Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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William Astell

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Astell (formerly Thornton), William (1774–1847), born on 13 October 1774, the second son of Godfrey Thornton of Mogerhanger and Everton, a director of the Bank of England, and his wife, Jane, daughter of Stephen Peter Godin of Cullards Grove, Middlesex.

He took the name Astell in lieu of Thornton in 1807 to inherit the Bedfordshire and Huntingdonshire estates of his maternal grandmother, Margaret Astell.

In 1800 he married Sarah (died 1841), only daughter of John Harvey of Ickwellbury, Bedfordshire and they had four sons and four daughters.

Astell was a partner in Godfrey Thornton and Sons and a director of the East India Company (1800–46), the Russia Company (1802), and the East India Dock Co (1805–35).

1846 He was chairman of the Great Northern Railway at its formation.

In 1807 he was returned for Bridgwater as a conservative, which borough he represented continuously until 1832; he sat for the county of Bedford from 1841 until his death in 1847.

A director of the East India Company for forty-six years, Astell was chairman four times and deputy three times.

He was a deputy lieutenant of Bedfordshire, lieutenant-colonel of the Bedfordshire militia, and colonel of the Royal East India volunteers.

He died on 7 March 1847 at his country residence, Everton House, Huntingdonshire.

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