Sidney Alfred Parsons and his Ancestors

Grace Estcourt and the Estcourts of Gloucestershire and Wiltshire

The Estcourts were a family of successful lawyers, politicians and businessmen whose origins can be traced back to Walter de la Estcourt who died in 1325.

The Parsons family’s connection with the Estcourts came about through the Gale Family when Elizabeth Ann Gale married George Parsons in 1839. Elizabeth’s great-great-grandmother was Grace Estcourt (1653-1734) who was a niece of Sir Thomas Estcourt of Sherston Pinkney.

Grace was the youngest daughter of George Estcourt who at the time of her birth was Vicar of Badgeworth with Shurdington in Gloucestershire. He came from a branch of the ancient Estcourt family who had been landowners in Gloucestershire and Wiltshire since at least 1303 when Walter de la Estcourt acquired the estate now called Estcourt Park near Tetbury. George was a younger brother of Sir Thomas Estcourt of Pinkney Park and his branch of the family were closely associated with the village of Long Newnton where Isaac Gale lived.

The Gales were proud of their association with the Estcourts and for centuries often included ‘Estcourt’ among the given named of their children. And after George Parsons married Elizabeth Ann Gale they, and their Parsons descendants, maintained this tradition even into the 20th century by which time most their branch of the Parsons family were living in New Zealand.

Long Newnton, and nearby Shipton Moyne, where many of this branch of the Estcourts lived, are on the border between the counties of Gloucestershire and Wiltshire, in between the towns of Tetbury and Malmesbury. The location is marked by a red cross on the map. The estate which Walter de la Estcourt acquired in 1303, and which remained with the Estcourt family until 1996, lies between the two villages.

The city of Bristol is not far away and some of the Estcourts had business interests there. When Grace Estcourt married Isaac Gale it was in the church of St Philip and St Jacob in that city and her grandfather Edmund Estcourt was, when her father George was born in 1609, described as an armiger of Bristol City (an armiger being a person entitled to heraldic arms). He was probably, like many of his relatives and ancestors, a merchant who traded in wool and fabrics, but he was also a lawyer.

Grace Estcourt’s immediate relations are shown in the following chart.

Grace’s grandfather Edmund Estcourt was born in about 1575 during the reign of Elizabeth I, probably in Long Newnton which was the home of his parents Richard and Agnes Estcourt. Edmund’s uncle Gyles Estcourt of New Sarum was a Member of Parliament who represented Salisbury for many years until he fell ill in 1587. Edmund’s father Richard died in Long Newnton in 1611.

Edmund was educated at Oxford University where he matriculated in 1586. He went on to study law and was admitted to the bar at Lincolns Inn, London, in 1598. He eventually became Treasurer of Lincolns Inn. Edmund married Jane Snigge, whose father Sir George was a lawyer and politician who represented Bristol in parliament and whose father had been Mayor of that city. Edmund and Jane had two sons of whom Grace’s father, George, was the younger. Their elder son Thomas became one of the “Masters in Ordinary in His Majesty’s High Court of Chancery” and was appointed High Steward of Malmesbury in 1641.

Edmund Estcourt died in 1651 and was buried in Long Newnton. He left premises at Malmesbury, Burton Hill, Brokenborough and Westport to his son George and the remainder to his other surviving son Sir Thomas Estcourt.

The Reverend George Estcourt

Grace’s father, George Estcourt, was born in about 1609. He entered Magdalen Hall, Oxford, when he was aged 15 and was awarded a B.A. degree in 1628. On the 26th of April 1628 he married Ann Machen in Badgeworth, Gloucestershire (Badgeworth is between Gloucester and Cheltenham). Ann was a great-granddaughter of Thomas Machen, an Alderman and Member of Parliament for Gloucester who, with his wife, is commemorated by a magnificent memorial in Gloucester cathedral.

George’s father Edmund presented him to the vicarage in Badgeworth on the 1st of April 1639 and he became the vicar of Badgeworth with Shurrington, initially on a temporary basis. However he and Ann remained there for thirteen years and all of their children except Jane and Grace were born there. In about 1651, perhaps when his father died, George left Badgeworth and went to live in Long Newnton near or on the Estcourt estate there. The turmoil of the Civil War which led to the Church of England becoming Presbyterian might also have been a factor in his departure.

In August 1652 George Estcourt purchased a farm called Swinley at Kington St. Michael in Wiltshire which consisted of “one messuage, one barne, two gardens, one orchard, 70 acres of land, 10 acres of meadow, 40 acres of pasture, 4 acres of wood and common of pasture for all manner of cattle in Kinton, otherwise Kynton, Kingeton St. Michaells, Michaell Kingeton and Swinlye, Swinley or Swindley”. Kington St. Michael is about nine miles south of Long Newnton.

After moving to Swinley George devoted himself to religious studies and in July 1661 he was awarded the degree of Doctor of Divinity.

In 1664 George Estcourt’s health began to fail and he put his affairs in order. He prepared a ‘Deed of Settlement’ which made provision for the disposal of his property at Swinley. It mentioned his sons Richard and Giles and his daughters Anne, Jane and Grace. (His daughter Mary had not survived her infancy).

The Revd. George Estcourt D.D. died early in the month of August in the year 1664 and was buried in Long Newnton on the 11th. When probate was granted to his son Gyles (his wife Ann having renounced) George was described as “George Estcourt, Professor of Theology, of Swinley”.

For a few years after George’s decease his sons Gyles and Richard disagreed over the division of his property but the problem was amicably resolved in 1672 when they agreed a swap. In the transfer document Richard wrote the following explanation: “Brother Gyles Estcourt’s release of Swynley to mee Richd. Estcourt in which Gyles Estcourt, of Chedglowe in the parrish of Crudwell, Wilts, gent, for the appeasinge of differences that were like to growe betweene mee and my Brother Richd. Estcourt of Swinly, gent, and in consideration of a release by him made to mee of all his right and title to two grounds in Kingscott, Glos., have demised to said R.E. all my estate and title in Swinly aforesaid”.

George’s youngest daughter Grace was only ten or eleven years old when her father died and she probably continued to live at Swinley with her mother, at least for a while. But when, in 1679, on the 26th of May, she married Isaac Gale, the wedding was in Bristol, at St. Philip & St. Jacob’s Church, so perhaps she had been living with a relative there.

It was Isaac and Grace Gale’s great-great-granddaughter Elizabeth Ann Gale (1804-1888) whose marriage completed the Estcourt family’s link to the Parsons family.

Grace Estcourt’s Ancestors

Father — The Reverend George Estcourt of Swinley, who has been described above
Mother — Ann Machen, who came from Crickley in Gloucestershire

Grandfather — Edmund Estcourt of Sherston Pinkney in Gloucestershire, a land-owner and lawyer, who was father of Sir Thomas Estcourt
Grandmother — Jane Snigge, daughter of Sir George Snigge

Grandfather — Henry Machen, a Gloucestershire land-owner
Grandmother — Anne, his wife

Great-grandfather — Richard Estcourt of Long Newnton in Gloucestershire. He was a son of Edmond de la Estcourt and his wife Praxeda
Great-grandmother — Agnes Wilcox

Grandfather — Sir George Snigge, lawyer and MP for Bristol
Grandmother — unknown

Grandfather — Henry Machen, the eldest son of Thomas Machen M.P. who is commemorated by a magnificent memorial in Gloucester cathedral.
Grandmother — Ann Walker

Grandfather — unknown
Grandmother — unknown

A Few Noteworthy Members of the Estcourt Family

 •  Gyles Estcourt (d.1587) — was a great uncle of the Revd. George Estcourt (he was a son of George’s great grandfather Edmond de la Estcourt). He was elected Member of Parliament for Salisbury on five occasions between 1563 and his death. Gyles died heavily in debt and was buried in Salisbury in April 1587.

 •  Sir Gyles Estcourt (1601-1668), first Baronet Newnton — was a grandson of the previous Gyles and a second cousin of the Revd. George Estcourt. After his father died in 1608 he became a ward of his uncle Sir Thomas Estcourt until he came of age in 1622 at which time he was knighted. He was elected MP for Cirencester in 1628. In the Civil War Gyles fought on the Royalist side and was taken prisoner after the fall of Bath. He married twice, first to Anne Mordaunt with whom he had his children, and later to Ann Ellyot. Gyles died in 1668 in Long Newnton in Wiltshire. His memorial there reads as follows:   “Giles Estcourt Sir Kt & Bart b 1 Nov 1601 husb of 1) Anne 2) Ann. Aged 67 ”.

 •  Sir Gyles Estcourt (1653-1676), second Baronet Newnton — was the eldest son of the first Baronet. He never married and was killed in a duel in Italy.

 •  Sir William Estcourt (1654-1684), third Baronet Newnton — was the younger brother of the second Baronet and was elected Member of Parliament for Malmesbury. In November 1684 he was in London, at the Globe Tavern in Fleet Street, when an altercation broke out. During the fight he was run through with swords twice, and died. Sir William left no heir so his title became extinct.

 •  Sir Thomas Estcourt (1645-1702), — was a brother of of the Revd. George Estcourt. He twice represented Malmesbury in Parliament, and Bath once. His father’s young and attractive second wife, with whom Thomas was close, came from a prominent Roman catholic family in Devonshire and Thomas became sympathetic to catholicism. It was even rumoured that he had converted and he was accused of complicity in the Popish Plot (a fictitious conspiracy concocted by Titus Oates). The accusation was false but he prudently withdrew to Flanders for a while with the Duke of York. The following line was written of him at that time - “Estcourt the sot, that knew all the plot, and could only discover his mother’s lewd twat”. Sir Thomas returned to England and was elected MP for Malmesbury in 1685 and for Bath in 1695. He died in the year 1702.

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You are free to make use of the information in these web pages in any way that you wish but please be aware that the author, Mike Parsons, is unable to accept respsonsibility for any errors or omissions.

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The information in these web pages comes from a number of sources including: Hampshire County Records Office, Somerset Heritage Centre; Dorset County Records Office; Southampton City Archives; the General Register Office; several on-line newspaper archives; several on-line transcriptions of Parish Register Entries; and several on-line indexes of births, marriages and deaths. The research has also been guided at times by the published work of others, both on-line and in the form of printed books, and by information from personal correspondence with other researchers, for all of which thanks are given. However, all of the information in these web pages has been independently verified by the author from original sources, facimile copies, or, in the case of a few parish register entries, transcriptions published by on-line genealogy sites. The author is aware that some other researchers have in some cases drawn different conclusions and have published information which is at variance from that shown in these web pages.