Here, gathered in our beloved South Dakota, are a few members of our Williamson / Mattson Clan. Charles and Luella are to be blamed (be kind, they didn't know what they were doing). We're generally a happy bunch and somewhat intelligent (notwithstanding our tenuous grasp on reality). I'm also proud to say that most of us still have our teeth.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Sir Francis Willoughby and Elizabeth Littleton. Our 12th Great Grandparents. (Mattson Line)

Elizabeth Littleton (1546 - 1594) and Sir Francis Willoughby (1547 - 1596)

Relationship Chart

12th Great Grandparents.
Sir Francis Willoughby and Elizabeth Littleton
Henry Hastings and Dorothy Willoughby
John Hastings
John Seaborn Hastings
Joseph Hastings
Matthew Hastings
Hannah Hastings
Nathanial Evans Jr.
John K. McCrillis
Joseph E McCrillis
John Mayberry Dennis
Walter Edward Pierce
Violet Mae Pierce
Luella, John, Linda, Marvin

From the Fortress of Solitude
Pleasant Grove

Hello All,
If its Friday, I'm about to venture into the darkness for another Overnight Space Camp. Before I leave for the school I thought I'd post something on our 12th Great Grandparents on the Mattson Line from the Tudor Era in England. Their beautiful home, Wollaton Hall, still stands today. It is one of those places on our "Must See" list when we all make the family trek to England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland to visit our family's historical sights.

And now a short biography of Sir Francis and Elizabeth

Francis was the second son of Sir Henry Willoughby and his wife Anne, née Grey, and was probably born at Woodlands in Dorset.

His father inherited the Wollaton and Middleton estates on the death of Sir John Willoughby in January 1548/9, but died in August the same year while fighting in Kett's Rebellion. Francis's mother had died the previous year, and Francis spent the early part of his childhood being looked after in Essex by his guardian and uncle, George Medley. His other uncle the Duke of Suffolk, guardian of Francis's elder brother Thomas, was executed in 1554 following the failed plot to place Lady Jane Grey on the throne, and Medley was incarcerated in the Tower of London for a short time, bringing more confusion to Francis's life.

Francis was educated in London, Saffron Walden, and Jesus College, Cambridge. In 1559 Thomas died and Francis unexpectedly became heir to the Wollaton estate (which he came into full possession of in 1564), comprising the two principal manor houses of Wollaton and Middleton and extensive land and coal mines in a number of counties. He also maintained town houses in Nottingham, Coventry and elsewhere, and lived the life of a wealthy country gentleman. He was knighted in 1575.

Sir Francis's marriage with Elizabeth Littleton was stormy, and not helped by a large number of servents who, according to Cassandra Willoughby in her history of the family, interfered in the couple's affairs. Their problems were made public by Francis's sister Margaret, Lady Arundell, who had always disapproved of the match. After some violent clashes in 1578 and 1579, the couple separated, before reconciling in 1588.

Wollaton Hall Today

The Great Hall in Wollaton Hall

In 1580, work began on a project by Sir Francis to build a sumptous modern residence, in which he hoped Queen Elizabeth would stay. Robert Smythson (d 1614) was the architect and general overseer. Work on the new Wollaton Hall was completed in 1588, although Sir Francis did not move into the mansion. Revenues from Sir Francis's coal pits declined in the late 16th century, and the vast expense of the new Hall led to financial difficulties for Sir Francis, who borrowed large sums from various lenders.

Sir Francis was interested in agricultural and industrial innovation. He engaged in woad-planting schemes at Wollaton and in Ireland in the 1580s, and in the 1590s invested in ironworks at Middleton in Warwickshire, Oakamoor in Staffordshire, and Codnor in Derbyshire.
His relationship with his son-in-law Percival Willoughby, whom it was intended would inherit the bulk of Sir Francis's estates, was often strained. Soon after Lady Willoughby died in 1595, Sir Francis married Dorothy Tamworth. He died in London on 16 November 1596, amid suspicions that he had been poisoned, leaving Dorothy pregnant. The pregnancy threatened to disinherit Percival altogether, but in the event the baby was a girl, and soon died.


  1. HI Victor...it seems we may be related. Dorothy willoughby and Henry Hastings were my 12 great grandparents. Our family is descended from their daughter Anne who married Alyeways....see Clearance 25 . The great fun of all this family stuff is finding new sides of the family. Please e-mail me at paddymurray49@hotmail.com

  2. Came across this in a search for images of Sir Francis and Elizabeth. I used to play Sir Francis at the Bristol Renaissance Faire in Wisconsin. :-)He is definitely one of the more interesting characters of the age!