Finding Beauchamp Manor

Wednesday, July 2, 2014 - by Mary Helms

The trip of a lifetime to England was planned by the Colonial Dames NSCDA for the centenary celebration of their support of Sulgrave Manor, the ancestral home of George Washington.  Armed with the knowledge that my Colonial Dames ancestor Edmund Beauchamp was born near Sulgrave in Cosgrove, Northamptonshire, in 1625, I was hopeful of locating Beauchamp Manor.

 SWS tour coach driver Len arranged for Trevor, who drives a taxi for his company, to pick me up at Sulgrave mid-afternoon on June 7 to set off for the village of Cosgrove.  First Trevor and I planned our strategy.  He suggested that we visit his friend who formerly owned a farm in Cosgrove.  Fortunately she was at home, but did not know of the Beauchamps, so she directed us to the home of Wendy Page, the Cosgrove village historian and genealogist.  To my delight Wendy was home and invited us in.  She consulted her laptop, and with her information and my documentation she deduced that the house is now named Cosgrove Priory.  Wendy informed me that the Beauchamps were “too posh” for Cosgrove; this would be their country home.

My excitement rose as Trevor turned into the private lane leading to the home.  We stopped at a stone cottage and explained to the man at the gate why we were intruding, and he said, “Explain to the owner.  He’s coming up behind you.”  Trevor and I motored down the lane and waited in front of the house.  The owner looked at my documentation and said, “I’ve been wanting to know more about the history of the house.  Won’t you come in?”

The owner’s wife graciously showed me the home.  Many famous people have stayed in the newer part, and brass plaques mark the doors of these rooms.  Saving the best for last, she led me to the oldest part, which was standing when Edmund Beauchamp was born.  To say I was elated is an understatement.  I was standing where my ancestors had lived almost four hundred years ago.  The rooms were lovely, with beautiful wood paneling and ceiling beams.  

The ownership of Cosgrove Priory by Edmund’s father John Beauchamp is chronicled in the Victoria County History.  John Beauchamp, who described himself as “Merchant of London,” was one of the principal financiers of the Mayflower, as documented by William Bradford.  John Beauchamp died at Reigate, Surrey, England in about 1655. 

At the invitation of Governor Charles Calvert, Edmund Beauchamp came to Maryland to be the first clerk of Somerset County on the Eastern Shore.  He died in 1691 in Annemessex, Somerset County, Maryland.  The home of his son Edmund Jr. still stands there.

 Mary Helms

 Town Chair, Chattanooga Committee, Colonial Dames NSCDA

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