The Environs of London: Volume 2, County of Middlesex. Originally published by T Cadell and W Davies, London, 1795.
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THIS parish is supposed to have derived its name from the quantity of oak timber which it produced; Ac, in the Saxon language, signifying an oak. The hedge-rows still abound with that tree.
Situation and boundaries.
The village of Acton lies in the liberty of Finsbury and Wenlakesbarne: it is situated upon the Uxbridge road, at the distance of five miles from Tyburn turnpike. The parish is bounded by that of Ealing on the west, the Hammersmith division of Fulham on the east, Chiswick on the south, and Wilsdon on the north.
Extent, soil, &c.
The parish of Acton contains about 1900 acres (fn. 1) of land, the greater part of which is arable; the soil towards the north is a stiff clay; towards the south a rich loam; ten acres only are occu pied by market gardeners. Action is assessed the sum of 6402l. to the land-tax, which, in the year 1792, was at the rate of 2s. 3d. in the pound.
About half a mile from East Acton are three wells of mineral water, springing out of a deep clay, which were in great repute for their medicinal virtues about the middle of the present century. The assembly room was then a place of very fashionable resort, and the neighbouring hamlets of East Acton and Friar's Place were filled with persons of all ranks, who came to reside there during the summer season. The wells have long since lost their celebrity, fashion and novelty having given a preference to springs of the fame nature at a greater distance from the metropolis. The site of Acton Wells is the property of the Duke of Devonshire. The assembly room being nearly in ruins, is now about to be converted into two tenements.
About half a mile to the north of the village, in a field called the Moated Meadow, is a deep trench, inclosing a parallelogram of about 100 yards in length, and 40 in breadth, supposed by some to have been a Roman camp; but the name of the meadow seems to intimate that it is the site of a moated house, of which there have been several in the neighbourhood, and some still remain.
Essex's army at Acton.
In November 1642, a few days before the battle of Brentford, the Lord General (the Earl of Essex) and the Earl of Warwick, marching with their forces out of London, made Acton the place of their rendezvous (fn. 2).
Cromwellmet there by a grand procession.
When Cromwell returned to London after the battle of Worcester, he was met at this place by the Lord President, the Council of State, many of the Nobility, the House of Commons, the Lord Mayor, Aldermen, and Common Council of the city of London, &c. &c. forming in the whole a train of more than 300 coaches. The Recorder of London accosted him with a congratulatory speech on the occasion (fn. 3).
The principal manor of Acton has belonged to the see of London from time immemorial. As it is not mentioned amongst the lands of that see in Doomsday-book, I suppose that both this parish and Ealing were included in the manor of Fulham, which is there said to contain 40 hides. When the church lands were alienated in the last century, the manor of Acton seems to have fallen into the hands of Francis Allen, Esq. who presented to the living in 1656 (fn. 4).
Peter son of William, son of Alulph, granted to Eustace de Fauconberg (who was consecrated Bishop of London in 1222) 40 acres of arable land, paying yearly a pound of cummin feed (fn. 5), which rent was afterwards remitted.
Mr. Lethieul lier's manor.
There is another manor in this parish called also the manor of Acton, the history of which may be thus deduced:-Peter son of Alulph, granted to Geoffry de Lucy, Dean of St. Paul's (fn. 6), his mansion at Acton under the Wood, with the garden and grove adjoining, and 20 acres of arable land, held of the King by knight's service. The dean granted the said premises, together with five acres of land which he had purchased of Walter de Actune, to the chapter, reserving 51. to be paid annually towards a chantry which he had founded in St. Paul's cathedral; viz. 5 marks to a priest to pray for his foul and the fouls of the late Bishop of London and his successors; 20s. yearly to celebrate his own obit; and a mark to celebrate that of Philip de Fauconberg, Archdeacon of Huntingdon (fn. 7). The chapter afterwards leased all this their manor of Acton, with the mansion-house, &c. to the said Geossry for his life, rendering annually a wax light of a pound weight (fn. 8); and it was ordained that it should always be held of the chapter by his successors in the deanery (fn. 9). The dean and chapter had a charter of free warren in their manor of Acton 9 Edw. II. (fn. 10) In the year 1544 they granted this manor to the King (fn. 11), who immediately gave it to John Lord Russel, Lord Privy Seal, subject to a fee-farm rent of 34s. (fn. 12) From him it descended to John Lord Russel, son of Francis Earl of Bedford, whose only child Anne married Henry Lord Herbert, afterwards Earl of Worcester. It afterwards descended to a younger branch of his family. After the death of Henry Somerset, Esq. (fn. 13). (great grandson of Henry first Marquis of Worcester, and grandson of Sir John Somerset, Knt.) it was purchased A. D. 1731, in trust for Benjamin Lethieullier, Esq. M. P. the present proprietor, then an infant. This manor was held of the King in capite, being the 20th part of a knight's fee (fn. 14).
Gregory, son of Walter, late rector of Acton, gave (temp. Hen. III.) three messages with their appurtenances in that parish to the church of St. Paul, towards the maintenance of a chaplain (fn. 15). Adam de Herwynton gave a carucate and a half of land, 7 acres of meadow, 60 acres of pasture, and 40 of wood, held under the bishop of London, as of his manor of Stortford, to the abbot and convent of St. Bartholomew in Smithfield, to pray for his good estate whilst living, and to celebrate his obit after his death (fn. 16). In Bishop Braybroke's Register (fn. 17) is an agreement of the prior and convent of St. Bartholomew, to pay a relief to the bishop and his successors on the election of a new prior. John Chishull, William Stoteville, and John Harpesfield, 47 Edw. III. gave one tost, 116 acres of arable land, valued at 2d. per acre ; 5 acres of meadow, valued at 1 s. 6d. an acre; and 6 acres of wood, to the said convent; which land they held under the convent at the annual rent of 2 s. or a sparrowhawk (fn. 18). I suppose the site of this estate to have been at or near the hamlet called Friar's, or Prior's Place. John de la Wodeton, 51 Edw. III. granted to John Holmes and Isabell his wife, a piece of land in Acton, called Childesland (fn. 19). Sir Francis Leake, Knt. and Christopher Rithe, Esq. were the principal freeholders in this parish, 17 & 18 Eliz. (fn. 20) Lord Chief Justice Vaughan appears to have been an inhabitant of this place in 1673 (fn. 21). William Saville, Marquis of Halifax, had a feat at Acton, where he died, August 31, 1700 (fn. 22). His daughters were admitted the next year to the copyhold lands of their late father (fn. 23); Lord Halifax's feat was afterwards the property of Evelyn the first Duke of Kingston. Sir Crisp Gascoyne, Lord Mayor of London in 1753, had a seat at Turnham Green within this parish (fn. 24).
The church of Acton, which is dedicated to St. Mary, stands near the road. It consists of a chancel, nave, and two aisles, separated by circular pillars and pointed arches; the walls have been rebuilt with brick, and the windows are modern: at the west end is a square tower which was newly cased with brick in 1766. The church underwent considerable repairs in 1780. The font is ancient, supported by four small pillars, and ornamented with Gothic tracery much defaced.
On the east wall of the chancel are the monuments of Elizabeth, daughter and heir of Robert Searles, merchant, who died in 1674, and Francis Stratford, Esq. who died in 1704 (fn. 25). On the north wall is the monument of Catherine Viscountess Conway, who died at her house at Acton, June 30, 1639 (fn. 26). She was wife of Edward Vifcount Conway, principal Secretary of State to King James and Charles I. and daughter of Giles Hueriblock of Ghent in Flanders. She bequeathed a considerable part of her fortune to charitable uses, as is expressed upon her monument: her benefactions to this place will***
Francis Rose be noticed hereafter. On the fame wall is the monument of " Philippa, late wife of Francis . . . . Rous . . . . . . . . .," who died in 1657, aged 85 (fn. 27). Francis Rous was created a peer by Cromwell, and was one of his privy council; his titles have been erased from the monument by some zealous royalist. Rous died at his house at Acton, in January 1658-9. The following account of his funeral and character is taken from a newspaper of that date (fn. 28) : "Monday the 24th being the day appointed for the interment of the corpse of the Right Hon. Francis Lord Rouse, it was performed in this manner. The lords of his Highness privy council met at his house at Acton, as also divers of the commissioners of the admiralty, and of the officers of the army, with many other persons of honor and quality. His Highness was also pleased to send several of his gentlemen in coaches with six horses to be present at the solemnity; three heralds likewise or officers at arms gave their attendance. The corpse was placed in a carriage covered with a pall of black velvet, adorned with escutcheons, and drawn with six horses in mourning furniture. The lords of the council followed it, and the rest in their order, towards Eaton college by Windsor, where the deceased lord, having been provost, desired he might be interred. The corpse being arrived there, it was received by the learned society of that college with much sorrow for the loss of so excellent a governor, and the young scholars had prepared copies of verses to express their duty and bear their part of sorrow upon this sad occasion. The body being taken off the carriage, was born towards the college chapel, four lords and gentlemen holding up each corner of the pall, and the whole company following it to the grave. A sermon was preached afterwards by Mr. Oxenbridge, one of the fellows; and so the ceremony ended. He needs no monument besides his own printed works to convey his name to posterity; the other works of his life may be termed works of charity, wherein he was most exemplary, as the poor in many parts now with tears will tell you. He hath added three fellowships to Pembroke college, Oxford, the place of his education, and a good part of the rest of his estate he by will disposed of to pious uses. He chose to lay his bones in his college, because the society had his heart, being men of the same christian temper with himself; and in his testament he prayed that God would please to continue it (as it is) a famous nursery of piety and learning. I shall add no more but this, that his death was an extraordinary loss to his Highness, and good men in particular, and to the whole nation in general." Others of his contemporaries give him a very different character: Lord Clarendon says (fn. 29), that he was made provost of Eaton, being thought to have some knowledge of the Latin and Greek tongues, but that he was in reality a person of a very mean understanding; and Wood says (fn. 30), that he was called the illiterate Jew of Eaton. Though allowance must be made for the prejudices of party writers, it is certain that Rous's works (fn. 31) are now quite forgotten, and that his benefaction to Pembroke college is his best monument. Wood tells us, that the provost of Eaton, in 1661, removed the standard and escutcheons from his grave. Rous was speaker of the little parliament. His portrait, with the mace lying before him, is in the dining-room at Eaton; there is another portrait of him in the hall at Pembroke college, Oxford; of the latter, there is a scarce print by Faithorn. On the site of Rous's house at Acton, now stands a modern mansion called the Bank-house, the property of Samuel Wegg, Esq. in right of his wife.
Monuments in the church.
To return to the monuments in Acton church:—On the north wall of the chancel is that of John Peryn, Esq. alderman of London (fn. 32), who died in 1656, and left all his estates in Acton to charitable uses: his bequest to this parish will be noticed in the account of benefactions. On the same wall are the monuments of Jonathan Rogers of Chippenham (fn. 33), who died in 1694; Richard Dewell, A. M. (1717 (fn. 34) ); Edward Dickinson, Esq. (1782); Edward Cobden, D. D. rector of Acton, (1764); and his wife Elizabeth (1762). On the same monument are mentioned Elizabeth, widow of Thomas Jessop, rector of Wells in Norfolk, and Ann, widow of John Kay, curate of Acton ; the dates are not inserted. On a white marble tablet adjoining, is a long epitaph in verse, to the memory of Mrs. Cobden, written, I suppose, by her husband, some of whose poems are in print. On the south wall is the monument of Anne Lady Southwell (fn. 35), who died in 1636. She was daughter of Sir Thomas Harris, of the county of Devon; and wife, first, of Sir Thomas Southwell, Knt. of Pixworth in the county of Norfolk, and afterwards of Henry Sibthorpe of the province of Munster. On each side of the monument hangs a wooden tablet, inscribed with panegyrical verses, of which the following may serve as a specimen—
"The South wind blew upon a springing Well, Whose waters flow'd, and the sweet stream did swell To such a height of goodness," &c. &c. &c.
On the same wall are the monuments of Mary, wife of Philip Skippon, Esq. who died in 1655 (fn. 36); Catherine daughter of Thomas Henslow (fn. 37) (1680); John Crayle, Esq. (fn. 38) (1728); and Crayle Crayle, Esq. (1780). Within the rails of the communion-table is a brass plate with English verses to the memory of " John Byrde, preste " and person of Acton, fyfty yere and thre;" he died in 1542: there are also the tombs of three daughters of Sir Charles Scarborough, (an eminent physician,) who died in 1706 and 1707. In the chancel are also the tombs of Elizabeth Godolphin, daughter of Sir John Godolphin, (maid of honour to the Queen,) who died in 1683; Elizabeth wife of Henry Ramsey, Esq. (1689); William James, Esq. and Col. Roger James (1712); Charles Moren (1733); and Henry Lloyd, Esq. (1760). In the north-east corner of the nave is the monument of Daniel Wait, Esq. of the Inner Temple, secondary of the Chirographer's office, who died in 1677, and his wife Anne, (afterwards married to Sir John Coryton, Bart.) who died in 1707 (fn. 39). On one of the north pillars of the nave is the monument of Frances, daughter of Samuel Trotman (fn. 40), (by his wife Elizabeth, only daughter of William Montagu Baron of the Exchequer,) of Siston in the county of Gloucester, who died in 1698. On the wall of the north aisle is a brass plate to the memory of Humphrey Cavell, Esq. who died in 1558 (fn. 41). In the same aisle is the tomb of Edward Smyth, Esq. who died in 1724. In the south aisle are the monuments of Barbara, wife of Henry Pigot, Gent. who died in 1649; Martha, wife of James Cocks, Esq. and daughter of Admiral Watson, who died in 1790; Robert Adair, Esq. who died the same year; and the Right Hon. Lady Caroline Adair his wife, daughter of William Anne Earl of Albemarle, who died in 1769. There is a bust of the latter in white marble. In the same aisle is the tomb of Col. James Cunningham, who served in all Queen Anne's wars, and died in 1774, at the age of 83.
Weever mentions the tomb of Henry Gosse, who died in 1485, and that of Sir Thomas Cornwall, Baron of Bursord in the county of Salop, Knight and Banneret, who died in 1537. He adds, that he was not a parliamentary baron, but his family were so denominated, as holding their manor of Burford by service of a barony. He died at Acton on his journey into Shropshire (fn. 42).
In the church-yard are the tombs of William Aldridge, who died in 1698, aged 115; Thomas Chettle, Gent. (1746); Mrs. Elizabeth Turst, the wife of Philip Elias Turst, Esq. (1768); Martin Bulmer (1774); Mrs. Ann Way, widow (1777); William Church, merchant (1783); William Villebois of Knightsbridge, Esq. (1784), and others of his family; Charles Shephard (1787); and John Hemming, adjutant of the thirteenth regiment of foot, 1788. The church-yard was enlarged in 1792.
This parish is subject to the jurisdiction of the bishop only, and his commissary, being exempt from that of the archdeacon. The church is a rectory, being in the collation of the Bishop of London, who appears sometimes to have granted single turns of the advowson; J. Fregunnel, LL.D. having presented to it in 1542, and John Mayle, Esq. in 1562 (fn. 43). At the taxation of the diocese of London A. D. 1327 the church of Acton was valued at 20 marks (fn. 44). In the king's books the rectory is valued at 14l. per ann.
Rectors. Daniel Featly.
Daniel Featly, of whom some account is given in the parish of Lambeth, was instituted to this rectory in 1627. After the battle of Brentford in 1642, some soldiers belonging to the Earl of Essex's army being quartered at Acton, and hearing that Dr. Featly was very exact in observing the ceremonies of the church of England, went in search of him with bitter threats. He had timely notice of their intention, and made his escape; but they gratified their resentment by setting his barn on fire, and doing other damage to the amount of 211l. (fn. 45) : they then went to the church, broke open the door, pulled down the font, broke the windows, and tore up the communion rails, which they burnt in the street (fn. 46). Col. Urry took up his quarters at the parsonage house (fn. 47). In 1643, Featly was deprived both of this living and Lambeth. His successor at this place was Philip Nye, appointed by the parliament; he was one of the assembly of divines, and a great champion of the Presbyterian party, in defence of which he wrote several treatises. He afterwards joined the Independents, and was one of the commissioners sent to Charles the First in the Isle of Wight, for which service he received 500l. In 1653, he was one of the triers of public preachers. He made himself particularly obnoxious to the royal party; and it was debated whether he should not be excepted out of the general pardon. It was at length determined, that if in future he accepted any office, either civil or ecclesiastical, he should then be precluded from the benefits of the pardon (fn. 48). Butler in his Hudibras has celebrated Philip Nye in the following lines—
" With greater art and cunning rear'd Than Philip Nye's thanksgiving beard."
A note in Dr. Grey's edition (fn. 49) of that poem, informs us, that Nye was very remarkable for the singularity of his beard; and adds, that he rode to Acton every Lord's-day in triumph, in a coach drawn by four horses, to exercise there (fn. 50). In 1650, John Nye was an assistant at this church, and received half the profits of the living, which was then valued at 200l. per annum (fn. 51).
After the restoration, King Charles II. appointed to this living Bruin or Bruno Ryves, one of his chaplains, and Dean of Chicester. He was author of the Mercurius Rusticus (being an account of the sufferings of the royalists in various parts of the country) and several sermons (fn. 52).
Edward Cobden, collated to the rectory of Acton in the year 1726, was chaplain to Bishop Gibson, who gave him the archdeaconry of London, and a prebend in St. Paul's cathedral. Dr. Cobden was one of the late king's chaplains; and in the year 1748, preached a sermon at court, the subject of which furnished ample matter for ridicule to the wits of that day: it was a persuasive to chastity, under which title the Doctor soon afterwards published it, observing in the preface, that it had given occasion to unjust censures. Dr. Cobden the same year published a volume of poems for the benefit of his curate's widow; and in 1757, he collected together all his works, consisting of various poems and discourses, and published them in one large volume in quarto, divided into two parts; he printed only 250 copies, 50 of which were appropriated to charitable uses (fn. 53). Dr. Cobden died in 1764.
The present rector is the Reverend Philip Cocks, A.M. who, in the year 1768, succeeded George Berkeley, LL. B. son of the celebrated Bishop of Cloyne.
The parsonage house was built by Mr. Hall just before his death, which occasioned his successor Cobden to inscribe on one of the windows,
"Hæc vix extruxit dominus dum tecta reliquit, Sic vos non vobis," &c. &c. &c.
Richard Baxter, the celebrated non-conformist divine, resided many years in this parish after the restoration: his house was near the church (fn. 54), where he constantly attended divine service, and sometimes preached, having a licence for so doing, provided he uttered nothing against the doctrines of the church of England (fn. 55). Sir Matthew Hale was his contemporary at Acton, and lived in habits of intimacy with him (fn. 56).
The parish register commences in 1539.
|Average of baptisms.||Average of burials.|
|1780–1789||38 1/5||55 3/10|
Comparative state of population.
The early part of the register I found not sufficiently accurate to enable me to take an average of a greater number of years in the sixteenth century; nor could I get an average of baptisms for 1680–1689. The burials at Acton have uniformly exceeded the baptisms, which is to be attributed to the number of strangers there interred. In the years 1730 and 1731, 154 persons were buried, of which number 51 were brought from other parishes. It appears by the chantry roll in the Augmentation-office (temp. Edw. VI.) that there were at that time 158 howselyng people, that is, communicants, in the parish of Acton (fn. 57). In the year 1670, there were 88 houses assessed towards affording relief to maimed soldiers. In this assessment were included houses of 2l. per annum rent. The present number of houses in Acton is about 240.
In 1603, there were 31 burials; in 1625, 38.
Extracts from the Register.
"Elizabeth Lady Sutton, wife of Sir Richard, buried Aug. 19, 1625."
"Sir John Ashfield, Knt. buried Nov. 3, 1638." Sir John Ashfield, Knt. and Bart. married Elizabeth, daughter and heir of Sir Richard Sutton, and relict of Sir James Altham. Lady Ashfield held 210 acres of land in this parish in the year 1649.
"Sir John Webb, buried Jan. 27, 1639–40."
"Tuesday, 5th of April 1655, Richard Meredith, Esq. eldest son of Sir William Meredith of Leedes, in the county of Kent, Bart. was married unto Mrs. Susanna Skippon, daughter to the Right Honourable Major Generall Philip Traytor (fn. 58) Skippon, by Sir John Thorowgood, Knave in a public congregation, within the parish church at Acton, in the county of Middlesex; Mr. Philip Nye at the same time praying and teaching upon this occasion."
"Mary the wiffe of the Phillip Mager Gennerall Scipon, traytor was buried in the chancill of Acton, the 31st of January 1655–6."
Skippon was one of the most active of the parliamentary generals: in his youth he had served with much reputation in the Netherlands, under the Prince of Orange. In 1642, having declared his adherence to the parliament, he was made major general of all their forces under the Earl of Essex: the next year he took Graston-house, and signalized himself in various actions during the war; as a reward for which he was made governor of Bristol and of Newcastle (fn. 59). He was afterwards appointed marshal general of the forces in Ireland, and had a grant of 1000l. per ann. till forfeited estates of that value should be settled on him. Skippon refused to be one of the king's judges. Cromwell created him a peer. The time of his death is uncertain, but it appears that he was living at the restoration (fn. 60). His house at Acton was near the church. In the year 1686, his son Sir Philip Skippon, the same it is probable who accompanied Mr. Ray in his travels upon the continent (fn. 61), sold it to Sir Hele Hooke, Bart. The house appears to have been built in the year 1638, by Sir Henry Garway, and is now the property of James Stratton, Esq. It has passed through various hands during the present century. Lady Derwentwater is said to have resided there at the time of her husband's execution.
Sir Matthew Hale.
"Mr. Bishop, buried from the Lord Chief Baron Haile's, Oct. 13, 1670." The learned and excellent Sir Matthew Hale, afterwards Lord Chief Justice of the King's Bench, had a country seat at Acton. Tradition says, that he was proprietor of Mr. Stratton's house, which formerly belonged to Major General Skippon: his name is not to be found in the title-deeds ; but it is not improbable that he was Sir Philip Skippon's tenant. Bowacke, who wrote an account of this place in 1705, says, that the memory of Sir Matthew Hale was still dear to the town: he adds, that his house, which was situated near the church, was then pulled down (fn. 62). Mr. Stratton's house appears to have been in a great measure rebuilt about that time.
"The right worshipful Sir Thomas Coock was buried in the chancel belonging to the parish church of Acton, Aug. 6, 1678."
"The right worshipful Sir John Godolfin was buried in the chancel belonging to the parish church of Acton, Aug. 3, 1679."
Lloyd Bishop of Norwich.
"Edward, son of the Right Hon. and Right Rev. William Floyd, Bishop of Peterborough, and the Lady Anne his wife, baptised April 20, 1680." Their daughter Hannah was baptised July 25, 1682. William Floyd or Lloyd, afterwards Bishop of Norwich, was deprived at the revolution for not taking the oaths.
Instance of longevity.
"William Aldridge, wheelwright, was buried the 21st day of November, 1698, aged 114 years." A portrait of this venerable old man, from which the annexed engraving was taken, is in the possession of his great-grandson Mr. Thomas Aldridge, vestry clerk of the parish; it was taken two years before he died.
"1707, Aug. 12, baptised Elizabeth, daughter of the Rev. Dr. Willis, Dean of Lincoln." He was afterwards successively Bishop of Gloucester, Salisbury, and Winchester.
"Mrs. Elizabeth Barry was buried in the parish church of Acton, in the south oyle, under the end of Madam Lamb's pew, being att the uper end between the two pillers; she was buried the 12th day of November 1713."—Elizabeth Barry was daughter of a gentleman of an ancient family and good estatc, which was so much injured during the civil war, that his children were obliged to make their own fortunes. His daughter Elizabeth was taken under the protection of Lady Davenant, a widow lady, by whom she was recommended to Sir William Davenant, the patentee of the theatre in Lincoln's-inn-fields: her first efforts were unsuccessful; but afterwards, by the instructions of the celebrated Earl of Rochester, she became the most eminent actress that the stage had then seen. She first distinguished herself by acting Isabella, in the tragedy of Mustapha, and was thought to excel very much in personating Queen Elizabeth, and in the character of Roxana (fn. 63). Mrs. Barry's last appearance was April 8, 1709, when she acted in the play of Love for Love, (which was performed for Betterton's benefit,) and spoke the epilogue. This was three years after she had retired from the stage. The following inscription is on a marble tablet affixed to a pillar between the south aisle and the nave of Acton church. "Near this place lies the body of Elizabeth Barry, of the parish of St. Mary, Savoy, who departed this life the 7th of November 1713. Aged 55 years."
"1714, The Right Honourable. John Earl of Marr and the Lady Frances, daughter of the most noble Marquis of Dorchester, were married July 20."
"Sir Thomas Travel, Knt. buried Feb. 6, 1723–4."
"Sir Henry Heron, Bart. buried Feb. 26, 1748–9."
"Elizabeth, daughter of Captain Philip Thicknesse and Lady Elizabeth his wife, baptized Aug. 24, 1750." Of the eccentricities and genius of Philip Thicknesse, his contemporaries need not be told; as he has published several ingenious works, and written memoirs of his own life, it is probable they will not be unknown to posterity. Being of an unsettled disposition he frequently changed the place of his abode. This may serve as a memorandum that he once resided at Acton. He died in France in the month of November 1792. Lady Elizabeth was daughter of the Earl of Castlehaven, from whom Capt. Thicknesse's eldest son inherits the ancient barony of Audley.
"Robert Adair, Esq. buried March 24, 1790". Mr. Adair was a surgeon of considerable eminence, and held some of the most honourable and lucrative appointments in his profession, being at the time of his death inspector general of the hospitals, and surgeon of the Royal Hospital at Chelsea. In the year 1759, he married Lady Caroline, daughter of William Anne Earl of Albemarle, by whom he left one son and two daughters.
Instances of longevity.
"Dec. 6, 1761, buried Margaret Fieldhouse, aged 100 and odd."
"Sept. 4, 1762, buried Mary Hill, aged 100."
Alice Dudley's benefaction.
Alice Dudley, created Duchess Dudley by Charles I. gave, says Dugdale (fn. 64), certain massy pieces of plate to the church of Acton in Middlesex. The following extracts from the churchwardens accounts refer to this benefaction:
It does not appear whether Lady Dudley resided at Acton, or what connection she had with the parish. She was wife of the celebrated Sir Robert Dudley, made Duke of Northumberland by the Emperor.
Singular benesaction of Mr. Dickinson
Lady Conway, in the year 1636, left 20l. per annum to this parish, 10l. of which was to be distributed to the poor at Christmas and Midsummer, and the other 10l. was appropriated to teaching 6 poor children to read, and distributing bread to 21 poor persons every Sunday. She left the sum of 20l. per annum also towards apprenticing children. Her executrix, Mary Harrison, left 8 s. per annum to the like purposes. John Peryn, Esq. and alderman of London, by his will, dated 1656, bequeathed a capital messuage called Fosters, and all his estate in East Acton, consisting of above 100 acres of land, besides several crofts and closes, to the goldsmiths company, in trust for charitable uses; out of this estate 10l. per annum was to be paid to the poor of East Acton, to be distributed quarterly at the discretion of the churchwardens. Henry Ramsey, Esq. in 1693, left 10l. per annum, issuing out of a house in Holborn, to be distributed to the poor at Christmas and Midsummer. Mrs. Sarah Crayle, in 1730, bequeathed the sum of 300l. to purchase lands, the produce of which was to be thus appropriated: 40s. for a sermon, 61. to be distributed in bread, and the remainder in money. Mrs. Ann Crayle, in 1759, left 700l. Bank stock 3 per cent. consol. the interest of which was to be expended thus: 40s. for a sermon, 5s. for the clerk and sexton, 40s. for a dinner, 12l. 3 s. for clothing 6 poor men and 6 women, and the remainder to be distributed in coals to persons not receiving alms. Edward Dickinson, Esq. in 1781, bequeathed a third part of the interest of 5000l. (3 per cent. consol.) to be distributed annually among three poor couples, (being deemed labouring, honest, industrious, and sober persons,) who shall have been married in Acton church during the preceding year ; the remainder of the interest was left to the parishes of St. John and St. Margaret, Westminster, to be appropriated to the same purpose. Rebecca Bulmer, in 1789, left the interest of 600l. 4 per cent. to be divided amongst eight poor families, being housekeepers, not receiving alms.
At the entrance of Acton, on the London side, is a convenient conduit, made for the benefit of the public, and endowed by Thomas Thorney in the year 1612, with a rent-charge of 20s. per annum to keep it in repair; the overplus to be distributed to the poor. The parish were in danger of losing this valuable benefaction, when it was recovered by the timely exertions of Samuel Wegg, Esq. who, at a considerable expence, instituted a suit in Chancery; and, in the year 1755, obtained a decree in favour of the parish. Mr. Wegg, a few years before, had purchased a house which belonged to Sir Joseph Ayloffe, Bart.
It appears by the inventory of goods, plate, &c. (fn. 65) belonging to the different parishes in Middlesex, (I Edw. VI.) that this parish had half an acre of arable ground, then valued at 8d. per annum.
The parish has lately purchased some small houses upon a spot of ground called the Steine, to be used as alms-houses, in the room of some others which were built at the parish expence in 1725, and are now decayed.