Friday, 16 October 2020

(433) Basset of Beaupré

Basset of Beaupré
The manor of St. Hilary belonged to the Basset or Bassett family
from at least 1262 and possibly earlier. The name was spelled interchangeably as Basset or Bassett, although a single 't' became usual in later years, and is the form used here. The house which became known as Beaupré Castle was developed in the 14th century and is first recorded by that name in 1376. It descended to Jenkin Basset (c.1445-92), with whom the genealogy below begins. His eldest son and heir, James Basset (d. 1502) died young leaving an only daughter, Eleanor, as heiress. In 1511 she was married to Rice Mansel (1487-1559), a neighbouring landowner, but she died in or before 1516 without issue. Rice Mansel, who was knighted in 1527, went on to marry twice more, but retained a life interest in the house at Beaupré, which he enlarged and seems to have used as his main residence for much of his life. He arranged for his daughter Catherine (d. 1593) to marry William Basset (c.1506-86), who inherited Beaupré when Sir Rice's life interest expired, thus neatly ensuring the property was retained by his own descendants. William's son Richard (c.1535-1614) inherited Beaupré on his father's death and made further improvements to the house, giving it a sophistication that none of the previous works had possessed. Although the house was built as a manor house and was never a castle in the sense of a functionally defensible building, Richard gave it some of the trappings: an enclosing wall with crenellations, a gatehouse, and an inner porch tower, built in 1600. Both house and family were reaching the apogee of their importance at this time.

It is very probable that Richard Basset outlived his eldest son, Edward, and was succeeded by his grandson, William Basset (1578-1644), who was High Sheriff in 1622 and died in 1644, at the height of the Civil War. It was his son, Sir Richard Basset (c.1602-65), kt., who played an active part in the war, being a committed Royalist. He is said to have been knighted after the Battle of Edgehill, and he led a contingent of Royalist troops from Glamorgan to participate in the siege of Gloucester the following year. He was High Sheriff of Glamorgan in 1643-44 and was made Governor of Cardiff Castle in 1645, but only a few weeks later he was obliged to hand over the castle to Parliamentarians. According to his own account he then followed the king to Hereford, intending to resign his commission, but the king was not there and when the city fell to the Parliamentarians, he was arrested and his estate was seized. In 1646 he agreed a fine for the recovery of his estate (eventually paid in full in 1649), but in 1647 he was back in arms against the Parliament as one of the leaders of a Royalist revolt in south Wales, which was crushed with much slaughter in 1648. He may have been fined more severely this time, for the family's finances never really recovered after the Civil War, although happily he lived to see the Restoration of the monarchy and was even briefly reinstalled as Governor of Cardiff in 1660.

Sir Richard married twice, and the only surviving son of his first marriage, Sir William Basset (1627-67), kt., was the chief beneficiary of royal favour after the Restoration, being made a justice of the peace and deputy lieutenant and given commissions in the army. He married, probably in 1663, but had no surviving issue, and the Beaupré estate passed to his half-brother, Sir Richard Basset (1638?-91), kt., an officer in the army. He unwisely stood as surety for his kinsman, Sir Edward Stradling, in a debt of £21,000, and when Stradling was unable to pay, Sir Richard was obliged to sell assets and borrow heavily to meet the debt. By 1677 his income had been reduced to half the £1,000 a year that his grandfather had enjoyed, and much of it was swallowed up by paying the interest on his loans. In his will, he instructed that his lands at Glastonbury (Som.) should be sold to reduce his debts, and left Beaupré to his widow for life. She seems to have managed to find the resources to provide portions for her daughters, but perhaps as a result, the debts grew, and in 1709, her two sons, Philip and Robert, joined with her in selling the estate, which passed out of the family for the next hundred and thirty years. Beaupré Castle itself was largely abandoned and fell into ruins during the 18th century, except for a small part of the castle which was used as a farmhouse. 

For the next few generations, the Bassets maintained a tenuous hold on gentry status through the pursuit of military careers. Philip Basset died unmarried and without issue, but his brother, Richard Basset (1690-1746) eventually reached the rank of Lieutenant Colonel a few months before his death. He and his second wife, a Bainbrigge of Lockington (Leics), produced an only son, Henry Basset (c.1729-82), who pursued a similar career, also reaching the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and also marrying a member of the Bainbrigge family. Through a combination of careful living and prudent investment, Richard and Henry Basset acquired lands in both Ireland and North America, which Henry left to his eldest son, Capt. James Basset (1750-1825); since no more is heard of them, he probably sold them to supplement his retirement on half-pay. Henry's second son, Brig-Gen. Sir Richard Basset (1751-1806) had a more notable military career and died in the Caribbean while on active service. Both men were unmarried, but the family line was continued by their brother, Lt-Col. Thomas Basset (1757-1842), who reached the rank of Major in 1801 and retired soon afterwards. He seems to have suffered some form of financial calamity in the next few years, and in 1813 was admitted as one of the Poor Knights of Windsor. In about 1820 he became their Governor, a post which brought with it a house in the Lower Ward of Windsor Castle, where his children grew up. His eldest son, Richard Basset (1798-1849), joined the Royal Artillery in 1815; and in 1835 he was amongst the British troops sent to assist the liberal supporters of Queen Isabella in Spain during the First Carlist War. He played a leading part in raising the siege of Bilbao, for which he received a Spanish knighthood and was awarded a military decoration. A further welcome surprise came in 1841, when he learned that Daniel Jones, a Cardiff lawyer and philanthropist, had bequeathed the Beaupré estate to him as the senior male representative of its ancient possessors. The old castle itself was by this time largely uninhabitable, but a new house (known as New Beaupré) had been built nearby in 1820s, and in 1842 he retired from the army and moved in. He and his wife Frances had no children, so on her death in 1865 the property passed to his nephew, Maj. William West James Bruce (1830-71), who took the name Basset as a condition of the inheritance. 

Major Basset was succeeded in turn by his sons William Richard Basset (1863-1912) and Philip Thurstane Bruce Basset (1868-1922), the latter continuing to work as a veterinary surgeon after coming into the estate. During the First World War, the house was used as a military hospital, and when Philip Basset died in 1922 it passed to his widow for life. She tried unsuccessfully to let the house, and when this failed it was left empty for some years while she lived in a rented house in mid Wales. In 1928 the house and its lands were sold, finally ending the connection of the Bassets with St. Hilary and the Beaupré estate.

Old Beaupré Castle, St. Hilary, Glamorganshire

A ruined fortified house, set in an isolated position in the fields and now approached from the west along half a mile of footpath, although the original approach was from the north. It was the seat of the Bassets from at least the late 14th century until 1709. The house consists of a 14th century core, which was enlarged in the early 16th century and further elaborated in about 1600. The oldest parts of the house are at the southern end of the site (to the left on the plan below), where an irregular inner court is defined by the hall range and a service range at right-angles to it and by a detached group of buildings on the south side which seems to have been a complete second residence on a smaller scale.
Beaupré Castle: phased ground plan. Image: RCAHMW/Crown Copyright. Some rights reserved. 

The irregularity suggests that construction may have taken place in several phases during the 14th century. The hall was relatively small (32x20 ft) and had a simple two-storey parlour block to its west. To the east stood a mural staircase, then a gatehouse (which was apparently closed in and repurposed in the 15th century) and finally the service accommodation. The large and well-preserved kitchen lies at the angle between the hall range and the service range at right-angles to it.

In 1502, on the death of James Basset, the estate descended to his daughter Eleanor, who was married in 1511 to Rice Mansel (d. 1559) of Oxwich (Glam.). She died without issue within the following five years, leaving Sir Rice (as he became in 1527) the possessor of the estate for life, and it seems to have been Sir Rice who began the 16th century improvements at Beaupré. In about 1540, he constructed the three-storey west range of the outer court to enlarge the family accommodation, and built a spacious new stair, rising in short flights around a square pillar. He also modernised the older buildings, flooring over the great hall to great a great chamber on the first floor. This involved blocking the 14th century windows of the hall, inserting new mullioned windows with arched lights, and repositioning the hall fireplace. Although Sir Rice seems to have been living at Beaupré in 1527, he had other properties where he was also active as a builder. At his own family seat of Oxwich Castle, he was responsible for building the gatehouse on the west and a two-storey wing on the south side of the courtyard, and he may also have begun the conversion of Margam Abbey, which he bought in 1538, into the 'faire and sumptious house' which became the family's principal seat in the late 16th century.

Beaupré Castle: general view from the north-east. Image: RCAHMW/Crown Copyright Some rights reserved
Sir Rice Mansel arranged for his daughter (a child of his second marriage) to marry William Basset, the reversionary heir to Beaupré, so that, when he died in 1559 and the property passed back to the Bassets it did not leave his family. Richard Basset, who inherited in 1586, was to make the final and most dramatic changes to Beaupré, building the northern gatehouse and the wall to its east which completes the enclosure of the middle court in a style which adopts the features of fortification as an indication of status rather than for serious defence. This seems to have been particularly popular in south Wales, although it is found widely across the country in the Elizabethan and Jacobean period. Probably a little later, he added a 'tower of the orders' porch, dated 1600, to the north side of the hall. It is thought that the gatehouse and the porch represent two different campaigns of works because the tentative representations of classical motifs on the gatehouse are a world away from the rather sophisticated porch.


Beaupré Castle: the outer gatehouse, with crude classical decoration, perhaps of the 1580s. Image: RCAHMW/Crown Copyright. Some rights reserved.
Beaupré Castle: the inner porch tower is a more sophisticated classical production, dated 1600.
Image: RCAHMW/Crown Copyright. Some rights reserved.
After the house was sold by the Bassets in 1709, it was abandoned and fell into ruins, except for one wing, which was maintained as a farmhouse through the 19th century. In the 20th century, the site was taken into guardianship by the Secretary of State, and is now open to the public.

Descent: John Basset (fl. 1376); to son?, Thomas Basset (d. 1423); to son, John Basset; to son, Jenkyn Basset (c.1445-92); to son, James Basset (d. 1502); to daughter Elinor (d. by 1516), wife of Sir Rice Mansel (1487-1559), who had a life interest; to her nephew, William Basset (c.1506-86); to son, Richard Basset (c.1535-1614); to grandson, William Basset (1578-1644); to son, Sir Richard Basset (c.1602-65), kt.; to son, Sir William Basset (1627-67), kt.; to half-brother, Sir Richard Basset (1638?-91), kt.; to widow, Priscilla Basset, who with her sons sold 1709...sold 1755 to Thomas Edmondes; to son, John Edmondes (d. 1778); to daughter Charlotte, wife of Llewellyn Traherne (d. 1841); sold 1797 to Daniel Jones (d. 1841); bequeathed to Richard Basset (1798-1849); to widow, Frances Basset (1800-65) for life and then to his nephew, Maj. William West James Bruce (later Basset) (1830-71); to son, William Richard Basset Basset (1863-1912); to brother, Philip Thurstane Bruce Basset (1868-1922); to widow, Hilda Gwendoline Basset (d. 1937), who sold 1928...

New Beaupré House, St. Hilary, Glamorganshire

New Beaupré House: the modest building constructed for Daniel Jones in the 1820s and extended by the Basset family, photographed while in use as a hospital during the First World War, from an old postcard.
The centre of the house is a three bay two storey house built in the 1820s for Daniel Jones (d. 1841) of Llantwit Major, a solicitor who endowed Cardiff Royal Infirmary. When he died, he bequeathed the house to Richard Basset (1798-1849), thus re-establishing the connection of the family to their ancient estate. Richard Basset probably added the gabled wings either side of the centre. The house has simple interiors with well-preserved but simple decoration, including a central staircase with stick balusters. The house was offered for sale by auction in 1909, but failed to find a buyer, and during the First World War it was used as a Red Cross convalescent hospital. It returned to private residential use after the war, and was sold by the family in 1928. It remains a private house today.

Descent: Daniel Jones (d. 1841); bequeathed to Richard Basset (1798-1849); to widow, Frances Basset (1800-65) for life and then to his nephew, Maj. William West James Bruce (later Basset) (1830-71); to son, William Richard Basset Basset (1863-1912); to brother, Philip Thurstane Bruce Basset (1868-1922); to widow, Hilda Gwendoline Basset (d. 1937), who sold 1928...

Basset family of Beaupré


Basset, Jenkyn (c.1445-92). Son of John Basset of Beaupré and his wife Gwenthian, daughter of John Githin ap Jen ap Leisson, born about 1445. He married Jennet, daughter of Morgan Jenkins ap Philip, and is said to have had issue:
(1) Jane Basset;
(2) James Basset (d. 1502) (q.v.);
(3) William Basset (b. c.1477) (q.v.);
(4) Thomas Basset of Llantrithyd; married, before 1513, and had issue;
(5) Elinor Basset;
(6) John Gwyn Basset;
(7) Elizabeth Basset;
(8) Henry Basset;
(9) Richard Basset.
He inherited the Beaupré estate from his father.
He died 7 May 1492. His wife's date of death is unknown.

Basset, James (d. 1502). Eldest son of Jenkyn Basset (b. c.1445) and his wife Jennet, daughter of Morgan Jenkins ap Philip, born about 1470. He married and had issue:
(1) Elinor Basset (d. by 1516) (q.v.).
He inherited the Beaupré estate from his father.
He died in 1502. His wife's date of death is unknown.

Basset, Elinor (c.1493-c.1516). Only child of James Basset (d. 1502) and his wife, born about 1493. She married, 1511, Sir Rice Mansel (1487-1559), kt., of Oxwich Castle (Glam) and Margam Abbey (Glam.), but had no issue.
She inherited the Beaupré estate from her father in 1502 and carried it in marriage to her husband, who gained a life interest. He was responsible for enlarging and modernising the house in the early-mid 16th century.
She died before 1516. Her husband married 2nd, c.1520, Anne Brydges, and had issue two daughters (including Catherine, who married William Basset (c.1506-86), the reversionary heir to Beaupré, for whom see below) and 3rd, 1527, Cecily (d. 1558), daughter of John Dabridgecourt of Solihull (Warks), one of Princess Mary's ladies in waiting; he died in London, 10 April 1559, and was buried at St. Bartholomew the Great, London, but is commemorated by a monument in Margam Abbey church.

Basset, William (b. c.1477). A younger son of Jenkyn Basset (c.1445-92) and his wife Jennet, daughter of Morgan Jenkins ap Philip, born about 1477. He married Katherine, daughter of William Fleming, and had issue including:
(1) William Basset (c.1506-86) (q.v.);
(2) Christopher Basset of St Athan (Glam); married and had issue.
His date of death is unknown. His wife's date of death is unknown.

Basset, William (c.1506*-86). Elder son of William Basset (b. c.1477) and his wife Katherine, daughter of William Fleming, born about 1506. MP for Glamorgan, 1563, 1571. JP for Glamorgan (from 1561); High Sheriff of Glamorganshire, 1544, 1558; Escheator of Gloucestershire, 1584-85. He married Catherine (d. 1593*), daughter of Sir Rice Mansel (1487-1559) of Beaupré and his second wife, and had issue:
(1) Richard Basset (c.1535-1614) (q.v.);
(2) Arnold Basset (b. c.1542); educated at the Inner Temple (admitted 1560; called to the bar, 1571); barrister-at-law; married Mary Vaughan, and had issue three sons (from whom descended the Bassets of Tregaff) and six daughters;
(3) John Basset, of Caerwent (Mon.); married, c.1579, Ann, daughter of Thomas Prichard of Caerwent, and had issue three sons and two daughters;
(4) Elizabeth Basset; married Robert Thomas of Brigan, and had issue;
(5) Ann Basset; married her cousin, William Basset of St. Athans;
(6) Mary Basset; married, after 1586, Dr. Thomas Lyson or Leyshon MD of Neath (Glam.), author of a poem describing the gardens of St. Donat's Castle;
(7) Friswith Basset; married Thomas ap William Hopkins of Cwrt-y-Bettws, Llandarcy (Glam.).
He inherited Beaupré on the expiry of his father-in-law's life interest in 1559. At his death the house at Beaupré was left to his wife during her widowhood. He probably acquired the Llantrithyd estate through his marriage, and he also held lands in Glamorganshire under lease from the Dean and Chapter of Gloucester Cathedral.
He died 10 March 1585/6; his will was proved in the PCC, 1 April 1586. His widow died 10 March 1592/3 and was buried at Monkton Combe (Som.), where they are commemorated by a monument*.
* According to their monument at Monkton Combe, both William and Catherine died at the age of 80, she being seven years his junior. This implies dates of birth, respectively, of 1506 and 1513, but according to other sources, Catherine's parents were not married until c.1520, so she at least is likely to have been considerably younger.

Basset, Richard (c.1535-1614). Eldest son of William Basset (c.1506-86) and his wife Catherine, daughter of Sir Rice Mansel, born about 1535. High Sheriff of Glamorganshire, 1597, 1609. He married 1st, Catherine, daughter and heiress of Thomas Bowen of Fishwear, in St. Mary Church (Glam.); 2nd, Margaret, daughter of Sir John Raglan of Carnllwyd, widow of John Carne of Nash and of John Sheppard of Allston (Wilts), and 3rd, Catherine, daughter of Sir Thomas Jones of Abermarlais and widow of Thomas Vaughan of Dunraven, and had issue including:
(1.1) Edward Basset (b. 1556) (q.v.);
(1.2) Thomas Basset of Cogan; married 1st, Mary, daughter of John ap John of Cogan, and had issue two daughters; married 2nd, Elizabeth, daughter of David Evans, and widow of Christopher Van;
(1.3) John Basset; possibly the man of this name admitted to Grays Inn in 1580;
(1.4) William Basset;
(1.5) Ann Basset; married 1st, John or Thomas Powell of Llandough and 2nd, Sir Richard Gamage, kt.;
(1.6) Catherine Basset; married Richard Thomas of Brigan;
(1.7) A daughter; married William Basset of St. Athans (Glam.).
He inherited Beaupré from his father in 1586, and further extended the house, adding the mock fortifications and gatehouse and (probably rather later) the porch of the great hall.
He died in 1614; his will was proved in Llandaff, in that year. His wives' dates of death are unknown.

Basset, Edward (b. 1556). Eldest son of Richard Basset (c.1535-1614) and his first wife Mary, daughter and heir of Thomas Bowen, born 1556. He married Catherine, daughter and co-heir of Edward Carne of Nash (Glam), one of the Tellers of the Exchequer, and had issue including:
(1) William Basset (1578-1644) (q.v.);
(2) Rev. Richard Basset (c.1586-1645); educated at Christ Church and Lincoln College, Oxford (matriculated 1605; BCL 1625); vicar of Llantrisant, 1611-45 and rector of Llandough; prebendary of Llandaff Cathedral, 1612-44 and of Hereford Cathedral, 1622-45; married, 24 February 1611/2 at Mathern (Mon.), Margaret, daughter of Rt. Rev. Francis Godwin, bishop of Llandaff, 1601-17 and of Hereford, 1617-33, and had issue two sons (the elder of whom succeeded his father as vicar of Llantrisant and prebendary of Llandaff) and two daughters; died January 1644/5, and was buried at Llantrisant, where he was commemorated by a monument in the church porch;
(3) Margaret Basset;
(4) Ann Basset; married Richard Mason of Croston;
(5) Mary Basset; married John Basset of Tregaff;
(6) Catherine Basset; married, 3 June 1601, William Thomas of Brychton, barrister-at-law;
(7) Elizabeth Basset; married Francis Wyndham, of Somerset.
He probably died in his father's lifetime but his date of death is unknown. His wife's date of death is unknown.

Basset, William (1578-1644). Elder son of Edward Basset (b. 1556) and his wife Catherine, daughter of Edward Carne of Nash (Glam), one of the Tellers of the Exchequer, born 1578. High Sheriff of Glamorganshire, 1622. He married, about 1600, Cecil (c.1583-1669), daughter of Thomas Vachan alias Vaughan of Dunraven (Glam.), and had issue:
(1) Sir Richard Basset (c.1602-65) (q.v.);
(2) Busbie Basset;
(3) Edward Basset;
(4) Thomas Basset; married, after 1629, Catherine Powell, and had issue one son and three daughters;
(5) John Basset; married Anne (who m2, Morgan Cradoc of Cheriton), daughter of William Prichard of Caerwent, and had issue three sons and one daughter;
(6) Jenkin Basset (d. 1672?); said to have died in 1672;
(7) William Basset;
(8) Mary Basset (d. 1681); married 1st, Leyson Williams (d. 1663) of Aberpergwm (Glam.), gent. and 2nd, [forename unknown] John, and had issue by her first husband; will proved 13 December 1681;
(9) Elinor Basset; married Richard Mathew of Llwynrhyddid (Glam.), gent.;
(10) Cicil Basset; married Randal Harper (fl. 1642) of Machen (Mon.), gent.;
He probably inherited Beaupré from his grandfather in 1614.
He died in 1644. His widow died in 1669, and administration of her goods was granted at Llandaff, 11 November 1669.

Basset, Sir Richard (c.1602-65), kt. Eldest son of William Basset (1578-1644) and his wife Cecil, daughter of Thomas Vachan alias Vaughan of Dunraven (Glam.), born about 1602. He was an active Royalist during the Civil War and is said to have been knighted after the Battle of Edgehill, 1642; he was appointed Commissioner of Array for Glamorganshire, 1642; High Sheriff of Glamorganshire, 1643-44; and Governor of Cardiff Castle, 1645, which he yielded to the Parliamentarians on 20 August 1645 on condition of his liberty; he then followed the King to Hereford (intending, he said, to resign his commission), where he was arrested at the capture of that city. In 1646 he compounded for his estate for £753 and this fine was paid in full in 1649.  He is said to have been one of the leaders of the 1647 revolt in Glamorganshire. At the Restoration, he was briefly Governor of Cardiff Castle, 1660. He married 1st, 19 November 1623 at Wenvoe (Glam.), Mary (d. c.1634), daughter of Edward Thomas of Wenvoe and widow of George Kemeys (1583-1621), son of Edward Kemeys of Kemeys (Glam.); he married 2nd, c.1635, Elizabeth, daughter of Edward Van of Marcrosse and widow of William* Matthew of Aberaman and Roos, and had issue including:
(1.1) Catherine (k/a Kate) Basset (1624-77?), baptised at St Mary Church (Glam.), 14 December 1624; married Edward Mathew of Aberaman (Glam.), and had issue; possibly the woman of this name buried at St John, Cardiff, 4 January 1677;
(1.2) Sir William Basset (1627-67) (q.v.);
(1.3) Edmund Basset (b. 1629), baptised at St Mary Church (Glam.), 10 February 1629; died young;
(1.4) Mary Basset (1632-93), baptised at St Mary Church, 4 December 1632; married 1st, William Games of Brecon, gent., and had issue one son; married 2nd, Rev. James Corry (d. 1688), rector of Leckwith, Llandough and Cogan, and vicar of Penarth and Lavernock, and had issue one son and one daughter; administration of goods granted 6 March 1692/3;
(2.1) Jane Basset (b. 1636), baptised at St Mary Church, 28 December 1636; married Ven. Anthony Jones (d. 1678), vicar of Llantrisant, archdeacon of St. Davids, 1667-78 and prebendary of Llandaff, and had issue;
(2.2) Elizabeth Basset (1637-86), baptised at St Mary Church, 9 January 1637/8; married William Andrews (d. 1684) of Cadoxton, gent., and had issue at least two sons and two daughters; administration of goods granted 22 January 1687;
(2.3) Sir Richard Basset (1638?-91) (q.v.);
(2.4) John Basset (d. 1697); married Anna, daughter of Edward Stradling of Roath (Glam.); buried at St Hilary, 28 March 1697;
(2.5) Edward Basset (d. 1709); married, Jane [surname unknown] (d. 1695); buried at St Hilary, 28 April 1709;
He inherited Beaupré from his father in 1644.
He was buried at St Hilary, 24 February 1664/5. His first wife died between 1632 and 1635. His second wife's date of death is unknown.
* Burke's Landed Gentry calls him James.

Basset, Sir William (1627-67), kt.. Only surviving son of Sir Richard Basset (c.1602-65), kt. and his first wife, Mary, daughter of Edward Thomas of Wenvoe (Glam), baptised 6 October 1627. Educated at Grays Inn (admitted 1641, 1655). He was an officer in the Royal Horse Guards (Lt. 1661; Capt., 1664). MP for Cardiff Boroughs, 1661; DL for Glamorganshire, 1665; High Sheriff of Glamorganshire, 1665-death. He was knighted in 1666 or 1667. He married, c.1663-65 (licence, 24 February 1662/3; settlement 20 July 1665), Martha (d. 1685), third daughter and co-heir of Sir Hugh Wyndham, 1st bt., of Pilsden Court (Dorset) and widow of Edward Carne (1624-50) of Ewenny Priory (Glam.), but had no issue.
He inherited Beaupré from his father in 1664. At his death it passed to his half-brother, Sir Richard Basset (1638?-91).
He died 8 September and was buried in Westminster Abbey, 24 September 1667. His widow was buried at Llandough (Glam.), 20 March 1684/5; administration of her goods was granted 14 April 1685.

Basset, Sir Richard (1638?-91), kt. Eldest son of Sir Richard Basset (c.1602-65), kt. and his second wife, Elizabeth, daughter of Edward Van of Marcrosse and widow of James Matthew of Aberaman and Roos, born about 1638. An officer in the cavalry (Lt., 1685) and possibly the same man as held a series of commissions in the infantry as Lt. and Capt. between 1660 and 1680. Steward of the lordship of Cardiff, 1682-91. He was knighted at Whitehall, 3 February 1681/2. Patron of the Eistedfodd, called the great Gorsedd, held at Beaupré, at which the rules of bardism and Welsh verse were revised, 1681. He stood surety for Sir Edward Stradling for a debt of £21,000, which he was called upon to pay, and this broke his finances and obliged him to sell most of his lands; by 1677 his income had been reduced to £500 a year, and he was still in debt at the time of his death. He married 1st, Philippa (d. 1674), daughter of James Campbell of Woodford (Essex) and 2nd, Priscilla (b. c.1656), daughter of Col. Phillip Jones of Fonmon Castle (Glam.), and had issue:
(2.1) Philip Basset (fl. 1691-1717); an officer in the Scots Fusiliers (Lt., 1711); living in 1717 but died unmarried and without issue;
(2.2) Jane Basset (d. 1715), eldest daughter; married, 3 December 1698 at St. Hilary, John Thomas (d. 1701) and had issue one son (who died in infancy); buried at St. Hilary, 31 December 1715;
(2.3) Elizabeth Basset (fl. 1691-96), second daughter; married, 20 July 1696 at Lisworney (Glam.), Thomas Powell of Llandough and had issue two sons and one daughter;
(2.4) Anne Basset (fl. 1691), third daughter; living in 1691; possibly married [forename unknown] Lewis of Lanishen;
(2.5) Priscilla Basset (fl. 1691-98), youngest daughter; married, 29 December 1698 at St Hilary, Thomas Cross of Bristol; 
(2.6) Lt-Col. Richard Basset (1690-1746) (q.v.).
He inherited Beaupré from his half-brother in 1667, and also had a house in Cardiff. At his death he left his estate in Glamorganshire to his widow for life, with remainder to his sons; they sold it in 1709. His property at Glastonbury (Som.) was to be sold for the payment of his debts.
He died after 26 December 1691 and was buried at St. Hilary, 4 January 1691/2; his will was proved in the PCC, 26 April 1692. His first wife was buried at Flemingston (Glam.), 26 March 1674. His widow's date of death is unknown.

Basset, Lt-Col. Richard (1690-1746). Younger son of Sir Richard Basset (1638?-91), kt. and his second wife, Priscilla, daughter of Col. Phillip Jones of Fonmon Castle (Glam.), baptised at St. Hilary, 12 November 1690. An officer in the army (Lt., 1710/11; resigned 1712; Capt., 1722; Maj. 1740; Br. Lt-Col., 1745). He married 1st, 27 April 1711 at Lincoln's Inn Chapel, London, Elizabeth (b. 1689?), probably daughter of Thomas Apprice of Westminster (Middx), and 2nd, 7 April 1720 at St Anne & St Agnes, Aldersgate, London, Barbara (b. 1703), daughter of William Bainbrigge of Over Hall, Lockington (Leics), and had issue:
(2.1) Lt-Col. Henry Basset (c.1729-82) (q.v.).
He died at Youghal (Co. Waterford), 18 March 1746; his will was proved in Dublin, 7 June 1746. His first wife died before 1720. His second wife's date of death is unknown.

Basset, Lt-Col. Henry (c.1729-82). Only son of Maj. Richard Basset (1690-1746) and his second wife, Barbara, daughter of William Bainbrigge of Lockington (Leics), born about 1729. An officer in the 10th Foot (Lt., 1755; Capt., 1757; Maj., 1765; retired as Lt-Col., 1776). He married, 15 August 1749 at Duffield (Derbys), Catherine (1724-72), daughter of Thomas Bainbrigge of Woodseat (Derbys), and had issue:
(1) Capt. James Basset (1750-1825), said to have been baptised 23 January 1749/50; an officer in the 29th Foot (Lt., 1764; Capt., 1774; retired on half-pay); Deputy Inspector-General of Musters and Accounts by 1804; inherited his father's lands in North America and Ireland; lived latterly at The Hermitage, George St., Battle Bridge, St. Pancras (Middx); died unmarried and was buried at East Barnet (Herts), 14 March 1825; will proved in the PCC, 12 April 1825;
(2) Brig-Gen. Sir Richard Basset (1751-1806), kt.; an officer in 10th Foot and later 6th West India Regiment (Ensign, 1764; Lt., 1775; Capt., 1778; Br. Maj., 1794; Lt-Col., 1795; Br.Col., 1800; Br. Brig-Gen, 1804); knighted by the Duke of Rutland, 31 October 1785; died unmarried at Brimstone Hill, St. Kitts, 19 May 1806;
(3) Catherine Basset (1752-1815), baptised at St. Alkmund, Derby, 16 September 1752; married, 20 December 1781 at St Paul, Shadwell (Middx), William King, and had issue three sons; buried at East Barnet (Herts), 17 May 1815;
(4) Barbara Basset (b. 1754), baptised at Dronfield (Derbys), 13 January 1754; probably died young and certainly before 1779;
(5) Lt-Col. Thomas Basset (1757-1842) (q.v.);
(6) Henry Basset (b. 1759), baptised at St. Alkmund, Derby, 11 July 1759; probably died young, and certainly before 1779.
He lived latterly in Marsham St., Westminster (Middx).
He probably died early in 1782; administration of his goods (with will annexed) was granted, 4 May 1782. His wife died 30 October 1772.

Basset, Lt-Col. Thomas (1757-1842). Third son of Lt-Col. Henry Basset (c.1729-82) and his wife Katherine, daughter of Thomas Bainbrigge of Woodseat (Derbys), baptised 13 November 1757. An officer in the 5th Foot (Ensign, 1775; Lt., 1777; Capt., 1787; Br. Lt-Col., 1800; Maj. 1801 and retired soon afterwards). He was appointed one of the Poor Knights of Windsor (from 1833, the Military Knights of Windsor) before 1813, and was Governor of that community, c.1820-42. He married, 29 March 1790, Elizabeth (d. 1835), daughter of Alexander Cruikshanks of The Cedars, Point Claire, Montreal (Canada) and formerly of Aberdeen, and had issue including:
(1) Catherine Basset (c.1793-1877), born in Canada, c.1793; married, 5 April 1821 at Clewer (Berks), Capt. James Brooks (d. by 1844) of Appledore (Devon), but had no issue; buried at Northam (Devon), 3 March 1877;
(2) Richard Basset (1798-1849) (q.v.);
(3) James Basset (b. 1800), born 18 January 1800 and baptised at St Pancras Old Church, 27 April 1804; probably died in infancy;
(4) Hannah Augusta Basset (1804-91), born 12 March  and baptised at St Pancras Old Church, 9 April 1804; living at Beaupré in 1844 and at Ryde (IoW) in 1881; died unmarried in London, 13 June 1891; administration of goods granted 23 July 1891 (effects £6,446);
(5) John Basset (b. & d. 1807), baptised at St Pancras, 24 February 1807; died in infancy and was buried at East Barnet, 14 August 1807;
(6) Isabella Basset (b. 1808; fl. 1881) (q.v.);
(7) William Alexander Basset (b. 1810; fl. 1844), born 1 June and baptised at Bushey (Herts), 28 June 1810; living at Sydney (Australia) in 1844; evidently died without issue in Australia; a legal case led to an official search being made for him in 1893, which was apparently unsuccessful in establishing his date of death;
(8) Georgiana Anne Monsell Basset (1813-71), born 13 May and baptised in St George's College Chapel, Windsor, 31 May 1813; lived with her sister at Ryde (IoW) but died unmarried in London, 22 November and was buried at St. Hilary, 30 November 1871; administration of her goods (with will annexed) was granted to her sister, 16 March 1872 (effects under £1,500).
He lived in the Governor's House in the lower ward of Windsor Castle from c.1820.
He died at Windsor Castle, 7 January, and was buried in the Dean's Cloisters of St. George's Chapel, Windsor, 13 January 1842; his will was proved 9 February 1842. His wife died 4 December, and was buried in the same place, 11 December 1835.

Basset, Richard (1798-1849). Elder son of Lt-Col. Thomas Basset (1757-1842) and his wife Elizabeth, daughter of Alexander Cruikshanks of The Cedars, Point Clair, Montreal (Canada), born 6 December 1798  and baptised at St Pancras Old Church, 27 April 1804. An officer in the Royal Artillery (2nd Lt., 1815; Lt., 1824; 2nd Capt. and Adjutant of 2nd Battn, 1837; retired on half-pay, 1842). By a royal licence of 25 January 1838 he was granted permission to wear the insignia of a Knight of the Royal Spanish Order of Isabella, and the Cross of the Military Order of San Fernando, First Class, awarded for his role in raising the siege of Bilbao during the First Carlist War, 1836. JP and DL for Glamorganshire. He married, 27 November 1844 at Ashcott (Som.), Frances (1800-65), second daughter of Stephen Dowell of Braywick Grove (Berks) and Bath (Som.), but had no issue.
He inherited the New Beaupré estate at St. Hilary from his friend, Daniel Jones, in 1841. After his death, his estates passed to his widow for life and then to his nephew, Maj. W.W.J. Bruce (later Basset).
He died 8 November and was buried at St. Hilary, 16 November 1849; his will was proved in the PCC, 21 December 1849. His widow died at Nice, 2 May 1865; her will was proved 29 June 1865 (effects under £7,000).

Basset, Isabella (b. 1808; fl. 1881). Third daughter of Lt-Col. Thomas Basset (1757-1842) and his wife Elizabeth, daughter of Alexander Cruikshanks of The Cedars, Point Clair, Montreal (Canada), born 13 May and baptised at St Pancras (Middx), 7 December 1808. She married, 12 November 1829 at St George, Hanover Sq., London, Lt-Col. William Bruce KH (c.1794-1868), who served in the army, 1812-41, was severely wounded at the Battle of Waterloo, and was appointed a Knight of the Royal Hanoverian Guelphic Order in 1837; and they had issue:
(1) Maj. William West James Bruce (later Basset) (1830-71) (q.v.);
(2) Isabella Elizabeth Basset Bruce (1832-94), baptised at St Mary, Dover (Kent), 24 October 1832; married, 28 April 1870 at St Peter, Eaton Sq., Francis Irving (c.1828-96) of the Foreign Office, and had issue two daughters; died 7 October 1894; will proved 29 October 1894 (effects, £3,370).
She was living with her elder sister in Ryde (IoW) in 1881 but her date of death has not been traced. Her husband died at the Grosvenor Hotel, London, 28 November 1868.

Bruce (later Basset), Maj. William West James (1830-71). Only son of Lt-Col. William Bruce KH (c.1794-1868) and his wife Isabella, daughter of Lt-Col. Thomas Basset, born at Windsor Castle, 7 November 1830. An officer in the 74th Highlanders and 94th Regiment (Ensign, 1848; Lt., 1849; Capt. 1853; Br. Maj. 1865; retired 1866); JP for Glamorganshire. He assumed the name Basset in lieu of Bruce by royal licence, 12 December 1865, for himself and his descendants. He married, 3 July 1862 at St Pancras Old Church (Middx), Eliza (c.1830-97), daughter of Richard Weeks, barrister-at-law, and had issue:
(1) William Richard Basset Bruce (later Basset) (1863-1912) (q.v.);
(2) James Basset Bruce (later Basset) (1865-1919), born 23 July 1865 and baptised at Simla (India), 6 August 1865; died unmarried, Apr-Jun 1919;
(3) Eliza Maude Isabella Bruce Basset (1866-1929), born 31 August and baptised at St. Hilary, 10 October 1866; died unmarried in London, 30 January 1929;
(4) Philip Thurstane Bruce Basset (1868-1922) (q.v.);
(5) Ela Jane Mansel Bruce Basset (b. & d. 1870), baptised 9 January 1870 at St. Hilary; died in infancy and was buried at St Hilary, 2 April 1870.
He inherited the New Beaupré estate on the death of his uncle's widow in 1865.
He died in London, 16 October, and was buried at St. Hilary, 24 October 1871; his will was proved 30 December 1871 (effects under £10,000). His widow died of cholera in London, 30 July and was buried at St. Hilary, 6 August 1897.

Bruce (later Basset), William Richard (1863-1912). Eldest son of Maj. William West James Bruce (later Basset) (1830-71) and his wife Eliza, daughter of Richard Weeks, barrister-at-law, born 23 November 1863 and baptised at Amritsar (India), 7 April 1864. He took the name Basset in lieu of Bruce in 1865. He was a Conservative in politics and fond of sports, especially shooting and sailing; he was also an amateur pianist of considerable ability. He was unmarried and without issue.
He inherited the New Beaupré estate from his father in 1871 and came of age in 1884. He also had a house in South Kensington (London).
He died in London, 15 May and was buried at St. Hilary, 20 May 1912; his will was proved September 1912 (estate £13,776).

Basset, Philip Thurstane Bruce (1868-1922). Third and youngest son of Maj. William West James Bruce (later Basset) (1830-71) and his wife Eliza, daughter of Richard Weeks, barrister-at-law, born 17 August 1868. Veterinary surgeon. An officer in the Durham Light Infantry (2nd Lt., 1889) and the Imperial Yeomanry (Veterinary-Lieutenant, 1901). Working as a veterinary surgeon in south Wales in 1903. He married, 3 June 1902 at Oldbury near Bridgnorth (Salop), Hilda Gwendoline Clifford (d. 1937), daughter of Maj. Peter Clifford Browne of Ahascragh (Co. Galway) and had issue:
(1) Philip Thurstane Richard Ulick Basset (1903-59), born 1 April and baptised at St. Hilary, 19 May 1903; educated at Royal Military Academy, Woolwich; an officer in the Royal Regiment of Artillery (2nd Lt., 1923; Lt.; retired 1936; returned to service as Capt., 1939; cashiered following a court martial, 1944; he married 1st, 19 May 1929 at St Peter, Southwark (London), Kathleen Lilian Helen (1904-37), daughter of Anthony Oliphant Sergeaunt, company director, and had issue one daughter; married 2nd, Jul-Sept 1939, Lucy Norton (1904-42), daughter of Richard Eshott Carr, and had issue one son (who died in infancy), and 3rd, Apr-Jun 1944, Christine Warren-Bell (b. c.1908), actress, formerly wife of Charles Campbell, an American lawyer in Paris; died in London, Jan-Mar 1959;
(2) Hilary Catherine Mansel Basset (1906-94), born 3 August 1906; lived in London and worked as a private secretary; died unmarried in a home for distressed gentlefolk, 27 February 1994; will proved 25 April 1994 (estate under £125,000);
(3) Barbara Gwynedd Bruce Basset (1911-36), born 21 December 1911; died unmarried, Oct-Dec 1936.
He lived at Llanblethian House until he inherited the New Beaupré estate from his elder brother in 1912. After his death the house passed to his widow, who failed to let it and sold it in 1928.
He died following an operation, 9 July 1922, and was buried at St. Hilary; will proved 28 September 1922 (estate £1,633). His widow died in London, Apr-Jun 1937.


Principal sources

Burke's Landed Gentry, 1925, pp. 92-93; Royal Commission on Ancient & Historical Monuments in Wales, Glamorgan: the greater houses, 1981, pp. 46-64; J. Newman, The buildings of Wales: Glamorgan, 1995, pp. 478-80; A. Emery, The greater medieval houses of England & Wales: vol. 2, 2000, pp. 652-53; H.M. Thomas, St Hilary: a history of the place and its people, 2000; 

Location of archives

No significant archive is known to survive, although some estate and family papers survive among the Penrice and Margam archives in the National Library of Wales.

Coat of arms

Basset of Beaupré: Argent, a chevron azure between three bugle horns stringed sable.
Some accounts record the coat with the chevron sable too.

Can you help?

  • Does anyone know what Sir William Basset (1627-67), kt., had done to merit burial in Westminster Abbey?
  • Can anyone provide fuller genealogical information for the earlier generations of this family? In the absence of the parish registers for St. Hilary before 1690, my account is unusually incomplete.
  • I should be most grateful if anyone can provide photographs or portraits of people whose names appear in bold above, and who are not already illustrated.
  • Any additions or corrections to the account given above will be gratefully received and incorporated. 

Revision and acknowledgements

This post was first published 16 October 2020.



Saturday, 3 October 2020

(432) Bass of Rangemore Hall and Byrkley Lodge, baronets and Barons Burton

Bass family
The Basses are a classic example of a family which rose from modest origins to great wealth and a seat in the House of Lords through entrepreneurial skill in a manufacturing industry. Their story begins with William Bass (c.1721-87) of Hinckley (Leics), who appears to have possessed a flair for business. He inherited a smallholding and then moved into the carrying trade, at first in partnership with his elder brother John, but later on his own. With the growth of the brewery trade around Burton-on-Trent, the carriage of beer became an important part of his business, but when he realised there was better money to be made from making beer than from moving it, he sold his business to a rival concern and invested the profits in buying a brewery in the High Street at Burton. He was already sixty years of age when he embarked on his new venture, but he threw himself into it with vigour, exploiting his understanding of transport infrastructure to develop a profitable new market for his product in Russia. He was succeeded by his sons Michael and William, but the latter was not a businessman by temperament and sold his interest to Michael Bass (1759-1827) in 1795. Michael expanded the Russian and domestic markets, and when war with France disrupted the overseas trade, he developed a new type of beer, Indian Pale Ale, which was suited to the needs of British officers and civil servants in the Indian sub-continent and could stand the long journey to its market.

Michael Thomas Bass was succeeded as head of the firm by his son and namesake, Michael Thomas Bass (1799-1884), who not only inherited the entrepreneurial gene but added to it a phenomenal energy. He joined the firm in 1817 and by the time he died sixty-seven years later, he had made the firm the largest brewery in the world, operating from three plants at Burton and producing more than a million barrels of beer a year. Although he remained actively engaged in the business until his death, from about 1850 he delegated more to his partners and managers and made time for a political career as MP for Derby, 1848-83. His growing wealth enable him to move out of the town of Burton and to lease first Byrkley Lodge and later Rangemore Hall (which he rebuilt), as well as a shooting lodge in Scotland where he took his annual holiday. His wealth also supported wide-ranging philanthropic projects, especially in Derby and Burton, and the industries associated with those towns. He is reported to have turned down both a baronetcy and a peerage, and at his death his wealth was estimated at £1.8m, making him one of the richest commoners in the country. 

The younger Michael Bass left two sons, Michael Arthur Bass (1837-1909) and Hamar Alfred Bass (1842-98), although only the former was judged to have the temperament for business, and took over the management of the brewery. Both men also had political careers, although Hamar's principal focus was on horse-racing and breeding. In 1882, while his father was still alive, Michael accepted the baronetcy which his father had rejected, and it was probably because this was a vicarious honour for his father that the patent included a special remainder to Hamar and his descendants. Although the brewing industry generally faced difficult trading conditions in the late 19th century, with declining demand as a result of the temperance movement and a more hostile legislative climate, Bass continued to do well by offering a premium product, and Sir Michael's munificent gifts to his home town were on an even larger scale than those of his father. In 1886, he was advanced to the peerage, as 1st Baron Burton, and in 1897, since he had no son to succeed him, he was granted a second barony with a very similar title, with a special remainder to his daughter. With the peerage came a whole new social standing, and Lord Burton invested heavily in his properties to ensure they reflected his status. In London, he acquired Chesterfield House - one of the grandest of the Mayfair town houses - as his residence, and filled it with paintings by 18th century British masters. He bought the freehold of Rangemore in 1886 and more than doubled it in size in 1898-1901 ahead of a visit by King Edward VII in 1902. The King also visited his leased estate at Glenquoich in Scotland, where he enlarged the lodge at the same time as work was in progress at Rangemore. With the death of Lord Burton in 1909, the brewery company passed out of family control, but his peerage and property passed to his daughter, Nellie Lisa Bass (1873-1962), Baroness Burton, whose first husband was Col. James Evan Bruce Baillie (1859-1931) of Dochfour. They had two sons and one daughter, and on Lady Burton's death the peerage passed to their descendants. Lady Burton sold Chesterfield House in London in about 1920, but kept Rangemore until 1949, when she moved to a smaller house on the estate and sold the big house to Staffordshire County Council, which turned it into a residential school for the partially sighted.

Lord Burton's younger brother, Hamar Alfred Bass (1842-98), purchased Byrkley Lodge after his father's death and rebuilt it on a much larger scale to the designs of Col. R.W. Edis in 1887-91. At his death it passed to his only son, William Arthur Hamar Bass (1879-1952), who in 1909 inherited Lord Burton's baronetcy under the special remainder of 1882. Sir William saw military service during the Boer War and First World War, but had no involvement with the management of the brewery and did not follow his father into politics. He invested in the nascent British film and cinema industry, but his chief love was horse-racing, and he filled many roles in that sport, including being a steward of the Jockey Club. His marriage to a daughter of the 14th Earl of Huntingdon was childless, and at his death he bequeathed Byrkley Lodge to her nephew, who promptly sold it, and it was demolished shortly afterwards.

Rangemore Hall, Staffordshire

Rangemore House: the house built for John Barton in about 1850. 

The first house on the site was a small Georgian house called Rangemore House of 1822, which was evidently replaced or incorporated within a two-storey Italianate mansion with tall dormer windows breaking through the parapet to light an attic storey, built in about 1850 for John Barton. This was described, when the lease was sold in 1853 after Barton's death, as "delightfully situated on a rising lawn in Rangemoor Park, commanding views of the immediate park scenery, comprising a fine lake of ornamental water, rich greensward aud noble oakwoods".  The accommodation consisted of a spacious entrance hall, drawing room, dining-room, library, numerous principal and secondary edrooms and dressing rooms, together with the usual "domestic offices, stabling, coach houses, and granaries upon an extensive scale". The architect is unknown. 

Rangemore House: a side by side comparison of the 1st and 2nd edition 25" maps of 1881 and 1901
shows how much the house was enlarged by Lord Burton.

The house was monstrously enlarged and internally redecorated by Col. Robert William Edis (1839-1927) for Lord Burton in 1898-1901, when it was more than doubled in size to accommodate a visit by King Edward VII, who came in 1902 and again in 1907. The overall style remains loosely Italianate, but the external elevations lack coherence and the many different facades created by running out wings in several different directions do not relate meaningfully to one another. 

Rangemore Hall: the house as massively enlarged for Lord Burton in 1898-1901 by Col. R.W. Edis.

Rangemore Hall: a detail of the elevation demonstrates the cavalier juxtaposition of irregular elements.
The interior is much better, with richly detailed and beautifully executed plasterwork and woodwork in a generally mid-18th century style. Lord Burton is said to have spent £200,000 on the place, but this seems an excessive estimate, even considering the scale and the quality of the internal finish.

Rangemore Hall: the drawing room and dining room of one of the apartments into which the house has been divided.

Rangemore Hall: the principal staircase is an example of the excellent Edwardian craftsmanship.
The roadway adjoining the house was moved to allow the enlargement of the gardens at the time of the 1850s rebuilding, but a more extensive landscaping was commissioned from Edward Milner in 1875. In the grounds are the stables, dated 1895, and a large brick-lined ice house approached by a long tunnel, with a pit said to be eighteen feet deep, which is a survival from the Georgian landscape. In Victorian times, there was an extensive complex of more than forty glasshouses, including an orchid house, which were heated by three large boilers and three and a half miles of pipes.

Descent: Duchy of Lancaster leased to John Rigby (fl. 1834); lease sold by 1835 to Henry Barton (1806-52) and then to Michael Thomas Bass (1799-1884); the Duchy sold the freehold after his death to his son, Sir Michael Arthur Bass (1837-1909), 1st bt. and 1st Baron Burton; to daughter, Nellie Lisa (1873-1962), 2nd Baroness Burton, wife of Col. James Evan Bruce Baillie (1859-1931) of Dochfour, and later of Maj. William Eugene Melles (d. 1953); she sold it 1949 to Staffordshire County Council, which operated it as Needwood School for the partially deaf, 1954-85; subsequently sold and divided into eight self-contained houses.

Byrkley Lodge, Rangemore, Staffordshire. 

In the medieval period, the estate formed part of Needwood Forest, and the first house here was a hunting lodge built in the 13th century. The property became part of the Duchy of Lancaster lands and was favoured as a royal hunting preserve by King James I and others. In the late 17th and 18th centuries the timber trees were harvested and much of the Forest was converted to pasture, and Byrkley Lodge was rented to Lord Townshend, whose wife had inherited the nearby Tamworth Castle estate. He seems to have engaged William Wyatt (1734-80) to rebuild the house on a somewhat larger scale as an occasional residence; the grounds were also landscaped at the same time, and included a cascade. A series of late 18th century drawings show the house with a one-and-a-half storey neo-classical front of three wide bays and two-storey service range behind, while a long detached stable block is visible behind. Edward Sneyd made improvements in the 1790s, perhaps including a long curving wall or covered passage linking the house to the stable block. There was also considerable internal remodelling in the 1820s, and further landscaping work in the grounds: the two pools south-east of the house were created in 1826. When advertised to let in 1834, the house contained “an eating room, library and drawing room, seven bedrooms, two with dressing rooms, five servant’s rooms, housekeeper’s room, and all other domestic offices”, and in 1852 the main reception rooms were still the hall, drawing room, library and dining room.

Byrkley Lodge: detail of a watercolour by John Spyers of 1786, showing the house designed by William Wyatt for Lord Townshend.
Image: British Library Maps K.Top.38.49.a

Byrkley Lodge: entrance front as rebuilt by R.W. Edis for Hamar Bass, 1887-91. Image: Historic England/Knight Frank & Rutley BB83/4292
The Georgian house was replaced by a large Elizabethan-style hous
e designed by R.W. Edis for Hamar Bass, the brother of the 1st Lord Burton, and built in 1887-91 by Walker & Slater of Derby, builders, reputedly at a cost of £150,000. The new house was constructed of intensely red Ruabon brick with Hollington stone dressings. The main block was planned around a central hall, with a service wing attached to one corner. The quality of the internal fittings and decoration - which ranged from the Jacobethan to neo-Adam in style - was uniformly high.

Byrkley Lodge: the central hall in the early 20th century. Image: Historic England/Knight Frank & Rutley BB83/4297

Byrkley Lodge: the library in the early 20th century. Image: Historic England/Knight Frank & Rutley BB83/4298
From the beginning the house had six bathrooms on the principal bedroom floor - an early example of such generous provision - and when advertised for sale in 1913, it was said to contain ‘a beautiful hall, 52ft by 43 ft, [a] suite of magnificent entertaining rooms, including the ballroom, study, boudoir, drawing room and library; well-lighted bedrooms and dressing rooms; and eleven bathrooms’, as well as the service accommodation.  

The house was put on the market in 1913 but failed to sell, although much of the estate was sold off, two farms going back to the Duchy of Lancaster. The house then remained the property of Sir William Bass until his death, but was sold and demolished soon afterwards. The site is now occupied by St George's Park National Football Centre.

Descent: Duchy of Lancaster leased 1754 to Field Marshal George Townsend, 4th Viscount Townshend; sold 1786 to Arthur Chichester (d. 1799), 1st Marquess of Donegall; sold in 1790s to Rear Admiral Edward Sneyd (d. 1832), who acquired the freehold; to widow, Maria Sneyd (d. 1848); to daughter, Mary Emma Sneyd (d. 1858), who leased it in 1850 to Michael Bass (1799-1864) and later sold to Col. Francis William Newdegate (1822-93); sold 1886 to Hamar Alfred Bass (1842-98); to son, Sir William Arthur Hamar Bass (1879-1952), 2nd bt.; to nephew by marriage, Peter Hastings (later Hastings-Bass) (d. 1964) who sold 1952; demolished soon afterwards.

Glenquoich Lodge, Invernesshire

In 1838 Edward Ellice MP bought the western half of the McDonnell estate from the impoverished lairds of the clan, who had already 'cleared' their tenantry from the estate through programmes of assisted, and later forced, emigration to Canada. Ellice (d. 1863), who was a 53-year old widower, was deeply influenced by the Romantic enthusiasm for Scotland, encouraged by Sir Walter Scott and later by Queen Victoria, and perhaps by his own early experiences in Canada. He built a modest shooting lodge in this wild and remote corner of the Highlands, on the shores of Loch Quoich. 

Glenquoich House: two watercolours of the original shooting lodge, showing the simple exterior and spartan interior in the 1840s,
from Janie Ellice's album of sketches.

As first built, it was a one-and-a-half storey building with dormer windows lighting the upper floor, sash windows and a slate roof. The interior, recorded in a number of family sketches from the 1840s, was sparsely and simply furnished with cane-bottomed chairs and iron bedsteads, suggesting that simple living was part of the attraction of highland life at this time. 

On Edward Ellice's death in 1863, the estate passed to his son of the same name, who later the same year purchased the eastern half of the former McDonnell estate, around Invergarry. He commissioned a new house there (Invergarry House) from David Bryce and made it his principal home. Glenquoich was let from 1873 to Michael Arthur Bass, later 1st Lord Burton, who had been brought up on holidays in the Highlands, and enjoyed stalking, shooting and fishing from an early age. 

Glenquoich Lodge: the house as enlarged and remodelled by Alexander Ross c.1900.
At first, he seems to have been content with the rather spartan conditions of Glenquoich Lodge, but after he became friends with Edward, Prince of Wales in the 1890s, he transformed the house into a luxurious highland mansion to the designs of Alexander Ross. The work was carried out at the same time as he was doubling the size of Rangemore Hall (Staffs), also with a view to royal visitors. At Glenquoich, the improvements (to what was still only a rented estate) went far beyond the enlargement of the house. Lord Burton laid out 130 miles of roads and carriage drives on the estate, and even bankrolled the construction of the Invergarry and Fort Augustus railway (opened in 1903) to provide access to it, via the station at Invergarry. King Edward VII came to Glenquoich in 1904 and 1905, but after the King's second visit Lord Burton gave up the lease. The lodge survived until 1955, when the construction of a new dam turned Loch Quoich into a much larger reservoir. The house was demolished and the site was flooded later that year. Any remains now lie several fathoms deep.

Bass family of Rangemore, baronets and Barons Burton


Bass, William (c.1721-87). Second son of William Bass (1695-1732) of Hinckley (Leics), plumber, glazier and smallholder, and his wife Hannah Fish, born about 1721*. He succeeded to his father's smallholding, and later established a carrying business between London and Manchester with his elder brother, John Bass. John withdrew from this concern in 1755, and after William's marriage he moved to Burton-on-Trent, where he was increasingly concerned with the carriage of beer from the town's growing brewery industry. In 1777 he sold his carrying business to Pickfords, and invested the proceeds in a house and brewery in the High St. at Burton-on-Trent (Staffs), from which he produced a premium quality beer for the English market. In 1784 he began exporting a strong warming ale to Russia via the River Trent and the port of Hull, and this remained an important market for the firm until the Napoleonic Wars. He married, 4 December 1757 at St Michael, Wood St., London, Mary Gibbons (d. 1786), the daughter of a London publican, and had issue:
(1) Michael Thomas Bass (1759-1827) (q.v.);
(2) William Bass (b. 1763), baptised at Burton-on-Trent, 2 July 1763; partner with his brother in the Bass brewery, Burton-on-Trent, 1787-95, but then sold his interest to his brother; his later career has not been traced.
He lived at Hinckley until 1758 and thereafter at Burton-on-Trent.
He was buried at Burton-on-Trent, 2 September 1787. His wife was buried at Burton-on-Trent, 2 March 1786.
*Some sources state he was born in 1717 but his parents were only married (at Derby) in that year, and he was their second son.

Michael Thomas Bass (1760-1827) 
Bass, Michael Thomas (1759-1827).
Elder son of William Bass (c.1721-87) and his wife Mary Gibbons, born 23 July and baptised at Burton-on-Trent, 26 July 1759. He and his brother inherited his father's brewery at Burton-on-Trent in 1787, but he bought out his brother in 1795, and 
entered into partnership with John Ratcliff (d. 1834) the following year. He continued to develop the Baltic trade with Russia and North Germany, exporting via the River Trent and Hull, and in 1799 he built a second brewery at Burton. After the decline in his export trade caused by the Napoleonic Wars, he and his son developed Indian Pale Ale for the south Asian marketHe married, 2 January 1794 at Burton-on-Trent, Sarah (1763-1837), daughter of Abram or Abraham Hoskyns of Newton Solney (Derbys), and had issue:
(1) Mary Bass (1795-1879), baptised at Burton-on-Trent, 7 August 1795; married, 4 October 1843 at Barton-under-Needwood (Staffs), Walter Joseph Gisborne (1797-1887) of Yoxall Lodge (Staffs) and Lingen, Presteigne (Radnors), but had no issue; died 20 December 1879; administration (with will annexed) granted, 13 February 1880 (effects under £8,000);
(2) Sarah Bass (1796-1858), baptised at Burton-on-Trent, 11 January 1797; lived at Derby; died unmarried, 17 December, and was buried at Burton-on-Trent, 22 December 1858; will proved 2 February 1859 (effects under £7,000);
(3) Frances Bass (1798-1881), baptised at Burton-on-Trent, 26 October 1798; married, 26 June 1837 at Barton-under-Needwood (Staffs), Archibald Fox (1800-71) of Derby, and had issue one son; lived latterly at 7 Vanbrugh Park, Blackheath (Kent); died 17 July 1881; administration of goods (with will annexed) granted 3 September 1881 (effects £14,874);
(4) Michael Thomas Bass (1799-1884) (q.v.);
(5) William Bass (1801-80), born 20 July 1801 and baptised at Burton-on-Trent, 13 January 1802; educated at Middle Temple (admitted 1839; called 1843); barrister-at-law; from 1852 land agent to Francis Dukinfield Palmer Astley of Dukinfield Lodge; lived at The Lakes, Dukinfield (Ches) and later at Duffield (Derbys); died unmarried, 23 September and was buried at Duffield, 27 September 1880; will proved 8 November 1880 (effects under £12,000);
(6) Abraham Bass (1804-82), of Moat Bank, Burton-on-Trent, born 23 February and baptised at Burton-on-Trent, 20 July 1804; solicitor; an amateur cricketer who played three first class matches and was chiefly responsible for the formation of Burton Cricket Club; married, 11 May 1852 at Stapenhill (Derbys), Margaret Jane (1816-78), daughter of Rev. George Wood Lloyd DD, vicar of Gresley (Derbys), and had issue one son; died 15 August 1882 and was buried at Stapenhill; will proved 14 December 1882 (estate £17,991);
(7) Rev. Roger Bass (1805-44), born 15 April and baptised at Burton-on-Trent, 31 July 1805; educated at Repton and Trinity College, Cambridge (matriculated 1826; BA 1830; MA 1834); ordained priest, 1836; vicar of Austrey (Warks), 1839-44; married, 17 August 1835 at Burton-on-Trent, Anne (1795-1859), daughter of William Worthington of Burton, but had no issue; died suddenly while riding, 8 April, and was buried at Austrey, 9 April 1844; will proved 15 February 1845.
He lived at Burton-on-Trent.
He died 9 March and was buried at Burton-on-Trent, 14 March 1827; his will was proved 14 February 1828. His widow died 22 August and was buried at Burton-on-Trent, 28 August 1837.

Michael Thomas Bass (1799-1884)
Image: Parliamentary Archives.
Bass, Michael Thomas (1799-1884).
Eldest son of Michael Thomas Bass (1759-1827) and his wife Sarah, daughter of Abraham Hoskyns of Newton Solney (Derbys), born 6 July 1799. Educated at Burton on Trent Grammar School and later at Nottingham. As a young man he was an officer in the Staffordshire Yeomanry Cavalry (Lt., 1824), and assisted in putting down riots before the passage of the Great Reform Act in 1832. He entered the family brewery business at Burton-on-Trent in 1817 and succeeded his father as head of the firm in 1827. When he joined the firm it was not flourishing because the Napoleonic wars had disrupted sales to its important Russian market. To substitute for this trade, a beer (the famous Indian Pale Ale) was developed for export to south Asia, which was the salvation of the firm. Between 1830 and 1880 
Bass and his partners (two generations of Ratcliffs and Grettons, and later his sons) expanded the business until it was the largest brewery in the world, eclipsing the major London brewers and producing about 1,000,000 barrels a year by the latter date. Bass increasingly delegated the day-to-day operation of the firm to his partners and managers, and became an advocate for the brewing trade in general, and this led him into politics. He served as Liberal MP for Derby, 1848-83, and although opposed to the hostile policy of his party on licensing, he was in other respects a committed Liberal, advocating free trade, low taxation, and improved working-class living standards. As his wealth grew in proportion to the success of the brewery, he became a generous benefactor to both Burton-on-Trent and Derby, and in the latter town he paid for a new library, art gallery, recreation ground, and swimming-baths. No doubt as a result of this generosity, he was enormously popular with his electorate. His growing wealth allowed him to assimilate to the landed elite, and he was JP and DL for Staffordshire from 1852, and a keen field sportsman, hunting until just a few years before his death. From the 1840s, he spent between four and six weeks a year in Scotland to shoot grouse, stalk deer, and catch salmon, latterly leasing Tulchan Lodge, Strathspey. He married, 8 December 1835, Eliza Jane (1812-97), daughter of Maj. Samuel Arden of Longcroft (Staffs), and had issue including:
(1) Sir Michael Arthur Bass (1837-1909), 1st bt. and 1st Baron Burton (q.v.);
(2) Emily Frances Anne Bass (1841-1915), baptised at Burton-on-Trent, 28 May 1841; married, 30 September 1862 at Tatenhill, Sir William Chichele Plowden KCSI (1832-1915) of Aston Rowant (Oxon), and had issue one daughter; died 29 November 1915; administration of goods granted 23 March 1916 (estate £15,518);
(3) Hamar Alfred Bass (1842-98) (q.v.);
(4) Alice Jane Bass (1843-1919), born 1 August and baptised at Yoxhall (Staffs), 16 December 1843; married, 21 October 1868 at Rangemore, Sir George Chetwode (1823-1905), 6th bt., and had issue two sons and three daughters; died at Lucerne (Switzerland), 27 November 1919; will proved 27 January 1920 (estate £4,385);
(5) Mary Arden Bass (1846-89), born 2 December 1846 and baptised at Barton-under-Needwood, 6 April 1847; she seems to have been excluded from the family circle and lived as a boarder with families in the London area, latterly at Sutton (Surrey), although she was not completely ostracized as her father bequeathed her an annuity; she died unmarried and was buried at Norwood Cemetery, 7 March 1889.
He lived at Brewery House, High St., Burton-on-Trent until 1848 and then leased Byrkley Lodge, where he lived during the 1850s. He leased Rangemore Hall from about 1853 and moved there in about 1860.
He died 29 April 1884, and was buried at Rangemore; his will was proved 27 May 1884 (effects £1,830,291). His widow died 7 August 1897; her will was proved 16 September 1897 (effects £5,406).

Sir Michael Arthur Bass (1837-1909),
1st Baron Burton. Image: NPG.
Bass, Sir Michael Arthur (1837-1909), 1st bt. and 1st Baron Burton. 
Elder son of Michael Thomas Bass MP (1799-1884) and his wife Eliza Jane, daughter of Maj. Samuel Arden of Longcroft (Staffs), born 12 November 1837 and baptised at Burton-on-Trent, 20 April 1838. Educated at Harrow and Trinity College, Cambridge (matriculated 1856; BA 1860; MA 1864). On leaving university he entered the family brewing business of Bass, Ratcliff and Gretton at Burton-on-Trent, eventually succeeding his father as Chairman in 1884, and ensuring that the business continued to thrive by offering a quality product at a time of increasing competition and decreasing demand for beer. He was also Deputy Chairman of the South-Eastern Railway, JP and DL for Staffordshire and Hon. Col. of 6th battalion, North Staffordshire Regiment (retired 1881). He entered politics as Liberal MP for Stafford, 1865-68, East Staffordshire, 1868-85, and Burton-on-Trent, 1885-86, and became a personal friend of Gladstone, although he joined the Liberal Unionists in 1894 in protest at the Liberal party's growing hostility to the brewing interest. His father having declined both a baronetcy and a peerage, he was created a baronet in his father's lifetime, 1882, and this explains why he was able to secure a remainder to his younger brother and the latter's heirs male. He was later raised to the peerage as Baron Burton of Rangemore and Burton-on-Trent, 13 August 1886. As he had no male issue, this peerage died with him, but he obtained a new grant as Baron Burton of Burton-on-Trent and Rangemore, 29 November 1897, with a special remainder to his daughter. A genial man, he became a personal friend of the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII), who stayed at Rangemore, his London house, and Glenquoich, and who appointed him KCVO, 1904. He was a freemason from a young age and became a prominent contributor to masonic charities, and well as continuing the tradition established by his father of munificent benefactions to the town of Burton, where his major projects including the new town hall (£65,000), St Paul's church (£120,000 and a £40,000 endowment) and a bridge across the River Trent (£30,000). He formed a notable art collection of works by the leading English 18th century painters (which were housed in 18th century surroundings at Chesterfield House) and also collected the work of contemporary artists (which was kept at Rangemore). He married, 28 October 1869, Harriet Georgina (1842-1931), fourth daughter of Edward Thornewill of Dove Cliff (Staffs), and had issue:
(1) Nellie Lisa Bass (1873-1962), 2nd Baroness Burton (q.v.).
He inherited the lease of Rangemore Hall from his father in 1884, purchased the freehold in 1886, and doubled it in size in 1898-1901 in anticipation of a visit by the Prince of Wales: it was estimated that the works cost £200,000. He bought Chesterfield House, Mayfair in about 1880, and also leased an estate in Scotland (Glenquoich Lodge) from 1873-1905, employing Alexander Ross to make additions to it c.1900, laying out 130 miles of roads and carriage drives on the estate, and even bankrolling a railway to provide access to it (from Invergarry station).
He died following an operation, 1 February 1909, when his was succeeded in his baronetcy by his nephew, Sir William Bass, 2nd bt. (q.v.) and in the 1897 barony by his daughter; his 1886 barony became extinct on his death; his will was proved 11 March 1909 (estate £1,000,000). His widow died 21 January 1931; her will was proved 12 May and 30 September 1931 (estate £207,027).

Bass, Nellie Lisa (1873-1962), 2nd Baroness Burton. Only child of Sir Michael Arthur Bass (1837-1909), 1st bt. and 1st Baron Burton, and his wife Harriet Georgina, fourth daughter of Edward Thornewill of Dove Cliff (Staffs), born 27 December 1873. She succeeded her father as 2nd Baroness Burton of Burton-on-Trent and Rangemore, 1 February 1909. She married 1st, 31 January 1894, Col. James Evan Bruce Baillie (1859-1931) of Dochfour, and 2nd, 25 July 1932 at St George, Hanover Sq., London, Maj. William Eugene Melles (d. 1953), eldest son of Joseph William Melles of Gruline, Isle of Mull (Argylls), and had issue two sons and one daughter by her first husband [for whom see my post on that family].
She inherited Rangemore Hall from her father in 1909, and on the death of her first husband inherited his estates at Dochfour (Inverness-shire) and Redcastle and Tarradale (Ross & Cromarty) for life. She sold Rangemore Hall to Staffordshire County Council in 1949 but to replace it she purchased Needwood Hall from her cousin, Sir William Bass. She inherited Chesterfield House from her father but sold it to Lord Lascelles in about 1920.
She died 28 May 1962; her will was proved 15 June 1962 and 2 May 1963 (estate £215,230). Her first husband died 6 May 1931; his will was confirmed in Scotland and sealed in England, 23 June 1931 (effects £33,669). Her second husband died 20 February 1953; his will was proved 26 August 1953 (estate £25,644).

Bass, Hamar Alfred (1842-98). Second son of Michael Thomas Bass MP (1799-1884) and his wife Eliza Jane, daughter of Maj. Samuel Arden of Longcroft (Staffs), born 30 July and baptised at Yoxhall (Staffs), 30 September 1842. Educated at Harrow. He was a director of Bass, Ratcliff, Gretton & Co., brewers, of Burton-on-Trent, but was effectively excluded from its management on account of his 'addiction to the Turf', which was thought to make him unreliable. He became Liberal (later Liberal Unionist) MP for Tamworth, 1878-85 and for West Staffordshire, 1885-98, and was Hon. Col. of 4th battalion, North Staffordshire Regiment and a JP and DL for Staffordshire. He was a keen racehorse owner and breeder and won the Ascot Gold Cup in 1896; he was also Master of the Meynell Hunt for 12 years. He married, 22 February 1879, the Hon. Louisa (1853-1942), daughter of William Bagot, 3rd Baron Bagot, and had issue:
(1) Sir William Arthur Hamar Bass (1879-1952), 2nd bt. (q.v.);
(2) Alexander Michael Bass (1885-91), born 10 February 1885; died young, 9 March 1891;
(3) Sibell Lucia Bass (1881-1957), born 28 June 1881; married, 2 June 1900 at St Peter, Eaton Sq., London, Capt. Berkeley John Talbot Levett (1863-1941) of London, second son of Col. Theophilus John Levett of Wychnor Park (Staffs), and had issue two sons and one daughter; died 23 January 1957.
He purchased Byrkley Lodge and Needwood House, Rangemore, and rebuilt the former to the designs of Col. R.W. Edis in 1887-91. He also had a town house at 145 Piccadilly, London.
He died of complications arising from a form of rheumatism, 8 April 1898; his will was proved 8 July 1898 (estate £196,547). His widow married 2nd, 28 Nov 1901, Rev. Bernard Day Douglas Shaw (1856-1922), vicar of The Annunciation, Bryanston Street, London; she died aged 88, from shock as the result of breaking her leg while alighting from a train at Lichfield, 18 May 1942; administration of her goods (with will annexed) was granted 16 November 1942 (estate £17,232).

Bass, Sir William Arthur Hamar (1879-1952), 2nd bt. Only surviving son of Hamar Alfred Bass (1842-98) and his wife the Hon. Louisa, daughter of William Bagot, 3rd Baron Bagot, born 24 December 1879.  Educated at Harrow, and entered Trinity College, Cambridge but gave up his place and joined the army instead. An officer in the 10th Hussars (2nd Lt., 1899; Lt., 1900; retired 1904; returned to colours, 1914; Capt., 1915; retired 1919), who served in the Boer War and First World War. He was Chairman of Provincial Cinematograph Theatres, from 1909, and also gave financial support to the London Film Co., but was chiefly associated with the horse-racing industry. He was a racehorse owner from 1901, a member and steward of the Jockey Club, joint Master of the Meynell Hunt, a Steward of the Pony Turf Club, and was involved in the foundation of Northolt Park Racecourse in 1929. He married, 9 June 1903 at Clewer (Berks), Lady Wilmot Ida Noreen (1880-1949), youngest daughter of Francis Power Plantagenet Hastings, 14th Earl of Huntingdon, but had no issue.
He inherited Byrkley Lodge from his father in 1898.
He died 28 February 1952, when the baronetcy expired; his will was proved 30 May 1952 (estate £269,900). His wife died 25 May 1949; her will was proved 23 July 1949 (estate £2,246).

Principal sources

Burke's Peerage and Baronetage, 2003, pp. 598-600; Sir N. Pevsner, The buildings of England: Staffordshire, 1974, p. 224; N. Tringham (ed.), The Victoria County History of Staffordshire: vol. X: Tutbury and Needwood Forest, 2007, pp. 70-71; T. Mowl & D. Barre, The historic gardens of England: Staffordshire, 2009, pp. 255-57; M. Miers, Highland Retreats, 2017, pp. 59, 66, 140, 210; Oxford Dictionary of National Biography entries for Michael Thomas Bass (1799-1884) and Sir Michael Arthur Bass (1837-1909), 1st Baron Burton.

Location of archives

Bass family, baronets and Barons Burton: deeds of Staffordshire estates, 1617-1924 [Staffordshire Record Office, D1165]

Coat of arms

Gules on a chevron cottised argent, between three plates each charged with a fleur-de-lys azure, a demi-lion couped of the first.

Can you help?

  • Can anyone provide additional or clearer images of the mid 19th century Rangemore House, or a view of its predecessor of 1822?
  • Does anyone know what happened to William Bass (b. 1763) after he sold his partnership in the brewery to his brother; or any more about the history of Mary Arden Bass (1846-89) and why she was treated so differently from her siblings in her father's will?
  • I should be most grateful if anyone can provide photographs or portraits of people whose names appear in bold above, and who are not already illustrated.
  • Any additions or corrections to the account given above will be gratefully received and incorporated. I am always particularly pleased to hear from members of the family who can supply recent personal information for inclusion.

Revision and acknowledgements

This post was first published 3 October 2020 and updated 4 October and 8 October 2020.