The Mason Family

Sir Richard Mason was born circa 1633. He had a seat at King's Clere in Hampshire. He married in about 1662, Anna Margaretta Long, daughter of Sir James Long. Sir James Long was an English politician and Royalist soldier.

The historian John Aubrey wrote about Sir James Long: "When there was a Cabal of Witches detected at Malmesbury they were examined by Sir James Long and committed by him to Salisbury Gaole. I think there were seven or eight old women hanged".

In 1669 Sir Richard Mason took possession of Sutton as Lord of the Manor. He then resided principally at Sutton.

Sir Richard Mason held the following offices:

Knight of the Green Cloth
Second Clerk Controller of Charles II's Household
One of the Commissioners for executing the office of Master of the Horse, 1679,
MP for Yarmouth 1673
MP for Bishop's Castle, Shropshire 1680-1.

The Clerk of the Green Cloth was a position in the British Royal Household. The clerk acted as secretary of the Board of Green Cloth, and therefore was responsible for organising royal journeys and assisting in the administration of the Royal Household.

Sir Richard Mason and Anne Margareta had two daughters:

Dorothy Mason b. May 1664, d. b May 17001
Anne Mason b. c 1665, d. 17532

Dorothy, married Sir William Brownlow, 4th Baronet of Humby
Anne, married firstly Charles Gerard, (who became 2nd Earl of Macclesfield), then Col Henry Brett

Dorothy Mason married Sir William Brownlow, 4th Bt., son of Sir Richard Brownlow, 2nd Bt. and Elizabeth Freke.1 She died before May 1700.1 Her will was probated in May 1700.2

In this picture of Dorothy Mason, she is shown in fashionable undress. Her nightgown is casually unfastened at the breast, and her chemise sleeves are caught up in puffs, probably with drawstrings.

Children of Dorothy Mason and Sir William Brownlow, 4th Bt.

Anne Brownlow+ b. c 1685, d. 29 Dec 1779
Richard Brownlow b. 20 May 1689, d. Mar 1690
Sir John Brownlow, 1st and last Viscount Tyrconnel b. 16 Nov 1690, d. 27 Feb 1754
Dorothy Brownlow b. 22 Jan 1695
William Brownlow b. 25 Apr 1699, d. 28 Jul 1726


Anne was born in Shropshire, when Sir Richard Mason was then clerk comptroller in the royal household to Charles II.

Anne Gerard (née Mason), Countess of Macclesfield by John Smith, published by Edward Cooper, after William Wissing, 1687At the age of fifteen, on 18 June 1683, at St Lawrence Jewry, she married Charles Gerard, Viscount Brandon (c.1659- 1701), nine years her senior and of French descent.

Charles Gerard had a terrible reputation. In May 1676, in a drunken temper, he had killed a servant in St James's Park. Although he absconded he was soon granted a pardon.

Charles Gerard was extremely anti catholic. Three years before their marriage in June 1680 he had been a member of the Middlesex grand jury that presented James, duke of York, as a recusant, and in summer 1682 he entertained the duke of Monmouth during his progress through Cheshire. Monmouth was the protestant bastard son of Charles II.

The marriage between Charles Gerard and Ann Mason was a disaster. He was already a Whig with a reputation for recklessness and Ann came from a family who were Tory in outlook.

On 8 July 1683, following the Rye House plot, Charles Gerard was sent to the Tower, but was released on 28 November and acquitted the following February.

A year and a half of constant quarrells, excepting the time that he had spent in prison, Brandon took his wife to his fathers house and left her there vowing never to live with her again. Two weeks later his father turned her out of Gerard House in Soho and left her to shift for herself.

It is probable that Ann returned to the family home in Sutton.

1685 was a dramatic year for the Mason family and parish of Sutton. At the beginning of February, the Rev George Roberts, Rector of Sutton died and was buried on the 4th.

King Charles died on 6th February 1685. Sir Richard Mason was one of those present at the kings death. His wife, Lady Anna Mason wrote a detailed account of the King's last illness and subsequent death, in a letter to her mother Lady Dorothy Long at Draycot House in Wiltshire. This letter came to light in 1850 when it was found amongst papers at Draycot House, and was published soon afterwards by Charles Dickens in his weekly magazine Household Words.

On 2 March 1685 Charles Gerard wrote a long letter in which he ordered his wife not to return. He defended vigorously his own conduct:

"Your youth and folly did long plead your excuse, but when I saw ill nature in you and ill will (not to say malice) in your mother join against me, I then had reason to despair of your amendment [I sought] not to make a prey of you, as you have often upbraided me withal, and that I had no such mercenary thoughts you would have the world believe that I have used you ill, and that I have beaten you, a thing so base that, as you know it to be false yourself, so you will never be able to persuade the world that it is true. I have governed my passions under great and frequent provocation, either by silence or by avoiding your company."

His indulgence had now reached its limit, however:

You have often-times spoken with scorn and contempt of me and my family to my face, and expressed that you did not care to have any children by me, but always pretended yourself with child whenever I went out of town from you. And now, Madam, I am resolved to give you the satisfaction you have often asked, in parting with me, which you may have cause to repent at leisure.

Sir Richard Mason himself died 8th March 1685 and the parish register shows that he was buried on 18 Mar 1685 in Sutton. Dorothy and Ann the daughters of Sir Richard Mason were named his co-heirs.

Jeremiah Oakley, (who may have been a local man) had quickly been appointed Rector of Sutton on the 4th March 1685. This must have been an anxious time in Sutton. The new King was a Catholic. The Mason family were grieving the loss of their father and the irrovocable breakdown of Ann's marriage. The people of Sutton had lost their Lord of the Manor, and their old parson.

Sutton is only 12 miles from London and any news would have moved quickly from court to the Mason home.

The Duke of Monmouth landed with at Lyme Regis in Dorset on 11 June 1685. Two customs officers from Lynne arrived in London on 13 June having ridden some 200 miles post haste. It is likely that on the 14th June Sutton would have heard of the landing and news of the outbreak of civil war.

The Monmouth Rebellion of 1685 was an attempt by the duke of Monmouth to the King. James II was his uncle and he had became king when his elder brother, Charles II, died on 6 February 1685. James II was unpopular because he was Roman Catholic and many people were opposed to a "papist" king.

The Mason family were identified as being 'Tory' a supporter of James and the lawful succession. They were pleased to record in documents that Sir Richard had been "Controler of Green Cloath to King Charles and King James the 2nd". Since Sir Richard had died within the first Month of James reign he had not been of much service to the new King but the family still considered Sir Richard a loyal royal servant.

The rebellion ended with the defeat of Monmouth's forces at Battle of Sedgemoor on 6 July 1685. Monmouth was executed for treason on 15 July.

The subsequent Bloody Assizes of Judge Jeffreys were a series of trials of Monmouth's supporters in which 320 people were condemned to death and around 800 sentenced to be transported to the West Indies.

Following the rebellion a warrant was issued for the arrest of Gerard and his father, and he was committed to the Tower on 31 July 1685. He was tried for treason before the court of kings bench between 14 and 25 November and, owing largely to the evidence of Lord Grey of Warke, was convicted of complicity in the Rye House plot.

He was sentenced to death on 28 November. Ann pleaded for him with King James. Charles Gerard was reprieved, released (January 1687), and pardoned (31 August 1687).

He then vigorously supported James IIs policies, especially over the dispensing power, was granted his father's forfeited estates as a result,

James II took advantage of the suppression of the rebellion to consolidate his power. He asked Parliament to repeal the Test Act and the Habeas Corpus Act, used his dispensing power to appoint Catholics to senior posts, and raised the strength of the standing army. Parliament opposed many of these moves, and on 20 November 1685 James dismissed it.

It is difficult to imagine what effect these changes had on the Mason family. The religious and political temperature all across Europe was rising. In France the French King Louis XIV was persecuting protestants. From the early 1680s the persecution of their religious brethren caused outrage in England and sustained a wave of literature protesting against the inhuman treatment of the Huguenots, thousands of whom flocked to English shores seeking asylum. Louis's "dragonnades" policy was so brutal that it caused great numbers of Protestants to flee France even before the religious rights granted them by the Edict of Nantes were removed in 1685.

One of the refugee families were the Sanxay's who appear later in the story of St Nicholas.

Ann was deserted by her husband and unhappy. She had never been a great beauty like her sister Dorothy, and what looks she did have were spoilt by the ravages of smallpox in 1686.

In 1688, when the birth of James Francis Edward Stuart heralded a Catholic succession, James II was overthrown in a coup d'état by William of Orange in the Glorious Revolution at the invitation of the disaffected Protestant Establishment. Anne Mason's estranged husband Charles Gerard even took the field for James in 1688, having been restored in October to the position of colonel of Lord Gerard's horse that he had briefly held in 1679.

In 1689 Anne made an unsuccessful attempt to reclaim some of the lands involved in her marriage settlement.

However, Gerard quickly mended his bridges with William, was returned to parliament for Lancashire once more, in January 1689, and also became lord lieutenant of the same county.

Ann was not a recluse and despite her set back she seems to have been able to command attention and started to take lovers. These included Henry, Duke of Grafton. Early in 1693 Richard Savage ("Tyburn Dick"), then titled Lord Colchester and future Earl Rivers, " a tall handsome man of very fair complexion", became her lover.

Ann's affair with Richard Savage was well known. In a satirical poem written in either 1692 or 1693 Jack Howe wrote,

Poor Brandon's fate; she loves a battered bully;
An ill performer, yet by descent no cully.

In 1694, on the death of the earl of Macclesfield, her husband inherited the title and she became the countess of Macclesfield.

Anne Mason had two illegitimate children, Anne and Richard Savage by the Richard Savage the fourth Earl Rivers (c.1654-1712). Anne was born in 1695 and a son Richard two years later. Despite her efforts to conceal the births(she wore a mask while giving birth to her son) rumours reached her husband.

When the earl learned of this he applied to the court of arches for a divorce. In December 1697 he additionally opened proceedings in the House of Lords. This was an unprecedented action, as no marriage had ever been dissolved by parliament prior to a decree from an ecclesiastical court. A bill of divorce was introduced on 15 January 1698.

The case led to a pamphlet war. Macclesfield and his apologists were damning about Anne's
notorious open adultery, having had children "begotten on her body in adultery, and using vile practices to have her spurious issue imposed and obtruded upon him". "Though the children have not happened till ten years after living apart from her husband, 'tis well known she did not live virtuous so long", sneered another pamphlet, determined to disprove the suggestion of the countess's apologists "that her husband ought to keep another man's bastards".

Anne's fortune, some £12,000 to £25,000, was returned to her on her divorce and she became a lady-in-waiting to Princess Anne.

The poet Richard Savage, friend of Dr Johnson, later claimed to be this illegitimate son. Anne herself never publicly recognized his claim and always maintained that both children had died in infancy.

Two years after her divorce she married Henry Brett (1677/8-1724), politician, a friend of Colley Cibber. They had one daughter, Anna (or Anne) Margharetta. The Bretts' daughter, Anna Margharetta [Anna Margharetta Leman (1704?-1743)] allegedly became a mistress of George I shortly after her father's death.

Anne Brett survived her husband by nearly thirty years and her daughter by ten. She died on 11 October 1753 at her home in Old Bond Street, London.



Burials in Sutton

18 Mar 1684 Sr Rich: Mason.
10 Jul 1717 Lady Anne Mason, Wid.

Burials

08 Mar 1689 A son of Sr William Brownlow.
13 Jul 1694 A child of Sr Will. Brownlows.
21 Feb 1696 Dorothy d. Sr William Brownlowe.
17 Jan 1697 Dorothy d. Sr William Brownlow.
20 Jan 1699 Lady Dorothy Brownlow.
10 Mar 1700 Sr William Brownlow, Bart.


Baptism

10 Mar 1700 Sr William Brownlow, Bart. ??
08 Mar 1689 A son of Sr William Brownlow. ???


Sources

Mason, Anne Margaret, Lady. Account of the death of Charles II 'by a wife of a person
about the Court at Whitehall.' Household Words 9 (1854).

Court Satires of the Restoration By John Harold Wilson
'The stables: Master of the Horse 1660-1837', Office-Holders in Modern Britain: Volume 11 (revised): Court Officers, 1660-1837 (2006), pp. 603-604. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=43902. Date accessed: 11 January 2008.