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Desborough Study: Transcriptions

Extract from Northamptonshire Notes and Queries, 1890

468.—The Poulton Monument in Desborough Church.

—The memorial is on the north side of the chancel, near the altar rails. It consists of a mural tablet surmounted by a sarcophagus, above which is a shield bearing the arms of the family. Under the shield is a scroll with the Poulton motto, "Deum et Puritatem ama." On the sarcophagus is a record by William Poulton, who died in 1792, to his wife's memory.

Here rests the earthly remains of Mrs Mary Pulton, the Beloved Wife of William Pulton Esqr, & only Daughter of Robert Smith of Poolthron, in the County of Lincoln Gent. She was a Woman of Singular Chastity, Faithful in her Love, Without Deceit, Benevolent, Charitable, & Friendly to all. A Lover of the Poor, a Despiser of the Vanities of the Age, Delighted in Retirement & an Example for Her Sex. After having Lived in the Marriage State 44 Years, a most Affectionate Wife, & tender Mother of nine Children, By a Long and Painful Illness, Suffer'd with great Patience and Resignation to the Will of God, to whom She constantly Adher'd. She Departed to Eternal Rest, on the 6th of April. Anno 1779. Aged 67 years and 5 Months. Requiescat in Pace.

The lower inscription is a brief summary of the family history.

Sacred to the Memory of the Honorable Family of the PULTONS, Who for Fourteen Generations, were Lords of this Town of Desburgh or Desborough, Descended from Princely, Most Noble, Illustrious, and Holy Progenitors of this Kingdom. Besides this Lordship, they possessed Manours and Lands in Cransley, Kelmersh, Broughton, And Hargrave, in this County. They took their Local Name from their Estate about the time of The Conquest. In the reign of King Stephen, Jocelina the Daughter and Heir of John de Desburgh, Lord of this Town of Desburgh. Whose Ancestor took his Local Name from this Place. His Great Grandfather Richard de Desburgh, about anno 1220 Married, Amicia de Costentein Daughter and Heir of Richard de Costentein, Who possessed Lands in Hargrave in the reign of King Henry the 2d. The Pultons Inhabited this Town for about 370 years and as the Chief of them are Buried in this Church ; have placed this Short account, in Memory of My Forefathers and to Excite all, to an Imitation of their Virtues.

Requiescat in Pace

One word, "princely," in line 3 probably refers to the Poultons being descended (according to a pedigree in the College of Arms) from the old Norman princes. There is a small town in Normandy bearing the name. A name nearly the same was given to a manor near Canterbury held by them in the reign of Henry I., from Geoffrey, earl of Perch. William de Poltone and sir Stephen de Poltone, knight, are mentioned as owners of it in the register of S. Radigund's abbey, and their descendant, sir Robert de Polton, in the reign of Henry III. gave it to the Abbey of S. Radigund at Bradsole. The estates of this branch passed to sir Alexander Monins, of Poltone, knight, who married Jocelyn, daughter and heiress of sir Robert de Polton,. The latter bore for his arms argent, on a fesse sable three bezants, between three mullets, sable. In the meantime several branches of the family had settled in Northamptonshire, Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, and Wiltshire

The following is copied from a brass on the south wall of chancel in Desborough church. A shield of arms accompanies each name.

Ricardus Dominus De Disborowe. Obiit 1426.

Jane Daughter and Heiress Richard Ld De Disborowe and Wife of John Poulton Esqr. Died 1452.

John Poulton Esqr.

Thomas Poulton Esqr.

William Poulton Esqr. of Disborowe. Died 14th Octr. 1499.

Martin Poulton of Disborowe Esqr. Died 23 June 1517.

To turn to the Northamptonshire branch—in which our readers will feel more interest—the account on the monument and brasses, may be supplemented briefly by the following notes:—

Giles, in the fourth generation from the marriage of John Poulton and Jane, heir of Richard lord of Desborough, married Catherine, daughter of Thomas Lovette, sen., of Astwell. Their third son, Giles, married Alice, daughter and co-heir of Thomas More of Bourton, Bucks, of the family of sir Thomas More, lord chancellor; and Jane, Alice More's younger sister, married Thomas Brooke of Great Oakley, ancestor of the baronets. Martin, eldest son of Giles and Catherine, married Mary, daughter of Morris Osborne of Kelmarsh. Anne, another of the children of Giles and Catherine, married Euseby Isham of Pytchley, and they had twenty children, one of whom—John—was ancestor of the baronets of Lamport (see Kimber's Baronetage). Yet another daughter, Isabella, married Edward Wykeham of Swalcliffe, co. Oxon, from whom the viscounts Wenman. Agnes, the youngest daughter, married Myles Hampden of Rowell, co. Rutland.

Descending now to the next generation we come to Ferdinando Poulton, fellow of Christ's college, Cambridge, who inherited the estate of Bourton, Bucks, from his mother (Alice More) : he became a very celebrated lawyer ; for a list of his books see Watts' Bibliotheca Britannica. In sir John Beaumont's Poems is an elegy to him. He married Ist, Anne, daughter of Thomas Underhill of Nether Etington, co. Warwick, and 2nd, Catherine, daughter by William Jackman. Ferdinando died in 1617. Martha, a daughter by his 2nd wife, married William Penn of Penn, high sheriff of Bucks 22 James I. Another—Eugenia—became a nun in the monastery of the English Benedictines at Brussels, was made prioress, and afterwards was one of four who in 1624 founded a house of their order in Ghent, of which she became the second abbess, and governed the community for seventeen years. George Poulton of Desborough, a grandson of Martin Poulton and Mary Osborne, married Elizabeth, daughter of John Isham, high sheriff 23 Elizabeth. This would be the George Poulton who contributed his £25 on June 17, 1588, towards the defence of the country against the Spanish Armada (see "N.N.&Q.," vol. I. p.46). The following engraving is of a brass in Desborough church.

Brass from Desborough church

Here lyeth Elizabeth the Daughter of John Isham of Lamport in this Countie of Northampton Esquire and Wife to George Pulton Lord of this towne of Desborowghe Esquire. She died the xiith of May Anno Dom 1584

Here also lyeth George Pulton Lord of this town of Desborough And Husband of the above Elizabeth. He died the 22d of Octobr Anno Dom. 1598.


We have selected the above details principally as shewing a little of the Northamptonshire genealogy of this family. The leading characteristics of the Poultons were their tenacious attachment to the Roman Catholic religion & refusing to follow the reformers ; and their persistent fidelity to the Royalist cause. Our readers may refer to that simple yet pathetic record, The Names of the Roman Catholics, Nonjurors, and others, who refus'd to take the Oaths to his late Majesty King George. . . . Transmitted to the late Commissioners for the Forfeited Estates of England and Wales, after the Unnatural Rebellion in the North, in the year 1715. . . . . Taken from an Original Manuscript of a Gentleman, who was the Principal Clerk to the Accomptant General's Office, belonging to the said Commissioners ; printed 1745, reprinted 1862, and quoted in "N.N.&Q." col. iii. p.56.

"Julia Pulton, . . . . . . . . . .£135"
Mary Saunders, Widow . . .£296."

I presume this Mary Saunders was Mary Poulton who married William Saunders of Welford.

The State Papers also repeatedly make mention of their fines and sufferings. The following were (amongst others of the family) members of the "Society of Jesus":— Charles, born 1616, died in Newgate prison, "a martyr for the Catholic faith, February 1690, aet : 74. A man of eminent sanctity, and during a missionary career of upwards of 30 years endeared himself to all by his disinterested zeal, meekness, and charity, performing long journies, frequently on foot, to visit the scattered Catholics, whom he excited to piety both by word and example. In the heat of the Oates persecution he was hunted up and down the country like a wild beast . . . travelling by lanes and almost inaccessible roads, and sometimes for whole days during the winter compelled to lie concealed in woods and thickets. . . . But under the protection of Providence he escaped for the time the fury of his bloodthirsty persecutors." [from] Brother Foley's Records of the English Province of the Society of Jesus. He was appointed first rector of the Savoy college. A fellow-prisoner of his gives the following narration of his sufferings on the breaking out of the revolution :— Flying from London "he was seized on his way near the town of Faversham, 16 December, 1688, and being plundered of everything by a brutal rabble, was thrust into a gaol where he suffered great indignities with joy and invincible courage. . . . He was not allowed to lie down during the space of a fortnight. . . . taken to Newgate. He never interrupted the observance of strict religious discipline, giving stated times to daily meditation, prayer, and reading, up to the last three days of his life. At length, worn out by the stench and miseries of his dismal cell, at the age of 74 he yielded up his soul to his Creator, at 9 a.m., 7 February, 1690. . . . having on his lips the beautiful hymn of S. Francis Xavier, 'O Jesu, ego amo Te, &c.'"

Andrew, a master at the Jesuit college, Savoy, London, died at S. Germain, 1710, having been long known in London as "the father of the poor." We have omitted mention of perhaps the most distinguished of the family, viz.— Thomas Poulton, LL.B., successively prebendary of Sarum and York, rector of Hatfield, archdeacon of Taunton ; by papal bull dated July 15, 1420, dean of York ; bishop of Hereford, 1420 ; bishop of Chichester, 1423 ; and bishop of Worcester, 1426. He died at Rome, A.D. 1435, whilst taking part in the election of a pope. He bore for his arms argent, three mullets of six points pierced, sable. For Poulton arms see vols. I. and II. of Berry's Encyclopaedia Heraldica, and Edmondson's Heraldry.

Bridges, in his History of Northamptonshire, gives a pedigree and considerable information relating to the family and the manors and livings owned by them.

Perhaps amongst our readers there may be someone who can relate more particulars of this ancient family. A part of the farmhouse still called "the Hall" at Desborough, and used as a kitchen, is said to be a remnant of the old house. Is this so? Within present memory the old people of Desborough talked knowingly of Mrs Mary Poulton—the last of her race in Desborough—who, they said, used long after her death to drive in her coach and horses at night, up the staircase of the old Hall and down again. It is said that when the old Hall was taken down the grand staircase was save and removed to some neighbouring estate. Can any of our readers give further information of this ancient family, with whom the writer is nearly connected?

The present incumbent—the Rev. E. C. Channer—points out a pew still called the Hall pew ; but what became of the monumental inscriptions given in Bridges' Northamptonshire, vol. ii. p.28, relating to Poulton in connection with Garter and Jackman? Mr. Channer, who has only lately become vicar, has unfortunately found that the earliest registers are missing. Let us hope that they may be found.

The Poulton arms are on Rothwell Market House—as might be expected, especially as an aunt of sir Thomas Tresham's married a Poulton. See that valuable work A Complete Account of the Buildings erected in Northamptonshire by Sir Thomas Tresham, by J. Alfred Gotch, published by Taylor & Son.

The Stafford knot occurs on the rood-loft door of Desborough church near what was probably the Poulton chantry : is there any connection of Poultons and De Staffords of Blatherwycke?

12, Rusham road, Balham, Surrey.       E. A.

Source: Northamptonshire Notes and Queries, an illustrated quarterly journal, devoted to The Antiquities, Family History, Traditions, Parochial Records, Folk-Lore, Quaint Customs, &c., of the County. Edited by John Taylor. vol. III. Northampton: The Dryden Press, Taylor & Son, 9 College Street, 1890.

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