Tuesday, 27 November 2018

(354) Balme (later Wheatley-Balme and Jones-Balme) of Cote Wall and High Close

The founder of this family was Abraham Balme (1706-96), who came from a family of yeomen farmers at Thornhill (Yorks WR). Through energy, enterprise and judicious marriages, however, he accumulated significant wealth and a substantial land holding. He was steward to Thomas Pigott of Bowling Hall, Bradford for some years, and he seems to have used the connections this position gave him with local farmers and landowners to buy up the mineral rights on his own account and commence working the coal seams in the area, although his workings remained small-scale by comparison with later initiatives. He also diversified into investments in canals, turnpike roads and enclosures. His first wife, who died young in 1743, brought him landed property at Hopton which probably included the site of Cote Wall, where there seems to have been a farmhouse before the present villa was built c.1830. In about 1753 he married again, choosing as his bride the widow of his first wife's brother. He had one son by each marriage, but seems to have fallen out with his elder son, Abraham Balme (1740-1814), since he bequeathed his property to his younger son, the Rev. Edward Balme (1754-1822), who was vicar of Finchingfield in Essex. The younger Abraham has sometimes been identified with a Bradford stuff manufacturer of the same name who was a near contemporary, but I doubt this is right since the two men had children baptised respectively in Thornhill (Yorks WR) and Bradford (Yorks WR) whose names and dates of birth overlap slightly. I suspect that the man we are concerned with here actually lived at Thornhill and managed the property of his half-brother.

When the Rev. Edward Balme died without issue in 1822, he bequeathed his estates to the children of his half-brother. The principal beneficiary was Abraham's eldest daughter, Mary Balme (1776-1855), who was married to Thomas Wheatley of Hopton. It seems probable that it was they who fixed on Cote Wall as their residence and built the present house in the late 1820s or early 1830s; they were certainly resident by 1833. Thomas and Mary Wheatley married in 1798, and must have despaired of producing a son long before one was eventually born in 1819, when Mary was forty-three. Edward Balme Wheatley (1819-96) was educated as a gentleman at Rugby, Cambridge and Lincoln's Inn, and inherited his family property from his father in 1849 and his mother in 1855. He was described as one of the richest men in the West Riding and when he died he left a fortune of over a quarter of a million pounds, but it is a bit of a mystery why he was so rich. Perhaps the combination of the Wheatley and Balme inheritances (he took the name Wheatley-Balme in 1857) was sufficient because of the profitability of coal revenues and transport undertakings. I can find no evidence that he had any active of involvement in manufacturing industry, and he seems to have lived as a gentleman, since he devoted a lot of time to his duties as a magistrate, putting his legal qualifications to use as one of the co-chairmen of the West Riding Quarter Sessions and taking an active interest in the treatment of prisoners. He was also a philanthropist, and particularly supported the new diocese of Wakefield, as well as building churches and schools in the West Riding and Westmorland. His connection with Westmorland began in 1857, when he bought a 500-acre estate, near Rydal in the heart of the Lake District, called High Close, and extended an old 17th century farmhouse there to make what was probably intended at first as a holiday home. Having found he loved the area and wanted to spend more time there, he enlarged the house again in 1866, creating the present unusual building which combines solidly comfortable interiors with the picturesque whimsy of a sinuous verandah following the plane of the external walls. 

Although Edward Balme Wheatley-Balme married in 1861, his wife was nine years his senior and well past childbearing age. To supply the want of an heir, he had already adopted his first cousin once removed (the granddaughter of his mother's sister), Hannah Wraith (1839-1901), when she was orphaned in 1851. Hannah grew up at Cote Wall and High Close, and in 1865 she married her adoptive father's agent at Rydal, Frank Maude Taylor Jones (1834-1911), who seems himself to have been a distant relation. His role as agent meant that they lived full-time in the Lake District, and when they succeeded Edward Wheatley-Balme in 1896 (taking the name Jones-Balme in 1897) they decided to live at High Close and let Cote Wall. Frank Jones-Balme became one of the leading citizens of the area, and played a significant role in the development of Ambleside from a small village into a bustling town catering for the growing tourist trade. When he died in 1911, the High Close estate passed to his surviving son, Frank Edward Thorp Jones-Balme (1869-1951), who was the last private owner of High Close, and who sold Cote Wall in 1920. When he died, he left a widow Maud (1876-1967) and a daughter Edith (1909-92), and his will requested that his wife would keep and look after his flock of prize Herdwick sheep. Sadly, however, this request was frustrated by the taxes owing on his death, which obliged his widow to hand over the estate - lock, stock and sheep - to the Treasury in lieu of payment, and the property was subsequently transferred to the National Trust through the National Land Fund. The Trust's interest was primarily in the estate, which was a significant addition to its portfolio of protected Lakeland landscapes. They needed, however, to find a use for High Close house, and it has been leased to the Youth Hostels Association since the 1950s.

Cote Wall, Hopton, Mirfield, Yorkshire (WR)

Cote Wall: entrance front

A handsome two-storey three-bay house of about 1830, with a central Tuscan doorway and a single-storey bow window on the right-hand return wall. It was probably built for Thomas Wheatley (d. 1849), who was resident by 1833. At the rear are less formal and possibly earlier buildings. In 1914 the house contained four reception rooms as well as the entrance hall and a billiard room, and six principal bedrooms. The house was leased after 1896 and sold in 1920 to the sitting tenant, and has changed hands several times since.

Descent: Thomas Wheatley (d. 1849); to son, Edward Balme Wheatley (later Wheatley-Balme) (1819-96); to adopted daughter, Hannah (1839-1901), wife of Frank Maude Taylor Jones (later Jones-Balme) (1834-1911); to son, Frank Edward Thorpe Jones-Balme (1869-1951); sold 1920 to the tenant, Frank Percy Mitchell (fl. 1945), solicitor;...Leslie Sadler (d. 1955); ... David Crossland (fl. 2018).

High Close, Loughrigg, Westmorland

High Close, Loughrigg: the house built in 1866 for E.B. Wheatley-Balme.

The original house on this site was a two storey, three-bay 17th century farmhouse typical of the Lake District, which is still identifiable as part of the east front. This had been extended to the north-west and south-west by the Benson and Law families, who owned it until the early 19th century. It was acquired by E.B. Wheatley-Balme in 1857. He enlarged it to the designs of John Cory of Carlisle, building what is now known as the Pink Cottage at the north-west end, and then further extended the house to make it a permanent gentry residence in 1866. His architect was again Cory & Ferguson of Carlisle, who built new ranges to the south and west, creating a rambling house around a narrow courtyard. The irregular garden front has a veranda carried on a tunnel-vaulted basement that offers views over Windermere. Inside, the house has a double-height hall with a baronial fireplace and a staircase carried up one long wall on brackets. The main reception rooms have complex shapes and good fireplaces, but lack any plasterwork decoration. When the house and 535-acre estate (which stretched from Elterwater to Grasmere) was acquired by the National Trust the house was 'not valued' for its architecture and was deemed too big (it had eighteen bedrooms) for a private tenant. It did, however, have a superb location, and a very suitable use was found for it as a Youth Hostel, a purpose which it continues to serve.

Descent: sold 1792 to George Law (1736-1802) of Brathay Hall; to brother Henry Law (d. 1830); to nephew, John Law Beetham, who sold after 1843 to James Greenwood; to son, who sold 1857 to Edward Balme Wheatley-Balme (1819-96); to adopted daughter, Hannah (1839-1901), wife of Frank Maude Taylor Jones (later Jones-Balme) (1834-1911); to son, Frank Edward Thorpe Jones-Balme (1869-1951); made over to Treasury in lieu of death duties and presented by National Land Fund to National Trust, which has leased it to the Youth Hostels Association since the 1950s.

Balme (later Wheatley-Balme and Jones-Balme) family of Cote Wall and High Close

Balme, Abraham (1706-96). The son of John Balme, a yeoman farmer from Thornton (Yorks WR), and his wife Anna Stead, born 1706. He was 'a man of great enterprise', who amassed a substantial landholding in West Bowling and the town of Bradford; he was also steward to Thomas Pigott of Bowling Hall. He leased the mineral rights to several farms around Bowling, and began the mining of coal in that area. He was also instrumental in obtaining several enclosure and turnpike acts, and acted as a scrivener, land valuer and agent for a range of landowners in the area. He acquired on behalf of the company most of the land needed for the construction of a canal to link Bradford to the Leeds and Liverpool Canal. He married 1st, 14 September 1739 at Knaresborough (Yorks WR), Mary (d. 1743), youngest daughter and co-heiress of Samuel Thorp of Hopton (Yorks WR), and 2nd, c.1753, Mary (d. 1787), daughter of Rev. Edward Rishton, vicar of Almondbury (Yorks WR) and widow of Richard Thorp of Hopton, the brother of his first wife. He had issue:
(1.1) Abraham Balme (1740-1814) (q.v.);
(2.1) Rev. Edward Balme (1754-1822), baptised at Bradford, 25 January 1754; educated at Bradford, Trinity and Magdalene Colleges, Cambridge (matriculated 1771; BA 1775; MA 1778) and Middle Temple (admitted 1775; called to bar, 1779); ordained deacon and priest, 1781; Fellow of Magdalene College, Cambridge, c.1776-82 and vicar of Finchingfield (Essex), 1782-1810; Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, 1794 and of the Royal Society, 1802; amassed a valuable library which was sold by auction after his death; died unmarried in London, 1 December 1822.
He inherited the property of his first wife's father at Hopton (Yorks WR) and accumulated an estate at Bowling and Bradford which laid the foundations for his descendants' prosperity.
He died in Bradford, 4 February 1796, and was buried at Bowling, where he is commemorated by a monument designed by John Flaxman. His first wife was buried at Bradford, 8 May 1743. His second wife died 24 November and was buried at Bradford Independent Chapel, 27 November 1787.

Balme, Abraham (1740-1814). Only son of Abraham Balme (1706-96) of Bowling Hall, Bradford (Yorks WR) and his first wife, Mary, daughter of Samuel Thorp of Hopton (Yorks WR), born at Bradford (Yorks WR), 1740. He is said to have displeased his father, who disinherited him in favour of his younger half-brother. He married, 16 April 1775 at Mirfield, Mary Thornton, and had issue:
(1) Mary Balme (1776-1855) (q.v.);
(2) Sarah Balme (1779-1811) (q.v.);
(3) Hannah Balme (1780-86), baptised at Thornhill, 16 October 1780; died young and was buried at Mirfield, 20 April 1786;
(4) Elizabeth Balme (b. 1782), baptised at Thornhill, 9 May 1782; died unmarried;
(5) Isabella Balme (1783-86), baptised at Thornhill, 16 November 1783; died young and was buried at Mirfield, 25 April 1786;
(6) Abraham Balme (1786-92), baptised at Thornhill, 19 February 1786; died young and was buried at Mirfield, 4 December 1792.
He lived at Briestfield in Thornhill.
He was buried at Mirfield, 22 April 1814. His wife's date of death is unknown.

Balme, Mary (1776-1855). Eldest daughter of Abraham Balme (1740-1814) and his wife Mary Thornton, baptised at Mirfield, 31 October 1776. She married, 25 September 1798 at Mirfield, Thomas Wheatley JP (1773-1849), son of John Wheatley (d. 1812) of New Hall, Hopton, and had issue:
(1) Sarah Wheatley (b. 1799), baptised at Mirfield, 21 August 1799; died young before 1811;
(2) Mary Wheatley (1802-85), baptised at Mirfield, 14 February 1802; married, 31 October 1827 at Mirfield, John Hague JP (c.1790-1867) of Crow Nest, Dewsbury (Yorks WR); died 14 December and buried at Dewsbury Moor, 22 December 1885; will proved 29 January 1886 (effects £123,613);
(3) Sarah Wheatley (b. & d. 1811), baptised at Mirfield, 21 October 1811; died in infancy and was buried 27 October 1811;
(4) Elizabeth Wheatley (1809-46), baptised at Mirfield, 30 July 1809; died unmarried, 3 February 1846;
(5) Jane Wheatley (1814-80), born 5 June and baptised at Mirfield, 14 June 1814 and again 22 January 1827; lived with her brother; died unmarried, 11 August 1880;
(6) Edward Balme Wheatley (later Wheatley-Balme) (1819-96) (q.v.).
She inherited her uncle's property at Hopton in 1822, and she and her husband rebuilt Cote Wall in about 1830.
She died 30 January 1855. Her husband died 11 October 1849.

Wheatley (later Wheatley-Balme), Edward Balme (1819-96). Son of Thomas Wheatley JP (c.1773-1849) and his wife Mary, daughter of Abraham Balme of Hopton, born 10 May and baptised 14 May 1819. Educated at Rugby School, Trinity and Downing Colleges, Cambridge (matriculated 1837; BA 1841; MA 1844) and Lincolns Inn (admitted 1850). He took the additional name of Balme by royal licence , 20 March 1857. He was one of the richest men in the Yorkshire woollen district, and was an active churchman; he made many gifts to local churches around Mirfield and Ambleside; he was also a major donor to the establishment of the new diocese of Wakefield. He was JP (from 1843) and DL for West Riding of Yorkshire; JP (from 1865) for Westmorland and High Sheriff of Westmorland, 1876. He became one of the co-Chairmen of West Riding Quarter Sessions, and published a number of pamphlets on the treatment of offenders in the prison system. He married, 5 June 1861 at Charlton (Kent), Hannah (d. 1889), youngest daughter of Francis Maude of Hatfield Hall and Alverthorpe Hall, Wakefield (Yorks WR), but had no issue; he adopted as his heir his orphaned first cousin once removed, Hannah Wraith (later Jones and Jones-Balme).
He inherited Cote Wall from his father in 1849 and in 1857 purchased High Close, which he remodelled in 1857-66. At his death his property passed to his adopted daughter and her husband, Frank Maude Taylor Jones (later Jones-Balme).
He died at High Close, 27 November, and was buried at Mirfield, 2 December 1896; his will was proved 24 April 1897 (effects £269,343). His wife died 21 October 1889 and was also buried at Mirfield; her will was proved 2 December 1889 (estate £21,660).

Balme, Sarah (1779-1811). Second daughter of Abraham Balme (1740-1814) and his wife Mary Thornton, baptised at Thornhill (Yorks WR), 21 February 1779. She married, 26 September 1799 at Thornhill, James Wraith (1767-1818), son of John Wraith of Thornhill, and had issue:
(1) Abraham Balme Wraith (1799-1839), baptised 1 January 1800; died without issue and was buried at Mirfield, 23 September 1839;
(2) Edward Wraith (1801-22), born 13 February and baptised at Thornhill, 21 March 1801; died unmarried and was buried at Mirfield, 12 April 1822;
(3) William Wraith (1810-51) (q.v.).
She was buried at Mirfield, 27 April 1811. Her husband was buried at Thornhill, 14 June 1818; his will was proved in the PCY, October 1818.

Wraith, William (1810-51). Son of James Wraith (1767-1818) and his wife Sarah, daughter of Abraham Balme of Hopton (Yorks WR), baptised at Thornhill (Yorks WR), 23 April 1810. Gentleman. He married, 30 April 1834 at Mirfield (Yorks WR), Hannah (d. 1839), daughter of Benjamin Oates and had issue:
(1) Sarah Eleanor Wraith (1837-47), baptised at Mirfield, 22 January 1837; died young and was buried at Mirfield, 12 January 1847;
(2) Hannah Wraith (1839-1901) (q.v.).
He died 18 March 1851; his will was proved in the PCY, February 1852 (effects under £7,000). His wife died in childbirth and was buried at Mirfield, 11 January 1839.

Wraith, Hannah (1839-1901). Daughter of William Wraith (1810-51) of Hopton and his wife Hannah, daughter of Benjamin Oates, born in January 1839. Educated at Miss Parker's Academy, Doncaster. After the death of her father, she was adopted as his heir by Edward Balme Wheatley-Balme. She married, 10 August 1865 at Whitley Lower (Yorks WR), Frank Maude Taylor Jones JP (1834-1911), agent to her adopted father, and they took the name Jones-Balme in 1897. Her husband was Chairman of the Ambleside Local Board, a County Councillor for Westmorland, and High Sheriff of the county in 1899. They had issue:
(1) Mary Frances Jones-Balme (1867-1935), born 25 June and baptised at Langdale, 21 July 1867; she was said to be 'of a retiring disposition'; married, 15 April 1890, Rev. Guy Landon (1865-1947), vicar of Alverstoke (Hants) and canon of Portsmouth Cathedral, son of Rev. Edward Henry Landon, and had issue two daughters; died 10 February 1935 and was buried in St Peter's Cemetery, Portsmouth;
(2) Frank Edward Thorp Jones-Balme (1869-1951) (q.v.);
(3) William Wheatley Jones-Balme (1881-1904), born 14 April 1881; died unmarried following an operation for appendicitis, 28 June 1904; administration of his goods was granted to his father, 12 September 1904 (estate £2,935).
She and her husband inherited the Cote Wall and High Close estates in 1896 from her adopted father and first cousin once removed, Edward Balme Wheatley-Balme.
She died in London, 2 March 1901 and was buried at Chapel Stile (Cumbria). Her husband died 13 November 1911 and was also buried at Chapel Stile; his will was proved 8 February 1912 (estate £29,268).

Jones (later Jones-Balme), Frank Edward Thorp (1869-1951). Elder son of Frank Maude Taylor Jones (later Jones-Balme) and his wife Hannah, daughter of William Wraith of Hopton (Yorks WR), born 23 April 1869. Educated at Eton and Magdalen College, Oxford (matriculated 1889; BA 1892; MA 1895). An officer in 4th Battn, Border Regt. (Lt.), 1904-18. Captain and Treasurer of the Ambleside Cricket Club. He married, 24 October 1908 at Holy Trinity, Langdale (Westmld), Maud (1876-1967), only daughter of John James Astley of Elterwater (Westmld), manager of the Elterwater Gunpowder Co., and had issue:
(1) Edith Mary Jones-Balme (1909-92), born 7 August 1909; served in Second World War with Red Cross as a nurse; married, 1964, as his second wife, James W. Winder (1907-85), but had no issue; died 9 August 1992; will proved 28 October 1992 (estate £691,081);
(2) Constance Maud Jones-Balme (1912-20), born 12 May 1912; died young, 28 August 1920; administration of her goods granted to her father, 27 May 1921 (estate £202).
He inherited the 535 acre High Close estate from his father in 1911 and lived there until his death, after which it was made over to the Treasury in lieu of death duties and transferred to the National Trust through the National Land Fund. His widow lived in retirement at Elterwater and later at Ambleside.
He died 6 November 1951 and was buried at Chapel Stile (Cumbria); his will was proved 17 December 1951 and 20 August 1952 (estate £70,938). His widow died aged 91 on 25 December 1967; her will was proved 1 March 1968 (estate £22,251).


Burke's Landed Gentry, 1952, pp. 99-100; W. Cudworth, Histories of Bolton and Bowling, 1891, pp. 285-93; M. Hyde & Sir N. Pevsner, The buildings of England: Cumbria, 2010, p. 488;  https://heritagerecords.nationaltrust.org.uk/HBSMR/MonRecord.aspx?uid=MNA119145

Location of archives

No significant archive is known to survive.

Coat of arms

Wheatley-Balme of Cote Wall and High Close: Ermine, on a chief indented sable, two trefoils slipped or.

Notes about missing information and help wanted with this entry

  • If anyone knows more about the history of Cote Wall, or about its 20th century owners, I should be very pleased to hear from them.
  • I would be most grateful if anyone can provide additional genealogical or career information about the earlier generations of this family, and in particular if anyone can throw more light on the source of the very considerable wealth which they possessed in the 19th century.
  • If anyone can supply portraits or photographs of people named in bold above for inclusion in this account, I should be very pleased to receive them. 
  • Other additions or corrections to the account given above will be gratefully received and incorporated.

Revision and acknowledgements

This post was first published 27 November 2018.


  1. Sir,
    Frank Percy Mitchell appears to be he b. 1877 (s. of Joshua Mitchell [b. 1836], of West Park Street, Dewsbury, Yorkshire, 'cashier to woollen manufactory co.' according to the 1881 census, by his wife [m. 1860] Sarah Jane [née Crowther]), d. 1970 (according to his probate record, at 101, Birkby Hall Road), Huddersfield. An Edith Lizzie Mitchell 'of Cote Wall, Mirfield, Yorkshire (as per her probate record) d. 1941; marriage records show the two married in 1901. Additionally, Edith's probate record gives her husband as 'Frank Percy Mitchell, woollen manufacturer'; he is listed as one of two directors of such a company in 'The Wool Record and Textile World' vol. 17 (1920).

    Leslie Sadler d. aet. 68, so was b. c. 1887 [according to the census and other records, it seems to be he born 1885 at Carlisle, Cumberland, s. of Frank William Sadler (b. 1857), according to the 1891 census a 'public elementary school' master, and [m. 1884] Emma (née Sewell); by 1911 Leslie was a secondary-school master, which profession he presumably always followed]; his probate record mentions widow Elsie Causier Sadler and 'Frank William Noel Sadler of no occupation' (possibly their son; I couldn't locate a birth record, but there is a 1992 Dewsbury, Yorkshire death record for 'Frank William N. Sadler' b. 1915, and no other possibilities amongst UK records; I unfortunately couldn't find a probate record for further details). There is a 1912 marriage record for Leslie Sadler and Elsie C. Bridge, which seems to refer to these individuals.

    Might not the common relationship to Dewsbury and the name 'Frank' (both possibly coincidental, admittedly) perhaps indicate some kind of relationship between these two families?

    Forgive the length of this comment!

    1. First of all, my apologies for the delay in publishing this comment, which was due to a software glitch than meant I wasn't aware you had submitted it until today. I am most grateful to you for the additional research on Mitchell and Sadler. I don't immediately see what the connection you postulate would be, and I think it more likely that they were linked only by the sale of Cote Wall, but I stand to be corrected!

  2. Found a reference to Edward Wheatley-Balme on the Selwyn College website https://www.sel.cam.ac.uk/about/selwyn-library/history-selwyn-library
    They received a donation from him (his estate?) in 1896.
    He was instrumental in founding a boys reformatory in 1855, rented one of his farms and managed the home http://www.childrenshomes.org.uk/MirfieldRfy/
    Cote Wall is divided into luxury apartments. Hope this is of interest.

  3. Hi Nick,

    Re Abraham Balme 1706-96
    The plaque you mention by Flaxman is in Bradford Cathedral a nice you tube video that the cathedral produced during lockdown shows it off;


    Balme lived within a stones throw of the Cathedral (previously the Parish Church) in a house he had built to keep an eye on the goings on in the now long gone canal basin. As the Bradford Canal was proposed in 1771 I’m guessing that he had this house built around this time which is around the date of Thomas Pigott’s death of Bolling Hall whom Balme was Land Steward for.
    The house still stands and is in a bit of a sorry state. Most Bradford people remember it as the Ring O Bells pub. It’s just by Balme Street named after Abraham.


    You touched on his involvement in the Leeds Liverpool Canal there are some old documents on the internet from the House of Commons dated 27th February 1770 where he along with John Hustler went to the House of Commons. These documents suggest that he took the proposal for the first cutting of the Leeds Liverpool Canal which they along with other Bradford entrepreneurs had surveyed, costed and raised initial funds for.
    Abraham is stated as saying that £160,000 had already been raised and that there wouldn’t be problems with raising additional money. I think shares in this canal and the subsequent short Bradford canal contributed to family wealth.
    One of his main interest was getting a canal link from the limestone quarries at Gargrave, Skipton to Bradford for his interests in Lime where the lime kilns were located near the canal basin where his house overlooked. Bradford had large ironworks which needed lime also the limestone for building. Along with lime,stone and coal also his aunt Mary Hodgeson was a landowner and leased land with substantial mills on them at Hewenden (close to Thornton) She was the main contributor to the Bradford canal she put in £1000 and Balme the second main investor put in £600.
    I don’t think he was one to miss a trick! He is quoted in local Bradford history books as apparently he wrote a diary on the building of the canal, I’ve not seen it I think it’s in a public achieve (possibly Wakefield) Not sure if this link to House of Commons document will work;


    I’ve seen several references that the Balme family previously to coming to Thornton, Bradford are believed to be of French Huguenot stock and would be very interested to here if you’ve heard or seen evidence of this?

    All the best

    1. Many thanks for these various references, which I am sure people will find interesting. I have not heard Huguenot origins suggest for the family, but I think it is credible, as the name doesn't sound very English.


Please leave a comment if you have any additional information or corrections to offer, or if you are able to help with additional images of the people or buildings in this post.