Thursday 31 October 2013

(85) Alexander (later Hagart-Alexander) of Ballochmyle, baronets

The family trace their ancestry back to one John Alexander who was a tenant of Paisley Abbey in 1472, but the first to be unambiguously of gentry status was Robert Alexander (b. 1604), a baillie of Paisley who acquired lands at Blackhouse and Boghall in Ayrshire and at Newton in Renfrewshire. Boghall and Blackhouse passed to the descendants of his eldest son, Rev. James Alexander (1634-69), a Presbyterian minister who was deprived of his benefice at Kilmacolm in 1662 for nonconformity, and were later sold. Robert’s second son, Claud Alexander (1645-1703) inherited Newton and seems to have built a mansion house there in the late 17th century.  He too was a zealous Presbyterian and was for a time imprisoned at Edinburgh, before being released in 1686 on giving a bond for his future conformity. Newton passed in turn to Claud’s son Robert Alexander (1681-1738) and grandson, Claud Alexander (1724-72).  Claud (d. 1772) had five sons and six daughters.  The eldest son, Robert Alexander (b. 1747) inherited Newton and subsequently sold it to the Speirs family; they in turn sold it in 1806, when the house was demolished and the materials used to build a house in Paisley later called Newton House.  The third son, Boyd Alexander (1758-1825) purchased Boghall from his distant cousins and also Southbar in Renfrewshire, and served as MP for Renfrew in 1796 and for Glasgow in 1806. He died without issue and his property passed to his nephews, the sons of his elder brother, Claud Alexander (1753-1809).  Claud had entered the service of the East India Company and rose to be Paymaster-General of the Forces in India, traditionally a highly lucrative role.  On his return to Scotland in about 1785 he purchased the Ballochmyle estate from the Whitefoord family, acquiring a small but fashionable house designed about twenty-five years earlier by John Adam, which he extended to accommodate his substantial family of three sons and five daughters.

Although the family properties were apportioned among the three sons of Claud (d. 1809), the two older ones died without issue and so all the estates ultimately devolved on Boyd Alexander (1796-1861).  His eldest son, Maj-Gen. Sir Claud Alexander, 1st bt. (1831-99) fought in the Crimea with the Grenadier Guards and later became MP for South Ayrshire, 1874-85.  He was given his baronetcy in 1886 on his retirement from Parliament, and he seems to have celebrated it with a massive aggrandisement of Ballochmyle House, which was doubled in size in a slightly grim style in 1886-90.  His son and successor, Sir Claud Alexander, 2nd bt. (1867-1945), a zoologist who kept a private zoo, lived at Faygate Wood in Sussex and never occupied the house, which let throughout the early 20th century.  In 1938 he sold it to the Government as an emergency war hospital.  He retained the estate, however, and his son, Sir Claud Hagart-Alexander, 3rd bt. (1927-2006), a scientist, engineer and inventor who assumed the additional name of Hagart in 1948, remodelled the former dower house, Kingencleugh House, in 1957 as a new centre for the estate.  Kingencleugh is now the home of Sir Claud Hagart-Alexander, 4th bt. (b. 1963).

Newton House, Paisley, Ayrshire

The mansion house seems to have been built in the late 17th century for Claud Alexander (1645-1703), but no illustration of it has been found.  It was demolished about 1806 and the materials were used to build a house in Paisley town later called Newton House, which stood at the south-west [possibly south-east] angle of the junction between St. James' Street and Glen Lane.

Descent: Robert Alexander (b. 1604); to son, Claud Alexander (1645-1703); to son, Robert Alexander (1681-1738); to son, Claud Alexander (1724-72); to son, Robert Alexander (b. 1747), who sold to Alexander Spiers; who sold c.1806, when the house was demolished.

Southbar House, Inchinnan, Renfrewshire

For some three hundred years, Southbar was the seat of a branch of the Maxwell family.  It was acquired by Boyd Alexander (1758-1825) after he returned from India, and he is said to have improved both the house and grounds, creating "a most beautiful property, with an elegant mansion that overlooks the whole country", but I have been unable to discover any record of the building prior to its rebuilding after a fire in 1827, which destroyed all but one wing.  The house had then lately passed to his nephew, William Maxwell Alexander (d. 1853), who was a partner in a London merchant house. The house seems not to have been rebuilt until after he retired in 1836, as it was recorded in 1834 that it remained in ruins. The new mansion is recorded in some early photographs, and some rather ethereal reconstruction drawings made by the descendant of a former owner.  

Southbar House: garden front.  Image: © Bil Fulton

The garden front was of two storeys above a basement, and seven bays, with the end bays given emphasis by slight projection, tripartite windows and pedimented attics.  The central bay was slightly wider and also projected, with its angles defined by rusticated quoins.  The entrance side was extensively altered later buts its original appearance was perhaps a plainer version of the same arrangement.  By the early 20th century, the main entrance was into the left-hand projecting end bay, and this may have been the original arrangement. Victorian alterations, and further changes made by Robert Alexander Brydon after 1898, gave the house a chaotic elevation with a mix of windows of different shapes and sizes and three small projecting wings tacked on.  

Southbar House: entrance front after the fire of 1920. Image: © Bil Fulton.

The house was burned for a second time in 1920 and not rebuilt, although a temporary timber-framed house was built nearby for the owner's family which they used until c.1940.  The ruins of the main house were demolished c.1950 but the farm steading survives and has been converted into apartments.  

Descent: Maxwell family sold c.1785 to Boyd Alexander (1758-1825); to nephew, William Maxwell Alexander (1790-1853); to brother, Boyd Alexander (1796-1861); to son... sold c.1898 to Robert Sutherland; burnt 1920.

Ballochmyle House, Ayrshire

Ballochmyle: the Adam house c.1885.

A plain five bay two-storey house designed by John Adam (1721-92) for Allan Whitefoorde (d. 1767) in about 1760, which was a modest version of Dumfries House.  The ‘chaste Palladian house’ he created was given a new nursery wing in 1791 for Claud Alexander.  It remained a relatively small house and in 1813 David Hamilton supplied an unexecuted design for additions.  Further additions were made in 1835-36, followed by a thorough reconstruction on a dramatic scale.  The Georgian house was wrapped around by large extensions in red sandstone in an eclectic style by Hew Montgomerie Wardrop and George Mackie Watson of Wardrop, Anderson & Browne for Sir Claud Alexander in 1886-90.  

Ballochmyle: construction of the Wardrop & Watson house in progress, c.1887.
Described by one reader as "like Sophia Lauren in curlers"!

Ballochmyle House: the Wardrop and Watson house from an old postcard
The Georgian mansion is still apparent in the rear elevation but the entrance side was extended forwards with dominant roofs and bay windows that mix Georgian and Jacobean details.  An enormous three-storey porch dominates the entrance front, with three superimposed orders and at the top a coat of arms crowned by an elephant, highlighting the Indian source of the Alexanders’ wealth.  Inside, Wardrop’s planning revolved around three interlocking corridor-halls, each with its own staircase, and there was a sequence of painted and beamed ceilings; but all the original interiors have gone.  The house was let after Sir Claud’s death in 1899 and sold to the Government in 1938 as a new emergency hospital.  After 1948 it became part of the NHS until 1969, when it was abandoned by the Ayrshire and Arran Health Board.  Lead was stripped from the roofs, chimneypieces were stolen, ceilings collapsed, and the house quickly became riddled with dry rot.  The Health Board made attempts in 1975, 1977 and 1987 to get permission for demolition, but this was refused each time.  Finally, the house was bought in 2005 by local businessman Allan McEwan, whose life had been saved at the hospital as a child, and who with architect Steve Watt has restored the house and converted it into apartments; work was completed in 2010.

Ballochmyle House after restoration.  Image: Ardgowan Homes

Descent: Allan Whitefoorde (d. 1767); to Sir John Whitefoord, who sold c.1785 to Claud Alexander (1752-1809); to son, Boyd Alexander (b. 1796); to son, Sir Claud Alexander, 1st bt. (1831-99); to son, Sir Claud Alexander, 2nd bt. (1867-1945), who let the house and sold 1938 to Government as a hospital.

Kingencleugh House, Ayrshire

Kingencleugh House in 2012.  Image: Rosser1954.  Licenced under this Creative Commons licence.

The house, originally a dower house on the Ballochmyle estate, described in 1922 as ‘a quaint and very pleasing specimen of an old-world country house’ was possibly built as a farmhouse by Robert Campbell c.1765 in succession to Kingencleugh Castle of c.1600, and was extended in 1777.  The house was restored and remodelled by Mervyn Noad of Glasgow c.1957 for Sir Claud Hagart-Alexander when it became the family’s principal house.  He gave the house a complete overhaul and added the excellent project porch, with its rather Edwardian-looking doorcase and a sculptured elephant (reputedly by Hew Lorimer) as a finial – the latter a reference to the elephant which is depicted on the family crest.  The service wing has also been sympathetically raised in height by ARP Lorimer c.2003.

Descent: as for Ballochmyle until 1938; then to son, Sir Claud Hagart-Alexander, 3rd bt. (1927-2006); to son, Sir Claud Hagart-Alexander, 4th bt. (b. 1963).

Hagart-Alexander family, baronets

Alexander, Robert (b. 1604) of Boghall and Newton.  Son of John Alexander and his wife Elizabeth Carswell, born 1604.  Baillie of Paisley.  He married 1st, 1633, Marion, daughter of Claud Hamilton of Blackhole and 2nd, Janet, daughter and co-heir of David Henderson, and had issue:
(1.1) Rev. James Alexander (1634-69) of Boghall; educated at Glasgow University (BA 1653); minister of Kilmacolm 1655-62, when he was deprived of the living; married Mary (d. 1670), daughter of John Maxwell of Southbar and had issue one son and four daughters; died 1669, aged 34;
(1.2) Claud Alexander (1645-1703) (q.v.);
(2.1) Robert Alexander; Principal Clerk of the Court of Session; married Janet, daughter of Alexander Smith of Reidston and had issue two daughters;
(2.2) John Alexander; settled in Carolina, USA.
He inherited Boghall (Ayrshire) and Newton (Renfrewshire) from his father.  At his death Boghall passed to his eldest son and thence to the latter's son, John; Newton passed to his second son, Claud.
His date of death is unknown.

Alexander, Claud (1645-1703) of Newton.  Second son of Robert Alexander (b. 1604) and his first wife, Marion, daughter of Claud Hamilton of Blackhole, born 1645.  A zealous Presbyterian, imprisoned at Edinburgh for his beliefs and released 1686.  He married, 1677, Jean, daughter of William Ralstoun of that ilk and had issue:
(1) Robert Alexander (1681-1738) (q.v.);
(2) Marion Alexander (b. 1683), married 1709 Alexander, son of Gavin Cochrane of Craigmuir;
(3) Claud Alexander;
(4) Ursula Alexander (b. 1688); married 1706 John Russell of Braidshaw, from whom descended the Russells of Charlton Kings (Glos).
He was granted property at Paisley in 1669 and Newton in 1671 by his father.
He died in 1703.

Alexander, Robert (1681-1738) of Newton.  Elder son of Claud Alexander (1645-1703) and his wife Jean, daughter of William Ralstoun of that ilk, born 1681.  He married, 1720, his cousin Margaret, daughter of Robert Alexander the younger of Blackhouse and had issue:
(1) Claud Alexander (1724-72) of Newton (q.v.);
(2) Jean Alexander; married Robert Nelson of Paisley and had issue.
He inherited Newton from his father in 1703.
He died in 1738.

Alexander, Claud (1724-72) of Newton.  Only son of Robert Alexander (1681-1738) and his wife Margaret, daughter of Robert Alexander the younger of Blackhouse, born 1724. He married, 1746, Joanna, daughter of Alexander Cuninghame of Craigends and had issue:
(1) Robert Alexander of Newton (b. 1747); inherited Newton in 1772 but later sold it; died without issue;
(2) Catherine Alexander;
(3) Claud Alexander (1752/3-1809) (q.v.);
(4) Margaret Alexander (b. 1753);
(5) Anne Alexander (b. 1754);
(6) Wilhelmina Alexander (c.1755-1843), Robert Burns' "Lass of Ballochmyle"; kept house for her brother Claud at Ballochmyle and lived there until his death; died unmarried;
(7) Boyd Alexander (1758-1825); born January 1758; educated at Glasgow University; in East India Company service c.1771-83; painted by Zoffany in a double portrait with his elder brother, 1784; MP for Renfrew, 1796 and Glasgow, 1806; purchased Southbar, Boghall and Gryfe Castle; married his cousin, Camilla, daughter of Boyd Porterfield but died without issue, 15 July 1825;
(8) Alexander Alexander (b. 1766); died unmarried in Jamaica;
(9) Lockhart Alexander (d. 1807); married Claud Neilson of Ardarden and had issue; painted by John Hoppner; died 13 January 1807;
(10) Maj. John Alexander; officer in 56th Regiment; married his cousin, Jane/Jean, daughter of Robert Neilson, but died without issue;
(11) Lilias Alexander.
He inherited Newton from his father in 1738.  At his death it passed to his eldest son, who sold it.
He died in 1772.

Alexander, Claud (1752/3-1809) of Ballochmyle. Younger son of Claud Alexander (1724-72) and his wife Joanna, daughter of Alexander Cuninghame of Craigends, born 1752/3. Employed by the East India Company; Paymaster-General of Forces in India, where he was painted by Zoffany in a double portrait with his younger brother, 1784; on his return to Scotland, established a cotton mill at Catrine with David Dale. Burns said of him and men like him that “When fate swore that their purses should be full, nature was equally positive that their minds should be empty”, but this seems a misplaced jibe, since his success in India and later in business implies judgement and acumen. He married, 1788, Helenora, daughter of Sir William Maxwell, 2nd bt. of Springkell and had issue:
(1) Col. Claud Alexander (1789-1845), born 26 January and baptised 23 February 1789; officer in the Guards; married Elizabeth (d. 1843), daughter of Col. Keatinge but died without issue, 22 January 1845; inherited Ballochmyle from his father in 1809 and bequeathed it to his brother, Boyd;
(2) William Maxwell Alexander (1790-1853) of Southbar, born 20 July and baptised 3 August 1790; partner in Fraser, Alexander, Neilson & Co. of London (retired 1836); died unmarried;
(3) Margaret Stewart Alexander (1791-1861), born 20 October and baptised 7 November 1791; died unmarried, 15 August 1861; her will was proved 11 November 1861 (estate under £30,000);
(4) Anna Joanna Alexander (1793-1859), born 26 March and baptised 11 April 1793; a friend of Felix Mendelssohn; died unmarried, 24 February 1859; will proved 21 March 1859 (estate under £20,000);
(5) Catherine Maxwell Alexander (1794-1834), baptised 16 September 1794;
(6) Boyd Alexander (1796-1861) (q.v.);
(7) Helenora Alexander (b. 1798); born 12 and baptised 26 February 1798; died young;
(8) Helenora Alexander (b. 1802); born 17 August and baptised 2 September 1802; died young;
(9) Mary Alexander (1806-67), born 20 October and baptised 6 November 1806; married, 1834, Joshua Samuel Crompton (1799-1881) of Sion Hill (Yorks) and Azerley Chase, Ripon (Yorks) and had issue; a friend and pupil of Felix Mendelssohn.
He purchased Ballochmyle House in 1783 and occupied it on his return from India in 1786.
He died in 1809.

Alexander, Boyd (1796-1861) of Ballochmyle.  Third son of Claud Alexander (1752-1809) and his wife Helenora, daughter of Sir William Maxwell, 2nd bt., of Springkell, born 27 March and baptised 14 April 1796.  Partner in Fraser, Alexander, Neilson & Co. of London.  He married, 17 January 1828, Sophia Elizabeth (d. 1859), daughter of Sir Benjamin Hobhouse, 1st bt., and had issue:
(1) Maj-Gen. Sir Claud Alexander (1831-99), 1st bt. (q.v.);
(2) Capt. John Hobhouse Inglis Alexander (1832-75) CB RN; officer in the Royal Navy; served in East & West Indies, Crimea and Japanese War (where he was severely wounded); aide de camp to HM Queen Victoria; married, 23 January 1860, Isabella Barbara (who married 2nd, John Archibald Shaw-Stewart of Ardgowan, widow of Helenora Margaret Angela Alexander, see below), daughter of Thomas Cochrane Hume and had issue two sons and three daughters; died 22 November 1875;
(3) Lt-Col. Boyd Francis Alexander (1834-1917) of Swifts Place, Cranbrook (Kent), born 17 April and baptised 23 June 1834; educated at Harrow; officer in the Rifle Brigade; served in Turkey, India (where he was wounded twice and mentioned in despatches during the Indian Mutiny) and Canada; married, 1865, Mary, daughter of David Wilson of Castleton (Surrey) and had issue four sons and two daughters; purchased the Swifts estate in Kent in 1871; died 19 August 1917, aged about 83; buried in Winchester Cathedral, where he is commemorated by a monument; his will was proved 3 October 1917 (estate £74,378);
(4) William Maxwell Alexander (1836-91), born 3 February and baptised 31 March 1836; officer in the East India Company; served as a volunteer at Agra during the Indian Mutiny; married, 20 February 1870, Emma, daughter of Rev. William Thorp; died without issue at Badenweiler, Germany, 5 September 1891; will proved in London, 2 November 1891 (estate £15,478)
(5) Helenora Margaret Angela Alexander (1837-65), born 6 December 1837 and baptised 18 April 1838; married, 27 August 1857, John Archibald Shaw-Stewart of Ardgowan (who married 2nd, after 1875, Isabella Barbara, daughter of Thomas Cochrane Hume and widow of Capt. John Hobhouse Inglis Alexander, see above) and had issue one son and two daughters; died 24 January 1865.
(6) Michael Stewart Alexander (1839-55); born 8 October and baptised 19 November 1839; died unmarried, 1855.
He inherited Ballochmyle from his eldest brother Claud in 1845 and Southbar from his next brother William in 1853.
He died at Southbar, 13 October 1861.

Alexander, Maj-Gen. Sir Claud (1831-99), 1st bt., of Ballochmyle.  Eldest son of Boyd Alexander (1796-1861) of Ballochmyle and his wife Sophia Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Benjamin Hobhouse, 1st bt., born 15 January 1831.  Educated at Eton and Christ Church, Oxford; Major-General in Grenadier Guards; fought in the Crimea; MP for South Ayrshire, 1874-85; JP and DL for Ayrshire and Renfrewshire.  He married, 12 February 1863, Eliza (d. 1927), only daughter of Alexander Spiers MP of Elderslie and his wife Eliza Hagart of Bantaskine and had issue:
(1) Sir Claud Alexander (1867-1945), 2nd bt. (q.v.).
He inherited Ballochmyle from his father in 1861 and greatly extended the house in 1886-90.
He died in London, 23 May 1899, aged 68; his will was confirmed 2 November 1899.  

Alexander, Sir Claud (1867-1945), 2nd bt., of Ballochmyle.  Only son of Maj-Gen. Sir Claud Alexander (1831-99) and his wife Elizam daughter of Alexander Spiers of Elderslie, born 24 February 1867.  Educated at New College, Oxford (BA); served as a Lieutenant in the 3rd battalion, Royal Scots Fusiliers.  Zoo-keeper and zoologist; JP for Ayrshire.  He married 1st, 14 December 1889 (divorce 1894), Lady Diana Montgomerie (who married 2nd, 30 August 1894, Harold Kenneth Allison of Dunmoe, Navan (Meath) and d. 1914), youngest daughter of 14th Earl of Eglinton and 2nd Earl of Winton; and married 2nd, 28 January 1896, Rachel Belasyse (d. 1944), youngest daughter of Rev. Henry Holden DD, and had issue:
(1.1) Arnulph Claud Alexander (1891-92); born 6 September 1891; died 6 January 1892;
(1.2) Wilfred Archibald Alexander (1892-1927) (q.v.)
(2.1) Lt-Col. Claud Alexander (1897-1976), born 4 June 1897; educated at Eton; served in Second World War with Royal Electrical & Mechanical Engineers; married 1st, 1 February 1928, Maude (d. 1936), only daughter of Lt-Col. John Oswald Clazey and had issue one son; married 2nd, 8 November 1949, Peggy, daughter of Ewart Raby Le Mare of Birchington (Kent) and formerly wife of Bernard Lawrence Silley; died 1976;
(2.2) Boyd Alexander (1902-84), born 3 December 1902; died unmarried, 25 March 1984;
(2.3) Wilhelmina Alexander (1907-86), born 18 May 1907; died unmarried, 31 August 1986.
He inherited Ballochmyle from his father in 1899, but did not live there and sold the house (but not the estate) to the Government as a hospital in 1938; lived in 1916 at Fay Gate Wood (Sussex).  At his death his title and estates passed to his grandson, Sir Claud Hagart-Alexander (b. 1927) (q.v.).
He died 18 March 1945, aged 78; his will was proved 26 October 1945 (estate £57,536).

Alexander, Wilfred Archibald (1892-1927).  Only surviving son of Sir Claud Alexander (1867-1945), 2nd bt. and his first wife, Lady Diana Montgomerie, daughter of 14th Earl of Eglinton and 2nd Earl of Winton, born 6 October 1892.  Served with British Consulate in China.  He married, 17 November 1919, Mary Prudence (d. 1960), daughter of Guy Frances Hamilton Acheson, commissioner of customs in China, and had issue:
(1) Mary Primrose Alexander (1921-88), born 17 December 1921; married, 30 December 1947, Lt-Col. John Edward Margesson MBE, son of Maj. Edward Cuninghame Margesson, and had issue three sons;
(2) Penelope Marion Acheson Alexander (b. 1924), born 9 August 1924; married, 25 January 1967 as his second wife, Sir Francis David Somerville Head (1916-2005), 5th bt., son of Sir Robert Pollock Somerville Head, 4th bt. but had no issue; 
(3) Sir Claud Hagart-Alexander (1927-2006), 3rd bt. (q.v.).
He died in Peking, 26 March 1927, aged 34; his will was confirmed in London, 22 July 1927. His widow died in Caerphilly, 25 July 1960; her will was confirmed in London, 21 November 1960.

Hagart-Alexander, Sir Claud (1927-2006), 3rd bt. of Kingencleugh House. Only son of Wilfred Archibald Alexander (1892-1927) and his wife Mary Prudence, daughter of Guy Frances Hamilton Acheson, born 6 January 1927.  Educated at Sherborne School and Corpus Christi College, Cambridge (BA 1948); changed his name to Hagart-Alexander, 15 December 1948, in order to perpetuate the name of the Hagarts of Bantaskine; vice Lord Lieutenant of Ayrshire and Arran, 1983-98; DL 1973; JP 1983.  He married, 16 April 1959, Hilda Etain, younger daughter of Miles Malcolm Acheson, and had issue:
(1) Helenora Etain Alexander (b. 1960), born 22 May 1960; married, 1983, Carl C. Smith and has issue two sons;
(2) Anna Joanna Elizabeth Alexander (b. 1961), born 18 November 1961; married, 14 January 1984, Michael C.L. Adam, son of C.L. Adam, and has issue one son and three daughters;
(3) Sir Claud Hagart-Alexander (b. 1963), 4th bt., born 5 November 1963; educated at Trinity College, Glenalmond and Glasgow Univ (BSc); married, 24 June 1994, Elaine Susan, only daughter of Vincent Park of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, and has issue one son; now of Kingencleugh House;
(4) Boyd John Alexander (b. 1966), born 11 April 1966; educated at Trinity College, Glenalmond and Liverpool Univ.; married, 1995, Cynthia, daughter of Jose Ayala and Tita Lacambra, and has issue one daughter.
He inherited the Ballochmyle estate from his father in 1945 and remodelled Kingencleugh House as a new centre for the estate from 1957.
He died 23 January 2006, aged 79.


Burke's Landed Gentry, successive editions; G. Craufurd, A general description of the shire of Renfrew, 1818, p. 386; New Statistical Account of Scotland, 1834-45, vol. 7, pp. 120-24; Rev. C. Rogers, Memorials of the Earl of Stirling and the House of Alexander, 1877, vol. 2; M.C. Davis, The castles and mansions of Ayrshire, 1991, pp. 40, 99, 130, 164, 302-03;  H.M. Colvin, A biographical dictionary of British architects, 1600-1840, 2008, p. 43; R. Close & A. Riches, The buildings of Scotland: Ayrshire and Arran, 2012, pp. 179-80, 479-80;;

Location of archives

Hagart-Alexander family, baronets: legal and estate papers, 1474-1904 (Private collection: enquiries to the National Register of Archives for Scotland)

Coat of arms

Per pale argent and sable a chevron between a fleur-de-lis in chief and a crescent in base all counterchanged, a bordure per pale gules and or.

Revision & Acknowledgements

This post was first published on 31st October 2013, and was revised on 28th September 2014 and 16th June 2015. I am most grateful to Bil Fulton and Veronica Hagart for additional information and images.

Sunday 27 October 2013

(84) Alexander (later Cable-Alexander), baronets

William Alexander (d. 1788), the third son of John Alexander of Ballyclose and Gunsland [see my earlier post on the Earls of Caledon], moved to Dublin, where he became a merchant. His elder son, Sir William Alexander, 1st bt. (1743-1822) who was Lord Mayor of Dublin and Lt-Col. of the Royal Dublin Militia, was created a baronet in 1809 at lived at Belcamp, a villa north of Dublin (not to be confused with the nearby and grander seats of Belcamp Park and Belcamp Hall, or with Belcamp Hutchinson). William’s younger son, Robert Alexander (d. 1827), was a banker in Dublin and MP in the Irish parliament for Dingle (Kerry), 1777-83 and Newtown (1797-1800), and lived after 1795 at a house called Seamount (later St. Helen’s) at Booterstown, Dublin. Robert’s younger son, Henry Alexander (1787-1861) was a Director of the East India Company from 1826 and MP for Barnstaple from 1826-30. He rented Battle Abbey from Sir Godfrey Webster in the 1820s and in later life lived at Belmont House, East Barnet, which he bequeathed to his son, Henry Robert Alexander (1811-69), who sold it.

The 1st baronet’s descendants appear to have preferred urban to country living. On the death of the 1st baronet the title passed to his elder son, Sir Robert Alexander, 2nd bt. (1769-1859), and his two sons, Sir William John Alexander, 3rd bt. (1797-1873), attorney-general to HRH The Prince of Wales, and Sir John Wallis Alexander, 4th bt. (1800-88) both died without issue. All three men lived in London, and had no country estate. The 1st baronet’s second son, William John Alexander (later Alexander-Shaw) married his cousin Isabella, a daughter of Robert Alexander of Seamount. Their son, William Alexander-Shaw (later Alexander) (1817-85) lived at Cruisetown (Meath) and the Old Rectory, Stoke, near Guildford (Surrey), and was the father of Sir William Ferdinand Alexander, 5th bt. (1845-96), who inherited the baronetcy in 1888. His son, Sir Lionel Cecil William Alexander, 6th bt. (1885-1956) was the father of Sir Desmond William Lionel Cable-Alexander, 7th bt. (1910-88), who added his mother’s maiden name to his patronymic in 1931 and lived briefly in the 1970s at Downes, Crediton (Devon). His son, Lt-Col. Sir Patrick Desmond William Cable-Alexander, 8th bt. (b. 1936) is the present holder of the title, and was Bursar of Lancing College 1984-88; he lives in Worthing (Sussex).

St. Helens, Booterstown, Dublin

An two storey, five bay Classical house built for Thomas Cooley about 1750-54 but much altered since (alterations are recorded for John Doherty in the 1830s, by John McCurdy in 1863 for Lord Gough).  It was known as Seamount until c.1850.  

St Helen's, Booterstown: the entrance front today. Image: © Brendan Grimes.

St. Helens, Booterstown: the garden front after conversion to an hotel.

It now consists of a centre block with a pediment carried on coupled Corinthian pilasters and lower wings, which are single-storey on one side and two-storey on the other.  The appearance is firmly 19th century, largely due to the casing of Portland stone which was applied c.1900 for Sir John Nutting.  Beyond one wing is an elegant glass conservatory with a curved roof.  The interior has some plasterwork but largely dates from c.1900.  The house is now a hotel and has suffered large and rather tactless additions. 

Descent:  Thomas Cooley MP (fl. 1754); sold 1795 to Robert Alexander (d. 1827); sold after his death to Mrs Wall (fl. 1827-29), who sold to John Doherty MP (1785-1850), Chief Justice of Common Pleas for Ireland; sold to Col. Henry White; who sold 1851 to Hugh Gough, 1st Viscount Gough (1779-1869); to son, George Gough, 2nd Viscount Gough (1815-95); sold after his death to Sir John Nutting, 1st bt. (1852-1918); sold 1925 to Christian Brothers, who sold 1988, and after a period of uncertainty it was sold for conversion to an hotel in 1996.

Battle Abbey, Sussex

Battle Abbey mansion, showing the remains of the cloister.  Image: English Heritage
Battle Abbey was established in fulfilment of a vow by King William I after the Battle of Hastings. Much survives of the medieval buildings apart from the church, largely because soon after the Dissolution the domestic buildings became part of the mansion of Sir Anthony Browne, King Henry VIII’s Master of the Horse. In 1857 Henry Clutton built a large neo-Gothic mansion out of the ruins for Lord Harry Vane (later Duke of Cleveland), and the whole became a school in 1922. There was a serious fire in 1931 but the house was subsequently restored by Sir Harold Brakspear. 

Descent: Battle Abbey to Dissolution; Crown granted to Sir Anthony Browne (d. 1548); to son, Anthony Browne, 1st Viscount Montagu (1528-92); to Anthony Maria Browne, 2nd Viscount Montagu (1574-1629); to Francis Browne, 3rd Viscount Montagu (1610-82); to Francis Browne, 4th Viscount Montagu (1638-1708); to brother, Henry Browne, 5th Viscount Montagu (c.1640-1717); to Anthony Browne, 6th Viscount Montagu (1686-1767), who sold 1721 to Sir Thomas Webster, 1st bt. (1677-1751); to son, Sir Whistler Webster, 2nd bt. (c.1699-1779); to brother, Sir Godfrey Webster, 3rd bt. (d. 1780); to son, Sir Godfrey Webster, 4th bt. (1748-1800); to son, Sir Godfrey Vassal Webster, 5th bt. (1781-1836), who leased in 1820s to Henry Alexander (1787-1861); to son, Sir Godfrey Vassal Webster, 6th bt. (1815-53); to brother, Sir Augustus Frederick George Douglas Webster, 7th bt. (1819-86), who sold 1858 to Lord Henry Vane (later 2nd Duke of Cleveland) (1788-1864); to William John Frederick Vane, 3rd Duke of Cleveland (1792-1864); to Harry George Powlett, 4th Duke of Cleveland (1803-91); to widow (d.1900); sold 1901 to Augustus Frederick Walpole Edward Webster, 8th bt. (1864-1923); to daughter, Lucy Webster, who leased as school from 1922 and sold 1976 to Government

Belmont House (alias Mount Pleasant), East Barnet, Hertfordshire

The estate which afterwards became known as Mount Pleasant was held in the sixteenth century by a member of the Rolfe family. There were originally two houses on the site, one of which was held early in the seventeenth century by William, son of Lord William Howard. These two houses were converted into one capital messuage called Mount Pleasant before 1636. The house was apparently rebuilt in the early 18th century as a seven bay three storey house with a rusticated ground floor and a giant order articulating the upper two floors, with coupled pilasters at either end and a pilaster between each window. The name was changed to Belmont about 1750. It was much altered and enlarged in the 19th century and after it became a school in the 1890s.  
Heddon Court School as John Betjeman knew it, from a postcard c.1917.  Image:  Barnet Council.

In the 1920s Heddon Court Prep School was moved there from Hampstead. John Betjeman taught there briefly in 1929-30, but it closed in 1933 when it was merged with Horton Preparatory School at Ickwell Bury (Beds), and the house was demolished to make way for the suburban development which began following the arrival of the Piccadilly Line railway. Heddon Court Avenue is now on the site.

Descent: William Green (fl. 1636) who leased to Elias Ashmole, antiquary; to daughter Grace, wife of William Pecke.... William Westbrooke Richardson (fl. 1758); sold after his death to Sir William Henry Ashhurst; sold 1786 to William Franks; sold 1790 to William Wroughton; sold 1796 to John Henry Warre; to widow, who sold after 1800 to John Kingston of Oakhill; sold 1813 to Thomas Harvey (d. 1819); sold after his death to Mr. Goodhart; sold to Job Raikes, who sold 1826 to David Bevan (d. 1846) of Fosbury (Wilts); to son, Robert Cooper Lee Bevan; sold to Henry Alexander (d. 1861); sold after his death to Charles Addington Hanbury; sold as school 1890s... sold 1927 to John Humphrey Hope (schoolmaster), who sold 1933 for demolition.

The Cable-Alexander baronets

Alexander, John (d. 1747), of Gunsland.  Only son of Capt. Alexander Alexander (b. c.1640) and his second wife.  He married Anne, daughter of John White of Cady Hill (Derry) and had issue:
(1) John Alexander (1689-1766); married Sarah, daughter of Alexander Macaulay of Co. Antrim, and had issue; ancestor of the Alexanders of Milford;
(2) Nathaniel Alexander (1689-1761); married 
Elizabeth, second daughter of William McClintock of Dunmore (Donegal) and had issue; ancestor of the Alexanders of Caledon, Earls of Caledon
(3) William Alexander (d. 1778) (q.v.); 
(4) Martha Alexander; married Alexander Kellie.
He inherited his father's estates in Donegal and Derry and in 1717 bought the Gunsland estate in Donegal.
He died 12 March 1747.

Alexander, William (d. 1778/1788).  Third son of John Alexander (d. 1747) of Gunsland and his wife Anne, daughter of John White of Cady Hill (Derry).  He married Mary Porter of Vicardale (Monaghan) and had issue:
(1) Sir William Alexander (1743-1822), 1st bt. (q.v.);
(2) Robert Alexander (d. 1827) (q.v.);
(3) Mary Alexander; m. William Jocelyn Shaw of Kentstown (Meath);
(4) Anne Alexander; m. 1764 Sir Richard Johnstone (1743-95), 1st bt. of Gilford (Down) and had issue;
(5) Elizabeth Alexander;
(6) Sarah Alexander;
(7) Jane Alexander; died unmarried.
He died in 1778 or possibly 1788.

Alexander, Sir William (1743-1822), 1st bt. of Belcamp (Dublin).  Elder son of William Alexander (d. 1778/88) and his wife Mary Porter of Vicardale (Monaghan), born 3 March 1743.  Provision merchant and banker in Dublin; Lt. Col. of Royal Dublin Militia; Sheriff of the City of Dublin, 1776 and Lord Mayor of Dublin, 1787; created a baronet, 11 December 1809; commissioner of the State Lottery from before 1818 until the time of his death.  He married, 20 July 1764, Catherine, daughter and heiress of John Folie Malpas of Rochestown (Dublin), barrister at law, and had issue:
(1) Sir Robert Alexander (1769-1859), 2nd bt. (q.v.); 
(2) William John Alexander (later Alexander-Shaw) (d. 1856) (q.v.); 
(3) Catherine Alexander, married Robert Hamilton, of Clonsilla, fifth son of James Hamilton and had issue five sons and three daughters; 
(4) Eliza Alexander, married John Hamilton of Hacketstown, third son of James Hamilton.
He purchased Belcamp, Co. Dublin, which appears to have been sold and rebuilt after his death.
He died in 1822.

Alexander, Sir Robert (1769-1859), 2nd bt.  Elder son of Sir William Alexander (1743-1822) and his wife Catherine, daughter of John Folie Malpas of Rochestown (Dublin), born 16 December 1769.  A director of the Bank of Ireland.  He married, 17 June 1796, Elisa (d. 1844), daughter and heiress of John Wallis of Dublin, barrister, and had issue:
(1) Sir William John Alexander (1797-1873), 3rd bt., born 1 April 1797; educated at Trinity College, Dublin (admitted 1813; BA 1817), Trinity College, Cambridge (admitted 1824), and Lincolns Inn (admitted, 1822; called to the bar, 1825); barrister on the Oxford circuit; QC, 1844; bencher of Middle Temple, 1844; attorney-general to HRH The Prince of Wales, 1853-73; lived in London; died unmarried and without issue, 31 March 1873; will proved, 26 April 1873 (estate under £120,000);
(2) Sir John Wallis Alexander (1800-88), 4th bt., born in Dublin, 1 October 1800; educated at Trinity College, Dublin (admitted 1817); barrister-at-law; married 1st, 18 May 1857, Lady Lepel Charlotte (1806-69), daughter of Henry Phipps, 1st Earl of Mulgrave; and married 2nd, 22 August 1877, Mary Kathleen (c.1849-1934), daughter of Rev. John Dreaper of Northampton, but died without issue, 25 October 1888; by his will, proved 3 December 1888 (estate £77,931), he endowed The Pilgrim's Home at Chalfont St. Peter; 
(3) Robert Du Pre Alexander (1802-74), born in Jamaica, February 1802; clerk in Exchequer Office; married at Chalfont St Peter, 17 September 1833, Eliza (1802-50), daughter of Ballard Beckford Nembhard of Jamaica and had issue; died 16 November 1874; buried in Old Cemetery, Chalfont St Peter (Bucks); will proved 16 December 1874 (estate under £10,000);
(4) Thomas Shaw Alexander; died young;
(5) Jane Anne Alexander (c.1809-91), married, 6 August 1833, Maj. John Nembhard Hibbert (1797-1886) of Chalfont Park, son of Robert Hibbert of Birtles Hall (Cheshire) and Chalfont Park (Bucks); died 21 November 1891; will proved 17 December 1891 (estate £26,577) by which she endowed several charitable causes at Chalfont St Peter.
He died 1 December 1859; his will was proved 29 December 1859 (estate under £600).

Alexander, Robert (1752-1827).  Second son of William Alexander (d. 1778/88) and his wife Mary Porter of Vicardale (Monaghan), born 1752.  Banker in Dublin; MP in the Irish Parliament for Dingle 1777-83, Newtown(ards) (Down), 1797-1801.  He married, 14 May 1785, Henrietta (d. 1839), daughter of Henry Quin MD of Dublin and had issue: 
(1) William John Alexander; 
(2) Henry Alexander (1787-1861) (q.v.);
(3) Robert Alexander;
(4) Charles Richard Alexander;
(5) John Alexander;
(6) Edward Alexander;
(7) Anne Alexander;
(8) Isabella Alexander (1795-1834), married 1 March 1815, William John Alexander (later Alexander-Shaw) (d. 1856), son of Sir William Alexander, 1st bt. and had issue four sons and three daughters [see below]; died 19 May 1834;
(9) Mary Henrietta Alexander;
(10) Jane Alexander.
He lived at Seamount (later St. Helen's), Booterstown (Dublin), which he purchased in 1795.
He died 14 July 1827.  His widow died in January 1839.

Alexander, Henry (1787-1861).  Second son of Robert Alexander (d. 1827) and his wife Henrietta, daughter of Henry Quin MD of Dublin, baptised 9 April 1787.  Entered the service of the East India Company, 1802 (writer, Bengal, 1802; 2nd asst to export warehouse keeper, 1805; deputy appraiser of piece goods at custom house, Calcutta, 1806; private merchant 1807-18; director 1826-53); commissioner of lieutenancy, City of London, 1831-61; MP for Barnstaple 1826-30.  He married 1st, 15 October 1808, Eliza Leonora (d. 1840), daughter of Joseph Pringle, consul-general at Madeira; and 2nd, 4 January 1843, Sabina Hester (c.1801-85), daughter of Thomas Taylor of Sevenoaks (Kent) and had issue, with two other sons and three daughters by his first marriage: 
(1.1) Henry Robert Alexander (1811-69), Bengal Civil Service; married, 13 August 1834 at Calcutta, Elizabeth Charlotte (c.1811-80), daughter of James Young of Calcutta (India); died 24 May 1869; will proved 6 July 1869 (estate under £1000).
In the 1820s he rented Battle Abbey House in Sussex from Sir Godfrey Webster; about 1850 he bought Belmont House, East Barnet (Middx), which was sold after his death.
He died 14 January 1861; his will was proved 1 February 1861 (estate under £70,000).  His widow died 25 April 1885; her will was proved 18 May 1885 (estate £12,373).

Alexander-Shaw (né Alexander), William John (d. 1856).  Younger son of Sir William Alexander (1743-1822), 1st bt. and his wife Catherine, daughter of John Folie Malpas of Rochestown (Dublin).  Changed his name and arms by royal licence, 1846.  He married, 1 March 1815, his cousin Isabella (d. 1834), daughter of Robert Alexander of Seamount and had issue: 
(1) Maj. William Alexander-Shaw (later Alexander) (1817-85) (q.v.); 
(2) Robert Henry Alexander (d. 1842), killed in the retreat from Kabul, 1842; 
(3) Henry Alexander (d. 1856); 
(4) Richard Alexander-Shaw (d. 1867), m. and had issue two sons and one daughter; 
(5) Harriet Alexander-Shaw (1817-98), m. 1850 her cousin Rev. Godfrey Edward Alexander (c.1818-1901), rector of Stoke Bliss (Herefs), son of Charles Alexander of Dublin [perhaps the Charles Richard Alexander mentioned above]; 
(6) Elizabeth Alexander (fl. 1893); lived in France;
(7) Anne Catherine Alexander (1833-76), m. 1854 Capt. Edward Barnes (b. 1829) and had issue.
He died 14 May 1856.

Alexander (né Alexander-Shaw), Maj. William (1817-85).  Eldest son of William John Alexander-Shaw (d. 1856) and his wife Isabella, daughter of Robert Alexander of Seamount, born 12 May 1817.  Educated at Trinity College, Dublin (admitted 1835); Major in the Indian Army.  Dropped the Shaw suffix of his surname by royal licence, 17 June 1876. He married, 10 September 1839, Mary (d. 1897), daughter of Rt. Rev. and Hon. Edward Grey, bishop of Hereford and had issue: 
(1) Sir William Ferdinand Alexander (1845-96), 5th bt. (q.v.); 
(2) Charlotte Elizabeth Alexander (d. 1922), m. 1862 Rev. Thomas Borlase Coulson (d. 1895), vicar of Bramley and canon of Truro; 
(3) Anne Isabella Alexander (d. 1924), m. 1871 Charles Forbes Calland, 98th Regt. (d. 1907) and had issue; 
(4) Mary Alexander (d. 1925), m. 1869 Henry John Goodwin Robinson, 98th Regt. (d. 1916) and had issue;
(5) Fanny Jane Alexander (d. 1942), m. 1882 Cdr. Aston Edward McMurdo RN (d. 1904) and had issue; 
(6) Lucy Alexander (d. 1932), m. 1881 Frank Theodore Bagshawe (d. 1923) and had issue.
He lived at Cruisetown (Meath) and Stoke Old Rectory, nr. Guildford (Surrey).
He died 11 July 1885, aged 68.

Alexander, Sir William Ferdinand (1845-96), 5th bt.  Only son of Maj. William Alexander (1817-85) and his wife Mary, daughter of Rt. Rev. and Hon. Edward Grey, bishop of Hereford, born 15 October 1845.  He marrried, 27 November 1884, Edith (c.1862-1925), younger daughter of George Frederick Heriot La Fargue of Bosworth Hall (Leics) and had issue: 
(1) Sir Lionel Cecil William Alexander (1885-1956), 6th bt. (q.v.); 
(2) Eileen Edith Caledon Alexander (1888-1975), born 18 May 1888; married 1st, 1908 (div. 1918) Lt-Col. Donald Cuthbertson Dennistoun Sword DSO (d. 1954), son of Alexander Bruce Dennistoun Sword of Endon Hall (Staffs) and had issue, and married 2nd, 1919 Lt-Col. Clifford Cyril Scott MC.
He died 13 February 1896, aged 50. His widow married 2nd, 1897, Rev. Frederick William Thurlow and died, 6 January 1925.

Alexander, Sir Lionel Cecil William (1885-1956), 6th bt.  Only son of Sir William Ferdinand Alexander (1845-96), 5th bt. and his wife Edith, daughter of George Frederick Heriot La Fargue of Bosworth Hall (Leics), born 23 September 1885.  Major, 23rd Bttn, London Regt, formerly Grenadier Guards; DSO 1916; Croix de Guerre; High Sheriff of Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire, 1929.  He married 1st, 5 December 1908 (div. 1924), the Hon. Dawn Noorouz Weston Cable (d. 1969), eldest daughter of 1st Baron Cable; and 2nd, 17 July 1924, Hopeful Merrison Rose (1892-1977), daughter of Capt. George William Hurrell of Aberdeen, and had issue: 
(1.1) Sir Desmond William Lionel Alexander (later Cable-Alexander) (1910-88), 7th bt. (q.v.); 
(2.1) Maj. Nigel William Alexander (1925-2015), educated at Haileybury; served in Grenadier Guards; married, Oct-Dec. 1964, Anna, younger daughter of Bernard Ambrose Wheatley and had issue one son and one daughter; died 15 June 2015;
(2.2) Derek Malcolm Alexander (1932-34).
He lived at Rowan Cottage, Furze Hill, Seale (Surrey).
He died 6 August 1956, aged 70; his will was proved 29 October 1956 (estate £3,548).

Cable-Alexander (né Alexander), Sir Desmond William Lionel (1910-88), 7th bt., of Downes.  Only child of Sir Lionel Cecil William Alexander (1885-1956), 6th bt. and his first wife, Hon. Dawn Noorouz Weston Cable, daughter of 1st Baron Cable, born 4 October 1910.  Educated at Harrow and Magdalen College, Oxford; changed his name to Cable-Alexander by deed poll, 1931.  He married 1st, 20 June 1935 (div. 1941), Mary Jane (d. 1994), daughter of James O'Brien JP of Enniskillen (Fermanagh) and 2nd, Jul-Sept 1942, Margaret Mabel (d. 2008), daughter of John Burnett of Dublin and had issue: 
(1.1) Sir Patrick Desmond William Cable-Alexander (b. 1936), 8th bt. (q.v.); 
(2.1) Jacqueline Cable-Alexander (b. 1941), born 16 December 1941; m. 1962 Dillon Godfrey Welchman (d. 1998), son of Brig. Godfrey de Vere Welchman CBE DSO and has issue one son and one daughter; 
(2.2) Susan Cable-Alexander (b. 1948), born 28 May 1948; m. 1970 (div. 1996), Richard Humphrey Hardwicke, younger son of John Hardwicke of Bredan House, Cookham Dean (Berks) and has issue one son and one daughter.
He lived at Downes, Crediton, Devon in 1972.
He died in 1988, aged 77.  His widow died 24 September 2008.

Cable-Alexander, Lt-Col. Sir Patrick Desmond William (b. 1936), 8th bt.  Only child of Sir Desmond William Lionel Cable-Alexander (1910-88), 7th bt. and his first wife, Hon. Dawn Noorouz Weston Cable, daughter of 1st Baron Cable, born 19 April 1936. Educated at Downside and RMA Sandhurst; Lt-Col., Royal Scots Dragoon Guards in Germany and Aden; assistant military attache, Saigon, 1968; commanded Duke of Lancaster's Own Yeomanry 1978-80; Chief of Staff HQ NW Division, 1980-83; Bursar and Clerk of Council, Lancing College, 1984-98; Director of Administration, Institute of Optometry, 1999-?.  He married 1st, 9 December 1961 (div. 1976), Diana Frances (who married 2nd, Brig. David Edelsten), eldest daughter of Col. Paul Heberden Rogers of Bushey; and 2nd, 1976, Jane Mary, daughter of Anthony Arthur Gough Lewis MD FRCP of Oxford, and had issue: 
(1.1) Melanie Jane Cable-Alexander (b. 1963), born 14 September 1963; features editor of Country Life, 1992-2002; founder of the 'Slow Furniture' movement and related company, Lapaloosa; has one son by Anthony Charles Robert Armstrong-Jones (b. 1930), 1st Earl of Snowdon; married, 24 October 2015, Martin Redwood;
(1.2) Louise Fenella Cable-Alexander (b. 1967), born 17 February 1967; chief of staff, Hyperion Insurance Group; married, 1995, Massimo, son of G. Reina of Milan; 
(2.1) Fergus William Antony Cable-Alexander (b. 1981), born 18 June 1981; heir apparent to baronetcy; marketing executive; married Claire Whiteside and has issue three sons.
Now living.


Burke's Peerage and Baronetage, successive editions; VCH Middlesex, vol 2, 1908, pp. 337-42.

Location of archives

No significant archive is known to exist.

Coat of arms

Per pale argent and sable a chevron between in sinister chief a mullet and in base a crescent both counterchanged; on a canton azure a harp or, stringed argent.

Revision and acknowledgements

This account was first published on 27 October 2013 and was revised 2 April, 23 June and 4 November 2015, 19 August 2017 and 10 February 2020. I am grateful to Brendan Grimes for an additional photograph of St Helen's.

Sunday 20 October 2013

(83) Alexander of Aubrey House, Kensington and Heathfield Park

Alexander of London and Heathfield
William Alexander (1769-1819), the founder of the discount house of Alexander & Co. in the City of London, came from a Quaker family in Kent.  He died aged 50 after a fall from a coach, and his widow Ann (1775-1861) managed the business until 1831, when their eldest son, George William Alexander (1802-90) was mature enough to take it on; she remained a partner in the firm until her death.  With the passing decades the family acquired ever greater prosperity, and George acquired Woodhatch House, a villa near Reigate (Surrey) as a country residence.  His two sons both followed him into the family business.  The elder, Robert Henry Alexander (1838-1901), bought and remodelled Brandfold at Goudhurst (Kent) in 1891, but died only ten years later. The younger, William Cleverly Alexander (1840-1916) bought Aubrey House, Kensington (Middx) in 1873; this is a large villa which is now one of the most valuable houses in London but which was then on the edge of the countryside.  In 1895 he also purchased Heathfield Park in Sussex as a country residence and dramatically enlarged it.  William died in 1916 after falling down the basement steps at Heathfield, and perhaps on this account the family sold the house shortly afterwards. William's eldest surviving son was George Cleverly Alexander (1868-1959), who acquired the Manor House estate at Winterbourne Stoke in Wiltshire (sold in 1945) with his share of the proceeds.  Aubrey House passed to his sisters, and seems to have been sold in the 1960s or perhaps not until the last of them died in 1972.

Aubrey House, Kensington, Middlesex

The house stands in Aubrey Walk, off Campden Hill Road, on the site of a medicinal spring known in the 17th century as Kensington Wells. The core of the house probably belongs to one built adjoining the spring c.1698, but its present appearance and gentry status is owed to Sir Edward Lloyd, who added projecting wings to the central block and reconstructed the north front between 1745 and 1754. 

Aubrey House in 2007

Later 18th century alterations included a drawing room (now lost) created by James Wyatt in 1774 for Lady Mary Coke, which had a decorated ceiling with intertwined floral motifs and medallions of cupids on a blue ground.  Inside, there are 19th century staircases and a few 18th century pedimented doorcases. During the nineteenth century many alterations were made to the house and the interior was considerably remodelled. The wings were altered and extended and at one time a heavy Victorian doorcase was inserted into the north front, now happily replaced with the more appropriate pedimented doorcase which can be seen today. In 1873, the house was bought by William Alexander, who employed James McNeill Whistler to design some simple and uncluttered decorative room schemes for the house; unfortunately these interiors were destroyed in 1913, although Whistler's designs survive in the Hunterian Museum. The house was used as an emergency hospital, 1916-20, but was then returned to the Alexander family, which continued to occupy it until 1962 or later. Aubrey House was sold for £20m in 1998, when it was advertised as having the largest garden in London after Buckingham Palace.  At the time, it was believed to be the most expensive house ever sold in London.

Aubrey House: street frontage c.2007

Descent: Sir Edward Lloyd, 1744-66 and remained the property of his descendants until 1823; let to Richard, Lord Grosvenor (later 1st Earl Grosvenor), 1766-67; Lady Mary Coke (daughter of 2nd Duke of Argyll), 1767-after 1788; succession of tenants and used as a school until 1819; empty 1819-23; sold 1823 to Joshua Flesher Hanson; sold to Thomas Williams (d. 1852); leased to Mary & Elizabeth Shepheard as a school, 1830-54; sold 1859 to James Malcolmson; sold 1863 to Peter Alfred Taylor MP; sold 1873 to William Cleverly Alexander (1840-1916); to daughters, Mary, Rachel and Jean Alexander, of whom the last died in 1972; to great-nephews, Peter & Francis Dinely and the actor, Jeffry Wickham; who sold the house (and the adjoining terrace designed by Raymond Erith to replace houses destroyed by bombing in world war II) 1998 to Dr Sigrid Rausing.

Heathfield Park, Sussex

Heathfield Hall from a late 17th century painting by Gerard van Edema. Image: David Brown

Heathfield Park: a drawing of 1788.  Image: British Library.
Heathfield Park: a 19th century engraving showing the balustrade, pediments and veranda added perhaps by John Crunden c.1792-93.
The estate began as a deer park of some 350 acres, called Bayley Park, enclosed in the early 17th century by the Dacre family.  They sold it in 1674 and a new house was begun on the present site in 1677 by James Plummer, which is said to have been finished only by Raymond Blackmore in the 1720s.  It was altered by Sir Robert Taylor in 1766 for General Elliot, who was made Lord Heathfield in recognition of his defence of Gibraltar in 1779-82. Drawings of the late 18th century make it clear that the general form of the late 17th century house survived Taylor's alterations.  A curious feature was the pair of caryatids flanking the central window on the first floor, which seem rather an unlikely decorative feature at any of the dates when work was taking place.  They were probably removed when the house was given a large verandah, a parapet with shallow pediments set against it, and a unifying coat of fashionable stucco.  It seems likely that this work was done for Francis Newberry in the 1790s, at the same time as he built the Gibraltar Tower in the park and erected the North Lodge.  The lodge was designed by John Crunden, who may well have been responsible for all these improvements. Newberry also expanded the estate to more than 2,000 acres, and his successor, Sir Charles Blunt, built a wall around the park.

The Gibraltar Tower
The circular Gothick Gibraltar Tower on the edge of the park was built in 1792-93, and the three rooms inside were originally decorated with views of Gibraltar, now removed.
Humphry Repton, image from the Red Book for Heathfield Park, 1794.  Image: East Sussex Record Office.

The stables east of the house date from 1766 and have two wings with giant arches, linked by a broad segmental carriage arch. The North Lodge, on the Battle Road, was designed by John Crunden in 1792.  The main park lies west of the house and is heavily wooded, with a central stream feeding a chain of pools.  It was probably first landscaped in 1766 but Humphrey Repton was brought in to make alterations in 1794 and his 'Red Book' is now in the East Sussex Record Office.  Very little may actually have been built to his designs in this case; perhaps only a new approach drive. 

Heathfield Hall as remodelled by Sir Reginald Blomfield in 1896-97, from an old postcard

The house owes its present form to more radical alterations in the Wrenaissance style by Sir Reginald Blomfield for W.C. Alexander in 1896-97 which nearly doubled its size.  Blomfield turned the house round, stripped it of its stucco, added a new attic storey, and made it, according to his Memoirs, into ‘a normal Georgian house’.  On the garden side the old house had seven bays with a three-bay breakfront; Blomfield added another five bays to the right, setting back the paired outer bays and crowning the central two with a segmental pediment of insufficient size to pull together the facade.  Blomfield also constructed the present veranda, although there had been one previously.  On the entrance side it is the right part which is old, and the left part with the Venetian window which is Blomfield's, although the porch attached below this window was moved here from its original position in the centre of the old house only after the Second World War, and before that the wall was entirely blank.  Blomfield replanned the interior, and all the decoration and fittings appear to date from his time.  He also made a wing to the south, which was remodelled in 2009-10.  A fine 18th century chimneypiece formerly in the hall, very similar in the style to the saloon chimneypiece at Taylor's Harleyford Manor, has been removed; where has it gone?

Heathfield Park: entrance front in 2007.  Image: David Harvey via Wikimedia Commons

The formal terraces and ornamental gardens around the house are also by Blomfield.  There is a long axial path terminating in a basin and fountain.   

Descent: James Plummer (fl. 1677)... sold 1708 to Fuller; sold 1721 to Raymond Blackmore; sold after his death to O'Keefe family; sold 1766 to General Sir George Augustus Elliot (1717-90), 1st Baron Heathfield; sold 1791 to Francis Newberry (1743-1818); sold 1819 to Sir Charles Richard Blunt (1775-1840), 4th bt. ; to Sir Walter Blunt (1826-47), 5th bt.; to Sir Charles William Blunt (1810-90), 6th bt., who let to Lord Claud Hamilton (d. 1884) and then Francis Henry Scott, who bought the freehold from him in 1890 and sold it in 1895 to William Cleverly Alexander (1840-1916); sold before 1918 to his daughter Mrs. Grace Lister (1867-1959); sold by 1927 to James Groves; sold 1935 to Harry Clifford-Turner, a London solicitor; sold 1942 and used by military in WW2; sold to Captain Derek Joseph Barrington Fitzgerald; sold 1963 to Dr. & Mrs. Gerald Moore; sold 1993 to Ugland family; sold c.2002 to Dominic Mark Joseph Wainford (b. 1967)

Winterbourne Stoke Manor House, Wiltshire
The manor house is a long gabled building of flint and chalk chequer work. The central range and northern wing are early 17th-century and a southern service wing was added in the later 17th century, forming a U-shaped house with its open court to the west.  There are tall mullioned ground-floor windows with a continuous string-course instead of hood-moulds and prominent relieving arches over the windows.  The house was substantially extended northwards c. 1920 when new kitchens and servants' rooms were added.

Descent: Sir Walter Hungerford (d. 1596); to half-brother, Sir Edward Hungerford (d. 1607); to great-nephew, Sir Edward Hungerford (d. 1648); to half-brother, Anthony Hungerford (d. 1657); to son, Sir Edward Hungerford, who sold 1674 to Sir John Nicholas (d. 1704); to son, Edward Nicholas, who sold 1715 to John Howe (d. 1721); to son, John Howe (d. 1742), 1st Baron Chedworth; to son, John Howe (d. 1762), 2nd Baron Chedworth; to Henry Howe (d. 1781), 3rd Baron Chedworth; to son, John Howe (d. 1802), 4th Baron Chedworth; sold 1807 to Alexander Baring (d. 1848), 1st Baron Ashburton; to son, William Baring (d. 1864), 2nd Baron Ashburton; to brother, Francis Baring (d. 1868), 3rd Baron Ashburton; to son, Alexander Baring (d. 1889), 4th Baron Ashburton; to son, Francis Baring, 5th Baron Ashburton; sold c.1896 to E.T. Hooley, who became bankrupt; sold 1899 to Sir Christopher Furniss; sold 1909/10 to Cary Coles (fl. 1915); sold c.1918 to George Cleverly Alexander (1868-1959), who sold 1945 to L.E. Turner; sold 1958 to son, J.L. Turner (fl. 1992).

Brandfold, Goudhurst, Kent

A house was built on this site about 1820, probably for Charles Sneyd Edgeworth, the son of Richard Lovell Edgeworth and half-brother of Maria Edgeworth.  Maria wrote following a visit to him in 1830:
Brandfold is a very pretty place, and to me a very pleasant house. The library, the principal room, has a trellis along the whole front, with 'spagnolette windows opening into it, and a pretty conservatory at the end, with another glass door opening into it. The views seen between the arches of the trellis beautiful; flower-knots in the grass, with stocks, hydrangeas, and crimson and pale China roses in profuse blow. Sneyd enjoys everything about him so much, it is quite delightful to see him in his home.
This rather charming sounding house was apparently taken down and completely rebuilt in 1872. The replacement house was described in 1882 as 'an entirely new Tudor mansion in red brick and stone with a fine library and a private chapel, built by the late Joseph Ridgeway, late of Fairlawn'.

Brandfold, Goudhurst, from an old postcard.
Brandfold was remodelled and enlarged again in 1891 by Sir Reginald Blomfield for Robert Henry Alexander. The interior was elaborately fitted in the Arts & Crafts style.  The house was empty during the First World War and was considered for conversion to a war hospital in 1917, but this did not happen and it was demolished between 1927 and 1930.

Descent: Miss Edgeworth (date unknown); Charles Sneyd Edgeworth (1786-1864) let to Thomas Cramer Roberts (fl. 1842) and later Mrs Cramer Roberts (fl. 1851-67); sold c.1870? to Joseph Ridgeway (1821-79); to Hon. John Stewart Gathorne-Hardy (1839-1911), later 2nd Earl of Cranbrook; sold c.1890 to Robert Henry Alexander (1838-1901); to widow, Catherine Yates Alexander (1838-1914); sold to Alfred Stern (1850-1917), a lunatic in the charge of Dr. William Douglas; empty 1917-18; sold before 1922 to Lt-Col. Cole Bryan Bartley OBE; demolished c.1930.

The Alexanders of Aubrey House, Heathfield Park and Winterbourne Stoke

Alexander, William (1769-1819).  Second son of William Alexander (1733-85) of Rochester (Kent), a Quaker shipbuilder and teacher, and his wife Elizabeth Day, born 31 January 1769.  Clerk with Smith, Wright & Cay, bankers,1792; Head Clerk, Roberts & Curtis; Partner in John Rickman & Co., bill brokers 1806-10; founded Alexander's Bank, 33 Lombard Street, 16 Jul 1810, which was continued after his accidental death by his widow. He married, 13 February 1801 in Doncaster (Yorks), Ann (1775-1861), daughter of William Barber, and had issue:
(1) George William Alexander (1802-90) (q.v.);
(2) Mary Barber Alexander (1804-1907) of Eckington Villa, London Road, Reigate (Surrey), born 11 September 1804; died unmarried, 25 February 1907, aged 102; will proved 24 April 1907 (estate £22,525);
(3) William Dollin Alexander (1805-87) of Summit House, Upper Clapton (Middx) and Broomhill Bank, Speldhurst (Kent), born 24 January 1805; partner in A. & G.M. Alexander; member of Worshipful Company of Plasterers by 1872; JP for Middlesex and Kent; married, 11 October 1851, Julian Ann Mary (d. 1878), daughter of John Joseph Tanner; died without issue in Brighton, 23 April 1887; will proved 15 June 1887 (estate £381,674);
(4) Henry Alexander (1808-99) of Cirencester, born 6 June 1808; ironmonger, millwright and ironfounder at Cirencester; left the Quakers by 1875; married at Calne (Wilts), 27 February 1835, Catherine (1805-82), daughter of Joseph Fry Gundry and had issue three sons and six daughters; died 19 September 1899; will proved 30 September 1899 (estate £1132);
(5) Samuel Alexander (1809-84) of Cirencester, born 26 August 1809; ironmonger at Cirencester and Gloucester (Glos), Bath (Somerset) and Leominster (Herefs); married first, Alice (b. 1812), daughter of Peter Taylor, and second, 30 September 1835 at Calne, Sarah (1809-60), daughter of Joseph Fry Gundry and had issue four sons; died at Leominster, 26 May 1884; will proved 10 February 1885 (estate £8,355);
(6) Frederick Alexander (1810-93) of Holloway (Middx) and later of Clifton, Bristol, born 13 April 1810; accountant; married, December 1839, Rebecca Capper (who petitioned for divorce on grounds of cruelty, 1870) and had issue four sons and one daughter; died 12 July 1893; will proved 5 September 1893 (estate £520);
(7) Elizabeth Alexander (1813-1907) of Eckington Villa, Reigate, born 13 April 1813; died unmarried, 12 February 1907; will proved November 1907 (estate £19,413);
(8) Sarah Ann Alexander (1817-1918) of Eckington Villa, Reigate, born 15 January 1817; died unmarried, 14 January 1918, aged 100; will proved 14 March 1918 (estate £2,413);
(9) Jane Alexander; perhaps died young.
He died 12 November 1819 after a fall from a coach, and was buried at Bunhill Fields, London.

George William Alexander: detail from
B. Haydon's picture of the 1840
Anti-Slavery Convention in London
Alexander, George William (1802-90), of Woodhatch House, Reigate (Surrey). Eldest son of William Alexander (1769-1819) and his wife Ann, daughter of William Barber, born 25 April 1802. Educated at William Rickman's School, Rochester (Kent), 1806-16; banker and bill broker; partner in Alexanders & Co. of London in 1888; Treasurer of the British & Foreign Anti-Slavery Committee for 40 years; published Letters on the Slave Trade, 1842; co-founder of the London Hospital for Diseases of the Chest (Victoria Park Hospital), 1848; travelled in Spain, the Netherlands and Sweden to promote anti-slavery measures with Benjamin Barron Wiffen and James Whitehorn, 1839 and to the West Indies with his second wife and John and Maria Candler, 1849-50.  He married first, 5 February 1835 at Rochester (Kent), Sarah Cleverly (1801-43), daughter of Robert Horsnaill, and second, 16 July 1845 at Dover (Kent), Catherine (1806-78), daughter of William Horsnaill, and had issue:
(1.1) Mary Ann Alexander (1836-1920) of Fulner House, Worthing (Sussex), born 29 May or 5 October 1836; died unmarried, 3 January 1920; will proved 3 March 1920 (estate £108,669);
(1.2) Robert Henry Alexander (1838-1901) of 24 Hans Place, Chelsea and Brandfold, Goudhurst (Kent), born 2 May 1838; banker and bill broker; partner in the family firm, 1855-1900 and chairman, 1891-1900; married, 2 May 1859, Catherine Yates (1838-1914), daughter of William Thomas Beeby and had issue six sons and two daughters; died 26 May 1901 and was buried at Goudhurst; will proved 31 July 1901 (estate £295,810);
(1.3) William Cleverly Alexander (1840-1916) (q.v.);
(1.4) Henrietta Alexander (c.1843-46), born about 1843; died young, 8 September 1846;
(2.1) Priscilla Alexander (1853-64), born 2 July 1853; died young, 14 September 1864.
By 1850 he lived at a house in Paradise Row, Stoke Newington (Middx), which was later called The Willows or Kennaway House, and which he rebuilt in 1870.  He also purchased Woodhatch House, Reigate (Surrey).
He died 23 or 24 November 1890 at Woodhatch House, aged 88; his will was proved 24 December 1890 (estae £227,610).  His first wife died 20 June 1843 at Northfleet (Kent); his second wife died 8 June and was buried 12 June 1878.

Alexander, William Cleverly (1840-1916), of Aubrey House and Heathfield Park.  Second son of George William Alexander (1802-90) and his first wife Sarah Cleverly, daughter of Robert Horsnaill, born 21 April 1840.  Banker and bill broker; partner in the family firm, 1858-1901; member of the Burlington Fine Arts Club and a founder member of the National Art Collections Fund; he was a noted collector of Oriental art and a patron of James McNeill Whistler and friend of Roger Fry; he left the Quakers and joined the Church of England by 1867.  He married, 29 August 1861, Rachel Agnes (1837-1900), daughter of Jeffery Lucas of Hitchin (Herts) and had issue:
(1) Agnes Mary Alexander (1862-1950), born 7 November 1862; baptised, 18 October 1867; died unmarried, 21 April 1950; will proved 31 July 1950 (estate £141,295);
(2) Cicely Henrietta Alexander (1864-1932) of The Glebe House, Burwash (Sussex); baptised 18 October 1867; married, 21 February 1906, Bernard Wilfred Charles (1869-1953), son of Hon. Charles William Thomas Spring-Rice; died 1 March 1932;
(3) William Geoffrey Alexander (1865-1911); baptised 18 October 1867; educated at Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge; banker and bill broker; director of the family firm from 1891; married, 1 December 1887, Beatrice Rose (1865-1913), daughter of Daniel Fearon and had issue one daughter; died 15 September 1911; will proved 4 November 1911 (estate £110,502);
(4) Helen Christina Alexander (1866-97); baptised 18 October 1867; died unmarried at Newton Abbot (Devon), 22 October 1897; will proved 1 December 1897 (estate £215);
(5) Grace Lister Alexander (1867-1959); baptised 18 October 1868; married, 18 April 1894, Col. Sir William Tindall Lister (1868-1944), eye surgeon, son of Arthur Hugh Lister and had issue five sons; died 2 November 1959, aged 92; her will was proved 4 January 1960 (estate £71,021;
(6) George Cleverly Alexander (1868-1959) (q.v.);
(7) Emily Margaret Alexander (1871-1962); born 6 May and baptised 11 June 1871; married, 1897 at Hailsham (Sussex), Cmdr. Francis Goodyere Dineley RN (1865-1908) and had issue; died 14 December 1962; will proved 29 August 1963 (estate £106,845);
(8) Rachel Frances Alexander (1875-1964), born 13 May and baptised 19 June 1875; died unmarried, 8 December 1964; will proved 24 June 1965 (estate £235,296)
(9) Jean Ingelow Alexander (1877-1972), born 20 April and baptised 25 June 1877; trustee of the will of Ellen Beck, suffragette, 1940; died unmarried in Kensington (Middx), 1972, aged 95.
He rented Harringay House (Middx), 1869-73, but purchased Aubrey House, Kensington in 1873 and Heathfield Park (Sussex) in 1895.
He died after a fall down the basement stairs at Heathfield Park, 17 April 1916; his will was proved 31 August 1916 (estate £407, 093).  His wife died 31 July 1900.

Alexander, George Cleverly (1868-1959) of Winterbourne Stoke Manor House (Wilts). Younger son of William Cleverly Alexander (1840-1916) and his wife Rachel Agnes, daughter of Jeffery Lucas, born 4 October and baptised at Reigate (Surrey), 18 December 1868.  Educated at Eton. Served in Oxfordshire Imperial Yeomanry during Boer War, 1900-02. Director of Alexander & Co. from 1910 (and later Chairman); JP for Wiltshire, 1927.  He married, 1909 at St George, Hanover Sq,, London, Louisa Craig (b. 1882), but had no issue.
He purchased Winterbourne Stoke Manor House in about 1918 but sold it in 1945.
He died at Brantridge Forest, 9 February 1959 and his will was proved 19 May 1959 (estate £59,130). His wife was living in 1939.


Augustus J.C. Hare (ed.), The life and letters of Maria Edgeworth, 1971 edn., vol. 1, unpaginated; F.H.W. Sheppard (ed), Survey of London, vol. 37: North Kensington, 1973, pp. 87-89; R.A. Fellows, Sir Reginald Blomfield: an Edwardian architect, 1985, pp. 48-49; S. Farrant, 'The development of landscape parks and gardens in eastern Sussex, c.1700 to 1820 - a guide and gazetteer', Garden History, 17(2), 1989, pp. 175-76; D.A. Crowley et al (eds), VCH Wiltshire, vol. 15, pp. 275-84; J.M. Robinson, James Wyatt: architect to George III, 2012, p. 336; N. Antram & Sir N. Pevsner, The buildings of England: Sussex - East, 2013, pp. 473-74; M. Easdown, Lost country houses of Kent, 2017, p. 33; ; Kent History & Library Centre, U78/T159.

Location of archives

Alexander family of Aubrey House, Kensington: deeds, estate and family papers, 1861-1983 (Kensington & Chelsea Libraries, 5024-5133, 48882-49005); personal papers and photographs (Kensington & Chelsea Libraries, Local Studies 47810-33)

Coat of arms

Although no coat of arms is recorded in contemporary sources for this family, there is evidence that they used the coat of arms of the Alexander family of Dover illustrated above (Barry of ten, argent and azure, a lion rampant gules holding a battleaxe or). They may simply have assumed this coat, or it may be that there was a legitimate connection through their Kentish origins with that family. The same coat of arms was also used in the 17th century by the Alexanders of Wistaston (Cheshire).

Revision & Acknowledgements

This account was first published 20 October 2013 and was revised on 29 March 2014, 2 January 2016, 28 October 2017, 22 April, 4 and 18 November 2018. I am grateful to Jeremy Musson, Chris Whittick, Edward Craig and John Alexander for additional information, and to David Brown for additional images.