Manuscripts and Special Collections

The Chaworth-Musters family: a brief history

Medieval period

The Chaworth family were descendents of the Chaources family, of Maine in northern France, who came to Britain at the time of the Norman Conquest. The Annesley line can trace their descent to two brothers. Patricius Chaworth married the heiress of Ogmore and Kidwelly, South Wales. His brother Robert de Chaworth settled in Nottinghamshire and married the daughter of William de Walchiville, lord of Marnham, in the time of Henry I (1100-1135). He became the ancestor of the Chaworth family later of Annesley.

Advantageous marriage alliances extended the Chaworth family's properties in Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire. Alfreton and Edwalton were acquired through the 13th century marriage of William de Chaworth and Alice de Alfreton. The manor of Wiverton was acquired through the marriage of William de Chaworth (born c.1351) with Alice, daughter of Sir John de Caltoft of East Bridgford. William's son Sir Thomas Chaworth obtained a licence to make a park at Wiverton in 1448, after which Wiverton Hall superseded Alfreton as the principal residence of the family. Alfreton was inherited by Sir Thomas's granddaughter Joanna (died 1507), and passed to the Ormond family. In 1440 Sir Thomas's third son Sir George Chaworth, who inherited the Edwalton and Wiverton estates, married Alice, only daughter of John Annesley. She brought with her the estate of Annesley where her family had lived for over 300 years.

16th-18th centuries

Following the death of Sir George's namesake great-great grandson, Sir George Chaworth, in 1590, the estates passed to a cousin, George Chaworth (died 1639), who was raised to the peerage in 1628 by Charles I as Viscount Chaworth, in the Irish peerage. John, 2nd Viscount Chaworth, was succeeded by Patricius, 3rd Viscount Chaworth, who died in 1694. As he had no legitimate sons, the Viscountcy became extinct. The Chaworth estates passed to the Viscount's eldest illegitimate son, Patricius Chaworth (c.1673-1719), who married Elizabeth Pole, then to his grandson Patricius (1700-1731), who married Anne Levinz, and to his great-grandson William (1726-1765). This William was killed in a duel with his cousin and neighbour, Lord Byron of Newstead Abbey (great-uncle of the poet). William was unmarried and left his property in his will to his first cousin William Chaworth (died 1771). It then passed to the duellist's uncle Captain William Chaworth, of the Royal Navy, who lived at Annesley until his death in 1784, and then to Captain Chaworth's younger son George Chaworth (died 1791).

The joining of the Chaworth and Musters families

George Chaworth married his housekeeper, Anne Bainbridge. They had one daughter, Mary Ann Chaworth (1786-1832), heiress to the Chaworth estates in Annesley, Edwalton and Wiverton. Her widowed mother Anne married the Rev. William Clarke, rector of Gonalston, who managed the estates during Mary Ann's minority. Annesley was the neighbouring property to Newstead Abbey, and Mary Ann was the first love of Lord Byron, the poet. She was described by him as 'the last of a time-honoured race'. In 1805 she married John ('Jack') Musters (1777-1849), the eldest son of John Musters (1753-1827) and his wife Sophia (d 1819) of Colwick Hall near Nottingham. The Musters were an established Nottinghamshire family, tracing their history back to Sir John Musters of Hornsey, Middlesex, who bought the manors of Over and Nether Colwick from the Byron family in the mid-17th century. In consequence of his marriage, Jack took the surname Chaworth, and his eight children were baptised with the name Chaworth. However, the family reverted to Musters by Royal Licence in 1823.

In 1827 Jack inherited Colwick Hall from his father. On 10 October 1831 Colwick Hall was sacked by rioters, enraged at the failure of the Second Reform Bill. Mary Ann Musters, 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 and Mary Ann's eldest son, John George Chaworth Musters (1807-1842), predeceased his father. He had married Emily Hamond (1818-1845), youngest daughter of Philip Hamond of Westacre, Norfolk. Two of John George's sisters also married children of Philip Hamond: Mary Ann (1806-1900) married the eldest son Anthony Hamond, and Sophia Caroline (1811-1894) married the second son Robert Nicholas Hamond.

19th and 20th centuries

John George and Emily's three children were orphaned in 1845 when their mother died from tuberculosis, the disease which had also killed their father. Emily's youngest brother Philip Hamond, formerly in the Royal Navy, and latterly settled as a farmer in Canada, became their guardian and moved back to England. They lived at Gayton in Norfolk, but moved back to Annesley when the eldest son, John Chaworth Musters (1838-1887), inherited the estates from his grandfather Jack in 1847. John came of age in 1859 and was well known as a huntsman. He kept his own hounds at Wiverton, and was Master of the South Nottinghamshire and Quorn hunts. He enjoyed salmon fishing, and bought an estate in Norway. He married Caroline Anne ('Lina'), eldest daughter of Henry Porter Sherbrooke, formerly Lowe, of Oxton Hall, Nottinghamshire, and was succeeded by his son John Patricius Chaworth-Musters (1860-1921), who in 1888 obtained licence to take the surname Chaworth jointly with Musters.

John Patricius (known as Patrick) and his wife Mary Anne, née Sharpe, had seven sons and four daughters, the eldest of which were born on their estate in Norway. The eldest son, George Patricius Chaworth-Musters (1888-1915), died of wounds received in action, as did the fourth son Philip Mundy Chaworth-Musters (1895-1917). The fifth son Robert Chaworth-Musters (1896-1918) died of pneumonia at the end of the First World War. The youngest son James (1901-1948), a zoologist, owned an estate at Surnadal in Norway from his father, and was British Vice-Consul at Bergen until April 1940 when the Germans invaded Norway. Upon his return to Britain he was employed by the Norwegian Government in exile to interrogate escapees from Norway. After the war he worked at the Natural History Museum in London.

Memorial in the old Annesley churchyard to John and Lina Chaworth Musters, George Chaworth Musters, Mary Anne Packe, Henry Charlton Chaworth-Musters, and the three Chaworth-Musters sons killed in the First World War. © Ian Palmer 2007 

Memorial in the old Annesley churchyard to John and Lina Chaworth Musters, George Chaworth Musters, Mary Anne Packe, Henry Charlton Chaworth-Musters, and the three Chaworth-Musters sons killed in the First World War, 2007

John Patricius was succeeded by his second son, John Neville Chaworth-Musters, DSO, OBE (1890-1970), who sold Wiverton Hall, leaving Annesley as the main estate (Colwick had been sold in 1896). As John Neville's elder son was killed in action in the Second World War, the Annesley estate was inherited in 1970 by his younger son Robert Patricius Chaworth-Musters (1923-1992), known as 'Major Bob'. He sold Annesley Hall and park in 1973 and moved to Felley Priory.

The descent of the Chaworth family estates (and the Musters estates from 1805) was as follows:

  • Robert Chaworth, m daughter of William de Walchiville, lord of Marnham, in the time of Henry I [1100-1135]
  • William Chaworth, Lord of Marnham, m Agnes in the time of King John [1199-1216]. Succeeded by his son:
  • William Chaworth, m Alice daughter of Thomas de Alfreton [this marriage brought Edwalton into the family]. Succeeded by his son:
  • Thomas de Chaworth, knight, Lord of Norton, Derbyshire. M.P. in 1296. Succeeded by his son:
  • William de Chaworth, knight. Succeeded by his son:
  • Thomas de Chaworth, knight, m Alice. Succeeded by his son:
  • Thomas de Chaworth, knight, m Joanna Luttrel. Succeeded by his son:
  • Thomas de Chaworth, knight, m Margaret de la Pole. Succeeded by his son:
  • William de Chaworth (c.1351-), married Alice (c.1361-), daughter and heir of Sir John de Caltoft, of East Bridgford, widow of Thomas Heck [this marriage brought Wiverton into the family]. Succeeded by his son:
  • Sir Thomas de Chaworth, m 1stly Nicola, daughter of Sir Reginald Braybrook; 2ndly Isabel, daughter of Sir Thomas Aylesbury. Granted a licence to make a park at Wiverton, 1448, which became the family's main residence. Succeeded by his son:
  • Sir George Chaworth, knight, m in 1440 Alice, only daughter of John Annesley, of Annesley [this marriage brought Annesley Park into the family]. Succeeded by his son:
  • Thomas Chaworth, Esq., of Cropwell Butler (d 1485), m Ankaret de Serleby. Succeeded by his son:
  • George Chaworth (d 1521), buried at Langar, m 1stly Catherine (d 1517), daughter of Sir Thomas Babington, of Dethick; 2ndly Elizabeth Masterdon, formerly North, then Peche or Packe. Succeeded by his son: 
  • John Chaworth, knighted in 1533, m 1stly the daughter of Sir William Compton and widow of Sir Walter Rodney, no children; 2ndly Maria, daughter of Sir William Paston. Succeeded by his son:
  • Sir George Chaworth (d 1590), knighted in 1584, m his cousin Anna, daughter of Sir William Paston, his cousin. One daughter, Elizabeth m Sir William Cope, of Bramshill. Succeeded by his kinsman:
  • George Chaworth (d 1639), raised to peerage in 1628 as Viscount Chaworth, m Mary (d 1646), sister of Sir William Kniveton of Mercaston, Derbyshire. Succeeded by his son:
  • John, 2nd Viscount Chaworth, m Elizabeth Noel, daughter of Lord Camden. Succeeded by his son:
  • Patricius, 3rd Viscount Chaworth (d 1694), m in 1653 Lady Grace Manners (d 1700), daughter of John, 8th Earl of Rutland, who later m Sir William Langhorne. Succeeded by his illegitimate son:
  • Patricius Chaworth (c.1673-1719), m Elizabeth Pole of Heage, Derbyshire. Succeeded by his son:
  • Patricius Chaworth (1700-1731), m Anne, daughter of Mr Levinz of Grove, near Retford. Succeeded by his son:
  • William Chaworth (1726-1765), killed by Lord Byron in a duel. Left estates by will to his first cousin:
  • William Chaworth (d 1771), m Jane Thoakston of Ripon, Yorkshire. Succeeded by his father:
  • Captain William Chaworth, R.N. (d 1784), Lived at Annesley from 1771 to 1784. Succeeded by his son:
  • George Chaworth (d 1791) [brother of William Chaworth, d 1771], m his housekeeper Anne Bainbridge (d 1829). Succeeded by his daughter:
  • Mary Ann Chaworth (1786-1832), m John Musters (1777-1849) of Colwick. Succeeded by his grandson [his son John George Musters (d 1842) predeceased him]: 
  • John Chaworth Musters (1838-1887). Succeeded by his son:
  • John Patricius Chaworth Musters (1860-1921). Succeeded by his son:
  • John Neville Chaworth-Musters (1890-1970). Succeeded by his son:
  • Robert Patricius Chaworth-Musters (1923-1992)


Genealogical Sources

  • Burke's Landed Gentry
  • Patrick T.A. Musters, The Musters : a family gathering, 2nd edn (Oakham, Rutland : P. T. A. Musters, 2001) 
  • Denis R. Pearson, Annesley through the Ages (Alfreton : Bailey & Sons, 1995) [King’s Meadow Campus East Midlands Collection Not 8.D14 PEA] 


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