Granted to the abbey in the reign of Offa (king of Mercia) in the 7th century, Cashio remained in church ownership until the 16th century Dissolution of the Monasteries in the reign king Henry VIII’. Parts of "Albanestou" were divided into Cassiobury and Watford.
Cassiobury was either granted or sold to Sir Richard Morrison of Watford (Humanist, Scholar, Ambassador, Propagandist for the crown, and associate of Thomas Cromwell). It passed to his son and grandson (both called Richard), to the only heir Lady Elizabeth Morrison, who married Arthur Capel 1st Baron Hadham. Their lands wer
e sequestered by the Commonwealth Parliament (See Lady Capel’s Petition to Parliament in these pages, giving details of the property she had restored to her, on the grounds that they were her rightful inheritance through her father’s family.)
Cassiobury passed on to Elizabeth Capel’s son Arthur 2nd Baron Hadham and 1st Earl of Essex from 1661, on her death. The estate remained in the ownership of their descendants until the 1920s.
The Earldom of Essex began when King Stephen conferred it on Geoffrey of Mandeville. It was recreated several times and passed to other families in the reigns of Kings John, Henry III, Edward III, Henry VIII, and Elizabeth I.
Ownership of Cassiobury remained in the Morrison family until after the heiress Lady Elizabeth Morrison married Arthur Capel 1st Baron Hadham. He was a Royalist Officer condemned as a traitor during the English Civil War. He was executed and buried in St Peter ad Vincula, in the in the Tower of London. In common with other members of the gentry the Revolutionary Parliament had previously confiscated the family lands (i.e. sequestration) by Parliament. His family lived at Hadham until after his widow, Lady Elizabeth Capel, secured their return, soon after her husband’s execution, on the grounds that they were her inheritance from her father (Sir Charles Morisson ). A copy of the Parliamentary decision on her petition is here in the Lady Capel’sPetition page.
The Earldom of Essex had remained vacant until it was recreated in 1661, when after the Restoration Arthur Capel 2nd Baron Hadham was created the new 1st Earl of Essex by king Charles II. Having been accused of being embroiled in the Rye House Plot to assassinate the king and his brother James he was condemned to death as a traitor, and is alledged to have commited suicide in the Tower of London.
The suggested reason is that it was to protect his family from losing its lands again. (i.e. A
nyone executed for treason’s property would be forfiet to the crown)
Biographies of Arthur Capel and his son Arthur Earl of Essex are in the Execution and the Suicide page of this site.
Arthur Capell, 1st Earl of Essex, portrait commemorating his appointment as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland in 1672
"1st EarlOfEssex 1672" by Sir Peter Lely - https//www.watfordmuseum.org.uk/cassiobury/galleries/arthur_capel2.html. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:1stEarlOfEssex1672.jpg#/media/File:1stEarlOfEssex1672.jpg
Their descendants continued to own Cassiobury until the early 20th century, when most of the estate was sold to developers. The main house contents were auctioned off and the main house was demolished. Little Cassiobury was sold separately. It is the last complete remnant of the Earldom of Essex’s Cassiobury Estate.
Little Cassiobury was built late in the 17th Century
Little Cassiobury House is the “Dower House”, which had some 8 to 9 acres of land attached when offered to-let in the 19th century (see 19th and 20th century advertisements from The Times included elsewhere in these pages)
Bought under a Compulsory Purchase Order by Hertfordshire County Council, in 1938, it was used by them for around 70 years as offices for their Education and Social Services Offices.