Saturday, 22 June 2013

(51) Agar of Brockfield Hall, Stockton-on-the-Forest (Yorks)

Agar of Brockfield
Lawrence Agar (d. 1583) was an established landowner at Stockton near York in the 16th century, and his property seems to have descended through five generations to Thomas Agar, who flourished in the early 18th century, although there was no gentry house associated with the property at this period.  Several members of the family were lawyers in York or London.  Thomas’ son, Andrew Agar, was alive in 1762 but the estate passed later to his unmarried sisters, Margaret and Mary Agar.  When the survivor of them died in 1786 the estate passed to her great-great-nephew, Benjamin Preston (b. 1772), who changed his name to Agar in accordance with the terms of her will.  (Thomas Agar’s daughter Elizabeth married Rev. Benjamin Wilson.  Their daughter Anne (1723-1808) married Thomas Preston of York as her first husband, and their son Thomas Preston (fl. 1771) was the father of Benjamin Preston; she subsequently married the Rev. John Buxton, rector of Carleton Rode (Norfolk) and was buried at Stockton-on-the-Forest in 1808).  In 1804-07, Benjamin Agar employed Peter Atkinson of York to design and build Brockfield Hall, which passed on his death c.1852 to his son John Agar (d. 1871).  John’s daughter, Harriet Elizabeth Agar (d. 1906) bequeathed the property to an extremely distant relation, William Talbot Agar (1844-1910), whose father, William Talbot Agar (1814-1906) of Elm Lodge, Islington and later of Milford House, Milford-on-Sea (Hants), claimed descent from Seth Agar, the brother of John Agar II in the 17th century.  In 1910 the estate passed to his son Charles Talbot Agar (1872-1941) of Cobham Court (Surrey), who seems to have continued to live in Surrey, where he was probably responsible for remodelling Cobham Court in c.1900-10.  The Brockfield estate was eventually sold to Lord Martin Fitzalan-Howard in 1951, and now belongs to his daughter and her husband, Mr & Mrs Simon Wood.

Brockfield Hall, Stockton-on-the-Forest, Yorkshire

Brockfield Hall.  Image: Robin on a Wire

A plain brick house, designed by Peter Atkinson (1735-1805) for Benjamin Agar (né Preston) in 1804-07 and completed after the architect’s death by his son of the same name.  It is of three bays and two storeys, with a lower two-storey service wing.  The entrance side has a projecting pilastered porch with above a wrought iron balcony in front of a Venetian window.  The garden side has a full-height three windowed bow.  

Brockfield Hall: staircase hall.  Image: Robin on a Wire

Inside, the porch leads into a very handsome domed circular entrance hall in which the elegant flying staircase with iron balustrade rises so that the entrance is under a half-pace landing.  The house is open to the public in August each year: see here for details.

Brockfield Hall: the understated front door.  Image: Robin on a Wire

Descent: Lawrence Agar (d. 1583); to younger son, John Agar (d. 1636); to son, John Agar; to son, John Agar (fl. 1679); to younger son, John Agar (fl. 1681); to ?son, Thomas Agar; to son, Andrew Agar (fl. 1750-62); to sisters, Margaret Agar and Mary Agar (d. 1786?); to great-great-nephew, Benjamin Preston (later Agar) (1772-c.1857); to son, John Agar (d. 1871); to daughter, Harriet Elizabeth Agar (d. 1906); to distant kinsman, William Talbot Agar (d. 1910); to son, Charles Talbot Agar (1873-1937); sold 1923 to Mary Ellison, who sold 1925 to Herbert Murgatroyd, who sold 1951 to Lord Martin Fitzalan-Howard (1922-2003); to daughter Clare, wife of Simon Wood (fl. 2012).

Agar family of Brockfield Hall

Agar (né Preston), Benjamin (1772-c.1852), of Brockfield Hall.  Elder son of Thomas Preston (b. c.1750) and his wife Mary Driffield, born 11 May and baptised 9 June 1772.  JP and DL for North Yorkshire.  He changed his name to Agar in 1786, on inheriting the estate of his great-aunt.  He married, 23 September 1793 at Kilmoremoy (Mayo), Beatrice Susanna, daughter of Lewis Francis Irwin of Tanragoe (Sligo) and had issue:
(1) John Agar (c.1798-1871); 
(2) Elizabeth Agar (c.1797-1883) of Silver How, Grasmere (Westmorland); died unmarried, 10 March 1883; will proved 14 April 1883 (estate £19,602).
He inherited lands at Brockfield, Stockton-on-the-Forest (Yorks NR) from his great-great-aunt, Mary  Agar, in 1786, and built Brockfield Hall in 1804.
He died in about 1852.  His will has not been traced.

Agar, John (c.1798-1871), of Brockfield Hall.  Son of Benjamin Agar (né Preston) (1772-c.1852) and his wife Beatrice Susanna, daughter of Lewis Francis Irwin of Tanragoe (Sligo), born c.1798.  He married, 25 June 1829, Harriet Maria (d. 1885), daughter of Thomas Swann esq.  and had issue:
(1) Mary Anne Agar (1831-1900); m. Capt. Lewis Barstow RN (d. 1900), but died without issue, 28 August 1900; will proved 28 December 1900 (estate £36,914)
(2) Harriet Elizabeth Agar (1832-1904) (q.v.);
(3) John Lewis Agar (1838-54), died unmarried and without issue.
He inherited Brockfield Hall from his father in c.1850.
He died 28 November 1871.  His will was proved 29 January 1872 (estate under £14,000).

Agar, Harriet Elizabeth (1832-1904) of Brockfield Hall.  Only surviving child of John Agar (c.1798-1871) and his wife Harriet Maria, daughter of Thomas Swann esq., born 1832.  She died unmarried and without issue.
She inherited Brockfield Hall from her father in 1871, and at her death bequeathed it to a distant kinsman, William Talbot Agar.
She died 17 October 1904.  Her will was proved 23 February 1905 (estate £87,041).

Agar, William Talbot (1844-1910) of Brockfield Hall.  Son of William Talbot Agar (1814-1906), of Milford Lodge, Lymington (Hants), barrister, and his first wife, Leonora Matilda (d. 1858), daughter of William and Sarah Reed, born 1844.  Educated at Brighton College, Trinity College Cambridge (admitted, 1862; BA, 1866) and Lincolns Inn (admitted 1865, called to bar 1868); secretary to the Institute of Bankers 1881-1904.  He married 1871 Ethel Headington (d. 1944), daughter of Clement Dale of Bartley Lodge (Hants) and had issue including:
(1) Charles Talbot Agar (1872-1941) (q.v.);
(2) Ida Margaret Frances Agar (1874-1953), m. 1901, Elliot Ridgeway Fawcett Brunskill (c.1875-1933), son of William Fawcett Brunskill, and had issue; died 10 June 1953; will proved 17 July 1953 (estate £4,930);
(3) Harold Evelyn Talbot Agar (1876-1962), born 14 August 1876 and baptised 22 September 1876 at Weybridge; educated at Westminster and Trinity College, Cambridge (admitted 1894); member of London Stock Exchange from 1911; served in WW1 in Royal Engineers (Major, 1916; twice mentioned in despatches); married 1904 Beatrice Frances, daughter of Charles William Jervis Smith of Brocksford Hall, Doveridge (Derbys); died at his home in France, 18 June 1962; will proved 17 July 1962 (estate in England £14,511).
He lived at St Mary's Lodge, Weybridge, Surrey, but inherited Brockfield Hall from his distant kinswoman, Harriet Elizabeth Agar, in 1906. (He claimed descent from Seth Agar, brother of John Agar II in the 17th century through William Agar (fl. 1724); William Agar II (fl. 1755); William Agar III (fl. 1797) and his father William Agar IV.)
He died 19 January 1910.  His widow died 24 June 1944 in London.

Agar, Charles Talbot (1872-1941) of Brockfield Hall.  Son of William Talbot Agar (1844-1910) and his wife Ethel Headington, daughter of Clement Dale of Bartley Lodge (Hants), born 2 December 1872.  Educated at Westminster School, Trinity College, Cambridge (matriculated, 1891; rowing blue, 1893; BA 1897), and Lincolns Inn (called to bar 1909); served in Great War (Sub-Lt., RNVR 1915-16, Lt., RGA 1916-19).  He married, 17 April 1907, Beatrice Sibyl (1883-1975), daughter of Herbert Renny Duke, and had issue:
(1) Sibyl Louisa Talbot Agar (1909-55); died 4 March 1955; will proved 21 October 1955 (estate £4101);
(2) Mary (known as Molly) Talbot Agar (1910-41), died 5 June 1941 at Pau (France), of blood poisoning and pneumonia;
(3) Joan Talbot Agar (1913-18); born 12 April 1913; buried at Cobham (Surrey), 24 May 1918;
(3) William Talbot Agar (1917-91); born 24 August 1917; company director; married 17 July 1952 the former wife of Felipe Benavides of Peru; died February 1991.
He inherited Brockfield Hall from his father in 1910, but was described at his death as of Wilmington Lodge, Sussex.  After his death the Brockfield estate was sold to Lord Martin Fitzalan-Howard. 
He died at Pau, 9 July 1941.  His will was proved 6 October and 2 December 1941 (estate £7,900)


Burke's Landed Gentry, 1850, p.8; VCH North Yorkshire, ii, p. 192; Sir H.M. Colvin, A biographical dictionary of British architects 1600-1840, 4th edn., 2008, p. 77;

Where are their papers?

Agar of Brockfield Hall (Yorks NR): deeds, estate and legal papers, 14th-19th cents. (North Yorks RO ZSG; York City Archives YL/Agar)

Revision and Acknowledgements

This post was first published 22 June 2013 and was revised 1 July 2014, 22 April 2018 and 14 May 2019. I am grateful to Sue Jones for additional information and to Shelby Smith for correcting an error.


  1. I found your blog through the "New blogs" announcement at Geneabloggers.

    I think this is a very interesting post. Do you know why Mr. Preston was required to change his surname to Agar?

  2. Family pride made it a common practice in the 18th and 19th centuries for families without a male heir to make the bequest of their estates conditional upon their chosen heir adopting their name and arms.

  3. Hello Nick. My family here in Australia. Australia we are willing to get a DNA as my mother is Agar. When arrival in Australia the family had to add an s to the name. So know as agars as well

  4. I meant south australia

  5. Hi, I am an Affleck by birth.My Affleck families came from the Midlothian area of Scotland My family live in Cumbria England.I have been busy on my family tree.Thanks


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