Reliable facts about the first three Fremantles, all called John, dating back to the seventeenth century are scarce, but John IV’s history is a little clearer. He was one of several children of John III and Maria Teresa, from Madrid, but the fact that he was half-Spanish does not seem to have been worthy of mention. He is said to have eloped with his ‘heiress’ from a ball at her grandfather’s house, although no suggestion is made that inheritance was the attraction, and there seems to have been a fairly rapid reconciliation with her family. He might have been expected to have quite something of his own, with which presumably he bought the Aston Abbots property in Buckinghamshire.
What is undoubted fact is the close friendship of his family with the Grenville’s (Marquis of Buckingham), neighbors at the grand Stowe. This was all-important to the future of the Fremantle's for at this time commissions in the services and advancement in politics could only be got by patronage at a high level. John died in debt, so perhaps it is fair to assume that a lot of money was spent on “keeping up with the Jones's” for the sake of the sons careers and the daughters marriages.
The eldest son, John V, (1761 - 1805) married but had no children and died at the age of 44, a Lieut. Colonel in the Coldstream Guards.
The next brother, Stephen, (1762 -1794) also a Colonel in the Coldstream, married Albinia Jefferys of Blarney Castle, Co. Cork. He had one son and died aged 44. However, he had founded what has sometimes been called the senior or military branch of the family.
His son, John VI, (1790-1850) known as ‘Jolly Jack’ again in the Coldstream, was the father of Lt. Col Arthur Fremantle. Jack had the distinction of being ADC to Wellington throughout the
Peninsula Campaigns and at Waterloo. He married Agnes Lyon, daughter of a family of some affluence, with property near Goring-on-sea in Sussex. Agnes bore him 4 sons and a daughter.
The eldest son, Arthur James Lyon (1835-1901), became a serious soldier, a General in The Coldstream, awarded the G.C.M.G. and K.G.St.J. (St John of Jerusalem), and later became
Governor of Malta,. However, his claim to fame, which has increased greatly in the intervening 138 years, is his Diary, “Three Months in The Southern States, April - June 1863” written when a
young Lieut. Colonel of the Coldstream, recounting his visit to North America in 1863 during the height of the Civil War. His vivid account of battles and life in the Southern States was published
in England in 1864, and also the North and South of the United States, while the war was still in progress. He married Mary Susan Hall upon returning from this trip, but there were no children.
General Fremantle died in 1901 from an asthma attack, in his room in the Royal Yacht Squadron Castle, Isle of Wight, aged 65. He is buried in Woodvale Cemetary, Brighton, England.(see grave
restoration plans for this centenary year)
Arthur's younger brother Fitzroy (1836-1894) had one son, Guy and three daughters, one of whom married General Thesiger of the
great legal and military family. Guy married but had no children and with his death the name of Fremantle in this branch died also.
The third brother, Stephen, (1841-1874), did not marry and died aged 33. Stephen is also buried in the grave at Brighton.
The fourth brother, Delvin, (1842-1873), married Emma Isaacs, sister of his second cousin Edmund’s wife and had 2 daughters,
Albinia and Leila, but died aged 31. Leila married Sydney, her third cousin, through their joint great-grandfather and mothers respectively, thus in a sense reuniting the Naval and Army branches of the Fremantle name.