ANKETILL, John (1597-1638), of Compton Bassett and Fonthill Gifford, Wilts.; later of Newmarket, co. Cork.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press




Family and Education

b. 20 Jan. 1597, 3rd s. of John Anketill (bur. 9 Oct. 1610), inkeeper of Shaftesbury, Dorset and Philippa, da. of Thomas Grigg of Cockington, Devon.1m. Lucy (d. 16 Sept. 1662),2da. of Sir Mervin Tuchet alias Audley*, of Fonthill Gifford, 1s. 3da. d. 12 Apr. 1638.3

Offices Held

Page, household of ‘Sir Henry Smith’ to c.1614, of Sir Mervin Tuchet c.1614-31.4


Anketill belonged to a junior branch of a prominent family settled in Dorset since Domesday which had represented Shaftesbury several times in the fourteenth century.5 He allegedly spent his youth as page to a knight later described by a deponent in the earl of Castlehaven’s trial in 1631 as Sir Henry Smith but whose identity has not been ascertained. It was possibly through a kinsman, Christopher Anketill, a Dorset magistrate seated at Almer and Stour Provost, north-west of Shaftesbury,6 that he subsequently came to the notice of Mervin Tuchet, who had represented Dorset in 1614 while serving on the county bench.7 Anketill arrived at Tuchet’s Wiltshire seat of Fonthill Gifford in about 1614 with ‘no means ... but the mare he rode on’. He served as Tuchet’s page for at least eight years and, while managing part of the Fonthill estates, reputedly enriched himself to the tune of £2,000. He subsequently married Tuchet’s daughter, Lucy, and in the process secured a settlement of £7,000, together with property that included a farm worth £100 a year.8 In 1624 he became a lessee of Bishopstrowe manor, and may also have received a lease on Compton Bassett manor, which had been granted to the Tuchets in 1610 by Sir James Mervyn [Marvyn]†.9

It was evidently through Tuchet, who became 2nd earl of Castlehaven in 1617, that in 1621 Anketill secured a parliamentary seat for Hindon, the nearest borough to Fonthill Gifford. Hindon had largely been controlled by Sir James Mervyn since 1585, and after Mervyn’s death in 1611 his estate and influence at Fonthill Gifford passed to the Tuchets. Anketill must also have enjoyed the support of south-west Wiltshire’s principal landowner, (Sir) Thomas Thynne*, who had married one of Castlehaven’s sisters.10 Another sister had married Sir John Davies*, who had originally been returned at Hindon to serve with him.11 Anketill played no recorded part in the 1621 Parliament.

Castlehaven was openly Catholic by the early 1620s: he was presented to the House of Commons as a recusant in 1624, his Fonthill Gifford house was regularly searched for arms, at least two of his servants were Catholics brought over from his Irish estates, and his second son became a Benedictine monk.12 Castlehaven’s mother, Anne-Noël, was a benefactress of St. Bonaventure’s convent at Douai and may have converted Anketill to Catholicism while he was resident at Fonthill Gifford. Indeed, Anketill’s marriage to Lucy was performed privately by a Catholic priest as well as publicly by the prebendary of Kilkenny.13

Anketill accompanied Castlehaven to Ireland in February 1627, the earl having been sent there with a royal commission to raise money.14 In 1631 Castlehaven was tried in Westminster Hall following allegations of indecency towards his wife.15 Anketill was then residing at Fonthill Gifford, and although not directly accused of any transgression it emerged from evidence given by fellow servants that Castlehaven had encouraged him to share the countess’s bed.16 Castlehaven had also instigated impropriety with Anketill’s young wife, introducing her to his favourite servants and telling her ‘that her husband loved her not, and that he would turn her out of doors if she did not lie with [them], and if she did not he would tell her husband she did.’17 After the trial and execution of his benefactor, Anketill and his wife moved to Ireland, perhaps with other members of Castlehaven’s family, who sought sanctuary on their Irish lands after Fonthill Gifford escheated to the Crown.18 In 1632 Anketill was resident at Mallow Castle in co. Cork, possibly as a guest of its owner, Sir John Jephson*,19 but within two years he had purchased land in co. Limerick and settled in Newmarket, co. Cork, where he confirmed possession of his estates in 1636.20 Anketill named his Newmarket property Almer in remembrance of his family’s Dorset origins.21 While in Ireland, Anketill was paid £800 by Richard Boyle, 1st earl of Cork, apparently in connection with Cork’s attempt to clear the debts of his son-in-law, David Barry, earl of Barrymore, who conveyed to Cork the manor of Butttevant in return.22

Anketill died at Newmarket on 12 Apr. 1638 and was buried in the church there six days later.23 He had rapidly made a mark in Irish society, for his widow married Colonel Garrett FitzMaurice, son of the 18th Baron Kerry, while his daughter married Thomas O’Grady, one of the principal native Irish landowners of co. Limerick.24 Anketill’s decendents continued to be minor landowners in co. Cork late into the eighteenth century.25

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Authors: Henry Lancaster / Andrew Thrush


W.R. Drake, Fasciculus Mervinensis, 22.

  • 1. Dorset Vis. Addenda ed. Colby and Rylands, 28-9; Vis. London (Harl. Soc. xv), 21; Trial of Lord Audley (1679), p. 5; T.L. Stoate, Devon Subsidy Rolls, 206. Hutchins, Dorset, iii. 62, claims that Anketill was the 2nd son.
  • 2. Hutchins, iii. 63.
  • 3. W.M. Brady, Recs. of Dioceses of Cork, Cloyne and Ross, ii. 128.
  • 4. Harl. 2194, f. 81v.
  • 5. Domesday Bk. pt. vi. Wilts. ed. J. Morris, 65d, 67a, 74c; Hutchins, iii. 611, iv. 512-13; VCH Wilts. v. 122.
  • 6. T.L. Stoate, Dorset Tudor Subsidies, 137; Vis. Dorset (Harl. Soc. xx), 6; List of Sheriffs comp. A. Hughes (PRO, L. and I. ix), 38; Hutchins, iii. 62.
  • 7. C181/2, f. 307; Eg. 784, f. 55.
  • 8. Wilts. RO, 413/401, unfol.; Harl. 2194, f. 81v.
  • 9. PROB 11/118, f. 245; R.C. Hoare, Hist. Wilts. ‘Warminster Hundred’, 73; Wilts. RO, 132/26; J. Aubrey, Top. Collections, 42; Hutchins, iii. 63. Mervin’s signature appears in Wilts. RO, A1/110, T1610, f. 38.
  • 10. VCH Wilts. v. 122; Vis. Wilts. (Harl. Soc. cv-cvi), 193.
  • 11. C219/37, ff. 290-1; CJ, i. 576a, 580a.
  • 12. CJ, i. 776; CSP Dom. 1625-6, pp. 170, 217; VCH Wilts. xiv. 168; Harl. 2194, f. 82v.
  • 13. H. Foley, Recs. of Eng. Province of Soc. of Jesus, iii. 522; Harl. 6865, f. 234v; J.A.Williams, Cath. Recusancy in Wilts. 1660-1791, pp. 215-16.
  • 14. Lismore Pprs. ed. A.B. Grosart (ser. 1), ii. 207; CSP Ire. 1625-32, p. 252.
  • 15. KB8/63, f. 1; Stowe 396, f. 156.
  • 16. Harl. 2194, f. 82; Harl. 6865, f. 234v; Trial of Lord Audley, 4.
  • 17. Harl. 6865, f. 234r-v; State Trials ed. T.B. Howell, iii. 411, 414, 423.
  • 18. On the Tuchets’ Irish lands, see CPR Ire. Chas.I, 358-9; CSP Ire. 1615-25, p. 221; R.Bagwell, Ire. Under the Stuarts, i. 75-6; CSP Carew, 1603-24, p. 410. For the removal to Ireland of members of the Tuchet family, see VCH Wilts. iii. 90.
  • 19. Bristol RO, will of Sampson Hussey, proved 6 Apr. 1635: PROB 11/178, f. 146r-v.
  • 20. NLI, D 3953-4; E.P. Shirley, Hist. of Co. Monaghan, 154, n.2.
  • 21. Hutchins, iii. 63.
  • 22. D. Townsend, Life and Letters of the Great Earl of Cork, 482.
  • 23. Brady, ii. 128.
  • 24. B. Burke, Landed Gentry of Ire. (5th edn.), 913; E. MacLysaght, Irish Fams. 165.
  • 25. Top. and Gen. iii. 323.