John Astley of Bushbury

John Astley of Bushbury died and left a will written on 6 May 1679. It is clear from this will that he is the John Astley who signs William Dugdale’s Visitation on 27 Apr 1664 as head of the Astley family of Wood Eaton in mid Staffordshire. His age in 1664 is given as 70. 

His father was therefore Thomas Astley of Wood Eaton and his mother Bridget Whitgreave. His wife was Dorothy Gravenor, daughter of Jonas Gravenor of Bushbury. The marriage seems to have brought him to settle in his wife’s community. All his children were baptized in the church of St Mary’s Bushbury. Wood Eaton, the ancestral home of the Astleys is some 15 miles north of Bushbury, now a suburb of Wolverhampton.

His will indicates that he was a wealthy man. The descendants of his children play an important role in the families discussed on this website – centred around Wolverhampton and Dudley. His three daughters all married very well to much older and exceptionally prominent men.

His oldest daughter was Ann Astley (bap 12 Jul 1618) and she married Thomas Huntbach of Seawall. Thomas Huntbach was the brother in law of Sir William Dugdale, Norroy, who researched much of the Visitation of Staffordshire in 1663. One suspects that his coverage of the Huntbach and Astley families is therefore particularly accurate and a great source for this site. Thomas Huntbach and Ann Astley were notably the great great grandparents of Sir Samuel Hellier.

John Astley’s oldest son and heir was Jonas Astley, baptized on 30 Aug 1625 in St Mary’s, Bushbury. He married Ann Fowler in Tettenhall on 25 Nov 1651. She was a member of the Fowler family that later built and owned Pendeford Hall. Jonas probably inherited the family property in Wood Eaton at an early stage with his father already living in Bushbury.  Mr Jonas Astley was recorded as living there in a large dwelling in Church Eaton according to Hearth Tax Records of 1666.

John Astley’s second daughter was Bridget Astley named after his mother (bap 23 Oct 1627). Bridget became the second wife of John Gough of Old Fallings, Wolverhampton. He was the son and heir of Henry Gough and brother in law of Lancelot Lee of Alveley. She was the mother of Sir Henry Gough of Perry Hall, MP.

John Astley’s third daughter was Margaret Astley (bap 16 Jan 1631/2) and she became the second wife of Edward Parkshouse of Sedgley. Edward was the nephew and collaborator of Dud Dudley, an illegitimate descendant of  the 5th Baron Dudley. He was therefore also the nephew of Martha Wilmer (nee Sutton) the wife of Thomas Wilmer.

It is self evident that John Astley must have been a very old man when he wrote the will, probably about 85. He does not mention his daughters, who it is presumed are all dead. He mentions his grandsons John Huntbach and Sir Henry Gough. He does not mention any Parkshouses but Dugdale’s Visitation is confirmed by the Will of Edward Parkshouse where Edward names his brother-in-law Mr Jonas Astley as Executor.

John Astley mentions two further sons – John and Thomas. Little seems to be known of John but Thomas married Sarah Gravenor, the daughter of his mother’s cousin, Solomon Gravenor. Thomas moved to London and became a Citizen Linen Draper, doubtless assisted by the Goughs.

It would appear that John Astley was buried on 27 Dec 1680 in St Mary’s Bushbury in accordance with the wishes of his will in the “upper chancel…near to the place where my wife doth lye interred”.

Sources

  • 1663 Visitation of Staffordshire, ed Harleian Society, 1889
  • Will of John Astley of Bishbury, Gent,, Probate 10 Dec 1681, Lichfield Record Office
  • Will of Edward Persehouse of Nether Gornal, Gent., Probate 30 Sep 1685, PCC (Son-in-law)
  • Will of Thomas Huntbach of Seawall, Gentleman,  Probate 3 May 1656 (Son-in-law)
Last updated on April 12, 2018 by JJ Morgan