The Michell Family


The Michell family was an ancient family, descended from the Michells of Calne and Calston, who owned 1400 acres in All Saints parish, which they acquired soon after the dissolution, possibly from Millbourne and Flower or Matthew Ley. They lived in the Great House which once stood just behind the ball-topped pillars at the entrance to the playing-field. The house was pulled down in the first quarter of the 19th century according to Hoare. In later years they lived in Chitterne House.

In 1725 Edward Michell left 75 in his will, for the Second Poor of Chitterne All Saints, to be distributed yearly on St Thomas' Day.

There were six hatchments and eight monuments to the family in the old All Saints Church, and these are appended below.

As Hoare states, in 1775 they had an addition built to the Church to house their pew and mausoleum. Canner describes it thus:

"The Michells...had a large pew in the body of the Church which was elevated about three inches above the floor of the Church. In this pew was a tomb above the ground and in which were deposited eleven coffins, each covered with crimson velvet."

He goes on to describe what happened to the tomb after the Church was demolished:

"When the old Church was removed a grave was made on the spot and all the coffins placed in it. But when this grave was being made it was noticed that the earth had been moved at some previous time, and about eleven feet below the surface was a cutting in the chalk, the shape of a man's body, and the bones of a very tall man in it. Over the top had apparently been a piece of oak about two inches thick. It was evidently a case of burial of earth to earth, but of course there is no record to denote who it was."

It is this vault which serves to mark the site of the old church today. It is very deep and the whereabouts of the steps leading down into it are known only to a few.

More information about the Chitterne Michell family may be found in my book: Chitterne, a Wiltshire Village.

The monuments to the Michell Family within the church:-

In this Mausoleum
rest the remains of FRANCIS MICHELL, late of Saville Row,
London, and also of this parish; eighth son of the
late Christopher Michell, Esq. and Anne his wife.
He was one of the Esquires to Sir John Saville,
now Earl of Mexborough in Ireland,
Knight of the Most Noble Order of the Bath, and one of the Six Clerks in Chancery:
who died the 22 day of February 1774,
in the 55th year of his age.

In this Mausoleum lieth the body of
ROBERT MICHELL, late of Lincoln's Inn,
and Saville Street, London,
and also this parish;
sixth son of the late Christopher Michell and
Anne his wife, who was also one of the Esquires to
Sir John Saville, late Earl of Mexborough in
Ireland, Knight of the Most Noble Order of the Bath;
and who was most miraculously preserved
by the providence of Almighty God,
from the great peril and danger of his life,
to which he was exposed by the fall of
a stack of ten chimneys into his chamber
in Lincoln's Inn, and on his bed when in it,
in the late violent storm of wind,
which happened about six o'clock in the morning
on Friday the 2nd of December 1763.
He departed this life the 17th day of March,
in the 65 year of his age, 1779.

To the memory of CHRISTOPHER MICHELL,
third son of Rev. Thomas and Eleanor Michell,
late a Lieutenant in the 11 Regiment of Foot,
commanded by General William A'Court,
who died at the age of 34, in the year 1787,
lamented by all his relations and friends,
to whom his amiable disposition
and social manners had justly
endeared him.

In a vault
near this place
are deposited the remains of
Commodore MATTHEW MICHELL,
whose life was spent in the service of his country.
He first went to sea in 1713, when he was no more
than 8 years of age; and in 1738 was advanced
to be Commander of the Terrible bomb. In 1739
he was made Master of the Swift sloop; and, in 1740, was
appointed Captain of the Pearl man of war of 44 guns,
which he soon exchanged for the Gloucester of 50 guns.
In the years 1740, 41, 42, being commissioned to cruise upon the Spaniards
in the South Seas, he sailed round the world under the command of
Commodore Anson. In 1743 he was made Captain of the Worcester
of 60, and in 1744 of the Barfleur of 90 guns. During the
unnatural Rebellion in the years 1745 and 1746 his known zeal for the Protestant
Succession, and eminent skill in his profession, recommended him to
the important Command of a Squadron in the Downs, with the
authority of a Rear Admiral, under the title of Commodore.
In 1747 he was nominated to the Command of a
large fleet stationed in the mouth of the Schelde,
and of all other his Majesty's ships upon the coast of
Holland, with a commission to defend Zealand,
threatened with a French invasion, and to
assist the loyal Dutch in the attempts which
they were making to restore the Prince of Orange
to the dignity of Stadtholder: both which services
he performed to the satisfaction of England and
the United Provinces. Upon the general peace
at Aix la Chapelle in the same year,
being elected a Burgess for the Corporation of
Westbury in this county, he continued a diligent
and attentive Member of Parliament, till the time of his death.
The constant dangers which accompany a maritime life, wrought in him the most reverential awe of the Deity, which he uniformly expressed in a punctual attendance upon the divine worship, and in the regular discharge of all those private relations, which the parent, the wife, the brother, and the friend, demanded of him.
He died April the 29th, 1752, leaving behind him two children,
Matthew, aged 14 months; and Ann, aged 3 months.

Beneath this place
lie the remains of
Mrs. FRANCES MICHELL,
of Chitterne, Wilts.
She died the 3rd of April, 1810.
aged 87;
whose religious and charitable inclinations
made her beloved
by her relations and friends.

In a vault near this place
lieth the body of CHARLES MICHELL, Esq.
of this parish, and merchant of the City of London,
who died the 4th of March 1704, aged 73;
As also the body of FRANCES his wife, daughter of Christopher
Rayner, of London, Esq. who died the 18 April 1702, aged 52.
Within the same vault are deposited the remains of
CHRISTOPHER MICHELL, Esq. their son, who died Oct. 15, 1728, aged 51;
and of ANN his wife, who died the 20 April 1748, aged 66.
The said Ann was daughter of William Willys, Esq. of London, Merchant, 4th son of
Sir John Willys, of Fen Ditton in the county of Cambridge, Bart. and eldest sister and
coheir of Sir William Willys, Bart. of Fen Ditton aforesaid; and had issue by her said
husband, eight sons and one daughter, viz.
Charles, William, Christopher-Gore, Matthew, Thomas,
Robert, Edward, Catharine, and Francis;
of these children

KATHARINE, died 17th August 1734, aged 2 years
WILLIAM, died 1st August 1734, aged 27 years
CHARLES, died 18th November 1735, aged 29 years
CHRISTOPHER-GORE, died 1st March 1747, aged 39 years
and all are buried in the same grave with their parents.
Edward died at Fort George in the East Indies, June 6, 1741, aged 27, and was buried there.
This monumental inscription to the memory of their dearest relations was
erected by their surviving children.
Anno 1749.

In a vault near this
place lieth the body of
the REV. Mr. THOMAS MICHELL, LL.B.
once Rector of Grafham, in Sussex,
and late Rector of Michelmarsh, in
the county of Hants: he was fifth son of
Christopher Michell, Esq.
and Ann his wife, of this place,
and married Eleanor, daughter of
William Ingram, of Bapton, in this county, Gent.
by whom he had issue four sons and
three daughters, the youngest of which,
Elizabeth, was born after his decease,
and died the 2nd of January 1757,
aged 7 months,
and is buried in St. Thomas's Church,
in Salisbury.
He died the 20th of October 1755, aged 49.
Also, the body of
ELEANOR MICHELL his wife,
who died 12th of January 1771, aged 51.

A mural within the mausoleum, with a female figure leaning on an urn:

To the memory of
PHILLIS ROOKE,
who died April 9, 1795,
aged 42 years.

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