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Sir Henry Bunbury (1565-1634)

Sir Arthur Aston, Catholic mercenary, was a first cousin of Sir Henry Bunbury.

Born in 1565, Henry Bunbury was grandfather of the Benjamin Bunbury who first acquired the land in County Carlow, Ireland. Henry succeeded as head of the family on the death of his father Thomas Bunbury died on 5 May 1601. Two years later, on 23 July 1603, he was knighted by the new king, James I. [1]

Henry’s grandfather John Aston held the office of Server or Steward to Queen Anne, the king’s Danish bride, which may have helped his rise through the ranks. It may even have compensated for the fact that his renegade uncle, Sir William Stanley, was communicating with the same king’s would-be assassins at the time. In 1605, for instance, Stanley was implicated in the Guy Fawkes Plot; he managed to avoid arrest and died in Ghent in 1630. Who knows whether “uncle” and “nephew” were of the same persuasion, but Stanley’s colourful life must have impacted upon Sir Henry? Moreover, Sir Henry’s first cousin Sir Arthur Aston, a mercenary, would take up the mantle from Stanley and champion the cause of Catholicism from Archangel to Newfoundland.

Sir Arthur Aston (1571-1627) – A Catholic Mercenary in Poland and Newfoundland

I do not know if the Astons were all Catholic but Sir Arthur Aston, Bridget Bunbury’s nephew and Sir Henry Bunbury’s first cousin, was certainly a leading light amongst England’s Catholics in the early 17th century. A son of Sir Thomas Aston (d. 1613), High Sheriff of Cheshire (1600-1601), he was knighted by King James on 15/25 July 1604. A few weeks later, he obtained a licence to ‘use and sell certain woods used in dyeing.’ I am unsure where this business was based but his eyes were soon set on Europe.

A mercenary adventurer of the old school, he was sent on an embassy from King James to Ducal Prussia in Poland in 1611. By June 1612 he was among twenty officers offering their service for Muscovy in Archangel. He came to prominence in the spring of 1621 when he commissioned two ships to escort 360 men to Danzig in Poland, while he sailed in a third ship with a further 300 men. Predominantly English and Irish volunteers, Aston’s men were enlisted by Osalinskie, Count Palatine of Sindomerskie, the Polish ambassador to England, to assist the fervently Catholic King Sigismund III of Poland in his war against Mikhaíl Fyodorovich Románov, the first Russian Tsar of the House of Romanov. However, Aston’s entourage were intercepted by King Christian IV of Denmark-Norway in the Sound and only a few hundred made it to Danzig.

In March 1622, Sir Arthur was ordered back to London to explain himself, following a request by Isaac Sinoinwich Pogozue, the Russian ambassador to England. He was briefly imprisoned at Marshalsea in June 1622 and ordered not to take up arms against the Romanovs. The following year, he sought to have his expenses for his recruitment efforts reimbursed by Sigismund III; the debt was not settled until after the king’s death in 1632.

John Mason’s map of Newfoundland, published in his Brief Discourse of the New-found-land (1625)

In April 1625, a few weeks after the death of King James I, Sir Arthur was appointed Governor of the fledgling colony of Avalon in Newfoundland. The colony belonged to Lord Baltimore, a wealthy Englishman who had been one of the principal figures in James I’s court when, as Sir George Calvert, he served as the king’s Secretary of State, as well as a Privy Councillor. He played a leading role in arranging the marriage between the Prince of Wales (the future Charles I) and his Spanish queen, Henrietta Maria. However, the Prince and his favourite, the Duke of Buckingham, pursued an anti-Spanish agenda and edged Calvert out.

After Calvert resigned the secretariat in February 1625, King James raised him in the Irish peerage as the 1st Baron Baltimore. Calvert then stunned his contemporaries when he became a Catholic convert soon afterwards. His conversion is attributed to Fr Simon Stock, a Carmelite priest, although he may have been a secret Catholic long before that. King James died in March 1625. Converts had no place in the court of his son, Charles I, the new king, and, unwilling to take the Oath of Supremacy, Calvert stepped down from the Privy Council.

Lord Baltimore owned some 4000 acres of County Longford (including the eponymous Baile an Tí Mhóir, from which he took the name ‘Baltimore’), which makes me wonder if that is why so many Bunburys were in Longford at that time. He also purchased another estate at Clohamon on the River Slaney, near Bunclody, County Wexford, from Sir Richard Masterson. I believe it had once been his intention to sail for his lands in Newfoundland but instead he moved with his family to Ireland. He lived somewhere near Ferns and planned to build a new manor house at Clohamon, while his two younger children were educated privately in Waterford. As well as seeking to avoid the limelight, Lord Baltimore may have abandoned London for more practical reasons, as a deadly plague was running rife in the city.

George Calvert (1578/79-1632) 1st Lord Baltimore.

Lord Baltimore had acquired a peninsula on the south-east coast of Newfoundland from Sir William Vaughan in 1623, and named it  ‘Avalon‘ after the legendary island in England where Christianity was supposedly introduced in Arthurian times. This included the four major Atlantic fisheries of the Grand Banks at Placentia Bay, Trinity Bay, Conception Bat and St Mary’s Bay.[i]

Sir Arthur Aston set sail to take office as governor of the Province of Avalon at the end of May 1625. Fr Simon Stock, the Carmelite priest who had encouraged Lord Baltimore’s conversion and nominated Aston, described Sir Arthur as ‘a Catholic knight and dear friend, who for many years has fought in the wars against Turks and infidels.’ He apparently sailed in the company of fifteen more Catholics, lending credence to the idea that this was a plan by Baltimore and Stock to establish Newfoundland as a sanctuary for persecuted Catholics, as well as a vital cog in a chain of missionary stations that was to run all the way to China and present-day Indonesia. However, no Carmelite priests accompanied Aston.

Sir Arthur in Avalon! One wonders how much Aston read into all that. From Ferryland, he sent positive reports back to Stock and Baltimore in October 1625, highlighting the flourishing cod fishery and remarking that the indigenous Beothuk Indians were “of a benign disposition” and few un number.  As well as fish, the early settlers sought iron and made glass and soap. They also tried to grow food and established a fur trade with the Beothuk. To Stock’s dismay, the plan to send Catholic missionaries to the new colony stalled. For reasons unknown, Sir Arthur Aston returned to England in the winter of 1626. With the Anglo–Spanish War was underway, he was unable to get back to Newfoundland and instead joined the service of the Duke of Buckingham and went to war once more. He was killed on 29 October / 8 November 1627 during the siege of Saint-Martin-de-Ré, or Île de Ré, in France.

Sir Arthur’s son, another Sir Arthur Aston (1590-1649), an ally of the Earl of Ormonde, was the ill-fated governor of the port of Drogheda in 1649. Sir Thomas Aston (1600-1645), a younger brother of the younger Sir Arthur, was an outspoken Royalist who suffered defeat at the hands of Sir William Brereton in Middlewich. [2]

Further Reading

  • Gillian T. Cell, ‘Newfoundland Discovered: English Attempts at Colonisation, 1610–1630’ (Routledge, 2021)
  • John D. Krugler, ‘English and Catholic: The Lords Baltimore in the Seventeenth Century’ (JHU Press, 2008)
  • Luca Codignola, The Coldest Harbour in the Land: Simon Stock and Lord Baltimore’s Colony in Newfoundland, 1621-1649 (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1988)


Woodland on the River Slaney

This may not be quite the right place to put this but, given the above connection to Bunclody and the Slaney, it might be useful to note that in 1608, Philip Cottingham, a London carpenter, was sent to survey woods in Wexford, Youghal and Belfast to see which ones contained suitable timber for ships for the navy. On the back of his survey, 7,500 trees were marked near Youghal in 1611, as well as 3,450 near Cork and 3,250 near Kinsale. These were all reserved to the crown for the use of the navy. To secure an adequate supply of wood for the navy, after 1621 it was declared illegal to cut timber within 10 miles of any navigable river or the sea. Here is Eileen McCracken’s take on the Slaney woods  from “The Woodlands of Ireland Circa 1600.” Irish Historical Studies, vol. 11, no. 44, 1959, pp. 284–285:

‘The river Slaney was wooded from Tullow in Carlow to its mouth at Wexford. The greatest extent was between Enniscorthy and the Carlow border; this was the wood of Coillaughrim, filled with fallow and red deer. The area was described as being ‘adorned with goodly woods for main timber fit for building and for pipe-staves and barrel-staves’. At the time of the Civil Survey, while the acreage for wood for the whole country was considerable, the main body of trees was found in the Slaney valley around Newtownbarry, where there were nearly 10,000 acres of wood and 600 acres of underwood. These woods were still being cut at the beginning of the nineteenth century. The woods of the Slaney valley extended north-eastwards to Wicklow. On the borders of Wicklow and Wexford were the famous oaks of Shillelagh that had supplied the roofing for Westminster Hall and St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin. It was estimated in 1608 that they would furnish the crown with timber for shipping and other uses for twenty years to come and Cottingham was ordered to send fifty-six tons of it to London for inspection.

‘This was the area in which the Chamneys * had their numerous ironworks, but, in spite of their depredations, in 1661 the earl of Strafford was able to contract for timber from Shillelagh with shipbuilders. There was an organised forestry department for Wicklow and Wexford in 1654, the officers being a wood reeve at £100  a year, four assistants at £26 a year and a clerk at £20. Similar, although less elaborate, arrangements were made for Carlow and Kildare.

Patches of wood lay along the western flanks of the Wicklow hills. In one area, near Timolin, a reward of £100 was given in 1655 to killers of tories, who, after a drum-head court martial, had executed eight of Petty’s English surveyors engaged on the Down Survey. But between these hills and the woods of the upper Barrow valley lay the open Curragh and beyond the Curragh was the Bog of Allen.’

Eileen’s book may provide more detail but she seems to attribute much of the destruction of Irish woods to the need to feed iron smelters. By the 18th century, about 2,000 trees were needed to build one warship so one can but imagine how much chopping was in motion then … that said, my understanding is that quite a lot of woodlands had been felled before the Anglo-Normans arrived. Richard II’s army also trashed the area when they swept through in the 1390s … I’ve also seen suggestions that many Irish trees were felled for the navy to confront the Armada but I don’t know is this is a fact.

* In 1641, an English ironmaster named Bacon opened a works at Shillelagh with pig-iron from Wales from which he made a fortune of over a million pounds. Chamney (Chomondelay), a tenant of the Earl of Stafford, married Bacon’s only daughter and opened mines in Wicklow and had over 50 distinct works in Wicklow, W and Carlow.


Anne Bunbury (née Shakerley)


Sir Henry Bunbury married twice. His first wife (Elizabeth) Anne was a daughter of Jeffery or Geoffrey Shakerley of Shakerley and Holme, Lancaster County by his wife Jane Beeston. Anne’s maternal grandfather Sir George Beeston was one of the Admirals responsible for defeating the Spanish Armada in 1588. She bore her husband four daughters and a son before her death on 4 June 1601. She was buried at Stoke. Given that Henry’s father had died a month earlier, one wonders if they both succumbed to the same ailment. Plague for instance.

Her son (SirHenry Benjamin Bunbury (1597-1664) of Hoole was to endure tough times during the Civil War; it is through his son Thomas that the main English branch today descends, was created a baronet in 1681.

As to Sir Henry and Anne’s four daughters:

  1. Mary Bunbury, the eldest, married Thomas Draper of Walton in Salop (Shropshire), with whom she had two sons Richard Draper and Henry Draper, and three daughters Sarah, Elinor and Elizabeth.
  2. Elizabeth Bunbury, Sir Henry’s second daughter, was married in 1612 to John RichardsonBishop of Ardagh– see below.
  3. Martha Bunbury, Sir Henry’s third daughter, died unmarried in July 1664.
  4. Anne Bunbury, the fourth and youngest daughter, married Sir John Keningham (Coningham?), another key player in the new post-Elizabethan Ireland.


The Bishop of Ardagh


John Richardson (1580–1654), Bishop of Ardagh, son-in-law to Sir Henry Bunbury and another relatively early link between the family and Ireland. His portrait was engraved by T. Cross and prefixed to his Choice Observations.

Another early Irish connection comes through Elizabeth Bunbury (b. 1595-), Sir Henry’s second daughter, who was married on 10 August 1612 to John Richardson (1580-1654), a Calvinist clergyman 15 years older than her, who later became Bishop of Ardagh in Ireland.
Born near Chester, Richardson went to Trinity College Dublin as a young man, being among the very first students at the college. His contemporaries included his fellow Calvinist and close friend James Ussher, the future Primate and Archbishop, who would go on to witness Charles I’s execution (and faint on the spot) and provide a date for the birth of the world. The bearded Richardson became a Fellow in 1601, held a Bachelor in Divinity by 1610, in which year he was appointed Vicar of Granard, County Longford. Was this connected to the Longford estate of Sir George Calvert, Lord Baltimore?

By early 1614, he was a Doctor of Divinity. He rose through the church hierarchy – rector of Ardstraw, Derry (1617); Archdeacon of  Derry (1622-1634), Prebendary of Mullaghbrack at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Armagh (1633) and Bishop of Ardagh (1633-1654). He was also Archdeacon of Down (1640) and Archdeacon of Connor from 1639 until his death in 1654.

On 10 July 1635, Sir William Brereton dined with Dr Ussher and, in his book, Travels in Holland, the United Provinces, England, Scotland and Ireland, 1634–1635, described how his fellow guests included Dr Richardson (‘an able man, and good scholar… an intelligent man, [who] gave me good resolution and satisfaction in many things’).’ Brereton also makes a memorable remark about ‘Sir Henry Bunbury’s daughter, whom I went to visit after dinner; a tall, handsome, fat woman.’

Alan Ford wrote Richardson’s entry for the New Oxford DNB which reads as follows:

In Dublin Richardson combined two roles: fellow of Trinity; and godly preacher, giving weekly public lectures on the Old Testament with James Ussher at Christ Church, and serving as Prebendary of St Audeon’s. Around 1617 he left for the new Ulster plantation, where Protestant preachers were urgently needed. Richardson, who had held the Rectory of Granard (Ardagh) since 1610 as a non-resident, was presented by Trinity College to the Rectory of Ardtrea (Armagh) and by the crown to Ardstraw (Derry), both in 1617, and by 1622 also held the Archdeaconry of Derry.
Ussher thought highly of his colleague, recommending him for the see of Raphoe in 1630. Though unsuccessful, he was soon proposed by Bishop William Bedell of Kilmore as his own successor in Ardagh. Nominated on 8 April 1633, Richardson was consecrated later that year in Armagh. Because of the poverty of the see, he was allowed to retain his Archdeaconry in commendam (exchanging it in 1639 for the Archdeaconry of Connor). Richardson himself, however, was not poor, living ‘very plentifully’ as bishop, owning the 1000 acre manor of Carrickglass (Co. Longford), renting land in Donegal from Trinity for £422 p.a. during the 1630s (Charles McNeill, ed., The Tanner letters, 1943, 459). Whether through foresight or luck, he retired to England just before the 1641 rising broke out, and remained there, dying in London on 11 August 1654. He left Carrickglass to be sold on the death of his wife, for the support of Trinity students from the four parishes in which had served (St Audoen’s, Granard, Ardstraw and Dunboe).
Though he published in 1625 a general defence of the Protestant doctrine of justification, Richardson was an Old Testament specialist, contributing to the second edition of the Westminster Assembly’s Annotations (1657). His Old Testament notes were printed posthumously, edited by Ussher and Thomas Gataker. When William Bedell was suspected as deviating from Calvinist orthodoxy in the early 1630s, Richardson was deputed by Ussher and other bishops to investigate his views. Though Bedell and Richardson, during a lengthy correspondence, agreed to differ over the efficacy of grace in baptism, the tone of their exchanges remained friendly

John and Elizabeth Richardson had at least one child, Thomas. The bishop left Ireland on the outbreak of the 1641 rebellion and settled in London. He died on 11 August 1654, shortly after his (second) marriage to Anne, daughter of Sir Edward Bagshaw, by which he acquired the township of Fartrin, County Cavan, as part of the dowry. He bequeathed money to Trinity College. Richardson’s major work, published posthumously by Archbishop Ussher, was ‘Choice Observations and Explanations of the Old Testament … to which are added further and larger Observations upon the whole Book of Genesis’ (London, 1655). [3]


Lady Martha Bunbury (née Norris)


After the death of his wife Anne, Henry was married, secondly, to Lady Martha Norris, the widow of Thurstan Anderton of Lostock, Bolton, Lancashire, England, heir of his brother James Anderton of Lostock. She grew up at Speke Hall in Lancashire, seven miles from Liverpool, where she was one of at least nine children – two sons and seven daughters – born to Edward Norris (c.1539-1606) and his wife Margaret Smallwood, daughter and coheir of Robert Smallwood of Westminster, London.[4]

Martha’s grandfather, Sir William Norris (or Norreys), was knighted in 1531 and served variously as Mayor and MP for Liverpool, as well as High Sheriff of Lancashire and a Justice of the Peace for Cheshire. Sir William died in 1568, ‘shortly after he had been formally reconciled to Rome, and was buried at Childwall.’ As his eldest son, William, was killed in 1547, he was succeeded by his third but eldest surviving son Edward, then 28, who was Martha’s father. The Norris family ‘remained Catholic until the mid-17th century and after they had conformed continued to sit for Liverpool.’

Martha’s oldest brother William Norris was made a knight of the Bath at the Coronation of King James I. The Order of the Bath derives from an elaborate medieval ceremony for appointing a knight, which involved bathing naked (as a symbol of purification) as one of its elements. I have no idea if William was obliged to bathe naked in front of James although I believe the Stuart king would have been keen to view such antics. 

Sir William Norris married Eleanor Molyneux, daughter of Sir William Molineaux of Sefton, Lancashire, and died in 1626. According to Thomas Heywood, editor of ‘The Norris papers’ (Chetham Society, 1846), Sir William was a spendthrift. [i] Recognising this before his death, his father left Speke in trust for ten years and then to be ‘delivered’ to Sir William and Eleanor’s small son instead. However, as the 23rd Earl of Leete might say, there was ‘precious little to inherit’ by the time William came of age. Sir William had ‘pawned everything down to two suits of clothes; he even obtained from his mother, for many years, the money left her to buy clothes; and here is a letter imploring, in the most abject terms, a little delay from one of his creditors.’

The younger William Norris – Martha Bunbury’s nephew – was married to Margaret Salisbury [Salusbury], whose father Sir Thomas Salisbury had been executed in 1586 for his part in the Babbington Plot. William succeeded his father in 1626 and, ‘with his two sons Edward and Thomas zealously fought for the King in Lancashire’ during the Civil War. In September 1649, William was obliged to play host at Speke to Colonel John Moore, one of the regicides who signed Charles I’s death warrant earlier that year. Colonel Moore, ‘who was waiting for a wind to pass with his regiment into Ireland’, would go on to become Governor of Dublin where he died of a fever in 1650. William Norris apparently died on 20 July 1651.

I guess “Copal Norris” could have been either of William Norris’ sons. If so, it’s more likely to have been Thomas. According to ‘The Norris Papers’, the elder son Edward had already been disinherited, possibly for being a Papist, and died in 1664, leaving an only daughter. As such, what was left of the family fortune passed to his second son Thomas who, born in 1618, married Katherine, daughter of Sir Henry Garway, sometime Governor of the Levant Company, about whom there is much more in ‘The Norris Papers’. Thomas died sometime before 1687.

Martha’s other brother Edward Norris married Margaret, widow of Edward Ireland of Lydiat, County Lancaster. As to Martha’s six sisters, Perpetua Norris married Thomas Westby of Mowbrick, Lancaster; Anne Norris married, as his third wife, Sir Thomas Butler of Bewsey Hall, Warrington, Lancashire [seemingly no connection of the Irish Butlers] and she married, secondly, Thomas Draycot of Paynesley, Salop; Mary married Thomas Clifton of Westby, Lancaster; Margaret married Edward Tarbock of Tarbock; Emilia married William Blundell of Crosby and Winifred married Richard or William Banester of Wem, Shropshire (Salop).


The Geneva Bible


Sir Henry Bunbury’s second marriage to Martha Norris may explain the initials ‘MB’ on the original cover of a Bible that once belonged to him. Printed in 1610, this is the last-known octavo-sized edition of the Geneva Bible, which was swiftly phased out with the introduction of the first King James Bible in 1611. Heavily based on the earlier translations by William Tyndale, the Geneva Bible had been the Bible of choice for both Anglican and Puritan Protestants during the Elizabethan Age. King James did not like it, which is why he commissioned his own bible. The fact that Sir Henry’s copy was such a late edition inclines me to think that Sir Henry was by now inclined to Calvinist Puritan thought, alongside the aforementioned Bishops Richardson and Ussher, perhaps under the influence of his second wife. And yet his firstborn son, Henry, would go to jail for his opposition to Cromwell’s Republic, while his first cousin Arthur Aston, as mentioned above, was a leading Catholic mercenary during the 1620s.

Sir Henry also possessed a first edition volume of some of Shakespeare’s plays, including an unknown text of “Hamlet” known as Q1, which predates all other versions and is dated 1603. [5]


Lead and Coal Mines in Cheshire, 1604


A marriage settlement dated 26 December 1604 by John Sparke of Chester refers to Sir Henry Bunbury, kt., of Stanney, John Cotes, esq., of Woodcoate, co. Salop and William Powell, gent., of Chester, holding ‘the remainder of a term of years in 7 messuages and lands in Argoed, and in lead, lead ore, and coal mines in the lordships of Hawarden, Mold and Hope, on trust.’ (Cheshire Archives and Local Studies, DBC 1/18/1).


Death of Sir Henry Bunbury, 1634


Sir Henry died on 8 September 1634 and was interred at St Mary’s Church, a now redundant Anglican church in the small village of Thornton-le-Moors, Cheshire, England. In 1687, the remains of his 31-year-old great-grandson, Sir Henry Bunbury, would be interred with him.

We are most fortunate that on 8 October 1634, four weeks after his death, Sir Henry’s heir (Sir) Henry Bunbury (of Hoole) met with Major Randle Holme, City of Chester, Alderman and Deputy to the Office of Arms and confirmed the details of his late father’s immediate family. [6]


The Children of Sir Henry and Lady Martha


Sir Henry and Lady Martha were the parents of seven sons and three daughters:

1) John Bunbury, Minister of Artes and Chaplain to the Bishop of Londonderry in October 1634. This may have been the Puritan George Downame (c. 1566—1634), or Downham, the son of a former Bishop of Chester, who was Bishop of Derry from 1616 until his death on 17 April 1634. The Chester link seems relevant. However, given that Henry states his half-brother was chaplain to the bishop six months later, he was probably referring to Bishop Downame’s successor, John Bramhall (1594–1663), another noted controversialist. Was he also the John Bunbury was was granted Ballyseskin Castle in County Wexford in return for his services as a Colonel in Cromwell’s army?

2) Thomas Bunbury, ancestor of the Lisnavagh Bunburys, who married Margaret Wilcocks and Eleanor Birkenhead.

3) Sackville Bunbury, born on 31 May 1607 and later ‘liveth over sea.’ [Does that mean America, or Ireland?]

4) George Bunbury, christened in Stoke on 18 October 1609 and described in his mothers’ will as “my fourth sonne”. She bequeathed him “the sum of ten shillings” in full satisfaction against any future claim against her estate. George gained his MA in Ireland and moved to Ireland circa 1634. He is thought to be the George Bunbury listed as Vicar of St Paul’s Church of Ireland, Newtownforbes, Co Longford in 1640.[7] I assume he got the Longford post through his half-sister Elizabeth’s husband, Dr John Richardson, Bishop of Ardagh.

5) Geffry Bunbury, settled in London.

6) Richard Bunbury, died young. That said, I note that a Richard Bunbury was recorded as a Cornet in Captain Edward Scott’s troop in the Kentish horse in 1644. [8]

7) Dutton Bunbury, settled in London.

8) Elinor, eldest daughter, ‘died a maid.’

9) Alice, married George Holland of Newhall, County Lancashire, gent, and had issue Henry, George, James, William, Robert, Martha and Katharine Holland.

10) Pricilla, unmarried at last record.




[1] Sir Henry Edward Bunbury, 7th Bart, mistakenly states that Henry was knighted by Queen Elizabeth although he may be correct when he says he is ‘… inclined to guess that these services to the Crown were rendered in Ireland because it is from this reign that one begins to find the first migration of Bunburys to the sister kingdom.’

[2] The following, about the younger Sir Thomas Aston, is from Rylands: The Newsletter of the Special Collections Division of the John Rylands University Library of Manchester (Spring 2002, issue no. 3):
Broadside Petition for Episcopacy in Cheshire
Sir Thomas Aston (1600-45), A Petition Delivered in to the Lords Spiritual and Temporall, by Sir Thomas Aston, Baronet, from the County Palatine of Chester concerning Episcopacie. [London] Printed, Anno Dom., 1641.
The Royalist Sir Thomas Aston was born on 29 September 1600, the heir to an ancient Cheshire family. His father, John Aston, had been sewer to the wife of James I. Educated at Brasenose College, Oxford, Thomas was made a baronet in 1628. He served as High Sheriff of Cheshire in 1635, and as MP for Cheshire in the Short Parliament of 1640.
Sir Thomas was a staunch churchman who loathed the rise of nonconformism. When the Cheshire petitions against episcopacy were in circulation in the early 1640s, Sir Thomas and his friends initiated a counter-petition. The broadside entreats that the institution of bishops dates back to the time of the Apostles, and urges that ‘such dangerous discontents amongst the common people’ should be suppressed. The petition is subscribed by ‘Foure Noblemen. Knight Baronets, Knights and Esquires, fourescore and odde. Divines, threescore and ten. Gentlemen, three hundred and odde. Free-holders and other Inhabitants, above six thousand’, all of the county of Cheshire. Wing records only two other copies of this edition.
Sir Thomas is perhaps best known for his brave but undistinguished role in the Civil War. He commanded the Royalist army that was defeated by Sir William Brereton at Middlewich on 13 March 1643, and later suffered defeats at Macclesfield and in Staffordshire. He died from a fever, brought on by his war wounds, on 24 March 1645.
The younger Sir Thomas Aston also published The Short Parliament (1640): Diary of Sir Thomas Aston, edited by Judith D. Maltby, London, The Royal Historical Society, Camden fourth series, volume 35, 1988. The Short Parliament was in session from 13 April to 5 May 1640.

[3] With thanks to Alan Ford.

[4] They should not be confused with the family of the unmarried Sir John Norris, or Norreys (1547-1597), one of Queen Elizabeth’s leading army men during the suppression of Ireland? Sir John’s father was Henry Norris, 1st Baron Norreys (1525 –1601) of Rycote in Oxfordshire, and Berkshire, while his grandfather, Sir Henry Norreys, was beheaded in 1536 for alleged adultery with Queen Anne Boleyn. NB: See The Norris papers’ (Chetham society1846) online on Google Books. Also, Norris of Speke.

[5]  Sir Henry’s Geneva Bible included a 1611 dated title to the “Whole Book of Psalms Collected into English Meter,” by Thomas Sternhold and John Hopkins. For ‘Hamlet’ link, see Correspondence of Sir Thomas Hanmer, London, 1838, p. 38.

[6] These can be found, alongside details of the family arms and crest, in the ‘Cheshire and Lancashire Funeral Certificates’ by John Paul Rylands.

[7] Appendix 1, Parish of Clonguish in ‘St Paul’s Church of Ireland Church, Newtownforbes, Co.Longford – The Church and Parish of Clonguish‘ by Doreen McHugh in her dissertation for Maynooth Studies in Local History.

[8] ‘Surnames beginning ‘B”, in The Cromwell Association Online Directory of Parliamentarian Army Officers , ed. Stephen K Roberts (2017), British History Online [accessed 20 February 2020].