The home of the Wickham-Boynton family, Burton Agnes Hall near Bridlington in the East Riding of Yorkshire, has descended through two families, the Griffiths and the Boyntons, without sale, for several hundred years. After the Norman conquest the estate passed from the king to Robert de Brus. The medieval hall, built circa 1170, may have been built by his successor, Roger de Stuteville and when the male line of the de Stuteville family failed the hall and manor passed into the de Merlay family through the marriage of Alice de Stuteville to Roger de Merlay. In 1274 it passed again through an heiress, this time to Robert de Sommerville, and it stayed in that family just two generations until failure of the male line again saw its transfer, this time to the Griffith family through the marriage of Joan de Sommerville to Rees ap Griffith in 1355. The papers in U DDWB, U DDWB(2) and U DWB relate to the Griffith family and the Boyntons who succeeded to Burton Agnes also through marriage in 1654 (Wood, Burton Agnes old manor house, pp.1-2; Allison, Victoria county history of Yorkshire East Riding, pp.106-8).
The Griffiths were a Welsh family who had settled in Staffordshire in the thirteenth century. Walter Griffith, who died in 1481, was responsible for restoring the Norman manor house and adding the fifteenth-century roof. The Griffith family chapel in the church at Burton Agnes was built circa 1500 and the family played an important part in the affairs of the north during the sixteenth century. The second Sir Walter Griffith became high sherriff of Yorkshire in 1501 and was governor of Scarborough castle until his death in 1531. His son, George, was knighted a year later and was in turn succeeded by his son, another Walter Griffith, in 1559. The latter's son, Sir Henry Griffith, was knighted by James I in 1603 and was responsible for building the Elizabethan/Jacobean new Burton Agnes hall around the same time when appointed high sheriff of Yorkshire. The new hall stands next to the original Norman manor house. The latter became service quarters and a laundry and has had several alterations since those made in the fifteenth century (Wood, Burton Agnes old manor house, p.2; Pevsner & Neave, York and the East Riding, pp. 365, 367).
Henry Griffith was succeeded in 1620 by his son, also Henry Griffith, who was knighted by Charles I in 1627 and was a royalist during the civil wars of the 1640s before surrendering to parliament and taking the national covenant. When he died in 1654 the estate passed to the son of his sister, Frances, who was married to Matthew Boynton (Wood, Burton Agnes old manor house, p.2; Musgrave, Burton Agnes Hall, p.8).
The Boyntons claim their descent from an eleventh-century lord of the manor of Bovington or Boynton. They became lords of the manor of Acklam in Cleveland, but this manor, along with other family land, was forfeited to the king after Sir Henry Boynton was beheaded in 1405 for supporting the rebellion of Henry Percy, earl of Northumberland. Sir Henry's eldest son, Thomas, died without issue and his second son, William, petitioned for return of land at Boynton. In this he was successful and his grandson, Henry, greatly expanded the family estates again by marrying Margaret, daughter of Martin de la See, lord of the manor of Barmston who died in 1494 (there is a picture of his tomb at U DDMM/8/1) (Hawkesbury, Some East Riding families, p.6; Collier, The Boynton family, pp.1-10; Foster, Pedigrees).
Henry Boynton died only a year after Martin de la See and his wife took a religious vow not to remarry and was admitted of Corpus Christi York in 1513. She was a votary and patroness to the priory of Nun Cotham. She appointed Cuthbert Tunstall, bishop of Durham, one of the executors of her will, written in 1533 (DDWB/25/6). Margaret Boynton died in 1536, by which time her two eldest sons had predeceased her and she was succeeded to Barmston by her grandson, Matthew Boynton (c.1504-1541), who was married to Anne Bulmer of Wilton. He was appointed chief steward of the king's possessions in the counties of York and Lincolnshire and one of their daughters, Cicely, became maid of honour to Queen Elizabeth. The Boyntons became financially very healthy in the sixteenth century. They held compact estates around Bridlington and lived in a moated manor house at Barmston, the remains of which can still be seen. Matthew's eldest son Thomas (b. circa 1523) was MP for Boroughbridge and high sheriff of Yorkshire and when he died in 1582 he left a personal estate of £2454 (Collier, The Boynton family, pp.13-15; English, The great landowners of East Yorkshire, p.16; Morris, A series of picturesque views, i, p.90; Ward, East Yorkshire landed estates, p.26; Foster, Pedigrees).
Thomas Boynton was succeeded by his son, Francis, who also served as high sheriff of Yorkshire and sat on the council of the North. By the time of his death in 1617 the family had accumulated the manors of Barmston, Roxby, Acklam, Rudston, as well as lands in Boynton and the rectories of Barmston and Bridlington with their tithes. He married Dorothy, who was the heiress of Christopher Place and they had four children two of whom died in infancy. His only son to survive to adulthood was Matthew, born circa 1591. He paid £1100 for his baronetcy in 1618 and married Frances Griffith, who became sole heiress of her brother, Sir Henry Griffith of Burton Agnes (Collier, The Boynton family, pp.18-19; English, The great landowners of East Yorkshire, p.16; Foster, Pedigrees).
Matthew Boynton sat for Hedon in the parliament of 1628, but he came under scrutiny in the 1630s for his religious tendencies and eventually fled to Holland. He had returned by 1640 when he sat in parliament for Scarborough though his allegiance before the outbreak of hostilities in 1642 was ambiguous. Some sources say he was a royalist, but it is clear he also had orders from parliament to observe the activities of John Hotham and his son whose own loyalties wavered the other way, from parliamentarianism to royalism. He and his younger son, Matthew, were responsible for the capture of the Hothams, who were both executed for their change of allegiance. They then received the surrender of Scarborough castle from Hugh Cholmley who had also switched allegiance from parliamentarianism to royalism, but he was allowed to flee abroad. Matthew Boynton was then made governor of Scarborough castle until his death in 1647 when the younger Matthew Boynton succeeded him before, very ironically, changing sides and becoming a royalist (Allison, Victoria county history of Yorkshire East Riding, p.71 citing R A Marchant, Puritans and the church courts in the diocese of York, 1560-1642, pp.122, 241-2; Collier, The Boynton family, pp.20-1; Ross, Celebrities of the Yorkshire wolds, pp.31-3).
Matthew Boynton's wife predeceased him by 13 years after bearing him 12 children. Their eldest son Frances (b.1618), thus became heir to Barmston and Burton Agnes and he succeeded to the latter on the death of his uncle in 1654, seven years after the death of his father. He made a profitable marriage to Constance, daughter of Viscount Saye and Sele (chamberlain to the household of Charles II) and the couple lived quietly at Barmston until their deaths in the 1690s. Francis Boynton's eldest son, William (b.1643), who was the first member of the family to move from Barmston to Burton Agnes, was MP for Hedon 1680-5, but predeceased his father in 1689. His son, Griffith Boynton (b.1664), thus succeeded his grandfather to the baronetcy and estate (he was responsible for the major alterations at Burton Agnes), but his two marriages failed to produce children and on his death in 1731 the inheritance shifted to his cousin, Francis (b.1677) whose father was Henry Boynton, the younger surviving son of Francis and Constance and rector for 47 years at Barmston (Foster, Pedigrees; Collier, The Boynton family, pp.24-9; Allison, Victoria county history of Yorkshire East Riding, p.109).
Through the eighteenth century the Boyntons continued to be involved in both local and national politics. However they also amassed increasing debts, so they demolished the house at Barmston and in 1771 sought statutory permission to sell property and this was a process that continued well into the nineteenth century, by which time the estates were considerably reduced. Francis Boynton, 4th baronet, was educated at St John's college, Cambridge and studied law. He became recorder of Beverley and was MP for Hedon 1734-9, but his attendance was very poor. His wife, Frances Hebblethwaite, had six children, though the first born son died in infancy. When Francis Boynton died in 1739 he was thus succeeded to the baronetcy and the lands by his second son, Griffith Boynton (b.1712). Griffith Boynton was also a lawyer and was admitted to Gray's Inn in 1730. He married Anne White, but she died giving birth to their only child, a son born in 1743. He did not remarry and himself died in 1761 to be suceeded by Griffith Boynton, 6th baronet (Foster, Pedigrees; Collier, The Boynton family, pp.29-33; Allison, Victoria county history of Yorkshire East Riding, p.109; English, The great landowners of East Yorkshire, p.28; Sedgwick, The house of commons, p.481).
Griffith Boynton, 6th baronet, was returned MP for Beverley, but there is no record of him ever speaking in parliament and there is only one registered vote recorded. He married first Charlotte Topham, and their respective arms are quartered in the pediment above the Burton Agnes chimneypiece brought from Barmston in the 1760s (the arms of Thomas Griffith [d.1582] and his three wives are elaborately carved into the Elizabethan wood below). Charlotte Boynton died at the age of 26 only two hours after giving birth to a stillborn daughter in 1767 and Griffith Boynton married Mary Hebblethwaite less than a year later. By her he had three sons who were destined to inherit the baronetcy and estates in turn. He was succeeded on his death in 1778 by Griffith Boynton (b.1769) who was educated at Trinity College Cambridge and married Ann Parkhurst. The marriage was childless and he was succeeded by his brother Francis Boynton (b.1777) who married Sarah Bucktrout. They also had no children and when he died in 1832 he was succeeded by the youngest brother, Henry Boynton, who had been born after his father's death, in 1778 (Namier & Brooke, The house of commons, p.109; Foster, Pedigrees; Pevsner & Neave, York and the East Riding, p.369; Collier, The Boynton family, pp.34-5).
Henry Boynton, 9th baronet, married Mary Gray and had 10 children. His eldest son, Henry (b.1811), succeeded on his death in 1854 and made a career for himself in the local militia. His first wife, Louisa Strickland, died without leaving children in 1841 and he remarried in 1843. His second wife, Harriet Lightfoot, had two children, Henry Sommerville Boynton (b.1844) and Katherine Maude Boynton who married William Mussenden, general of the 8th Hussars. Henry Sommerville Boynton, 11th baronet succeeded his father in 1869 and was the 31st and last descendant in direct line from Walter de Bovington or Boynton. He was a traveller and naturalist whose large collection of stuffed birds was later destroyed by a bomb in 1940. When he died in 1899 he left behind a daughter, Cicely Mabel Boynton, who was born in 1877 and who married Thomas Lamplugh Wickham (Musgrave, Burton Agnes Hall, p.9; Collier, The Boynton family, pp.35-9).
In the late nineteenth century the estate of the Boynton family went through further contraction; in 1879 the 11th baronet's 9300 acres had a gross annual value of £10,000, but by 1910 the estate was only 5500 acres in size. Having no son, Sir Henry Boynton's title was inherited by his cousin, Sir Griffith Boynton and it has passed down through his heirs. His daughter, Cicely, owned the estate until she died in 1947 to be succeeded by her younger son (the elder having died on active service in 1942), Marcus Wickham Boynton, who in 1948 put the old Norman hall in the hands of the ministry of works and who opened up the 'new' Elizabethan/Jacobean hall (and its fine collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings) to the public to solve the family's financial difficulties. The estate is now in the hands of his nephew (Musgrave, Burton Agnes Hall, p.10; Wood, Burton Agnes old manor house, Intro. and p.2).