Survey of London Monograph 7, East Acton Manor House. Originally published by Guild & School of Handicraft, London, 1921.
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KATHERINE, VISCOUNTESS CONWAY.
IT has been stated in several works on Acton that Lady Conway, the wife of Viscount Conway, built East Acton Manor House, and Mr. Henry Mitchell quotes the Church Assessment Book as the authority for her residence there. Her name, however, is not included in the list of persons in the "Great House," and no reason for connecting her with the property has so far been found. The general and perhaps traditional association of her name with the house, and also the fact that she (like John Perryn) was a very considerable benefactor to the parish, have seemed sufficient grounds for including the following particulars in an appendix to this volume.
LADY CONWAY was the wife of Edward first Viscount Conway and Killultagh, Secretary of State to James I. and Charles I. He was son of Sir John Conway, Governor of Ostend and the writer of devotional tracts and verses. Lady Conway died, according to Lysons, " at her house at Acton, June 30th, 1639," and was buried in Acton Church, and her memorial tablet (now fixed to the wall of the church tower) bears the following inscription:—
Piæ Memoriæ Sacrvm.
To the Honor and memorie of the Right worthy & religiovs ladie Katherine vicovntlsse Conway late wife to the right honable the lord Conway sometimes cheife Secretarie of state and in his latter time President of the Kings Maties most Honable privie Covncell who besides her piovs and large bovntie expressed towards the English and Dvtch Chvrches in her life did at her death Beqveath these legacies to Charitable vses.
First besides tenn pounds at her fvnerall to the poore of Acton in the Covntie of Middlesex two hundred pounds to the Companie of Grocers for the yearly payment of tenn pounds to the poore of the forenamed Acton for ever the payment to beginne immediately after the Companies receipt of the Money by æqvall porcons qvarterly
To the Dvtch Chvrch three Hundred pounds in money the annvall proffitte where of are to bee Distributed among the poore there at the Discretion of the deatons.
After the decease of her neece theise legacies vizt tenn povnds more to be distribvted among the poore of ye said Acton annvally for ever by too eqvall porcons the one at the feast of the nativity of or lord the other at the feast of Pentecost
To the poore of Acton likewise after the expiration of three annvities for lives the svmme of twenty povnds annvally for ever
To the poore of the parish of Lvddington besides five povnds in mony at her fvnerall five povnds yearely and for ever
To three prisons in London (vizt) Lvdgate and the two compters besides twelve povnds in money fower povnds to each tenn povnds yearely and for ever towards the releasing of poore prisoners from thence five povnds to release two ovt of Lvdgate and five povnds to release other two the one ovt of the compter in wood streete the other ovt of the compter in ye povltrie
To christchvrch hospitall twenty povnds yearely for ever
To the poore of the parish of St dvnstans in the
east tenn povnds yearely and for ever,
To five poore widdowes svch as have been wives to men free of the company of the Grocers five povnds yearly and for eveer viz each of them anvally twenty shillings
The poore who did thy life with prayers befreind
And on thy funerall herse in teares Attend
Shew their deuotion still and send on high
Their prayses for thy blessed charitie
May thy example others teach to giue,
That when they die their same (like thine) may liue.
Upon the shelf moulding—in black letters—
LADY CONWAY DIED A.D. 1637 (fn. 1)
The above inscription is in gilt letters on a black marble tablet within an architectural frame. On each side stands a female allegorical figure within a shallow arched niche, surmounted by a winged cherub's head. These side panels form broad pilasters with moulded capping and a frieze above, each bearing a shield of arms. Over the whole runs a horizontal moulded cornice. Beneath the tablet is a moulded shelf which breaks forward under the figures and over two brackets carved with cherubs' heads. Beneath the centre is an apron formed of an elaborate winged skull.
Bowack (fn. 2) refers also to a marble slab in the floor of the Church with this inscription:—" Underneath this marble stone lyeth buried the body of Lady Catherine Viscountess Conway, the late wife of the Rt. Hon. Edward Lord Viscount Conway deceased, she being aged about 74 years, whose monument is hereunto annexed." According to Lysons (fn. 3) she was the daughter of Giles Hueriblock of Ghent in Flanders, and was apparently Lord Conway's second wife, since he was first married to Dorothy, daughter of Sir John Tracy of Tedington, Gloucestershire. Lord Conway's will mentions property in Ossulstone, the Hundred in which Acton is situated.