"Rahier d'Avres," on the Dives Roll, is probably the same "Ra' de Alvers" who witnesses the Earl of Leicester's grant to St. Ebrulfs Abbey, and was seated at Shuckburgh, Warwickshire. "The antient Earls of Warwick enfeoft of this place the family of Danvers, Dalvers, or Davers, all which ways it is written in Records, and that not long after the Conquest. For certain it is from the Lib. rub. that Robert de Alvers held three knight's fees of William Earl of Warwick 12 Hen. II. de veteri feoffamento, which Robert de Alvers confirmed the grant of one Robert de Succhebergh, homo suus, which he had made to the church of St. Leonard and the Nuns of Wroccheshale. This Robert de Alvers was descended from Rowland D'Alvers, that came in with the Conqueror, and was ancestor of the Davers of Upton in this county, Dantsey, co. Wilts, Culworth, co. Northumberland, and several other families of that name."—Dugdale's Warwickshire. The name was taken from Alvers or Auvers near Coutances; and its transformation into Danvers is probably attributable to the usual confusion between the letters n and u made by the old copyists. Fulk D'Auvers held lands of the Honour of Breteuil, Normandy, in the time of Philip Augustus. "Robertus de Alvers" appears in Domesday as the holder of a house in Northampton, and is believed by the Abbe De la Rue to be the actual founder of the family. However this may have been, it spread and flourished in many different counties.

"Very soon after the Conquest," says Nichols, in his History of Leicestershire, "the Danvers appear as considerable landowners in Erolesworth.[1] Ralph Danvers held it in fee of the Earl of Leicester in 1296. By the heir-general of Danvers, Joan, the daughter of Nicholas Danvers and Isabel his wife, this lordship, about the beginning of Edward Ill's time, was transferred to the family of Amaury, who bore Gules a Cross engrailed Or fusilly." A branch remained, seated at Swithland in the same county, derived from William Danvers of Shakerston, son of Henry Danvers of Frolesworth, born in 1313—presumably a younger son; whose descendant John (born 1452) married Margaret Walcote, the Lady of Swithland. Another descendant, Sir John, was created a baronet in 1746; and had four sons, who all died childless, and one daughter, Mary, married to the Honourable A. Butler.

The old name, however, lingered on in Leicestershire up to the time of the Commonwealth. "Thrussington Grange is situated near the Foss road, at some distance from the village; and when Oliver Cromwell with his army took the Foss to Newark on his road to Lincolnshire, which goes straight forward on a line not far from Grange House, where John Danvers, a younger brother of the Swithland family, lived at that time with his two daughters, Dorothy and Susanna, who were afterwards his co-heiresses, this so alarmed the old gentleman, that he in a great hurry hid a jug full of gold on the bank of the canal. Whether his memory was treacherous, and he forgot to take it up, or he died in the interim, family tradition doth not mention; but it was found many years after by a shepherd sitting on the bank tending his sheep, when the edges of the vessel appeared that contained the cash. This raised that family all at once to some little eminence; but it has dwindled again almost to its pristine state, for want of knowing what money meant and its true worth."—Ibid. This enigmatical sentence must allude to the representatives of the co-heiresses, who married two brothers of the Hacket family, and left a singular bequest to their parish church: "Having been on a visit in the village, and staying a little too late, they were lost on the Woulds; and at last regained their path to the Grange on hearing the great bell of Hoby ring at eight o'clock; in commemoration of which they jointly settled, from each of their fortunes, a piece of land on Thrussington lordship, appointing the same bell to be rung at the same hour to the end of time."—Ibid.

During the reigns of Henry V., Henry VI., and Edward IV, there were Danverses at Ipwell, Banbury, and Colcroft in Oxfordshire, Chamberhouse in Buckinghamshire, and Upton in Warwickshire, where they still continued at the end of the seventeenth century. One of the Oxfordshire family, who was living in 1422, acquired Waterstock, in the same county, through the heiress of the Bruillys. Another, the son of Richard Danvers of Culworth in Northamptonshire, married a Wiltshire heiress, the Lady of Dantesey. "Anno ...," writes Aubrey, "here was a Robbery committed at the Manour-house, on the Family of the Straddlings; he and all his Servants, except one Plow-boy, who hid himself,[2] were murthered, by which means this whole Estate came to Anne his Sister, and that married after to Sir John Danvers, a handsome Gentleman, who clapt up a Match with her before she heard the Newes, he, by good fortune, lighting upon the Messenger first. She lived at that time in Pater Noster Rowe at London, and had but an ordinary Portion. This Robbery was done on a Saturday night; the next day the Neighbours wondered none of the Family came to Church; they went to see what was the matter, and the Parson of the parish very gravely went along with them, who by the bye was proved to be one of the Company" (of robbers), "and was, I think, hanged for his paines." Sir John's son, who was Sheriff of the County 5 Henry VIII., is mentioned by Leland as "One Danvers, a Gentilman of Wilshir, whose chief House is at Dantesey." Another Sir John Danvers, in the time of Elizabeth, was the first husband of Elizabeth Nevill, one of the four daughters and co-heiresses of the last Lord Latimer of that family. She brought him Danby Castle in the North Riding, and was the mother of three sons and two daughters. Sir Charles, the eldest of the sons, was executed for treason in 1602, as an accomplice of the Earl of Essex; but his next brother, Henry, was restored in blood by special Act of Parliament, and created first Lord Dantesey by James I., and then Earl of Danby by Charles I. He was a soldier, "partly bred up in the Low-countrie warres" under Maurice of Nassau, a captain in the army of Henry IV. of France, and served in Ireland under the Earl of Essex and Lord Mountjoy. James I. appointed him Lord President of Munster and Governor of Garnesey, and he received the Garter from Charles I. in 1626, with great state and ceremonial. "For many years before St. George had not been so magnificently mounted (I mean the Solemnity of his Feast more sumptuously observed) than when this Earl, with the Earl of Morton, were installed Knights of the Garter. One might have then beheld the Abridgment of English, and Scottish in their Attendance; the Scottish Earl (like Zeuxis' picture) adorn'd with all Art and Costliness; whilst our English Earl (like the plain Sheet of Apelles) by the Gravity of his habit got the Advantage of the Gallantry of his co-rival with judicious beholders."—Fuller. Lord Danby was a man of some learning, and fond of encouraging "the cultivation of the arts and sciences." The famous Physic Garden at Oxford was founded and endowed by him in 1632 at a cost little short of £5000. He never married, and died "full of honour, wounds, and daies" in 1643.

The career of the last brother, John Danvers, who then succeeded to the family estates, was in sharp and sudden contrast to Lord Danby's. He joined the Parliament in the Civil War, sat in judgment on Charles I., and signed the warrant for his execution. At the Restoration he was consequently included in the Act of Attainder passed against the regicides, the whole of his property escheated to the Crown; and the two daughters, who under happier circumstances would have been his co-heiresses, were left portionless.

Of his sisters, Elizabeth, the eldest, married Thomas Walmsley of Dunkenhalgh in Lancashire; and her grandson, Sir Thomas Osborne (the son of her younger daughter, Anne, by a second marriage), was created, in rapid succession, Viscount Latimer, Earl of Danby, Marquess of Carmarthen, and Duke of Leeds.

There remained a family of cousins seated in Northamptonshire, on the paternal estate of Culworth. Sir Samuel Danvers was Sheriff of the county the year of King Charles's execution, and appeared at the assizes with his retinue in deep mourning. He had married Lady Anne Pope, co-heir of the Irish Earl of Downe, and been created a baronet in 1642. The line ended with the fifth baronet, Sir Michael, who died unmarried in 1776.

Another baronetcy had been granted by Charles II. in 1682 to Robert Davers of Rougham in Suffolk, who is said to have descended from John Davers of Worming-Hall in Buckinghamshire. His son married Lord Jermyn's heiress; and in 1806 his great-grandson, Sir Charles—again the fifth bearer of the title—died without posterity. His fortune passed to a sister named Elizabeth, the wife of Frederick Hervey, Earl of Bristol and Bishop of Derry.

  1. According to an inscription on the tomb of Sir John Danvers, in Swithland Church, Hugh Danvers, in the time of Henry I., married Felice, daughter and heir of Thomas Saukville of Frolesworth.

  2. According to tradition, he saved himself by creeping into an oven.

-- Cleveland

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