Huntingdon Beaumont - c1560 to 1624
- Longer biography with family details - last revision/significantly updated 15 July 2009.
The information below is a blend of previously published work by others together with new research work by the author, first published in 2004 and significantly updated in October 2005 with later minor revisions. Please note that although free access is granted to this page the content is not released into the "public domain" and remains copyright © 2007 John New/WRC/Island-Publishing
The family roots were in Normandy in France. For the benefit of any genealogists visiting this page these roots can be traced easily in "Burke's Peerage" so I have not duplicated that information here.
Huntingdon Beaumont's parents - Sir Nicholas Beaumont and his wife Ann Beaumont (neé Saunders). Family seat - Coleorton, Leicestershire, England.
Brothers (3) - It is known that all of Huntingdon Beaumont's brothers were older than him.
- Sir Henry Beaumont - Eldest brother, born 1529, & became Sir (Baron) on his father's death gaining the title by inheritance descent.
- Francis Beaumont - (1551 suggested by some sources for his d.o.b.) Burke's Peerage lists Francis Beaumont as the second son. He was also involved in the family's coal mine operations. However WRC research suggests that although his name is undoubtedly included on joint leases as the partner of his younger brother, Huntingdon, he may not have been an active "hands on" coal entrepreneur. This Francis Beaumont became Master of Sutton Hospital in 1617 and Master of Charterhouse in 1621. NB This is not the roughly contemporary Francis Beaumont who was the playwright. The writer's research indicates that the playwright Francis Beaumont was from another branch of the Beaumont dynasty based at Grace Dieu in Leicestershire.
- Sir Thomas Beaumont - (Possibly d.o.b.= 1555 Received a Sir (Baron) title during Huntingdon's life in his own right as he did not inherit has father's title. Thomas was an active entrepreneur in the coal trade, as was Huntingdon, and played a significant part in Huntingdon's business affairs when his, Huntingdon's, Strelley and Northumberland projects fell into finacial collapse .
Sisters (2) - Information on his sisters is less conclusive as to age and some sources give the number of sisters as 3.
- Dorothy Beaumont. Believed to have married William Read of Barton in Berkshire. (An alternative source has William Reade of Barton on Humber)
- Catherine or Katherine Beaumont. Known to have first married Anthony Byron, the eldest son of Sir John Byron of Newstead. Sir John let a coal mining contract at Strelley to Huntingdon Beaumont, who was of course by then a quasi son-in-law. That action became one of the key causal factors leading to the building, by Huntingdon, of the Wollaton Waggonway during 1604/5. She married again and her second marriage was to Henry Berkeley of Wymundham, Leicestershire.
- Margery Beaumont (A suggested 3rd sister) - When this biography was first put together by the WRC some references wete found to a possible third sister in various internet genealogical sources. However these were inconsistent and anomalous as Margery is not listed in Burke's or "The Beaumonts in History". The possibility that Margery may have been the second name of one of the other two proven sisters, hence the confusion, is unlikely as it was very rare for an Elizabethan child to be given two Christian names. However the discovery that a surviving contemporay text reference (MARRIAGE SETTLEMENT KM/391 20 May 1577) exists in the West Yorks Archive Service has confirmed that a Margery Beaumont did exist in the right time frame and was the sister of a Thomas Beaumont; however it also quite clearly confirms both a different geographical location and parents. The WRC therefore believe Huntingdon had just the two sisters (Dorothy and Catherine/Katherine) and that genealogists making the link connecting the Yorkshire Thomas and Margery to this Leicestershire familial thread have established incorrect parents.
- Huntingdon Beaumont and his own family . Born at Coleorton, Leicestershire c1560.
The family owned coal bearing lands and worked them. Huntingdon Beaumont was involved in this coal working and eventually in the late 1500s during the reign of Elizabeth 1 he began working in his own right in the Nottingham area. During his partnership with Sir Percival Willoughby, Lord of the Wollaton Manor, in 1603-4 he constructed the Wollaton Waggonway / Wagonway which was, we currently believe, the world's first. He can therefore be credited with the title of the "Great Grandfather of railways". He had also worked in the Wollaton and Lenton areas previously and Crow Wood on the map was one of those earlier areas of working.
Huntingdon Beaumont was a successful finder of coal and an innovator in the development of mining techniques. A key innovation currently attributed to him is the introduction of boring rods to assist in finding coal without sinking a shaft. He also built the first waggonway / wagonway which is why he features on this Site. His working life covered involvement in coal mining activities in Warwickshire, Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire and Northumberland.
In addition to his regularly written up work in the Midlands and the N East he is also known to have done a limited amount of coal finding work in South Wales and was also asked to prospect in Gloucestershire. From a surviving lease we know he was asked to prospect at a Witcombe in Gloucestershire. Given the document's signatories the likely Site for this work is the Witcombe near Cheltenham. With regard to Gloucestershire HB also had potential links into the Thornbury area just north of Bristol where a business partner of his from his earlier Nottinghamshire work was Lord of the Manor. Research into this Gloucestershire work and assessment of the relevance, if any, to his other works is current work in progress for the writer
His coal mining and waggonway activities in the early 1600s near Blythe in Northumberland were, like most of his ventures, unprofitable. However the boring rod and waggonway technology he took with him was implemented by others to significant effect. The waggonway evolutionary chain he started in the English north east was to later encompass George Stephenson and change the world forever.
Regrettably Huntingdon Beaumont was not a successful businessman. He lost several of his family members considerable sums of money and died in Nottingham Gaol in 1624 having been imprisoned for debt. He may have personally failed in the coal-winning business during his lifetime but his vision of how to win and transport coal was in the long term proven to have been correct.
Wife - Joan Holland. The specific Joan Holland has not yet been traced. That his wife's Christian name was Joan is certain. A letter signed by Joan Beaumont sent to Sir Percival Willoughby immediately after her husband's death, referring to that death, has survived to this day proving name by context. There are possibilities currently being researched. There were Hollands living near Gainsborough, downstream on the Trent from Nottingham, and a place where Huntingdon Beaumont had regular business dealings. There were also business and family connections through his niece between Huntingdon Beaumont and the Ashburnham family from Sussex. There were also Holland's, including a daughter Joan, in Essex at this time. At a later date Huntingdon Beaumont's great nephew married a Frances Holland and that family were from Sussex. These options will be subject to further research.
Huntingdon died in 1624 leaving Jane a widow with three boys none of whom was likely to have been older than ten and the youngest may have been as young as five. A possible (probable?) remarriage in 1627 of Joan Beaumont (Neé Holland) to a William Walker of Nottingham is suspected but that lead remains un-researched and it has not been validated that it is the same Joan Beaumont.
- Marriage date and place? The most likely date is 1614 or 1615 on Huntingdon's return to the Nottingham area from Northumberland. Although Burke's peerage states circa 1616 that date seems too close to his imprisonment date in 1618 for him to have fathered three sons in the interim. As with details of the specific Holland family into which he married both the church and locality for the marriage remain unknown.
- Residences - Although the main family residence was at Coleorton in Leicestershire his place of birth is recorded in other biographies as Bedworth, Warwickshire. This is a logical alternative as the family had significant mining interests at Bedworth. He is also believed to have lived at Bilborough, near Nottingham, after his return from Northumberland and before his arrest and gaoling.
- Sons = 3 known (+ 1 possible unconfirmed & deceased during infancy) - Daughters = 0 known.
- Dr Smith's short biographical work "Huntingdon Beaumont - Adventurer in Coal Mines" published in 1958 indicated that at the time of Huntingdon's arrest, and incarceration in 1618, Joan Beaumont was left with three small children. Current interest by genealogists*, and "on-line" research techniques not available to Dr Smith in 1958, has facilitated the cross-linking of surviving document transcriptions from wide range of sources. On 10 Oct.1633 a tuition grant was issued for Nicholas, Francis, & Huntingdon Beaumont, sons of Hunt.B. of Bilbarrow, deceased, of Nottingham (Source: YAS, RS, Yorkshire Wills series). The three small children are therefore now known with certainty to have been sons as all three names are included in this 1633 document. The boys names are listed below in the order of the 1633 tuition grant. Tuition means, of course, that the children were minors. It is believed that Administration means (as it does today) that there was no will. Although the suggestion is still tentative and unproven.the possibility is also advanced that a first born son may have died in infancy
- Sons = 3 known (+ 1 possible unconfirmed & deceased during infancy) - Daughters = 0 known.
- Huntingdon Beaumont (Junior 1)* - The possibility exists that an earlier child than the three named below may have died in infancy. In the naming convention of the Elizabethan and Jacobean period the father's name was most commonly given to the first born. In this case it appears that the youngest son was named Huntingdon rather than the elder indicative of possible reuse of the name. The recycling of a fathers's name to a new son in this way is recorded in some instances where the senior/original name carrier died very young.
- Nicholas Beaumont - A mining lease in this child's name is known to have been in place in 1620 but although that gives provenance for the boy's name no age or date of birth can be gleaned from that source. The latest possible DoB, given his father's imprisonment in October 1618, is early summer 1619 as he could have been born before, or during, the period of his father's imprisonment. Possibly named after his grandfather.
- Francis Beaumont - As with his brother a mining lease in this child's name is known to have been in place in 1620 but although that gives provenance for the boy's name no age or date of birth can be gleaned from that source. The latest possible DoB, given his father's imprisonment in October 1618, is early summer 1619 as he could have been born before, or during, the period of his father's imprisonmentOctober 1618, is early summer 1619 as he could have been born before, or during, the period of his father's imprisonment. Possibly named after his oldest, surviving, Uncle as by the time of Francis' birth Huntingdon's oldest brother, Sir Henry, had already died.
- Huntingdon Beaumont (Junior 2)* -
- On 10 Oct.1633 a tuition grant issued for Nicholas, Francis, & Huntingdon Beaumont, sons of Hunt.B. of Bilbarrow, deceased, of Nottingham (Source: YAS, RS, Yorkshire Wills series). Tuition means, of course, that the children were minors. It is believed that Administration means (as it does today) that there was no will. What this does prove is that Huntingdon junior was his son. The order suggests he was the third son.
- A will survives from a family in the local area signed by a Huntingdon Beaumont but dated 27 years after the death of the father. As this is an uncommon Christian name it is possible (but not proven), that this son survived the Civil War living until at least 1651.
- Twins? - Although possible for three single children to have been born in the short time span available for Huntingdon and Joan Beaumont (neé Holland) between their marriage and his imprisonment the possibility that Joan produced twins cannot be ruled out. However this is purely speculation based on the time factor and no other evidence is available currently to support this suggestion.
Death - On 22 Apr.1624 at York Probate Court (See Nottingham Act Book p4) administration was granted of the [estate] of Huntington Beamonte, of Bilburrow, Nottingham. Sources: AVICM footnote 31 p153 and YAS, RS, Yorkshire Wills series.
Other items of interest -
Godfather to Huntingdon Smithson - It is also believed Huntingdon Beaumont (the senior not the presumed son) was godfather to Huntingdon Smithson, the grandson of Robert Smythson who built Wollaton Hall, and was the architect of Bolsover Castle. Wollaton was a common factor and probably where Huntingdon Beaumont and the Smythsons' met.
Lawyer? - In the history of the Beaumonts by Edward T Beaumont JP he adds a reference to Huntingdon having been made a member of the Inner Temple in 1580. Unfortunately as other elements of this brief biography entry are wrong this fact may be incorrect too.