Sir Nicholas Fortescue is the ancestor of the Fortescues of Cookhill. The family name was derived from the English word “hai”, which means hedge. It was first granted to them by Henry VIII. The chapel at Cookhill was the burying place of the family for many generations.
Sir Nicholas was the grandson of Nicholas Fortescue, Groom Porter to Henry VIII. He was a Roman Catholic throughout his life. His sons were raised in that religion. One was believed to have died as a martyr. Another, Edmund, was a Keeper of Sewers to the Queen.
He was also a member of the Order of St. John. In the years following the Gunpowder Plot, he had several examinations and was recommended to the Grand Master for a Cavaliere rank. During his time in Rome, he met and dined with John Milton.
The Grand Master was pleased with his project and reported it favourably to the Pope. Afterwards, he was given lands by Queen Elizabeth II.
Throughout his life, Fortescue was known as a dexterous addressor. He was a man of ardent devotion to the Roman Catholic Church, and he was a Knight of the Order of St. John. However, his plans for the revival of the order in England were not realised. This was probably because of the impious turbulence of the English people.
After the death of Nicholas, his daughter Ursula survived him. She was buried in the private chapel at Cookhill. Other descendants include the lineal descendant of Captain Knottesford-Fortescue.
Nicholas’s brother, Edmund, was a Keeper of the Sewers to the Queen. He married Katharine Braune. Their son, William, was a descendant of the Fortescues of Cookhill. A third son, Francis, died in 1859.
Nicholas’s sons were devoted Roman Catholics, and his fourth son, John, was also an active participant in the rebellion against Parliament in 1704. His son, John Fortescue, served in Lord Anson’s ship, the Centurion. Despite his success, he was heavily fined.
During his stay in Rome, he was a guest of the English College. There, he was allowed to wear the golden cross of the order outside the convent.
When he returned to England, he was offered the chance to revive the Order of St. John in England. His proposal was accepted by the Grand Master and he was awarded a direct commission from Queen Henrietta Maria.
Several of Fortescue’s sons were ordained priests. Some of them became bishops, while some became bishops of the Holy Land. Most of his eldest sons were Knights of the Order of St. John.
Nick Fortescue has a number of colleagues and associates. He has Adrian Michael Nida, Donnie Conner, and Aram Ayazyan as his collaborators. These are some of the most prominent members of the esoteric order of the order.
Whether or not the Order of St. John will ever be revived in England is uncertain. But if the Roman Catholic faith becomes more popular than it is today, the Fortescues of Cookhill will probably find it very difficult to keep their head above water.