The Lenthall family acquired Latchford in Oxfordshire by marriage in the fifteenth century and settled there. They were lesser gentry, but Thomas Lenthall was M.P. for Oxford in 1542 and John Lenthall—the elder brother of the Speaker of the Long Parliament—was made marshal of the King's Bench prison and knighted in 1616, and he married a daughter of the Temples of Stowe. Before the Civil War at least the family might be said to belong to the rising gentry. Sir John was alleged to be corrupt and extortionate as marshal, accepting money for the improper release of prisoners. But as early as 1645 he was being harried by his creditors, and a substantial part of the estate was under mortgage in the early 1660s. The debts do not appear to have arisen directly from the Civil Wars—in which the senior line of the family took no active part—but may have been the result of Sir John's exceptionally large family. In 1678 his grandson and successor, William, raised money by a method which indicated severe financial difficulties, the sale of an annuity for twenty-one years, and in 1679 his second wife's family found him a Parliamentary seat at Wallingford to enable him to evade his creditors. In the early 1680s the various debts on the estate were bought up by Sir John Cutler, the wealthy money-lender and the hero of Wycherley's Praise of Avarice, and in 1685 were consolidated in a single mortgage of all Lengthall's propery, including his profits from the King's Bench prison, for £12,000. The rate of interest was 5½ per cent, a high rate for the period, and after 1689 the interest fell into arrears, so that by 1700 there was owing on account of this debt over £20,000. In addition, in the 1690s William incurred judgment debts of some £6,500 to two Londoners, and in 1700 had to give these creditors a second mortage on his assets. Thus by 1700 the total of his debts was well in excess of the capital value of his property, and the income from the estate was in the hands of Sir John Cutler's executors and heirs who attempted to foreclose the equity of redemption in order to sell the estate. Their attempt was frustrated by the death in 1702—in the midst of these proceedings—of William without direct issue, but leaving as his legal heirs the descendants of his numerous aunts, some living beyond the sea and others, though in England, untraceable. For this reason two private Acts of Parliament were obtained vesting the equity of redemption of the Lenthall estate in trustees to sell in order to discharge the debts secured on it.