Family Development in London, Essex and Kent
What is clear from all the evidence is that the early ARGALL families, both in the east and west of the country, were relatively wealthy (by medieval standards) because of the numbers of Wills, litigation and Church documents that survive which include the ARGALL name. The earliest linked pedigree in London originates with one John Argall whose family owned property in St Keverne in the 15th Century.
These 15th Century families also appear to be linked to the Church, in the days when that organisation was a very powerful force in controlling all aspects of civil affairs. The ARGALL family seemed to have had a role in serving the Church, as lawyers, clerics and as administrators. John had moved to London, towards the end of the 15th Century. By 1480, he was living in his own house in the grounds of Lambeth Palace in London, which was and still is the official residence of the Archbishops of Canterbury – the primate of all England, for whom John worked. How he got there is less clear but, if he was born in Cornwall, he may have been educated at the famous Glasney theological college at Penryn, in Cornwall, which was reasonably close to St Keverne. He was promoted through the Church to work in London.
Between the years 1485 and 1500, John was involved in litigation over property he owned in a place called Treglosek (which was – and still is – located in St Keverne Parish) in Cornwall, and petitioned the Archbishop of Canterbury over the matter. John had married in London, probably for the second time, in about 1499 to one Emme Butcher (Botcher), a widow who was living in Lambeth where John worked. Because they were relatively old when they married, John and Emme Argall had only one child together: Thomas Argall, who was born at their home in Lambeth in 1500. Emme, however, had an elder son, also called John, from her first marriage, and it is possible that John had children from his first marriage as several ARGALL families are recorded in London by the mid–16th century. In Emme’s Will of 1522, she also left a bequest to a priest called William Argall, who may well have been a close relative of John, if not his brother.
Like his father before him, Thomas Argall also became a Church Lawyer eventually becoming very wealthy and influential. He is first recorded in 1522 as a Proctor proving Wills for their Executors. He is also recorded as coming from a prominent Cornish family, and this fact is important in linking him to Cornwall. Thomas had first married in Kent when young, but his first wife died very soon after – possibly in childbirth. He then married for a second time Margaret Tallakarne (or Tolcarne) in London around 1536; Margaret came from Cambrose in Cornwall and was the daughter of John Tallakarne by his first wife Jane Braye. John Tallakarne was a business associate of Thomas, and was the son of Stephen (also called Geoffrey) Tallakarne who had been killed, or had died, whilst on the King’s business at Exeter in 1549 during the Prayer Book Rebellion. The Tallakarnes were also another wealthy and influential family coming from the same (Kerrier) area in Cornwall. John and Thomas were close enough in age to remain friends and business partners throughout the rest of their lives.
Thomas was almost certainly educated in London, and had worked for the Winchester Diocese as a young man, and was in the employ of Archbishop Wareham in London by 1522. He became known to the Royal Court and is recorded there in 1525 when he was employed as a private clerk to John Barrett, esquire. (John Barrett had been the Registrar of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury since 1502). Thomas was later a Notary Public during Henry VIII’s divorce proceedings against Catherine of Aragon in 1533, and the nullification of Anne of Cleves’ marriage in 1540. With each new involvement, his rise in prominence increased. By 1537, he was Clerk to Thomas Cromwell, Chancellor of England. Thomas became deeply involved in dissolving the chantries under Henry VIII and, later, in levying fines on the supporters of Wyatt’s rebellion in Queen Mary’s reign. He seemed to survive the changing politics of the time, and had gained a Royal Pardon from Edward VI on 22nd January 1549, (though for what is not clear). He became Registrar of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury himself, and held many other appointments, which enabled him to increase his personal wealth.
Thomas, himself, still retained connections in Cornwall. On 29 October 1542, Thomas was listed as owning the living of “Crewenne” (Crowan) Rectory in Cornwall but failing to seal the ownership. This rectory eventually was leased by Justinian Tallakarne, Thomas’s brother–in–law, who was by then the Governor of St. Mawes Castle, and who later had bought the manor of St Keverne from the Earl of Bedford in 1560. St Keverne and its local district was clearly home territory to these families.
Thomas, himself, with his increasing wealth, bought several estates during his lifetime including the East Sutton estate in Kent in 1546 and Low Hall in Walthamstow, Essex, which remained in the Argall family and its heirs until 1741. Thomas continued in official positions until he died in Bermondsey, London on 15th August 1563 and was buried in the church of St Faith in the Virgin, in the shadows of St Paul's cathedral. He was succeeded as head of the family by his eldest son and heir, Richard Argall, who had followed his father into the legal profession and had inherited his considerable wealth, as well as the estate at East Sutton where he then lived and in which he eventually died in 1588.
During the 16th and 17th Centuries, this particular ARGALL family extended its estates all over southern England, including Essex, Middlesex, Buckinghamshire and other Counties; they also had property in London. One of Richard Argall’s brothers, Rowland, acted as a courier, carrying despatches to the Secretary of State, Sir Francis Walsingham, from Sir Nicholas Malbbye in Ireland. Rowland briefly established a branch of the family in Ireland where he became Secretary of the Council of Connaught and to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland (the Earl of Sussex). Another brother was John Argall, who became a priest, and was the parson of Halesworth in Suffolk; John died in 1606. Yet another brother was Lawrence Argall, who succeeded his father as the Registrar of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury from his father’s death in 1563 until his own death in 1585. Laurence eventually moved to Suffolk, where he also married twice; although he had two wives, and had children by each, no lines have descended from him. There were two younger brothers, Gabriel and Edmund, both of whom died unmarried. There was also one daughter, Anne .
Richard Argall had married twice: firstly, to Joan Marten who came from a famous Kentish family but who seemed to have died soon afterwards, and, for a second time in 1568, to Mary Scott, a daughter of Sir Reginald Scott of Scott’s Hall in Kent, and a descendant of King David I of Scotland. Richard was the father of Sir Samuel Argall who was involved in the abduction of the Powhattan princess known as Pocahontas in the Virginia Colony in 1613, and who later became Lieutenant Governor of the Colony in 1617 and Admiral of the adjacent ocean. Samuel Argall did not come from Cornwall; he was born at the family’s estate at East Sutton in Kent, which had passed to his father, Richard Argall, on the death of the latter’s father in 1563. Samuel died at sea in 1626 and is buried in St Gluvias’s churchyard, near Falmouth – the area being the closest landfall his ship could land his remains!
Richard Argall, himself and his second wife Mary, had 11 children in all; two of their sons were knighted: Sir Samuel Argall (referred to above), and Sir Reginald Argall who was knighted by King James I on 17 August 1606. (Reginald’s knighthood had been purchased when King James 1 was raising money in the early years of his reign). Another of Richard’s sons, John, was also a lawyer who was one of those named in the Charter of New England in 1620 who were entrusted by King James I with the planting, ruling, ordering, and governing of New–England, in America. John had owned property in the Colony of Virginia and paid many visits there; he seemed to have benefited enormously from the Wills of his various brothers, all of whom he outlived, and his sister.
The link between this wealthy strand in the East and those ARGALLs in Cornwall is yet to be fully established, but the families increasingly developed quite separately. However, the wealth of those in the East was dissipated amongst this strand of the family as time progressed, and much was lost in the payment of fines to the Commonwealth government of Oliver Cromwell because of their continuing Royalist sympathies in the aftermath of the English Civil War.
This family gradually descended in social status and in numbers until it finally "daughtered out" during the mid–19th Century. By 1855 the name disappears from documents there and the name is now extinct in East Anglia.
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