 1051, Naburu, Kenya) married David Roberts who died 5th May 1950

1.      Murray Henry David, born 10th April 1952

2.      William Godfrey Garth, born 27th June 1953

3.      Andrew Thomas, born 18th December 1959

4.      James David, born 1st March 1963

5.      Elizabeth Jane, born 14th October 1954

                                                                                                                                                 v.      Heather, born 22nd April 1934. Married Peter Ralph Wareing (Hong Kong), son of Edgar Charles Wareing of Framlingham, Suffolk on 1st June 1967.

c.      Wynyard, born 5th July 1888. Married Constance Harriet, 3rd daughter of Thomas Duff Gordon-Duff, CBE, of Drummuir and Park, Banffshire in 1926. Divorced

                                                                                                                                                  i.      David

                                                                                                                                                ii.      Anne Jane

He then married Mary (1 Sylvan Place, Edinburgh), widow of Rear-Admiral Herbert Pott, M.V.O. and daughter of Frank Morrison Seafield grant on 16th April 1947.  He died in 1956.

d.      Doris Louisa, born 20th October 1894. Married Philip Waddington                              Hubbard, son of George Hubbard of West Park, Eltham on 21st October 1919. She died 5th August 1953 and he died 12th November 1953 leaving issue.

e.      Aline Frances, born 10th April 1899. On 21st August 1920 married Captain Ronald William Blacklock, CBE, CDS, RN (retired) (Dolphin Cottage, Carron Lane, Midhurst, Sussex), son of J.H. Blacklock, JP of Overthorpe, Banbury and has two sons and one daughter.

f.        Catherine Joan, born 18th October 1902. Married Ernest Balfour Gourlay (Knockie PB 63, Okanagan, British Columbia.) and has two sons and one daughter.

b.      William Wynyard Astell, born 3rd October 1855. Educated at Wellington College. On 15th June 1881 he married Rosa, daughter of M. Blacker (sic) of Hawbranch, Virgina, USA. She died 17th April 1902.

a.      Geoffrey Blacker, born 9th January 1883 and married Theresa Grayburn. And died without children 12th March 1967.

b.      Caroline Mabel Louisa, born 23rd May 1886. On 6th January 1914 married Samuel Phillip St Clere Ratmond, of Belchamp Hall, Sudbury, Suffolk and has children

He then married Francesca, second daughter of Rev. W. Blacker in April 1905. She died 12th March 1920 and he died August 1934.

c.      Mary St Quentin married Joseph Kaye, Master in Common Pleas on 13th October 1870. He died 6th June 1901

d.      Louisa Wynyard married George Lang, of H.M. Indian Civil Service on 11th July 1866. He died on 2nd June 1898 and she died 13th April 1905 leaving children

e.      Caroline, died unmarried 27th May 1937.

2.      Charles Edward Astell, born 15th June 1818, Major-General, West Lodge, Puddle Hinton, Dorsetshire, JP, Late Lieutenant-Colonel in 15th Regiment. Married Harriette Dare, daughter of Francis Spaight of Derry Castle, County Tipperary on 17th August 1848. He died 26th February 1901 and she died 31st December leaving

a.                            Sarah, born 1802 and married Sir Henry Fairfax, 1st baronet of St Boswells, Roxburgh, N.B. (?New Brunswick), Colonel 1st Battalion, on 19th December 1851 and died childless on 23rd June 1879 and buried at Everton.

b.                            Caroline, born 1814 and married Rev. William Rooper, MA, of Abbots Ripton, Hunts. and died 1839 aged 25 leaving one son.

c.                            William Trevor Rooper, Captain in the Rifle Brigade who died 1874.

d.                            Louisa, married on 4th September 1832 Thomas Astell St Quintin of Hatley Park, Gamlingay. He became Colonel in 10th Hussars. He died in 1876 and she died 8th June 1898 leaving children.

e.                            Harriet, married Captain Edward Pardoe, 15th Regiment and died in 1895 leaving .

                                                                                                                                 i.                        Edward

                                                                                                                               ii.                        George Astell, Lieutenant in 15th Regiment, killed at the battle of Ulundi, Zululand, August 1879





(Burke’s Landed Gentry)




Roger Astell was born in 1630 and died in 1697.

William Astell was born in 1672 and in 1713 bought from William Carey (the last representative of the Carey family) considerable property in Biggleswade, Northill, Blunham, Mogerhanger, Beeston, Tempsford and Hail Weston (Bedfordshire, Huntingdonshire). His daughter by his first wife was

Elizabeth , born 1763 who married first Owen Thomas Bromsall of Northill and second Humphrey Monoux of Sandy, 2nd son of Sir Philip Monoux, 4th baronet of Wooton, Beds. On 12th May 1747 and was buried at Wooton.

He then married Mary, daughter of John Bagnall of Early Court, Berks. She died 15th May 1753 and was buried at Everton and he died 15th October 1741 leaving

1.      Richard Astell, his heir, born March 1717 and became Lieutenant-Colonel of the Huntingdonshire militia, JP for Bedford and Huntingdon and DL. His first marriage was to his cousin Sarah, daughter of  John Bagnall, of Early Court. She died 15th June 1767 and was buried at Everton.

He then married Hannah, daughter of Rev. Benjamin Kennett, Vicar of Bradford, Yorkshire on 23rd May 1770. Richard died without an heir on 23rd January 1777 and was buried in Everton. The Astell family being thus extinct in the male line passed by entail to Richard Astell’s nephew, William Thornton, eldest son of Margaret Thornton and grandson of William Astell, who died in 1741.

Hannah then married Thomas Pownall, MP and Governor, Commander-in-Chief and Vice-Admiral of Massechusetts and South Carolina and Lieutenant Governor of New Jersey. She outlived him but they had no children. She died on 5th January 1807 and was buried in Everton.

2. Margaret married Godfrey Thornton of Clapham, a director of the Bank of England on 12th April 1733 and died 2nd May 1753 and was buried at Everton. He was 4th son of John Thornton of Hull, died 5th December 1751, aged 50. They had three children

a.      William, born in 1733 inherited Astell estates in Everton and elsewhere in 1877 according to the will of his grandfather William,

b.      Robert Thornton of Kensington born 9th January 1743-5, married firstly his cousin Sarah in September 1763, second daughter of William Thornton of Hull. She died 8th June 1764.

                                                                                                  i.      Richard, born 13th May 1764 and died 23rd February 1774

He inherited the Moggerhanger estate in 1777 from his uncle Richard Astell of Everton. Lord of the Manor of Moggerhanger, Chalton & South Mills. He then married Elizabeth, daughter of Jospeh Warner of Hatton Garden in February 1778. Sold the estate to his brother Godfrey in 1790. Buried in Everton. She died in 1846 and he died in 1885 childless.

c.      Godfrey born 16th October 1737. Colonel in army and Lieutenant Colonel in the 1st regiment Granadier Guards and became a director of the Bank of England. On 31st July 1766 he married Jane Godin, daughter and co-heir of Stephen Peter Godin of Cullands Grove, Middlesex. and lived at Moggerhanger from 1790 until he died on 5th November 1805. She died in 1811.

                                                                                                  i.      Stephen Thornton, born 14th August 1767, lived at Moggerhanger House. Army Captain and Lieutenant-Colonel in the Grenadier Guards. Connected to the Royal Exchange assurance in 1799 and a member of the Russian Company, the London Dock Company in 1818 and the East India Company when William Thornton/Astell was Chairman. He was a director of the Bank of England. 1802 – 1820 and High Sherriff of Bedfordshire in 1814. Married Mary, second daughter of Thomas Littledale of Rotterdam on 27th February 1794. She died in 1846 and he died in 1850.

1.      Harry Thornton was born 21st March 1812 and lived at Kempston Grange. He became a JP and High Sheriff of Bedfordshire in 1873 and a JP and DL for Buckinghamshire. He married Caroline Margaret, daughter of John Christie on 3rd February 1812. She died on 26th March 1881 and he died in 1885.

a.      Charles Stuart, born 4th March 1844 of Moggerhanger. Married Emily Harriet, daughter of Richard Selby Lownes of Elmers, Bucks in 1877. He died in October 1878 and she died 20th March 1939 leaving one unmarried daughter.

b.      Harry Godfrey, born 16th October 1845, of Kempston Grange, Bedfordshire. Lieutenant-Colonel of the Grenadier Guards. On 9th April 1874 he married Lucy Jemina, daughter of Francis Leslie Pym, of Hasells Hall.. He died 18th September 1892 and she died 6th May 1911 leaving:

                                                                                                                                                                          i.      Lucy Eleanor, born 13th July 1879. Married Rev. Edward Yarde Orlebar, MA, of Hinwick on 30th April 1902 and died 1st January 1952. leaving issue. He died 16th July 1949.

                                                                                                                                                                        ii.      Mary Caroline, born 13th August 1880 and married her cousin Charles Edward Thornton OBE in 1914 and died 22nd February 1960.

c.      Arthur Stephen, born 30th July 1850, JP for Bedfordshire. Died unmarried on 14th May 1913.

d.      Caroline Mary, married Herbert Sartorias of Weekley and Rushden on 29th December 1874 and died 30th October 1935. He died 30th August 1900.

e.      Helen Charlotte married 16th Baron St John of Bletsoe on 4th February 1869 and died 23rd March 1909. He died 10th May 1912 leaving issue

f.        Gertrude Emily married James Gray Duberly, late RN, JP on 10th February 1881 and died in March 1898. He died 13th January 1926 leaving issue.

2.      Edward Thornton was born 3rd November 1814. Married Mary Jane, daughter of Rev. Jacob Henry Brooke Mountain, DD, of the Heath, Hemel Hempstead on 3rd April 1845. She died on 24th April 1875 and he died in 1883 leaving:

a.      Edward Brooke Thornton, born 16th March 1846. Educated at Cheltenham. Captain 49th Regiment. Married Agnes, daughter of Major Daniel McCartney, 16th Regiment of Coylton, Ayrshire on 12th August 1874. He died 10th September 1899 and she died 14th January 1925 leaving issue.

b.      William Brooke Thornton, born 30th October 1875, educated at Shrewsbury and R.M.C. Brigadier General of Royal Berkshire regiment. Served in South African War 1899 – 1902 (despatches twice, Queen’s medal with three clasps. King’s medal with two clasps), and in World War 1 1914-1918 (despatches DSO in1915) DL and JP, High Sheriff 1934.On 4th November 1913 married Ada Millicent Julia, eldest daughter of Colonel Alexander Fraser. She died 14th April 1933 and he died 13th July 1962 leaving

                                                                                                                                                                          i.      Godfrey William, born 24th February 1915 and lived at St John’s Moggerhanger. Educated at Stowe and R.M.C, Sandhurst. Major Royal Northumberland Fusliers, Served in World War II 1939-45. Married Barbara Marie Therese, daughter of Frederick Hugh Warren, of Birdpur, India on 21st September 1940 and retired in 1961. Had

1.      Julia Stephanie, born 29th June 1950

c.      Claude Frederick Thornton, born 18th February 1877. Major Wiltshire regiment served in South African War 1899 – 1902 (severely wounded, Queen’s medal (three clasps), King’s medal (two clasps), West Africa 1906, wounded. Married Eva Winifred Hilda, daughter of Colonel Hugh Howell Thurlow on 2nd February 1907. Fought in World War I 1914-1921 (despatches, three medals and clasp). He died 23rd February 1949 and she died 22nd May 1959 leaving

                                                                                                                                                                          i.      Victor Brook, born 21st January 1908 and died unmarried 6th July 1935.

                                                                                                                                                                        ii.      Guy James, born 15th September 1916 and lived at Bourne House, Winterbourne

                                                                                                                                                                      iii.      Mary Elizabeth Suzanne, born 16th January 1914, married Lieutenant-Colonel John Nevill Elliot of Upton House, Bishops Hull, Taunton, son of late Lieutenant-Colonel John Nevill Elliot, CBE and had issue.

d.      Charles Edward, born 7th November 1879, married his cousin Mary Caroline in 1914, daughter of Colonel Harry  Godfrey Thornton. Major in Northumberland Fusiliers,  OBE in 1919. JP for Bedfordshire. He died 1st October 1953 and she died on 22nd February 1960 without children.

3.      Armine Littledale born 17th January 1849 and died childless on 11th January 1906. 

                                                                                                ii.      William

                                                                                              iii.      Claude George, born 20th January 1776, Married Frances Anne, 2nd daughter of Samuel Smith, MP, of Wood Hall, Hertfordshire, on 11th April 1806. Lived at Marden Hill, Herts. High Sheriff 1838 and died 4th August 1866 leaving

1.      George Smith, born 20th November 1808. Married Agnes, on 16th October 1839, daughter of Rev. Henry Pole, of Altham Place, Berks. They lived atf Marden Hill, Herts. JP. For Herts. He died in May 1867. (She married secondly John Henry Blagrave, of Calcot Park, Berks. She died childless on 27th January 1895 and he died 23rd June 1895)

a.      Godfrey Henry, born 16th August 1856.

2.      Anna Maria, married Thomas Vigne of Woodford on 20th March 1800.

3.      Almeria married William Phillimore, of Deacon’s Hill, Herts.

d.      Charles, born 19th January 1741-2. Became a London merchant. Died unmarried 13th May 1764

e.      John, born 30th May 1750, also a London merchant, died unmarried 28th December 1777.

2.      Frances died unmarried 9th May 1764 and was buried at Everton





Burke’s Landed gentry, pp.51-52


John Foster lived in Biggleswade and then moved to Sandye Place from 1865 – 1891


Tetworth estate owned by the Duncombes, of Waresley. In 1924 it was owned by Miss Duncombe and rented the Hall to Mrs Orlebar. In 1936 the tenant was Leonard Bower. A Miss Orlebar lived at Charnock’s House, Church Street in Gamlingay.

Orlebar was a Bedfordshire merchant family that lived at Hinwick House (for sale in January 2004 for £2,500,000).


VCH states that the manor of Everton was conveyed to Sir David? Ashburnham of Sussex in 1675. After this it was restored to Philip Story and Allen Story of Chesterton, Cambridge who were dealing with it in 1693.


To be added somewhere!!


3.      Somerset Charles Godfrey Fairfax Astell, born 1856, Lieutenant in the North Staffordshire Regiment.

a.      Florence,

b.      Henrietta,

c.      Evelyn &

d.      Beatrice


There is also a reference to Godfrey Thornton (1795 – 1857), second son of Stephen Thornton, christened Godfrey after the first son who lived less than a year, inherited Moggerhanger in 1850 when his father died but he died in 1857, aged 62. The other sons had already established themselves so the estate was sold out of the family.


Stephen’s eighth son William (1808 – 1864) built St John’s Moggerhanger in about 1850 after St John’s in Newfoundland where he served as a grenadier guard. The lodge was built in 1861.  (Richards, R. ‘The Thontons of Moggerhanger’, January 1999)


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