Thursday, 3 August 2017

(303) Backhouse of Darlington, baronets

Backhouse of Darlington
It needs to be remembered that the Backhouse family were, first and foremost, members of the Society of Friends, or 'Quakers'. Repeatedly in the 18th and early 19th centuries, these men and women who had devoted much of their lives to their business enterprises or to raising families, were driven in the prime of life to set aside these concerns for months or years at a time, and to travel to foreign parts including Iceland, Norway, France, America and even Australia, to preach their gentle faith. The Quaker commitment to 'living lives that outwardly attest the inner experience of an unmediated communion with the Divine' is visible in the probity, sobriety, commitment and order of their existence. I think this helps to explain why the life of Sir Edmund Trelawny Backhouse (1873-1944), 2nd bt., who reacted violently against the tradition in which he had been raised, was so shocking to his relations.

The Backhouse family were established as yeomen at Yealand Conyers in north Lancashire by the 17th century, and were amongst the earliest converts to Quakerism. James Backhouse of Yealand Conyers died a prisoner and Quaker martyr in Lancaster Castle in 1697. His son William Backhouse (1696-1762) was a dealer in yarn but also a minister of the Society of Friends, whose preaching took him to Iceland and America, and his son William Backhouse (1724-92) settled in America and died there. James Backhouse (1721-98), the elder brother of the younger William, with whom the genealogy below begins, was a flax-dresser and linen manufacturer. He stayed in England but crossed the Pennines to establish his business in Darlington (Co. Durham), which was thereafter the centre of the family's operations. In the 1750s he began extending credit to his suppliers, and it was a short step from there to begin more general banking operations. By 1774 he was in partnership with his son, Jonathan Backhouse (1747-1826), and the firm was issuing notes; by 1777 they had a 'banking shop' in Darlington; and by 1778 they had a London agent. The firm grew slowly and cautiously, and during their first half century they largely avoided industrial loans (potentially profitable but much riskier) in favour of smaller-scale loans to more credit-worthy customers. They familiarised themselves with the London money market, developed experience of risk assessment, and established a reputation for probity and security which was recognised far beyond the region and would stand them in good stead later. After the death of James Backhouse in 1798, when Jonathan became senior partner and his sons joined the business, the firm grew slowly in confidence. In 1803 they bought shares in two ships, but it was only after the Stockton and Darlington railway was established, that they developed a portfolio of interests in collieries and other banks and shipping.

The 18th and early 19th century banking world was characterised by relatively small-scale and regional concerns, which were always vulnerable to recessions and were particularly at risk if a dominant local industry suffered a downturn. If one bank failed it often caused panic among depositors, who pulled their money out of other banks, causing them to fail too in a domino-like effect. In 1803 and again in 1815 and 1826 there were major banking failures of this kind, but Jonathan Backhouse & Co. survived all these vicissitudes because of their caution about investments and because they were not over-extended. Indeed, the failure of the Durham Bank in 1815 provided an opportunity for Backhouses to expand: they took over the rival concern's offices in Darlington, and established new branches in Durham and Sunderland. In about 1818, proposals were first made for a railway to move coal from the South Durham Coalfield to the port of Stockton-on-Tees. The Quaker Pease and Backhouse families of Darlington emerged as the leading proponents and funders of the scheme, and a first bill was promoted in Parliament in 1819 for what would become the Stockton & Darlington Railway. The Earl of Darlington was furious that the line proposed would damage one of his fox coverts, and ultimately defeated the scheme in Parliament (a revised scheme on a different line was approved in 1821). His anger at the temerity of a bunch of middle-class Quaker tradesmen also prompted the Earl to make a deliberate attempt to bankrupt the Backhouse bank, by buying in as many Backhouse notes as he could, with the intention of cashing them simultaneously. The effort failed as Jonathan Backhouse got wind of the plan and was able to mobilise supporters in London who could immediately supply £32,000 in gold, which Backhouse went to London in person to collect. It is said that on the return journey, his carriage lost a wheel, but that by shifting the great weight of the bullion in the carriage to balance it, he was able to successfully complete his journey on three wheels. The story may or may not be apocryphal, but underlines yet again the courage and determination of the family.

After 1820, the Backhouse linen business lost money, but the gains from banking and the family's increasingly diversified business interests more than compensated. After Jonathan senior died in 1826, the bank was run by his five sons (of whom Jonathan junior was the eldest) and his son-in-law, Jonathan Richardson; the latter was instrumental in setting up the Northumberland & Durham District Banking Co. in 1836, to which the Darlington firm's branches in Newcastle, South Shields and Sunderland were sold. Jonathan Backhouse junior (1779-1842), was head of the firm until 1833, when he retired and he and his wife began travelling extensively in Britain and America as ministers of the Society of Friends. His son, Edmund Backhouse (1824-1906) was trained in banking by his mother's family in Norwich, and became a partner in the Darlington firm in 1845. With the deaths or retirements of his uncles over the next few years, he quickly became the senior partner, and he was the dominant figure in the bank for its last half century. By this time, the bank was highly profitable, and while Jonathan junior left a very respectable £70,000, his son Edmund left £176,000; Edward junior £180,000; Alfred, £336,000 and James Edward £312,000: enormous sums by the standards of the time.

Edmund's son, Jonathan Edmund Backhouse (1849-1918), joined the firm in about 1870, and it was he who saw through the merger of the Backhouse bank with Gurneys of Norwich and Barclays of London to form the core of what is now the Barclays Bank Group plc. After the merger, he stayed on with the firm as their local Director, and was responsible for buying the assets of the family bank of the Quaker Pease family when they were forced to sell in 1902. He was given a baronetcy in 1901, probably as a reward for his active involvement in Liberal Unionist politics, although unlike his father he never served as an MP. Although brought up as a Quaker, he left the Society of Friends, perhaps when he married an Anglican in 1871. Three of his four sons went into the armed forces, careers that would not have been open to Quakers with their tradition of pacifism; and the fourth was the variously unsatisfactory Sir Edward Trelawny Backhouse (1873-1944), 2nd bt., whose career is detailed below. His record of profligacy, bankruptcy, forgery, fraudulent gun-running, lying and immorality makes it appear that he was concerned to break every rule in the Quaker book, preferably at once, and it is hardly surprising that from 1898 onwards the family paid him to stay on the other side of the world. Paying off his debts no doubt contributed to the fact that his father, Sir J.E. Backhouse left only £25,000 at his death.

If Quakerism and banking ran deeply through the Backhouse family, so did botany, in various forms. James Backhouse (1794-1869) and his brother Thomas bought Telford's nursery in York in 1816, and even though James took ten years out to go to Australia as a Quaker missionary, 1831-41, the business remained in the hands of his descendants until 1952. Jonathan Backhouse's descendants bought large tracts of wild land in Weardale (Co. Durham) in the early and mid 19th centuries, on which they planted phenomenal numbers of trees. His sons, Jonathan, William and Edward, all won Royal Society of Arts medals for tree-planting, and William became a noted botanist, with a particular interest in British grasses and mosses. William's son, William Backhouse (1807-69), who was a partner in the banking firm, was at first primarily interested in entomology, but after he settled at St. John's Hall in 1856 he turned increasingly to collecting and breeding varieties of narcissi and lillies. His collection was one of two used as the basis for the standard 19th century classification of narcissi. His work in plant breeding was continued by his sons, Charles James Backhouse (1848-1915) at St. John's, and Robert Ormston Backhouse (1854-1940) at Sutton Court (Herefs). Robert married Sarah Elizabeth Dodgson (1857-1921), who was even keener than he was, and achieved a national reputation for her work in the field. Their only child, William Ormston Backhouse (1885-1962) read Agriculture and Forestry at Cambridge and became a professional plant geneticist. When he retired to Sutton Court after the Second World War, he too took to breeding daffodils, and it has been calculated that over three generations, the family introduced some 430 varieties of this one plant.

The Backhouses and their interests are fascinating but have been relatively well explored by previous writers. Their property interests are equally complex and interesting, but have been less well studied. The 'descents' given for each house below are my best understanding of who was actually occupying or enjoying the benefits of each property at any given time; they may not necessarily have been the only legal owner.  Because of the complexity, and because the detail is set out below, I will not attempt to summarise the story here, but a few observations may be made. Firstly, it is notable that property seems to have been regarded as much as a family as an individual possession, and this is consistent with the strength of family feeling in the Quaker community. On several occasions, brothers seem to have bought property jointly, and fathers seem to have bequeathed property to their children as tenants in common, leaving it to those concerned to work out who was actually going to occupy the property and on what basis. In some cases, unmarried siblings and even younger married siblings might share a house for a time with an older brother. Secondly, although some properties (West Lodge, Shull, St. Johns) remained in the family through several generations, the family do not in generally seem to have felt the deep attachment to their estates that was usual in gentry families, and a house might be bought by one generation and sold by the next, or rented or sold to another branch of the family. As a result, at least a dozen large villas or country houses were owned by the family between about 1780 and 1962, and following these properties across the generations has been challenging. Accounts of Middleton Lodge (Yorks NR) and Trebah (Cornw.) are reserved for future posts on the families with which they were associated for a longer period.



West Lodge, Darlington, Co. Durham


West Lodge was the first gentry house owned by the Backhouse family, and probably the earliest of the suburban villas to be built around Darlington. It was constructed in the late 18th century for James Backhouse (1721-98) and was refronted in 1803-05. This created a five-bay house of two storeys with a central pediment and single-storey two bay wings to either side; the other facade has a two-storey canted bay, dated 1805 on the keystone of the landing window. 


West Lodge, Darlington: the house in the late 19th century, before it was altered for Sir David Dale.

The house was much altered between 1888 and 1906 to the designs of John Malcolm for Sir David Dale, 1st bt., when it was given Renaissance-style porches and Jacobethan interiors. It was, however, too close to the centre of the town to remain in gentry occupation for very long in the 20th century. The Backhouse family made proposals for developing the land around the house for housing as early as 1865, although nothing was done until 1909, by which time the house was in commercial use. By 1930 the house itself was a YMCA hostel, and it later served a variety of purposes, including worker's accommodation for Paton & Baldwin's factory, and kitchens for the Meals on Wheels service. It is now empty and its future uncertain.

Descent: Built for James Backhouse (1721-98); to son, Jonathan Backhouse (1747-1826); to son, James Backhouse (d. 1837); to sister, Jane (1787-1873), widow of Edward Robson (1791-1819); to daughter, Ann Backhouse (1817-86), wife of Sir David Dale (1829-1906), 1st bt.; to son, Sir James Backhouse Dale (1855-1932), 2nd bt., who leased to the Wood family and sold 1926 to YMCA...Darlington Corporation.


Polam Hall, Darlington, Co. Durham

Polam Hall: aerial view. The original three-bay house of 1794 is apparent on the left, with the later additions of the 1820s wrapped around it,

The house was begun, apparently in 1794, as a modest three-by-three-bay villa of two storeys, with four rooms on each floor, built for Harrington Lee, a Darlington linen draper. It seems to have been called Powlam or Polam Hill at first. In 1818 it was let to Edward Backhouse, and then sold in about 1825 to his brother, Jonathan Backhouse, who employed Ignatius Bonomi to enlarge it. The original 18th century house is still apparent from the north west, where the original doorcase with open segmental pediment on Tuscan columns survives, and from the south-west where there are arched recesses to the ground floor sash windows. Bonomi's two-storey extension wraps round the house on the north-east and south-east sides, and is on a bigger scale. 


Polam Hall: the estate as shown on the 1st edition 6" map of 1856.


Polam Hall from the south-east in the early 20th century.

On the north-east he created a new entrance porch in antis with a single window to either side; on the south-east there are four plain bays with only a plat band between the ground and first floors for ornament. Inside, a grand top-lit staircase with a wrought iron balustrade and a pillared landing takes up a quarter of the old house. After Polam Hall became a school in the 1850s, there were various extensions, chiefly to the north-west of the original house. In the 20th century there has been further building for the school in what remained of the grounds after the northern section was sold to Darlington corporation for house building.

Descent: Harrington Lee (fl. 1794); sold c.1825 to Jonathan Backhouse (1779-1842); to widow, Hannah Chapman Backhouse (d. 1850); to son, Edmund Backhouse (1824-1906), who sold to William & Robert Thompson, who let from 1854 to Jane and Elizabeth Procter, who operated a Quaker school here, of which Polam Hall School, the present owners, are the successors.

The Rookery, Middleton Tyas, Yorkshire (North Riding)

The house stands at the centre of the village. The core is said to have been built in 1727 as the village vicarage, and originally faced west onto Middleton Tyas Lane. It is, however, now hard to detect any features of an early 18th century date. 


The Rookery: the five-bay block at the southern end of the building dates from after 1854 and probably after 1873.

At the southern end of the house is a two storey, five bay block which on stylistic grounds appears likely to be the earliest part, but the Ordnance Survey 6" map of 1854 shows that it did not then exist, and the original house instead occupied part of the footprint of the present larger northern wing. By 1892 it had assumed its present L-shape, with the five-bay wing attached to the southern end of a larger range running north-south. 


The Rookery: the house from the west, showing the L-shape of the present house, probably all built after 1873.

The two blocks have roofs of different pitches and significant differences in fenestration and other details, so it seems quite likely that they were built at different times, but the only phase of work for which there is any evidence was carried out for Jonathan Edmund Backhouse (1849-1918), who bought the house from the church in 1873. In 1878 tenders were invited for 'partially rebuilding and enlarging' the house to the designs of George Gordon Hoskins (1837-1911), architect (a pupil of Alfred Waterhouse and architect to Backhouse's Bank), but whether the work done at this time was all or only part of the transformation is now unclear; the work was almost complete in December 1879 when a celebratory dinner was given by Mr. Backhouse. In the later 20th century, the house was occupied as three dwellings, but the whole property was sold as a single unit in 2016. 

Descent: sold 1873 to Sir Jonathan Edmund Backhouse (1849-1918), 1st bt., who let to Dr. E.A. Maling, c.1903-10; to son, Sir Edmund Trelawny Backhouse (1873-1944), 2nd bt., who sold 1919 to Thomas Henry Atkinson (d. 1925), timber merchant; to son, Leonard Henry Douglas Atkinson (c.1890-1927); to ?nephew, Robert Atkinson Blaxland ... sold before 1955 to Lt-Col. John Harold Mousley (1885-1959); to widow, Dorothy Laura Mousley (1893-1971); to daughter, Laura Frances Mousley (1929-2014); sold 2016.




Ashburne, Sunderland, Co. Durham


Ashburne House in 1872

A large classical villa by an unidentified architect, originally built for Edward Backhouse in about 1819-22, and set in ornamented grounds a little way outside the rapidly expanding town. The house exploited its position on the top of a steep slope overlooking views to the south. On this side the house was built up on a terrace and had a four-bay main block of two storeys with a colonnade along the ground floor. Building a classical colonnade with a central pillar on a house of four bays was something of a solecism, but the unorthodox device of having a single column in the centre when they are paired elsewhere, succeeds in giving some central emphasis to the house despite the even number of bays. To the left is a recessed two-storey service wing which appears to be of a piece with the main block in early photographs and may be contemporary; it was there by 1856. A single-storey two-bay extension supported on an exposed basement to the right of the main block and flush with it was added to house a museum by G.G. Hoskins of Darlington in 1869. 


Ashburne House, Sunderland: the estate as shown on the 1st edition 6" map of 1856.
Ashburne House, as it exists today, with large windows inserted probably in the 1930s when it became a College of Art.

In 1922, by which time Sunderland had expanded to engulf it, the house was bequeathed to Sunderland Corporation. The grounds became a public park and in 1934 the house opened as a College of Art. It was perhaps at this time that the house was radically remodelled. An additional floor was added to the inner bay of the right-hand wing, and the original fenestration of the central block and right wing was replaced by very large metal framed windows: the original four bay facade became three bays, although the addition created a fourth bay again. As a result of these changes, the colonnade that originally ran across the whole width of the central block now only extends three-quarters of the way across, which has a rather odd effect. The College of Art became part of the University of Sunderland in 1996, but Ashburne has recently been for sale.

Descent: Built c.1819-22 for Edward Backhouse (1781-1860); to son, Edward Backhouse (1808-79); to nephew, Thomas William Backhouse (1842-1920); bequeathed to Sunderland Corporation; transferred in 1992 to University of Sunderland, which advertised it for sale in 2015.

Shull House, Hamsterley, Co. Durham

Shull House in 1835: a pen and ink drawing by William Backhouse junior.

A modest house of 18th century origins, acquired by the Backhouse family in 1810 and the original centre of their extensive estate in Hamsterley and Wolsingham; most of the tree planting for which the Backhouse brothers won medals in the early 19th century took place on this estate. A drawing of 1835 shows that the house at that time consisted of two three-bay, two storey blocks placed next to each other but not in the same plane. The right-hand block seems to have lower ceiling heights and was therefore perhaps earlier. The left-hand block could have been early 19th century.


Shull House: a photograph apparently of 1874, showing the house as altered by Alfred Waterhouse in 1860.

In 1860, Alfred Backhouse is recorded as employing Alfred Waterhouse to make minor alterations to the house (costing only £460), and the result may have been the second floor balcony visible in a photograph of 1874, which gives the house a faintly Swiss air. The payment of 1860 seems inadequate, however, to account for the larger remodelling that had taken place since 1835, removing one part of the house entirely, and creating the roof with overhanging eaves and pinnacles on the gable-ends. This must have been the work of an earlier and currently anonymous designer, who was probably also responsible for altering St. John's Hall. In the 1870s, Shull House was effectively superseded by Dryderdale Hall, built on a grander scale within the grounds of the earlier house, but both houses continued to be occupied by members of the family. Shull was in poor repair in the 1970s, and either 20th century attrition or subsequent restoration has removed most of its Victorian features.

Descent: William Blackett (1732-99); to son, William Stephenson Blackett (d. 1840?); sold 1807 to Joseph Bainbridge of Newcastle; sold 1810 to Jonathan Backhouse (1747-1826) and his brother, William Backhouse (1779-1844) to William's son, William Backhouse (1807-69), who leased to Alfred Backhouse (1822-88); to cousin, Elizabeth (d. 1884), widow of Robert Barclay (d. 1842), who sold 1870 to Alfred Backhouse; to widow, Rachel Backhouse (d. 1898) and then to great nieces, Elspeth Lilian (1880-1969), wife of Jonathan Edward Hodgkin (1875-1953) and Mabel (1878-1962), wife of Wilfred Arthur Mounsey (d. 1950)...John Lavis (fl. 2007)


Dryderdale Hall, Hamsterley, Co. Durham


Dryderdale Hall: the house in 1885, soon after completion.
The house was designed as a shooting lodge in the fells above Hamsterley by Alfred Waterhouse for Alfred Backhouse (1822-88) and was built in 1872-79 at a cost of about £14,000. It was effectively a replacement for the earlier and smaller Shull House, with which it shared a drive. The new house is in a faintly improbable and rather wilful French Renaissance style, built of coursed sandstone rubble with a slate roof. The plan is irregular, but the house is essentially of two storeys, with an octagonal three-storey tower at one corner, and a mixture of mullioned and transomed windows and narrower slot windows with a single transom, some of which break into the roof as half-dormers. On the garden side there is a first-floor canted oriel window, supported on a buttress. In the 1960s the house was bought by Vince Landa, a London gangland businessman who moved to the north-east and made a fortune from fruit machines when they first became legal. He fled to Spain after the murder of Angus Sibbett (for which his brother would be charged and imprisoned) and soon afterwards the house was used as a film set for Get Carter (1971), a film with a gangland setting. In the 1970s the interior of the house was badly damaged by fire, but it was restored after 1991.

Descent: built 1872-79 for Alfred Backhouse (1822-88); to widow, Rachel Backhouse (d. 1898); to widow, Rachel Backhouse (d. 1898) and then to great nieces, Elspeth Lilian (1880-1969), wife of Jonathan Edward Hodgkin (1875-1953) and Mabel (1878-1962), wife of Wilfred Arthur Mounsey (d. 1950); sold c.1963 to Vincent Landa (1933-2011), who fled abroad c.1969; burnt c.1975; sold 1991 to Michael & Dorothy Morley who restored it; sold c.2016.

Pilmore Hall (now Rockliffe Hall), Hurworth-on-Tees, Co. Durham


A modest gentry house called Pilmore House was built on this site in 1774. It was demolished and replaced by a new house built partly on the same foundations by Alfred Backhouse (1822-28) to the designs of Alfred Waterhouse in 1861-64 at a cost of £14,335. Waterhouse brought his former pupil, G.G. Hoskins, to Darlington to work as clerk of works on this project, with the result that Hoskins set up a practice in the town and worked extensively for the Backhouse family and the other leading Quaker families there. Backhouse adopted the name Pilmore Hall for his new house; the present name, Rockliffe Hall, was coined in the early 20th century.


Pilmore Hall (now Rockliffe Hall): the house soon after completion in the 1860s

The house is built of red brick with ashlar dressings and patterned slate roofs with decorative ridge tiles, and has a balanced but not symmetrical main front, composed around a large rectangular window with Gothic tracery. The house was extended by the addition of much larger service accommodation and extra bedrooms, probably by G.G. Hoskins, in 1876-79 at a further cost of £15,000. Almost nothing except a few chimneypieces survives of the original interiors after fires in 1903 and again in 1974. In 1996 the estate was acquired by Middlesborough Football Club, which established its training facilities in the grounds and restored the house as an hotel and golf resort, which opened in 2009. 


Pilmore Hall (now Rockliffe Hall), after restoration as an hotel in 2009.


Descent: Robert Surtees (fl. c.1820), who let to his cousin, Thomas Surtees Raine (artist) (fl. 1836); sold 1851 to Alfred Backhouse (1822-88); to widow, Rachel Backhouse (d. 1898); to trustees who rented to Capt. Forrester and sold 1905 to Col. Clayton-Swan, who leased it in 1913 and sold it in 1918 to Charles Henry Fitzroy (1867-1958), 4th Earl of Southampton; sold 1950 to Brothers of St. John of God for use as St. Cuthbert's Hospital; vacated 1991 and sold 1996 to Middlesborough Football Club and restored as an hotel, 2009.


The Grange, Hurworth-on-Tees, Co. Durham


A Regency villa stood on this site when the Surtees family owned the estate, but it was pulled down and replaced by the present big-boned villa designed by Alfred Waterhouse and built in 1873-75.
Hurworth Grange: the house in 1885.
The house was constructed at the expense of Alfred Backhouse (1822-88), who spent some £15,000 on building it as a wedding gift for his nephew, James Edward Backhouse. The younger man extended the house, again to the designs of Waterhouse, in 
1886-87 for a further £1,500. During the Second World War the building was used to house Jewish refugees from Nazi occupied Europe, and in 1955 it was acquired by the Brothers of St. John of God as a junior school. In the 1960s it was compulsorily purchased by Durham County Council and given to Hurworth Parish Council for use as a Community Centre.

Descent: Robert Surtees (fl. c.1820), who let to his cousin, Thomas Surtees Raine (artist) (fl. 1836); sold c.1850 to Alfred Backhouse; given 1873 to nephew, James Edward Backhouse (1845-97); to widow, Elizabeth Barclay Backhouse (1849-1911); let 1914-26? to Violet Mary Rogerson (d. 1960); sold 1935 to Mrs. M.J. Spielman; sold 1955 to Brothers of St John of God; sold 1968 to Durham County Council, who gave it to Hurworth Parish Council.


St. John's Hall, Wolsingham, Co. Durham


There was evidently a house on this site as early as 1814, when Edward Backhouse acquired the property, but nothing is known of its appearance. By 1857, when the 1st edition of the Ordnance Survey 6" map was published, it was of similar form and dimensions to the present building, and it had probably been rebuilt shortly before that for Edward's nephew, William Backhouse (1807-69), who acquired the property in 1847. 


St John's Hall: the house as depicted on the 1st edition 6" map of 1857.


St John's Hall, Wolsingham: the house in about 1905.


The first image I have found of the house dates from c. 1905, by which time it was in very much its present form, but its appearance at that time suggests that it had undergone a major remodelling in the previous ten or fifteen years. The chief survivals from the original building seem to have been the roof, with overhanging eaves and finials on the gable-ends, and perhaps the sash windows either side of the large central bay window.  These features, together with the projecting gabled central bay, make the house markedly similar to the three-storey Shull House, Hamsterley, and they were probably both the work of the same architect. The new work must include the windows in the central bay, which have no mouldings or surrounds of any sort, and the similar windows in the one- and two-storey wings at either end. These alterations give the house a startlingly modern appearance, and must have been made for Charles James Backhouse, who succeeded his father in 1869 and died in 1915. The estate was famous in horticultural circles in the 19th and early 20th centuries for the collection of daffodils formed by father and son, which were partly the result of their own breeding activities.

Descent: sold 1814 to Edward Backhouse (1781-1860); transferred in 1847 under a family agreement to his nephew, William Backhouse (1807-69), who probably rebuilt the house; to son, Charles James Backhouse (1848-1915), who further altered the house; to widow, Lucy Backhouse (1848-1939); sold c.1940 to Lt-Col. Hereward Sprot (né Sadler) (1877-1947); to widow, Ethel Grace Sprot (1881-1967)...


Sutton Court, Sutton St. Nicholas, Herefordshire


Sutton Court, Sutton St. Nicholas
A brick gentleman farmer's house of c.1800-20, of five bays and two storeys, with later wings to either side. The house is said to have been altered for Robert Backhouse in about 1890, and the wings and the round-arched ground-floor windows, flanking a segment-headed doorway with fanlight, are probably of that time. Inside, the entrance hall has a good reeded plaster ceiling and the staircase has stick balusters. At the rear of the house there are tripartite sashes. G.H. Godsell, who provided brick garden walls in 1891, may also have been responsible for the alterations to the house. A very small park is shown around the houe on the 1st edition 1" Ordnance Survey map of 1832. and this had shrubberies and orchards by 1844. The sale particulars of 1885 show the grounds well-planted with deciduous and coniferous trees, and the grounds are still planted with many of the daffodil cultivars developed by the Backhouse family.

Descent: sold 1886 to Robert Ormston Backhouse (1854-1940); to son, William Ormston Backhouse (1885-1962)... Anastasia Calder (fl. 1991-2017), wife of Richard W. Page.

Backhouse family of Darlington and The Rookery, baronets


Backhouse, James (1721-98). Eldest son of William Backhouse (1696-1762) of Yealand Conyers and from 1727 of Over Kellett (Lancs), a dealer in yarn and a minister of the Society of Friends (in which capacity he visited Iceland and North America), and his wife Agnes (1697-1773), daughter of Richard Atkinson of Monk Coniston (Lancs, now Cumbria), born at Yealand Conyers (Lancs), 22 March 1720/1. Educated at the Friends School, Yealand, and then helped his mother to run the household while his father was travelling in America as a Quaker minister (returning in 1736). In 1741 he moved to Lancaster, where he acted as agent for his father. He first visited Darlington in January 1744/5, and after his marriage he was taken into partnership by his father-in-law, Jonathan Hedley of Darlington, flax dresser and linen manufacturer. By 1756 he had begun to expand into banking, extending credit to his flax and wool suppliers. In 1759 he became an agent for the Royal Exchange Assurance Co., and by 1774, when he issued notes, he was in partnership with his eldest son as J. & J. Backhouse, and the banking business had become more important than the cloth business. The firm at first made few industrial loans, and its customers were chiefly in Lancashire, Yorkshire and London (where another Quaker firm acted as his agent).  A Quaker in religion, as his father, grandfather and great-grandfather had been before him, he served as Clerk of Durham Quarterly Meeting, 1753-78, and of Stockton-on-Tees Monthly Meeting. He married, 8 February 1746 at Stockton-on-Tees, Jane (1718-1805), only child of Jonathan Hedley of Darlington, and had issue:
(1) Jonathan Backhouse (1747-1826) (q.v.);
(2) James Backhouse (1757-1804), born at Darlington, 29 June 1757; entered his father's firm, J. & J. Backhouse, bankers, as a partner, probably on coming of age in 1778; married, 8 June 1787 at Thorne (Yorks WR), Mary (1764-1838), daughter of Nathan Dearman of Thorne, grocer, and had issue four sons (of whom James (1794-1869) established the Backhouse firm of nurserymen at York and travelled as a Quaker minister in Australia) and six daughters; died of epilepsy (which he developed in 1803), 18 December and was buried at Friends Burial Ground, Darlington, 23 December 1804.
He lived in Darlington by 1756, where he built West Lodge at Darlington in the late 18th century.
He died 1 April 1798 and was buried in the Friends Burial Ground at Darlington, 5 April 1798; his will was proved in the PCC, 23 May 1798. His widow died aged 86, 27 May 1805.

Jonathan Backhouse (1747-1826)
Backhouse, Jonathan (1747-1826). Elder son of James Backhouse (1721-98) and his wife Jane, only child of Jonathan Hedley of Darlington, born at Darlington, 2 August 1747. Flax dresser and linen manufacturer at Darlington, and later also a partner, with his father, in the banking firm of J. & J. Backhouse (Jonathan Backhouse & Co. from 1798). A Quaker in religion. He married, 12 May 1774, Ann (1746-1826), second daughter of Edward Pease of Darlington, and had issue:
(1) William Backhouse (1775-79), born at Darlington, 15 February 1775; died young, 19 January 1779 and was buried in the Friends Burial Ground at Darlington;
(2) Jane Backhouse (1776-86), born at Darlington, 27 March 1776; died young, 13 March 1786, and was buried in the Friends Burial Ground at Darlington, 17 March 1786;

(3) Elizabeth Backhouse (1777-1843), born at Darlington, 12 September 1777; married, 17 October 1799, Thomas Richardson (d. 1835) of Sunderland, and had issue five sons and four daughters; died 2 March 1843;
(4) Jonathan Backhouse (1779-1842) (q.v.);
(5) William Backhouse (1779-1844) [for whom see below, Backhouse of St. John's Hall and Sutton Court];
(6) Edward Backhouse (1781-1860) [for whom see below, Backhouse of Pilmore Hall, Shull and Dryderdale Hall];
(7) James Backhouse (1782-1837) of West Lodge, Darlington, born 11 November 1782; partner in Jonathan Backhouse & Co., bankers, at Darlington; died unmarried, 26 July 1837;
(8) John Backhouse (1784-1847), born 20 March 1784; partner in Jonathan Backhouse & Co., bankers, at Darlington; married 1st, 25 May 1809 at Cork (Co. Cork), Eliza (c.1782-1812), youngest daughter of Matthew Church of Cork, and had issue one son (John Church Backhouse (1811-58)) and two daughters; married 2nd, 13 August 1823, Katharine, fifth daughter of Jasper Capper of Stoke Newington (Middx), linen draper, but had no further issue; died at Shull, 17 August 1847;
(9) Ann Backhouse (1785-1852), born at Darlington, 28 October 1785; lived with her younger sister at West Lodge; died unmarried, 7 August 1852;
(10) Jane Backhouse (1787-1873), born at Darlington, 3 May 1787; married, 3 August 1815, Edward Robson (1791-1819) of Darlington, son of Edward Robson, and had issue one daughter (Ann Backhouse Robson, who married 1st, H.J. Whitwell, and 2nd, 1853, Sir David Dale, 1st bt., and had issue); died 6 August 1873.
He inherited West Lodge from his father in 1798 and refronted it in 1803. At his death it passed to his son, James, and then to his daughter Jane and her husband.
He died suddenly at West Lodge, Darlington, 11 November, and was buried in the Friends Burial Ground, Darlington, 17 November 1826; his will was proved in the PCC, 11 December 1827. His wife died 3 January, and was buried in the Friends Burial Ground, Darlington, 8 January 1826.

Jonathan Backhouse (1779-1842)
Backhouse, Jonathan (1779-1842). Eldest son of Jonathan Backhouse (1747-1826) and his wife Ann, second daughter of Edward Pease of Darlington, born at Darlington, 19 January 1779. Partner (senior partner from 1826) in Jonathan Backhouse & Co., bankers, at Darlington until 1833; in this capacity he was one of the key financial backers of the Stockton & Darlington Railway, of which he also served as Treasurer until 1833. He and his wife were both active in the Society of Friends, and after he retired from the bank they travelled extensively as ministers in Britain and America. He attended the World Anti-Slavery Convention, 1840. He was awarded a silver medal for tree planting on the Shull estate and land at Lanchester by the Royal Society of Arts, 1813. He married, 23 April 1811, Hannah Chapman (1787-1850), elder daughter and co-heir of Joseph Gurney of Norwich, worsted manufacturer and banker, and had issue:
(1) Jonathan Backhouse (1812-20), born at Blackwell near Darlington, 5 September 1812; died young, 7 September 1820, at Darlington;
(2) Jane Gurney Backhouse (1814-60), born at Norwich, 21 May 1814; married, 10 October 1844 at the Friends Meeting House, Darlington, Robert Barclay Fox (1817-55) of Falmouth (Cornw.), shipping agent, son of Robert Were Fox of Trebah (Cornw.), and had issue four sons and one daughter; died at Pau (France), 10 April 1860; her will was proved 28 June 1860 (effects under £35,000);
(3) Anne Backhouse (1815-45), born at Exmouth (Devon), 31 December 1815; married, 16 February 1843 at the Friends Meeting House, Norwich, as his second wife, John Hodgkin (1800-75) of London, barrister, and had issue one son; died 30 November 1845;
(4) Joseph Gurney Backhouse (1817-24), born at Norwich, 19 September 1817; died young, 23 November 1824 and was buried in the Quaker burial ground at Darlington;
(5) Henry Gurney Backhouse (1819-36), born at Norwich, 15 July 1819; educated at the Quaker School at Tottenham (Middx) and died there, unmarried, 16 April 1836; buried in the Quaker burial ground at Winchmore Hill (Middx);

(6) Edmund Backhouse (1824-1906) (q.v.).
He purchased Polam Hall c.1825 and greatly extended it to the designs of Ignatius Bonomi. In 1810 he purchased the Shull estate in Weardale with his brother William.
He died 7 October 1842; his will was proved in the PCY, November 1842 (effects under £70,000) and PCC, January 1843, and a further grant was made 3 December 1863. His widow died 6 May 1850 and was buried in the Friends Burial Ground, Darlington. 

Edmund Backhouse MP (1824-1906)
Backhouse, Edmund (1824-1906). Only son of Jonathan Backhouse (1779-1842) and his wife Hannah Chapman, elder daughter and co-heir of Joseph Gurney of Norwich, born at Darlington, 28 November 1824. Partner in Jonathan Backhouse & Co, bankers, of Darlington, from 1845, and became senior partner soon afterwards, but handed over control to his eldest son c.1883. JP for Co. Durham and Yorkshire (NR). Liberal MP for Darlington, 1868-80, being the first member elected for the newly-created constituency. He married, 22 September 1848, Juliet Mary (d. 1898), only daughter and eventually sole heiress of Charles Fox of Trebah (Cornw.), and had issue:
(1) Sir Jonathan Edmund Backhouse (1849-1918), 1st bt. (q.v.);
(2) Charles Fox Backhouse (b. & d. 1851), born June 1851; died in infancy, 24 August 1851 and was buried at Middleton Tyas;(3) Sarah Juliet Backhouse (1852-80), born 6 December 1852; married, 12 September 1876, Horatio Noble Pym (1844-96), solicitor, of Harley St., London (who m2, Apr-Jun 1881, Jane Hannah Backhouse Fox (1852-1912) and had further issue two daughters), son of Rev. William Wollaston Pym, rector of Willian (Herts), and had issue two sons and one daughter; died 18 January 1880 and was buried at Middleton Tyas;
(4) Charles Hubert Backhouse (1856-1924), born 22 September 1856; educated at Trinity Hall, Cambridge (admitted 1875); partner in Jonathan Backhouse & Co. at Darlington, but did not take an active part in the business; JP for Co. Durham; a keen foxhunter, he was also involved in promoting cycling, cricket and athletics in the Darlington area; he rented several country houses in Yorkshire before buying Faverdale Hall, Darlington, in 1897 and remodelling it; he sold it in 1913 and moved to the south coast for the sake of his health; married, 25 November 1880, Maude Constance (1855-1931), daughter of H. Ritchie of Ceylon, and had issue two sons and two daughters; died 11 November 1924; will proved 24 December 1924 (estates £8,586);
(5) Millicent Evelyn Backhouse (1862-1931), born 22 October and baptised at Middleton Tyas, 14 November 1862; married, 1896, William Frederick Charles Rogers (1861-1914), and had issue two sons and one daughter; died 6 November 1931; will proved 9 January 1932 (estate £10,950).
He inherited Polam Hall after his mother's death in 1850, but sold it shortly afterwards. From 1852-83 he rented Middleton Lodge, Middleton Tyas from Leonard Lawrie Hartley (d. 1883). He inherited Trebah (Cornwall) in right of his wife in 1878, and retired there soon afterwards, but it was sold after his death.
He died 7 June 1906 and was buried in the Quaker Burial Ground at Budock (Cornw.); his will was proved 30 July 1906 (estate £176,979). His wife died 3 December 1898; her will was proved 11 January 1899 (effects £21,987).

Sir J. E. Backhouse (1849-1918)
Backhouse, Sir Jonathan Edmund (1849-1918), 1st bt. Elder son of Edmund Backhouse (1824-1906) and his wife Juliet Mary, only daughter of Charles Fox of Trebah (Cornw.), born 15 November 1849. Educated at Rugby School, Trinity Hall, Cambridge (matriculated 1867) and Inner Temple (admitted 1869). Banker; as senior partner of Jonathan Backhouse & Co., he oversaw the merger of the firm with Gurney's Bank of Norwich and Barclays of London to form what became Barclays Bank Ltd. JP and DL for Co. Durham and Yorkshire (NR). Following the merger, he was appointed as Local Director of Barclays Bank, and in 1902 was to acquire the assets of the private bank of his Pease cousins, J. and J. W. Pease, in circumstances which led to the financial ruin of Sir Joseph Whitwell Pease, and his sons Alfred and Joseph. An active Liberal Unionist in politics. He was created a baronet, 6 March 1901. He married, 29 November 1871, Florence (1845-1902), youngest daughter of Sir John Salusbury-Trelawny, 9th bt., and had issue:
(1) Sir Edmund Trelawny Backhouse (1873-1944), 2nd bt. (q.v.);
(2) Roland Charles Backhouse (1874-77), born 15 December 1874; died young, 18 December 1877;
(3) Admiral Oliver Backhouse (1876-1943), born 4 June 1876; an officer in the Royal Navy (Lt., 1905; Cmdr., 1908; Capt., 1914; Rear-Adm., 1925; Vice-Adm. on retirement, 1929); served in Somaliland, 1904 (mentioned in despatches) and First World War (mentioned in despatches twice; CB 1915; awarded Legion d'honneur and Croix de guerre); commanded HMS Royal Sovereign at Allied occupation of Constantinople, 1920; Superintendent of Sheerness Dockyard, 1923-25; Admiral Superintendent of Devonport Dockyard, 1927-31; married, 15 December 1920, Margaret Susan (1896-1973), elder daughter of Charles William Dyson Perrins of Ardross (Ross) and Davenham, Malvern (Worcs), but had no issue; died 25 March 1943; will proved in Scotland and sealed in England & Wales, 5 July 1943;
(4) twin, Admiral of the Fleet Sir Roger Roland Charles Backhouse (1878-1939), born 24 November 1878; educated at HMS Britannia; an officer in the Royal Navy (midshipman, 1894; S/Lt., 1898; Lt., 1899; Cmdr, 1909; Capt., 1914; Rear-Adm, 1925; Vice-Adm., 1929; Adm., 1934; Admiral of the Fleet, 1939); served in First World War (CMG 1917); Controller of the Navy, 1928-32; Vice-Adm. commanding 1st Battle Squadron, Mediterranean Fleet, 1932-35; Commander in Chief, Home Fleet, 1935-38; First Sea Lord, Chief of Naval Staff, and Principal ADC to HM King George VI, 1938-39; appointed KCB, 1933; GCVO 1937; GCB 1938; married, 4 June 1907, Dora Louisa MBE (d. 1958), sixth daughter of John Ritchie Findlay of Aberlour, and had issue two sons (the elder of whom succeeded to the Backhouse baronetcy on the death of his uncle in 1944) and four daughtersdied 15 July 1939; will proved 25 October 1939 (estate £8,266);
(5) twin, Lt-Col. Miles Roland Charles Backhouse (1878-1962), born 24 November 1878; educated at Eton and Trinity Hall, Cambridge; an officer in the Northumberland Hussars Yeomanry; served in Boer War, 1899-1902 and First World War, 1914-19 (mentioned in despatches; DSO and bar); temp. Lt-Col. commanding Yorkshire Regiment, 1917; Vice-President, International Sleeping Car Co.; Director of La Protectrice Insurance Co., Paris and Brixton Estate Ltd.; married, 14 September 1904, Olive (d. 1954), second daughter of Geoffrey Fowell Buxton CB of Hoveton Hall (Norfk) and had issue three sons and one daughter; died 15 May 1962;
(6) Dame Harriet Jane Backhouse (1880-1954) of Aberlour (Banffs), born 12 March 1880; JP for Edinburgh, 1926; President of Scottish Unionist Association, 1927; Chairman of Edinburgh Royal Infirmary board, c.1929-33; appointed DBE 1929; married, 9 July 1901, Sir John Ritchie Findlay (1866-1930), 1st bt., proprietor of The Scotsman and later Lord Lieutenant of Banffshire, and had issue two sons and two daughters; died 24 July 1954.
He purchased the old vicarage at Middleton Tyas in 1873 and remodelled it in 1878-80 as The Rookery. He inherited Trebah (Cornwall) from his father in 1906 but sold it the same year to Charles Hawkins Hext.
He died 27 July 1918 and was buried at Middleton Tyas; his will was proved 10 December 1918 (estate £25,389). His wife died 11 October 1902; will proved 4 November 1902 (estate £3,578).

Sir E.T. Backhouse (1873-1944)
Backhouse, Sir Edmund Trelawny (1873-1944), 2nd bt. Eldest son of Sir Jonathan Edmund Backhouse (1849-1918), 1st bt., and his wife Florence, youngest daughter of Sir John Salusbury-Trelawny, 9th bt., born at Middleton Tyas, 20 October 1873. Educated at Winchester and Merton College, Oxford (matriculated 1892), but ever a rebel against his provincial, upper class, Quaker upbringing. While an undergraduate he spent a staggering £23,000 on a cult of Ellen Terry, on jewellery, and on buying his way into a set of homosexual aesthetes, had a nervous breakdown, and eventually left without taking a degree. His debts then caught up with him and he fled abroad while bankruptcy proceedings were initiated. Over the next few years he is thought to have visited Greece, Russia and the USA, before returning to England, where he studied Chinese at Cambridge for three months. At the end of 1898 his family sent him to China where he subsisted on an allowance until his death in 1944. From 1899 he worked as an unpaid translator for The Times' China correspondents, and began working with one of them (J.O.P. Bland) on the controversial China under the Empress, 1910, which consisted largely of documents translated by Backhouse and woven into a narrative by Bland; central to the book was a reputed diary which, it transpired later, Backhouse either forged or knew to be a forgery. Nonetheless, at the time, the book and its successor, Annals and Memoirs of the Court of Peking (1914), established Backhouse's reputation as a sinologist. In 1913 he was appointed Professor of Chinese at Kings College London, but he never took up the post. Instead he made substantial donations of Chinese books and manuscripts to the Bodleian Library, Oxford, with a view to securing the Oxford professorship when it fell vacant, but while waiting for the opportunity to occur he became involved in a series of fraudulent transactions with both the British government and commercial partners. When these came to light he fled to Vancouver; his liabilities were again met by his family on condition he never left China. It is therefore no surprise that the Oxford authorities chose a less controversial candidate for the professorship of Chinese in 1920. In the 1920s and 1930s he became more and more reclusive and published nothing. After 1937 the Sino-Japanese War and then the Second World War made life in China increasingly difficult for him and he was repeatedly forced to seek shelter in western embassies. He became vehemently anti-British, and is said to have refused repatriation to Britain in 1942. He converted to Catholicism in the same year, apparently in the unrealised hope that the church in Peking would provide him with money and shelter. He was bi-sexual but predominantly homosexual, as his salacious (and probably largely imaginary) memoir of his life in China, Manchu Decadence, written in the late 1930s and finally published in 2011, reveals. A biography of his life by Hugh Trevor-Roper, The hermit of Peking, 1976, exposed much of his writing as based on forged sources; more recent assessments have tended to rehabilitate the validity of his general portrait of life in the last decades of Imperial China, although nothing that he wrote can be trusted. He was unmarried and without issue.
He inherited The Rookery, Middleton Tyas from his father in 1918 but sold it the following year. From 1898 until his death he lived in China.
He died at a Catholic hospital in Peking, 8 January 1944; administration of his goods in England was granted 3 January 1947 (estate £1,354).


Backhouse family of St. John's Hall and Sutton Court


William Backhouse (1779-1844)
Backhouse, William (1779-1844). Second son of Jonathan Backhouse (1747-1826) and his wife Ann, second daughter of Edward Pease of Darlington, born 17 November 1779. Linen manufacturer and, from 1826, partner in Jonathan Backhouse & Co., bankers, at Darlington. Like his brothers he had an interest in forestry and botany, and won a Society of Arts gold medal in 1813 for planting 300,000 larches and 50,000 other timber trees at Shull; he was a close friend of the Newcastle botanist, Nathaniel John Winch (d. 1838), and had a particular interest in British grasses and mosses. He formed a plant collection and herbarium of some significance, though the latter was unfortunately destroyed by fire while on loan to J.G. Baker in 1865. An active member of the Society of Friends, he published (with James I'Anson), A guide to true peace, or a method of attaining to inward and spiritual prayer, 1813He married, 27 March 1806, Mary (1783-1874), daughter of John Dixon of Cockfield, coal owner, and had issue:
(1) William Backhouse (1807-69) (q.v.);
(2) Frederick Backhouse (1808-45), born at Darlington, 29 April 1808; branch manager of Jonathan Backhouse & Co., bankers, at Stockton-on-Tees, from c.1830; married, 5 September 1833 at Wandsworth (Surrey), Eliza (1808-89), daughter of Samuel Fossick of Wandsworth, tinplate worker, and had issue two sons and one daughter; died at Stockton-on-Tees, 16 April 1845 and was buried in the Friends Burial Ground there;
(3) Jonathan Backhouse (1809-34), born at Darlington, 26 December 1809; died unmarried, 12 September 1834;
(4) Elizabeth Backhouse (1811-91), born 30 April 1811; married, 28 September 1838 at Darlington, Henry Broadhead (1802-82) of Sheepscar, Leeds, oil merchant, and had issue two sons and one daughter; died at Chapeltown, Leeds 28 March 1891; will proved 11 June 1891 (effects £4,511);
(5) Maria Backhouse (1814-87), born 20 October 1814; married, 14 December 1843, Isaac Bigland (1816-90), linen draper, and had issue two sons and one daughter; died 3 November 1887;
(6) Jane Backhouse (1816-88), born 10 October 1816; married, 23 February 1843, Hodgson Bigland (1816-96) of Everton (Lancs) and had issue four sons and six daughters; died 2 December 1888;
(7) Charles John Backhouse (1819-20), born 1 August 1819; died in infancy, 24 November 1820;
(8) James Backhouse (1822-26), born 11 March 1822; died young, 27 October 1826.

He acquired Shull House jointly with his elder brother in 1814.
He died suddenly, at a farewell meeting prior to a projected visit to Norway, 9 June 1844; his will was proved in the PCY, June 1845 (effects under £9,000). His widow died at Chapeltown, Leeds, aged 90, 22 March 1874; her will was proved 29 August 1874 (effects under £3,000).

William Backhouse (1807-69)
Backhouse, William (1807-69). Eldest son of William Backhouse (1779-1844) and his wife Mary, daughter of John Dixon of Cockfield, born 12 January 1807. A partner in Jonathan Backhouse & Co., he ran their Newcastle branch, 1825-36 and was later at Darlington; he also had shares in many business ventures in the north-east, including railway companies, ironworks, gasworks, foundries and saw-mills. During his years in Newcastle, he became involved in natural history circles and was a founder member of the Natural History Society of Northumberland, Durham and Newcastle upon Tyne in 1829. Although he always had an interest in botany, he was more concerned at this time with entomology, and he made extensive notes on the Lepidoptera found on the Shull and St. John's estates. He was also interested in ornithology, meteorology and geology. After moving to St. John's, however, and especially after 1856, he was increasingly occupied with breeding new varieties of narcissi and lilies. Before his death, his collection was acquired by Peter Barr of Covent Garden, who found it contained 192 distinct varieties of narcissi, and it was one of two collections which formed the basis for Barr's classification scheme for narcissi. He was an elder of the Society of Friends. He married 1st, 13 March 1833 at Friends Meeting House, Brighouse (Yorks WR), Amelia (1809-37), daughter of Joseph Fryer of Toothill Grange, Rastrick (Yorks WR), merchant, and 2nd, 18 October 1843, Katherine (1815-68), daughter of William Aldam, and had issue (in addition to twin children by his first wife who died in infancy):
(2.1) William Aldam Backhouse (1846-1919), born at Darlington, 27 April 1846; banker and coal owner; Fellow of the Anthropological Institute, 1900; died unmarried at Bournemouth (Hants), 27 February 1919;
(2.2) Charles James Backhouse (1848-1915) (q.v.);
(2.3) Henry Backhouse (1849-1936), born 29 June 1849; bank inspector with Barclays Bank; retired to Bournemouth in about 1906; married 1st, 16 April 1885, Georgina Mary (1862-90), daughter of John Harrison Stanton, and had issue two sons; married 2nd, 29 August 1893, Mary (1865-1934), daughter of Arthur Lucas, solicitor, and had issue one daughter; died at Bournemouth, 7 June 1936; will proved 9 July 1936 (estate £15,411);
(2.4) Sarah Aldam Backhouse (1851-1931); enjoyed archery and frequently won archery competitions in her early married life; married, 3 December 1874, as his second wife, Christopher Bowly (1837-1922) of Siddington House, Cirencester (Glos), but had no issue; after his death she employed Norman Jewson to erect a row of six almshouses in his memory; died 27 September 1931 and was buried in the Friends Burial Ground at Cirencester; will proved 23 November 1931 (estate £59,170);
(2.5) Robert Ormston Backhouse (1854-1940) (q.v.).
He inherited Shull House from his father in 1844, but after a family rearrangement of property in 1847 (when Shull passed to his cousin, Elizabeth Barclay), he moved to St. John's Hall, Wolsingham. After his second wife's death, he went to live with his sister, Elizabeth Broadhead, at Chapeltown near Leeds.
He died at Chapeltown, Leeds, 3 April 1869; his will was proved 10 June 1869 (effects under £3,000). His first wife died 27 January 1837. His second wife died 27 December 1868.

Charles James Backhouse (1848-1915)
Backhouse, Charles James (1848-1915). Eldest son of William Backhouse (1807-69) and his wife, born 4 January 1848. Like many of his family he had an interest in plant breeding, and he developed new varieties of daffodil at St. John's. JP for Co. Durham. He married, 28 October 1874 at Hemsworth (Yorks WR), Lucy (1848-1939), eldest daughter of Major John Head Vincent of Hemsworth, but had no issue.
He inherited St. John's Hall, Wolsingham from his father in 1869 and remodelled it in the 1890s. At his death, his property passed to his widow, and was sold after her death.
He died 30 September 1915; his will was proved 30 November 1915 (estate £12,969). His widow died 24 January 1939; her will was proved 2 June 1939 (estate £5,658).


Robert Ormston Backhouse (1854-1910)
Backhouse, Robert Ormston (1854-1940). Youngest son of William Backhouse (1807-69) and his wife, born 10 March 1854. He was of independent means and occupied his time in hunting with the North Herefordshire Hunt, archery (in which he competed at the summer Olympics in 1908), photography, and the breeding of cats and plants, especially narcissi. The last was his principal interest, and one shared with his wife, who achieved a national reputation for her work in the field. He married, 30 April 1884 at the Friends Meeting House, Coatham (Yorks NR), Sarah Elizabeth (1857-1921), daughter of William Dodgson of The Poplars, Stockton-on-Tees, and had issue:
(1) William Ormston Backhouse (1885-1962) (q.v.).
He purchased Sutton Court, Sutton St. Nicholas (Herefs) in 1886.
He died at Sutton Court, 10 April 1940; his will was proved 30 May 1940 (estate £31,550). His wife died 30 January 1921; administration of her goods was granted to her husband, 4 July 1921 (estate £3,843).

W.O. Backhouse (1885-1962)
Backhouse, William Ormston (1885-1962). Son of Robert Ormston Backhouse (1854-1940) and his wife, born 20 February 1885. Educated at Bradfield College and Trinity Hall, Cambridge (BA 1909), where he came under the influence of Augustine Henry and the geneticist, William Bateson. He worked for five years at the Cambridge Plant Breeding Station and the John Innes Institute before moving to Argentina as an agricultural geneticist, improving wheat varieties to an extent that 'completely revolutionized the fortunes of wheat growing in South America'. For a time he was a pig farmer and a fruit farmer in Patagonia before going back to work for the Argentine Government and becoming agricultural adviser to the Argentine Railways. After his return to England in 1945 he continued the work of his parents and grandfather in hybridizing narcissi, specialising in daffodils with red trumpets. He married, Oct-Dec 1912, Gertrude Emily Leakey (1885-1986), but had no issue.
He inherited Sutton Court from his father in 1940.
He died 7 August 1962; his will was proved 29 October 1962 (estate £119,184). His widow died aged 101, 31 January 1986; her will was proved 20 January 1987 (estate £65,344).



Backhouse family of Pilmore Hall, Shull and Dryderdale Hall


Edward Backhouse (1781-1860)

Backhouse, Edward (1781-1860). Third son of Jonathan Backhouse (1747-1826) and his wife Ann, second daughter of Edward Pease of Darlington, born at Darlington, 9 July 1781. Partner in Jonathan Backhouse & Co., bankers at Darlington. He was one of the many members of the family to share an interest in forestry and botany, and was awarded a gold medal by the Royal Society of Arts in 1814 for planting 363,000 larches and 67,000 other timber trees on his estate at St. John's, Wolsingham. In his later years he was much occupied by business concerns, but after he moved to Sunderland c.1825 (some accounts say in 1819), he became known as a philanthropist for his generosity to charitable causes in the town. JP for Co. Durham, and said to have been one of the first Quakers appointed to that office. He married, 5 August 1807 at Darlington, Mary (c.1789-1860), eldest daughter of Edward Robson, and had issue:
(1) Edward Backhouse (1808-79) (q.v.);
(2) Thomas James Backhouse (1810-57) (q.v.);
(3) Lucy Backhouse Backhouse (1812-72), born 16 December 1812; married 24 July 1839, John Mounsey (1801-79) of Hendon Hill, Sunderland, furrier, and had issue two sons and three daughters; died 30 March 1872;
(4) Alfred Backhouse (1822-88) (q.v.);
(5) Emily Backhouse (1824-69), born 29 July 1824; married, 29 April 1847, Edward Mounsey of Sunderland and Montreux (Switzerland), merchant (who m2, 1873, Emilie Hoffherr) and had issue one son and two daughters; died at St. Leonards on Sea (Sussex), 19 March 1869.
He leased Polam Hall in 1818 before it was sold to his brother, and then built Ashburne, Sunderland, sometime between 1819 and 1822. He acquired St John's, Wolsingham in 1814, but by a family arrangement passed it to his nephew, William Backhouse, in 1847.
He died suddenly, at a Quaker meeting, 7 June 1860; his will was proved, 31 August 1860 (effects under £5,000). His wife died at Sunderland, 23 July 1860; administration of her goods was granted 8 November 1860 (effects under £70,000).


Edward Backhouse (1808-79)
Backhouse, Edward (1808-79). Eldest son of Edward Backhouse (1781-1860) and his wife Mary, eldest daughter of Edward Robson, born at Darlington, 8 Mary 1879. Educated privately. Coal owner and (from 1860), partner in Jonathan Backhouse & Co., bankers. He was an elder, overseer and preacher in the Society of Friends, accompanied William Forster on an extended ministerial journey in France in 1845, and acted as clerk of the London Yearly Meeting in 1862-63. In politics he was a Liberal, and put his social principles into practice as a philanthropist, spending, it is said, £10,000 a year on charities, in which he was personally active as well as a funder. In private life he was fond of travel, a good amateur artist, lithographer (a collection of his etchings is in the Yale Centre for British Art) and photographer; and an historian; he was co-author (with his brother Thomas John Backhouse, and Thomas Mounsey) of Biographical Memoirs of members of the Religious Society of Friends, from its rise to 1653 (1854);  and (with Charles Tylor) of a popular Early church history to the death of Constantine (1884), as well as several works of Quaker theology. He married, 26 March 1856, Katharine (1831-1906), daughter of Thomas Mounsey of Hendon Hall, Sunderland, coal owner, but had no issue.
He inherited Ashburne, Sunderland from his father in 1860. At his death it passed to his widow and then to his nephew, Thomas William Backhouse (1842-1920).
He died at Hastings (Sussex), where he had gone for a change of air after repeated illness, 22 May 1879; will proved 8 November 1879 (effects under £180,000). His widow died at Hexham (Northbld), 5 June 1906; her will was proved 14 July 1906 (estate £39,504).


Alfred Backhouse (1822-88)
Backhouse, Alfred (1822-88). Youngest son of Edward Backhouse (1781-1860) and his wife Mary, daughter of Edward Robson, born at Ashburne, Sunderland, 28 September 1822. Partner in Jonathan Backhouse & Co. of Darlington, bankers; he oversaw the expansion of the bank across Co. Durham, and became extremely rich on the profits. JP for Co. Durham; High Sheriff of Co. Durham, 1885-86. Member of the Darlington Local Board of Health, 1850-68; he and his wife were prominent supporters of the first Darlington Hospital, opened in Russell Street in 1865, and later gave the site of their home at Greenbank for its successor. Like his brothers, he was an amateur photographer, and exhibited prints taken on his travels in Europe in the 1850s. His primary interest, however, was in horticulture and forestry, and he was personally responsible for devising the landscaping schemes on his estates in Co. Durham. He was an elder of the Society of Friends, and in politics a Liberal, although opposed to Home Rule. He married, 8 May 1851 at the Friends Meeting House, Plaistow (Essex), Rachel (1826-98), daughter of Robert Barclay of Knotts Green (Essex), banker, but had no issue.
He lived when first married at Greenbank, Darlington, but purchased Pilmore House in 1851 and rebuilt it in 1861-64 as Pilmore Hall. He leased (before 1860) and in 1870 bought the Shull estate at Hamsterley, where he altered the house in 1860. In 1873-79 he built Dryderdale Hall on the Shull estate. At his death his property passed to his widow and on her death to Trustees for his great-nephews and nieces, who rented and later sold Pilmore Hall. Shull and Dryderdale eventually passed to two of his great-nieces and their husbands.
He died suddenly, of a heart attack, at Dryderdale Hall, 2 September 1888, and was buried in the Friends Burial Ground, Darlington; his will was proved 24 October 1888 (effects £336,750). His widow died 15 November 1898; her will was proved 24 December 1898 (effects £33,502).


Thomas James Backhouse (1810-57)
Backhouse, Thomas James (1810-57). Second son of Edward Backhouse (1781-1860) and his wife Mary, daughter of Edward Robson, born at Darlington, 24 April 1810. Coal owner; an early amateur photographer; co-author (with his brother Edward and Thomas Mounsey) of Biographical Memoirs of members of the Religious Society of Friends, from its rise to 1653, 1854. He married 1st, 18 August 1841, Margaret (1818-54), only daughter of William Richardson of North Shields (Northbld), and 2nd, 22 November 1855 at Sunderland, Anne (1810-69), daughter of Thomas Robson of Sunderland, draper, and had issue;
(1.1) Thomas William Backhouse (1842-1920), born 14 August 1842; educated at Friends Boarding School, Bootham, York and University College, London; director of colliery companies, but after a short period with the family bank he did not take an active part in business, and devoted himself to astronomy and meteorology; he lived at West Hendon House, Sunderland, where he had an observatory erected on the roof; was a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, 1873-1920, and published the Publications of the West Hendon House Observatory; at the time of his death he had almost completed a map of the heavens showing the 9,842 stars visible with the naked eye, which was finished and published after his death; also a Fellow of the Royal Meteorological Society (Vice-President, 1918-19); a guardian of Sunderland Poor Law Union (Vice-Chairman, 1891) and a member of Sunderland School Board, 1880-1903 (chairman, 1892-94) and Sunderland Borough Education Committee; president of Sunderland United Temperance Society, Sunderland Free Church Council and Houghton-le-Spring Liberal Association; an active member of the Society of Friends, serving as Clerk of the Newcastle Monthly Meeting and visiting the Friends Foreign Mission in India and Ceylon, 1898; he was severely handicapped in later years by a disease of the foot; died 13 March 1920 and was buried in the Friends Burial Ground, Sunderland;
(1.2) Mary Agnes Backhouse (1844-93), born 4 February 1844; died unmarried at Torquay (Devon), 29 May 1893;
(1.3) James Edward Backhouse (1845-97) (q.v.);
(1.4) Jonathan Backhouse (1846-55), born 28 August 1846; died young, 16 August 1855;
(1.5) Edith Margaret Backhouse (1848-63), born 2 May 1848; died young, 28 September 1863;
(1.6) Lilias Backhouse (1849-52), born 4 October 1849; died young, 5 August 1852;
(1.7) Arthur Backhouse (1853-1918), born 30 December 1853; lived at Torquay; an elder of the Society of Friends; died unmarried, 15 November 1918.
He lived at West Hendon House, Sunderland, which he extended and remodelled in the 1830s.
He died at Seaton Carew, 29 July 1857; administration of his goods was granted to his widow, 6 July 1858 (effects under £12,000). His first wife died 27 March 1854. His widow died 16 March 1869; her will was proved 4 May 1869 (effects under £12,000).


James Edward Backhouse (1845-97)
Backhouse, James Edward (1845-97). Second son of Thomas James Backhouse (1810-57) and his first wife, Margaret, daughter of William Richardson of North Shields (Northbld), born 18 May 1845. He was orphaned in 1857 and went to live with his uncle Alfred. A partner in Jonathan Backhouse & Co., until the merger with Barclays in 1896. JP for Co. Durham. He was an accomplished amateur artist. He married, 2 October 1873, Elizabeth Barclay (1849-1911), eldest daughter of Henry Fowler of Woodford (Essex), and had issue:
(1) Edith Mary Backhouse (1874-1966), born at Darlington, 31 July 1874; died unmarried aged 91, 24 July 1966; will proved 20 September 1966 (estate £59,511);
(2) Edward Backhouse (1876-1922), born at Hurworth, 26 October 1876; educated at Leighton Park School (Berks) and Balliol College, Oxford (BA); local director with Barclays Bank Ltd; married, 8 April 1902, Lucy Backhouse Mounsey (1882-1968) and had issue one son and one daughter; died, 25 August 1922, in a climbing accident at Zermatt (Switzerland); will proved 7 December 1922 (estate £75,122);
(3) Mabel Backhouse (1878-1962), born at Hurworth, 11 February 1878; educated at Oxford University; married, 26 February 1903, Wilfred Arthur Mounsey (1871-1950) and had issue two sons and two daughters; died at Barnwood House private mental hospital, 27 November 1962; will proved 11 February 1963 (estate £57,165);
(4) Alfred Ernest Backhouse (1879-1955), born at Hurworth, 12 June 1879; electrical engineer; involved in Quaker famine relief efforts in the Caucasus in First World War; married, 1920, Mary L. Sullivan, and had issue; emigrated to USA, 1947; died in Cincinnati, Ohio, 26 November 1955;
(5) Elspeth Lilian Backhouse (1880-1969), born at Hurworth, 31 August 1880; married, 15 July 1902, Jonathan Edward Hodgkin (1875-1953), engineer and company director, and had issue five sons and one daughter; died 1 March 1969; will proved 24 June 1969 (estate £20,785);
(6) Basil Henry Backhouse (1882-1953), born at Hurworth, 9 September 1882; educated at Leighton Park School (Berks); died unmarried, 28 March 1953; will proved 23 July 1953 (estate £42,145);
(7) Jennett Rachel Backhouse (1883-1973), born at Hurworth, 15 November 1883; married, 23 February 1915 at Staindrop (Co. Durham), Ronald Hodgkin (1880-1966) and had issue three daughters; died 15 July 1973; will proved 12 November 1973 (estate £25,135);
(8) Kenneth James Backhouse (1885-1912), born at Hurworth, 26 April 1885; educated at Leighton Park School (Berks); married, 15 June 1911 at Darlington, Irene Agnes, daughter of Arthur George Bell, artist, but had no issue; died 8 January 1912; will proved 2 March 1912 (estate £29,620);
(9) Margaret Ann Backhouse (1887-1977), born at Hurworth, 4 May 1887; Quaker educational activist; died unmarried, 23 March 1977; will proved 10 May 1977 (estate £116,024);
(10) Rhoda Jane Backhouse (1889-1980), born at Hurworth, 17 June 1889; violinist; lived at Aldeburgh (Suffolk); died unmarried, 1 November 1975; will proved 2 January 1976 (estate £223,449).
He was given Hurworth Grange by his uncle Alfred as a wedding present in 1873. At his death it passed to his widow and then to Trustees who let it and then sold it in 1935.
He died 29 October 1897 and was buried in the Friends Burial Ground, Darlington; his will was proved 11 December 1897 (effects £312,422). His widow died 24 May 1911; her will was proved 29 June 1911 (estate £42,425).

Sources

Burke's Peerage and Baronetage, 2003; Burke's Landed Gentry, 1898, i, p. 50; Northern Echo, 23 November 1878, p. 1; J. Foster, The descendants of John Backhouse, yeoman, of Moss Side, near Yealand Redman, Lancashire, 1894, passim; R. Desmond, Dictionary of British and Irish botanists and horticulturalists, 1977, p. 26; Sir N. Pevsner & E. Williamson, The buildings of England: County Durham, 1983, pp. 153-54, 461; P. Davis, 'The Backhouses of Weardale, Co. Durham and Sutton Court, Hereford: their botanical and horticultural interests', Garden History, vol. 18(1), 1990, pp. 57-68; D. Whitehead, A survey of historic parks and gardens in Herefordshire, 2001, p. 352; G. Cookson, The townscape of Darlington, 2003, p. 64; E.H. Milligan, Biographical dictionary of British Quakers in Commerce and Industry, 2007, pp. 23-26; N. Owen, 'A cunning arrangement: Alfred Backhouse, Alfred Waterhouse, and the building of Rockliffe Hall', Journal of the Northumbria Gardens Trust, vi, 2011/12, pp. 7-17 (unpag.); A. Brooks & Sir N. Pevsner, The buildings of England: Herefordshire, 2012, p. 617; http://www.durhampast.net/banks.html#sdendnote115anc.

Location of archives

Backhouse family of Darlington: deeds, correspondence and papers, 18th-20th cents [Durham University Library, BAC]; family correspondence and papers, 1720-1860 [Private collection]; deeds, family correspondence, diaries and travel journals, 18th-20th cents [Durham County Record Office, D/Ho, D/Wa, D/X817]; deeds, estate, business and family papers, 19th-20th cents. [Herefordshire Archives & Records Centre, G89]
Backhouse, Sir Edward Trelawny (1873-1944), 2nd bt.: memoirs [Bodleian Library, MSS Eng misc d 1223-26]
Backhouse, James (1794-1869): correspondence and letter books, 1831-68 [Religious Society of Friends Library]
Backhouse, Adm. Oliver (1876-1943): diaries, 1914-15 [Imperial War Museum]
Jonathan Backhouse & Co., bankers: business archives, 1761-1905 [Private collection]

Coat of arms
Per saltire or and azure, a saltire engrailed ermine between two roses in pale gules barbed and seeded proper, and as many passion crosses in fesse of the first.

Can you help?

Here are a few notes about information and images which would help to improve the account above. If you can help with any of these or with other additions or corrections, please use the contact form in the sidebar to get in touch.
  • Although this family is unusually well-recorded, as Quaker families often are, their habit of bequeathing property to their children as tenants in common can make it difficult to know which of several siblings was actually resident or responsible for changes. It is therefore likely that the descents of their many properties given above are not entirely accurate, or at least simplify the truth. Please let me know if you have any additional or contradictory evidence.
  • Further information about the history and ownership of the houses discussed above, and contemporary photographs would be very welcome. In particular, does anyone know for whom Sutton Court was first built, or exactly when the fire at Dryderdale Hall took place?

Revision and acknowledgements

This post was first published 3 August 2017.

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