William Mewburn from Stokesley
The Stockbroking line
William Mewburn 1817-1900
William was baptised at Stokesley on the 19th September 1817, the son of Mary Mewburn. Mary was not married, and never became so, and no father’s name was given. William is said to have become a clerk in a solicitor’s office in Stokesley and by the census of 1841 had moved to become an attorney’s clerk in Halifax lodging with William Matthew, a printer, at Cavalry Fields on Rhodes Street. By 1845 he had set up as a sharebroker in Halifax and by 1851 was living at 9 New Bond Street. With Thomas Barker he started the firm of Mewburn & Barker. They are said to have been early participants in the Manchester Stock Exchange, though that institution had been established, along with Liverpool, as the first of the regional exchanges in 1836. By 1861 he was living at Willow Hall in Skircoats on the south side of Halifax, some 30 miles from Manchester.
Brokers at that time could work on both sides of a bargain and, particularly by promoting shares in the new railway companies, the firm became hugely successful. With his wealth William gave generously to Methodist causes and endowed the building of several Weslyan chapels and a children’s wing at the hospital in Banbury.
On the 20th June 1844, at Halifax, William married Maria Tew, of a Halifax Quaker family. For Maria this was a considerable step to take since exogamy, marrying out, was forbidden within the Quaker community at that time. She was immediately expelled from the Quaker Meeting. Wood gives the wording of the letter:
Maria Mewburn/late Tew/ having been married in a manner contrary to our rules to a person not a member of our religious society, this meeting according to the good order of the discipline established amongst us and also in support of our Christian testimony against a hireling ministry, feels called upon to testify against such proceedings and hereby separated her from membership with us. We nevertheless desire her present and eternal welfare. Signed on behalf of the Brighouse Monthly Meeting held at Bradford the 20th of month 1844. Isaac Robson. Clerk.
At the registration of the marriage William claimed that his father was Thomas Mewburn, a mechanic. There is nothing to support this claim and no plausible Thomas Mewburn was around at the time.
William Mewburn (with thanks to Charles Wood)
In 1865 William, as a wealthy benefactor, was invited to lay a foundation stone for the Marlborough Road chapel in Banbury. It was the grandest in the county and William had donated handsomely towards it. He was evidently taken with the area and on discovering that the nearby Wykham Park was available he first leased then bought it. It is much the grandest of any of the Mewburn houses throughout their history. He appeared there in the censuses from 1871 onwards, listing himself as retired in 1881.
Wykham Park, Banbury
William was an important figure locally and in due course became High Sheriff of Oxfordshire and Deputy Lieutenant for the county. In the business world Charles Wood notes that:
“by 1876 William Mewburn was director and deputy chairman of the Star Life Assurance Company. In 1880 he became a director of the South Eastern Railway Company. He retained both positions for the rest of his life, becoming chairman of the latter from 1892. He also became a director of the Submarine Continental Railway Company, like the South Eastern Railway also under the chairmanship of Sir Edward Watkin, one of the most famous entrepreneurs of the time. This became the first Channel Tunnel Company by 1888, and was of course a famous failure. … William Mewburn was also a director of the Lydd Railway Company, founded in effect as a first effort by his son in law Robert Perks”.
He was listed in the Insurance Register for 1880 and for 1883 as Deputy Chairman of the Star Life Assurance Society, 82 Moorgate Street, London [established 1843].
In Banbury, over half a century after William’s death, there were conflicting views on the nature of his influence locally. William appears in three issues, in 1965, 1966 and 1989, of Cake and Cockhorse, the magazine of the Banbury Historical Society. A book by B.S. Trinder on Banbury Methodism was pointedly reviewed by Rev. M.S. Edwards. He mentions a “certain docility of character” locally among Methodists, but asserts that “The picture changes quite suddenly with the building of Marlborough Road in 1865, and the arrival of the wealthy William Mewburn upon the Banbury scene.” A certain opulence seems to have descended on the chapel, top hats and silks are mentioned, and the book claims that Mewburn “controlled the appointment of ministers to the Banbury Circuit” and that “In chapel, he sat in one of the best pews downstairs, while his servants went into the gallery.” In C. of E. churches that would have been standard practice for the time but perhaps not so among Methodists.
In the following year an item, ‘Further Memories’, by John Langley mentions that:
“Banbury’s leading Weslyan in the 90’s was Mr. William Mewburn, partner in Messrs. Mewburn and Barker, the Manchester stockbrokers, who lived in Wykham Park. I remember seeing him drive to Marlborough Road chapel in his carriage and pair. It was always said that he controlled the appointment of Wesleyan ministers to the Banbury circuit.”
The same issue, though, has a letter from J. Tyrell commenting,
“I agree there were proud and haughty folk at Marlborough Road, but that they were the predominant influence there, I deny.” He later says, “My parents knew Mewburn well … I doubt if he had any real control in the choice of ministers. In his travels he would meet and hear reports of many ministers, and no doubt he tendered names to the Circuit Stewards. That is done today.”
On chapel seating Tyrell said:
“Naturally Mewburn’s servants sat in the gallery; they were more comfortable there than below, where if not under the eye of the Missus, they were too near some of her friends for their liking.”
William was clearly not too proud to mix as Tyrell also mentions his neighbour, Harry Bull, a labourer at Wykham, who reminisced about how:
“on a summer evening Squire Mewburn would walk down to his cottage when he was busy gardening, and of the confabs they had together.”
In 1989 another item on ‘Wykham Park’ by Nanette Godfrey and Charmian Snowden provided a great deal of colour about the Mewburn times. For example, they say:
“No Anglican squire could have had more influence over the running of his parish church than Mewburn did over the Marlborough Road congregation. By 1867 he was Circuit Steward, in which position he soon controlled the appointment of ministers to Marlborough Road Church.
Every Sunday morning onlookers would wait outside the church for the arrival of the carriage from Wykham Park. Mewburn and his family would enter and sit on a pew near the centre of the downstairs part of the Church, while the servants went upstairs to the gallery.
He always behaved as a squire and was very influential in the district, being High Sheriff and later Deputy Lieutenant of Oxfordshire. He always said that everyone should gibe 1/10 of his income to charity and he practiced what he preached.”
An odd mix of facts with attitudes from a century later. The article, though, is full of fascinating detail about the extensive improvements made to the house and its fine gardens where little expense was spared, and of the magnificent wedding when daughter Maria married Mark Oldroyd and the whole of Banbury was decorated in celebration. The gardens were often opened and every year hosted the Sunday School treat which in 1889 fed and entertained 700 children!
William died at Wykham Park on the 25th May 1900. At probate his effects were given as £477,589. Maria died on the 27th January 1902 with her own effects of £2,697.
William and Maria had eight children.
Descendants of William Mewburn (1817) of Stokesley
William’s position among the gentry of Oxfordshire, and as a prominent Methodist, secured good marriages for his four surviving daughters. His son William continued in the business, though with less evident enthusiasm in the face of his own considerable wealth. William junior much preferred a quieter life and latterly spent much of his time at his estate in Scotland where both he and his wife died. William Jr. had one son, William Guy, who in turn had one son William Donald with whom the line ended.
William's children were:
William Tew Mewburn 1845-1845
The first son’s birth was registered in the first quarter of 1845 at Halifax and his death in the second.
Sophia Mewburn 1846-1933
Sophia’s birth was registered in the first quarter of 1847 at Halifax.[xlv] In censuses she appears with the family at Halifax and then Skircoat in 1851 and 1861 and at Neithrop (Wykham Park) in 1871 and 1881. At 35 Sophia married a prominent timber merchant, William Sutcliffe Ogden at Banbury in the summer of 1881. Ten years later they were at Hatherley House in Monmouthshire with an aunt of William’s. They had had no children.
It seems that William’s ventures were eventually less successful and the couple apparently drifted apart. In 1901 Sophia was living at Church Road in Hastings, on her own means, with a Barker niece as company while William, as a retired timber importer, was lodging with a grocer at Llantrisart in Glamorgan. By 1911 William was professing to be a lead mine proprietor and was living at Llagunnor, Carmarthenshire while Sophia was in Haslemere, Surrey with another Barker niece.
William died at Carmarthen in 1912 with effects at probate of just £267. Sophia died at Alton in Hampshire early in 1933. Her effects totaled £7,538.
Eliza Dyer Mewburn 1848-1939
Eliza’s birth was registered in the second quarter of 1848 at Halifax. In censuses she appears with the family at Halifax and then Skircoat in 1851 and 1861. Then in 1869, at Banbury, she consolidated family business interests by marrying John Lees Barker, the son of her father’s partner.
They set up house at Home Hill by Dunham Massey in 1871. Between 1891 and 1901 they were living at Dunham Road and bringing up eight children. The 1911 census throws up a curiosity because Lillie, as she was known, was in Bath at the Lansdown Grove Hospital and Nursery Home as a patient. With her, also as ‘patients’, were her sister Maria and her husband Mark Oldroyd. Being in Bath their treatments may have been fashionable rather than compellingly medical and could have focused on drinking sulphurous waters in the morning with tea and cake in the afternoon.
John died in Cheshire in 1924 with effects of £114,673; Lillie lived on into her nineties and died in Reigate in 1939, with effects of £5,180.
Maria Tew Mewburn 1850-1919
Maria’s birth was registered in the fourth quarter of 1850 at Halifax. In censuses she appears with the family at Halifax and then Skircoat in 1851 and 1861. She was at Wykham Park in 1871 shortly before her marriage there to a hugely successful woollen manufacturer, Mark Oldroyd. He was later mayor of Dewsbury and became their MP (a rare achievement for a non-conformist – a Congregationalist). He was ultimately knighted in 1909 for his services.
In 1881 she was with Mark at his place, Hyrstlands in Batley close to Dewsbury, by which time he was already a local JP. Maria was at Wykham Park, with her maid, for the 1891 census and she and Mark were together in London at 38 Hyde Park Gate in 1901 before taking the cure in Bath with her sister in 1911.
Lady Maria died at Hyrstlands on the 21st January 1919, with effects of £26,724. Sir Mark then married Annie Jane Pattinson of Gainsborough eighteen months later. He died at his other house, The Firs, Goathland in 1927, leaving a modest £93,124, presumably as a result of his philanthropic activities. He has an entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
Mark and Maria had no children. There is, though, an unsourced claim on Wikipedia that he had illegitimate children by a mill girl.
William Mewburn 1853-1932
The heir, William, was born in the second quarter of 1853. He was with the family in 1861 but has not been found in 1871. In June 1877 he married Margaret Elizabeth Clarke at Abingdon, Berkshire and worked as a stockbroker at the family firm, Mewburn & Barker. In 1881 he was living at Booth Road, Altrincham with the first two of what would be six children. By 1891 they were established in finer style at Warford Hall in Cheshire. Later he and Margaret lived at Hawkwell Place in Kent, then at Great Sanders, Sedlescombe in East Sussex.
He too took roles in business succeeding his father as a director of the South Eastern & Chatham Railway, and of the Star Assurance Society. He was Lay Treasurer of the Children’s Fund and fulfilled his civic duties as a Justice of the Peace for both Kent and Cheshire. He also joined the Company of Weavers and became Free of the City of London.
William built a house at Achnacarron in Argyll that became his passion (along with their steam launch Bumblebee). He and Margaret were there for the 1911 census and lived out their latter days there. William died at Achnacarron on the 14th May 1932, leaving effects of £18,362, and Margaret in 1935, leaving £4,844.
The line ended 36 years later with the death of William’s grandson William Donald at Cirencester.
William Jnr, William Guy and William Donald (with thanks to Charles Wood)
William junior and Margaret’s six children were:
Muriel Joyce Mewburn 1878-1963
Muriel was born on the 23rd April 1878 at Bowden, Cheshire. She was with the family at Booth Road, Altrincham in the 1881 census and with them again in 1891 by which time they had moved to Warford Hall. They were all at Wykham Park in 1901 with her widowed grandmother but then in 1904 she married Henry “Harry” Cooper Wood at Tonbridge where they lived and had their first two children before moving to Oxted in Surrey and producing two more. The 1911 census shows their address as Fernshaw, Rockfield Road, Limpsfield and identifies Henry as a shipping merchant.
Henry had been to Cambridge and the alumni records describe him as:
Adm. pens. at TRINITY, June 25, 1897. [Eldest] s. of Henry Joseph, of Bidborough Court, near Tunbridge Wells. B. [Aug 30], 1878, at Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffs. School, Rugby. Matric. Michs. 1897; B.A. 1900. Partner in Messrs Gilbert J. McCaul and Co., merchants of Bishopsgate, London. Married, 1904, Muriel Joyce, elder dau. of William Mewburn, of Great Sanders, Sedlescombe, Sussex, and had issue. Served in the Great War, 1914-19 (1st City of London Volunteer Rifles; anti-aircraft duties in London). J.P. for Kent, 1927. Of Overmeads, Speldhurst, Kent, in 1950. (Rugby Sch. Reg.; Kelly, Handbook.)
Muriel died back in the Tonbridge district at Overmeads, Southfield Road, Speldhurst on the 19th June 1963. Effects at probate were £8,204. Harry had died at Overmeads in 1957 with modest effects of £88.
William Guy Mewburn 1880-1958
William Guy was born on the 11th February 1880 at Bowden and he too was with the family from 1881 through 1901. He married Priscilla Rhoda Hogue early in 1905 at Christchurch, Hampshire.
William qualified as a solicitor but by 1911 had turned to farming and was with Rhoda and their children at High Home Farm, Rowington, Warwickshire. In 1920 the telephone directory shows him at the listed Dangstein farm in Rogate near Petersfield. Some time later (he is present there in Kelly’s Directory for 1927) they moved to Croft Farm at Winstone in the Daglingworth area near Cirencester. He inherited from his father in 1932 so after his own death on 23rd November 1958 probate showed effects of £76,326. Priscilla died in her 103rd year at Cirencester in 1981.
William and Priscilla had two children, neither of whom married:
William Donald Mewburn, born 17th December 1905 at Farnborough. He was listed in Kelly’s Directory for 1939 as a racehorse trainer at Croft Farm and eventually took over the whole place and died there on the 22nd April 1968. The Stokesley stockbroker line ended with his death.
Margaret Priscilla Mewburn was born on the 22nd March 1908 at Tonbridge and died on the 10th January 1988 at Daglingworth.
Marjorie Creemer Mewburn 1881-1948
Marjorie was born in late 1881 at Bowden and was with the family at Great Warford in 1891 and Neithrop in 1901. She received the British War Medal for service in the YMCA St John’s Ambulance Brigade at Boulogne between Oct 1917 and June 1919 (the medal record showing that she was living at Great Sanders in 1920). She did not marry. By 1941 she was living at 76 Oslo Court on Prince Albert Road alongside Regents Park in London. She was still there in 1947 but had moved to 34 Warren Crescent, East Beaston near Worthing at the time of her death on the 23rd June 1948. Apparently she died under anesthetic in a dentist’s chair. At probate her effects were £15,902.
Olive Mewburn 1885-?1972
Olive was born at Warford Hall on the 14th September 1885 and baptised at the Wesleyan Methodist Chapel in Alderley. As a child she was with the family in 1891 and 1901. In 1911 she was at Hawkwell Place the new family home in Pembury, Kent with her sister Margaret (and seven servants). Her parents were off in Scotland at Achnacarron.
Olive married Roger Williams on the 14th September 1915 at St George Hanover Square. Less than six weeks later Roger, a 2nd Lieutenant in the Royal East Kent Mounted Rifles, died at Gallipoli. Her son (Roger) Desmond Williams, a researcher of the family past, was born at Hawkwell Place the following June.
In an odd twist she then married Roger’s younger brother Mostyn Williams, a solicitor, in 1923 at Hastings. He had signed up to the RAMC in 1914 as a private soldier and was commissioned in 1916. According to Wood, Mostyn was “crippled by polio paralysis in India in 1918. He was by then a bitter man, and the marriage was unhappy.”
Mostyn appears in the 1927 phone book at Cooden Kennels, Ombersley as Capt. G.E. Mostyn Williams. He then appears at Lymington between 1937 and 1956 but Olive is never listed with him. He was in the local 28th Battalion (Christchurch Bay) Hampshire Home Guard as a Lieutenant from 1942.
Lt Godfrey Edgar Mostyn Williams (SC list 25) 1/10/1942 from 9th Bn Hts SC list 48
Holding post of Admin Off C Coy SC list 98
Awarded Home Guard Certificate 1945
No certain records have been found for the deaths of Olive or Mostyn though they are said to have been in 1972.
Margaret Lois Mewburn 1888-1966
Lois was born at Warford Hall on the 21st November 1888 and as a child was with the family in 1891 and 1901. In 1911, as has been said, she was at Hawkwell Place, the new family home in Pembury, Kent, with her sister Olive (and seven servants) – their parents were at Achnacarron.
Lois married a doctor, William Annandale Troup, around March 1915 at Tonbridge. William (1889-1966) was from a somewhat naval family – his father, George Elmslie Troup (1835-1934) was a Free Church minister and a naval chaplain, who became an Honorary Chaplain to the Navy in his later years. William himself gained a Military Cross in WW1 and an elder brother became Vice Admiral Sir James Andrew Gardiner Troup. William was a pioneer in medical treatments (he took an MD as well as the usual MB, ChB at Edinburgh) and appears to have practiced in Wimpole Street. His books include Ultra-Violet Rays in General Practice, 1926; Therapeutic Uses of Infra-Red Rays, 1933; The Rational Treatment of Catarrh, 1951; and Whimperings from Wimpole Street, 1940s. They are all short works, presumably popular explanations rather than academic tomes.
Lois and William had four children at Tonbridge and Battle. In later life they lived at 10 Chiswick Place, Eastbourne – a favoured spot for retirees. Margaret Lois died there on the 23rd February 1966 with effects of £740. William died two weeks later, with effects of £2,700.
Joyce Mewburn 1892-1978
Joyce was born on the 13th July 1892 and was with the family and her grandmother at Wykham Park in 1901. She married Livingstone Walker (described not very helpfully as a merchant) at Tonbridge in the fourth quarter of 1917 and they had one child.
Livingstone was an accomplished cricketer and captained Surrey. His cricketing career is summarized on as:
Full name: Livingstone Walker
Born: 14th June 1879, Urmston, Lancashire, England
Died: 10th October 1940, Tonbridge, Kent, England
Batting: Right-hand batsman
Bowling: Right-arm off-break
London County (Main FC: 1900-1904); Surrey (Main FC: 1900-1903); Surrey Second XI (Minor Counties Championship: 1899-1900
Surrey Captain: 1903
He played for WG Grace’s eleven in 1902 but, as an insight to his business career, played for Shanghai from 1906/7 to 1912/13. That period in China is presumably where he developed as a ‘merchant’. During WW1 Livingstone served as a Lieutenant in the Sussex Yeomanry and the subsequent medal card gave his address in 1922 as the Thatched House Club, St James Street.
Livingstone died at Tonbridge in 1940. Joyce died there around March 1978.
Going back to the first William’s children, the others are:
Edith Mewburn 1854-1943
Edith was born in the third quarter of 1854 at Halifax and so appears in the 1861 census at the early family home, 1 Willow Well in Skircoat. She married Robert Perks on the 24th April 1878 at Wykham Park. He was a lawyer in an engineering firm, CH Walker & Co., a prominent Wesleyan, and also a great Liberal MP. For many years he pressed for, and finally achieved, Methodist union and was instrumental in establishing the Million Guineas fund which enabled the Methodist Central Hall, Westminster, to be built. He made a considerable fortune in business as a contractor, lived with his wife at Kensington Palace Gardens and was created a baronet in 1908. A newspaper report suggests they were a romantic couple. They had honeymooned at Ventnor on the Isle of Wight and returned there in 1928 to celebrate their Golden wedding when she wore her wedding dress once more.
Edith and Robert had five children.
In 1881 they were living at Lubbock Road, Claverly, Chislehurst and again in 1891. However by 1901 Robert was a JP and MP for Kent and now they were living in some splendour at 11 Kensington Palace Gardens.
Not content with such a place in town, Sir Robert bought Wykham Park in 1903 from William Mewburn junior after the death of William’s mother, Maria Tew.
In 1911 Edith was at the Hotel Mont Dore in Bournemouth with daughter Mildred while Robert was nowhere to be found.
Sir Robert died suddenly on the 30th November 1934 – though 85 he was still working. At probate his effects were £74,946. A profile of him appears in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Dame Edith was seriously ill at the time of Robert’s death but pulled through and lived on, dying at 49 Lowndes Square on the 11th April 1943. Her effects at probate were £9,469.
Wilson Mewburn 1855-1859
Wilson was born about September 1855 at Halifax but died in December 1859.
Emily Ann Mewburn 1857-1859
Emily was the last child. She was born about September 1857 at Halifax and died on the 18th October 1859 still at Halifax.
The span for this strand of Mewburns was 150 years between William (1817-1900) and William Donald (1906-1968). However a longer span of nearer 400 years, back to the earliest Cleveland records, can be evoked – with a certain amount of supposition. That takes us from yeoman origins to an artisanal period of weaving and shoemaking, followed by an explosion of wealth before a settling back into business professionalism of a more modern cast.