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Lefroy of Carrigglas (Longford), Ewshot (Hampshire) and Canterbury (Kent)

A still from the 2007 film ‘Becoming Jane’ in which Tom Lefroy is played by James McAvoy and Jane Austen by Anne Hathaway.

Hailing from Cambrai in French Picardy, the Lefroy family arrived in England as refugees during the French Wars of Religion. Having prospered as silk merchants in Canterbury, two branches emerged.

The Irish branch included Tom Lefroy, famed as the love interest of Jane Austen, before he became Chief Justice of Ireland.

The English branch were primarily based in Hampshire where they were again closely affiliated with Jane Austen’s family. Among the family were the first Lady Rathdonnell and the surveyor Sir John Lefroy.

 

ANTOINE & ESAIE LOFFROY OF CAMBRAI

 

The Lefroy family originated Cambrai (formerly Cambray) in Picardy in northern France. In 1587, Antoine Loffroy, a Huguenot refugee, emigrated from Cambrai to England. Armed with jewels and money, he bought a property in Canterbury and established a series of silk-dyeing warerooms in the city. Shortly before he left Cambrai, Antoine’s wife, name unknown, gave birth to a son, Esaie. Further sons were born in Canterbury – David (1590), Pierre (1592), possibly Thomas and two daughters (both named Marie, both died young.) Antoine died sometime before 1612.

His son Esaie (or Isiah) Loffroy was married on 24 February 1611 to Marie, daughter of Pierre La Sage, another refugee. His name appears on a Government List of ‘Strangers’ in Canterbury, compiled in 1621. Marie died on 21 March 1642, having given birth to two sons, Samuel (born 1616, died young) and Jacques, and five daughters.  Esaie died in 1653.

 

Jacques Loffroy (1625-1702), who became James Lefroy, looking curiously similar to James McEvoy, and his son Israel Loffroy (c. 1650-1713)

 

JACQUES LOFFROY (1625-1702), SILK DYER OF CANTERBURY

 

A typical weaver house in Canterbury, where the Lefroys lived in the 17th and early 18th century.

Christened as Jacques Loffroy in Canterbury on 17 July 1625, Jacques would call himself James Lefroy in his will of 1702. On 2 October 1647, he married Marguerite, daughter of Jean Pidgeon of Sebon.

A silk dyer by profession, he was admitted a Freeman of the City of Canterbury in 1658. His admission seems to have been questioned by the Burghmote on 15 December 1691 for reasons I do not quite understand. Upon his death aged 77 on 12 November 1702, he left three sons and three daughters.

 

ISRAEL LOFFROY (c. 1650-1713) & THE SCHISM

 

Israel Loffroy, Jacques’ only surviving son, was also a silk dyer and was also admitted as Freeman of the City of Canterbury. By 1675, up to one third of Canterbury’s population are thought to have been weavers of Huguenot descent. He was involved with a schism when he joined a group who relocated from the crypt of Canterbury’s old cathedral to a temporary meetinghouse, in order to ‘enjoy the Anglican liturgy in French.’

Israel was married, firstly on 20 September 1674 to Mary, daughter of Abraham Van den Hayden, a Dutchman. In 1688, he was married, secondly, to Marie de Hane of Calais. Israel died on 31 May 1713, leaving a daughter and an only son, Thomas, as well as at least five ‘messuages’, or tenements, land, a house and a garden in Canterbury, and two farms.

 

THOMAS LEFROY (1680-1723), SILK DYER OF CANTERBURY

 

Phoebe Lefroy (née Thompson) with curious squirrel in hand.

Thomas Lefroy

Like his father and grandfather before him, Thomas practised silk dying and was admitted as Freeman of the City of Canterbury. Born on 16 January 1680, he lived at Kings Bridge House in Canterbury.

On 5 August 1702, he married Phoebe Thomson, daughter of Thomas Thomson of Chartham, near Canterbury, by his wife Phoebe, daughter of Anthony Hammond of Saint Alban’s Court, Kent. Phoebe’s grandmother Ann Hammond was a daughter of the Right Hon. Sir Dudley Digges, Master of the Rolls, of Chilham Castle, Kent, a relationship that would play a role in the Rev George Lefroy’s life in the 1770s.

Phoebe gave birth to nine children but only two survived, Anthony (see below) and Lucy (1715-1784). Thomas Lefroy died aged 43 on 3 November 1723 and was buried at Petham Parish Church.

Phoebe, his widow, died on 31 March 1761, aged 81. In her will she referred to herself as “Phoebe Leffroy, of the parish of All Saints in the City of Canterbury, Widow,” and asked to be buried in Petham, “near to the grave of my dear husband, Thomas Leffroy.”

 

ANTHONY LEFROY (1703-1779) & ELIZABETH LANGLOIS (1720-1782)

Elizabeth Langlois

Anthony Lefroy’s seal

Thomas was survived by one son, Anthony, who was 20 years old when Thomas died in 1723. Born on 19 December 1703, Anthony was living at in the Italian port of Leghorn (aka Livorno) when married on 18 February 1738 to Elizabeth, only daughter of Peter Langlois.

Peter Langlois had been naturalised by a private act of parliament in 1702. Peter’s wife Julie (Elizabeth’s mother) was a daughter of Major-General Isaac De Monceau De La Meloniere. Elizabeth’s brother Peter Langlois was Grand Master of the Ordinance of the Austrian Empire. She was also a sister of Benjamin Langlois (1727-1802), MP, Undersecretary of State for the Southern Department from 1779 to 1782.

Anthony Lefroy was a notable virtuoso of his day and lived between Leghorn and Canterbury. He died in Tuscany on 13 July 1779. His widow died at her brother Benjamin’s home on Cork Street, Basingstoke, on 7 September 1785. [1]

Anthony and Elizabeth Lefroy were the parents of:

  1. Anthony Peter Lefroy (1742-1819), from whom the Irish branch of the family descend
  2. Isaac Peter George Lefroy (1745-1806), Rector of Ashe, from whom the English branch, including the 1st Lady Rathdonnell, descend.
  3. John Benjamin Lefroy, died in infancy.
  4. Phoebe (who married Carlo Del Medico Staffetti, Conte de Carrara, an Italian nobleman).

All members of the Lefroy family settled in Western Australia, Canada, the USA and other parts of the world descend from these two brothers.

 

COLONEL ANTHONY PETER LEFROY (1742-1819) OF LIMERICK & ANNA GARDENER

 

Born at Leghorn on 3 November 1742, Anthony Peter Lefroy was sent to England for education at the age of ten, along with his brother George. In 1763 he became an ensign in the 33rd Foot, which was quartered in Ireland. Over the next 28 years, he rose to become a lieutenant colonel and was given command of the 9th Light Dragoons. On 15 November 1765, he married Anne, daughter of Colonel Thomas George Gardener of Doonass, Co. Clare. Having been quartered in Ireland throughout his military service, he settled in Limerick on his retirement. A member of the Royal Irish Academy, he died in Limerick, aged 77, on 9 September 1819. [2] They had twelve children, of whom:

  1. Thomas Langlois Lefroy, the future Chief Justice, see below.
  2. Captain Anthony Lefroy, 65th Regiment, born 19 October 1777, married 5 Nov 1798, Elizabeth Wilkin, daughter of William Wilkin of Appleby, Westmorland, by his wife Priscilla Preston, of Warcop Hall, Westmorland, and died on 7 September 1857. His son Thomas Edward Preston Lefroy, M.A., Q.C., was born on 30 August 1815, married 9 September 1846 to his cousin Jemima Lefroy (d. 17 October 1855), eldest daughter of the Rev. Ben Lefroy and his wife Anna (née Austen). Thomas died on 25 July 1887. His son William Chambers Lefroy (1849-1915) JP, Hampshire, was a barrister-at law-at Lincoln’s Inn (1876) who became Chief Administrative Inspector of Secondary Schools.
  3. Captain Ben Lefroy (christened Benjamin) J.P., Royal Artillery, was born on 5 May 1782 and educated in Athy, County Kildare, as was his brother Tom. [3] In 1809 he was appointed to command a brigade of the Royal Artillery. [4] He settled at Cardenton House, Athy, which remained in the family until 1946. He was married firstly on 31 October 1807 to Margaret (died 18 July 1815), daughter of Philip Savage of Kilgobbin, County Wexford, by his wife Mary, daughter of James Agar of Ringwood, Co Kilkenny, and niece of George, first and last Baron Callan. They had one son Anthony George who settled in Canada and died 16 Nov 1885, leaving issue. Benjamin was married secondly at Monkstown Church in December 1816 to Catherine Tessier, second daughter of Henry Lanauze of Aubawn, County Cavan, with whom he had other children. [5]
  4. Midshipman Christopher Lefroy, Royal Navy, born 26 June 1784, killed in action on board HMS San Fierenzo, 14 February 1805.
  5. Henry Lefroy, MA, Vicar of Santry, County Dublin, born 5 May 1789. He was married in 1814 to Dorothea (died 1865), second daughter of John, The O’Grady, of Killballyowen, and died 29 Jan 1876. [6] His son Anthony O’Grady was Colonial Treasurer for Western Australia, while his grandson, the Hon. Sir Henry Bruce Lefroy. was Premier of Western Australia from 1917 to 1919.
  6. Lucy, born 1 January 1768, married 6 June 1803 Hugh Ryves Baker, of Massey Park, County Limerick, and died May 1853, leaving issue.
  7. Phoebe, born 15 April 1770, married 22 Jan 1825, Captain Richard Butler, 27th Regiment, of Castlecomer, County Kilkenny, and dsp on 5 December 1839.
  8. Catherine, born 18 Sept 1771, died unmarried 3 Sept 1805, seven months after her younger brother Christopher was killed in action.
  9. Sarah, born 18 March 1773, married 9 May 1799 to Captain Thomas Courtenay of Grange, County Antrim. She died 1836 leaving issue.
  10. Elizabeth, born 17 April 1780, married 1870 Richard Sadlier of Scalaheen, Co Tipperary, and died on 22 July 1867, leaving issue.
  11. Anne, born 26 June 1786, was married in Dublin on 13 Feb 1817 to Major William Middleton Power, 28th Regiment, and died without issue.

 

Lady Amelia Darcy (1754-1784) aka Amelia Osborne, Marchioness of Carmarthen, 12th Baroness Darcy de Knayth, 9th Baroness Conyers, 5th Countess of Mértola. Painted by François-Hubert Drouais. George Lefroy was appointed her chaplain in 1778.

 

Watercolour on ivory portrait miniature of Mrs. Anne Lefroy (1749-1804), née Brydges, wife of the Rev. George Lefroy, shown profile to the right, wearing a grey dress, her hair powdered by Richard Crosse (1742-1810). From the collection of C.D. Cholmeley-Harrison Esq.; Philip Mould Fine Art Ltd.

 

 

REV. GEORGE LEFROY (1745-1806), RECTOR OF ASHE & ANNA BRYDGES (1749-1804)

 

Rev. George Lefroy (1745-1806), Rector of Ashe, uncle of Tom Lefroy and grandfather to Anne Lefroy, later Lady Rathdonnell.

The Reverend (Isaac Peter) George Lefroy, the younger son of Anthony Lefroy and his wife Elizabeth (née Langlois) was born in the Italian port of Livorno (Leghorn), on 12 November 1745. He moved to England for his education in 1752, arriving with two little suits of clothes, ‘one of scarlet cloth with a belt and a sword, the other of purple camlet turned up with red.’  After taking his degree of B.A. at Christ Church, Oxford, he was elected a Fellow of All Souls’ College, Oxford, being deemed “founder’s kin” through his ancestor, Sir Dudley Digges, Master of the Rolls, who died in 1638.

In 1777 he became Rector of Compton in Surrey. The following year he was appointed Domestic Chaplain to the charismatic Amelia Osborne (1754-1784), Marchioness of Carmarthen, 12th Baroness Darcy de Knayth, 9th Baroness Conyers, 5th Countess of Mértola. She was in need of a clergyman in 1778 as that was the year her marriage had scandalously ended after she was accused of adultery with Captain John “Mad Jack” Byron, with whom she had three children. Following her death aged 29 in 1784, Mad Jack married Catherine Gordon, the Scottish heiress, by whom he had one son, the poet George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron Byron (1788–1824)

On 28 December 1778 George married Anne Brydges (1749-1804), eldest daughter of Edward Brydges of Wootton Court, Kent, and older sister of Sir Egerton Brydges, the eccentric bibliophile who would eventually die in financial exile in Switzerland in 1837. George and Anne’s granddaughter Anne Lefroy would go on to marry John McClintock and so became the first Lady Rathdonnell.

On 3 May 1783, George Lefroy was instituted to the living as Rector of Ashe, near Overton and Basingstoke, in Hampshire, at the presentation of his uncle, Benjamin Langlois. He duly moved his young family to live among the prosperous farming community of Ashe. (In 1784, he also succeeded to the property of his maiden aunt, Lucy Lefroy, in Canterbury.) On 31 March 1789, his wife Anne’s sister Deborah Jemima (née Brydges), wife of Henry Maxwell of Ewshot House, Hampshire, burnt to death in an appalling accident.

The Rectory in Ashe, where the Lefroys lived, was extended in the Victorian Age and is know today as Ashe Park.

While in Ashe, the Lefroys became close to Jane Austen’s family – her father and brother were, in turn, rectors of nearby Steventon. Anne – known as Madam Lefroy – became an especially great friend and veritable surrogate mother to the young Jane Austen (1775-1817). She was there for Jane when her husband’s nephew Tom Lefroy was in the romantic mix in 1796-1797. (See below)

She is also thought to have introduced Jane to aspiring clergyman Samuel Blackwell in 1797; Jane did not follow it up but the Samuel Blackwell is likely to have been the inspiration for Mr Collins in ‘Pride and Prejudice.’ During the savagely cold winter of 1800, Madam Lefroy also set up a straw manufactory to provide income and employment for women and children from the locality. [7]

Jane Austen was marking her 29th birthday at Steventon on Sunday 16 December 1804 when the tragic news came through that Madame Lefroy had been killed in a horse fall that frosty morning. She later wrote a heartfelt poem:

To the Memory of Mrs. Lefroy who died Dec:r 16 — my Birthday.

The day returns again, my natal day;
What mix’d emotions with the Thought arise!
Beloved friend, four years have pass’d away
Since thou wert snatch’d forever from our eyes. –

The day, commemorative of my birth
Bestowing Life and Light and Hope on me,
Brings back the hour which was thy last on Earth.
Oh! bitter pang of torturing Memory! –

Angelic Woman! past my power to praise
In Language meet, thy Talents, Temper, mind.
Thy solid Worth, they captivating Grace! –
Thou friend and ornament of Humankind!

(The poem can be found in full here)

Portrait of Jane Austen in watercolor and pencil by Cassandra Austen (1773–1845). She earned approximately £650 in her professional life, equivalent to 6 months wages for a contemporary solicitor.

The Kentish Gazette published this remarkable obituary to Anne on Friday 21 December 1804:

‘On Sunday morning, the 16th of December, died at Ashe, in Hampshire, in consequence of a fall from her horse, which she survived only twelve hours, Mrs. Lefroy, wife of the Rev. George Lefroy, Rector of that parish, and eldest daughter of the late Edward Brydges, esq. of Wootton, in this county. Of this lovely, accomplished, and most extraordinary woman, it is almost impossible speak truly, without seeming to use terms of exaggeration. The splendour of her talents, her vivacity, her powerful and energetic language, the beaming and eager benevolence of her countenance and manners, her fondness for society, and her delight in making every one around her happy, were felt wherever she appeared. But, with all these worldly attractions, her religion predominated over all her other excellences, and influenced and exalted every expression and action ofher life. How amiable and angelic she was in the domestic duties of daughter, wife, mother,  and sister, they only can property conceive, who experienced her unequalled virtues in those situations, and who have now to mourn a loss beyond the power of language to describe, and of any earthly advantage to repair. But it is not only to near relations and friends that her loss is irreparable;—she has left a chasm in society which there is no second to fill:—the whole division of county in which she lived will feel her death most poignantly, and appreciate it with unaffected concern Above all, the poor will receive this afflicting dispensation of Providence with the keenest sorrow and lamentation: she fed, she clothed, she instructed them with daily and never ceasing attention; in grief she soothed them by her conversation and her kind looks; and in sickness she comforted them with medicine and advice. She instituted a daily school of poor children in her own house, whom, amid a thousand avocations, she never failed to instruct herself; she taught them not only to read and write, but by her ingenuity introduced among them a little manufacture of straw, by which they were enabled at a very early age to contribute to their own livelihood. When the vaccine inoculation was discovered, she soon convinced herself of its beneficial effects and, having learned the process, actually inoculated upwards of 800 with her own hands. Thus she seemed like a good angel going about to dispense unmingled good in the world, when it pleased Providence, for its own inscrutable purposes, so suddenly to take her to itself;—and her agonized friends must submit to the severe and unexpected blow with the best resignation they can command.’

The Rev. James Austen (1765-1819), eldest brother of Jane Austen, who oversaw the funerals of both George and Anne Lefroy.

The Rev James Austen, Jane’s eldest brother, oversaw Anne’s burial on 21 December, four days before Christmas. The Rev. George Lefroy died at Ashe on 13 January 1806, three days after a ‘paralytic attack’. He was 61 years old. The Rev James Austen again oversaw his burial. George and Anne were the parents of seven children [8] :

  1. Jemima Lucy Lefroy (1779-1862), married the Rev. Henry Rice, had issue.
  2. (John Henry) George Lefroy, MA, (1782-1823), Rector of Ashe, see below.
  3. Christopher Edward (1785-1856), born December 1785, lived for a time on the Isle of Wight. In 1812, he published his mother’s poems, Carmina Domestica, with a dedication to his brother George, who he says is most like their mother in disposition. He died unmarried in 1856.
  4. Benjamin Lefroy, MA, (1791-1829), who married Jane Austen’s niece Anna Austen (1793-1872), see below.
  5. Julia Elizabeth, born and dies in 1783.
  6. Anthony, died young.
  7. William Thomas Lefroy, born 1787, dies 1791.

 

REV. GEORGE LEFROY (1782-1823), RECOR OF ASHE

 

Close up of Lady Rathdonnell (née Anne Lefroy), attributed to Mayer. She was the eldest daughter of the Rev George Lefroy and his wife Sophia.

Baptised at Hambledown, near Basingstoke, Hampshire, on 5 February 1782, (John Henry) George Lefroy was a son of the Rev. George Lefroy and his wife Anne (née Brydges). [9] He graduated from Christ Church Oxford with a BA at about the time of his mother’s tragic death. He assisted his father in raising a Volunteer militia circa 1799-1803. On 2 February 1805, he was appointed a deacon of Coventry & Lichfield. A year later, with an MA from Lambeth, he was made a priest by Winchester and appointed chaplain to John Randolph, a conservatively minded soul who, having been Regius Professor of Divinity at Oxford from 1783 to 1807, served as Bishop of Oxford (1799-1807), Bangor (1807-1809) and London (1809-1813).

Following his father’s death in January 1806, he succeeded him as Rector of Ashe. In July 1806, he married Miss Sophia Cotterell, youngest daughter of Rev Charles Jeffreys Cottrell (1752-1819), Rector of Hadley, Middlesex. The Rev Cottrell was the son of Dublin-born Colonel John Cottrell, Marines, of Ewhurst, Hampshire. [10] Sophia’s mother Fanny, who died in 1811, was a daughter of Thomas Smith of Hadley, a London merchant, and sister to Sir Culling Smith.

On 22 July 1818, George learned of the death of his uncle Henry Maxwell, whose late wife Deborah Jemima Brydges had been a sister of his mother, the late Madame Lefroy. In his will, Henry Maxwell left George Lefroy estates valued at £150,000 at Ewshot House (later felled and reborn as Itchel House), near Farnham and Aldershot, in Hampshire, as well as Ramsbury in Wiltshire. [11] Curiously George was described as ‘Rector of Limerick’ in a report on this in widely reported account of this inheritance.[12] The family did not move to Ewshot until after his death. The family also kept a house on Grosvenor Place, London, for at least six years.

George died at Ashe Rectory, aged 38, on 27 August 1823. [13] His brother, the Rev Benjamin Lefroy (husband of Jane Austen’s niece) was subsequently appointed to the vacated rectory.

George and Sophia had issue:

  1. George Lefroy (1807-1824), their eldest son, who died ‘in his 17th year’ in March 1824.[14]
  2. Anne (1808-1889), the eldest daughter, who married John McClintock and became Lady Rathdonnell. She was thus a niece of Jane Austin’s niece. Anne was three years old when Jane Austen published ‘Sense and Sensibility’, five for ‘Pride and Prejudice’ (1813), six for ‘Mansfield Park(1814), eight for Emma (1816) and nine when Jane Austen took ill and died in July 1817.
  3. Sir John Henry Lefory, KCMG, CB, FRS, painted by Ossani in 1879. He was a distinguished magnetic scientist who became President of the Royal Canadian Institute.

    Charles Edward Lefroy (1810-1861), discoverer of the Crondall Hoard and Secretary to Charles Shaw-Lefevre, 1st Viscount Eversley, during most of his term as Speaker of the House of Commons, from 1840-1856. Jane Austen was unimpressed when she met him as five years old, writing to her niece: ‘We thought him a very fine boy, but terribly in want of Discipline. – I hope he gets a wholesome thump, or two, whenever it is necessary.[15]
    Educated at Winchester and Christ Church, Oxford (MA, 1832), Charles was called to the Bar in 1836. He succeeded to Ewshot House. In 1829, the old house was pulled down, and built a new and enlarged mansion which he named after the manor of Itchell. He also commissioned the architect William Burges to build All Saints Church, by Fleet Railway Station, Hampshire, in memory of his wife Janet (known as Jessie), eldest daughter of James Walker, who had died suddenly in 1858. James Walker had co-founded the marine engineering company Walker and Burges with Burges’s father Alfred. The church was badly damaged by a fire in 2015. Charles died aged 51 on 17 April 1861. (See photos of effigy below).
    Their eldest son Captain Charles James Maxwell Lefroy, 14th Hussars (born 12 September 1848), succeeded to Itchell Manor. On 14 August 1872, he married a kinswoman of Lord Rathdonnell, Elizabeth, eldest daughter of Alfred Henry McClintock, Esq., M.D., LL.D, Master of the Rotunda and brother of the Arctic explorer. Captain Lefroy’s brother was Clement George Lefroy (1850-1917).

  4. Frances Phoebe Lefroy (1811-1859), the second daughter, who married George Kettilby Rickards, a member of the Canterbury Association, formed in 1848 by members of parliament, peers, and Anglican church leaders in England to establish a colony in New Zealand. Mr Rickards was married secondly in 1861 to Julia Cassandra Lefroy, second daughter of the Rev Ben Lefroy, Rector of Ashe.
  5. Anthony Cottrell Lefroy (1812-1884), christened at Ashe, became Incumbent of Crookham, Surrey, then Vicar of Longdon, near Tewkesbury. He married Anne Rickman (1808-1881), daughter of John Rickman. Her memoirs were published as Good Company in old Westminster and the Temple(1925).
  6. Sophia Anna Lefroy (1814-1897), who was married on 20 July 1852, to the  Ernest Hawkins(1801-1868), an English Anglican churchman and mission administrator who became canon of Westminster. [16] They had no children but his name is recalled in the River Hawkins, which runs into the Selwyn River in Mid Canterbury, New Zealand.
  7. Sir John Henry Lefroy (1817-1890), colonel in the Royal Artillery, astronomer and scientist, and governor of Bermuda, and finally Tasmania. In 1857 he was gazetted Inspector-General of army schools, whereby all matters connected with regimental education were placed under his direction, and he at once organised a large staff of trained school masters.In 2002, a painting of him by the Irish artist Paul Kane became the most expensive work of art ever sold at a Canadian auction.
  8. Henry Maxwell Lefroy (1818-1879), born in Ashe on 3 August 1818, married December 1853 at St Germans, Cornwall, to Annette Bate, died 18 Jul 1879 and buried in Fremantle, Western Australia. He was secretary of the Canterbury Association. His sisters Phoebe Rickards and Sophia Hawkins both married members of the same association. Henry and Annette’s son was the Revd Charles Edward Cottrell Lefroy became Archdeacon of Perth, Western Australia.
  9. Lucy Jemima (1819-1827), the fourth daughter, died at Ewshot House in November 1827. [17]
  10. Frederick (1821-1828)
  11. Isabella (1823-1887)

In 1823, following George’s death, Sophia brought her family to live at Ewshot House. A spooky story about the house is told here.

The effigy of Charles and Janet (Jessie) Lefroy at All Saints Church, by Fleet Railway Station, Hampshire, complete with trusty dogs by their feet.

In 1828, Anne Lefroy’s 18-year-old brother, Charles Edward Lefroy discovered a hoard of gold coins at Crondall, not far from a hill known as Caesar’s Camp. The find, a year before Anne married John McClintock, became known as the Crondall Hoard and was the earliest post-Roman find of gold coins ever discovered in England. Dated to 650AD or earlier, the hoard and contains 73 Anglo Saxon coins, with 10 distinct types noted, as well as two jewelled ornaments with chains. One of the earliest coins is attributed to King Eadbald of Kent (616 -640), the son of King Aethelbert. Charles initially thought the hoard was brass waistcoat buttons.

In a letter to the Numismatic Chronicle, dated 13 June 1843, he recounted how the hoard was ‘… found by myself in the autumn of 1828 on a heath in the parish of Crondall in Hampshire … the coins must have been confined in a purse, though there was no trace of one left, as some of the stones set in the ornaments had fallen out but were found among the coins together with a little stone, since lost probably belonging to some other ornament which had perished. I had therefore no reason to suppose they had been moved, except by the turf cutter who I fancy cut them out in the middle of his turf which broke as he turned it over and the coins contained in a portion of the broken turf fell back on the spot without his observing them.’

The Lefroy’s held onto the Crondall Hoard until the end of the 19th century, when it was sold & then passed onto the Ashmolean Museum.

 

REV. BEN LEFROY (17891-1829) & ANNA AUSTEN

 

A younger son of the Rev George Lefroy, and uncle of Lady Rathdonnell, he was awarded his BA from Merton College, Oxford in 1813.[18] On 8 November 1814, he was married in a quiet service at Steventon to Anna Austen. The bride wore a yellow and white dress. His brother, the Rev. George Lefroy, Rector of Ashe, officiated. [19]

Anna (aka Jane Anna Elizabeth Austen) was the only child of the Rev. James Austen, Rector of Steventon, and his first wife, Anne Mathew. She was thus a niece of Jane Austen, the novelist, with whom she became very close after her mother’s death in 1795.

Anna Lefroy, née Austen, wife of the Rev. Ben Lefroy, niece of Jane Austen and aunt to Anne Lefroy, later 1st Lord Rathdonnell. (The Jane Austen Memorial Trust, Chawton, Hampshire.)

Jane Austen expressed anxiety about her niece’s marriage in a letter to her brother Francis:

‘I believe he is sensible, certainly very religious, well connected & with some Independance. —There is an unfortunate dissimilarity of Taste between them in one respect which gives us some apprehensions, he hates company & she is very fond of it; —this, with some queerness of Temper on his side & much unsteadiness on hers, is untoward.’

After the wedding breakfast, Ben and Anna went to Hendon, North London, to stay with his older brother Edward. In 1815 they moved back to Hampshire and rented part of an old farmhouse at Wyards, a mile north of Chawton. Ben was appointed a Deacon by the Bishop of Winchester in 1817 and took up the Lefroy living of Compton, Surrey, two years later. [20]

In November 1823, following his brother George’s death, Ben became Rector of Ashe, near Basingstoke. He died at Ashe, aged 38, ‘after many months of slow decay’ on 27 August 1829, two weeks after his niece married John McClintock and on the eve of a hard winter.[21] The following November, Anna and her young family relocated to West Ham, near Basingstoke, to live in a house owned by Ben’s older brother C. Edward Lefroy.

Ben and Anna were parents of one son George Benjamin Austen (1818-1912), also known as Ben, and six daughters, Anna Jemima (1815-1855), Julia Cassandra (1816-84), Fanny Caroline Lefroy (1820-1885), Georgiana Brydges (1822-1882), Louisa Langlois (1824-1910) and Elizabeth Lucy (1827-96).

Anna Austen died aged 79 in September 1872 in Reading, Berkshire. She was buried in Ashe near the grave of her daughter Jemima.

 

TOM LEFROY (1776-1869), CHIEF JUSTICE & JANE AUSTEN PARAMOUR

 

This is said to have been a portrait of Jane Austen, aged 15, by Ozias Humphry, circa 1790. Jane Austen was in Bath from 1801 to 1805 where she allegedly had a romance with Tom Lefroy, the future Chief Justice of Ireland. Might she also have encountered her fellow Jane – Jane Bunbury – who was thrown from her horse and killed while hunting at Ashely near Bath in 1801.

Tom Lefroy as a young man.

Tom Lefroy (1776-1869), a future local Chief Justice of Ireland, was the man who Jane Austen apparently had in mind when she invented the character Mr. Darcy in ‘Pride and Prejudice‘. Tom, or Thomas, was born in Limerick in 1776, the eldest son of Anthony and Elizabeth Lefroy’s twelve children. In 1791, he attended Mr. Ashe’s boarding school for boys at Athy, County Kildare, which his younger brother Ben also attended. [22] (Tom Bunbury, Jane Bunbury’s grandfather, was also educated in Athy.) Having studied at Trinity College, Dublin from 1790 to 1793, he went to Lincoln’s Inn, London, under the sponsorship of his great-uncle, Benjamin Langlois. In about 1795, he served as auditor of the Trinity College Historical Society, known as The Hist.

In 1796 he went to Bath to stay with his uncle, Rev. Isaac Lefroy, Rector of Ashe Isaac. One of Bath’s most celebrated residents was Jane Austen who lived in the city with her father, mother, and sister Cassandra between 1801 and 1805. Bath features centrally in two of her novels ‘Northanger Abbey’ and ‘Persuasion‘.

In Bath, the Austens became friendly with Lefroys. Jane Austen developed a particular fondness for the Rev Isaac Lefroy’s wife, ‘Madame Lefroy‘, grandmother to the first Lady Rathdonnell. ‘Madame Lefroy‘ was killed by a fall from her horse in 1804.[23]

Jane Austen recalled a meeting with Tom Lefroy in a letter to her sister Cassandra:

“I am almost afraid to tell you how my Irish friend and I behaved. Imagine to yourself everything most profligate and shocking in the way of dancing and sitting down together. I can expose myself, however, only once more because he leaves the country soon after next Friday, on which day we are to have a dance at Ashe. He is a very gentlemanlike, good-looking, pleasant young man I assure you. But as to our having ever met, except at the three last balls, I cannot say much; for he is so excessively laughed at about me at Ashe that he is ashamed of coming to Steventon.” She concludes her letter by saying: “After I had written the above we received a visit from Mr. Tom Lefroy and his cousin George. The latter is really very well behaved now; and as for the other, he has but one fault, which time will, I trust, entirely remove – it is that his morning coat is a great deal too light. He is a very great admirer of Tom Jones, and therefore wears the same coloured clothes, I imagine, which he did, when he was wounded.”

A few days later, she wrote:

‘Our party at Ashe tomorrow night will consist of Edward Cooper, James (for a ball is nothing without him), Buller, who is now staying with us, and I. I look forward with great impatience to it, as I rather expect to receive an offer from my friend in the course of the evening. I shall refuse him, however, unless he promises to give away his white coat.’

Matthew Macfadyen as Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice.

On the day of the ball itself, she wrote:

‘At length the day has come on which I am to flirt my last with Tom Lefroy, and when you receive this it will be over. My tears flow as I write at the melancholy idea.’

Extract from Hampshire Chronicle, Monday 21 July 1817 referring to the death of Jane Austen.

He returned to Dublin soon afterwards. In later life, Tom Lefroy apparently admitted that he had been in ‘boyish love’ with Jane Austen. [24] Their friendship was romanticised for ‘Becoming Jane’, a period drama with Anne Hathaway and James McEvoy that was on the silver screen in the early 21st century.

On 16 March 1799, Tom Lefroy married Mary Paul, only daughter and heir of Jeffrey Paul, of Silver Spring, County Wexford. They had issue:

  1. Anthony Lefroy (1800-1890), who succeeded to Carrigglas. He was a Deputy Lieutenant and Justice of the Peace for County Longford, as well as High Sheriff (1850) and MP for County Longford (1830-1837), and MP for Dublin University (1858-1870). Born on 21 March 1800, he was married at St Peter’s Church, Dublin, (by the Archbishop of Dublin) on 19 July 1824 to the Hon. Jane King, eldest daughter of the first Viscount Lorton of Rockingham County Roscommon and granddaughter of the Countess Dowager of Rosse, of Stretton Hall, Staffordshire. At the time of their wedding, Anthony’s father was His Majesty’s first Serjeant of Law. Their only son, Thomas, died on 1 March 1828 when he was just over a year old. They also had two daughters, (1) Francis Jane, who was married in 1849 to Colonel Sir David Carrick Robert Carrick-Buchanan, KCB, and died in 1911, and (2) Mary Louisa, who was married in 1852 to Lieutenant Colonel William Leopold Talbot, seventh son of the 3rd Baron Talbot de Malahide, and died in 1918.
  2. Thomas Paul Lefroy, QC, who succeeded his brother in 1890. He was a County Court Judge of Down, Chancellor of the Diocesan Court of Down, Conor and Dromore, and Bencher of the King’s Inn. Born on 31 December 1806 and educated at Trinity College, Dublin, he was married on 1 July 1835 to the Hon. Elizabeth Massy, daughter of the third Baron Massy. He died on 29 January 1891, a little over a year after succeeding his brother.
    His son Thomas Langlois Hugh Lefroy (1836-1903), a barrister, succeeded to Carrigglas but, leaving no children, he was, in turn, succeeded by his brother, Augustine.
    Augustine Hugh Lefroy (1839-1915), lieutenant colonel in the 45th Regiment and sometime High Sheriff of County Longford.  When he died in 1915, Carrigglas passed to Augustine’s second son, Langlois Massy Lefroy, OBE, b. 1885, who was married to Sheelah Georgiana Bertha, elder daughter Benjamin Bloomfield Trench of Loughton, Cloughjordan, County Tipperary, a kinswoman of Baron Ashtown. I am unsure how they connect to Phoebe, who ultimately succeeded to Carrigglas!?
  3. The Very Reverend Jeffry Lefroy, Dean of Dromore (1876-85). Born on 25 March 1809 and educated at Trinity College Cambridge, he was married on 2 May 1844 to Eleanor, eldest daughter of the Reverend Frederick Trench. She died on 7 May 1908, and he died 10 December 1885, having had issue. Their second son, the Reverend Frederick Anthony Lefroy (1846-1820), Canon and Examining Chaplain to the Bishop of Gloucester, was grandfather to Jeffry Arden Patrick Lefroy (b. 1909) who married my great aunt Veronica Colley in 1935 and was father to Jeffrey and La.
  4. George Thompson Lefroy, High Sheriff of County Longford (1846), Treasurer to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. Born on 26 May 1811, he was married late in life on 10 December 1869 to Mary, widow of William Martley Blackburne of Tankardstown, County Meath, and daughter of the Reverend William Thorpe, DD. He dsp on 19 March 1890.
  5. Jane Christmas, born 24 June 1802, died unmarried on 3 August 1896. Is it relevant that Tom Lefroy named his eldest daughter Jane – was the something significant about Christmas?
  6. Anne, born 25 April 1804, died unmarried 24 February 1885.
  7. Mary Elizabeth, born 19 December 1817, died unmarried 23 January 1890. So, all three of the Chief Justice’s daughters were unmarried ‘spinsters’ in the 1880s and 1890s.

This is believed to have been Thomas Lefroy, Chief Justice of Ireland and former paramour of Jane Austen, in later life.

In June 1833, ‘Counsellor Lefroy’ purchased the Carrigglas (or Carrickglass) estate in County Longford from the heirs of the disgraced banker, Viscount Newcomen.[25] He thus also acquired a considerable tenantry in Carrickglass. [26] The Lefroys took up residence at Carrigglas in October 1835. [27] Curiously, his neighbours included Maria Edgeworth, the celebrated author of ‘Castle Rackrent’. Jane Austen had been a fan of Maria Edgeworth’s work. What a literary hub Longford might have been if Mrs Jane Lefroy” (née Austen) had been a reality.

Tom Lefroy continued to have an illustrious life, serving as MP for Trinity College, Dublin; Privy Councillor to Queen Victoria, a Baron of the Exchequer in 1841 and in 1852 he became Lord Chief Justice of Ireland. He died in 1869 aged 93.

 

FURTHER READING

 

  • Sir John Henry Lefroy, ‘Notes and documents relating to the family of Loffroy, of Cambray prior to 1587, of Canterbury 1587-1779, now chiefly represented by the families of Lefroy of Carriglas, Co. Longford, Ireland, and of Itchel, Hants, with branches in Australia and Canada [electronic resource] : being a contribution to the history of foreign Protestant refugees’ (1868)
  • Deirdre Le Faye, ‘A Chronology of Jane Austen and Her Family: 1700-2000’ (Cambridge University Press, 2006)
  • Deirdre Le Faye. “Anna Lefroy and Her Austen Family Letters.” The Princeton University Library Chronicle, vol. 62, no. 3, Princeton University Library, 2001, pp. 519–62, https://doi.org/10.25290/prinunivlibrchro.62.3.0519.
  • David C.A. Agnew, ‘Protestant exiles from France, chiefly in the reign of Louis XIV; or, The Huguenot refugees and their descendants in Great Britain and Ireland. (Edinburgh, Printed by Turnbull & Spears, 1886), 3rd Edition, Chapter 9 – Section VI.
  • Susan T Moore, ‘Tracing Your Ancestors Through the Equity Courts: A Guide for Family & Local Historians’ (Pen and Sword, 2017), which has a chapter on the Lefroys.

 

END-NOTES

 

[1] Hampshire Chronicle – Monday 09 December 1782

[2] Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette – Thursday 23 September 1819.

[3] Thomas U. Sadleir, ‘Loveday’s tour in Kildare in 1732’, Kildare Archaeological Society Journal 7 (1912–14) 168–177.

[4] Pilot (London) – Friday 17 November 1809

[5] Dublin Evening Post – Thursday 26 December 1816. Those children and their descendants are listed in detail in Burke’s Landed Gentry of Ireland, 4th edition, 1958, page 433.

[6] His children and their descendants are listed in detail in Burke’s Landed Gentry of Ireland, 4th edition, 1958, page 433.

[7] A watercolour on ivory portrait miniature of Mrs. Anne Lefroy (1749-1804) by Richard Crosse (1742-1810) appeared in the collection of C.D. Cholmeley-Harrison Esq and is presently with Philip Mould Fine Art Ltd.

[8] Their descendants are described in Burke’s Landed Gentry, 1952 addition, under Maxwell Lefroy of Itchel Manor.

[9] I believe he used the name George as he was called the ‘Rev G. Lefroy’ in his death notice in the Cambridge Chronicle and Journal of  12 September 1823.

[10] Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette – Thursday 31 July 1806

[11] Henry Maxwell Esq also left £1m 238.15s 2d on trust as a fund for the endowment of a school to be called Oliver’s Charity School. The school was intended for the education of seventy-two boys of labourer in husbandry and journeymen mechanics and twelve boys of small farmers and master tradesmen. In 1835 the school was also made available for girls – prior to this the girls school was conducted in the old boys school in Church Street. It became a National School in 1875. The impaled arms of Lefroy and Cotterell can be found in the top left corner of Crondall Church.

[12] See, for instance, the Oxford Journal – Saturday 05 September 1818.

[13] Morning Chronicle – Thursday 03 September 1829. His date of death is sometimes given as 11 October 1823. His death was also recorded, without a date, in the Cambridge Chronicle and Journal, 12 September 1823.

[14] Oxford Journal – Saturday 27 March 1824

[15] Jane Austen’s Letters, ed. Deirdre Le Faye. Quoted in ‘The Lefroy Monument, All Saints, Fleet’ Jacqueline Banerjee. PhD, Associate Editor, the Victorian Web, via 

[16] The following details are extracted from ‘The Canterbury Association (1848-1852): A Study of Its Members’ Connections’ by Michael Blain (2007).

Born on 25 Jan 180, Ernest was the 6th son of Henry Hawkins, of Lawrence End, Kimpton co Hertford, a major in the East India Company, by his wife Anne Gurney only child of John Gurney, a merchant of Bedford, England. He was educated at Balliol College Oxford (matriculated 1820, 1824 BA; 1839 BD Oxford) and, having been ordained, returned to Oxford as a Fellow of Exeter College (1831-1852). From 1831 to 1835 he acted as an under-librarian of the Bodleian Library, and served the curacy of St. Aldate in the city of Oxford. Leaving Oxford about 1835 he undertook the curacy of St George’s, Bloomsbury, London. In 1838 Hawkins was appointed an under-secretary of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel (SPG), and succeeded to the secretaryship in 1843. In the following year he became assistant preacher at Lincoln’s Inn, and a prebendary of St Paul’s Cathedral (1844-64), and in 1850 minister of Curzon Chapel, Mayfair. While he was secretary of the SPG the income of the society grew, and there was an increase of the colonial episcopate from eight to 47 sees. He attended the first meeting of the Canterbury Association on 27 Mar 1848, which was formed in order to establish a colony in what is now the Canterbury Region in the South Island of New Zealand. He proposed that the SPG should administer the ecclesiastical and educational aspects but the plan lapsed when the Association decided to administer the funds. From the High church connections of the National Society, he knew Thomas Jackson at the teacher training college in Battersea, and thought to propose him as the bishop for the see of Lyttelton in May 1860.

“Hawkins forms a very important link between the old High church loyalties shared by many in the Canterbury Association through to the Tractarian and rising Ritualist Movement that largely overtook or confounded such loyalties. Hawkins initiated a remarkable revival of the somnolent fortunes of the SPG; the annual income rose from £16,000 to £91,000, and in the churches overseas which it served, the episcopate increased from eight to forty-seven sees. As honorary secretary to the Colonial Bishoprics Fund, as well as secretary of the SPG, Hawkins formed close contacts with the colonial office and missionary workers, including Field the Tractarian bishop of Newfoundland (who later corresponded with Bishop Harper of Christchurch). As secretary to the Colonial Bishoprics Council in July 1845 Hawkins advised the archbishop of Canterbury about the needs of the diocese of Tasmania.” He resigned on 20 Feb 1851, just under 18 months before his marriage to Miss Lefroy.

At the time of the marriage he was minister of Curzon chapel at Mayfair, London, which position he held from 1850-1860. In 1859 he was elected vice president of Bishop’s College, Capetown, and he published works relating to history of missions. (‘Documents relating to the erection of bishoprics in the colonies’ (1844); ‘Manual of prayer for working men and their families’ (1856). His close friends included Francis Fulford, John Medley, bishop of Fredericton; and Edward Feild. He succeeded William Henry Edward Bentinck to become canon of Westminster in 1864, which he held until his death on 5 Oct 1868 at Dean’s yard, Westminster SW1. He was buried in the cloisters of the abbey on 12 October 1868.

Hawkins retained his interest in New Zealand. “In February 1863, he was in correspondence with Henry Pelham Pelham-Clinton, the Duke of Newcastle (as secretary of state for the colonies) about the precedent or justification for the archbishop of Canterbury to nominate colonial bishops. In June 1861 he (as secretary of the Colonial Bishoprics Fund) reported to the archbishop of Canterbury on the resolution of the Colonial Bishoprics Council (CBC) to add £1,000 to the endowment of the see of Brisbane, provided £2,000 was raised locally. In August 1862 Hawkins objected that the SPG and CBC were not consulted on the appointment to the bishopric of Goulburn NSW. In February 1865 CB Adderley as under secretary at the Colonial Office notified Tait the archbishop of Canterbury that he had written to Hawkins suggesting the Revd John Anderson rector of Norton-le-Moors as successor to Hobhouse as bishop of Nelson; he noted that George Lyttelton supported his suggestion, and that Anderson wished to go to Nelson. (Anderson continued as rector of Norton until 1877.) After John Henry Newman left the Church of England for the church of Rome, as one of the significant leaders of the Oxford Movement he was a rallying point for Anglo-Catholics in London. HJC Harper the 1st bishop of Christchurch sought Hawkin’s assistance as secretary for the SPG in funding for Maori work in North Otago, and in recruiting clergy for the diocese of Christchurch. Hawkin’s successor as secretary for the SPG, HW Tucker had a significant role in recruiting priests for the diocese of Christchurch in the 1870s.”

[17] Oxford Journal – Saturday 17 November 1827.

[18] Sun (London) – Saturday 20 November 1813.

[19] Salisbury and Winchester Journal – Monday 14 November 1814.

[20] Stamford Mercury – Friday 26 September 1817.

[21] Berkshire Chronicle – Saturday 12 September 1829.

[22] Thomas U. Sadleir, ‘Loveday’s tour in Kildare in 1732’, Kildare Archaeological Society Journal 7 (1912–14) 168–177.

[23] The exact spot where the accident took place was “where the narrow lane from Polehampton crosses the Overton Road”. Chapter VII, Jane Austen: Her Homes & Her Friends (John Lane The Bodley Head, 1923) by Constance Hill.

[24] Tomalin, Claire. Jane Austen: A Life. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1997, p. 118.

[25] This notice in the Dublin Evening Mail of 5 June 1833 suggests Lefroy may have bought Carrigglas in a sale that day:
Dupre, Earl of Caledon, and others, Plaintiffs ;  The Hon. Catherine Newcomen; the Hon. Charlotte Newcomen, William Gleadowe, Harriett Holland, and others, Defendants. PURSUANT to the Decree of his Majesty’s High Court of Chancery in Ireland, made in this cause and bearing the date the 20th day of July, 1827, and the Order of the 30th of January last. I will, on Tuesday, the 16th day of April next, at the hour of One o’clock in the afternoon, at my Chambers on the Inns’ quay, Dublin, set up and sell by public cant, to the highest and best bidder, all that and those, the Mansion-house, Offices, Demesne and Lands of Carrickglass, and its sub-denominations, situate in the County of Longford, held under Trinity College, Dublin, together with the Timber growing thereon, which was planted and registered by the late Sir William Gleadowe Newcomen, for the purposes In said decree mentioned.— Dated 7th day of March, 1833. RODERICK CONNOR
The above Sale adjourned  to WEDNESDAY, the 5th day of JUNE next, at the hour and place above mentioned—Dated 24th day of May, 1833. RODERICK CONNOR.
For further particulars to title, rental, and conditions of sale apply to Messrs. Furlong and Latouche, the Plaintiff’s Solicitors, 60, Aungier street, Dublin, where maps of the estate may be seen.

[26] See for instance the Dublin Morning Register, 20 April 1835, p.4.

[27] ‘Thomas Lefroy, Esq., M.P., and family, have arrived at their seat, Carrickglass, County Longford.’ (Warder and Dublin Weekly Mail – Saturday 17 October 1835)