Thomas Holte

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For others of the same or similar name, see Thomas Holte (died 1546) and Thomas Holt (disambiguation).
Sir Thomas Holte, Baronet and Aston Hall

Sir Thomas Holte, 1st Baronet (c. 1571 – 14 December 1654) was the original owner of Aston Hall (a Jacobean country house in Birmingham), the man after whom the Holte End stand of Villa Park is named, and the possessor of quite a legendary temper.

He was born the son of Edward and Dorothy Holte of the Manor House, Duddeston, Warwickshire. The Holtes were a wealthy, land-owning family of some importance in Warwickshire. Their ancestors had owned land in the area for several hundred years and it had been considerably added to with the acquisition of monastic land during the Reformation. The Holtes served as High Sheriff of Warwickshire, Justices of the Peace and Deputy Lieutenants for the county. They had influential friends and relatives both locally and in London. His father died when Thomas was only 21, and as his successor Thomas did much to further the family fortunes.

Aston Hall

In 1599 he himself served as High Sheriff of Warwickshire. He received a knighthood in 1603 from James I as the King made his way from Scotland to London to claim his throne. In 1612 Sir Thomas was able to buy the title of baronet (James I sold these new titles in order to raise money to quell trouble in Ireland). Sir Thomas now outranked all the local families and felt a grander home should be built to reflect both his wealth and status. The result of this desire was Aston Hall which he started building in 1618 and moved into in 1631. On the 18th October 1642 King Charles I stayed the night at Aston Hall on his way to London, on his route to London he came across the Parliamentary Forces and the Battle of Edgehill was fought on the 23rd October. In December 1643, during the English Civil War, Sir Holte requested the Hall be garrisoned by troops from Dudley Castle. Forty musketeers were sent by Colonel Leveson to protect Aston Hall but shortly after their arrival they had to defend the hall against a 1200-strong force of Parliamentary soldiers sent from Coventry and local militia from Birmingham.

He married as his first wife Grace, daughter and co-heiress of William Bradbourne of Hough, Derbyshire, with whom he had fifteen children, most of whom died young. Sir Thomas made use of his connections to secure his second son, Edward, a position in King Charles I's household. Whilst in London, Edward met and married Elizabeth King, daughter of John King, the incumbent Bishop of London. Unfortunately, Sir Thomas did not give his permission for the marriage, and never forgave his son for proceeding with the wedding regardless. Edward was entirely cut out from his inheritance, and despite pleas from the King himself, Sir Thomas never allowed reconciliation. After the death of the eldest son George in 1641, Edward was Sir Thomas' only remaining son. Sir Thomas re-married in short order Anne, the youngest daughter of Sir Edward Littleton of Pillaton Hall, and made great efforts to raise another son, so that Edward could be permanently cut out of the estate. Edward died on military service in 1643, having never returned to the family fold despite his several attempts. It was rumoured Sir Thomas locked up a daughter because she refused to marry her father's choice of husband. The story goes that she starved to death.

Sir Thomas' second wife was able to give him another son, but the boy did not survive past childhood, in common with nine of the children from Sir Thomas' first marriage. During his last days he was finally persuaded to leave Aston Hall and all his estates to Edwards's son Robert, his grandson, who would inherit the baronetcy. Sir Thomas was buried in Aston Church, survived only by his wife and his daughter Grace, who married firstly Sir Richard Shuckburgh, and secondly John Keating, Chief Justice of the Irish Common Pleas. Her son by her first marriage, Sir John Shuckburgh, was the first of the Shuckburgh baronets. She died in Dublin in 1677: her second husband erected a memorial to her in Palmerstown Church.

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