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The first mention we see of any Petres was William, who was Privy Councillor to King Henry VIII and his children, and who founded Exeter college in Oxford, were the Petre arms are incorporated in its shield. The Petre family were very close to the throne, being held in high esteem and holding great influence over royal decisions.

Petre family Tomb

In 1712 the last of the Walmsleys (Catherine) married Robert , 7th Baron Petre of Writtle, Essex and they had one son, Robert James. Catherine was just 15 years old at the time of her marriage, hence the Lordship went to the Petres. It is said that she received two proposals of marriage on the same day, the other coming from Lord Charles Stourton, whom she turned down.

Robert was to become known as the "BOLD BARON", from Alexander Popes "Rope of the Lock".

Catherine and Robert made their home at the Dunkenhalgh but Catherine was widowed in 1715 , when her husband died from smallpox.

20 years later she was married again , this time to her 2nd proposer, Lord Stourton and again they made their home at the Dunkenhalgh.

Catherine died aged 88 in 1785 , and it is her name which is remembered by Stourton Street. She was the last in line of the Walmsleys.

The last Petre to live at Dunkenhalgh Hall was Captain C. B. Petre who resided there until 1939. Captain Petre died 10 years later in 1949.



Dunkenhalgh is rich in successive family histories. This historic residence first came into being with Roger de Dunkenhalgh who may have had Scottish connections since haugh or halgh is akin to the Gaelic and would mean the ground sloping towards the river Hyndburn. Uhtred de Chirche, junior, gave this land about the year 1250 to Roger de Dunkenhalgh. From him it passed to the Rishton’s from whom it was bought by Judge Thomas Walmsley who ‘with his considerable wealth endowed the home and estates handsomely. After several generations Bartholomew Walmsley succeeded to the possessions, and his son, Francis, who on his father’s death was only five years of age, himself died in April, 1711, aged fifteen years. His sister Catherine Walmsley, at that time thirteen years of age, was left the sole heiress, and she inherited the entire Dunkenhalgh estate.

When she was fifteen she married Robert, seventh Lord Petre, of Ingatestone, Essex, who was eight years older than she. Their marriage took place on March 1st, 1713. It was destined to be short-lived, for about fifteen months later her husband died of smallpox. Three months afterwards the widow of sixteen years of age gave birth to Robert James, eighth Lord Petre.

She had many suitors whom she turned down during the years while she was bringing up her son. When Robert came of age he married on May 2nd, 1732, the only daughter of the Earl of Derwentwater, Lady Ann Radcliffe, her father having been executed during the Jacobite uprisings.

Lady Catherine now married her most constant suitor, Charles Stourton, nephew of Lord Stourton, and she lived to the age of 88. Her husband became Lord Stourton on the death of his uncle, and she outlived him by thirty years when he died on May 11th, 1753. Her son died on July 2nd, 1742, and his heir was his infant son, Robert Edward, ninth Lord Petre. He married Ann, daughter of Phillip Howard.

In Catherines will, the ninth Lord Petre, her grandson, inherited the estates for his lifetime, and because of the death of his heir before Lord Petre himself, the estates passed from the direct line of the Lords Petre to George Robert Petre, Lady Catherine’s great grandson.

The tenth Baron was Robert Edward (again) and he also had a brother, George William. George was born in 1766, but died in 1797, leaving one son and heir, Henry William Petre Esq., the eleventh Baron Petre.

Henry William married Elizabeth Jane, daughter to Edward Glynn of Glynn in Cornwall. Two sons were born with issues, Henry and George Glynn, and also three daughters. George married Adeliza, daughter of Henry Howard in 1830, but died just 3 years later, leaving two sons, Edward Henry and Oswald. His third marriage was to Martha Agatha Hoffell in 1834. He died on the 26th November 1852, his eldest son Henry taking the reins for the estates.

Henry died and Sir George Glynn Petre K. C. M. G., C. B., J. P. took over the running of the estates. He had been born on the 4th September 1822, and married Emma Katherine, daughter of Major Ralph Henry Sneyd. Sir George retired in 1896 as envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary at Lisbon after 46 years in diplomacy. He died on the 17th May 1905, and was succeeded by his son, George Ernest A. H. Petre Esq., his mother died on the 27th December 1916, aged 85 years.

In 1942, when the "New School" was opened, Captain C. B. Petre gave a sum of money to the school to create the Petre Prize Fund, and thus he may be regarded as the first patron of the school.

Parts of the present Dunkenhalgh Hall, which is now a hotel, date from 1580 which was altered in 1799, this was the home of the Petre family, lords of the manor until 1947.


See The Dunkenhalgh Manor for references.