The Twickenham Museum
People : Landowners and Gentry

John York
Landowner of Twickenham
14th century

Arragon Towers in Church Street, Twickenham, the remaining part of the Manor House, demolished in 1934

Twickenham Manor sometimes known as Yorkhold

The York family held land in Twickenham and nearby for 157 years. They are held to have lent their name to the property first known as York Farm, later York House and to have lived in the Manor House at the bottom of Church Street. The remnant of this house, known as Arragon Tower was demolished in 1934.

In 1381 John York, possibly from Greenwich with a wife, Agnes (Bridge House Estates CLA/007/EM/02), acquired land and a fishery at Petersham Weir from Thomas Postel. The land amounted to 80 acres and a meadow sufficient for three virgates. This copyhold land was, by 1446, a part of Twickenham Manor, sometimes known as Yorkhold which had originally been a part of the Manor of Isleworth Syon. It is probable that John York also bought more than 200 acres of freehold land in the area, within the Rectory Manor which was another sub-division of Isleworth Syon. Some of this land was the rabbit Warren in Twickenham Park amounting to about 15 acres though probably no longer used for breeding rabbits.

Ownership was not without problems; in 1410 John Morys Warden of Winchester College was apprehended to answer John York on a plea of arrest and unlawful detention and seizure of cattle on Whitton Marsh. Verdict: John York to be in mercy for a false claim. (Anglesey, Marquis of, Extract from 'Coram Rege' Roll re. Isleworth Rectory Lands. - ref. ACC/0446/L/001/8: 1410)

Family tombs in St Mary's Church

John York's son, also John, inherited, dying in 1413, and in 1445 William Yorke, possibly his grandson obtained Twickenham Manor, with his wife Agnes. William, a fishmonger of London and a merchant of the Staple of Calais died in 1476 leaving his widow, Elizabeth in possession of more than 300 acres of land in Twickenham, Isleworth and Brentford. Elizabeth added to this land, dying in 1497 and wishing to be buried "within the choir of the parish church" of Twickenham according to her will.

William and Elizabeth left a son, William who died without heir in 1506. John, another son of William and Agnes then inherited from his nephew: he died and was buried in the church, in 1512. Thomas, the next owner lived in Ramsbury, Wiltshire and in 1538 sold the properties to Edward Seymour, later Lord Protector Somerset.

William Yorke the Younger also desired, by his will of 1506, to be buried in St Mary's Church, Twickenham:

I will to be buried...in the toombe betwixt the high aulter and our Lady chancel and then I will to be laid a newe stone of marble and with the picture of me and my two wifes Elizabeth and Mary and my son Nicholas, the imagery to be made of brass and set in stone Also I will that a new sepulcher be made of timber in the said church. Also I bequeath to the high aulter of the church of Twykkenham XXd also to be divided unto all the lights in the said church Xd also to the reparation of the said church V£.

From which it appears that both his wives and his son, Nicholas had predeceased him and been buried in tombs near the altar of the church. Sadly, the memorial brass may not have survived the reign of Protector Somerset, Lord of the Manor of Isleworth Syon and guardian of Edward VI. But if it did it was lost when the church collapsed in 1713. The tombs may still be there today, buried beneath the chancel.

Further reading:

A C B Urwin, The Manor House - Twickenham, Borough of Twickenham Local History Society Paper No 60, 1987
A C B Urwin, The Rabbit Warrens of Twickenham, Borough of Twickenham Local History Society Paper No58, 1986
Victoria County History of Middlesex, vol iii, 1962
Arthur Burrell (compiled by), The Book of Twickenham, 1937, Local Studies Library, London Borough of Richmond upon Thames.

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