How the Onslow family came to Clandon Park

A portrait of Sir Arthur Onslow

The Onslow family are first recorded from the 12th century, originally as the de Ondeslowe family, later becoming Lords of the Manor of Onslow in the Welsh borders near Shrewsbury. The family moved to London and then to Surrey where they eventually settled at Clandon Park.

Furthering the family business

It was Roger Onslow (1498-1538) who took the decision to move from Shrewsbury to London to further his family’s interests in the wool trade. Roger had two clever sons, Fulke and Richard, and the move to London allowed them to begin careers in politics.

The Black Speaker

Fulke eventually became Clerk to the House of Commons but it was Richard (1528-71) who raised the family from respectability to renown. Often called the Black Speaker, Richard became Speaker of the House of Commons during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. He was also the link between his family and Surrey by marrying Catherine Hardinge and setting up home at her seat, Knoll near Cranleigh.

The Red Fox of Surrey

During the time of the Black Speaker, Clandon Park had been described as a hunting lodge, but by the time his grandson, another Richard, bought the 1,000 acre estate in 1641 it was an impressive Jacobean house.
Sir Richard Onslow, the Red Fox of Surrey
A portrait of Sir Richard Onslow
Sir Richard Onslow, the Red Fox of Surrey

Sir Richard Onslow (1601-64) had been knighted by James I in 1624, he was a Parliamentarian and Oliver Cromwell called him the Red Fox of Surrey because of his cunning and slyness. Despite buying Clandon Sir Richard continued to live at Knoll whilst his eldest son, Arthur, set up home at Clandon.