THE GOUGHS OF OLDFALLINGS
In the sixteenth century Wolverhampton was a centre of the West Midland wool trade, and most of the local landowning families derived their fortunes from sheep farming and the marketing of wool. Not least of these families were the Goughs who came to the area from London. Thomas Gough, who died in 1532, his son Henry who died in 1560, and his grandson John who died in 1596, were all "Merchants of the Staple".
John bought Newbolds Farm in Wednesfield, but it was his son Henry Gough who bought Oldfallings Hall from William Normansell and established the family in Bushbury parish for the next two hundred years. Henry married three times. His first wife, Elizabeth Leigh of Wolverhampton, who died in 1625, was the mother of two sons and four daughters. His second and third marriages, to Frances Fellowes and Isabel Allen respectively, were childless. The younger son Richard was killed at Aston in the Civil War, but the elder son John (born 1608) married twice and, after his father's death in 1655, bought the manor of Bescot in 1656, and the manor of Walton (Staffs) in 1659. John's first wife, Margaret Wedgwood, died in 1637. The younger of their two daughters, Mary, married John Huntbach of Featherstone and Sewall Manor, the historian, and it was their granddaughter, Sarah Huntbach who married Samuel Hellier of Wombourne Wodehouse so bringing Sewall manor to that family.
John's second wife, Bridget Astley gave birth to four sons and four daughters. Their third son Richard made a fortune in trading with the Far East, was knighted by George I and founded the Edgbaston branch of the family. His grandson Sir Henry Gough Calthorpe was elevated to the peerage in 1796. Richard's youngest sister Judith married William Dugdale, son of the Warwickshire historian.
John's eldest son and heir, Henry, who was born in 1649, was knighted in 1678 by Charles II, the honour being conferred on him in gratitude for the services of his grandfather to Charles I in 1642. John died in 1665 and Henry purchased the manor of Perry Barr, where the family occupied the Hall in addition to their Oldfallings residence. He was Member of Parliament for Tamworth and in 1668 married Mary Littleton of Pillaton Hall near Penkridge. Eleven sons and five daughters were born of the marriage. Two of the sons travelled to the Far East with their uncle Richard. Harry, known as "Amy Whang", the white-haired boy, in China at the age of eleven, became in later life an East India director. He married Elizabeth Morgan Hynde in 1719. Their son Richard, who was born in 1735, became one of England's leading historians and men of letters; he died in 1809. Harry was Member of Parliament for Bramber until his death in 1751. His brother Richard, captain of the trading ship "Severn" had died in India about 1712.
Their eldest brother Walter, heir to Sir Henry Gough, was born in 1677. He was educated at Christ Church Oxford, and travelled widely on the Continent. A classical scholar, he wrote several books on the Greek, Latin, and Aramaic languages. It was he who built Oldfallings Hall in the 1720s. His wife, Martha Harwood of Tern, Salop, was the mother of five sons and five daughters. The eldest son Henry, died young, the third son Richard was lost at sea in the East Indiaman "Northampton" in 1746. The youngest daughter Bridget married Willis Kempson of Bilston and lived at Low Hill House. Walter died in 1730. Martha, with her bachelor brother-in-law Charles, and her sons Walter and Richard, contributed to the founding of the new church of St.Thomas in Wednesfield in the 1740s.
Walter married twice. His first wife was his cousin, Mary Hunt, (daughter of his father's sister Bridget and John Hunt of Winson Green); they married in 1742. Three sons and two daughters were born of the marriage. The eldest son Walter died while a child in 1750, Henry was killed in a fall from a horse in 1769, aged 26, and the youngest son John, succeeded to the estate following his father's death in 1773. (Walter's second marriage to Jane Brierly in 1758 was childless).
John also married his cousin. She was Eleanor Martha Mytton, daughter of his father's sister Martha and Henry Mytton of Wenlock. They had a son, John and two daughters. Eleanor Martha and her daughter Eleanor are buried in the chancel of Bushbury church. John the elder who died in January 1828 is buried at Wednesfield. His son John (born 1780) married Jane Elizabeth Paget, of Cranmore Hall, Somerset, and died without issue in 1844. Following Jane's death in 1848 the estate passed to her brother John Moore Paget (1791-1866).
It seems likely that the Gough family had not lived at Oldfallings since the early years of the nineteenth century. The following advertisement (undated but probably from "Aris' Gazette") is in the Gough papers at the Birmingham Reference Library (445a-p).
The first tenants were the Briscoe family. William Briscoe of Wolverhampton married a Miss Holt of Liverpool in August 1788. Their son George (born 1793 in Wolverhampton) lived for a time at Elmhurst Hall, Staffs. He was a hardware merchant, and also a J.P. and Deputy Lieutenant of the County. The ten children of George and his wife Mary were all baptised at Bushbury between 1819 and 1837, so he could have been resident at Oldfallings as early as 1819. He appears in the 1851 census with his eldest son William, in the same trade, but it was the second son Richard Holt Briscoe who continued the tenancy of the Hall after his father's death. By 1875 Richard had moved to Somerford, and later to Chillington Hall. He died in 1909 and is buried with his wife Agnes and some of his children on the south side of Bushbury churchyard.
The next tenant of Oldfallings was the local physician William Millington M.D. who stayed until about the end of the century.
In 1916 the Oldfallings estate was offered for sale by the grandson of John Moore Paget.
The Staffordshire Advertiser October 29th 1831:
On Thursday morning last at the Collegiate Church Wolverhampton by the Reverend T.Walker, after a tedious courtship of many years. Mr. John Thrustans of Wolverhampton to Miss Mary Hales of Bushbury near the same place.