Records of the Family of Sclater

Claude Sclater

CHAPTER 8

The Sclater Booths

George Sclater Booth (1), 1st Lord Basing, 1826-1894

GEORGE, the eldest surviving son of William Lutley Sclater (1), was born at 29 Bernard Street, London, on May 19, 1826, but a few years later his father inherited Hoddington House, Upton Grey, where the family were brought up. He was educated at Winchester, where he was a Prefect and won the Gold Medal for Latin Verse. One of his letters from Winchester to his younger brother Philip written in November 1838 has survived. It reads:

My dear Philip,

As you wrote me such a long letter the other day I think I must write to you next. I see the hounds meet at Herriard Common Monday so I suppose you will meet them there. Mrs Wither, who I saw a few days ago, sent her kindest love to Mamma; she is looking very well and her son is quite well again. There have been as yet no more cases of the small pox, and I hope it has passed off.

I suppose if Mamma goes to Richmond at all, she will go soon for it is past Papa’s usual time of going to Worcester. I still continue quite well except the cold which I have had ever since I came back here, and which I daresay I shall keep all the winter.

You told me in your letter that you had been watching the fireworks, but I could not understand what fireworks you meant. Tell Aunt Wayne the contents of the basket were very good.

I think Papa’s trip to London and back between breakfast and dinner is quite extraordinary. The Quicksilver coach is taken I am sure, but I am not certain about the Telegraph, but let me hear all about it when I hear again. The grand match at football between the Commoners and College is to be played on Friday week, I believe.

I must now leave off this short letter and remain my dear Philip.

Your affectionate brother

George Sclater

On leaving Winchester in 1844 George went, not to his father’s old College, Brasenose, but to Balliol, which was emerging as the pre-eminent College at Oxford, and where the famous Benjamin Jowett was his Tutor. Jowett had introduced new concepts of teaching, and his training and the sense of duty he inspired left a lasting influence on his students. George’s career at Oxford was not outstanding; he graduated with a second class in Classics, but he was prominent at the Union, taking part in many debates and gaining valuable experience in public speaking. He was also a good oar and went with some friends on a remarkable rowing expedition up the Rhine, an account of which was published by R. B. Mansfield in The Log of the Water Lily.

At home in Hampshire George played the part of a young man of fashion, becoming a Cornet in the North Hants. Yeomanry and joining the Bramshill Cricket Club and the North Hants. Hunt Club, which was founded by Lord Portsmouth, “who was very active in his endeavours to enliven the somewhat monotonous routine of Hampshire society”1.

After leaving Oxford George entered the Inner Temple and was called to the Bar in 1851. He went on the Western Circuit but his heart was not in Law and he made little effort to secure a practice. He was becoming increasingly interested in politics and his chance came in 1857 when he was selected as one of the two Conservative candidates for the Northern Division of Hampshire at the approaching General Election. In the outcome he and the other Conservative candidate, William Wither Bramston Beach, were both elected, capturing the seat from their Liberal opponents, Sir Henry Mildmay and the Hon. Dudley Carleton. George held his seat for the next thirty years and William Beach became the “Father” of the House.

George’s political ambitions had been encouraged by his elderly cousin, Anna Maria, the widow of Frederick Booth (1749-1831), Solicitor to the Tax Office, who had given him £3,000 towards his election expenses and also her fine house in Westminster, 15 New Street, Spring Gardens, which stood on Crown land near Trafalgar Square. It had been acquired in 1757 by her father, Robert Bristow (1712-1776), who was M.P. for Winchilsea and Clerk to the Board of Green Cloth (the committee for supervising the Royal Household accounts). Mrs. Booth was first cousin to George’s grandmother, Elizabeth Rebecca Bristow, the wife of Bartholomew Sclater. She had another house at Tunbridge Wells where the Sclaters usually stayed with her for the Christmas holidays. She died on August 8, 1857, aged 87, leaving amongst other legacies £30,000 in trust to William Lutley Sclater with remainder to George and £70,000 in trust to George with remainder to his eldest son. She imposed the condition that he should assume the additional name of Booth and he did this by Royal Licence in the following year.

George was thus enabled to marry Lydia Caroline, his fourth cousin once removed, the only daughter of Major George Birch, late of the Hon. East India Company’s Service, of Clare Park, near Crondall and his wife, Lydia Diana, daughter of the Rev. Samuel Dashwood of Stanford Hall, Notts. Their wedding took place on December 8, 1857, at Crondall.

George took to the life of a politician with much zest, and, though he spoke infrequently, he served diligently on numerous committees. In March 1867 he became Secretary to the Poor Law Board in Lord Derby’s administration, an office which gave considerable scope since his chief, the Earl of Devon, sat in the Upper House. A year later, when Disraeli became Prime Minister, he was promoted to Financial Secretary to the Treasury, but his party went out of office in December 1868.

While in opposition during the five years of Mr. Gladstone’s first government he served as Chairman of the Committee on Public Accounts. He also became a director of several companies, including the Sun Insurance Office and the Sun Life Assurance Society, of which he later became Chairman. He was the first Chairman of the Mercantile Investment and General Trust.

In 1874, when the Conservatives returned to power under Disraeli, George took office as President of the Local Government Board, which had been created three years before to administer all the public health services together with the work of the old Poor Law Board. At the same time he was admitted to the Privy Council and a year later he entered the Cabinet. For the next five years he was one of the most prominent figures on the Treasury Bench and ably piloted many measures of reform through Parliament, including the Rating Act, the Registration Act of 1874 and the epoch-making Public Health Act of 1875, which still remains the backbone of our sanitary law.

His efforts to reform local government were less successful. His County Government Bill of 1878 made a rather timid attempt to introduce the elective principle into local administration, which was still in the hands of the Justices of the Peace. The measure was opposed by the Liberals as not sufficiently progressive, and its rejection was seconded, as a betrayal of Conservative principles, by the young Lord Randolph Churchill, who was thoroughly out of sympathy with his party over their foreign and Irish policies, and chose this moment to launch a devastating attack on the Government. His insolence was concentrated on the unfortunate George and he was reported to have concluded his speech with the sneer, “Strange how often we find mediocrity dowered with a double-barrelled name.” To the secret relief of many Conservatives the bill was quietly dropped.

In opposition again from 1880 George served as Chairman of Grand Committees in the House, but when the Conservatives returned to power in 1885 he was not included in Lord Salisbury’s administration. On July 7, 1887, he was raised to the Peerage on the occasion of Queen Victoria’s Jubilee as Baron Basing of Basing Byflete and Hoddington.

There is a strong family tradition that the Queen had offered him a peerage several years earlier as she wished him to become Viceroy of India, but that he declined owing to the problem of educating his large family. This cannot be confirmed from the Royal Archives, a large part of which relating to that period has been destroyed.

After taking his seat in the Lords, he introduced a few bills dealing with Home Affairs, but ill-health increasingly restricted his appearances. In 1888, when County Councils were established, George was elected as the first Chairman of the Hampshire County Council. He was also Deputy Lieutenant of Hampshire, an official Verderer of the New Forest, a Fellow of the Royal Society and a Governor of Winchester College.

According to The Times his parliamentary career was “useful rather than ambitious, solid rather than distinguished”. Nevertheless he was an excellent hard-working administrator and a fine committee chairman. It is a tragedy that none of his political papers seem to have survived, for this period is beginning to attract the attention of social historians and the importance of his place in Disraeli’s great reforming Ministry of 1774 to 1780 is not likely to receive due recognition without adequate documentation.

Though brought up to hunt and shoot he was more interested in the Arts and was a talented artist and musician. In 1871 the lease of his house in New Street expired and part of the Admiralty now stands on the site. He bought Odiham Priory, a fine Queen Anne House, partly dating from the fifteenth century, and lived there until 1885 when he inherited Hoddington on his father’s death. He then enlarged Hoddington House and added several farms, including Blounce and Humbly Grove, to the estate.

George and Lydia had twelve children:

  1. Diana Maria Penelope (1858-1900), who kept house for her father after her mother’s death in 1881 and died unmarried.
  2. George Limbrey (1860-1919), 2nd Baron.
  3. Charles Lutley (1861-1931).
  4. Lydia Averilla (1862-1865).
  5. Theodora Mary (1863-1936), who married in 1889 Remington White-Thomson (1861-1916), an Eton House Master, and secondly in 1921 his brother Colonel Sir Hugh White-Thomson (1866-1922). She had no children.
  6. Penelope Magdalen (1864-1934), who married in i886 Charles Bovill (1855-1932) and had three children.
  7. Frances Mary (1864-1864).
  8. Anthony de Bohun (1865-1880), who died as a Naval Cadet in H.M.S. Britannia.
  9. Lydia Katherine (1868-1946), who married in 1893 Frank Walkinshaw (1861-1934) and had five children.
  10. Walter Dashwood (1869-1953).
  11. Eleanor Birch (1871-1963), who married in 1898 Henry Wilson Fox, M.P. (1863-1921), and had one son.
  12. Amy Cicely (1873-1937), who married in 1893 Francis Marshall (d. 1922). She had no children.

George died on October 22, 1894, and was buried at Upton Grey by the side of his wife. A portrait of him is in Lord Basing’s possession and another is in the County Council Chamber at Winchester.

George Limbrey Sclater Booth, 2nd Lord Basing, 1860-1919

LIMBREY, the eldest son of the first Lord Basing, was born on January 1, 1860, at New Street, Spring Gardens, London, and was educated at Eton and Balliol College, Oxford, where he graduated B.A. in 1881 with a second class in law. Entering the Army in 1882 he was commissioned in the 1st Royal Dragoons. He took part in the South African War, and was present at the Relief of Ladysmith, Colenso, Spion Kop, Vaal Krantz, Tugela Heights and Pieters Hill. From July 1901 to May 1902 he commanded a Column. He was promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel and commanded his regiment in India from 1902 to 1906 when he retired. He was gazetted C.B., twice mentioned in despatches, and awarded the Prussian Order of the Red Eagle. On the outbreak of war in 1914 he rejoined and was given command of a Brigade, subsequently being appointed Staff Officer for Volunteer Services.

On the death of his father in 1894, Limbrey succeeded to the title and estates, and became a Justice of the Peace and Deputy Lieutenant of Hampshire. He married on December 12, 1889, at Maiden Earley, Berks., Mary, second daughter of John Hargreaves of Maiden Earley and Whalley Abbey, Lancs., and his wife Mary Jane, daughter of Alexander Cobham Cobham of Shinfield Manor, Berks., and had:

  1. John Limbrey Robert, 3rd Baron.
  2. Joan Penelope, born 1892, married in 1919 Captain Roger Grenville Peek, 9th Lancers, who was killed on active service in Ireland in 1921. They had two sons.
  3. Lydia Joyce, born 1898, married in 1921 Captain Anthony Harley Mark Bell, and had three children.

Lady Basing died in India on June 1, 1904. After this Limbrey’s life lost its meaning and he never fully recovered his spirits or took much part in public affairs. He died on April 8, 1919, at Hoddington, and was buried at Upton Grey. Some account of him may be found in C. Chenevix Trench’s My Mother told me.

Charles Lutley Sclater Booth, 1862-1931

CHARLES, the second son of the first Lord Basing, was born on May 6, 1862, and, like his father, was educated at Winchester and Balliol, where he graduated B.A. with a second class in law in 1884. He was a fine athlete who rowed and played cricket and football for his College. He was called to the Bar at the Inner Temple in 1885, and later became a Justice of the Peace for Hampshire. He joined his father on the board of the Sun Insurance Office in 1890, and remained a full-time director until 1929, in spite of being handicapped by a stroke, brought on by over-exertion at games, which had left him partially paralysed.

He married in 1900 Ellen Geraldine, daughter of George Jones of Mitton Manor, Staffordshire, and widow of W. Tudor Frere. They had one son, George Lutley, born on December 7, 1903, who is the heir presumptive to the Basing peerage.

They lived at Basing House, Old Basing, until 1913, when Charles acquired Odiham Priory from the executors of his uncle, Philip Sclater. They remained there until his death on January 23, 1931. His widow then lived at Denham, Bucks., and died on January 12, 1957, at the great age of ninety-eight.

George was educated at Winchester and married in 1938 Jeanette, who died in 1957, daughter of Neil Bruce MacKelvie of New York. He has a son, Neil Lutley, born in 1939, educated at Eton and Harvard. George’s first marriage was dissolved in 1944 and he married again in 1951 Cynthia, widow of Carl H. Beal of Los Angeles.

Walter Dashwood Sclater Booth, 1869-1953

WALTER, the third surviving son of the first Lord Basing, was born on February 1, 1869, and was educated at Wellington College and the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich. He obtained a commission in the Royal Artillery in 1887, and was promoted to Lieutenant in 1890, Captain in 1898, and Major in 1903. At the outbreak of the 1914-1918 war he was in command of “L” Battery, Royal Horse Artillery, which played a celebrated part in the action at Néry, during the retreat from Mons, in the early hours of September 1, 1914. He himself was disabled at the beginning of the battle, when, surrounded by the German army, his battery fought on until all its guns but one were silenced and all its ammunition expended. Casualties were heavy and three Victoria Crosses were awarded.

Walter was badly wounded and saw no further active service. He served in England for the rest of the war, retiring shortly afterwards with the rank of Brigadier-General. He was awarded the D.S.O. in 1915, C.B. in 1917, and C.M.G. in 1919.

He married on June 24, 1913, Frances Mary, eldest daughter of Rowland Burdon of Castle Eden, Durham, and had three children:

  1. Eleanor Mary, born April 3, 1914.
  2. Nora Frances, born April 8, 1916.
  3. John Walter Limbrey, born January 26, 1922, was educated at Winchester, and served in the Royal Air Force in World War II. He married in 1947 Kathleen Fouracre and died on February 27, 1965, without issue.

They lived at Newnham House, Hook, and afterwards at Upton Grey Lodge.

Walter was a very fine shot, fisherman, and horseman who played polo for his regiment. He was a Justice of the Peace for Hampshire and served on the Basingstoke R.D.C. for thirty years. He died on January 10, 1953, and was buried at Upton Grey by the side of his wife who had died on July 8, 1949.

John Limbrey Sclater Booth, 3rd Lord Basing, b. 1890

JOHN, better known as Jack, the only son of the second Lord Basing, was born on December 3, 1890, and was educated at Eton and the R.M.C., Sandhurst. He was commissioned in his father’s old regiment, the 1st Royal Dragoons, and served in France throughout World War I, afterwards commanding the 43rd Wessex Divisional Signals (T.A.). He retired in 1934 but rejoined to serve as Staff Officer (Movements) from 1939 to 1945 at Basingstoke and Reading, and from 1945 to 1947 as D.A.Q.M.G. (Movements) at Berlin. On the death of his father in 1919 he succeeded to the title and Hoddington Estate, then of about 2,700 acres and famous for its shooting. In 1924 he married Mary (Molly) Alice Erie, younger daughter of Colonel Richard Erie Benson, and has three daughters:

  1. Diana Penelope Florence, born 1925, married on August 1, 1946, to James Tennant Bailward of the Malayan Civil Service.
  2. Barbara Amy, born 1926, married on April 27, 1961, to Peter Michell Luttman-Johnson.
  3. Gabrielle Mary, born 1929, married on April 18, 1953, to Commander Martin Parnell Seth-Smith, R.N.

Hoddington was used as a Convalescent Hospital during World War II during which Molly served as its Assistant Commandant and was awarded the Order of Mercy. Jack had sold some of the outlying farms including Blounce and Humbly Grove in 1933, and in 1945 he sold the rest of the estate and moved to the Malt House, Gillingham, Dorset, but retained the Lordship of the Manors of Hoddington and Basing Byflete.

He has represented Gillingham on the Dorset County Council for many years, becoming a County Alderman in 1962. He has been a Deputy Lieutenant for Hampshire from 1939 to 1950 and for Dorset since 1959.

He inherited a love of music and was a talented pianist. He was also very fond of amateur theatricals and he and Molly took part in many productions. He was an excellent shot and fisherman.

References

  1. Sporting Reminiscences of Hampshire by Aesop (1864)

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