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  • Burke's Landed Gentry ed. 1937 - Robinson From St. Mary's Merton, Southwark: by Alan Hay Four generations of the Robinson family of Rokeby, Yorkshire were buried at St Mary's between 1675 and 1777. The first two monuments are in the chancel. The earlier is to Grace, wife of Thomas Robinson of Rokeby, who died 1676 aged 25. Beside her lie the remains of her father, Sir Henry Stapylton of Myton, Yorkshire, who died in 1679 aged 63. The Stapyltons were a family of some distinction. They take their name from Stapleton Hall on Teesside, where they appear before the Norman Conquest, when one Herman held the manor of Stapylton as early as 1052. He was the father of Alan de Stapylton, living in 1080. Sir Miles Stapylton was one of the original Knights of the Garter. Sir Bryan (another KG) fought and killed a Saracen before King Edward III, for which he was granted the crest of a Saracen's head which appears on his descendant's monument on our chancel floor. Henry Stapylton's daughter Grace, who died at such a tragically young age, married into another Yorkshire family, the Robinsons of Rokeby, who also owned Merton Abbey. Situated on the south side of the River Tees, Rokeby is perhaps best known from Sir Walter Scott's poem. The Robinsons acquired the estate during the time of Cromwell, when the then owner found himself ruined by his adherence to the Royalists. Little is known of Grace's son, William Robinson, although the parish register records his burial at St Mary's in 1719. His widow, Anne, is commemorated in a handsome memorial in the North aisle, which tells us she was the daughter and heiress of William Walters of Cundale, Yorkshire and that she died in 1730 aged 53. Their eldest son, Sir Thomas, whose monument is over the sanctuary, was a typical Georgian rake. A self taught architect inspired by a tour of Europe in the 1730s, he dissipated his fortune by indulging in extravagant building projects which were rarely distinguished by their practicality and which he could not always afford. In the 1730s he rebuilt Rokeby Hall at great expense in the Palladian style which was the fashion of the day. In 1742 he became Governor of Barbados, an appointment which provided an ideal outlet for his expensive creative energies. He built a new governor's residence, armoury and arsenal; unfortunately, he failed to seek authority in London for any of this, and had to foot the bill himself. Nothing daunted, his extravagance continued unabated until the islanders grew unhappy with is capacity for spending money and he had to be recalled in 1747. Back at home, the irrepressible Sir Thomas continued to put all his energy into building and throwing extravagant parties. His skills were clearly in demand: he designed the west wing of Castle Howard and undertook a vast project for Lord Verney at Claydon House, Bucks. During the 1760s and 1770s he built two bridges over the Tees, including a revolutionary single span bridge at Winston. Alas, Sir Thomas' profligacy eventually caught up with him and he had to dispose of Rokeby in 1769. He died in 1777 and is buried in St Mary's. His younger brother Richard was more successful. Born at Merton in 1709, he held several ecclesiastical appointments before becoming Chaplain to the Duke of Dorset, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, in 1751. Through the Duke's influence, he became Bishop of Kildare in 1761, eventually becoming Primate of Ireland in 1765 as Archbishop of Armagh. Horace Walpole describes the Bishop as `a proud but superficial man', but the dramatist Richard Cumberland says he was `splendid, liberal, lofty, publicly ambitious of great deeds and privately capable of good ones.' He did much for the Irish church, particularly by building chapels of ease in large parishes and compelling clergy to reside in their benefices something apparently unusual in rural Ireland. In 1777 he was created 1st Baron Rokeby of Armagh and he died in 1794. He left a great deal of money to his nephews (one of whom adopted the name Robinson), the sons of his sister Grace who is commemorated in a monument over the North door. There is an interesting postscript to this story. The Rev Ernest Murray Robinson, Vicar of St Mary's at the turn of the 20th century, used the arms of the Robinsons of Rokeby, although on what authority is not clear. These later Robinsons owned the living and we must assume that there is a family connection. The vicar's arms can be seen around the church impaled with those of his rather grand and fabulously rich wife, a daughter of Lord Inverclyde, Chairman of the Cunard Steamship Company. (With thanks to Lorna Cowell for the Parish Register references.) The Ancient Parish of HUTTON MAGNA [Transcribed information from the early 1820s] "HUTTON MAGNA, (or Hutton Longvilliers), a parish in the wapentake of Gilling West, and liberty of Richmondshire ; 8 miles NNW. of Richmond. The living is a perpetual curacy, in the patronage of the vicar of Gilling West, incumbent the Rev. William Heslop. Pop. with Lanehead, 248. (see also Churches)" "LANE HEAD, in the parish of Hutton Magna, wapentake of Gilling West, and liberty of Richmondshire; 8 miles NNW. of Richmond." "WEST LAYTON, in the parish of Hutton Magna, wapentake of Gilling West, and liberty of Richmondshire ; 7 miles NNW. of Richmond. Pop. 69. Morris Robinson, the present Baron Rokeby, of Armagh, and an English baronet, is descended from a long line of an illustrious family, the Robinsons of Rokeby and West-Layton, who have, at different times, filled various important offices in the state. They appear to have come into possession of the Layton estate in 1644, by marriage with a daughter of the Laytons. -Richard Layton, a younger son of the Laytons, of West-Layton, was dean of York in Henry the 8th's time, and was one of the persons whose authority that monarch principally made use of in dissolving the monasteries. The first Lord Rokeby was Richard Robinson, created a baron in 1777, Sir Leonard Robinson being knighted by King William III. -Heir presumptive, Matthew Montague, Esq. his Lordships brother. -Debrett."

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