The Tichborne Family
[The dates of birth, deaths and marriage mentioned have largely been taken from secondary sources, cross-checked but without consulting primary sources. The family trees shown have been built using FindMyPast.co.uk]
The Tichbornes were an ancient family based at Tichborne Park, close to Winchester in Hampshire. They claimed to trace their line from Anglo-Saxon times. During the turbulent years of the English Reformation and into the Civil War, the Tichborne Family remained staunch Catholics, as had been many in and around Winchester.
There had been inter-marriage with the White family in the northeast of Hampshire when Sir Nicholas Tichborne married Ann White, a daughter of Robert White of South Warnborough. Their son, also called Nicholas, served in the Parliament of Henry VIII in 1553.
Benjamin Tichborne was the second son who succeeded to the head of the family at Tichborne Park on the death of his elder brother in 1571.
His quiet Catholicism tolerated during Elizabeth’s reign, Benjamin secured favour and protection from the Stuart kings. As High Sheriff of Hampshire, he had arranged the coronation of James I & VI; he was later made a baronet.
Sir Benjamin’s two eldest sons, Richard and Walter, also married into the White family. They wed Ellen and Mary, respectively, the co-heirs of Sir Robert White, the son of Sir John White of Aldershot, from the junior branch of the White family of merchants which was based in Farnham.
Sir John was referred to in his brother Henry’s will as John the Younger. His other brother, John the Elder, had followed an academic career at Winchester, becoming Headmaster of Winchester College; in later years he would be the last Catholic Bishop of Winchester, removed from office and then dying in 1560.
Sir Robert White had added to the considerable freehold and copyhold estate amassed by his father at Aldershot, Tongham, Frimley and elsewhere. Under the custom of the Crondall Hundred, with the prior death of his son, his estate was shared between his two daughters.
When Richard’s wife Ellen died in 1606, the estate in Aldershot passed to her sister Mary, the wife of Walter. There is a memorial erected by Sir Richard Tichborne to his first wife, Ellen within St Michael’s Church in Aldershot.
Both Richard and Walter had been knighted by James I of England in recognition of the assistance given him by Sir Walter Tichborne.
On the death of Walter’s wife Mary, the estates at Aldershot and elsewhere passed to their son Francis. This junior line of the Tichborne Family extended down to Henry, the son of James, the latter, although born in Aldershot, known as James Tichborne of Frimley. This was the Henry Tichborne who would inherit the baronetcy and estates at Tichborne Park when his cousins in the senior line of Richard died without male heir.
Sir Benjamin’s eldest son Richard had been knighted at the Charter House on 11 May 1603. In 1604 Richard became keeper of Winchester Castle jointly with his father and this became his residence.
Sir Richard had married again, to Susan Waller, and it was from their son Henry, born in 1624, that the senior line of the family would descend.
At the death of his father in 1629, Richard moved to Tichborne Park as the 2nd baronet and head of the senior line. [**]
Richard Tichborne outwardly conformed to the Church of England. However, his career at Court was damaged when he was denounced in the House of Commons by Sir Daniel Norton on 27 April 1624 for the recusancy of his second wife and children.
He was well regarded by the King but by 1635 he and his brother Walter owed thousands of pounds and had to be given royal protection. He personally managed to stay neutral during the Civil War.
His son, Sir Henry was openly a Catholic and took to the field in to support of the the Stuart King Charles, captured, imprisoned and released in an exchange of prisoners. He did not fare well during the interregnum during which he inherited both the baronetcy and huge debts from his father.
Henry turned the fortunes of the estate around, seeming to celebrate this in the commission of a painting of the distribution of the Tichborne Dole in 1670. This is associated with the story of the Tichborne Curse.
Henry died in 1689, the baronetcy then inherited by his eldest surviving son, Henry Joseph Tichborne. This was coincident with the declaration by the Westminster Parliament to give the throne of England to William of Orange and his wife Mary, the daughter of James II, the latter having fled into exile. The family found themselves increasingly on the wrong side of history.
Henry Joseph Tichborne, the 4th baronet, lived to the age of 80, outliving his unmarried sons. At his death, the estate at Tichborne Park was put into trust. The baronetcy passed to his younger brother John who had become a Jesuit priest.
At the death in 1748 of the 5th baronet, Father John Hermengil, the estate and the title passed to the junior line of the family, to the great grandson of Sir Walter who had made his home in Aldershot.
The records of the Crondall Court confirm that his son Benjamin was admitted to the (Sir) Walter’s copyholdings at his death in 1640. Benjamin died in 1660, the freehold and copyhold estates passed to Francis, who was known as a merchant of London and Frimley, and thus to (his son) White Tichborne in 1671 and to (his son) James in 1700.
Baptised at St Michael’s Church in May 1674, James was referred to as ‘of Frimley’, also opting in his will to be buried in Frimley Chapel with his late father.
Between 1706 and his death, he began a programme of selling and mortgaging his properties in Aldershot. That included ‘surrendering’ property to Charles Viner, the husband of Raleigh Weekes, a direct descendant of Amphillis Tichborne, the sister of Sir Richard and Sir Walter. He also sold the manor of Tongham in the 1720s, having mortgaged that several times.
Naming his wife Mary and his eldest sons as executors, the sums he bequeathed were dependent upon the return from sale of leasehold property in London and Middlesex, and if not from further sale of some additional lands in Frimley.
James’ son Henry Tichborne (born 1710) would not have been a wealthy man at the death of his father in 1732/35. That, however, would change.
In 1748, Henry Tichborne of Frimley became the 6th baronet, Sir Henry Tichborne and moved to the family seat at Tichborne Park. Not only would this have represented a turnaround in the fortunes of the junior branch of the family, it also confirmed a shift of attention and wealth away from the area.
Sir Henry also benefited from his marriage Mary Blount, the daughter of Mary Agnes and thereby the granddaughter of the Henry Joseph Tichborne, the 4th baronet. The marriage was consummated by the birth in 1756 of another Tichborne named Henry.
Becoming the 7th baronet at the death of his father in 1785, this Sir Henry Tichborne then sold the family estate of Frimley Manor in 1789, thereby confining the name of Tichborne locally to the folklore associated with the Tichborne Dole. This Sir Henry Tichborne was also the baronet who ended the Tichborne Dole in 1796, thereby seemingly acting to trigger Lady Mabella’s curse, that the name of Tichborne would be lost, as a generation of seven sons was followed by one of seven daughters.
For more of this go to the story of the Tichborne Curse.
Edited on 24 February 2023:
** No evidence has been found that Richard Tichborne built a mansion as sub-manor at the edge of Aldershot in 1629.