thrale & thrall family history

Ralph Thrale

Male 1665 - 1711  (~ 45 years)


The Hertfordshire Descent of Henry Thrale

J.H. Busby.Notes and Queries, p.495-498. 13 November 1948.


The Hertfordshire Descent of Henry Thrale

Before Richard William Thrale's authoritative chronicles on the history of the Thrale family, this 1948 article by J.H. Busby was the leading account of the family's history.

Much has been written, in recent years, about the Thrales of Streatham, of Henry Thrale the friend of Dr. Johnson and his wife Hester Thrale. In all cases, Henry Thrale's father is made out to be the son of a poor cottager of Offley, Hertfordshire, who was rescued from a life of poverty through the munificence of his mother's brother, Edmund Halsey. These facts were published by Hester Lynch Thrale, who at all times looked down on her husband's forbears as 'mere cottagers,' whereas Henry Thrale's ancestors were, in fact, yeoman farmers of a long Hertfordshire descent.

The name first appears in Bedfordshire, where William Trayle was M.P. for the County in 1376 and 1381, and two centuries later Michael Thrayle appears as M.P. for the Borough of Bedford in 1541.

In the fifteenth century, the family was settled near Luton in Bedfordshire, and the name has been perpetuated in the Thrales End farm, on the Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire border.

A Richard Thrale, perhaps of Thrales End, is recorded in a fifteenth-century Court Book of the Manor of Annables, Herts1, in connection with one acre of land belonging to Richard Smyth, a copyholder, which Richard Thrale wished to possess. To avoid going through the Manorial Court, Richard Thrale had bribed one John Ballard with a pair of hose to arrange the purchase. The sale was completed, but John Ballard, not getting his hose, informed the Lord of what had happened and the land was forfeited.

A later Richard Thrale died possessed of Thrales End in 1573 and was succeeded by his son John Thrale, citizen and winter of London, of the Boars Head at Old Fish Street, London2.

An earlier John Thrale was Master of the Guild of the Holy Trinity in Luton Church in 1483.

About five miles from Thrales End, in Hertfordshire, is the village of Sandridge, where the Thrales were resident as yeoman farmers from the sixteenth to almost the nineteenth centuries, and it was from this family that Henry Thrale was descended.

The earliest known Thrale of Sandridge was Robert Thrale, who died in 1538, leaving an only son Robert. By his will dated 25 Feb 1526-73 he desired to be buried in 'the middle aley' of Sandridge Church, where following Catholic custom he wished a priest to say Masses for his soul for three-quarters of a year.

His farm was Sandridgebury which he held of the Abbot of St Albans4, the then Lord of the Manor, and this farm he left to be occupied jointly by his wife Alice, should she not remarry, and his only son Robert and after their deaths by his two eldest grandsons. His wife was to have …

my gret chamber within the seyd farm with the movables beynge with in the same chamber,

Alice Thrale did remarry, as she is named in her son's will as Alice 'Vyyzth.'

Robert Thrale the elder is most likely the same person as held property in St Albans in 1531.

Robert Thrale the younger did not long survive his father and died in 1541, leaving a young family of four sons and two daughters. His farm Sandridge Bury, by his father's will, went to his elder sons, Thomas and Alban, and he left other lands in Sandridge to his sons as follows5:

  1. Thomas Thrale a copyhold house and land called 'Townynges';
  2. Alban Thrale a copyhold house and land called 'Phylype Smythes';
  3. John Thrale copyhold lands and tenements called 'Feyrwnlfes' later known as Fairfolds;
  4. William Thrale copyhold lands and tenements called 'Grownwynd', 'Malewerdecroft' and 'Howberys'.

Of the children of Robert Thrale the younger, two, Alban and William, died unmarried, William Thrale at the time of his death being possessed of property in St Albans including; The Red Lion Inn 'over against the Crosse' and The Peacock, and his will was witnessed by Stephen Gosson, author of 'Schoole of Abuse' (1579) and who was Vicar of Sandridge 1586-91.

John Thrale settled at Fairfolds Farm, Sandridge, which was to continue to be farmed by the Thrale family until the nineteenth century.

Thomas Thrale, the eldest son, died in 1603 and as his eldest son Thomas had predeceased him in 1600 leaving four daughters. Sandridgebury came to his second son Ralph, the first appearance of this name in the Sandridge family. He married Mary daughter of John Lathwell, and died in 1621, his will being proved in the P.C.C. (86 Dale).

His eldest son Thomas Thrale succeeded to Sandridgebury, and was born in 1595. His wife's name was Joan. He died in 1662 and his eldest son Ralph Thrale succeeded him. It was this Ralph who moved to London, and died in 1711.

His only son Ralph Thrale born in 1672 was left an orphan at nine years old, and went to Offley to live with his mother, who had remarried. His uncle Edmund Halsey, who was to become proprietor of the Anchor Brewery in Southwark and M.P. for Southwark, befriended the boy. Ralph went to London and eventually succeeded Halsey as owner of the Brewery. Ralph was the father of Henry Thrale.

  1. The Court Book of the Manor of Annables, Herts, 1452-1541. ↩ 1

  2. P.C.C. Will 23 Peter. ↩ 2

  3. P.C.C. Will 11 Alenger. ↩ 3

  4. The Abbot of St Albans was ex-officio Lord of the Manor of Sandridge until the dissolution of the Monastery in 1539. ↩ 4

  5. P.C.C. Will 29 Spert. ↩ 5

Date13 Nov 1948
File name1948-descent-of-henry-thrale-by-busby.png
File Size9.92k
Dimensions600 x 445
Linked toFairfolds farm, Sandridge, Hertfordshire, England; Nomansland, Sandridge, Hertfordshire, England; Hammonds, Sandridge, Hertfordshire, England; Marshalswick, Sandridge, Hertfordshire, England; Cell Barnes, Sandridge, Hertfordshire, England; Alice; Margaret Chaplin; Edmund Halsey, MP; Hester Lynch Salusbury; Alban Thrale; Henry Thrale, M.P.; John Thrale; John Thrale; John Thrale; John Thrale; Margaret Thrale; Ralph Thrale, M.P.; Ralph Thrale; Ralph Thrale; Richard Thrale; Richard Thrale; Richard Thrale; Robert Thrale; Robert Thrale; Sarah Thrale; Thomas Thrale; William Thrale; William Thrale; William Thrale