The Methuen Family
An Extract from Jones History of Bradford on Avon:
For more than two centuries this family was closely connected with our town, and, to the public spirit of one of its members. Brad ford-on-Avon owed much of its prosperity during the 17th and 18th centuries. They demand therefore more than a passing notice.
Originally of German extraction, this family may nevertheless be traced back as settlers in Scotland for no less than 700 years. On the first settler from Germany, Malcolm III. (called Cefln Mohr,) King of Scotland from 1056-1098, is said to have bestowed the Barony of Methven1 in Perthshire as an acknowledgment of services rendered to the Princess Margaret, afterwards his Queen. She together with her brother Edgar, "the Atheling," were accompanied by him from Hungary, where they had both been born during the exile of their father Edward, the son of Edmund Ironside, and nephew of Edward the Confessor. To keep in remembrance their German origin, the Methuen family carry their arms blazoned on the breast of an imperial eagle.
We soon find members of the Methuen family occupying high and honorable offices in Scotland. In the reign of Alexander II. (1214-1248) we find Galfred, William, and Robert, mentioned in such a way, and in conjunction with others of such exalted station, as implies the rank to which they had themselves attained.
The immediate ancestor, however, of the family of which we are speaking, was PATRICK DE METHVEN, who was the proprietor of the lands and barony of Methven, and lived in the reign of Alexander III. (c.1260). His son, Sir Roger, is mentioned as a man of distinction in the reign of Robert Bruce. He was Lord of the same barony as his father, and, with many other Scotchmen of the first rank, was compelled to submit to Edward I. in 1296.
Sir Roger was succeeded by his eldest son Paul, whom we meet with as one of the ambassadors extraordinary appointed to treat concerning a peace with England in 1363. A similar appointment was no long time afterwards filled by the grandson of this Paul, by name John de Methven, who was, in 1397, one of the ambassadors to the Court of England for negotiating affairs of state with that kingdom. It appears that the castle of Methven and part of the lands belonging to the Barony were acquired from this John, by the Duke of Albany, Regent of Scotland during the imprisonment of King James I. They afterwards fell to the Crown, where they remained for some years. In 1425 King James V. gave them to his mother Queen Margaret, (sister of Henry VII1. of England,} and Henry Steward, son of Lord Evandale, her third husband, created, in 1523, Lord Methven.
The son of the last-mentioned John de Methven, bearing himself the same name as his father, was a man of great accomplishments, and was constantly employed in the service of his King and country. No Scotsman in the reign of James II. enjoyed more of his Prince's favour. He was one of the principal Secretaries of State and Lord Register of Scotland in the year 1440, and a few years afterwards was appointed ambassador extraordinary to the Court of England. He was concerned in all the important public transactions of his time, and always acquitted himself with integrity and honour.
A few generations pass away, and towards the middle of the 16th century we meet with two brothers, John and Andrew,- (the sons of an Andrew de Methven),-who corne before us in the character of zealous promoters of the Reformation. We meet also about the same time with a Paul de Methven (probably the son of John, and of whom we shall speak presently) as a stem opposer of the Church of Rome. At the old Kirk of Stirling one of the earliest nurseries of the Reformation, this Paul defended Protestantism long before the appearance of others with whose names we are more familiar In fact in that town he set at defiance the edicts of the Regent, Mary of Guise,-the widow of James V.-and thus occupied, in his aspect to her Court, the same position which John Knox sustained in that of her daughter, Mary Queen of Scots.
Of Andrew, the younger of the two brothers just alluded to, we know but little. Of John, we are told, that, dreading the persecution of the times, George Wishart having just before suffered death at St. Andrews, under Cardinal Beaton, for his Protestantism, he fled to England and was kindly received by Queen Elizabeth who took his son Paul1 under her special protection. The latter was presented to a stall in Wells Cathedral, and to other preferment's in the County of Somerset, and was, it is believed, Chaplain to John Still,2 Bishop of Bath and Wells. He married Anne Rogers, of an ancient family of that name seated at Cannington in Somerset. Possibly through this marriage the Methuen family first became possessed of property in Bradford. The house in which for many years they lived, and which tilt a comparatively short time ago belonged to them and is still called ' Methuen's' by the older inhabitants, is that to which we have alluded, in a previous page, aa having probably been built by one of the family of Rogers of Cannington, to whom, in the sixteenth century, the property belonged.
The son of the last-named Paul, by name Anthony, was also in Holy Orders- He was Prebendary of Wells and Litchfield, and held the Vicarage of Frome, in Somerset, from 1609- 1640. He married Jean daughter and sole heiress of ThomasTaylor, Esq., of the city of Bristol, and with her obtained a large accession to his fortune, which even before was not inconsiderable. They both died in the same year, 1640, and were interred under a costly monument,1 now in the Vestry of the Parish Church of Frome, which has recently been completely restored to its original condition by the present Vicar.
It is with the sons of this ANTHONY, the Vicar of Frome, that we are especially concerned, as they were the first of the family who settled in Bradford. Three of his children seem to have survived him, Paul,-Anthony,-and Francis. The last named son left no succession, neither do we know anything of his history. The eldest was the "Paul Methwin" of Bradford, of whom mention has already been made, and from whom descends the present noble family of "Methuen." The second, Anthony, was for several generations represented in Bradford by direct male descendants, the last of whom died in 1792. Through female branches he is still represented by several families of station and affluence both in Wiltshire and Somersetshire. It will be convenient to trace in order, down to the present day, the descendants of those two brothers respectively.
PAUL,-the elder of the two,-described as of Bradford and Bishops Cannings, has been already spoken of in the course of our narrative, (p. 54). It was he that introduced some weavers from Holland into Bradford, and materially improved the manufactures and consequently the trade of the Town He settled here about the year 1620-1630. He married Grace daughter of Mr. John Ashe," of Freshford, of an ancient family in Somerset, and a member of several Parliaments during the reign of Charles I. Aubrey calls this Paul Methwin, " the greatest cloathier of his time (Charles II.)" and says that "he succeeded his father-in-law in the trade." By prudent economy, and successful enterprise, he greatly improved his property, and amassed a large fortune. He died in the year 1667.
He left behind him several sons. The eldest,-JOHN,- described as of Bishops Cannings, was a man of great abilities and was much employed in affairs of State. He was one of the Privy Council and Lord Chancellor of Ireland in the reigna of King William III. and Queen Anne. He was frequently employed in embassies to Portugal, and, in 1703, concluded, with the Court of Lisbon, a treaty which regulated the trade in wine and was ever afterwards called by his name, and considered as a great evidence of his skill in negotiation. He represented the Borough of Devizes in five Parliaments. A monument in Westminster Abbey records that "he died abroad in the service of his country A.D. 1706." §
The son of this last named John was a diplomatist even more highly distinguished than himself. SIR PAUL METHUBN, for some years, was ambassador at Madrid. He also acted as envoy at various times to the Emperor of Morocco, and the Duke of Savoy. In 1706 he was appointed one of the Lords of the Admiralty; in 1714 he became a Lord of the Treasury and a Privy Counsellor. He rose at last in 1716 to the high office of a principal Secretary of State, and in 1720 was comptroller of the King's Household. He was installed in 1726 as a Knight of the Bath, and the same year became Treasurer of the Household, an office which he resigned in a few years and passed the remainder of his life in a private station.1
Sir Paul Methuen died unmarried, in the 85th year of his age, and was interred near the remains of his father in Westminster Abbey. In him ended the male line of John the eldest son of ' Paul Methwin of Bradford.' He bequeathed his valuable collection of pictures, and considerable estates, to Paul, (the son of his first cousin, Thomas Methuen) the purchaser of Corsham House.
ANTHONY, the second son of Paul, of Bradford, succeeded to his father as a Clothier, and his name very often occurs in the indentures of various apprentices from time to time. He inherited his father's estate at Bradford, and also his manors of Cheddar, Withy, Beckington and Freshford in Somerset. He married Gertrude daughter and co-heir of Thomas Moore of Spargrove, Co. Somerset, and their son Thomas Methuen (who married Ann daughter of Isaac Selfe, of Beanacre, Co. Wilts) was the father of the Paul, to whom we have just alluded as the inheritor of the pictures and other property of Sir Paul Methuen. Paul, of Corsham House, was for some years M.P. for Warwick. It was he that purchased the Lordship of the Manor of Bradford from Mr. Poulctt Wright in 1774. His grandson, also Paul Methuen, was for some years M.P. for Wilts, and was elevated to the peerage, in 1838, as Baron Methuen of Corsham, Co. Wilts. The present (late) peer succeeded to the title, as second Baron Methuen, on the demise of his father in 1849.
We must return now to ANTHONY,-the second son of Anthony, the Vicar of Frome. Together with his brother Paul he seems to have settled in Bradford where he died in 1684. His descendants remained in the town, and, in the beginning of the eighteenth century, were represented by PAUL METHUEN, who, in the year 1697, married Sarah daughter of William Gould, of Upway and Fleet, Co. Dorset. They had three sons (one only of whom grew to man's estate) and eight daughters. HENRY, their son, married Elizabeth daughter of Thomas Farmer, Esq. of Bromsgrove, and had issue Paul, afterwards called to the Bar, and a member of the Society at Lincoln's Inn. PAUL-"the Counsellor," as ho is commonly termed,-is described as "of Holt," and died unmarried in 1792. On his decease, the daughters of Paul and Sarah Methuen, (the aunts of Paul 'the Counsellor,') became the representatives of this branch of the Methuen family, and co-heiresses of their father. Of these,-BARBARA, married, in 1727, Edward Poore, Esq. of RushaJl, and their second son, ' John Methuen ' was created a Baronet in 1795;-ELIZABETH, married, in 1737, the Rev. Thomas Leir, of Ditcheat;- GRATIAKA, married, in 1747, the Rev. J. Rogers, Vicar of Warminster;-and MARY, the youngest, married, in 175-1, W-Stevens, Esq. of Frankleigh, and their only daughter and heiress became, in 1779, the wife of Samuel Bailward, Esq. of Horsington, a name still well known and as well respected in the pariah of Brad ford-on-Avon. -extract from Rev. Jones History of Bradford on Avon
click for Methuen Family Tree
Anthony Methuen andhis wife Gertrude Moore.
The Methuen family came originally from Scotland and there name for many centuries was spelt Methven. They later moved to Somerset where a Paul Methven married Anne Rogers of an ancient family of that name. Their son was Anthony Methuen (1574-1640) rose to be Prebendary for Wells and Vicar of Frome from 1609 -1640. He married Jean daughter and sole heiress of Thomas Taylor, Esq., of Bristol and with her obtained a large fortune. During the early Seventeenth century there was a severe slump in the broadcloth trade. It was particularly acute in the area around Frome and in August 1622 Anthony petitioned the county magistrates about the desperate situation.
Paul their eldest son settled in Bradford about the year 1620-1630 and married one of John Ashe's daughters named Grace. After John's death in 1659 the important woollen industry was inherited by Paul and the factory was moved to Bradford-on -A von. Here he built the business up and succeeded his father in law in the trade. In 1657 he moved into "Priory House" in Bradford, and descendants lived in this house for over a hundred years. The Methuens eldest son John( 1650-1706) went on to become M.P .for Devizes, Privy Councillor, Envoy to the King of Portugal, and eventually Queen Anne's Ambassador. In 1703 he concluded the famous "Methuen Treaty" with Portugal. His son Paul was also to become Ambassador of Portugal in 1706. He was M.P. for Devizes and held office in Government until 1730. He ~ died unmarried and was buried with his father in Westminster Abbey.. He left £250,000 of which £50,000 was in Gold and silver found in sealed bags in his house. His cousin and godchild Paul Methuen ( 1723- 1795) inherited his London house and its treasures.
The earlier Paul and Grace Methuen had a younger son-Anthony (1650-1717) who marries Gertrude Moore, daughter of Thomas Moore, the builder of Spargrove Manor in Batcombe. It is Anthony who carries on his Fathers Woollen Trade from his base in Bradford .In 1712 he buys most of the village of Freshford to add to his many properties and on the death of Joseph Davison 3 years later, obtains the remainder. Though he now owns Pitts Place (Freshford Manor) he does not live there and decides to sell it on with its garden to Robert Hayward who had previously rented Freshford Mill from the Methuens. By 1715 the income from Anthony's properties in Bradford, Beckington, Freshford, Cheddon and Withy is shown as £1077 a year. Freshford accounts for £242 of the total, with most of the Villagers paying rent to him. He dies soon after in 1717 and his son Thomas Methuen (1684-1737) continues running the family clothing business and marries the rich heiress -Anne Selfe. The properties in Freshford are passed from them to their son Paul Methuen ( 1723-1795).
Paul Methuen decides in 1745 to pay £11,000 for an Elizabethan Mansion with an estate in nearby Corsham .and with the help of Capability Brown transforms it ready to house his Uncle John's Collection of Paintings. Finally he sells their old house the "Priory" to another rich clothier Humphrey Tugwell In 1763, whose son William is to live with his wife Betty at Freshford Manor. Paul continues receiving his rents from Freshford until he decides to sell some of his properties to the Coopers in 1773. but it is not until 1807 when his son Paul Cobb Methuen finally sells the remainder to the wealthy clothier- Thomas Joyce for a total of £12,000. Paul had spent a fortune on his alterations by the famous architect John Nash on Corsham Court and no doubt needed to pay his bills when the work was finished in 1806.