Like many families we have our legend of a missing family fortune, lost to the present day generation because of the whims and foibles of our ancestors. This is the version which in our family was written down by great uncle Herbert (click for info) as part of a nightly ritual of writing up his own memories of the family history when he couldn't sleep. Other branches of the family, I have since discovered, have similar versions, although the details differ and different characters are substituted.

The Story

Some time ago - no-one knows how long ago - there was a runaway marriage. The son and heir eloped with a young lady considered unsuitable by the young man's parents and he was consequently "cut off without a penny". The estates and fortunes of the family passed along another line and eventually ended up with Henrietta, an unmarried heiress without children. She, not wishing to perpetuate a family feud decided the fortune should be restored to the "rightful" heir. So she set about discovering who this might be and determined to pass on the good news in person.


Hargrave Hall now
Hargrave Hall Now

Some time later the "rightful" heir was discovered to be residing in the Lake District where his forbears had settled after their marriage. Henrietta herself lived in Essex, supposedly at a place called Hargrave. So she prepared her carriage, drawn by six cream horses, together with postillions and flunkeys to protect her from highwaymen, and made her way to Furness.
Plumpton Hall
There enquiries at various houses brought her to Plumpton Hall - where one James Croasdell (click for info), my great great grandfather was living. James, however was a Quaker and was scandalised by the finery of Henrietta with her carriage and entourage. So he refused to have anything to do with her and in a rage slammed the door in her face, called her a godless woman and told her to get back, with her gilt and powder etc to where she came from. As Uncle Herbert remarked - "he was an awful fool, and to say the least again very, very rude to treat a relation so ..." Henrietta accordingly returned to Essex and the estates went to Chancery. James Croasdell and his wife Hannah

Alternate Versions

A closely related branch of the family living in South Lakeland have a very similar story. But in their case the ungrateful potential recipient of the fortune was a great great grandmother - she appears to have behaved in the same way as James Croasdell, however, slamming the door on poor Henrietta and refusing her goodwill and magnanimity.

The Simpson Croasdell branch, mentioned in Edward & Mrs Simpson (click for story), were also on the track of a missing family fortune. In this case the information was rather vague and was passed on by a descendant to an enquirer about 30 or 40 years ago. The full story wasn't known but Henrietta was described as Lady Rainsford from Stebbing in Essex, or possibly as a lady from Brainsford!


Henry Simpson's Death Certificate

The money by this time had gone into Chancery and Henry Simpson Croasdell had travelled to France, for some reason, to find out the truth. He sent a telegram home to say he had found the answer but unfortunately died in Paris before being able to return to England and pass on his findings. In actual fact he died in Manchester and his imagination may have been somewhat fuddled by drink at the time! see his death certificate (click here)

Yet another fortune, not necessarily connected with Henrietta is said to have been made in Australia, the result of a successful fruit canning operation. Attempts to claim the inheritance, however, were unsuccessful despite the claimants changing their names from Croasdell to Croasdale to support their efforts. The change is documented in the parish register of Haverthwaite in Furness (click for info) but no reason is given.

The facts as we know them

As with any myth there is a mixture of fact and fiction in the above accounts.


Is it possible that there could be a link between this story and the sudden wealth acquired by the Simpson Croasdells? (Edward & Mrs Simpson (click for story)).


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