Manuscripts and Special Collections

Biography of John Musters (1777-1849) and Mary Ann Musters (1786-1832)

Mary Ann Chaworth was the only daughter of George Chaworth (d 1791) of Annesley Hall and his wife Anne (d 1829). George had inherited Annesley and the other Chaworth estates at Wiverton, Edwalton, Tithby and Cropwell Butler, from his father, Captain William Chaworth, in 1784. A year later he married his housekeeper, Anne Bainbridge. He died when Mary Ann was only five years old. In 1794 Anne married the Rev. William Clarke, rector of Gonalston (d 1808), who took over the administration of the estates during Mary Ann's minority. Anne Clarke's niece, Anne Radford, was brought up at Annesley with Mary Ann.

Mary Ann is supposed to have been the first love of George Gordon, 6th Lord Byron, the poet (1788-1824), who was also a distant relative through the marriage in 1660 of William, 3rd Baron Byron, to Elizabeth, daughter of John, 2nd Viscount Chaworth. They first met in 1803, as Annesley and Newstead were adjoining properties. Byron later wrote, 'Had I married Miss Chaworth perhaps the whole tenor of my life would have been different', and she was the subject of poems including 'The Dream'. But in 1805 Mary Ann married John ('Jack') Musters, the heir to the Musters estates at Colwick, Sneinton and West Bridgford. In 1806 Jack took the surname Chaworth by Royal Licence, but reverted to Musters in 1823. The couple separated for a time between 1813-1816, initiated by Mary Ann in protest at Jack's infidelities. During this period she lived for a while with Anne Radford at Edwalton. The couple's main residences were Annesley Hall and Wiverton Hall, but in 1827 Jack inherited Colwick Hall from his father, which became their principal house. Jack was a keen huntsman and was Master of the Pytchley hunt in Northamptonshire. It was through hunting that the Musters family met the Hamond family of Norfolk. Three of the Musters children subsequently married Hamond siblings, and their son the Rev. William Musters married a Hamond relative. Jack was also a magistrate for Nottinghamshire, High Sheriff of Nottinghamshire in 1777, and Lieutenant-Colonel of the 1st Regiment of the Nottingham Militia.

On 10 October 1831 Colwick Hall was sacked by rioters, enraged at the failure of the Second Reform Bill. Furniture was smashed and the building was set on fire. Mary Ann, whose health was already poor, hid outside in the rain with her daughter Sophia overnight, and is said never to have recovered from the shock. She died at Wiverton on 6 February 1832. Jack lived mainly at Colwick after Mary Ann's death, and died in 1849. In his will he left bequests to his servants Isaac and Margaret Beardsmore, on condition that they take care of his old shooting pony Little Donald, and his retriever bitch Old Gypsey.

Drawing of Mary Ann Chaworth aged 19, published in Transactions of the Thoroton Society, 1904, opp. p 76 

Mary Ann Chaworth aged 19, published in Transactions of the Thoroton Society, 1904, opp. p 76



The couple had:

  • Mary Ann Chaworth (1806-1823), known as Mary Ann Musters after 1823. Married in 1828 Anthony Hamond (1805-1869), eldest son of Philip Hamond of Westacre, Norfolk, Deputy Lieutenant and JP for Norfolk, High Sheriff of Norfolk in 1836, and had:
    • Anthony Hamond (1834-1895)
    • Philip Hamond (1838-1861)
    • Admiral Richard Horace Hamond (1843-1906)
    • Thomas Astley Horace Hamond (1845-1917)
    • Mary Ann Hamond (d 1862), m Henry Birkbeck
    • Frances ('Fanny') Hamond (d 1908)
    • Susan Maria Hamond (d 1927), m William Birkbeck
    • Caroline Penelope Hamond (d 1933), m Rev. Hon. John Harbord, son of 3rd Baron Suffield
    • Katherine Sarah Hamond (d 1917), m Sir Somerville Arthur Gurney
    • Emily Hamond (d 1916), m Charles Wigley Wicksted
  • John George Musters Chaworth (1807-1842), known as John George Musters Musters after 1823, of Wiverton. Married in 1837 Emily Hamond (1818-1845), daughter of Philip Hamond of Westacre, Norfolk
  • William Musters Chaworth (1809-1870), known as William Musters Musters after 1823. Rector of Colwick and West Bridgford, Nottinghamshire. Married Harriet Fitzbridges (1810-1909), illegitimate daughter of the Rev. Robert Hamond, and had:
    • Harriet Sarah Chaworth Musters (1834), married John Whitney
    • Sophia Chaworth Musters (1836), married Herbert Messiter
    • William Chaworth Musters (1839-1906)
    • Henry Chaworth Musters (1842-1919)
    • Matilda Susan Chaworth Musters (1846), married John Crompton Todd
    • Louise Chaworth Musters (b and d 1849)
    • Gertrude Elizabeth Chaworth Musters (1851-1934), married Captain Richard Taylor
  • Sophia Caroline Chaworth (1811-1894), known as Sophia Caroline Musters after 1823. Married Robert Nicholas Hamond, son of Philip Hamond of Westacre, Norfolk, and had:
    • Sophia Hamond (1839-1907)
    • Annie Louisa Hamond (1842-1867), married Gerald Upcher
    • Robert Nicholas Hamond (1844-1894), Commander RN
    • Nicholas Hamond (1845-1917)
    • Almeria Blanche Hamond (1852-1937), married John Waddington Mann
  • Henry Musters Chaworth (1813-1896), known as Henry Musters Musters after 1823. Married 1stly Margaret Domville Auchmuchty (d 1882). Married 2ndly Maria E. Plunket (d 1892). Had issue:
    • Auchmuty Henry Musters (1843-1883)
    • John George Musters (b 1844)
    • Charles Ralph Auchmuty Musters (1846-1871)
    • Caroline Alicia Victoria Musters (d 1898). Married 1stly in 1874 Captain Hon. Thomas Oliver Westenra Plunkett (d 1889). Married 2ndly in 1892 her cousin Annesley Horace Packe
  • Charles Musters Chaworth (1818-1832), known as Charles Musters Musters after 1823. Midshipman, RN. Died of malaria on HMS Beagle
  • Alicia Maria Chaworth (1819-1900), known as Alicia Maria Musters after 1823
  • Musters Chaworth (b and d 1820)


Archive Collections

  • Estate papers and correspondence relating to John and Mary Ann Musters are part of the Chaworth-Musters collection (ChM) held in Manuscripts and Special Collections at the University of Nottingham. The collection includes letters sent by Mary Ann to her daughter Mary Ann Hamond, in series ChM/C/1/1-48.
  • Personal and family correspondence and papers of the Hamond and Chaworth Musters families, 19th century, are held in the Hamond of Westacre Collection at Norfolk Record Office. Reference: HMN5/95-99 and 216-236


Published Sources

  • M. Boyes, Queen of a Fantastic Realm: The Story of the Boyhood Love of the Poet Lord Byron for his Distant Cousin Mary Ann Chaworth of Annesley, and its Consequences (Derby?, privately published, 1986) [King’s Meadow Campus East Midlands Collection Not 8.V38 CHA] 
  • M. Boyes, 'Jack Musters of Colwick - the "King of Gentlemen Huntsmen"', Nottinghamshire Countryside (in Nottingham Topic) (Apr 1983) 
  • M. Boyes, 'Where Was Mary Chaworth at the Time of Byron's Funeral?', Nottinghamshire Countryside (in Nottingham Topic), (May 1980)
  • F. Scheidacker, Lord Byron and Mary Chaworth (New York?, privately published, 1935)
  • A. Lang, A. 'Byron and Mary Chaworth', Fortnightly Review, new series 88 (1910), [268]-280

 Some biographical details also feature in the following publications:

  • Patrick T.A. Musters, The Musters : a family gathering, 2nd edn (Oakham, Rutland : P. T. A. Musters, 2001) [King’s Meadow Campus East Midlands Collection Oversize Not 4N.V30 MUS]
  • M. Boyes, 'The Reverend William Clarke, Rector of Gonalston' [2nd husband of Ann Chaworth and administrator of the Annesley estate], Nottinghamshire Countryside (in Nottingham Topic), (Feb 1980)
  • Denis R. Pearson, Annesley through the Ages (Alfreton : Bailey & Sons, 1995) [King’s Meadow Campus East Midlands Collection Not 8.D14 PEA]
  • Frank P. Lyons, Hills of Annesley (new edn ed. by Ruth Ansley Grant, Longwood, FL : R. A. Grant, c.1988) [King’s Meadow Campus East Midlands Collection Oversize Not 8.D14 LYO]
  • L. Chaworth Musters, 'Some Account of the Family Called in Latin Cadurcis, in French Chaources, in English Chaworth', in Transactions of the Thoroton Society, 7 (1903), [119]-138 and 8 (1904), [67]-77 [also available online,]

Manuscripts and Special Collections

Kings Meadow Campus
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