The Kings Candlesticks - Family Trees
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Sir Thomas ALSTON Kt & Bt. of Odell [3021]
Dame Elizabeth ST JOHN [3022]
Lord Thomas CREWE 2nd Bt of Stene [3036]
(Abt 1624-1697)
Mary TOWNSHEND of Rainham NFK [6715]
Sir Rowland ALSTON 2nd Bart [3025]
Hon Temperance CREWE [3035]

Sir Rowland ALSTON 4th Bt. [3041]


Family Links

1. Lady Elizabeth RAYNES [3058]

Sir Rowland ALSTON 4th Bt. [3041]

  • Baptised: 6 Sep 1679, Odell BDF
  • Marriage (1): Lady Elizabeth RAYNES [3058] on 28 Jul 1717 in Richmond SRY
  • Died: 2 Jan 1759 aged 79
  • Buried: 12 Jan 1759, Odell BDF

bullet  General Notes:

Baptisms 1679
Rowland s of Sir Rowland Alston and Temperance his Lady bap 6 Sept
Ref: Extracts of Odell Registers on File ELF.

Sir Rowland was devised the titles, manors, lands, tithes, rectories, etc by his brother Sir Thomas 1714. He lived at Odell Castle and was M.P. for County Beds as a Whig in three Parliaments 1722-1734. He lost to John Orlebar for the 1734 election a letter by Alston to Orlebar declining a suggestion he not put himself forward refers. (ref Bed PRO OR/2071/195) Aged 80 at his death.

Sir Rowland 4th Bart was perhaps the most notorious and colourful of the whole clan. He was not popular locally and became a member of parliament only because no better candidate was available. He entered folklore as
the wicked Sir Rowland' and it was widely believed that he had sold his soul to the devil.
Drink enraged a naturally rumbustious individual, who occasionally suffered moments of repentance and resorted to the church at Odell for sanctuary: The story has it that the devil picked up the church in an effort to dislodge him, shook it and left his fingerprints on the tower for evermore.
Ref - PAVENHAM, The Life story of a Village by Rachel Marchbank. Published 1993.

Internet 2013
Odell is the setting for a tale of the supposedly diabolic Sir Rowland Alston. The Odell family had their ancestral home on the site of Odell Castle - where they had lived for over 300 years - and the majority of the family members were pillars of community and well respected. Sir Rowland was the exception. Apparently a depraved and wicked man - his crimes included brawling, gambling, drunkenness and cavorting will ladies of ill repute - who had sold his soul to the devil, so the story goes. Rowland's notoriety was such that even after death his presence still cast a black shroud over the village. His ghost was seen to walk through walls and tree trunks in broad daylight; he further terrified the villagers by riding his ghostly steed inside his ancestral home, an act that would leave demonic hoof marks on the floor. Such examples of supernatural terror eventually led the people of Odell to raise a mob and exorcise the foul spectre. His spirit was relegated to the murky depths of a pond on Odell Wold where he remained for a time, only to emerge from the pond a hundred years later ready to begin anew his tyranny. The devil hadn't forgotten the pact Alston had made when he was alive and thus was waiting for Sir Rowland when he escaped. According to folklore the devil chased Alston to Odell's All Saints Church and, fearing his prey had escaped, shook the church in a fit of rage and left five giant finger marks on the porch. It is believed that since that day Alston's ghost has restricted its appearances to every 100 years, the next visitation scheduled for 2044!

ALSTON, Sir Rowland, 4th Bt. (1670-1750), of Odell, Beds.
Bur. 6 Sept. 1679, 4th s. of Sir Rowland Alston, 2nd Bt., by Temperance, 2nd daughter and co-heir. of Thomas Crewe, M.P. 2nd Baron Crew of Stene. m. by 1719, Elizabeth, only daughter and heir of Capt. Thomas Raynes, (2sons, 5daughters) suc. elder brother Sir Thomas Alston, 3rd Bt., M.P., Dec. 1714.

Name: Rowland Alston Dates: 1726-1750 Title: Baronet, Sir Gender: Male Source Date: 1739 Source Info:
Subscribed to The old Whig: or, the consistent Protestant (Vol. 1), 1739, ANON. London
Subject: miscellaneous

Sir Rowland Alston represented the county as a Whig in three Parliaments, voting for the Administration in all recorded divisions. Before the 1734 election his uncle, the Duke of Kent, wrote to Walpole: 'As for Sir Rowland Alston, tho I have no reason to like him nor his behaviour to me, yet my resentment would not carry me so far I could give it up if the public required it' Alston was then standing with John Spencer (q.v.), the Duchess of Marlborough's grandson. The Duchess disliked joining with so bad a man as Alston . . . a certain enemy to the public', but both he and Spencer were returned. He did not stand in 1741 and died 2 Jan. 1759.
Cresswell, Stemmata Alstoniana, 16 - 17
The History of Parliament - Namier & Brooke

Your vote an intereft at the enfuing Election for the county of Bedford, is defired for the Hon PATTEE BYNG, Esq., and Sir ROWLAND ALSTON, Bart., being gentlemen well known for their Zeal and Affection to his Majefty and his Royal Family, and to our present happy Conftitution, as has conftantly appeared by the fteady Behaviour in the late parliament, and who are recommended by all the Nobility and Gentry in the faid County that earneftly promote the peace, quiet and prosperity of this Nation under his Majesty's wife and prudent administration.
London Journal 12 August 1727.

To the Gentleman, Clergy, and Freeholders of the County of Bedford.
Whereas we were encouraged by a great number of Gentlemen, Clergy, and Freeholders of the County of Bedford, to offer our service as Joint Candidates at the next Election of Knights of the Shire for the faid County, the Favour of your Votes and Interest are defired by
Your humble servant's,
J. Spencer.
Row Alston.
London Journal 2 March 1734.

17 Dec 1735
The 17th ; Mrs Whitworth was brot to bed of a girl. My Wife was at the crying out, having been there all the day before. Whilst she was there, Stephen Wallenger brot 2 Ducks to sell; my Wife, being below then and looking on them said the Ducks were hers and ask'd him where he had them. He said he bought them of a Man that shot them as he was on Harold Bridge. However my Wife brot them home. The next day she went to Mr. Aspin for a Warrant and carried the 2 Ducks along with her, and also 2 Live ones, but he being gone to London she turned back and went to Sir Rowland Alston, tho' with Difficulty, the Water running into her Chaise. Sir Rowland, his Lady etc. viewed the Ducks which were so exactly alike that they all said they were sure they [came] of the same Brood. Soon after the 2 Men, Hollis and How of Turvy, of whom Stephen said he had bought the Ducks, came without a Warrant before Sir Rowland; upon which Sir Rowland said immediatly to my Wife "Madam, they are guilty, or they would not have com without a Warrant." So he examined them how they came by the Ducks? Hollis told him he shot them between Odel and Felmersham; upon which the Ducks were examined but no signs appeared of their having been shot; but the Man persisting in it, he ordered them to be Stript of their Feathers; but not one Shot was to be seen. He ask'd my Wife whether she would swear they were her Ducks. "No, Sir," says she; "that I neither can nor will." Sir Rowland said he thot he cou'd punish him, having catch'd him in a Lie. However he said Mr. Farrer was to be at his House the next day, and he wou'd confer with him about it; and then wou'd let us know what should-be done in the Case. He also said he would take care of Hollis's Gun.
Ref: BDF RO Rogers Diary BHRS Vol XXX.

Sir Rowland Alston of Odell Castle co. Bedford Bart. ob. January 1759.

He is buried under a black ledger stone to the left of the altar in Odell church inscribed "Sr Rowland Alston Bart died the 2nd January 1759 aged 80 He was the fourth son of Sr Rowland Alston Bart by the Hon Dame Temperance succeeded to the title and estate on the death of his elder brother Sr Thomas in Dec 1714"
Ref.Harvey - Hundred of Willey co Bedfordshire. Bedford R.O.

On the right hand side of the Chancel in Odell Church is the following memorial inscribed surmounted by Armourial Bearings:
Sir Rowland Alston Bart who succeeded to the title and estate in Dec 1714 died Jan 2 1759 aged 80 he married Elizabeth sole heiress of Capt Tho Raynes, who died Aug 12 1742 aged 44 by whom he had two sons and five daughters Elizabeth their eldest daughter died Apr 30 1756 aged 37. Temperance Ann and Rachel died infants. Ann their fifth daughter married the Rev Dr Pye prebant of Rochester. Rector of Titmarsh in Northamptonshire and of this church. Sir Thos Alston 5th Bart, their eldest son married Catherine Davies-Bovie and died July 18 1774 without issue.
The present Sir Rowland succeeded to the title by whom this monument is erected in memory of his much loved and honoured parents.

bullet  Research Notes:

Roy Alston of Long Melford SFK has traced a portrait by John Wollaston, of Sir Rowland. It was sold at Christies on the 7th June 1912 for L.168 to Gooden & Fox, and was offered again by Christies 15 Nov 1991.

Reference to the Odell Alstons in "The Children of The Manor House" Index ref 190 ORL Bed PRO. Main Index - Expanded Subjects. Includes many interesting subjects that require research.

The Rev B Rogers diary, Ref BHRS Rogers Diary Bedford R.O.
give a fascinating glimpse of country life in the early 18th C.
15th April 1732 records Rogers, his wife, various Alstons including a representative of Sir Rowland ("who behav'd himself in a very rude and insolent manner") searching for Lady Jolliffe's will, she having just died. It was found in a Scutore "signed and sealed and all wrote
with her own hand"

Deeds relating to farmhouse and other property at Radwell, Felmersham parish, 1681-1862, and deeds of various Stevington properties, 1695-1810
Bedford RO FILE - ref. Z 793/50 - date: 1744-1752 Contents Manor of Steventon Admission On 29 October 1739 Jonathan Gasquine surrendered - cottage in Silver Street, Stevington, then in occupation of Robert Stratton - 3a arable in South field in Steventon---1a at Midaten Hill NE Mr Barringer S Mr Rowland Alston ---1a more in Tag Brook Furlong S Ann Stratton NW Mr Rowland Alston ---1a more (residue) at Mill Yard S Mr Rowland Alston E Mr Rowland Alston to use of John Watts of Kempston, gentleman, on following condition - if Jonathan Gasquine should pay to John Watts L.35 on 29 April next with interest then this surrender void Said principal and interest not being paid, John Watts caused said Surrender to be presented and desired that it might be enrolled Jonathan Gasquine has died since last Court. Now John Watts comes to Court and is admitted tenant to said property, as there is due to him said L.35 and one year's interest to hold said premises subject to redemption on payment of said principal sum and interet rent - 1s 7åd fine - 3s 3d 30 October 1744 On back: receipt by Winefred Craddock from Mr Thomas Lawrence for L.39 16s 6d 6 April 1752

Manor of Cowesby YKS
Before the end of the 17th century (fn. 51) the manor seems to have been sold to Nathaniel Lord Crewe, Bishop of Durham, whom tradition makes the founder of the Cowesby Hospital. (fn. 52) He presented to the church in 1716, (fn. 53) and died without issue in 1721. (fn. 54) The estate appears shortly afterwards (fn. 55) in the possession of Sir Rowland Alston, bart., of Odell, whose father had married Temperance daughter of the second Lord Crewe. (fn. 56) He held the manor in 1728, (fn. 57) and his son Thomas succeeded him in 1759. (fn. 58) The latter had no legitimate child, but on the death of his brother and heir Rowland without issue (fn. 59) the estate passed under the will of Thomas to his illegitimate son Thomas Alston. (fn. 60) This Thomas with his son Justinian (fn. 61) was party to conveyances of the manor in 1803 and 1814. (fn. 62) Thomas Alston was lord of the manor in 1825. (fn. 63) Before 1832, however, it had been acquired by Mr. George Lloyd, (fn. 64) whose grandson (fn. 65) Mr. W. A. C. Lloyd is the present owner.


bullet  Other Records

1. Sir Rowland Alston Bt: His avoiding the Devil.
Sir Rowland 4th Bart was perhaps the most notorious and colourful of the whole clan. He was not popular locally and became a member of parliament only because no better candidate was available. He entered folklore as
the wicked Sir Rowland' and it was widely believed that he had sold his soul to the devil.
Drink enraged a naturally rumbustious individual, who occasionally suffered moments of repentance and resorted to the church at Odell for sanctuary: The story has it that the devil picked up the church in an effort to dislodge him, shook it and left his fingerprints on the tower for evermore.
Ref - PAVENHAM, The Life story of a Village by Rachel Marchbank. Published 1993.

An embellished 21st Century version - 2021
Sir Rowland Alston's Soul
Have you ever noticed how some people seem to have good fortune all the time? Everything they touch just seems to work in their favour. The local squire of Odell, in Bedfordshire, Sir Rowland Alston was one such individual. He was a wicked, but lucky, man. The local villagers whispered that his luck never faltered despite him leading an evil life. Indeed, it seemed he had the luck of the devil.

The church of All Saints is located just outside the village. It is hard to miss the church, which is situated on a steep slope. However, some centuries ago, it was not finding the building that was causing Sir Roland such distress, it was getting to the church in time.

As local squire, Sir Rowland owned most of the rich farmland around the village. He rented land to tenants and lived well on the profits. He behaved just like the wicked squires of the English folk stories. Where he differed though, was that he had the most extraordinary luck.

He gambled with his wealth but never lost his estates; he picked fights but never suffered any harm; he neglected his tenants but his lands prospered and his harvest never failed; he drank too much and ate too much rich food but his health did not suffer.

Then, one dark and stormy night, a stranger on business came to his home. He was tall, rode a great black stallion and swept a magnificent black cloak around himself. The maid was alarmed by the man's intense stare and she could not look at him for long. The stranger needed no directions and went straight to Sir Rowland's study.

Later, when the butler looked in to ask if food or drink were needed, he found Sir Rowland sat bolt upright in his chair, staring at the visitor through eyes alive with terror. The stranger, very politely, turned down the butler's offer, saying his business would soon be concluded.

Some while later the study door flew open and out burst Sir Roland. He ran past his servants, through the front door, down the path and jumped onto the stranger's black stallion as if his life depended on it.

Suddenly, the atmosphere became menacing, the stranger appeared and set off in pursuit of Sir Rowland, sprinting faster than the servants had ever seen a human run! The chase was on. The villagers saw Sir Rowland galloping at high speed towards the church with the stranger close behind.

When Sir Rowland did not return the next morning, the servants set out to look for him. Hearing that he had been riding to the church, they made their way there. The door was locked and bolted from the inside. Imprinted on the stone porch were five giant burn marks, in the shape of fingerprints! They had certainly not been there the day before.

A window was prised open and a small child pushed through the narrow gap. He saw Sir Rowland stone cold dead, his face frozen in a look of terror.

The villagers could not prove it, but they knew what had happened. Sir Rowland must have sold his soul to the Devil. The Devil had come to settle the debt.

Sir Rowland must have realised that his only hope was to reach holy ground, when the time came to hand over his soul. Had he made it in time? Nobody knew, so they gave him a Christian burial just in case.

What happened to Sir Roland was the talk of the county for months, but eventually the events faded from people's thoughts.

However, the story did not end there because, ten years to the day since that fateful night, Sir Rowland's ghost returned. Mounted on his ghostly black horse, he rode into his ancestral home leaving hoof marks on the floor and vanishing through the walls in broad daylight.

In the evening, he tore through the village with the devil close behind. This time, there was no pretence of a smartly dressed stranger, but an apparition with horns, tail and cloven hooves.

The phantom squire raced up to the church door, squeezing through the keyhole just in time. The Devil steaming with rage at losing his prey, violently shook the church, paused and then vanished. At regular intervals, the ghost of Sir Rowland would return each time with the Devil in hot pursuit.

Eventually, twelve clergymen were called upon to help lay to rest the squire's evil spirit. A ceremony was held and each clergyman had a bell, a book and a candle, which they used to send the phantom squire to a pond on Odell Wold.

The haunting pair has not been seen for many years, now leaving Odell in peace. Perhaps Sir Rowland is now at rest, or maybe his luck finally ran out and the devil has his soul secured in hell in payment of his debt.

2. Sir Rowland Alston Bt: Will, 27 May 1758, Odell.
Dated 27th May, 1758.
I give to my son Rowland Alston the sum of L2000 chargeable upon certain estates in Northampton, Kent and Middlesex-also the sum of L10,000 to be paid to him out of my personal estate with interest at 3 per cent until he receives the principal-also the freehold, copyhold and leasehold messuages, lands, tenements, and hereditaments which I lately purchased of my brother the Rev. Vere John Alston in or near Pavenham, co. Bedford.
Several sums of money given to my said son Rowland and to my daughter Ann Pye are to be considered gifts and not part of their legacies or portions provided for them by the settlement made on my marriage with Elizabeth my wife deceased.
I give to John Orlibar of Puddington, co, Bedford Esq. and to John Bullock of Sharnbrook, co. Bedford Esq. upon
trust L4000 the same to be invested in Government securities and the interest to be paid to my daughter Ann Pye, at her
death the said sum of L4000 to be divided equally amongst her children, should she die childless, the said sum to be given
to my son Rowland Alston.
I desire my executors to spend L50 on a tomb stone for me and my wife in Odell Church also in beautifying the chancel
of said church wherein I desire to be buried.
I desire that my funeral expenses should not exceed L30 if I die at Pavenham, or L50 should I die elsewhere.
I give L5 to be distributed to the poor of Odell.
I give L5 to be distributed to the poor of Pavenham.
I give L5 to be distributed to the poor of Steventon.
I desire that John Amis of Odell Gentleman be employed to assist my executors in the execution of my will and that he
be liberally paid for his trouble.
The residue of my estate I desire should be equally divided between my two children Rowland Alston and Ann Pye
John Orlibar and John Bullock to be trustees for my said daughter and sole executors of this my will, for their trouble I
desire them to accept the sum of twenty guineas each
(Signed) R. ALSTON
Witnesses : Thomas Goostrey, William Walter Barnett, Peter Averillo, Clerks to Mr. Goostrey
Proved 15th January 1759 by John Orlibar one of the executors named in will, with power reserved to John Bullock

Grant of Letters of administration with above will annexed
On the 16th July Administration (with the Will annexed) of the goods chattels etc. of Sir Rowland Alston late of
Odell, co. Bedfordshire but in the parish of St. Mary Le Bone co. Middlesex Bart. deceased left unadministered by John
Orlibar Esq. one of the Executors now deceased was granted to Rowland Alston Esq. the natural and lawful son of and one the residuary legatees having been first sworn duly to administer
upon him the execution thereof. John Bullock the other executor dying before he had taken
Will recites articles of agreement made on the marrage of his son Thomas with Katheyine Davis Bovie)
Alstoniana Pg 141

3. Rowland Alston 4th Bt: Various details.
Data on his portrait by Wollaston - undated

Poll results, returning Sir Rowland Alston Knight of the Shire for Bedfordshire to the second Parliament of King George I 1722 - 1727.

Memorial with pedigree and ledger stone in All Saints Church Odell BDF


Rowland married Lady Elizabeth RAYNES [3058] [MRIN: 1030], daughter of Capt Thomas RAYNES [3059] and Unknown, on 28 Jul 1717 in Richmond SRY. (Lady Elizabeth RAYNES [3058] was born about 1698, died on 12 Aug 1742 and was buried on 20 Aug 1742 in Odell BDF.)

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