George Evelyn of Long Ditton (Grandfather)
George Evelyn had twenty-four children by a number of wives – all but six died young.
The following text is taken from The history of the Evelyn family:
GEORGE EVELYN of Kingston, Long Ditton, Godstone, and Wotton, only son of John Evelyn, was born in 1526 (reign of Henry VIII). Like his father, he lived through four reigns. About the year 1565, Queen Elizabeth granted him a monopoly for the manufacture of gunpowder, which had hitherto always come from abroad. The granting of monopolies by the Crown was an intensely unpopular practice, and excited a great deal of ill-feeling. George Evelyn had mills for the manufacture of gunpowder at Long Ditton, Godstone and Wotton, all in Surrey. John Evelyn (Sylva), grandson to George Evelyn, in a letter to Aubrey dated February 8, 1675, says :
“Not far from my Brother’s House (Wotton) upon the Streams and Ponds, since filled up and drained, stood formerly many Powder Mills, erected by my Ancestors, who were the very first who brought that Invention into England ; before which we had all our powder out of Flanders. My Grand-father transferr’d his Patent to the late Sir John Evelyn’s Grandfather of Godstone, in the same County ; in whose Family it continu’d till the late Civil Wars. That which I would remark upon this Occasion, is, the breaking of a huge Beam of fifteen or sixteen Inches Diameter in my Brother’s House (and since crampt with a Dog of Iron) upon the blowing up of one of those Mills, without doing any Mischief that I can learn ; but another standing below towards Shire, shot a Piece of Timber thro’ a Cottage, which took off a poor Woman’s Head as she was spinning.”
George Evelyn’s manufacture of gunpowder was very successful and probably furnished the means by which he bought the large estates of which he became the possessor.
About the year 1550 he married his first wife, Rose Williams, daughter and heiress of Thomas Williams, brother and heir of Sir John Williams, Kt. There is a small portrait of her in the Library at Wotton which represents her as a very plain lady with a sour expression. She is dressed in the costume of the period with an Elizabethan ruffle round her neck. She had a large family consisting of ten sons and six daughters, but most of them died young. She died in July 1577 and was buried at Long Ditton.
George Evelyn became bailiff of Kingston in 1566.
On April 1, 1567, he came into possession of the manor of Long Ditton (see Brayley’s History of Surrey [archive.org copy of this book], which he bought from Thomas Vincent, his mother’s brother; in 1579 he bought Wotton, which belonged to a family of the name of Owen; on July 1 of the same year his son-in-law, Richard Hatton of Long Ditton (the husband of his daughter Mary, whom he had married in 1566), sold to him, for the sum of 200l., Hill Place alias Hull Place, in Surrey, and 139 acres belonging to it in the parishes of Horsell, Byssheley, and Chobham, in Surrey; and on the same day Richard Hatton sold to George Evelyn, for the sum of 650l., the fourth part of the manor of Wooton alias Wooten, also the fourth part of the advowson and patronage of the Church of Wooton alias Wooten, ” and the free gift and disposition of the same,” also the fourth part of other lands in Wooton, Abynger, Dorking and Shere, in Surrey. In 1585 the moiety1 of the manor of Abinger belonged to the Hill family, who conveyed it to George Evelyn. The other moiety belonged to Sir John Morgan, who settled it on his daughter Ann on her marriage with Edward Randyll, Esq., of Chilworth, and the latter in 1622 conveyed it to Richard Evelyn, youngest son of George Evelyn, who had left him the other moiety.
On April 24, 1588, George Evelyn came into possession of his Godstone estate, which he bought for 3100l. from Thomas Powle of London, Clerk of the Court of Chancery. This included the manor of Merdenne, alias Mardon, and a house called Leighe Place in the parish of Godstone.
On October 11, 1588, George Evelyn bought from Richard Taverner, Esq., of the city of London, Norbyton Hall in Kingston-on-Thames and lands in Kingston-on-Thames.
The following account of Norbiton Hall is from Brayley’s History of Surrey :
“In the reign of Edward VI the mansion called Norbiton Hall was the property and residence of Richard Taverner, Esq., a person of somewhat eccentric character, but a zealous Protestant ; and though a layman, he obtained a licence to preach in any place in the King’s dominion. When High Sheriff for the county, he is said to have actually delivered a discourse before the University of Oxford, wearing a gold chain about his neck, and a sword by his side. The estate afterwards belonged to the Evelyn family, and was then described as a manor held of the bailiffs of Kingston. The present house, comparatively a modern structure, stuccoed, was the residence (in the early part of this century) of General Gabriel Johnstone, who purchased it of the representatives of the Lintall family in 1799.”
The manor of Milton in Surrey in the time of Edward II belonged to the prioress and nuns of Kilburn, and after the suppression of that convent by Henry VIII the manor was annexed to the honour of Hampton Court. Queen Mary settled it and other estates on the restored monastery of Shene2, which was again suppressed in the beginning of the reign of Elizabeth. After some temporary grants that queen conveyed it, by letters-patent dated 1599, to George Evelyn of Long Ditton. The mansion called Milton Court was built in the latter years of Queen Elizabeth’s reign, probably by George Evelyn. It is a red brick house two stories high. The staircase is remarkable for the peculiar form and solidity of its rails and balusters.
George’s second wife was a Mrs. Rogers, a young widow whose maiden name was Joan Stint. She was born in 1550 and was married to George Evelyn at St. Mary Alder mary, April 23, 1578. She died March 9, 1613, aged sixty-three, and was buried at Wotton. She had eight children, six of whom died young, which brings the total number of George Evelyn’s children up to twenty-four. There were only six, however, of this enormous family who did not die young.
In 1587 George Evelyn brought a lawsuit in the Court of Chancery against one Thomas Gunne of Ewell, whom he alleged to have unlawfully taken possession of some lands in Ewell which rightly belonged to George Evelyn. How the suit ended does not appear.
“That which I would observe to you from the Wood, is, that where goodly Oaks grew, and were cut down by my Grand-father almost a hundred years since, are now altogether Beech; and where my Brother has extirpated the Beech, there rises Birch.”
George Evelyn lived to the age of seventy-seven. He died at midnight between the 29th and the 30th of May 1603, about two months after the death of Queen Elizabeth, and was buried at Wotton on May 31.
Spouses: Rose Williams, Joan Stint
Children: Richard Evelyn (Evelyn’s father)
- See Sources.
- “The history of the Evelyn family: with a special memoir of William John Evelyn”by Helen Evelyn 1905. [Full text of book txt file]