The Towneley or Townley family are an English recusant family whose ancestry can be traced back to Norman England. They take their name from Towneley Hall in Burnley, Lancashire, which was the family seat until its sale in 1901.
The Towneleys of Towneley Hall
Richard de Towneley (born?-1381)
John Towneley (1350-1399)
Married Isabella de Rixton, probably in 1382.
Richard Towneley (1387–1455)
John Towneley (1415-c1473)
Married three times however only had children with his second wife Isabel Sherburne
Sir Richard Towneley (1445–1482)
Son of John and Isabel. Married Joanna Southworth in 1472. Knighted at Hutton Field in 1482, during Richard Duke of Gloucester's (later King Richard III) Scottish Campaign that captured Berwick-upon-Tweed.
Sir John Towneley (1473–1540)
Son of Sir Richard and Joanna. Married Isabel Pilkington in 1480. Was knighted on 30 September 1497 by the Earl of Surrey. Probably at Ayton when the peace treaty was signed with Scotland after the Perkin Warbeck skirmishes. Established the 1100 acre, Hapton Park making it the second largest in Lancashire after Knowsley. High Sheriff of Lancashire in 1532.
Richard Towneley (1499-1555)
Son of Sir John and Isabel, married Grace (also known as Elizabeth) Foljambe in 1511.
Sir Richard Towneley (born?-1554)
Son of Richard and Grace. Married Francis Wimbishe around 1536, sister of Thomas Wymbishe, who inherited his Nocton estate in Lincolnshire on his death in 1553. Knighted in 1547, possibly at the Battle of Pinkie Cleugh. Only one daughter, Mary survived to adulthood.
John Towneley (c1528-1607)
Son of Sir John’s second son Charles and Elizabeth Kaye. Half brother through his mother to Alexander Nowell, and Lawrence Nowell (amongst others). Often known as John Towneley of Gray's Inn because he was a Lawyer. Acquired Towneley by his marriage in 1557 to then 16 year old Mary, his first cousin once removed, him being a grandchild and her a great-grandchild of Sir John. Fined and imprisoned several times between 1573 and 1594 for recusancy and giving shelter to Catholic priests during the during the reign of Elizabeth I.
Richard Towneley (1566-1628)
Born at Towneley Hall, Burnley. Son of John and Mary. Married Jane Ashton in 1594. Built a large extension on the north side of the hall that was finished about 1626.
Richard Towneley (1598-1635)
Son of Richard and Jane. Died unmarried.
Charles Towneley (1600–1644)
Born at Towneley Hall. Son of Richard and Jane. Catholic. Attended St. Omer's College and Louvain in Belgium and the English College in Rome between 1614 and 1624. Married Mary Trappes in 1628. Inherited the estate in 1635 upon the death of his brother Richard. Killed leading a small Infantry regiment for the Royalists at the Battle of Marston Moor during the English Civil War.
Richard Towneley (1629–1707)
Charles Towneley (1658-1712)
Son of Richard and Margaret. Married Ursula Fermor in 1685. Implicated with his farther in the plot to secure the return to the English throne of King James II in 1690 that resulted in the Battle of the Boyne.
Richard Towneley (1689-1735)
Son of Charles and Ursula. Married Mary Widdrington, the sister of William Widdrington, 4th Baron Widdrington in 1713. Arrested for treason in 1715, after the Battle of Preston, he was later acquitted after an expensive trial. Two of his brothers, John and Francis joined the French army before aiding the Jacobite rebellion of 1745. Francis Towneley was the Colonel that raised the Manchester Regiment, later being captured after the Siege of Carlisle (December 1745) and executed in 1746. The children’s book How The Hangman Lost His Heart, although a work of fiction, is inspired by his story. John returned to France before Culloden and was made a Chevalier (Knight) of the order of Saint Louis. Another brother, George avoided the conflict, instead marrying Mary Hodgson, the heiress of Leighton Hall near Carnforth.
William Towneley (1714–1742)
Son of Richard and Mary. Married Cecilia Standish, granddaughter of the 6th Duke of Norfolk in 1736. After his death at the age of 27, his widow left Towneley Hall at the time of Jacobite rebellion and did not return.
Charles Townley (1737–1805)
Son of William and Cecilia. Collector of the Towneley Marbles (including the Townley Venus, Townley Vase and Townley Discobolus). After his death Towneley passed to his brother Edward Standish, however when he died in 1807 it passed back to their uncle John.
John Towneley (1731–1813)
Son of Richard and Mary. Book collector. Married Barbara Dicconson in 1756. His collection included the Towneley Cycle. In 1786, his uncle George left him the Leighton estate, which he had greatly improved. In 1792 he inherited the Widdrington’s Stella estates through his mother. Trustee of British Museum. Elected as a fellow of the Royal Society of London in 1797. Sold the Leighton estate in 1805.
Peregrine Edward Towneley (1762–1846)
Born on 10 October 1762 at Corney House, Chiswick. Son of John and Barbara. Married Charlotte Drummond in 1794. Elected as a fellow of the Royal Society of London in 1812. In 1814 he sold his father book collection to fund improvements to the Hall, for which he employed the services of the architect Jeffry Wyattville. Around 1817, he donated land and £1000 to build the town’s first catholic chapel since the catholic emancipation. The site was the Burnley Wood district of Burnley on Todmorden road, close to the present day St. Mary’s Church. Following the Roman Catholic Relief Act 1829, he became High Sheriff of Lancashire in 1831. Purchased the Lordship of Bowland in 1835. His daughter Frances went on to marry Thomas Stonor (later made the 3rd Baron Camoys), one their children was the Catholic archbishop Edmund Stonor.
Colonel Charles Towneley (1803–1876)
Son of Peregrine and Charlotte. He married Lady Caroline Molyneux the daughter of the Earl of Sefton in 1836. Elected as a fellow of the Royal Society of London in 1842. Held the Lordship of Bowland from 1846 to 1876. Elected as an MP for Sligo Borough (now in the Republic of Ireland) in 1848 and 1852, however unseated on petition both times. High Sheriff of Lancashire in 1857. His horse Kettledrum won the 1861 Epsom Derby, He (and possibly others) used the winnings to build St Hubert’s catholic church in Dunsop Bridge. Promoted from Lt. Colonel to Honorary Colonel in the 5th Royal Lancashire Militia in 1863.JP. DL. FSA.
John Towneley (1806-1878)
Son of Peregrine and Charlotte, brother of Charles, married Lucy Tichborne, the daughter of Henry Joseph Tichborne, (the 8th Baronet) and Anne, daughter of Sir Thomas Burke, Marble Hill, Galway Ireland in 1840. Was MP for Beverly from 1841 to 1852. Held the Lordship of Bowland from 1876 to 1878. Inherited the estate two years before he died, and his only son,Richard, died the year before. John had four daughters, Therese who married John Delacour, Evelyn, Mary,and Mabel.It was necessary to divide the estate between Charles' and John's daughters. Charles' eldest daughter Caroline was already dead and her share went to her husband the Earl of Abingdon. His middle daughter Emily, the wife of Lord Alexander Gordon-Lennox inherited the properties in Worsthorne and Cliviger. The portion that included Towneley Hall and its park went to his youngest, Alice, the wife of Baron O'Hagan.
Lady Alice O'Hagan (1846-1921)
Alice found it difficult to maintain Towneley Hall. In 1901, she sold the Hall and 62 acres of park land to the Burnley Corporation.
Alice married Thomas O'Hagan, 1st Baron O'Hagan KP (29 May 1812 – 1 February 1885). Born in Belfast, the son of a trader. He was called to the Irish Bar in 1836. Between 1838 and 1841 he was the editor of the Newry Examiner. In 1840 he removed to Dublin, becoming an Irish Queen's Counsel in 1849.
His appointment as Solicitor-General for Ireland in 1860 and Attorney-General in the following year, lost him the support of the Nationalist party, but he was returned to Parliament as Liberal Member of Parliament (MP) for Tralee in 1863. In 1865 he was appointed a judge of common pleas, and in 1868 became Lord Chancellor of Ireland, the first Roman Catholic to hold the chancellorship since the reign of James II.
In 1870 he was created Baron O'Hagan, of Tullahogue in the County of Tyrone, and held office until the resignation of the ministry in 1874. In 1880 he again became Lord Chancellor on Gladstone's return to office, but resigned in 1881, when became Vice Chancellor of the Royal University of Ireland.
Thomas Towneley O'Hagan, 2nd Baron O'Hagan (5 December 1878 - 13 December 1900). From 1899, he served in South Africa during the Boer War as a Lieutenant in the 3rd Battalion of Grenadier Guards, but died abruptly of an unknown illness (thought to have been malaria) just over a week after his 22nd birthday.
Maurice Towneley-O'Hagan, 3rd Baron O'Hagan (20 February 1882 – 18 December 1961). The second son of Thomas O'Hagan, 1st Baron O'Hagan. He succeeded in the barony on the death of his elder brother in 1900, when he was still eighteen.
He served as a government whip in the House of Lords, from 1907 to 1910 in the Liberal Government. In 1909, he assumed by Royal license his maternal grandfather's surname of Towneley in addition to that of O'Hagan.
Lord O'Hagan married firstly the Hon. Frances Constance Maddalena, daughter of Edward Strachey, 1st Baron Strachie, in 1911. She died in 1931. He married secondly Evelyn Violet, daughter of Harry Thornton Ross, in 1937. O'Hagan died in December 1961, his son the Hon. Thomas Anthony Edward Towneley Strachey having predeceased him in 1955, he was succeeded in the barony by his grandson Charles.
Charles Towneley Strachey, 4th Baron O'Hagan (born 6 September 1945). He served as a Page to Elizabeth II between 1957 and 1961 when he inherited the family title. He first took his seat in the House of Lords on 5 December 1967. A relative of the Strachey Baronets, he is the great-great-grandson of Edward Strachey, 1st Baron Strachie.
He was an Independent MEP for Devon from 1972 - 1975. In the first direct elections to the European Parliament in 1979, he was returned for Devon as a Conservative, and remained an MEP until his retirement when his constituency was abolished in 1994. During his time as an MEP he also served as a whip and a frontbench spokesman for the Conservative government in the House of Lords.
In 2008, after years of ill health, he offered to sell some of his subsidiary titles to pay for medical bills. In 2009, it was reported that Lord O'Hagan had claimed the Lordship of Bowland. Previously thought lost or in the possession of the Crown having disappeared from the historical record in late nineteenth century, it transpired that the title had been retained by an extinct family trust.
Lord O'Hagan has been married three times - firstly to Princess Tamara Imeretinsky (1967–84), secondly to Mary Roose-Francis (1985–95), and thirdly to Elizabeth Smith (1995–present). He has two daughters - one from each of his first two marriages (Nina, b.1968; and Antonia, b.1986) - and his heir apparent is his younger brother the Hon. Richard Towneley Strachey.
Sir Simon Peter Edmund Cosmo William Towneley (1921–Present)
Great-grandson of Caroline Towneley through his mother’s (Priscilla Reyntiens) mother (Lady Alice Josephine Bertie), and brother of Peregrine Worsthorne. Assumed the surname and arms of Towneley by Royal Licence. High Sheriff of Lancashire in 1971. Lord Lieutenant of Lancashire from 1976 to 1996. Made a KCVO in 1994. His late wife Mary was a keen horse rider and instrumental in the development of the Pennine Bridleway, as a result the part of the route is named after her. She was made an MBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours in 2000. One of their daughters is the author K M Grant.
Other Branches of the Family
Townley of Dutton
Possibly descended from Robert Towneley, the 2nd son of Richard de Towneley and Ellen. However the evidence also suggests a later source for this branch of the family.
Richard Townley (died around 1670) is believed to have built Dutton Hall.
Richard Townley (1689–1762) married Jane Greaves. Steward to Alexander Butterworth of Belfield Hall in Rochdale (formerly in Lancashire now in Greater Manchester). Inherited the Belfield Estate in 1728. Also Inherited the Greaves family's Fulbourn Estaste in Cambridgeshire and Beaupré Hall in Norfolk. High Sheriff of Lancashire in 1751.
Colonel Richard Townley (1726–1801), eldest son of Richard and Jane. Married Anne Western in 1750. Patron and friend of the author John Collier AKA Tim Bobbin.
Richard Greaves Townley (1751–1823), eldest son of Richard and Anne. Married Margaret Gale in 1785. His daughter Margaret married Charles Mitford, their son was the politician William Townley Mitford.
Richard Greaves Townley (1786–1855), eldest son of Richard and Margaret. Married Cecil Watson in 1821. Was MP for Cambridgeshire from 1831 to 1841 and from 1847 to 1852. He sold the Belfield Estate in 1851. One of his sons was the Jockey and Cricketer, Captain Thomas Manners Townley (1825–1895), who came second in the 1860 Grand National.
Charles Watson Townley (1824–1893), second son of Richard and Cecil. Married Georgiana Dallison in 1874. Was Lord Lieutenant of Cambridgeshire 1874 from 1893. One of his sons was Sir Walter Beaupré Townley K.C.M.G. (1863–1945) who married Susan Mary Keppel in 1896, the daughter of William Keppel, 7th Earl of Albemarle. He entered a career in the diplomatic service. He held Ambassadorial positions to Romania 1911-12, Iran 1912-1916 and the Netherlands 1917–1919. Another son was the agriculturist and politician Max Townley.
Rev. Charles Francis Townley (1856–1930), eldest son of Carles and Georgiana. Married Alice Rosalinde Murray Pratt in 1885.
Charles Evelyn Townley (1887–1983), eldest son of Charles and Alice. Married Marjorie Templer.
Richard Templer Townley (1921–present), eldest son of Charles and Marjorie.
Towneley of Barnside
Henry Towneley (c1541-died?) married Anne Catterall (c1539-died?), daughter of Thomas Catherall in 1559. It has been suggested that this is the Anne Towneley whose death is mentioned in the Pendle witch trials.
Townley of Royle and Littleton
Richard Towneley (1482–1541), married Margaret Clarke.
Nicholas Towneley (1505–1546), eldest son of Richard and Margaret. Entered Gray’s Inn in 1522. Married Anne Vaughan.
Edmund Townley (c. 1532–1598), eldest son of Nicholas and Margaret. Married Katherine Curzon.
Nicholas Towneley (c. 1574–1645), eldest son of Edmund and Katherine. Married Issabell Woodroffe. Was High Sheriff of Lancashire in 1631.
Francis Townley (c. 1576–1616), son of Edmund and Katherine. Married Catherine Foster. Inherited land in Littleton through his mother around 1600.
Nicholas Townley (1612–1687), eldest son of Francis and Catherine. Entered Gray's Inn in 1623. Married Joanne White. He was known as Nicholas Townley of Littleton. Unsuccessfully attempted to regain the Royle estate in the Court of Chancery in 1646. Sold Astlam around 1660 and moved into London. One of his sons Richard went to America in 1683. He married his 2nd wife, Elizabeth Carteret (née. Smith), widow of the 1st governor of New Jersey Sir Philip Carteret in 1685. Their descendants include Jonathan Townley Crane, Stephen Crane and A. C. Townley.
Nicholas Townley (1642–1685), married Jane Gildredge. He was known as Nicholas Townley of East Bourne.
Townley of Hurstwood
John Towneley (c1560-died?) married Eleanor Haydock in 1583.
John Townley (1584-died?) married Eleanor Grymshaw.
John Towneley (1631–1664) married Katherine Rishton.
John Towneley (c1651-1704)
Towneley of Stonehedge
Stone Edge (Barrowford.) is near
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