Cheshunt Park and the Cromwells

A historic estate in Cheshunt

By Nicholas Blatchley

Cheshunt Park Lodge & Gate 1907
Hertfordshire Archive & Local Studies

The first known mention of Cheshunt Park dates from 1339, when John Duke of Brittany complained of trespass at “his park at Cheshunt.”

It appears to have been part of the Manor of Cheshunt, subsequently held by the Crown until it was granted in 1526 to Henry Fitzroy, Duke of Richmond and Somerset, Henry VIII’s illegitimate son.  Subsequently, though, it was separated from the Manor of Cheshunt and, from 1570, was part of the Manor of Theobalds.  As such, it was held by the Cecils and then by the Crown.


After the execution of Charles I, the Manor of Theobalds, including Cheshunt Park, was seized by Parliament.  A survey described it as consisting of “669 acres, One Roode, and Sixteene pole”, with each acre worth 14s 6d a year, and containing “impaled pasture ground”, woods and three “tenements”.  The Chief Rangers of the park were specified as being the Earl of Salisbury and his son, Lord Cranborne.

The Cromwells at Cheshunt Park

In the mid 18th century, the estate of Cheshunt Park passed by marriage to a certain Oliver Cromwell, great-grandson of his more famous namesake and great-nephew of Richard Cromwell, briefly Lord Protector of England, who had spent much of his later life living in Churchgate, Cheshunt.  The later Oliver Cromwell built a mansion in 1795, officially called Brantyngeshay, but later referred to simply as Cheshunt Park.  In an ironic twist, this Oliver Cromwell also because Lord of the Manor of Theobalds, from which his ancestor’s enemy Charles I had set out to raise his standard at the start of the Civil War.

Oliver Cromwell left only one surviving child, a daughter called Oliveria, who was the last direct descendant of the Protector to bear the name Cromwell.  Her husband, Thomas Artemidorus Russell, repeatedly applied for permission to take his wife’s name.  Each petition was vetoed by George III, reportedly with the words, “No, no; no more Cromwells!”

Later history

Oliveria’s descendants owned Cheshunt Park throughout the 19th century, but from about 1860 it was leased to Frank Gissing Debenham, who lived there.  After his death in 1912, his daughters bought the estate.  The last of them died in 1969, and the house was demolished the following year.  Cheshunt Park is now divided between a public park and a municipal golf course.

This page was added on 25/02/2011.

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  • A few things to add to the above:

    Apparently, the link doesn’t work now. If you go to the search page of Hertfordshire Names Online – – and enter: Keyword – Cheshunt, Surname – Reynolds, Date Range – 1750-1900, you should get the same results I did.

    I’ve had a look at the Tithe Award. The plots Richard held are close to Cheshunt Park, but not actually in it – they appear to be where there’s now a modern housing estate called the Rosedale Estate. He was the occupier in all cases, and they were owned by William Shepherd and James Green. The plots included four houses and gardens, so he was presumably sub-letting at least three of the properties.

    By Nicholas Blatchley (13/06/2018)
  • Hi Jo. Many thanks for this information, which is intriguing. I haven’t been able to find much information about the Reynolds family, beyond what you’ve already given, but a search on Hertfordshire Names Online – – yields several references to Richard owning or occupying land in the 1841 Tithe Award, as well as the marriages of Susannah (misspelt), Margaret and Charlotte.

    There are various other people called Reynolds, but as it’s not an uncommon name, there’s no way of knowing whether they’re from the same family. I very much doubt, for instance, if the William Reynolds who was convicted of being drunk in 1818 was your one, since gentlemen weren’t usually arrested for being drunk.

    I found a reference in Historic Cheshunt by Archer of a Henry Robert Reynolds who was President of Cheshunt College (an ecclesiastical college) from 1860-1895, but again there’s no indication of whether he was from your family.

    Would it be practical to come into HALS in Hertford to investigate further? If not, you could phone and ask the staff for help, including details about the Tithe references, which would tell you exactly where the plots of land were and whether Richard was owner or tenant. If you’re going to make a special trip to Hertford, it would probably be a good idea to phone ahead so the staff are prepared. The phone number is 0300 123 4049.

    Also, we’d be delighted if you were willing to share what you have about the Reynolds family on Herts Memories.


    By Nicholas Blatchley (13/06/2018)
  • I have been researching the REYNOLDS family who were from Cheshunt Park. I do not know if they owned the land or not, but William REYNOLDS, attorney, baptised & buried his children there for many years from 1796 – 1827. His wife, Elizabeth, 52y, is also buried there in 1821. One burial entry shows the address as Churchgate.
    One daughter who survived, Susannah REYNOLDS, married Jean Charles D Gratacap MASSINA, Drawing master & French Teacher who stayed on at Cheshunt until he ran into financial difficulties, ending up in a Debtors prison in London by 1841 ( he died 1851 in the workhouse).
    William REYNOLDS started a second family in London with Mehala SIMPSON, (b Suffolk, died Shoreditch 1865 ) & died 1850 in Shoreditch- without fanfare, it seems! His second family fell on hard times, but one daughter, unmarried, from the first marriage, Elizabeth b 1797 Grays Inn London, lived off rents from properties all her life ( dying 1878) …maybe she inherited from her mother, or G/parents.
    I believe his brother was Richard REYNOLDS, Gent, who married Susannah HALLIDAY 1799. Their daughters were baptised & married in Cheshunt. Richard was always referred to as being ‘of Cheshunt – Park’ in the newspapers.
    Two of his daughters, Margaret Ainger REYNOLDS, & Charlotte Roberts REYNOLDS married 2 RUMLEY brothers there.
    The daughter, Mariann Earnshaw REYNOLDS married a chemist (EYRE) in Ipswich Suffolk. His other daughter, named after his sister Georgiana REYNOLDS 1786-1836, married WILKINSON.
    Richard & Susannah REYNOLDS died 7 weeks apart in Romsey, Hampshire in 1845- he left over £6000

    I believe there was another brother John REYNOLDS who died in Wapping 1818 ( because Richard’s daughter & son-in-law, Richard BACHE, were witnesses to the marriage in 1806 London ).

    I would love to know more about the REYNOLDS connection to Cheshunt, Herts. so please feel free to contact me. I have LOTS of family info, plus newspaper clippings etc to share
    Regards, Jo

    By Jo (03/06/2018)
  • Many thanks for this information, which adds an extra layer to this later Cromwell.

    By Nicholas Blatchley (13/12/2017)
  • The Lord Bishop of London, Dr. Beilby Porteus wrote to “Mr. Oliver Cromwell (a Collateral descendant from the Protector & a most respectable Gentleman living at Cheshunt Park) on 2 August, 1808 in response to a representation by Mr. Cromwell on behalf od Dr. Draper whom Porteus had excluded from the Pulpits of his Diocese. Source: Porteus’ Notebooks, MS 2104, Folio 166

    By Dr. Graham D. MCKelvie (12/12/2017)