The Twickenham Museum
People : Merchants and Entrepreneurs

Alexander Prescott
Goldsmith
1562/3 - 1621

Alexander Prescott was baptised on 8 March 1562/3 the son of William, and Margaret his first wife, of Coppull, a village in Standish parish lying between Chorley and Wigan in Lancashire. William was married twice, the second time to Matilda on 11 February 1582/3. The family was large; four brothers and a sister were living and named in Alexander's will of 1616: Richard, Jeffrey, Edward, Thomas and Elizabeth (Phillips). Richard is recorded at his death in 1631 as resident in a property called Haltes House, later Holt House in Wigan Lane, Coppull.

Alexander came to London, and in 1580 was apprenticed to John Pemberton (d1603), a goldsmith and a member of the Goldsmiths’ Company. On 26 Nov 1593 he married John’s daughter, Martha (1576-1616), at St Mary’s Church, Twickenham (“Master Alexander Pescott & Pemerton Marthe” in the Register). John was a brother of James Pemberton, also a goldsmith of London who had been born at Wrightington, son of a farmer from nearby Heskin in the parish of Eccleston in Lancashire. Eccleston is just to the west of Chorley, a few miles from Coppull. It is likely, though speculative, that the two families knew each other in Lancashire and this led Alexander to London where he probably met Martha. Their marriage in Twickenham suggests residence for one or both of the parties, most probably Martha because her uncle owned land and property there. The holdings of Sir James Pemberton are shown on the map drawn by Ralph Tresswell the Younger in 1607.

No children of Alexander and Martha are recorded in the baptismal registers for St Mary’s, Twickenham. There are, however, two burials, the first on 23 Aug 1604, of Elizabeth “dau of Mr (Prescot) of London” and the second, on 10 Jan 1625, William Prescott, possibly a brother. Alexander, in his will (PCC Prob11/139) mentioned five surviving children: Alexander, Edward, John, Mary and Martha. Martha married Richard Turnor the Younger, citizen and Merchant Tailor of London, in 1633.

Alexander did not lose touch with his origins: in 1608 he presented a chalice and paten to his church at Standish. He also gave to the Borough of Wigan its earliest insignia of office of the Mayoralty. At some time he acquired, or inherited, the manors (so described in his will) of Standish and Chorley, and another, possibly Radmynton, nearby. It is likely that these were, in fact, fractions of larger manors, nevertheless their possession is indicative of considerable substance. And not only in property: he left £1000 to each of his five children.

Property in London and Twickenham

Appointed an Alderman (for Cordwainer Ward) on 13 February 1612/13 Alexander continued to spend time in London where he leased a house from the Goldsmiths' Company in Cheapside. In 1619 he was engaged with the construction of a “great messuage” in Wood Street, near Goldsmiths' Hall.

At some date he acquired property in Twickenham, possibly through his wife, taking up residence in the parish and becoming a member of the Vestry. He is referred to as “Mr Alderman Prestcote” in the minutes of a Vestry meeting held on 21 June 1618. He died in January 1621/2, and was replaced on the vestry following a meeting held on 6 October 1622. He was buried, probably beside his wife, in the church of St Vedast in Foster Lane, off Cheapside. Another Alexander (presumably his son?) having died, was also replaced on the Vestry in 1626.

The exact position and extent of the land and property owned by Prescotts in Twickenham has not been established, but some at least lay along the south side of Richmond Road in the area which later became Lord Strafford's estate and, later still, Lebanon Park. This land is shown as an orchard on Moses Glover's map of 1635. There is a reference to "Edward Prescott, Gentleman" in an Admission at the Manorial Court for some adjacent waste land (London Metropolitan Archives ACC1379/29/f.47)

He may have acquired property in Essex in 1707. An entry in the State Papers Domestic of James I for July 17, 1607 notes a Grant to Alex. Prescott, of the manor of Radminton Hall, in Essex. [Ind. Wt. Bk., p. 66.]

(From: 'James I: Volume 28: July-December, 1607', Calendar of State Papers Domestic: James I, 1603-1610 (1857), pp. 362-393. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=15013)

Edward Prescott (c1605-82)

Alexander bequeathed “all that my copyhold messuage or tenement in Twittenham” and all of his other land there to Edward, a Salter, who had married Honnor. Their daughter Anne was baptized on 25 July 1644 and her burial was recorded on14 Feb 1644/5, the following year. On 13 Sep 1645 Edward II was baptized and finally, on 7 Nov 1649, Susanna. There was another son, John, baptized elsewhere:

Edward was active in Twickenham at this time. By persuasion a Parliamentarian, he was described as “Captaine” Prescot in the rating lists. In 1646/7, following the ejection of Dr Soames the Royalist vicar, He took a part in the institution as Minister, of Thomas Willis by order of Parliament, pledging a contribution towards his salary of £100, of 12/- a quarter. There were 16 other subscribers, led by John Browne, Clerk to the Commons and living at the Manor House in Church Street.

Willis was himself ejected in 1661, following the restoration of the monarchy and shortly after this, Edward moved away from Twickenham, although he did not dispose of all of his property. A survey of the real estate in the parish was carried out in 1661 and shows that Mr Prescot owned 7 acres held by Capt Ell valued at £1-15-0, a house held by Robert Turner and a house held by John Buckland both valued at £3-0-0. Richard Ell was probably living in the Queen's Farm which, previously leased from the Crown by James Pemberton, had been leased to Andrew Pitcarne in 1622.

In 1663 Edward's wife, Honnor, surrendered a piece of land known as Plumbush to Sir Joseph Ash (London Metropolitan Archives ACC 1379/31 f194, 7 Oct 1663 & f201 30 Dec 1663). Plumbush was farther along the Richmond Road and later became a part of the Marble Hill Estate. Sir Joseph Ash lived at Cambridge Park, as it was later named.

Edward, now of Northaw in the County of Hertford near Potters Bar, between Barnet and Hatfield, made his will on 15 December 1680 (PCC Prob11/369). It was proved on 23 March 1682. He left some of his property, including the goods and chattels to two sons, John and Edward II. He bequeathed his "estate in Twitnam in houses and lands" to his wife Honnor for life, to be subsequently sold and the proceeds divided between his surviving children.

When Edward died his widow eventually claimed the Twickenham properties (LMA ACC 1379/36, March 28 1695 f26b & f124a). The court entry noted the continuing tenancy of John Buckland (he died and was buried in Twickenham on 22 Jan 1695/6). A marginal note refers to the admission of Alexander Prescot, a son, on 1 March 1697. Edward II's widow Elizabeth was buried 0n 21 November 1703.

A later member of this family, Admiral Sir Henry Prescott (1783-1869) became Governor of Newfoundland and Labrador


further reading:

A History of Coppull, Hubert Walsh, Sunday School of St John the Divine, Coppull, 2 June 1978, 200 copies printed
A C B Urwin, The Vicars of Twickenham, 1640-1661, Borough of Twickenham Local History Society Paper No18, 1970
Dictionary of Canadian Biography online – for Admiral Sir Henry Prescott

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