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The Alston Family

Magna Britannica
Vol. 1, page 149, published in 1720

"A little lower the Ouse runs by Odell, or Woodhill, called Wahulle. The Barons of Wahulle had a barony consisting of three hundred knight's fees in several counties. The castle which anciently belongs to these Barons was nothing but strange ruins of Leland's time, who says it was in possession of Lord Bray. It afterwards came to the Chetwoods. Here was a fire on the 13th of May, and here also Sir Thomas Alston has a seat. The family was raised to the title of Baronet in the person of Thomas Alston, Esq. high sheriff of the county, Charles I."

Bibliothica Topographia Britannica
Vol. 4, Published 1790, page 3

"Odell--Wood-hulle and formerly Wahull- is a village in the hundred of -------, situated northwest of Bedford, distance from it about eight miles, on the north branch of the Ouse, one mile from Harold. It is bounded on Puddington and Winnich, having Harold in the west and the river on the south. It extends from east to west about 2 ¼ miles, and nearly the same from north to south. Here is plenty of useful stone, lately discovered, gravel, and several good springs, two of which have reported medicinal. One is northeast, whose waters have not yet been analyzed, but well known to be mildly cathartic. The other, on the northwest, has been so celebrated as to often obtain the name of 'Holwell' for itself, and two closest which run into the town. The name of the village is characteristic of its situation, Woodhulle or Woodhill, from the hills and fine woods near it. The tradition of the place is that it was called Wahull from the way or road, Newhope, leading close between it and the castle, but there seems not much reason for this assertion. It might as well be so denominated from its present direction over the hill back of the castle between it and the church. However, this seems to be a very old and proper name, for formerly it had its 'Barons of Wahull,' eminent for their ancient nobility. The castle, before the art of war was so refined upon as at present, must have been an impregnable fortress from its advantageous situation near the river, and as a work of considerable height and steep ascent. Little remains of the old works, yet the upper and bascourts are very conspicuous. The only habitable building is where stood the keep on one area of one-half acre, and is chiefly modern, particularly the south front, 105 feet long, built by Lady Wolstenholme while her son, Thos. Alston, was on his travels. The west is older embattled, and tower about 24 yards in length. The east end is of the same date as the south, and only 35 feet. The rooms within are real lofty and spacious, the walls being 27 feet, by 23 feet, and 19 feet high. The drawing room is 21 feet by 20 ½ feet, 13 feet 9 inches high. They contain several good paintings, some of which were brought from Italy by Sr. Thos. Alston about 70 years ago (1650)."

The castle commands a delightful prospect over the Ouse, whose beautiful meanderings are remarkable striking about this neighborhood. Between it on the north rises a wide extended hill covered with the noblest wood in this county, containing upwards of three hundred acres, and known by the name of "Odell Great Woods." Part thereof consisting of about seventy acres, only by an obscure diversion, is called "Yelmes Wood," and said to be in the parish of Paddinton, through distant from any part of that parish at least on-fourth of a mile."

"Alston purchased Odell from Chetwoods in 1640. The knights of Chetwood revived about 15, George II, a claim to the Barony Woodhelle. The event of this claim was a rejection, as no such title exists at the present day. That it should be presented in singular, as the very name and Castle of Odell had nearly a century before passed by purchase to the Alstons - a very ancient family of Saxon origin, as may be attested from the name, which in the language signifies 'most noble' or 'most excellent,' yet little has been preserved of the early part of their pedigree. Alston was Saxson Lord of Stanford in Norfolk before the Conquest, but dispossessed thereof by the villainous Normans. Their coat of arms, which has been preserved by the families of both North and South Carolina, is reproduced in the frontispiece, and thus described, viz:

"Arms Azure, Ten Stars, 4, 3, 2, 1, Or, Crest on a wreath, a half-moon Argent, charged with a star Or in the arms, Motto Immotus." Seat at Odell Bedford

Kimber and Johnson, Baronetage of England
1771, Vol. I, page 457

"Alston of Odell, Bedfordshire. Created Baronet June 13, 1642. Saxham Hall, in Newton, was anciently the seat of the Alstons for many hundred years, from whence that family hath spread itself into several counties. It is that family hath spread itself into several counties. It is certainly a family of great antiquity and said to be of Saxon extraction, though the origin of then cannot be traced at this time of day. We find them mentioned so early as Edward the First's reign, when William Alston of Stisted, in Essex, for want of warranty of Brockscroft, in Stisted, did grant and confirm to John de Carpenter, of Naylinghurst, so much of his better land in Stisted, except his mansion-house there.

In Edward the Thirds time, Hugh Alston bore for arms azure, ten stars, or 4, 3, 2, 1, which was long before coat armor was granted by patent.

After some descents from the above, said Williams Alston, of Stisted, the lineal descendant of this family was John Alston, of Newton in Suffolk. He was the father of William, who, by Ann the daughter of Thomas Symons, has issue. 1. Edward of Saxham-hall in Newton, who took to wife Elizabeth, daughter of Mr. Colman, by whom he had two sons: 1. William of Saxham, of who hereafter; 2. Thomas of Edwardston, in Suffolk, who married, first, Dorothy, one of the daughters and co-heirs of ------ Holmstead of Maplested, in Essex, by whom he had Edward Alsotn of Edwardston, Esq.

William Alston, of Saxham Hall, Esquire, son and heir of Edward aforesaid, married Elizabeth, one of the daughters and co-heirs of ---------- Hampstead, of Halstead, in Essex, Esq. ,by whom he had several children; but their line failed, except William, the eldest, and Thomas the forth son, of who hereafter; Williams, the eldest son, married the daughter of ------ Neuce, of Hadham, in Hertforshire, by whom he had William.

Thomas Alston, Esq. (fourth son of William above mentioned), was Polstead, in Suffolk, and married Frances, daughter of Simon Bloomeville, or Bloomfield of Monks Illery, in Suffolk, Eqp. (surviving her said husband; she married Sir. John Temple, of Stantonbury, in Bucks, Knt.) They had issue four sons and a daughter. 1. William…2. Thomas …3. Sir Edward … and 4. John: Frances, the only daughter of Thomas, married William, Lord Monson, which John Alston, of the Inner Temple, Esq., and Parvenham, in Bedfordshire (fourth son of Thomas, of Polstead, married Dorothy, daughter of Sir John Temple, of Stanton, Bucks, Knt., by whom he had four sons and five daughters 1. William… 2. Thomas … 3. Edward … 4. John, who married Anne daughter of Wallis. The daughters of Frances, married to Edward Reynolds; Elizabeth to William Crofts; Mary to John Lemon; Dorothy to Thomas Wells and Sarah.

History of The Alston Family
(author unknown at this time)

" At a very early period (1610's) the region of the country north of the Albemarle Sound, in North Carolina, was resorted to by Quakers and other non-conformist, who went there to escape the religious persecutions which they had to endure in Virginia, Massachusetts's and elsewhere.

Although settlers had been flocking to that region for years before, the first land grant was made to them in 1662, in Perquimans county by the Indians, and there was an influx of these Quakers for many years into several adjoining counties.

The proprietary ownership and government of the colony was inaugurated in 1663 From which period there followed a struggle between the colonists and lords-proprietors which continued until their proprietorship was compelled to give way.

John Alston, the first of the family in North Carolina, lived to be very old. Tradition is very clear and emphatic in giving Odell Castle as the manorial seat of the family in England, also as to the statement that twi young men (cousins) immigrated together, who, after reaching America, disagreed and parted. One settling in North Carolina where his descendants are inseparably connected with its history, (this is our Hawkins ancestors), the other changing the spelling of the name by inserting an additional l, went to South Carolina where he founded the family which has been noted in the history of that state. "

These two cousins "accompanied John Archdale when he came to America in 1694, as Governor of Carolina. They first came to Albemarle, where Quakers were numerous. Here the younger John Alston probably remained. From thence Gov. Archdale, with others who accompanied him, among whom was the elder John Al.ston (about 28 years old and adding the second l to his name)went to Charleston, S.C. Here Allston met Elizabeth Harris, a young widow, whose husband and died the year before. She was possessed of a good estate, and comfortably settled in her own home, without children or other encumbrance. He soon availed himself of the opportunity, and in that same or the following year (June, 1695), married her, who in every way suited him so well. Living among his wife's relations, who were people of influence in the colony, he soon made himself as one with, and being in favor with Gov. Archdale, circumstances were favorable to his building up a valuable estate.

The younger John Alston (about 21 years old), remaining in Albemarle, after a few years married among the Quakers. Or he possibly may have accompanied Archdalte to Charleston, and in 1696, returned with him to Albemarle (now Pasquotank).

After Alston's marriage and several children having been born unto them, he moved from Pasquotank and settled upon Bennett's Creek (now Gates County). His subsequent history is known.

The Alstons as a family had very marked characteristics. In personal appearance they were tall, erect, muscular, with florid complexion, blue eyes, and brown or flaxen hair. They held much wealth, though not give to money-making as a business, and have but seldom been panderers for political preferment, or sought public honors. They have rather acted the part of wealthy country gentlemen who lived well, bestowed upon their families all the pleasures and luxuries which circumstances could afford, and dispensing hospitality with a liberal hand. Strong in their attachments and unyielding in their antagonism, they have ever been ready to make common cause with a friend, defend injured innocence, befriend the weak, or fight against whatever they conceived to be injustice, wrong or oppression, and as masters were kind and considerate to their servants. Their own conduct being open and above board, they held in abhorrence all sham or pretense of every kind, or anything that savored of dishonesty or meanness, preferring death to dishonor. Brave and unflinching in battling with the vicissitudes of life, they have borne their name proudly in prosperity and poverty alike.

Their women, while always proud of their ancestral lineage, and holding it's traditions, have been kind, loving and gentle in their homelife unfaltering in their devotion, true and faithful in all that goes to make up the sum of domestic and social endearment and happiness, cherishing virtues as the crowing jewel of womanhood."