Records of the Family of Sclater

Claude Sclater

CHAPTER 6

Children of Richard Sclater

Thomas Limbrey Sclater Mathew, 1741-1809

RICHARD’S elder surviving son, Thomas Limbrey, by his first wife, Magdalen Limbrey, was born on March 12 and baptised on April 5, 1741 at Christ Church, Newgate Street, London. He was educated at Westminster1, then perhaps the most fashionable school in England. After his father’s death in 1754 he and his sister lived for a time with their aunt Elizabeth and uncle Thomas Pickering, Vicar of St. Sepulcre, Holborn. Here he met and became a close friend of his talented first cousin, Elizabeth Sclater (Sterne’s Eliza), then aged ten, who had been sent home from India to be educated. They corresponded after her return to India and a number of her letters to him and his sister Elizabeth have been preserved by the family and published2.

In 1756 Thomas was apprenticed to one of his father’s executors, Edward Hillersdon, a London Merchant, for a consideration of 400 guineas. Mr. Hillersdon was engaged in the Hamburg trade from his counting-house in St. Martin’s Lane, and had a country estate at Sewardstone in Essex not far from the Pickerings at Chingford. Eliza wrote to her cousin Elizabeth from India on September 26, 1762:

“Pray present my best wishes and respects to him [Thomas], Mr., Mrs. & the Miss Hillersdons. Sophia now I imagine is grown a fine young Lady and perhaps Mr. Thomas Sclater’s favourite toast.”

Nothing more is known of Sophia but the marriage of her sister Louisa to Silvanus Grove, widower, of St. Martin’s Lane, is recorded in The Gentleman’s Magazine under March 8, 1762.

We have no information as to how long Thomas remained in business after completing his training with Edward Hillersdon, who apparently retired in 1764, after which year his name no longer appears in the The London Directory, and who died on January 4, 1784, aged 693. It appears from one of Eliza’s letters, dated May 2, 1767, that Thomas had had some disagreement with Edward’s son, Harcourt Hillersdon. In any event Thomas was left well provided for by his father and preferred a country life. Eliza refers to him as “a young Man surrounded with Loves, Graces, Pleasure, Health, Wealth, Cheerfulness and self-approbation”. In another letter she says “How do you go on with your savages ?”, which probably indicates that she had sent him some Indian servants.

Thomas was also expected to inherit the estate of his bachelor uncle, John Limbrey of Tangier Park, near Basingstoke. Tangier had been acquired by Thomas’s grandfather, John Limbrey the elder (1671-1738), in 1709 from Sir Hele Hooke for £10,500. The property was held on a long lease under the Dean and Chapter of Winchester and had previously been known as “Fabians” after the family who held it in the 14th and 15th centuries. After the Restoration it had passed to Sir Thomas Hooke, 1st Baronet, one of the Commissioners for Tangier, which formed part of the dowry of Queen Catherine of Braganza, and he is believed to have built the present house, which bears the date 1662.

John Limbrey, the elder, also possessed much other property in and around Basingstoke, including the Manors of Hoddington, Basing Byflete and Crondall.

Hoddington, in the parishes of Upton Grey, Weston Patrick and South Warnborough, had been held by the See of Winchester from the time of King Canute to the Reformation, when it was surrendered to the Crown and granted, with much other Church property, to Sir Thomas White, a Knight of the Shire and Lord of the neighbouring Manor of South Warnborough. In South Warnborough Church there is a curious monument containing effigies of him and Agnes his wife, kneeling on either side of a prayer desk, flanked by their fourteen sons and five daughters, the children who died before their parents holding skulls in their hands. Sir Thomas leased Hoddington to Thomas Mathew, the younger son of a Glamorganshire family, whose descendants continued there as tenants until 1637 when Brian Mathew (1611-1646) purchased the freehold from William White. Brian Matthew’s heiress Jane (1638-1693), married Henry Limbrey (1630-1711), and Brian’s widow, another Jane (1613-1697), left the estate to her eldest grandson, John Limbrey the elder.

Basing Byflete Manor in the parish of Old Basing had been held by the Byflete family since 1389, when Thomas Byflete obtained it through his marriage to Jane, heiress of John de Basing, whose ancestors had held it under the Priors of Selborne since 12604. In 1486 Bishop Waynflete of Winchester suppressed Selborne Priory and transferred its property to his new foundation, Magdalen College, Oxford, but Basing Byflete Manor remained under the Bishops of Winchester, although the Advowson and some land in the parish passed to Magdalen College. John Limbrey the elder purchased the manor in about 1708 from Francis Dickens, to whom it had passed during the Commonwealth from the last of the Byfletes.

John Limbrey the elder also added the north aisle to Upton Grey Church in about 1725, and either he or his father built the present long red brick house at Hoddington in about 1700. In his will dated February 21, 1733, he left his landed estate in trust to his eldest son John, with remainder to his heirs male and, in default of these, to his younger children Brian, Ann, Elizabeth and Magdalen and their heirs male in that succession. Of all these children only Magdalen, the youngest, who married Richard Sclater, had a son, Thomas Limbrey Sclater.

Thomas’s way of life seems to have aroused the criticism of the family, echoes of which reached his cousin Eliza in India, for she wrote to him in May 1769:

“How go you on with the Tangier Folks ? Uncle [John] has I hear been innoculated. I wish, my dear, if you cannot get them to make you a settlement to your wishes, you would do anything rather than live an inglorious life of Dependance. There’s something that sensibly wounds me in the recollecting Idea of it. Were I Mr Sclater a pair of Colours5 or Rose and Gown6 would be altogether preferable.”

By this time it become clear that Thomas, as the only grandson, was the heir presumptive under his grandfather’s will to all the Limbrey estates. Not long afterwards John Limbrey moved to Hoddington and assigned the lease of Tangier to him. Eliza wrote in March 1772:

“And so you are Lord of Tangier and its Demesnes! I felicitate you my Coz - and you think of taking a Wife too - I wish you a Prize, and am told, tho’ not by yourself, which I take very ill, that you are likely to obtain one in the Person of the Duke of Bolton’s Daughter - is this true ?”

The lady in question was Jean Mary Browne-Powlett, the only (but illegitimate) daughter and heiress of the 5th Duke of Bolton of near-by Hackwood Park who had died by his own hand in 1765. But it was not to be. She eventually married in 1778 the able Thomas Orde, M.P. (1740-1807), sometime Fellow of King’s College, Cambridge, who assumed the additional name of Powlett, and was created 1st Baron Bolton in 1797, after his wife inherited the ducal estates7 on the death of her uncle, the 6th and last Duke.

Thomas Sclater never married, and his sister Elizabeth kept house for him at Tangier, where he lived for the rest of his life, farming, hunting and playing an influential part in local justice, politics and administration as a Justice of the Peace. He was a member of the Hampshire Club, founded in 1776 under the presidency of the 6th Duke of Bolton “for the support of public liberty”, so was evidently a supporter of “Wilkes and Liberty”.

He kept a pack of foxhounds at Tangier and hunted the country afterwards taken over by William Chute, who founded the Vine Hunt in 1795. His favourite meet is said to have been St. John’s Wood, but no records of his sport have survived. His old huntsman, John Adams, remained as a sort of pensioner on the family and practised as a farrier and cow doctor whenever he was sober. There is a story that on one occasion he cut off a cow’s tail at Oakley Hall and sent it in to the house on a plate, declaring that it would serve for Squire Bramston’s dinner8.

Thomas had to wait a long time for his inheritance for his uncle lived to a very great age. During this period Thomas seems to have run into debt and borrowed on his expectations. This may have been connected with the presence in the neighbourhood of the Prince of Wales, who rented Kempshott Park from 1788 to 1794 and entertained lavishly, with the result, so it was said, that a number of Hampshire gentlemen ruined themselves through trying to emulate him. Whatever the cause Thomas became involved in complicated transactions with Sir Robert Mackreth of near-by Ewhurst Manor. Mackreth had started as a billiards marker at White’s Club, which he acquired by marrying the proprietor’s daughter. He had then made a fortune, but gained an evil reputation, as a bookmaker and moneylender. He later became a member of Parliament and was knighted in 17959. The surviving documents do not tell the full story, but it is clear that Thomas had cause to regret his association with this unscrupulous man.

John Limbrey died at last at the age of ninety-eight and was buried in the family vault at Upton Grey on December 22, 1801. After the funeral, when the relations assembled at Hoddington for the reading of the will, Thomas must have received an unpleasant surprise. He found that his kindly old uncle, who had been senile for some years, had made a new will cutting him out completely, and leaving the whole of his property, save for a few pecuniary legacies10, to his great-nephew Charles, 13th Marquess of Winchester. Charles was the grandson of John Limbrey’s eldest sister Ann, who had married Thomas Ingoldsby of Dinton and Waldbridge, Bucks.11, and had an only daughter Martha, who married George Paulet, eighth but only surviving son of Norton Paulet of Amport, Hants. On the death in 1794 of the 6th Duke of Bolton the dukedom became extinct, but his older title, Marquess of Winchester, devolved on George Paulet, his distant cousin, and passed to Charles in 1800.

It is noteworthy that John Limbrey made his last will a few months later, in April 1801, perhaps thinking Charles with his title and but little money the more deserving beneficiary. John Limbrey could do what he liked with his personal property, but he had no power to dispose of the landed estate which his father had left in trust sixty years before. Unfortunately the trustees had died and not been replaced, and Thomas had to contest the will at Doctors’ Commons before his rights were recognised. When this tiresome business was settled, he assumed the additional name of Mathew by royal licence to comply with his grandfather’s will, and proceeded to take stock of his inheritance.

His rent book, which still exists, shows that he had become Lord of the Manors of Crondall12, Hoddington, Basing Byflete, and Le Court, Greatham, together with many farms and woodlands, and much property in Basingstoke, including the Angel Inn; the whole totalling some 3,500 acres with an annual rent-roll of about £2,500. But the property was in a deplorable state, and Thomas reckoned that his uncle had enriched himself at the expense of his heir to the tune of some £70,000 by various means, such as selling all, even the immature, timber and neglecting to repair any buildings. It was never clear whether this was done of set purpose, or to what extent his uncle had been influenced, or cheated by his bailiff, John Clarke, to whom he left the comparatively large sum of £3,000.

Thomas considered litigation, but was finally dissuaded after taking Counsel’s opinion. He needed capital to pay his debts and restore the property so he sold Le Court and farms at Yately and Long Sutton.

He leased Hoddington to Joseph Russell, who had previously rented Greywell Hill from Lady Dorchester. Mr. Russell was a retired Solicitor from Essex who kept a pack of foxhounds at Odiham, and we are told that his wife, Lady Betty, the daughter of the Earl of Louth, cut a striking figure in the hunting field, wearing a habit with a scarlet body13.

Thomas continued to live at Tangier. He was evidently well respected in the county for in 1807 he was appointed as Clerk of the Peace for Hampshire14, by the then Lord Lieutenant, the 1st Earl of Malmesbury. He died two years later aged sixty-seven and was buried on February 4, 1809, at Upton Grey, where there is a memorial to him. According to his obituary in The Gentleman’s Magazine “he lived universally beloved and his death will be long regretted.” His portrait in pastel as a young man wearing a white riding coat with blue collar and lapels, is in Lord Basing’s possession.

In his will, dated March 26, 1807, he left all he possessed to his sister Elizabeth, with remainder to his half-sister Penelope. The will was proved in the Winchester Archdeaconry Court by Elizabeth Sclater on February 17, 1809.

Elizabeth Sclater, 1742-1814

RICHARD’S elder daughter, Elizabeth, by his first wife, Magdalen Limbrey, was baptised at Christ Church, Newgate Street, on April 21, 1742, and, after her father’s death in 1754, was brought up by her aunt Elizabeth Pickering. After her aunt’s death in 1769 she kept house for her widower uncle, Dr. William Sclater, Rector of Bow Church, until his death in 1778.

She then lived with her bachelor brother Thomas at Tangier Park and, when he died in 1809, she inherited all his estates. Tangier was only three miles from Steventon, where Jane Austen’s father had been Rector from 1761 to 1801. Jane evidently knew the Sclaters, but there is only a single ill-natured reference to Elizabeth in her published letters. In letter No. 7815 of February 9, 1813, when Elizabeth was lying bedridden, Jane wrote to her sister, Cassandra, “Kill poor Mrs. Sclater if you like it while you are at Manydown.” This remark was prompted by her knowledge that the owner of Manydown, Harris Bigg-Wither, was anxious to buy Tangier to consolidate it with his estate16.

There is no portrait of Elizabeth but we have a description of her in Eliza’s letter of January 20, 1774, to Thomas Sclater17:

“Bess has great goodness of Heart, and she is not defective in Understanding but she has not sacrificed to the Graces - she is not agreable and this is a Quality indispensably requisite in the composition of a Woman, because it’s necessary that our Sex should be loved as well as esteemed.”

Elizabeth died unmarried and was buried on July 29, 1814, at Upton Grey. In her will, dated February 18, 180918, she left everything she possessed to her half-sister Penelope, whom she appointed sole executrix. She directed that after Penelope’s death £1,000 was to be paid to each of her nieces, Eliza and Charlotte Sclater; that £1,000 and her farm, known as May’s Farm at Ramsdell, were to go to her nephew, John May Sclater; and that all the rest of her manors, lands and property were to pass to her nephew, William Lutley Sclater.

Penelope Lutley Sclater, 1752-1843

RICHARD’S younger daughter, Penelope, by his second wife, Penelope Lutley, was born in 1752 and lived for much of her life at “The Tythings”, near Worcester, a house left her by her mother who died in 1796. After inheriting the Hampshire estates from her half-sister Elizabeth in 1814, she moved to Tangier Park, and her nephew, William Lutley Sclater, spent much of his time there helping to manage the property.

She sold some of the outlying land to provide portions for her nieces, Eliza and Charlotte Sclater. She held her last Court Baron as Lady of the Manor of Crondall in 181519 and sold the lease of the Manor for £3,000 to Samuel Andrews soon afterwards. She also disposed of some property in Basingstoke, and Shalden, Riversdown and Humbly Grove Farm, but bought Dean and Little Dean Farms which were near Hoddington.

Penelope’s neighbour, Harris Bigg-Wither, was still hoping to acquire Tangier and the only mention of her in Jane Austen’s letters is a reference to this. Jane remarked in her letter No. 13020 of July 9, 1816, “We hear that Mrs. S. does not quit Tangier - why and wherefore ?”

Penelope, however, remained there until 1831, when, alarmed at the rioting and rick burning by destitute farm labourers which preceded the passing of the first Reform Bill, she finally returned to Worcester. She let the house to Harris Bigg-Wither, who in turn let Manydown to Sir Richard Rycroft. Two years later she sold Tangier Park (175 acres), Sheerdown Farm (160 acres) and 60 acres at Ramsdell to Harris’s son, Lovelace Bigg-Wither, for £5,30021.

Penelope never married though she seems to have been a beauty. Her cousin Eliza wrote of her in 1766 “One of the finest Young Creatures I ever beheld”22. She lived to the great age of 91 and was buried in the cloisters of Worcester Cathedral, where there was formerly a monument to her memory.

In her will23, dated January 11, 1839, she bequeathed £2,100 to her niece, Charlotte Penelope Jordan, £25 to her godchild, Elizabeth Mary Bramston Bigg-Wither, and a number of other small legacies to relations, friends, servants and charities. She left all her manors, lands, messuages, tenements and other real estate and the residue of her personal estate to her nephew, William Lutley Sclater, whom she appointed sole executor.

Bartholomew Lutley Sclater, 1753-1804

RICHARD’S younger son, Bartholomew Lutley, by his second marriage to Penelope Lutley, was born in London in 1753, but after his father’s death in 1754 his mother returned to Henwick, near Worcester, where his childhood was spent. He was educated at Harlebury Grammar School, Worcestershire, and Worcester College, Oxford, where he obtained a scholarship for a Hartlebury boy in 1769. He graduated B.A. in 1773, and became M.A. in 1776. He was elected into an Open Fellowship at Oriel College in 1774, became Junior Treasurer in 1776 and remained a Fellow until his marriage in 1785. At this time Oriel fellowships, while not, as they became twenty years later, the highest honour Oxford had to offer, were still a considerable distinction. Among his contemporaries was Gilbert White of Selborne.

He had intended to read for the Bar and had been admitted to the Middle Temple in 1770, but while at Oxford reached the conviction that his vocation lay in the Church. Having been ordained in 1776, he became Vicar of Feltham in Middlesex in 1778, but resigned after five years on being appointed Rector of Drumconrath and Almoritia in Ireland. He exchanged these livings in 1791 for that of Whittingham in Northumberland. In 1799 he was presented by his wife’s cousin, Robert Bristow of Broxmore Park, to the rectory of Sherfield English in Hampshire. He held both these livings until his death but continued to live mainly in Middlesex and was evidently a typical absentee Rector of the period. In the absence of his portrait or any of his letters he remains a shadowy figure, who failed to make the best of his undoubted abilities.

His character is described in the words of an obituary written by Robert Burd Gabriel, D.D., his contemporary at Worcester College, Oxford, and neighbour at Feltham:

“In his friendship he was warm and active, in his spirit firm and independent, his piety was sincere, his faith was orthodox and his honesty most inflexible, the justness of his character no man will dispute. The equanimity of his temper and the excellence of his disposition was such that few mortals have it in their power to boast the like.”

He married on July 16, 1785, by licence at St. Martin’s Outwich, London, Elizabeth Rebecca (1756-1825), elder daughter and heiress of George Bristow (1727-1815) of the Clockhouse, Ashford, Middlesex. George Bristow was the youngest son of Robert Bristow24 of Micheldever, Hampshire, by his wife Sarah, daughter of Sir John Warde of Squerries, Kent. He was Clerk to the Merchant Taylor’s Company from 1763 to 1802, in which post he succeeded his father-in-law, George North. A portrait of George Bristow by John Opie hangs in the Hall of the Company, and another by Allan Ramsay, formerly in the possession of the Bristow family, is now in the Scottish National Gallery.

Bartholomew had five children:

  1. George Thomas (1787-1784).
  2. William Lutley (1789-1885).
  3. John May (1791-1818).
  4. Eliza Penelope (1796-1831), who married the Rev. Lancelot Miles Halton and had two children.
  5. Charlotte Penelope (1801-1877), who married her second cousin, the Rev. Gibbes Walker Jordan (1800-1856) and had seven children.

Bartholomew died suddenly of apoplexy at the age of 51 at the house of his wife’s cousin, Anna Maria Bristow, in New Street, Spring Gardens, London, on February 2, 1804, and was buried at Feltham in Middlesex. He left no will and administration of his estate, valued at £600, was granted to his widow, Elizabeth Rebecca Sclater.

On her father’s death in 1815 his property at Ashford was sold and his estate was held in trust for her four surviving children, share and share alike. Elizabeth Rebecca then lived for a time at Woburn Place, Russell Square, London. She died and was buried at Sherbourne, Warwickshire, on October 28, 1825. In her will dated July 18, 182425, she confirmed the appointment of gifts of £7,000 to her son, William Lutley Sclater, on his marriage and £5,250 to her daughter, Charlotte Penelope, on her marriage. She left £5,250 to her other daughter, Eliza Penelope, and, after bequests to her servants, the rest of her estate to be equally divided between her two daughters. The will was proved on November 15, 1825, by her executors, William Lutley Sclater and Gibbes Walker Jordan.

References

  1. A. H. Stenning, The Record of Old Westminsters
  2. W. L. Sclater, Sterne’s Eliza
  3. Gentleman’s Magazine, 1784, p.73
  4. W. Addison, V.C.H. Hants
  5. A commission in the army
  6. An incumbency in the Church
  7. These included the ruins of Basing House at Old Basing
  8. Recollections of the Vine Hunt by a Sexagenarian (1865)
  9. D.N.B.
  10. One of which was £500 to Thomas’s sister, Elizabeth Sclater
  11. At Wootton St. Laurence on October 5, 1721
  12. Leased from the Dean and Chapter of Winchester. The property consisted mainly of Manor Court Farm of 800 acres and the “Plume of Feathers” Inn. The old Manor House, where Queen Elizabeth had slept, had been pulled down about 1780. Thomas did not inherit the great tithes of Crondall and Yately worth £1,000 a year, which John Limbrey had leased from St. Cross Hospital for £30 a year plus a lump sum to the Master. These counted as personal estate and passed to the Marquess of Winchester.
  13. Sporting Reminiscences of Hampshire by Aesop (1864)
  14. Edgar Stevens, The Clerks of the Counties 1360-1960
  15. R. W. Chapman, Jane Austen’s Letters
  16. R. F. Big-Wither, The Wither Family
  17. W. L. Sclater, Sterne’s Eliza
  18. P.C.C. Bridport, Folio 494
  19. These courts were held annually for nearly a thousand years until abolished in 1866
  20. R. W. Chapman, Jane Austen’s Letters
  21. R. F. Big-Wither, The Wither Family
  22. W. L. Sclater, Sterne’s Eliza
  23. P.C.C. 1843, Folio 136
  24. A history of the Bristow family is given in A. B. Milner’s “History of Micheldever”. Portraits of Robert and Sarah Bristow by Hogarth remained in the possession of the family until 1945
  25. P.C.C. St. Albns, Folio 597

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