Select Anson Miscellany

Here are some Anson stories and accounts over the years:

Captain John I'Anson

Captain John I’Anson was said to have come to England from France to fight for Henry of Richmond at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485.  Being on the victorious side, he was entitled to some of the spoils.  Henry of Richmond became Henry VII and John I’Anson secured property at Hauxwell near Richmond in Yorkshire. 

An old record stated that I’Anson was the commander of a man-of-war in the reign of Henry VIII.  Some writers wrongly ascribe this to his son James, who was described in some quarters as a sea captain.  It is more likely to be his father John who lived onto the year 1546 or thereabouts (“at the end of Henry VIII’s reign in whose service he died”).  James, according to his will dated 1584, was a vintner in Cornhill, London.

The William Ansons and the Shugborough Estate

In 1624, the manor house of Shugborough in Staffordshire was acquired by William Anson, a local lawyer, for the princely sum of £1,000.  But the story of the Shugborough estate really began in 1693 when William’s grandson, also called William, demolished the manor house and built a three-storied house which forms the centre of the house today. The transformation of that medium sized country house into a magnificent Georgian mansion was carried out between 1745 and 1748 by the architect Thomas Wright who added the pavilions either side of the 17th century block.

Thomas Anson the First Earl of Lichfield and Shugborough

Thomas Anson was created the First Earl of Lichfield in the coronation honor list of William IV in 1831.  He led an extravagant life, entertaining lavishly at Shugborough.  One of his purchases, the estate at nearby Ranton, was developed into a great sporting estate and centre of lavish hospitality.  This lavish spending, together with huge family expenses and the Earl’s love of gambling, led to his financial collapse in 1842. The entire contents of the great house had to be sold in a sale lasting two weeks. 

The house did remain in family hands and, with prudent management, the debts were eventually paid off.  In 1966 Shugborough was opened to the public and passed into the hands of the National Trust.

Ansons in the 1881 English Census

Anson in 1881 Census

Ansons in America

The Anson family was a fixture in Dutchess county, New York for several generations.  They were descended from John Austin, an immigrant from England who founded the town of Stamford in Connecticut in 1657.  Since the family claimed a famous British naval hero, Lord Anson, as an ancestor, Silas Austin of this line changed his name to Anson sometime in the late 1700’s. 

These Ansons moved to Ohio in the early 1830’s and Henry Anson, an adventurous soul, headed further west in 1851 and staked a claim to the land of what was to become Marshalltown in the new state of Iowa.  The following was one contemporary description of him: 

“Henry, often called ‘Hank the red-headed Yankee,’ was a versatile chap of many talents.  He extracted teeth with a pair of bullet molds and served as a local land agent, Justice of the Peace and the County Supervisor.  He was a general promoter of population growth, welcoming any and all settlers westward bound who could be prevailed upon to stop at his McLean House for rest, refreshment and permanent settlement.” 

There is a monument to him on the highest ridge of Pioneer Hill in Riverside cemetery in Marshalltown. 

On April 15, 1852, in the settlement that Henry Anson had founded and in the log cabin that he had built, the first white child was born in Marshall county, Iowa.  The baby was named Adrian Constantine Anson.  He was to become known as Cap Anson, baseball’s first superstar.  Cap Anson went on to play professional baseball for the Chicago White Sox and was an outstanding player for almost two decades.  He was voted a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York in 1939. 

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