John Harvey Astell, M.P., J.P.

1806 – 1887


Relationship with the Hatfield and St Albans Railway Company:

  • The Minute Book records that he was one of the seven who attended the second Board meeting, on Friday 17th April 1863, the first time all seven sat together. He was one of the two Great Northern Railway Directors to sit on the H&SAR Board.
  • Attended the last Board meeting, on Thursday 28th February 1884.

Life highlights:

  • Born in 1806, in Old Broad Street, Middlesex.
  • Educated at Haileybury College.
  • Entered the service of the Honourable East India Company, later becoming a Director.
  • Appointed Secretary at Macau, China.
  • He was the East India Company’s last agent in China, leaving in 1840.
  • Elected to Parliament, for Cambridge, in 1852, but unseated in 1853 because of bribery by his agent.
  • Elected to Parliament, for Bedfordshire.
  • Married Anne Amelia Nisbet on 7th June 1853, at Southbroome church, Wiltshire.
  • Elected to Parliament, for Ashburton, in 1859 – until 1865.
  • Died on 17th January 1887 at Woodbury Hall.
  • Will proved by his widow Anne, and others, on 1st March 1887: effects £136,305.17.2.
  • Was a magistrate for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire & Huntingdonshire.
  • Was Deputy Lieutenant of Bedfordshire.
  • Was a magistrate for Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire.
  • Was a Commissioner of Lieutenancy for the City of London.
  • He was one of the chief landowners in Tetworth, St Neots, Huntingdonshire.
  • Qualified as a voter by having a Freehold Share in the New River Company, Hornsey.
  • Amongst his directorships were:
  1. The East India Company (c1852).
  2. The Netherlands Land Enclosure Company (c1852).
  3. The Great Northern Railway.
  4. The Hatfield and St Albans Railway (1862).
  5. The Imperial Life Insurance Company (c1869).
  6. The Trust & Loan Company of Canada (c1878).
  • Amongst his committees were:
  1. The Cambridge and York Railway (1844).
  2. The London and York Railway (1844) (Chairman).
  3. The Marine Society (1849). 

Homes included:

  • Everton House, Tetworth, Biggleswade, Huntingdonshire.
  • 51 Broad Street, London.
  • 41 Eaton Place, London.
  • Woodbury Hall, Gamlingay, Cambridgeshire.

He, his father, 2 sisters and 3 brothers are at Everton House, Tetworth, Huntingdonshire, in the 1841 census: Independent.

He is a visitor at Bedford Road, Kempston, Bedfordshire, in the 1851 census: Esquire.

He, his wife, 5 daughters, 1 son and numerous others are at Woodbury Hall, Gamlingay, Cambridgeshire, in the 1861 census: M.P., Lieutenant Deputy and J.P.

He, his wife, 6 daughters, 1 son and numerous others are at Woodbury Hall, Gamlingay, Cambridgeshire, in the 1871 census: Magistrate & Land Owner.

He, his wife, 6 daughters and numerous others are at Woodbury Hall, Gamlingay, Cambridgeshire, in the 1881 census.


Information gathered from:

  • The Hatfield & St Albans Railway Company Minute Book.
  • The London Overseer Returns.
  • British censuses.
  • Wills Index.
  • The Times Digital Archive.

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