Grid Ref: SJ 635 525
29 March 2006
||Mastiff and Pups
||Chestnut reputed to be 1000 years old
Dorfold Hall is thought to be built on the site of a house owned by Edwin, the last Saxon Earl of Chester at a place then called Darford or Durfold. The Anglo-Saxon word Deofold means an enclosure for cattle or deer. In 1603, the year of the accession of James I, the estate was bought by Sir Roger Wilbraham. It passed from him to his younger brother Ralph who built Dorfold Hall in 1616. It comprised a main rectangular block and two lodges built in front of the house on either side of the entrance to the forecourt. At this time architects were attracted by new ideas of symmetry but still wedded to the idea of a great hall on the ground floor. As a result, the main entrance, as shown in my picture top left, is not through a cental doorway but a small door in the west side of a slightly projecting block. This was a throwback to the days when there was an off-centre entrance leading to a screens passage with the great hall to the right and the pantry, buttery and kitchen to the left.
In the Civil War the Wilbrahams supported Parliament and the house was attacked by Royalist forces and plundered in 1643. The Wilbrahams held the estate for five generations but in 1754 fell on hard times and were obliged to sell to James Tomkinson, a lawyer in Nantwich. He employede Samuel Wyatt as his architect to make extensive alterations. The great hall was divided into three main rooms - a hallway similar to the traditional screens passage, a dining room at the front and an L-shaped library, wrapping round the lower part of the staircase on the south side. In the late 18th century a new wing was added to the East to accommodate more staff when Dorfold was famous as a hunting centre. This wing and the additional stabling added at that time have since been demolished.
In 1824 the gaps between the two lodges and the main house were filled with replicas of the lodges to produce a more enclosed courtyard. James Tomkinson's great grand-daughter Anne married Wilbraham Spencer Tollemache, Esq., DL, JP, the younger brother to 1st Baron Tollemache on 25 June 1844. He was descended from the Wilbrahams of Woodhey who were related to the family that had built Dorfold. Wilbraham Tollemache instituted a number of changes at the hall and employed as a landscape gardener William Nesfield. The position of the lake was moved so as to allow a straight drive to the main road. The lodge theire and the statue of the mastiff date from 1862. The estate passed via and heiress to the Roundell family. If you are able to visit, the most remarkable room is the chamber on the first floor with a barrel-vaulted ceiling richly decorated with original Jacobean plaster work.
Dorfold Hall near Nanthwich is open on Tuesdays and Bank Holiday Mondays from April to October.
Pamphlet available at the hall
Lectures on manor house design by James Bond as part of a Mediaeval History course held at Wedgwood Memorial College, Barlaston, Winter 2005/6
TOMKINSON OF DORFOLD AND WILLINGTON HALLS
The Tomkinson family came to prominence in Cheshire during the 18th century with both clerics and lawyers, some of whom acted as agents for other Cheshire landowners. The following tree traces the family up to the middle of the 19th century.
- 1. Thomas Tomkinson of Knightley, Staffs, born about 1620. In addition to the three sons mentioned below he had two daughters.
- + Margaret Bayley of Norbury.
- 2. James Tomkinson, vicar of Sandon born about 1650 died without issue in 1709.
- 2. Henry Tomkinson, vicar of Ashley, died without issue in 1731.
- 2. William Tomkinson of Bostock, (2nd son according to Ormerod but 4th son according to Burke) born about 1652, died April 1718 and buried Davenham.
- + 1st wife, unknown name
- 3. Thomas Tomkinson of Bostock
- + Elizabeth dau and heiress of ? Hockenhull of Kinderton
- 4. Thomas Tomkinson, born 1720 and died unmarried.
- 4. William Tomkinson, born 1 May 1723, died 7 March 1770 without issue and left his estate at Bostock to his cousin Edward Tomkinson.
- 3. William Tomkinson of Bostock, born 1703, who had a son William of Bostock born in 1725 and died without issue in 1770
- + 2nd wife, Mary Bayley of Drayton in Shropshire. In addition to their son James, this couple had daughters Mary and Margaret.
- 3. James Tomkinson born Bostock 1711, settled at Nantwich and afterwards at Dorfold, which he purchased from Roger Wilbraham in 1754 (see Footnote 1) married 1738, died at Dunstable 7 March 1794 and buried at Acton
- + Katherine 2 nd dau of Thomas Wettenhall of Nantwich and his wife Mary the daughter and heiress of the Revd: Wright, prebendary of Chester, rector of Malpas and of St. Mary's Chester. Katherine was born Sept 1706, married 30 November 1738 and died 12 March 1788 aged 81, buried at Acton. In addition to the sons shown below this couple had a daughter Catherine Maria born 1746 and married to the Revd: George Cotton, LLD, fourth son of Sir L. S. Cotton, Dean of Chester, and twin daughters who died young.
I treat the second son Henry last below to simplify the format of the tree.
- 4. James Tomkinson, clerk, born 26 Dec 1739, rector of Davenham
- + Mary daughter of John Wood of Bath, died 1792, buried Acton
- 5. James Tomkinson, born Acton parish about 1785, officer in the 17 th Light Dragoons and died without issue in 1860.
- 4. Edward Tomkinson 3rd son, of Bostock (from his cousin William above) and afterwards of Hankelow by devise of Nathaniel Wettenhall, born at Nantwich 21 Sept 1743 and assumed the name of Wettenhall in 1798. Not covered further in this tree.
- + Sarah daughter and heiress of James Marsden, born aug 1753 and died 16 Feb 1776, buried at Davenham.
- 4. Henry Tomkinson of Dorfold, Esq, 2nd son, born Nantwich August 1741, married 1770, and died at Nantwich 1822.
- + Anne daughter and heiress of John Darlington of Aston
- 5. Edward Tomkinson, born Jan 1773, died unmarried.
- 5. James Tomkinson, clerk in holy orders, of Dorfold, buried Acton
- + Julia, daughter of John Nesham, Esq., of Houghton-le-Spring, Durham, buried Acton.
- 6. Henry James Tomkinson, Royal Horse Guards (Blues), born 1813, died unmarried 1839.
- 6. Anne, daughter and heiress to Dorfold Hall, married 25 June 1844 to Wilbraham Spencer Tollemache, Esq., DL and JP, brother to 1st Baron Tollemache and had issue Henry James Tollemache, Algernon Tollemache, Julia and Alice. Wilbraham Tollemache died 15 Feb 1890. (See Footnote 1)
- 6. Julia married Sir Henry Rich of Sonning in Berkshire in 1852 and died without issue in 1874.
- 5. Henry Tomkinson, of Reaseheath Hall a student of the Middle Temple in 1809 but later in holy orders and vicar of Acton, married 1824, buried Acton 1838 aged 53. His three sons died unmarried.
- + Harriet Sophia, daughter of Shakespeare Phillips, Esq.
- 6. Edward Tomkinson, a colonel in the army in the 8 th Hussars at Balaclava and through the Crimean War, A.D.C. to the Queen Victoria, died unmarried in 1870 and buried at Acton.
- 6. Francis William Tomkinson died unmarried 1864.
- 6. Henry Richard Tomkinson of Reaseheath, barrister at law, born 28 Aug 1831, educated at Trinity College Cambridge (MA) and died unmarried on 9 Dec 1906.
- 6. Sophia Anne Tomkinson, married 26 June 1846 to George Edward Lynch Cotton, DD, bishop of Calcutta. She died 24 Feb 1907, leaving issue.
- 6. Charlotte Tomkinson married in 1864 to Captain William de Wilton Roche Thackwell and died 1910 leaving issue.
- 5. William Tomkinson, Esq., of Willington Hall near Tarporley, DL, JP, born 18 January 1790, lieutenant colonel in the army, officer in the 16 th Light Dragoons 1809-14, served with distinction during the Peninsula War, two medals and four clasps, severely wounded at passage of the Douro 1809, present at Waterloo, purchased the estate of Willington Hall from Lord Alvanley in 1828, born 18 Jan 1790, married 9 Feb 1836 and died 1872.
- + Susan, dau of Thomas Tarleton Esq., formerly of Bolesworth Castle by Frances, dau of John Egerton of Oulton. She died in 1879.
- 6. William Tomkinson, married 26 April 1866 to Sarah, 2 nd surviving dau of Dudley North, 3 rd son of Francis Frederick North of Rougham, but died without issue on 1 March 1870
- 6. The Rt. Hon. James Tomkinson, PC, of Willington Hall, DL and JP, son and heir by survivorship, High Sheriff in 1887, formerly Major and hon. Lt.-Col., in Earl of Chester's Yeomanry Cavalry, (retired 1906) MP for Crewe 1900-1910,
- born 8 July 1840, married 12 Dec 1871, and died 10 April 1910.
- + Emily Frances only dau of Sir George Joseph Palmer, 3rd Baronet, of Wanlip Hall, Leicestershire, married 1871.
This couple had three sons, Charles William Tomkinson of Willington and Nuneaton who had issue; James Edward Tomkinson of Wanlip Hall in Leicester, who changed his surname to Palmer Tomkinson in 1933 having been succeeded his uncle, Sir Archdale Robert Palmer, and had issue; Henry Achdale Tomkinson who died unmarried and Margaret Frances Tomkinson.
- 6. Henry Tomkinson, Colonel 1 st Dragoons, born 23 Dec 1842 and married 17 May 1877 to Lucinda Elizabeth Harriet, only daughter of Ralph Gore, Esq., and died 17 April 1915.
- 6. Robert Edward Tomkinson, of Dorney, Burnham-on-Sea, Somerset, born 1847, married 1 st in 1874 to Lucile Diana Mauritia, only daughter of Major-General Thos: Brooke, 2 nd son of the late Sir Richard Brooke, 6 th baronet, of Norton Priory. He married 2 nd on 9 Jan 1908 to Beatrice Lucy, youngest daughter of Philip William Richardson Peck of Bathampton and died in 1928 leaving issue.
- 6. Edward Philip Tomkinson, born 1850, married at Los Angeles in 1876 to Frances Ethel, dau of Hugh Morgan, Esq.
- 6. Susan Tomkinson, married in 1861 to Richard Hoare, Esq., of Cromer and died 1885.
- 6. Sibella Eliza Tomkinson, married in 1881 Rev. Canon John Lonsdale Bryans, MA, RD, Rector of New Radnor, Canon of Brecon 1923-34, Vicar of Builth.
- 5. Arabella Tomkinson, married General Sir Richard Egerton of Eaton Banks and died without issue.
- 5. Anna Maria and Frances Beatrix Tomkinson died unmarried.
Ormerod Volume 3 page 345 relates:
The Wilbraham family continued in possession of Dorfold Hall and the manor of Acton until April 1745 when the estates were sold together with the manors of Hurleston and Croxton and a moiety of the manor of Wettenhall by Roger Wilbraham to James Tomkinson, father of Henry Tomkinson, Esq., who died in 1822 when the estates descended according to a pedigree given in the account of Hanklowe to a daugher and coheiress who married Wilbraham Spencer Tollemache Esq.
This statement is not correct as Dorfold went not to Henry's daughter but his grand-daughter who married Wilbrham Tollemache. The year of the sale was 1754. As Dorfold was purchased, its eventual inheritance would not be tied up in the provisions of old wills. As a result James Tomkinson does not appear to have been obliged to leave the hall to a younger brother or nephew and left it to his daughter. Examination of the family tree shows that James' next brother, Henry, had three sons who died unmarried. The next brother was William, who acquired Willington Hall. He had sons and some of them had issue.
The will of Henry Tomkinson of Dorfold, 1741-1822 (generation 4 above), shows that in addition to Reaseheath Hall in Worleston and Dorfold, he had land in Nuneaton, Warwickshire, Flintshire and Denbighshire and leasehold properties in Cheshire and Staffordshire. He had land at Davenham, the manor or Acton-juxta-Mondrum and owned the advowson of Davenham. In addition he had land in Aston purchased from the trustees of Sir Oswald Mosley.
The History of the County Palatine and City of Chester, incorporated with a republication of King's Vale Royal and Leycester's Cheshire Antiquities, by George Ormeod, 2nd Ed., revised and enlarged by Thomas Helsby, Esq., published by George Routledge and sons, Ludgate Hill, London, 1882. This is now available from the Family History Society of Cheshire on CD ROM. See Volume 3 pages 480 and 481 from a pedigree of the Wettenhalls.
Burke's Landed Gentry
Back to list of families
Introduction to Cheshire Gentry
© Craig Thornber, Cheshire, England, UK. Main Site Address: http://www.thornber.net/