Christleton Hall and

The will of Robert Townsend

Recorder of Chester

During the last week or so we have all been made aware of the plans put forward by the University of Law for the construction of 50 or so houses on the car park at Christleton Hall, and the remodelling of the Hall itself and its buildings. It is by complete coincidence that for the last two months I have been telling the story of the Hall and the life of Thomas Ince who built it. In another development I have acquired a copy of the will of Robert Townsend, written 0n 20th November 1786. Robert was the Recorder of Chester (a Senior Law Official), who lived at the Old Hall in Christleton. His younger daughter Elizabeth married Thomas Ince in 1767, who it is said, was “forced” to build Christleton Hall, and create a grand house to rival that of his father-in-law. There is only a cursory mention of Thomas Ince in the will, and a sentence which gives us the approximate date for the building of this new Hall, but the will also tells us a great deal about the complexity of family relationships. It reveals details of some of the land and properties that Robert had acquired in the village. His eldest daughter Anne had married Cecil Forester in 1761, and this branch of the family, are well recognised in this document.

20 Nov 1786

Will of Robert Townsend of Christleton co Chester, Esq, whose brother John left him £100 in trust for their brother Randle and his children Gerard, Charles, Elizabeth(wife of William Henry Keay), Sarah, Mary, and Anne but who before his death bought property in Chester for £1,285 which exhausted his assets; the testator has therefore advanced certain sums of money to his nephews in satisfaction of their legacy; and appoints George Forester of Willey, Esq, John Glegg of Old Withington, Esq,, William Hall of Chester, gentleman, and John Cheers of Great Boughton co Chester gentleman, to be his trustees for all Freehold and copyhold estates in Worcestershire (subject to an annuity to his daughter Forester) to use of his grandson George Forester and heirs (or in default, William Forester and heirs, Townsend Forester and heirs, Francis Forester and heirs Cecil Forester and heirs, the grandson who inherits to take the name of Townsend, or in default daughters of the grandsons in turn or the testator’s granddaughters Catherine and Annabella Forester or the testator’s own daughters and their children); and for his other property in Chester, Christleton, Guilden Sutton, and Elton to the use of his daughter, wife of Thomas Ince, Esq., who is to inhabit a house lately built for him in a close called Stoneydale in Christleton (after to his grandson Townsend Ince*), with fields called Morris’s Field, Cowley, and Jeffrys Croft, (with remainder to his grandson Bell Ince, or his grandson William Forester); and of other property in the same places to the use of Pulford co Chester and lands for sale and division of the money, or else for division of the income, with the advowson of the church of Pulford, one half between William Francis, Catherine, and Annabella Forester and any other children of his daughter Forester, and the granddaughters; and for his property in Sandiway, Leftwich, Houlgrave, alias Hulgrave, co Chester (settled on his wife) to be sold after her death for the benefit of his grandchildren.

John Massey, Francis Wood, John Massey.
Codicil to will 11th March 1788- same witnesses
2ns Codicil 22August, 1788- same witnesses

Thomas and Elizabeth Ince had four children, *Townsend born in 1776, Elizabeth born in 1773, Emma born in 1775 and Bell born in 1779.

Their eldest son *Townsend Ince, who later became Lt. Col. of the Cheshire Militia, married Catherine Mary Currie daughter of Dr William Currie of Boughton Hall, Chester in 1805 and inherited the Christleton estate. In 1806 Townsend and Catherine Mary had a son also called Townsend, and he was to marry Lucy Anne Fuller Meyrick who figures so prominently in the life of Christleton during the Rectorship of Rector, Canon Rev’d. Lionel Garnett. As there was no issue from this marriage, the estate passed to his nephew William George Townsend Currie b.1879. William was the son of Rev.d Richard Henry Williams and Charlotte Currie. Rev.d Richard Henry Williams Currie was a former curate at St James’ Christleton, and there is a stained glass memorial window to him in the North Aisle at St James’ next to one in memory of Lucy Anne Townsend Ince. Both windows are designed by Charles Kempe. Bell Ince, the youngest son of Thomas and Elizabeth, later becomes the Lord of the Manor of Pulford near Chester.

When Elizabeth dies in 1795, Thomas leaves Christleton Hall and the village, and in 1796 marries Margaret Adams also from Christleton. They travel to London, and Thomas becomes a successful wine merchant. They had three children, Thomas, John and Mary and records show that this Thomas, continued the family tradition of being a freeman of the City of Chester, which began with Nicholas Ince, Freeman, who was made Mayor of the City of Chester seven generations before him, in 1626.

  •  Christleton Old Hall

    Christleton Old Hall

  •  Christleton Hall

    Christleton Hall

  •  Townsend and Lucy Ince

    Townsend and Lucy Ince

  •  Lucy Ann Ince Memorial Window North Aisle

    Lucy Ann Ince Memorial Window North Aisle

  •  Memorial Window Richard Williams Currie

    Memorial Window Richard Williams Currie

  •  Lucy Ann Ince St John Madonna & S Luke

    Lucy Ann Ince St John Madonna & S Luke

  •  L ucy Ann Ince Window

    L ucy Ann Ince Window

The Will of Robert Townsend

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