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Rivenhall - Essex Print E-mail


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Western Family Portraits & more Historical Accounts of the Western's of Rivenhall











Some of the many Western Family Crests in the Church of St, Mary's at Rivenhall near Witham Essex







Family Vault - William Western d.6 Jan 1706










Leased by the Western's





The Westerns of Rivenhall were a family of London merchants who settled in Essex in the last quarter of the 17th century. In 1692 Thomas Western (d.1707) bought Rivenhall Place from the executors of Sir William Wiseman. It remained the principal seat of the family until 1795, when Felix Hall took its place. Samuel Western, Thomas’s eldest son, was a member of Gray’s Inn and M . P. for Winchelsea in three Parliaments of William and Mary but as he died before his father, his eldest son, William (d.1729), succeeded to the Rivenhall estate. At his death it passed to his son, who died within a few months of succeeding, leaving no heir. The Rivenhall property then passed to a descendant of the second son of the Thomas who bought it. In all, there were five holders between the death of the first Thomas in 1707 and 1733. The Thomas who inherited in 1733 was a distinguished antiquary, whom Cole referred to as ‘my dearest friend’.

‘He was by nature’, he wrote, ‘one of the most lively, sprightly, and cheerful men I ever had the happiness of being acquainted with; always in good humour; constantly contriving something to amuse and entertain; a perpetual fund of drollery and jocularity, together with an openness and generosity of temper net to be matched in any one I ever met with since’.

He died in 1766. Thomas and Ann, his wife, had nine children, four of whom died young. The second surviving son, Shirley, was rector of Rivenhall for 45 years (1772-1824). Of the death of the eldest son Cole wrote:

‘Dining with my sister, Jane, July 22, 1771, at Mr. Thorpe’s Chamber, the President of St. Katherine Hall, I heard the melancholy and disagreeable news that poor Mr. Charles Western, eldest son of my late dear friend, Thomas Western of Rivenhall, in Essex, Esq., going in his new phaeton with a pair of new coach horses, which had cost him but that week or a few days before,£140, on some occasion or other, the horses got the mastery and ran away with the chaise, when Mr. Western, finding it impossible to stop them, imprudently jumped out, and in so doing was killed on the spot’.

He was 24. His heir was to reverse the family’s record of misfortune. He was Charles Callis, Baron Western (1767-1844), politician and agriculturist, and as he inherited at the age of four he had a long reign. He travelled widely, collecting busts, urns, and other interesting antiquarian pieces. He was M.P. for Maiden, 1790-1812, and for Essex, 1812-32. His greatest interest was agricultural reform, and he did much to improve sheep-breeding; he also published pamphlets on prison discipline and various economic questions. It was he who in 1795 added Felix Hall to the Rivenhall estate and stored there his fine collection of marbles. In 1833 he was raised to the peerage as Baron Western of Rivenhall. He died in his 78th year at Felix Hall, leaving no heir to the barony. Lord Western was a bachelor himself, and his brother, the rector of Rivenhall, had also died unmarried. The estate, therefore, passed to Thomas Burch Western (1795-1873), of Tattingstone Place, Suffolk. There is a fine monument to the 1st and only Baron Western in Rivenhall church, and Nichols, in his Anecdotes of Hogarth mentions another Western item that should not be lost sight of. He writes:

‘At Rivenhall, Essex, the seat of Charles Callis Western, Esq., M.P. for Maldon, is a capital conversation piece by Hogarth, painted about the year 1735, of his grandfather, Thomas Western,Esq. his grandfather’s mother, Mary, daughter of Sir Richard Shirley, of Preston, Sussex,Chancellor Hoadley, Archdeacon Charles Plumtre, the Rev. William Cole, of Milton, the celebrated antiquary. . . .


Incidentally, on the death of Mary Shirley’s brother, the third baronet, the valuable property at Preston, Brighton, came to the Western family. Thomas Burch Western was the first Liberal member for North Essex. He was created a baronet in 1864 and became Lord Lieutenant of Essex in 1869. He died at Felix Hall at the age of 77.


My Wife, Mother & Me outside Rivenhall Place





A Public House was built by the Western's for the Farm Laborers



Last Updated on Friday, 18 September 2009 14:44

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