The Twickenham Museum
People : Landowners and Gentry

Sir Abstrupus Danby
Of an Ancient Yorkshire Family
1655 - 1727

Sir Abstrupus Danby

His family and background

Two references in the Vestry Minutes of St Mary's Church, for 6 May and 26 December 1700 record the presence, in Twickenham of Sir Abstrupus Danby, sharing a pew with a Mrs Berkley (sic).

Danby (described as a "wool baron") came from North Yorkshire where, on the death of his father in 1695, he had built himself a house at Swinton having sold his estate, Scruton Hall, which the family had owned since about 1575. He was knighted at Kensington, presumably by his monarch, in April or August 1691. He was a JP and a Deputy Lieutenant of the county. The family were longstanding in Yorkshire from before the Conquest and enjoyed many connections in the county. His grandfather, Sir Thomas, a Royalist had been High Sheriff and three generations before this another Thomas had married Elizabeth Wentworth sister of Thomas Wentworth Earl of Strafford who was executed in 1641.

Elizabeth Danby

An unintended Christian name

His Christian name is curious and has been stated to have derived from a confused christening by a befuddled parson. This hardly explains just what name was really intended, though it was probably intended to be Antrobus, after that of his father. In any event he named his own son Abstrupus, later. There is a memorial to both him and his son, among various Danby memorial stones in Masham parish church.

Danby died in 1727. In 1720 Abstrupus the second, described as Lord of Mashamshire married Battina Eusden (another curious Christian name), both for the second time (see below). She was a sister of Lawrence (1688-1730), Poet Laureate from 1718. Pope knew Eusden and described him as "a drunken sot of a Parson" in a letter to John Gay dated 23 October 1730. He had in fact died on 23 September. There are both specific and tangential references to Eusden, apparently a man of little talent and addicted to alcohol, in The Dunciad. Eusden was succeeded as Poet Laureate by Colley Cibber, to Pope's chagrin, but that is another story.

A dispute about church pews

In 1698 there had been a dispute concerning the entitlement to a pew, one of a pair, and the Vestry had successfully obtained a ruling at Doctors Commons for its possession by Mrs Berkley in preference to Mr Philip Ryley. Mr Ryley was then given permission to have built, at his own expense of £5, a pew elsewhere which was then allotted to Mrs Berkley and Danby. It is a strange little story, only partly revealed by the abbreviated record in the Vestry Minutes held on Monday 20 June 1698:

Ordered that Philip Ryley Esq have the use of two small pews scituate in the middle Isle…between the pews of the Lady Falkland and the seat that Timothy Child sits in

Philip Ryley paid rates in Twickenham between 1695 and 1704, selling his (as yet unidentified) house to Captain Goar in 1705. It is evident (Minutes of Vestry for Monday 6 May 1700) that there was some dispute about his accommodation in the church:

Ordered that the Church=Wardens do acquaint Mr Ryley that it is the desire of this Vestry that he do advise and assist the Church=Wardens in maintaining according to Law the Right of the Vestry in disposing of the seate in the Church to his use, And especially against the Act at Doctors Commons, whereby the Same Seate or part of it, is directed (by prescription) to appertaine to the house of Mrs Berkley, which decree is conceived to be injurious to the Right of this Parish. And that the same be done at the Charge of this Parish, And defrayed by the Church Wardens from time to time as there shall be occasion of

The matter seems to have been resolved by the minutes of the Vestry meeting on Thursday 26 December 1700, attended by Mr Ryley:

Ordered by the Vestry that the West Pew on the North side of the Chauncell now erected at the Charge of Phillip Ryley Esqre he giving five pounds for doing the same be for the use of Sr Abstrupus (?) Danby for the house that Mrs Bellamy lives in, in lieu of that pew granted by the Parish to Phillip Ryley Esqre by an order of Vestry bearing date the 20th day of June 1698. Mrs Berkley and the said Sr Abstrupus Danby do acquiesce and release their pretensions to the said Pew now in the possession of the said Mr Ryley and Ordered that the said Pew so in the Possession of the said Mr Ryley be & remain to his use

His connection with TwickenhamIt is not known what brought Danby to Twickenham but it was probably his connection by marriage with the Berkeley family, owners of Twickenham Park from 1668 until 1685 starting with Lord John Berkeley of Stratton. His sister, Jane Davies lived elsewhere in Twickenham from 1679, on the estate which later became Orleans House, dying in 1694.

The property was held on a Crown lease and in 1697 Jane Davies's executrix, described in the Indenture of Assignment as the Honourable Jane Berkeley of the Parish of St Clement Danes transferred the property to John, Lord Poulet (Indenture 467 held in Richmond upon Thames Local Studies Library). It seems likely that Jane was the Mrs Berkley noted in the Vestry minutes and that she was an unmarried niece, the daughter of one of John Berkeley's other brothers.

When Lord John Berkeley's brother, Sir William, Governor of Virginia returned to England in 1677 he came to Twickenham, died and was buried there. Danby's connection appears to have been with his widowed second wife, who William married in 1670: Frances (nee Culpepper) Stephens (1634-1698) and a woman of considerable reputation, prominent in Virginia. The Berkeley Papers include correspondence between her and Danby from 26 January 1677/8 until 20 July 1694:

To Sir Abstrupus Danby, 26 January 1677/78
To Sir Abstrupus Danby, 27 June 1678
To Sir Abstrupus Danby, 9 September 1684
From Sir Abstrupus Danby, 10 February 1686/87
To Sir Abstrupus Danby, 31 August 1693 and 20 July 1694

Danby's uncle, Christopher had married Anne Colepeper (Culpepper), niece of the Lord Colepeper and it was probably this connection by marriage which brought him, briefly, to Twickenham, perhaps to assist Mrs Berkeley with administration of the estate and to fend off Mr Ryley.

The Culpepers and the Fairfaxes

In the late 1600s the grants (of land in Virginia) were consolidated by one family - the Culpepers - whose heiress married into the family of the lords Fairfax of Cameron. Thomas, the sixth Lord Fairfax, defended his inheritance against the Virginia government, which disputed its size. The long case was resolved in Fairfax's favour in 1745 and he was declared sole owner of 5,282,000 acres, extending far west of the Northern Neck proper, to the region about Winchester founded at this time. Lord Fairfax came to Virginia and, indeed, lived out his life here, dying in 1781 at age eighty-eight. Among his contributions was seeing promise in the teenager George Washington, whom he employed as a surveyor. (see

Further reading

Warren M Billings, The Papers of Sir William Berkeley (1605-1677) Project,
North Yorkshire Record Office, Northallerton:

Taken from York Minster burials index (GENUKI):

(131). Lawrence Euesden, Rector of Spofford, Dr. of Devinity, was bur. the 14 of February, 1699. Lawrence Eusden, clerk, M.A., was instituted to the rectory of Spofforth, 19 Jan. 1677-8, from the registers of which parish, and other sources, I glean the following particulars relating to his children: Catherine, bap. 21 Feb. 1683-4, bur. 1 March, 1694-5. Rosamond, bap. 19 May, 1685, bur. 16 Aug. 1686. Battina, bap. 28 May, 1686, married at York Minster, 14 Jan. 1719-20, Abstrupus Danby,*17 esq., of Swinton, lord of Mashamshire, by whom she had issue three daughters, Judith, Anne, and Battina. Mrs. Danby*18 died intestate in 1748, and was buried at Bath. Lawrence, bap. 6 Sept. 1688, was chaplain to the learned antiquary, Richard, Lord Willoughby de Broke, and rector of Coningsby, co. Lincoln. He was also Poet Laureate from 1718 to 1730, during which time he made, but never published, a translation of the "Jerusalem Delivered " of Tasso. John, bap. 24 Oct. 1690, bur. 3 Dec. seq. Frances, bap. 26 April, 1694, died unmarried and intestate at York, administration of her effects being granted 20 May, 1755, to Ann Danby, spinster, her niece and next of kin. " Madam Catharine Eusden, wife to ye Reverend Doctor Eusden, Rector of Spofforth," was buried there 15 April, 1699; and, at the same place, on 16 Oct. 1683, "Joseph Daniel of Acaster, and Battinah Eusdin, of Spofforth, was married with a license." The bride was probably the rector's sister. Her husband, Joseph Daniel, esq., of Acaster Malbis, near York, had lost his first wife, Sarah, daughter of Conyers Rulerbut, on 17 Nov. 1681.

*17: 14 Jan. 1719-20. "Mr. Abstrupo Danby & Mrs. Batte : Eusden" (Reg. of Marriages in York Minster). She was his second wife.

*18: 18 April, 1752. Administration of the goods of Battina Danby, late wife of Abstrupus Danby, esq., of Swinton, was granted to Wm. Danby, esq., and Ann Danby, spinster, daughter of the said deceased.

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