Little Mitton Hall: a Description and History

Preliminary: it was customary in the early middle ages to quote dates on official documents as the year of a king's reign, Thus the date 7 Edward II refers to the 7th. year of the reign of Edward II. Since the reign of a king did not generally commence on January 1st., there is usually some ambiguity in translating these dates to calendar years. So 7 Edward II refers to either 1314 or 1315. I have generally (but inconsistently) quoted both forms in the material below.

The Manor of Little Mitton was acquired by the Catterall family on the marriage of Alan de Catterall (died 1321-2) to Lora (Loretta) Pontchardon, daughter and heiress of Richard Pontchardon and his wife, Beatrice de Blackburn, of Little Mitton in about 1300. There is no trace of the original Hall of Little Mitton. The present Hall was built in the reign on Henry VII (1485-1509), probably on the same site, by Alan's direct descendant Ralph. The Catterall brass in the Little Mitton chantry (now the north chapel) of Whalley Parish Church of St. Mary and All Saints depicts Ralph, his wife Elizabeth and their many children.

Little Mitton Hall is noted as a fine example of early Tudor architecture of the time of Henry VII, and the Rev. T. D. Whitaker in his 'History of Whalley' in 1807 gave a description of the Hall, and a ground plan as it then existed. See Vol. II, p.25-6 and p.568.

"The present [ca. 1810] house of Little Mitton is a fine specimen of the style of domestic architecture which prevailed in the reign on Henry VII. and the beginning of that of his son. It was most probably the work of Ralph Catterall. The basement story is of stone, and part of the upper story of wood: the posterns, however, descending perpendicularly to the ground, and resting on pedestals of stone. The hall, with its embayed window, screen, and gallery over it, is one of the finest Gothic rooms I have ever seen in a private house. The roof is ceiled with oak in wrought compartments, the principals turned in the form of obtuse Gothic arches, the pasterns deeply fluted, their capitals, where they receive the principals, enriched with carving, the walls covered with wainscot, and the bay window adorned with armorial bearings in painted glass. Besides the royal arms, quarterly France and England, here is the following shield, Quarterly, 1 and 4, Argent, a cross and bordure engrailed sable [Holcraft]; 2nd. Argent, a squirrel gules [Horton]; 3rd. Argent,an eagle sable and a child or [Culcheth.] The present porch is of later date, the original entrance having been within the screen. The screen itself is extremely rich, but evidently of a more modern style than the rest of the woodwork. Annexed to these are the following cyphers. in a character belonging to the reign of Edward VI. with which the pattern of the wainscot exactly synchronizes, D.H.T.H.T.H. Now, these can have no reference to the Catteralls, who were owners of the house at the period to which I have ascribed the screen; and I can frame no other hypothesis concerning them than that they belong to the Holts of Grislehurst, and have been brought from thence in the last century [i.e the 18th], as the owners of that estate in the reign of Edward VI. were Sir Thomas Holt and Dorothy his wife, with whom these three cyphers exactly accord. I cannot take leave of this venerable room without a wish that it may never fall into hands who have less respect for it than was felt by its late owner, and that no painter's brush or carpenter's hammer may ever come near it excepting to arrest the progress of otherwise inevitable decay.

In the back yard is a stone coffin, intended for the reception of a very slender body, and said to have been dug up in the garden, a probable proof that, like many manor houses, it anciently had a chapel.

The situation of Little Mitton is a remarkable instance of the predilection of our ancestors for a southern aspect, to attain which they have turned the front of the house against a marsh overgrown with alders, and have neglected one of the most delicious landscapes in Ribblesdale, which opens to the North and West."

In later editions of Whitaker's 'Whalley' the editors of the last (4th.) have added to this description the following footnotes:

1. [When the Hall of Little Mitton was purchased by the late John Aspinall, Esq. a great portion was rebuilt and extensive additions were made. The old walls of timber have now disappeared. The entrance hall, with its fine oaken roof and curious screen, is still entire; but the medallion heads are a well known ornament of the Tudor period, and not, as Whitaker imagined, "portraits." The present exterior is of picturesque appearance. The front is broken with gabled projections containing tall mullioned windows. Little Mitton is now [ca. 1860] the property of Ralph John Aspinall, Esq. of Standen Hall, grandson of the purchaser. It is occupied as a farmhouse, and celebrated for the excellence of the cheese made there.]

Whitaker's chapter on 'Early Tudor Domestic Architecture'(Vol.II, p.567-8) gives the more technical architectural details:

"The style of architecture in wood evidently kept pace with that in stone; and when, in the time of henry VII. the arch in stone-work became broader and more depressed in the centre, a corresponding change was introduced in our ancient timber buildings. Wooden pasterns, indeed, still descended to the ground, but they were now become perpendicular, and square, and fluted. from the top of these, elegant and ornamental springers received horizontal roof-beams, while all was still open to the roof above, and the rafters continued to rest on a wall-plate. Thus the idea of a complete frame, independently of the walls, was still preserved; but the low basement story of stone, sometimes to be observed in our most ancient buildings, now advanced to the square, though the cross-pikes are generally of wood. This precisely describes the hall of Little Mitton ..."

Although the present hall was only constructed in about 1490, the earlier recorded history of the Manor of Little Mitton dates from the Norman Conquest in 1066, and Saxon records of the area go back to at least 798.

The first mention of Little Mitton was its grant by charter of Robert de Lacy, in 3 Henry I (1103) to Ralph le Rous who is presumed to be the founder of the family who later took the name of 'de Little Mitton'. Next, there is an undated charter of about the time of Richard I, where Sir Ralph de Little Mitton appears as a witness. In another deed of about the same time, Roger, son of Henry de Whalley, granted one bovate of land to Adam, son of Stephen de Little Mitton. Again about the same time there occurs William, son of Orme de Little Mitton.

The transition from this 'de Little Mitton' family to the Pontchardon family is unclear (if, indeed, they were not the same family who had adopted the 'Ponte Cardonis' name), but John de Pontchardon of Little Mitton had a son Richard who married Beatrice de Blackburn, the daughter of Adam de Blackburn who was living 1271, and who held of her own right, land in Wiswall, Billington and Blackburn. Lora or Loretta, the daughter and heiress of Richard and Beatrice married Alan de Catterall, bringing with her the Manor of Little Mitton,

Loretta que fuit uxor Alani de Caterale que held in parva Mitton i. carucatam terr pro iii. pater unius feodi Militis.

and the Catterall family moved its primary residence from Catterall, near Garstang to Little Mitton.

The Manor of Little Mitton apparently passed initially, at least partially, to Alan's father, Richard (living 16 Edward I (1288), before descending entirely to Alan:

Heres Lore de Katerale tenet i. carucatum terre in parva Mitton unde viii car. faciunt feodum i. militis.

But in the time of Henry Duke of Lancaster (....)

Ricardus de Caterhalle tenet de dicto Duce xij partem i. feodi militis in parva Mitton quam Johannes de Pynechardon quondam tenuit.

Alan, who also held lands in Catterall, Goosnargh and Wrightington, and Lora had (at least) three sons, the eldest, (Richard de Catterall, aged 13 in 1321-22, died 20 February 1381), who married Isabella, who held in dower a third part of the Manor of Goosnargh, from where the Catteralls originated, and succeeded to the Manor on the death of Alan in 15 Edward II (1321-2). Isabella was still living in 1397.

Lora with her two younger sons, Ralph and John, drove away the Abbot of Whalley and his servants when they went to Little Mitton to collect tythes. This was the subject of a long suit between the Abbey and the Catteralls, but no outcome appears on record.

It appears from a consultaion addressed to the Official of the Archdeacon of Chester, of which a copy is preserved in Add. MS. 10374, f. 90 b, that Lora de Catterale and her sons Ralph and John drove away the Abbott of Whalley and his servants when they came to collect and carry the "garbas decimales de quodam campo vocato Kirkefurlong," in Little Mitton, and that the said Lora refused to pay the tithes of hay from certain meadows called "Kolmes et Oxenlache infra fines et limiites eccleslie de Whalley per non modicum tempus." Several writs, and a pleading belonging to this case, are also copied into the same MS. ff.. 104 b. to 106 b. It does not, however, give the result of the suit, which seems to have been carried on in 1338 and 1339. The pleading is undated.
Lore que fuit uxor Alani de Katerale (f. 106b)
Et Lora per Rad. de Caterale attornatum suum venit, etc. (ibid).
Lore que fuit uxor Alani de Caterale (f. 105 b), 12 July, 1339.

From Richard and Isabella, the Manor descended to their son Adam and his wife Katherine. Adam held the Manor of Little Mitton, a third of the Manor of Catterall, and lands in Goosnargh and elsewhere. Adam died 28 February 1397, passing the Manor of Little Mitton to his son Richard de Catterall who was then aged 15, and the first of a series of four Richards to hold the estate. Richard apparently died in 1404, leaving a son, also Richard who was living in 1438-9

The next (third) Richard, who died 20 May 1487, held the Manors of Catterall, Little Mitton and also lands in Goosnargh and Wrightington. His son and heir, Richard (the fourth) was aged 30 in 1487 when he succeeded to the manors of Little Mitton, Catterall and Bulsnape-in-Goosnargh. His eldest son, Lawrence died without issue 31 January, 11 Henry VIII and the estates passed to a second son Ralph Catterall who was married to Elizabeth, the daughter of James Butler of Rawcliffe, near Catterall (there is also a Rawcliffe near Little Mitton). His daughter Elizabeth married first William Tempest of Broughton Hall in Yorkshire, and secondly Nicholas Towneley, a youger son of the Towneleys of Towneley. Together they started the family of Towneley of Royle, and produced a son, Nicholas, who was chaplain to henry VIII, and who built Christchuch College in Oxford (it was originally named Cardinal College.)

Little Mitton Hall was built in about 1485-1495 by Ralph Catterall, Lord of Catterall and Little Mitton, but the Catterall family had held land in the manor of Little Mitton since 7 Edward II (1313-14) when Alan de Catterall married Lora de Pontchardon and acquired the estate by marriage settlement. The Catterall family made Little Mitton their primary residence whist retaining lands in Catterall, Goosnargh, Wrightington, Dilworth, Dinckley and several other localities. A cadet branch of the Catterall family was also possessed of the manors of Halton, Rathmell and Giggleswick over the period 1400-1650. In 21 Edward IV (1482-3) Ralph rented the manor of Little Mitton for 10 pounds per annum. In 4 Edward II (1310-11) Alan held one caraucate of land in Little Mitton as an eighth part of a knight's fee for 10 pence per annum.

Ralph and his wife Elizabeth and their twenty children are portrayed on the Catterall Brass in the Parish church at Whalley

The many children of Ralph and Elizabeth included six other sons known to have survived, but of whom there is little record: James, William, Thomas, Gyles, Richard, Ellys and Robert. Of the daughters, it is known that Ellen and/or Alice and Agnes were living in 1517, That Isabel married Thomas Coulthurst of Edisford near Clitheroe, Margaret married Anthony Talbot of Houghton in Yorkshire, Grace married a Nowell of Read, another sister married a Malham of Bradley in Yorkshire, and Katherine married successively Henry Shuttleworth of Hacking, John Hoghton of Pendleton, and Nicholas Battersby of Battersby. Of the latter sequence, Henry Shuttleworth is referred to in the seating arrangements of Whalley Parish church (see below), and John Hoghton was related to the Hoghtons of Hoghton Tower where legend has it that King James knighted a loin of beef for its excellence, producing the sirloin cut.

Whitaker in a rather sour passage wrote

In this church repose the ancient Deans of Whalley, the Delaleghs, the Nowells, the Catteralls, the Sherburnes, the Asshetons, all without a single known memorial. Such has been the unhappy frugality of our ancestors with respect to sepulchral decorations, while the gross and misplaced extravagance of their funeral banquets often devoured in a day what might have purchased a tribute of affection and a specimen of art which could have remained for centuries.

However, the Catteralls of this era were also remembered in the less durable memorial of stained glass in the same church as evidenced by some notes made in 1569 by Thomas Talbot, which Whitaker did not see. (Cotton MS. Vesp. D. xvii. f. 41.)

In a window in Whalley Churche: Orate pro animabus Nicolai Tounley et uxorum qui istam fenestram fieri fect a. 1511.
The arms of Tounley in the same window.
In another window of the same churche: Orate pro animabus Rogeri Nowel armigeri et Gratiae uxoris ejus et pro bono statu Johannis Nowel primogeniti Rogeri, cum fratribus et sororibus suis, qui istam fenetram fieri fecerunt annon Domini 1510.
He hath 7 sonnes kneling by hym, and she hath 7 doghters by her, whereof two were married.
The feild ar. 3 coppes covered S. for and in the name of Nowell of Read.
The feild ar. a fesse sable thre mollets abve the fesse sable, borne in the name of Tounley, whose doghter I suppose the forsaid Grace to be.
In the churche window of Whalley: Orate pro animabus Franscisci Paslew et Alicia uxoris sue, qui istam fenestram fieri fecit anno Domini 1510. Whose armes are the feild ar. a fesse sable charged with a cressant ar. betwene three mollets sable persed of the first.
In a window of the same churche: Orate pro animabus Radulphi Caterall armigeri et Elizabeth uxoris sue, ac Johannis Cateral et Catherine uxoris sue.
The feild b. 3 lozenges or, perced of the first.

In the time of Thomas Catterall, and after the dissolution, there was a considerable dispute about the seating arrangements in Whalley Parish church, and this was resolved by the pronouncement of Sir John Towneley who made it clear that his own family and their relatives by marriage (including the Catteralls) had absolute preference at the front of the church, and that the rest of the population of the area could sort themselves out by getting to church early.

My man Shuttleworth of Hacking made this form, and here I will sit when I come, and my cousin Nowell may make one behind me if he please and my sonne Sherburne shall make one on the other side, and Mr Caterall another behind him; and for the residue the use shall be, first come first speed, and that will make the proud wives of Whalley rise betimes to come to church.

This award appears to have been made in or just before 1534. Henry Shuttleworth of Hacking ('my man') was a prominent landowner residing at Hacking hall on the banks of the Ribble near Whalley, just across the river from Little Mitton Hall. His wife was Katherine Catterall, daughter of Ralph and Elizabeth. Sir John himself was married to Anne Catterall, another daughter of Ralph and Elizabeth, and his daughter Jane had married first Thomas Sherburne, then Ralph Shuttleworth of Hacking. Sir John's father's sister, Grace, had married Roger Nowell, and Grace Catterall, yet another daughter of Ralph and Elizabeth had married another Nowell. All very much a family affair!

It appears that this decision to keep the seating 'within the family' did not please everybody in the neighborhood, and on 1 October 1610, a later Roger Nowell, Sheriff of Lancashire, was writing a long and rambling letter to the Bishop of Chester complaining that Ralphe Assheton of Leaver was using his pew.

Ralph Catterall's son John succeeded him and was aged 36 in 1514. He married Katherine Langley, daughter of John Langley of Agecroft,and she received the manors of Catterall and Little Mitton for life as part of the marriage settlement. John, dying before his wife, was not posessed of the manors, but they did pass to his son Thomas on the the death of Katherine, and the direct Catterall line continued.

John's son Thomas married Margaret, daughter of Nicholas Tempest of Gradyl and Baghall in Yorkshire (a collateral branch of the tempests of Broughton.) Thus, after the acquisition of the Manor of Little Mitton by Alan de Catterall, the estate had descended in direct line through the Catterall family for 10 generations from Alan to Richard to Adam to Richard to Richard to Richard to Richard to Ralph to John to Thomas, but here the line ended with a historical puzzle. Thomas had a son James, who was aged 6 in 1560, and would have been expected to continue the direct line of descent. However, in that year (1560) Thomas passed the Manor of Little Mitton to his fifth and youngest daughter, Dorothy and her husband Robert Sherburne. Thomas and his son James, who eventually died without issue, were both to live on, Thomas until 1579, at which date James was aged 25 and Robert Sherburne had died, passing Little Mitton to his son, Thomas, and Dorothy had re-married to her second husband Richard Braddyl, of the family who purchased Whalley Abbey from the crown after the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII. the historical puzzle is: why should Thomas, who had a son and heir ready to succeed him, break the tradition and pass the manor of Little Mitton out of the Catterall family, almost 20 years before his death? One possible explanation might have been that James had some medical condition that would prevent him succeeding. However, and perhaps more pertinently, this break also occurred in a time of major political and clerical upheaval - the dissolution of the monasteries, the reversion of church property to the crown, the outlawing of the church of Rome, and finally, locally, the purchase of Whalley Abbey and its grounds by the Asshetons and Braddyls in 1555. This must have been a time of great stress and threat for local landowners, especially those who remained sympathetic to the old religion, and held estates like Little Mitton contiguous to the old ecclesiastical estates and their new owners.

The dissolution of the abbeys started in earnest in 1532, although Canterbury had complained of interference as early as 1512, when the constitutional independence of the Church was overthrown in Parliament. 1534 saw the real act of supremacy when it was acknowledged that Henry 'justly and rightfully is and ought to be the Supreme Head of the Church of England' and enacted that he shall be so 'taken, accepted, and regarded'. In 1535, Cromwell issued commissions for the evaluation of the ecclesiatical properties in England, resulting in the production six monmths later of the Valor Ecclesiasticus. Suppression of the monasteries started almost immediately with the smaller establishments, and although Parliament passed a bill in 1536 that only the lesser houses were corrupt, the major houses were clearly under threat. In the second half of 1536, the north of England, and Lancashire and Yorkshire in particular, produced the rebellion known as the Pilgrimage of Grace, lead by Robert Aske. The rebellion came close to success in October, but collapsed in December, struggling on into January and February of 1537. Despite the promise of a Royal pardon, Aske was executed at York in mid 1537. The first of the major abbeys to submit was Furness in Lancashire, early in 1537. In 1538 Cromwell's commissions began another evaluation of outstanding ecclesiastical properties, and in 1539, a act of Parliament secured to the crown all properties resulting from the dissolution. By 1540 the monasteries were gone and the Royal income had increased by 100,000 pounds per annum - almost doubled.

At Whalley Abbey, John Paslew, of a local family of Wiswall near Whalley became its last Abbot in 1507. At the time of the dissolution, it appears that Paslew was a moderate, preaching non-violence (when the rebels under Nicholas Tempest of Bashall came to Whalley Abbey in October 1536, they were only admitted after they threatened to use fire to gain entrance.) In contrast, the monks at Sawley Abbey nearby were much more active and rebellious, and after an earlier act of dissolution, Henry VIII instructed the Earl of Derby to 'cause the Abbot and certain of the chief monks to be hanged upon long pieces of timber ... out of the steeple'. Doubtless this influenced Paslew. Nevertheless, Paslew refused to submit or take the oath, and was tried at Lancaster on 9 March 1537 where he pleaded guilty to five charges of treason and was executed the next day at Lancaster. Paslew's plees of guilty were fortunate for the crown, as the evidence against him was not strong. the earl of Sussex wrote to Cromwell after the trial:

"The accomplishment of the matter of Whalley was God's ordinance, else, seeing my Lord Derby is steward of the house, and so many gentlemen the abbott's fee'd men, it would have been hard to find anything against him in these parts"

Tried with Paslew were four other monks, two of Whalley (William Haydock and John Estgate) and two of Sawley (Henry Banastre and Richard Estgate.) One of the charges against Paslew was that of providing shelter for the monks of Sawley. Richard Estgate and William Haydock were also hanged. It appears that Haydock was returned to Whalley to be hanged, and this appears to be the source of the legend that Paslew himself was hanged at Whalley on the hill just across the River Ribble from the Abbey. The Earl of Sussex then went to Whalley on the King's behalf to take possession of the abbey and its effects. The Prior of Whalley Abbey, Christopher Smith, became a chantry priest at the Parish Church, he was later referred to as Sir Christopher Smith, and his grave slab can be seen on the floor of the chapel at the east end of the north aisle. Another monk, Thomas Holden became Curate of Haslingden until 1574. There was a Father Ralph Catterall listed as a monk in 1529 at the Abbey, presumably still resident at the time of the dissolution, but his fate and his origin in the Catterall family are unknown.

There is one further reference to Catteralls at Whalley Abbey, a monk sufficiently senior in the abbey to merit a separate line in the accounts

De mensa Ric Caterall ...

(I also found a reference to a Father Catterall accompanying Abbot Paslew on a visit to (I think) Furness Abbey, but I have lost the reference. This was probably Fr. Ralph.)

John Braddyl of Brockhole and Richard Assheton of Lever, near Bolton purchased the Abbey and the grounds from the crown in 1553 for the total sum of 2,151 pounds, three shillings and ninepence. Braddyl had been bailiff of the Abbey and its properties since the dissolution. Assheton took the abbey buildings as his share, and later bought out Braddyl. This branch of the Asshetons made Whalley their chief residence, they dismantled the Abbot's house and built a new house for themselves on the foundations. This house survives today as the Conference House.

In a final twist of fortune, the house and grounds returned to the church (albeit the Church of England) when they were bought by the diocese of Manchester in 1923. in 1926, the diocese of Manchester split to create the new diocese of Blackburn, and the property returned to the control of the local church.

Thomas Catterall died in January 1579, his youngest child and only son James eventually dying without issue. His estates, including the Manor of Little Mitton, and Little Mitton Hall itself, were divided amongst his daughters (Inq. Post Mortem 21 Elizabeth, 1578-9): Ann, aged 40, who married Henry Towneley of Barnside, Colne; Elizabeth, aged 38, who married Thomas Proctor of Bulsnape; Katherine, aged 35, who married Thomas Strickland of Westmorland; Margaret, aged 34, having out-lived her first husband, Sir John Atherton and was then married to William Edwards; Marion, aged 32, wife of Sir John Grimshaw; and Dorothy, aged 30, who had out-lived her first husband, Richard Sherburne (died 1570, Inq. Post Mortem 3 January 14 Elizabeth), and was married to Richard Braddyl in 1579, finally out-living him and taking a third husband, John Whipp.

Margaret, the wife of Thomas out-lived her husband, and apparently went to live with her daughter Anne and her husband Henry Towneley at Barnside near Colne. She was buried in Colne Parish church 10 January 1586 (28 Elizabeth I).

During his life Thomas Catterall had settled the Manor of Little Mitton on his youngest daughter, Dorothy and her first husband Robert Sherburne, as part of the wedding settlement by deed dated 3 Elizabeth (1560).

Thomas Caterall, esquire, "die Veneris proximo ante festum Assumcionis beate Marie Virginis anno regni Regis Henrici Octavi secundo apud Mitton in com. Lanc. natus fuit, et in ecclesia parochiali de Whalley in co. predict. baptizatus. Probatio etatis capt. ap. Lanc. 21 Aug. 23 Hen. VIII." He made his will Jan. 6, 1561; and the inquisition upon his death was taken at Whalley on the 1st May, 24 Eliz. 1579. (Inquisitions in the Duchy Records, vol. vi. No. 4, f. 8; and vol. xiv. No. 4, f. 5)

Robert Sherburne was the third son of Thomas Sherburne of Stonyhurst (a few miles west of Little Mitton), and a Reader of Gray's Inn, London. Richard died within ten years (Inquest post mortem 3 January, 14 Elizabeth, 1570-1), leaving the Manor of Little Mitton to their son Thomas, who on his death in 1636 (14 Charles I) passed it to his son, another Robert Sherburne who is recorded as living at Little Mitton Hall in 1651 with his wife Katherine, the daughter of Richard Lathom of Parbold in Lancashire. Their eldest son, Thomas Sherburne inherited the Manor, but died without issue a few years later on 15 August, 1664, passing the estate to his younger brother, Richard, who died a year later, also without issue, in 1665, shortly after selling the Manor of Little Mitton to Alexander Holt (see below.)

There is a memorial to the Sherburnes of Little Mitton Hall in the Parish Church of Whalley, recorded in a footnote to the 4th. edition of Whitaker's Whalley (vol.II, p.11)

In the Little Mitton Chantry there are two bench ends, each perforated at the head in the form of a cross raised upon three steps (a cross calvary), and having a panel of arms below with the date 1638. One shield presents the arms and initials of Francis Paslew of Wiswall; the other (without initials Quarterly, an eagle displayed and a lion rampant, the arms of Sherburne.

Thomas's second wife, Katherine, the daughter of a John Jones and widow of Edward Jones of county Denbigh in Wales, was the executor of her husband Thomas's estate, and finally delivered possession of the Manor of Little Mitton on 8 March, 1664 to Alexander Holt to whom it had been sold by Thomas's brother, Richard.

The purchaser, Alexander Holt of St. Martins-in-the-Fields, London, died in 1687 at the age of 63. He was descended from the Lancashire family of the Holts of Grislehurst. His son Robert Holt resided at Mitton Hall and married Dorothy Holt, the daughter of a great-uncle, Alexander, a goldsmith in London (died 1655), the brother, of his paternal grandfather, Edward (died 1676, aged 86). Their son, Alexander, married to Ann, daughter of William Hulton of Hulton Park, and widow of John Starkie of Huntroyd, succeeded to the estate, dying 18 February, 1713 at age 38. His wife, Ann, was buried at Whalley 15 August 1699. Their son, William succeeded, marrying Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas Whitaker of Simonstone, near Read. Elizabeth was buried at Whalley 6 April 1733, and William in 1737. They had no male heir, and the estate passed by marriage of their daughter Elizabeth Holt to Richard Beaumont of Whitley Beaumont in Yorkshire, who also held Grislehurst which had descended by marriage from the direct line of the Holts. Richard Beaumont sold Grislehurst and resided at Little Mitton. He was born January 1719 and died 10 September 1764.

The arms of the Holcroft family in the window at Little Mitton Hall observed by Whitaker presumably came about through the marriage of a daughter, Helen, of Sir John Holcroft (will dated 2 December 1559) to Francis Holt of Grislehurst.

Richard and Elizabeth had four sons, the eldest, Richard Henry Beaumont, became a noted antiquary and a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, but died unmarried, and without issue on 22 November 1810. the second and third sons Charles and Thomas died without issue in 1774 and 1782. Their fourth son, John Beaumont was born 29 August 1752, married Sarah, daughter of Humphrey Butler of Herefordshire in 1778 and died 3 December 1831. They had two daughters, Charlotte who married John McCumming in 1801, and Elizabeth-Sarah who married Joseph Thomas Tuite in 1813. The estate of Little Mitton then passed to an illegitimate son of John Beaumont who was born in 1777, took the name of Charles Richard Beaumont, earned the degree of LL.D, married Martha, daughter of Stephen Hemsted M.D. and died 18 March 1813. His son, Richard Henry Beaumont was born 5 August 1805, but died without issue in 1857, and the line of Holt-Beaumont came to an end.

The etchings of portraits of famous Beaumont ancestors, Sir Thomas Beaumont and his daughter Sarah, and the etching of the interior hall of Little Mitton Hall were contributed to second edition of Whitaker's "History of Whalley' by the antiquary, Richard Henry Beaumont.

(Sir Thomas Beaumont was Deputy Governor and then Governor of Sheffield Castle, was wounded at the sieges of Pontefract and Sheffield Castles, and then knighted with his own sword by King Charles II on 27 June 1660. He died 3 June 1668.)

Following the failure of the Beaumont line, Little Mitton Hall was purchased by John Aspinall in about 1857-60, who undertook a great deal of rebuilding and additions to the Hall. The old walls of timber were removed, but the entrance hall was left untouched. The John T.W. Aspinall who made the engraving of Little Mitton Hall in 1845 that appears at the top of this page was presumably the future owner of the Hall. From John Aspinall the Hall descended (via his son ?) to his grandson, Ralph John Aspinall who was the owner in 1872.

The history of Little Mitton and its Hall from 1872 up to the present date remains to be done. Any help would be welcome. email Ron


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