George Mynne, Esq, of Woodcote Park,
Lord of Horton Manor from 1626 to 1648
George Mynne (Junr.) was a son of George Mynnne of Hertingfordbury and his wife Elizabeth nee Wroth(e). Another of this couple's six children, Anne (b. Bexley, Herts., 20 November 1579), married George Calvert (C1578 -13 April 1632) of Kiplin, Yorks., later to become 1st Lord Baltimore, at St. Peter's Cornhill, and she bore him 11 offspring before dying in childbirth, 8 August 1621.
That the younger George Mynne became a man of many parts may be seen from G. E. Aylmer's detailed article about him in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography [www.oxforddnb.com - accessible via Surrey Libraries website]: Mynne has been described variously as merchant, draper, dyer, clothier, royal servant, politician, ironmaster, moneylender, clerk of the hanaper in chancery [an office of the Court of Chancery where writs were kept in an "hanaper" or "hamper"] and extortionist. In a legal case, touched upon later, concerning the charge of extortion it was observed with some hauteur: "The person of Mr Mynne: a gent; no disparagement nor stain to him to have been a woollen draper as long as he carries himself honestly and with integrity; if otherwise, a great many younger brothers descended of ancient gentry in ill condition. The stain of gentry is to commit base actions; and this it seems he did after he had the place that would otherwise have made him a gentleman." Elsewhere, one finds him characterised as an "extraordinarily versatile projector" [meaning deviser of money-making schemes] and aspirant patentee, particularly in relation to development of the use of madder as a dyestuff. Another reference has him as "allegedly an aggressive and potentially ruthless wheeler-dealer on the London scene".
Mynne's brother in law, George Calvert, having trained as a lawyer, entered the service of Sir Robert Cecil (created 1st Earl of Salisbury in 1605) and subsequently gained appointment to several offices under James 1 before being knighted, 1617, and named as Secretary of State during 1619. [Vide John D. Kruger, Oxford DNB] It seems likely that George Mynne's progress owed much to the powerful influence of his sister's husband.
Horton Manor, Surrey, came into the possession of another line of the Mynne family from the 16th century, by marriage, and had been settled on Alice Hale when she became betrothed to a John Mynne. By 1626, however, the latter had fallen into debt and the estate was sold to George Mynne of Lincoln's Inn, the subject of this article, who was already living in Woodcote Park. Around the same time, George Mynne married Ann Parkhurst, a daughter of Sir Robert Parkhurst of Pyrford, later Lord Mayor of London, whose Will dated 28 June 1636 remarks that both his daughters were by then "firmly advanced in marriage". The Woodcote estate was extended over the border to Ashtead to embrace 14 acres of freehold land known as Lanthornes on the north-east side of what is presently called Farm Lane. In Pepys' Diary an entry for 14 July 1667 about a visit to Ashtead records: "So to our coach, and through Mrs Minne's wood, and we looked upon Mr Eveling's house [Woodcote], and so over the common and through Epsum towne to our inne..."
Anne (Mynne) Calvert having died in 1621, "aged 42 years 9months and 18 days", was buried at St Mary the Virgin, Hertingfordbury, Herts. The standing of her husband, George Calvert, at Court had been on the wane before he converted to Roman Catholicism in 1624 but his loyalty to the King was recognised by elevation to Baron Baltimore in Ireland prior to James 1's demise, March 1625. Baltimore then concentrated his attentions on the New World until he too died in London on 15 April 1632 and was interred at St. Dunstan in the West. As recently as the year 2000, a bill was promoted to amend the law of Maryland by modifying the official description of the State's Great Seal with an intention of recognising Anne Mynne's role in Maryland's history and to re-define the quarters of the seal incorporating "the crosslet or cross botany and color red" as derived from the Mynne coat of arms; rather than [as the present writer, in agreement with John T. Marck - www.marylandtheseventhstate.com
- , believes to be correct] from the Crossland family to which her mother in law, Alicia Calvert, belonged.
Following the accession of Charles 1 to the throne, and a loss of Baltimore's protection, George Mynne ran into a number of difficulties: for example, on 30 January 1636/7, " by sentence and order in the high court of Starre chamber" he was suspended from holding the office of clerk of the hanaper although immediately reinstated to his "privilege and pre-eminence at his Majesty's gracious pleasure". The suspension in fact dated back to 1634 when Sir Richard Young(e), a Gentleman of the King's Privy Chamber, had been granted a right to execute the office during a sequestration which resulted from Mynne having been found guilty of exaction and extortion of excessive fees. Mynne pursued extended legal proceedings against this "disseisor" but failed to recover the position before, in 1643 being unattended (and "worth £1,000 p.a."), it was assumed by Sir William Allenson, a "godly alderman" elected to the Long Parliament by the freemen of York, before the latter's tenure was confirmed by Ordinance of the Commonwealth during the Summer of 1644. Having gained the confidence of the Army, Allenson was appointed a Commissioner for the trial of King Charles but judiciously evaded direct involvement, and arraignment as a regicide, to live out the rest of his days in obscurity.
Professor Aylmer mentions that Mynne supported the royalist cause during the English Civil War. Notable assistance, admitted by a servant on 21 November 1646 because his Master "lieth sick at Epssham", was a loan to "his Majesty of six thousand Poundsworth of Iron" and payment of contributions. Another source indicates that Mynne had supplied cavalier forces with 400 tonnes of iron at the start of hostilities and arranged for iron and wire to be secreted in various parts of the country worth £40,000. In 1647, a spy was rewarded for her help in the "discovery" of George Mynne's "wyre" - re-termed "delinquency" in parliamentary intelligence. Heavy financial penalties were levied by way of composition of the offence.
George Mynne died in 1648 without leaving a will and his son, also named George, survived him only until 1652. By a will dated 18 May 1663 of Anne Mynne, widow of Epsom, co-heiresses to the family's real estate became her daughters Elizabeth (b 1629), who had married Richard Evelyn, Esq., during the year of her father's demise, and Anne (b. 1634), wife of Sir John Lewknor, M.P. for Midhurst. After Lewknor died in 1669, she remarried Sir William Morley of Halnaker, Sussex.
One moves on to consider further Richard Evelyn and his family. John Evelyn's Diary mentions a journey to Woodcote on 16 August 1648 to attend his brother Richard's wedding to a "co-heir of Esquire Minn, lately deceased, by whom he had a great estate both in land and money on the death of a brother. The coach, in which the bride and the bridegroom were, was overturned in coming home but no harm was done" Tragically, although the couple subsequently had four sons none of these prospective heirs survived infancy. Richard himself lived until 7 March 1669/70, his final illness being described in his brother John's Diary, - on 21 March, his body is reported to have been carried for interment within the chapel in Epsom Church belonging to Woodcote House. The funeral train consisted of twenty carriages, each drawn by six horses, and innumerable people. The late Richard's surviving daughter (Mary) Ann Evelyn (b. 1653) married, 29 June 1670, William Montagu, "eldest son of Mr Attorney Montagu" [Sir William, 1619-1706] but, for 17 February 1688, there is a further Diary entry of "the sad news of my niece Montagu's death at Woodcote". As matter of local interest, Richard Evelyn's widow, Dame Elizabeth, is credited with gaining a right from 1684 [to enhance its attractions as a spa] for Epsom to hold a Friday Market as well as two fairs annually, on Michaelmas Day and St James' Day, each of three days duration. The grant was renewed by James II together with the establishment of a court of pie-powder [French, pied poudreux (dusty foot) = vagabond] to administer summary justice at each of the fairs so that disputes with pedlars and hawkers might be settled on the spot. After her husband's death, legal disputes arose with his family notably in relation to alleged "fraude and unworthy dealing" to break the entailment of Baynards Park (in which a life interest had come with Richard as part of a Marriage Settlement dated 20 May 1648): the relict, Elizabeth (Mynne) Evelyn, first contemplated leaving her real estate to William Montagu, Junr., but after her daughter died the widower is said to have "lived dissolutely and scandalously with another woman". Thus Montagu came to be disinherited but, as John, "the Horticulturist", is reported to have complained, bitterly on 17 May 1688, his sister-in-law persisted in looking for beneficiaries who were not Evelyns- again, "through the fraude and unworthy dealing...(and) persuasion of my sister, contrary to the intent of her husband, my brother". Eventually, Elizabeth (Mynne) Evelyn's will dated 22 January 1691, proved 3 August 1692, left "Manor lands and tenements in Ebisham and Ewell etc. [Epsom Manor inherited from her mother, Mrs Ann (Parkhurst) Mynne] in trust for the benefit of her sister, Dame Anne (Mynne) Morley, as a life interest (lasting until her demise on 6 June 1704), with remainder first to Anne's son from her first marriage, John Lewknor, and secondly for John Parkhurst of Catesby, Northants. John Parkhurst in fact succeeded to that estate following John Lewknor's death on 19 February 1706. The Manor of Horton and "capital messuage called Woodcote House", with which primarily this article is concerned, were bequeathed to Charles Calvert, 3rd Lord Baltimore, described as "kinsman" because Elizabeth (Mynne) Evelyn was the grand niece of Anne Mynne wife of 1st Lord Baltimore, George Calvert.
In gratitude, Lord Baltimore commissioned a memorial tablet set up at the east end of the south aisle of Epsom Church. This was moved in the course of re-building circa 1824 but the inscription is recorded as having been:- M.S. Elizabethae Evelyn relictae Richardi Evelyn de Woodcott, Armigeri ex stemmate Mynniano oriundae feminae, tam pietate quam hospilitate , celeberrimae de Ebbisham et de Horton Domineae. Consangguineae meritissimae Carolus Calvert, Baro de Baltimore posuit. Obiit anno Christi, aetatis 63, mensis Jan. 29. A photograph may be found on page 6 of Charles Abdy's Epsom Past.