Thursday, 15 February 2018

(322) Baillie of Duntisbourne House

Dr. Matthew Baillie (1761-1823) came from an academic and professional background in Scotland. His father, the Rev. James Baillie (1722-78), was a presbyterian minister whose rapid promotion under the patronage of the Duke of Hamilton led him ultimately to the chair of divinity at Glasgow University. His mother, Dorothea, was the sister of the famous anatomists, Dr. William Hunter (1718-83) and Dr. John Hunter (1728-93), who had made their way to fame and fortune in London.
Long Calderwood, East Kilbride (Ayrshire): the Hunter family house.
When James Baillie died in 1778, his widow moved her young family to the Hunter family house at Long Calderwood in Ayrshire, but they were probably supported for a time by her brothers, who certainly encouraged Matthew to pursue a career in medicine. He was entered at Balliol College, Oxford, where he eventually took both arts and medical degrees, and divided his time between his studies at Oxford and attending the lectures given by his uncles in London. When William Hunter died in 1783, Matthew was left not only a handsome cash legacy of £5,000, but also his house in Great Windmill St., Soho, and the adjacent medical school and museum, and his mother and sisters came to London to keep house for him. After taking his medical degree in 1786, he was appointed physician to St. George's Hospital, London, but he gave up this appointment in 1789 to establish a private medical practice, which quickly became extremely successful. Like his uncle William, he was a workaholic, and he is said to have frequently worked sixteen hours a day, a punishing schedule that probably took its toll on his health as it is recorded to have done on his temper. In 1810 he was appointed one of the physicians in ordinary to King George III, and he continued to attend the king through his period of mental incapacity until his death in 1820. 
The profits of his practice among wealthy Londoners soon allowed Matthew to acquire property. He bought the Duntisbourne estate in Gloucestershire in 1806, and was probably responsible for extending the house by the addition of Gothick wings soon afterwards. He probably also bought Bolton House in Hampstead, where his two spinster sisters lived by 1820, and where they established a lively literary salon. He retired to Duntisbourne after the king's death, but did not have long to enjoy the estate, as he died in 1823, aged just sixty-two. His sisters were exceptionally long-lived: Joanna dying at 89 in 1851 and Agnes ten years later, aged 100.

In 1791, Matthew Baillie married the daughter of another of his preceptors, Dr. Thomas Denman, and they produced a small family. His daughter married the owner of Cotswold Park, an estate close to Duntisbourne. His elder son died in infancy, but his younger son, William Hunter Baillie (1797-1894), who pursued no occupation beyond the duties incidental to his ownership of an estate, also lived to the exceptional age of 97. He shared the literary interests of his aunts, to whom he became close after his father's death. He was also interested in antiquarian matters, and particularly in the history of his own family. It was probably he who established that they were a cadet branch of the Baillies of Lamington, although the precise connection does not seem to be recorded. William and his wife had four sons and four daughters, but the only son to survive their long-lived father, another William Hunter Baillie (1838-95), outlived his father by only a few months. Duntisbourne then passed to his elder sister, Helen Mary Henrietta Hunter Baillie (1843-1929). Both the younger William and Helen had rejected the narrow evangelical views of their parents, and had been drawn into the Anglo-Catholic community around All Saints, Margaret St, London. Helen indeed, had spent much of her life living with a community of the Sisters of the Church, although she never became a member of the order. She let Duntisbourne House and in 1906 sold the freehold. The house, which was then little changed since Matthew Baillie acquired it a century earlier, was to see almost bewildering changes over the following century.

Duntisbourne House, Duntisbourne Abbots, Gloucestershire

When Sir Mark Pleydell bought the Duntisbourne Abbots estate in 1753 there was no manor house, and to remedy this deficiency he built in 1760 a small villa overlooking the steep‑sided Frome valley, which was at first known as Sir Mark's Folly, perhaps because its exposed situation was the subject of local ridicule. No architect is recorded for this project, but the mason's name, recorded in Sir Mark's account book, was Boyce. As first built, the house may have consisted only of the central block of the later building, which had a three-bay entrance front with a central pedimented breakfront, and a two-bay rear elevation. There is no evidence that Sir Mark ever lived in the house, which was perhaps used as an occasional summer retreat.

Duntisbourne House: the garden front as extended in the early 19th century, from and engraving by J. & H.S. Storer, 1827.
The house seems to have been extended around 1800 by the addition of flanking Gothick wings. The change was probably made either for Thomas Raikes, or more probably for his successor, Dr. Matthew Baillie. An engraving of 1827 shows the garden front with the original three‑storey, two‑bay centre clamped between two‑storey wings of the same height, which will have contained taller rooms. 

Duntisbourne House: an undated drawing of the entrance front, perhaps c.1900.

The entrance front is recorded in an undated drawing, which shows the original three‑bay pedimented centre and the added two‑bay wings, as well as a further service wing to the right and a single-storey Gothick porch and an adjoining room. The single-storey addition may be later again. The drawing also shows that the windows in the end elevation of the house were pointed Gothick windows, and this is confirmed by two photographs of c.1900 which show the side elevation and also demonstrate that the garden front was little changed since the 1827 engraving.

Duntisbourne House: side elevation and garden front in c.1900.

Duntisbourne House suffered a small fire in 1907, although press reports suggest this did very little damage. There is said to have been another fire in 1922 (although if so it went unreported in the local press), as a result of which Cmdr. Radcliffe James embarked on an extensive remodelling at that time. He found the house 'too big and old-fashioned', although his changes did little to reduce its size. He pulled down the single-storey addition on the entrance front and part of the wing behind it, and removed the Gothick windows all round the house, installing tripartite ones on the garden front, which retained its Georgian character, but giving the entrance front an Arts & Crafts air, with mullioned windows. The interior was completely remodelled, although he retained the original stone staircase. He put on a red-tiled roof, which stuck out like a sore thumb in this land of Cotswold stone slates, and which was replaced by Frank Perkins MP (d. 1946) soon after he bought the estate in 1937. 

Duntisbourne House: entrance front in about 1983. Image: Nicholas Kingsley. Some rights reserved.

Duntisbourne House: garden front in about 1983. Image: Nicholas Kingsley. Some rights reserved.

The house was further remodelled after 1971 for Lord Richardson, who wanted to restore the Georgian feel of the interior, though not its Gothick details. In the 1980s it had a fashionable English country house style interior, with dragged paint finishes and chintz fabrics. After all these changes, it is perhaps no surprise that when Lord Richardson sold the house in 2007, it was not listed. Unfortunately, this made it possible for the next owners to undertake a remarkably insensitive scheme of alterations in 2009-12. In the interests of open-plan living the house was literally disembowelled, with as many ground floor internal walls as possible removed to create a series of spaces that flow into one another. A massive basement-level extension was also excavated, with a glass wall which is viciously at odds with the otherwise essentially unchanged Cotswold character of the exterior. A new pool house of similar character has been built in the grounds, but is far enough from the main building not to be of concern. The property was again sold at the end of 2017, but the dignity of this house has probably gone forever.

Descent: William Prinn of Charlton Kings sold 1753 to Sir Mark Stuart Pleydell (c.1693-1768), 1st bt., who built the house; to grandson, Jacob Pleydell-Bouverie (1750-1828), 2nd Earl of Radnor; sold 1796 to Thomas Raikes; sold 1804 to Dr. Matthew Baillie (1761-1823); to son, William Hunter Baillie (1797-1894); to son, William Hunter Baillie (1838-95); to sister, Helen Mary Henrietta Hunter Baillie (1843-1929), sold 1906 to Sir Henry Lennox Hopkinson (d. 1936); sold c.1918 to Cmdr. Henry Radcliffe James; sold 1937 to Walter Frank Perkins MP (d. 1946); to son Walter R.D. Perkins (d. 1970); sold 1971 to Gordon Richardson (1915-2010), Baron Richardson of Duntisbourne; sold 2008 to Mr & Mrs Daniel Tierney; sold 2017.

Baillie of Duntisbourne House

Baillie, Rev. Dr. James (1722-78). Son of Matthew Baillie, schoolmaster, and his wife Ann Kirkwood, born at Crichton (Midlothian), 5 August 1722. Educated at Musselburgh Grammar School and Edinburgh University. Presbyterian minister; licensed to preach by the presbytery of Dalkeith, 1749 and ordained, 1754; appointed Minister of Shotts in Glasgow, 1754-62, Bothwell, 1762-75 and Hamilton (Lanarks), 1766-75. Professor of Divinity at the University of Glasgow, 1775-78 (Hon DD, 1772). He married, 7 December 1757, Dorothea (1720-1806), daughter of John Hunter (d. 1741) of Long Calderwood (Lanarks), and sister of the celebrated anatomists, Dr John Hunter (1728-93) and Dr William Hunter (1718-83), and had issue:
(1) William Baillie; died in infancy;
(2) Agnes Baillie (1760-1861), born 24 September 1760; died unmarried at Hampstead, aged 100, 27 April, and was buried at Hampstead (Middx), 4 May 1861; administration of goods granted 15 May 1861 (effects under £8,000);
(3) Dr. Matthew Baillie (1761-1823) (q.v.);
(4) twin, Joanna Baillie (1762-1851), born 11 September 1762; poet and dramatist, author of Plays on the Passions (1798-1812) and Fugitive Verses (1840); lived at Bolton House, Hampstead (Middx); died unmarried there, 23 February 1851; will proved 27 March 1851; she is commemorated by a statue at Bothwell (Lanarks);
(5) twin, Unnamed daughter (b. & d. 1762), born 11 September 1762 and died shortly afterwards.
He died 28 April 1778. His widow was buried at Hampstead (Middx), 7 October 1806.

Dr. Matthew Baillie
Baillie, Dr. Matthew (1761-1823). Only son of Rev. Dr. James Baillie (1722-78) and his wife Dorothea, daughter of John Hunter, born at Shotts Manse (Lanarks), 27 October 1761. Educated at Hamilton Old Grammar School, Glasgow University and Balliol College, Oxford (BA 1783; MA 1786; MB 1786; MD, 1789); he was a pupil of his uncle, Dr. John Hunter, the anatomist, and his father-in-law, Dr. Thomas Denman, a famous obstetrician. Physician and anatomist. In 1783 his uncle Dr William Hunter bequeathed him £5,000, his house in London, and the adjacent medical school (where he taught anatomy until 1803) and medical museum. Appointed Physician to St. George's Hospital, 1787, but gave up the appointment in 1789 to establish a private practice in Grosvenor Square, London. He became one of the most celebrated physicians of his time and was one of the physicians in ordinary to King George III, 1810-20. He was elected FRCP 1790; FRS 1790 (Croonian lecturer, 1791); FRSE; FRCPE, 1809. He published The Morbid Anatomy of some of the most important parts of the human body, 1793, which was the first work in English on pathology as a discrete subject. Several portraits of him are known, including views by Barber, Hoppner and Lawrence. He married, 5 May 1791, Sophie (1766-1845), daughter of Dr. Thomas Denman MD of Mount St., Grosvenor Sq., London, and sister of Thomas Denman, 1st Baron Denman, and had issue:
(1) James Baillie (1792-93), born 26 September and baptised at St James, Piccadilly, Westminster (Middx), 1 December 1792; died in infancy, 11 January 1793;
(2) Elizabeth Margaret Baillie (1794-1876), born 12 February and baptised at St James, Piccadilly, 24 March 1794; married, 11 July 1816, Robert Milligan (1787-1875) of Cotswold Park (Glos) and Eastridge, Ryde (IoW), and had issue one daughter; died 25 June 1876;
(3) William Hunter Baillie (1797-1894) (q.v.).
He purchased the Duntisbourne House estate in 1806.
He died of tuberculosis, 23 September 1823, and was buried at Duntisbourne Abbots, 30 September 1823; his will was proved 21 October 1823. His widow died in Hampstead (Middx), 5 August, and was buried at Duntisbourne Abbots, 13 August 1845; her will was proved 22 August 1845.

Baillie, William Hunter (1797-1894). Only surviving son of Dr. Matthew Baillie (1761-1823) and his wife Sophie, daughter of Dr Thomas Denman MD, born 15 September and baptised at St James, Piccadilly, Westminster (Middx), 4 October 1797. Educated at Westminster School, Lincoln's Inn (admitted 1814) and Balliol College, Oxford (matriculated 1815; BA 1819; MA 1823). Landowner and man of letters. He and his wife shared Evangelical views in matters of faith, and he moved in literary circles in London, becoming close to his aunt, Joanna Baillie, and to Maria Edgeworth (1768-1849). He was interested in the family history of the Hunter Baillies, and spent a considerable amount of time and expense gathering together the family's papers, from correspondence to ancient title deeds and other legal instruments, in order to establish the pedigree of the family.  He married, 23 June 1835 at Cheltenham (Glos), Henrietta (c.1809-57), second daughter of Rev. Dr. John Duff, of St. Andrews (Fife) and had issue:
(1) Sophia Joanna Baillie (1836-82), born 18 April and baptised at Cheltenham, 18 May 1836; died unmarried, 2 March and was buried at Duntisbourne Abbots, 8 March 1882;
(2) Matthew John Baillie (1837-66), baptised at Cheltenham, 7 August 1837; educated at Eton and Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge (matriculated 1855); an officer in the 72nd Highlanders (Ensign, 1855; retired 1860) he served in India during the Indian Mutiny; transferred to Royal North Gloucestershire Regt of Militia (Lt., 1861); died unmarried, 17 June 1866, and was buried at Kensal Green Cemetery;
(3) William Hunter Baillie (1838-95), baptised at Cheltenham, 11 December 1838; an officer in the 97th (later 8th) Foot (Ensign 1857; Lt. 1859; Capt. & Adj., 1866; retired 1868); as a young man he rejected the Evangelical views of his parents and became an Anglo-Catholic; died without issue, 17 March 1895; will proved 3 May 1895 (effects £56,719);
(4) James Baron Baillie (1841-68), born 21 February and baptised at Richmond (Surrey), 24 March 1841; an officer in 78th Foot (Ensign, 1858; Lt., 1862; retired 1863) and 2nd Royal Surrey Militia (Lt., 1865; Capt. by 1868); died unmarried, 6 December, and was buried at Kensal Green Cemetery, 10 December 1868;
(5) Helen Mary Henrietta Hunter Baillie (1843-1929) (q.v.);
(6) Agnes Elizabeth Baillie (1846-1925), born 23 April and baptised at All Souls, Paddington (Middx), 31 May 1846; married, 7 April 1875 at All Saints, Paddington (Middx), Rev. Robert Bennett Oliver (1835-1912) of Whitwell (IoW), son of Capt. Sir Robert Oliver, kt., RN, and had issue two sons and four daughters; died 22 February 1925; will proved 16 April 1925;
(7) Robert Denman Baillie (1850-70), born 27 February and baptised at Trinity Church, St. Marylebone (Middx), 3 April 1850; died unmarried, 30 December 1870 and was buried at Kensal Green Cemetery, 7 January 1871;
(8) Henrietta Clara Marion Baillie (1853-78), baptised at Ryde (IoW), 15 September 1853; married, 30 June 1874 at All Saints, Paddington (Middx), as his second wife, Rev. James Maconechy, vicar of that church, and had issue three daughters; died 1 December 1878.
He inherited the Duntisbourne House estate from his father in 1823, and also had rooms in the Albany, a house in London, and another in Tunbridge Wells (and later in Cheltenham). He inherited Bolton House, Hampstead from his aunt in 1861. At his death his property passed to his surviving son, and then his elder surviving daughter.
He died 24 December 1894, aged 97; his will was proved 16 February 1895 (effects £85,880). His wife was buried at Kensal Green Cemetery, 10 February 1857.

Baillie, Helen Mary Henrietta Hunter (1843-1929). Second, but eldest surviving, daughter of William Hunter Baillie (1797-1894) and his wife Henrietta, daughter of Rev. Dr. Duff of St. Andrews (Fife), born 26 May and baptised at Richmond (Surrey), 12 July 1843. As a young woman she became interested in the Anglo-Catholic revival and attended All Saints, Margaret St., London. She became friends with Emily Ayckbowm, the foundress of the Sisters of the Church, and spent much of her life living with this sisterhood. She travelled widely in Europe and visited the Rt Rev. George Blyth, Bishop of Jerusalem, in the Holy Land. She was also interested in many charities and good causes in London and at Duntisbourne, and worked for women's suffrage. After her married younger sister died in 1882, her daughters spent most of their time with Miss Baillie. She was unmarried and without issue.
She inherited the Duntisbourne House estate and Bolton House, Hampstead from her elder brother in 1895. She let Duntisbourne House and moved to Well Hill House in the parish; in 1906 she sold the freehold to the sitting tenant.
She died 11 February 1929; her will was proved 28 March 1929 (estate £48,218).


Burke's Landed Gentry, 1898, i, p. 55; J. Brewer, Delineations of Gloucestershire, 1825-27, p. 155; A. Carver, The story of Duntisbourne Abbots, 1972; N.W. Kingsley, The country houses of Gloucestershire, vol. 2, 1660-1830, 1992, p. 282; D. Verey & A. Brooks, The buildings of England: Gloucestershire - The Cotswolds, 3rd edn., 1999, p. 330; J.B. Slagle, Joanna Baillie: a literary life, 2002.

Location of archives

Baillie, Matthew (1761-1823): medical papers [Royal College of Physicians of London, MSS.100-103]; travel journal and lecture notes, 1788-99 [Royal College of Surgeons of England, MS 0014]; family papers and historical notes [Wellcome Library, MSS 5613-24]; papers re treatment of King George III [Lambeth Palace Library MSS 2107-08]

Coat of arms

None recorded.

Revision and acknowledgements

This post was first published 15 February 2018 and updated 3 March and 11 September 2018. I am most grateful for the assistance of the late Lord Richardson with this account, and to Ian McKellar for an additional note.

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