George FitzRoy
1st Duke of Northumberland (1665 - 1716)

and the connections to Epsom of his Dutton and Parsons relatives in law.

George FitzRoy, 1st Duke of Northumberland (1665 - 1716)
George FitzRoy, 1st Duke of Northumberland (1665 - 1716)

Details of the life of George FitzRoy (formerly Palmer) are readily available from the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography which may be accessed through the Surrey Libraries website, alternatively a shorter version may be read at www.berkshirehistory.com/bios/gfitzroy_dofn.html.

This article concentrates upon local associations with the Dutton and Parsons families.

George FitzRoy's coat of arms
George FitzRoy's coat of arms

Before March 1686, Northumberland had married 'clandestinely' Catherine, the widow of Thomas Lucy of Charlecote, Warwickshire: no children resulted from this union and his wife died on 27 May 1714. He took as a second wife, by 10 March 1715, Mary Dutton, a sister of Captain Mark Dutton.

Nothing is known of Mark Dutton's early life but he may have been a retired naval officer. A Court Roll of the manor of Epsom recorded the admission of Mark Dutton to a messuage, barn, stable, garden, orchard and outhouse with a separate piece of land on the surrender of Joseph Young with effect from 26 July 1714. In Mar 1715 Anthony Ettrick and his daughter conveyed another property described as 2 messuages, shops etc, with an adjoining piece of land, part of Mounthill, and other premises to Mark Dutton. The late H. L. Lehmann, in The residential copyholds of Epsom at 1B26, refers to Dutton's possession of a total of five freehold messuages, with an orchard and several closes and parcels of land, plus a copyhold messuage. Clearly he became a substantial landowner along South Street and is reported to have resided on one of the freehold estates in that vicinity - which probably [as described by Lehmann in 3B17] "consisted of three messuages, coachhouses, stables and other outhouses, yards, garden and field, about one and a quarter acres, abutting on the street leading to New Inn Lane on the west part...".

George FitzRoy died 'suddenly' at Epsom on 28 June 1716, without issue. On the following 11 July his body was interred in Westminster Abbey. Since by that time the 'Old Wells' had been closed and the town was in decline as a spa, it is reasonable to assume that he had passed away during a visit to his brother in law Dutton. The Northumberland's main residence had been Frogmore House in Windsor Great Park and the widowed duchess retained a home there for the rest of her life.




William Parsons, Esq’r. Digital ID: 812013. New York Public Library
William Parsons
Image Source: New York Public Library

With the passing of the Duke of Northumberland one can turn to consideration of members of the families with which he had become associated on marriage to Mary Dutton.

In 1717 a son, William Parsons, was born at Red Lion Square, London, to a third sibling, Frances daughter of Henry Dutton, who had become the first wife of Sir William Parsons, Bart., of Short Hill, Nottingham. [In the appended copy of an extract from the 1802 edition of The Baronetage of England she is described incorrectly as the 'niece' of Mary, Duchess of Northumberland, rather than the latter's sister.] William, junior, has been described as 'degenerate' and his criminal career is fully set out at www.stantononthewoldsparishcouncil.gov.uk/Three_baronets_and_a_highwayman.htm

The following summary is derived from a different source: -
1751, Feb, 11.-WILLIAM PARSONS, eldest son of Sir Wm. Parsons, Bart., of Short-hill, Nottingham, was executed at Tyburn, for returning from transportation. This misguided man was born in 1717, and was at Eton nine years, where it was intended that he should qualify himself for one of the universities; but his progress in learning being very inconsiderable, and being detected in robbing a bookseller's shop, Sir William determined to send him to sea, as a means of saving him from destruction. He was accordingly appointed midshipman on board a man of war, lying at Spithead, under sailing orders for Jamaica, there to be stationed for three years. Disliking the monotony of a sailor's life in the West Indies, he found means to desert, and returned home. His conduct becoming again outrageous, he was shipped to Newfoundland, as a midshipman on board the Romney. On his return, he learnt, with infinite mortification, that the Duchess of Northumberland, to whom he was related, had revoked a will made in his favour, and bequeathed to his sister a very considerable legacy, which he had expected to enjoy; and repulsed by his friends, who would not receive him into their houses, he was soon placed in distressed circumstances. In this emergency, he induced a gentleman named Bailey to interest himself in his behalf, and through his perseverance, a partial reconciliation between father and son was at length effected. In a short time, he was persuaded to accept an appointment in Africa, under the governor of James Fort, on the river Gambia, where he stayed about six months, and then escaped, notwithstanding the very strict precautions taken by Governor Arfleur to prevent his return to England. Extreme destitution again seized him, and at one time he seriously-meditated suicide. Fortune, however, once more befriended him, and in the twenty-third year of his age, he was successful in contracting a matrimonial alliance with a young lady of good property, near London. He then entered the army, as an ensign in the 34th Regiment of Foot, and was in Flanders on active service, but the extravagant manner in which he lived, and the loss of large sums of money in gambling, compelled him to throw up his commission, and to return a third time to his country, a beggar and a vagabond. After a variety of further adventures and reverses, at home and abroad, being at one time a captain of marines on board a privateer, and at another a forger of bills in Cork and London, he was apprehended on a charge of fraud, and at the following Rochester assizes, was sentenced to seven years' transportation. He was accordingly sent to Maryland, in America, then a penal settlement, with a hundred and seventy other convicts (fifty of whom died on the passage), and landed at Annapolis. Having remained in a state of slavery about seven weeks, he obtained his freedom through the intercession of a colonist who had known his family in England, and was received into the house of his benefactor, in a most hospitable manner. This kindness he requited by stealing his friend's horse and turning highwayman: with part of the proceeds of his robberies, he procured a passage home again. Thoroughly reckless of consequences, he took to the road as a means of subsistence, and committed numerous robberies. While engaged in an expedition of this nature, he was recognized by the gentleman who had prosecuted him at Rochester, and was followed by him to Hounslow, and there called upon to surrender. Parsons dismounted, and earnestly entreated that the gentleman and his companion would permit him to speak to them in private, which they consented to; and the parties being introduced to a room at an inn, Parsons delivered up his pistols, which were loaded and primed, and supplicated for mercy in the most pathetic terms. In all probability he would have been permitted to escape, had not the landlord advised that he should be detained, as he conceived him very nearly to answer the description of a highwayman by whom the roads in that part of the country had long been infested. At the following assizes, Parsons was arraigned for returning from transportation before the expiration of the term of his sentence, and was ordered to be hung. His distressed father and wife used all their interest in his favour, but their efforts to procure a reversal of his sentence were vain. His last moments were spent in penitence and devotional exercises.
The gallows at Tyburn also known as the Tyburn Tree
The gallows at Tyburn also known as the Tyburn Tree

At the age of 14, whilst at Eton, he had stolen from his brother John, a fellow pupil, a gold five guinea piece which had been given by their aunt, the Duchess of Northumberland. In 1735, he absconded from His Majesty's sloop Drake but was caught and returned by his uncle, Captain Mark Dutton. Later, he had been placed by his uncle as a midshipman on HMS Romney before discovering that Mary, Duchess of Northumberland had disinherited him, in favour of his sister Grace, for stealing items from the duchess. After escaping back to England from Africa he stayed with his uncle Mark in Epsom but was ejected from the house because he had made one of the maids there pregnant. He married Mary Frampton in 1740 and two children resulted from that union, Mark and William Parsons.

Captain Mark Dutton, who had acted as Mark Parsons godfather, is reported to have taken his great nephew into his home and eventually to have adopted the boy. By Mark Dutton's will, dated 3 May 1749 [PROB11/771], various elements of the Epsom real estate were left to Mark Parsons in trust until he reached the age of 21. When Sir William Parsons of Stanton in the Wolds died in 1760 he was succeeded by his grandson Mark Parsons who became the fourth and last baronet in that line. Sir Mark lived on 'quietly' in Epsom until 1812. He died unmarried and without issue.

On 24 October 1716, not long after George FitzRoy's demise, the dowager Duchess of Northumberland had provided £900 secured by a mortgage on five messuages, buildings, yards and backsides, described in 1708 as 'abutting on the Queen' highway leading from Clayhill towards Woodcote Green and commonly called Crosse End' [Lehmann 1B12] - on the corner between Clayhill (West Hill) and High Street. After the mortgagor died, the Duchess was admitted to the copyhold on 1 November 1728. About that time, Mark Dutton went to live at the Duchess house at Great Frogmore in order to assist with the management of his sister Mary's financial affairs. A record of her death appeared in the Court Roll for 17 October 1738. By a will dated 1 March 1737, the bulk of the Duchess' estate was left in trust for her niece Grace Parsons: Mark Dutton was bequeathed a life interest in the 5 copyhold messuages in Epsom subject to the payment of £500 to nephew John Parsons out of the issues. The properties remained held in trust by Mark Dutton until his death in 1749. The Rev. John Parsons was admitted on 23 February 1750 before selling off these assets on 22 May 1751.

Location of Captain Mark Dutton/Sir Mark Parsons' house
Location of Captain Mark Dutton/Sir Mark Parsons' house
Extract from 1843 Tithe Map with plots 482, and 482a highlighted

A tablet in Arnold Parish. Church, was erected to the memory of the Rev. John Parsons, Vicar of Arnold, and Rector of Wilford, Notts., : -
"Reader, the soul which inhabited the body of John Parsons, now laid at thy feet, is at this time partaking the due reward of its deeds: its state is unalterable. If good, it is happy without fear of change; if not, how great would he esteem it to be even as thou art for a short time - capable of avoiding the torments of hell and being made partaker of the joys of heaven to all eternity. Now is the accepted time, now is the day of salvation."
The transcriber attributed his death to the year 1769 but he predeceased his father, Sir William Parsons, and had been succeeded as Vicar of Arnold by 13 February 1760.

The family tree of Parsons of Langley, Buckinghamshire
The family tree of Parsons of Langley, Buckinghamshire
Click to enlarge


Brian Bouchard © 2010
Member of Leatherhead and District Local History Society


Lady Berkeley
Lady Berkeley
Rooths House
Rooth's House
Singeing Beard
Singeing Beard
Chamiers of Epsom
Chamiers Epsom
Woodcote Park
Woodcote Park
Rev. Boucher
Rev. Boucher
Rev. Parkhurst
Rev. Parkhurst