Sir William Heathcote, 5th Baronet of Hursley
17th May 1801 - 17th August 1881




Sir William Heathcote was born on the 17th of May 1801, the son of the Rev. William Heathcote, Rector of Worting, Hants, and prebendary of the Cathedral of Winchester, second son of Sir William, third baronet.

His mother was Elizabeth, daughter of Lovelace Bigg Wither of Manydown Park, Hampshire. She was widowed early, and she brought up her only son with the utmost care. They lived chiefly at Winchester.


Hursley Park c1870 - this could be Lady Selina Heathcote


William Heathcote was sent first to the private school of considerable reputation at Ramsbury in Wiltshire, kept by the Rev. Edward Meyrick, and, after four years there, became a commoner at Winchester College, where it is said that he and Dr. William Sewell were the only boys who jointly retarded the breaking out of the rebellion against Dr. Gabell, which took place after their departure. However, in April 1818 he left Winchester, and became a commoner of Oriel College, Oxford, where his tutor was the Rev. John Keble, only eight years older than himself.

In 1821 Mr. Heathcote gained a First-class in his B.A. examination, and was elected Fellow of All Souls in November 1822. He began to read at the Temple, but in April 1825 he came into the property of his uncle the 4th Baronet of Hursely and William Heathcote thus became the 5th baronet. He extended Hursley House and also created Home Farm on the site of the old Merdon manor, which became a showpiece.

In the November of 1825 year he married the Hon. Caroline Frances Perceval, the youngest daughter of Charles George Lord Arden.

Both he and his wifeElizabeth were deeply religious persons, with a strong sense of the duties of their station. Education and influence had done their best work on a character of great uprightness, even tending to severity, such as softened with advancing years. Remarkably handsome, and with a high-bred tone of manners, he was almost an ideal country gentleman, with, however, something of stiffness and shyness in early youth, which wore off in later years.

In 1826 he becamea Tory member of parliament for the county of Hampshire.

As a landlord, he is remembered as excellent. His mother took up her abode at Southend House in Hursley parish, and under the auspices of the Heathcote family, and of the Misses Marsh, daughters of the former curate, Sunday and weekday schools were set on foot, the latter under Mrs. Ranger and her daughter, whose rule continued almost to the days of national education.

At one of the drills in Hursley Park a serious accident befell Sir William. His horse threw back its head, and gave him a violent blow on the forehead, which produced concussion of the brain. He was long in recovering, and a slight deafness in one ear always remained.

In 1835 a far greater trouble fell on him in the death of Lady Elizabeth Heathcote, leaving him three sons and a daughter. He retired from public life and resigned as MP.

But marriage to Selina Shirley on 18 May 1841 seems to have perked him up and he entered a new busy era of public service as MP and privy counsellor -- and had another eight children!

The Heathcote era at Hursley House ended after he died on 17 Aug 1881. His widow Selina sold the estate for £150,000 to Joseph Baxendale, the owner of Pickfords

Sir William Heathcote is our 5th cousin 5 times removed, descending from our 9th Great Grandparents Robert Blachford and Elizabeth Wright of Fordingbridge, Hampshire