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FRIENDS OF LITTLE CASSIOBURY

Thomas Cromwell, Chancellor to Henry VIII. Derived from Holbein's 1532 portrait

This miniature portrait shows Thomas Cromwell (c. 1485–1540), the leader of Henry VIII's government in the 1530s, after he had been made a member of the Order of the Garter in 1537. It is derived from Holbein's 1532 portrait of Cromwell but shows him looking older.

Cassiobury came to the Earldom of Essex via a marriage (28 November 1627)

The Earldom had begun when King Stephen conferred it on Geoffrey of Mandeville. It was recreated several times and passed to other families in the reigns of Kings John, Henry III, Edward III, Henry VIII, and Elizabeth I. The Earldom was held breifly by Thomas Cromwell until he was beheaded, on Tower Hill, on 28th July 1540. Then briefly William Parr held it until it was foreited under a bill of attainder.

Elizabeth I granted it to Walter Devereux and it again became extinct, in 1646, when Robert Devereaux (3rd Earl of Essex, and first Captain-General and Chief Commander of the Parliamentary army) died of a stroke, leaving no heir.

The Earldom remained vacant until it was recreated in 1661, when after the Restoration Arthur Capel 2nd Baron Hadham was created the new 1st Earl of Essex. His descendants continued to own Cassiobury until the early 20th century, when most of the estate was sold to developers, and the main house demolished.

The last complete remnant remaining is the Little Cassiobury House.

Revolution was in the air. This was the time of theExclusion Crisis

The 1st Earl was implicated in a plot to assassinate King Charles II and his catholic brother James, Duke of York.(Later James II) known as “The Rye House Plot”.


According to Britton:  Cassiobury Park (page 23) The Earl of Essex’s death, by suicide, was controversial.

“ Lawrence Braddon., Gent of the Middle Temple states himself 'upwards of 5 years persecuted or imprisoned for endeavouring to discover this murther the third day after the same was committed' “

The Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 06 entry for Braddon says:-


“ When the Earl of Essex died in the Tower in 1683, Braddon adopted the belief that he had been murdered, and worked actively to collect sufficient evidence to prove the murder. He set on foot inquiries on the subject in London, and when a rumour reached him that the news of the earl's death was known at Marlborough on the very day of, if not before, the occurrence, he posted off thither.

When his action became known at court, he was arrested and put under restraint. For a time he was let out on bail, but on 7 Feb. 1683-4 he was tried with Mr. Hugh Speke at the king's bench on the accusation of conspiring to spread the belief that the Earl of Essex was murdered by some persons about him, and of endeavouring to suborn witnesses to testify the same. Braddon was found guilty on all the counts, but Speke was acquitted of the latter charge. The one was fined 1,000l. and the other 2,000l., with sureties for good behaviour during their lives. Braddon remained in prison until the landing of William III, when he was liberated. “

Arthur Capell, 1st Earl of Essex, portrait commemorating his appointment as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland in 1672. Watford Museum.

Arthur Capell, 1st Earl of Essex, portrait commemorating his appointment as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland in 1672

"1stEarlOfEssex1672" by Sir Peter Lely - http://www.watfordmuseum.org.uk/cassiobury/galleries/arthur_capel2.html. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:1stEarlOfEssex1672.jpg#/media/File:1stEarlOfEssex1672.jpg

The Capel Family, by Cornelius Johnson (Jonson or Jonson van Ceulen), oil on canvas, circa 1640, National Portrait Gallery, London, NPG 4759. Provenance: purchased with help from The Art Fund, 1970

The Capel Family, by Cornelius Johnson (Jonson or Jonson van Ceulen), oil on canvas, circa 1640, National Portrait Gallery, London, NPG 4759. Provenance: purchased with help from The Art Fund, 1970.

The people in the portrait are (from left to right): Arthur Capel, 1st Earl of Essex (1631-1683) his father Arthur Capel, 1st Baron Capel (1604-1649) Henry Capel, 2nd Baron Capel (1638-1896) mother Elizabeth, Lady Capel (died 1661) Charles Capel (died 1657) Elizabeth Countess of Carnarvon (1633-1678) Mary Duchess of Beaufort (1630-1715)

Little Cassiobury a dower house, for whom ?

Was it commissioned to be built for the 1st Earl's mother (formerly Elizabeth Morrison , the heiress of Cassiobury), or his wife (formerly Elizabeth Percy, daughter of the Earl of Northumberland).

The first (died in 1660). Her husband, Arthur Capel, 1st Baron Hadham, was executed by the Comonwealth during the Civil War (March 1649), and his property was sequestrated. His widow Lady Elizabeth Capel (nee Morrison) successfully petitioned Parliament for it to be returned to her as it was rightfully her inheritance (7-8th May 1649).

Her daughter in-law (died in 1718). Her husband, the Earl of Essex, served Charles II as the ambassador to Denmark and Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. He died in The Tower of London (13th July 1683). Convicted of participation in a plot against the King and his brother he is said to have commited suicide whilst a prisoner awaiting execution for treason. This official view was controversial at the time (see below).

His past experience may have influenced him towards taking his own life to protect his family. After his father’s execution his mother had to petition Parliament (1649), for return of their lands, which had been forfeit to the state on father’s execution..

When a child, he had allegedly been used as a hostage by the Parliametary side, at the seige of Colchester (1648), to encourage his father to surrender.

Ownership from church to manor, then the marriage, then the Earldom

Cassiobury was part of the lands owned by the Abbot of St Albans in Casho Hundred until The Dissolution the Monastries where the Abbey's lands were taken into crown ownership during the reign of Henry VIII. Cassiobury was granted (or sold) to the Lord of the Manor Sir Richard Morrison.

It became part of the property of (Arthur 1st Baron Hadham) on his marriage to the heiress, Elizabeth Morrison (Great Grandaughter of Sir Richard Morrison).

Arthur Capel 2nd Baron Hadham, who had inherited it from his father's was created Viscount Munden and Earl of Essex in 1661