Sunday 27 January 2019

(361) Banks of Beck House and Revesby Abbey, baronets

Banks of Revesby Abbey
The Banks family were yeomen farmers at Giggleswick in Yorkshire until Robert Banks (1572-1616) became an attorney (probably in the growing town of Settle, which stood in the parish) and married the daughter of the Earl of Cumberland's tenant at Beck House. Having inherited the lease on this property, he bought the freehold from the Earl in 1615, and the family settled there until 1688. Banks was one of the most common surnames in the large and populous parish of Giggleswick, which makes it rather difficult to disentangle the different Banks families from one another, but it looks as though Robert had ten children. He was succeeded by his son Luke, who was probably the man of this name buried in 1621, and whose infant son died just a few months later. As a result, Beck House passed to his daughter Anne, who later became the first wife of Roger Pepys MP of Impingham (Cambs), a cousin of  the diarist, Samuel Pepys. She died in 1641, and since the couple had no children, Beck House passed back to her uncle, Robert Banks (b. 1603). He is a shadowy figure, and was perhaps a lawyer like his father (though he may also be the man of that name who was a captain in the Duke of Newcastle's regiment in the Civil War). We do not know when he died, except that this was before 1688, when his son, Robert Banks (1630-1711), sold the Beck House estate for £700 and moved to Levens in Westmorland. In about 1649 the younger Robert married Margaret Frankland, who was the sister of Rev. Richard Frankland, an ejected minister who founded a dissenting academy at Rathmell, his family home in Giggleswick. Robert and Margaret produced four sons, of whom two survived to adulthood, but soon after they moved to Westmorland they separated and she returned to Giggleswick to live with her brother. Of the two surviving sons, the elder, the Rev. Robert Banks (1650-1714) went to Cambridge and became a clergyman, ending his days as vicar of Holy Trinity, Hull and a prebendary of York Minster, while the younger, Joseph Banks (1665-1727) was articled to an attorney at Sheffield.

This account of the family differs in a number of important respects from that supplied by Joseph Banks in 1719 to the College of Arms, in which he made Robert Banks (1572-1616) a younger son of Henry Banke alias Banks of Bank Newton (Yorks) and ascribed clerical orders to both Robert (b. 1603) and Robert (1630-1711). Joseph's purpose in this piece of falsification was gain the heralds' endorsement of his use of the coat of arms of the Bank Newton family (which he achieved), and at the same time to give himself a pedigree of respectable antiquity. This mattered because Joseph himself had undoubtedly risen into the landed gentry. After training as an attorney in Sheffield, he had quickly become very successful, taking over several of the public roles and private clients of his master. He came to be agent to the Yorkshire, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire estates of the Dukes of Leeds, Norfolk, and Newcastle, and he had the reputation of being a loyal and effective attorney, but one who expected to be well paid for his services. Before the 1690s were over he had bought an estate at Scofton near Worksop in Nottinghamshire, where he made his home, and he followed this with further land in Lincolnshire, Essex and Staffordshire. He became an MP in 1715, and acquired a town house in London, and in 1711 he bought the Revesby Abbey estate in Lincolnshire for his son, Joseph Banks (1695-1741). The younger Joseph made alterations to Revesby in 1716-18, very much under his father's direction, and in 1727 further work was apparently underway, as Joseph senior met his end falling through a ceiling while inspecting work on a new room for the house. He survived the fall, but died later from an infection in the cuts he received.

After thus unexpectedly inheriting his father's property, Joseph Banks (d. 1741) continued to follow his father's wishes, building a set of ten almshouses and rebuilding the parish church as his father had intended, but not lived to do. But it would seem he never felt Revesby was his. Although he had lived there while his father was alive, he acquired town houses in Lincoln and London in the late 1720s (he was an MP, 1728-34), and from 1731 rented a house called Quickswood in Hertfordshire. In 1734 he bought a house at Ancaster (Lincs) which became his principal home. In 1714, he married Anne Hodgkinson, whose father William owned the manor of Overton in Derbyshire. When William Hodgkinson died in 1727 he left Overton to Joseph Banks' second son, William Banks (1719-61), whose elder brother Joseph was heir to Revesby, on condition that William took the name Hodgkinson, which he did in 1733. But the younger Joseph Banks predeceased his father, making William Banks Hodgkinson the heir to Revesby as well, and after some legal manoeuvring, William handed on Overton to his younger brother, Robert (1722-92), ensuring that the two estates remained separate. Robert took the name Hodgkinson in 1743, and at the same time, William reverted to Banks only.

William Banks (1719-61) refurnished Revesby Abbey in 1743 and settled there, but in 1745 he contracted a fever which deprived him of the use of his lower limbs for the rest of his life (apart from a short and mysterious period of six months in 1752 when the paralysis disappeared, only to return). He was obliged to give up his parliamentary career (he was a Tory, unlike his father and grandfather), but he remained very active on his estates, and he became one of the leading figures in the campaign to drain Holland Fen. When he died in 1761, his only son and heir, Joseph, was just 18, and a student at Oxford. The Rt. Hon. Sir Joseph Banks (1743-1820), 1st bt., as he became, had little interest in the classical curriculum but was fascinated by natural history and by botany in particular. When his father died and left him master of his own fate and fortune, he abandoned the classics and took up the study of botany full-time. Finding that the Oxford professor of botany gave no lectures, he obtained the leave of the University authorities to import a lecturer from Cambridge  - at his own expense - to tutor him and some like-minded friends. He stayed in Oxford until about 1764 and then moved to London, perhaps at first staying with his mother in Chelsea (where the Physick Garden was conveniently located). He studied with Dr. Solander of the British Museum, who had been a pupil of Linnaeus, and corresponded with Linnaeus himself. Having mastered the classification of plants, he began a series of voyages to little-visited corners of the world in search of new species, most famously accompanying Capt. Cook on his voyage round the world in 1768-71. On his return, he was introduced to King George III and his family, to whom he became an unofficial scientific advisor and friend, and a few years later he became President of the Royal Society, a post which he held for over forty years and which gave him influence with Government and the scientific establishment. He eschewed party politics, but became an influential member of the privy council, and the Government's go-to man on anything with a scientific dimension, from the design of the first national census in 1801 to selecting new cash crops for growing in the colonies. In 1779, he acquired Spring Grove at Isleworth (Middx), a house located close to the royal family's main homes at Kew (where he was effectively Director of the botanic gardens) and Windsor Castle. He spent much of his time there and at his town house in Soho Square, London, but he continued to go to Revesby every autumn for the harvest and to play his part in Lincolnshire county society. He and his wife, Dorothea, had no children, and when he died in 1820 he left her Spring Grove absolutely, and the rest of his property for life. Dorothea died in 1828, and bequeathed Spring Grove to her Knatchbull-Hugessen relatives, who promptly sold it. Revesby and his other lands in Lincolnshire were divided between his distant cousins, James Banks Stanhope (1821-1904), who received Revesby itself, and Sir Henry Hawley (d. 1831), 2nd bt. The subsequent owners will be considered in future posts on those families.

Beck House, Giggleswick, Yorkshire

Beck House, Giggleswick: the house in 1946. Image: Historic England.

A village house rather than a country house, set at the west end of the main street, at right-angles to the road, and now used as a girls' boarding house for Giggleswick School. Very little is known about the house on this site occupied by the Banks family, which was assessed for the Hearth Tax on six hearths, and which was then known as Beck Hall. In its current form the house dates from the early 18th century, and was presumably built a generation or two after the house was sold by Robert Banks and his son in 1688: unfortunately the identity of the builder is unknown. The house has a double pile plan, and a seven bay main front, facing east, with a projecting and taller three-bay centre with an attic that has both a heavy segmental pediment (containing a window flanked by two oculi) and a low-pitched gable. The two-storey sections either side of the centre have hipped lean-to roofs, and all the windows have architraves, to which the those in the centre add pediments - segmental on the ground floor and triangular above. The angles are defined by quoins. The effect is rather crowded but undeniably appealing. The rainwater heads are dated 1787 and have the initials TB, for Thomas Backhouse, who bought the property in that year. At the rear is a very long window lighting the staircase. The south wing to the left was added in 1926, when the house became part of the school. Inside, some early 18th century fireplaces are preserved, including a massive one in the kitchen. The main staircase was replaced in the early 19th century, but the back stairs seem to be original, with turned balusters.

Descent: Joseph Creyke; to daughter Anne, wife of Robert Banks (1572-1616); to son, Lewis Banks (1598-1621?); to daughter Anne (1618-41), later wife of Roger Pepys; to uncle, Robert Banks (b. 1603); to son, Robert Banks (1630-1711), who sold 1688... William Dawson; sold 1743 to Charles Nowell (d. 1750)...sold 1755 to Josias Morley... Christopher Pickard; sold 1778 to Roger Pickering; sold 1787 to Thomas Backhouse, a Liverpool merchant; to widow, who sold 1818, perhaps to George Woods (d. 1870); sold before 1840 to Mrs Ann Clayton; to daughters, Misses Clayton (fl. 1870); sold before 1887 to Mrs. Golland; sold c.1905 to Capt. William Thompson (d. 1925); sold c.1926 to Giggleswick School.

Revesby Abbey, Lincolnshire

Revesby Abbey began as a Cistercian monastery, founded in 1143 by William de Roumare, Earl of Lincoln, and dissolved in about 1539. The site was quickly granted by the Crown to Charles Brandon (c.1484-1545), 1st Duke of Suffolk, who had been the second husband of Princess Mary, King Henry VIII's sister, and changed hands rapidly over the next few decades, but the monastic buildings were at some point converted into a country house, as happened in so many places. No record is known of what the house looked like at this time.

In 1663, on the death of the Hon. Henry Howard, the estate passed to his son, Craven Howard MP (d. 1700), who built a new house on a different site to its predecessor and presumably cleared the remains of the old house and the monastery at the same time. It seems likely that the new building was constructed before 1683, for after Howard married for a second time in that year he inherited Elford Hall (Staffs) in right of his wife, and that became his principal seat. In 1711, Revesby was sold to Joseph Banks (1665-1727), who bought it for his son and namesake, who had just come of age. Joseph Banks II (1690?-1741) made additions and alterations to the designs of John Sherlock of Boston in 1716-18, apparently under his father's direction, and either he or his son, William Banks (1719-61) is said to have landscaped the grounds in the mid 18th century, leaving the house as it is shown in the earliest known illustration. However John Byng, Viscount Torrington, visiting in 1791 when the house was owned by Sir Joseph Banks, was not impressed, writing that:
'The park is flat, dismal and unimproved; the house mean and uncomfortable, with a horse-pond in front, with no gardens or comfort., but when a man sets himself up for a wild eccentric character and (having a great estate with the comforts of England at command) can voyage to Otaheite and can reside in a corner house in Soho Square, of course his country seat will be a filthy and neglected spot.'"

Revesby Abbey: the 17th and 18th century house, as recorded in an engraving published in 1805.

On the death of Sir Joseph Banks, 1st bt., in 1820, the estate passed to his widow, and on her death in 1828, to a fairly distant cousin, James Banks Stanhope, who did not come of age until 1842. The house was then in very poor repair, and a report by the Boston architect, Jeptha Pacey, in 1830 concluded that "any attempt to repair & make the present House & Offices a fit residence for a Gentleman would be a waste of money as from the bad state of the Buildings [and] the ill arrangement of the rooms & offices it would after a large expenditure... be at best very incomplete & inconvenient. I therefore recommend the taking down of the present Buildings & to erect a new comfortable House & suitable Offices in another place as in my opinion the Park affords a much better situation than the present...".

Revesby Abbey: design by William Burn for the new house, 1843. Image: RIBA Collections.

Stanhope obviously agreed, for in 1843, he commissioned the fashionable architect, William Burn, who was much employed in Lincolnshire (e.g. at Harlaxton, 1838-53; Stoke Rochford Hall, 1841; and Rauceby Hall, 1842), to entirely rebuild the house. The whole contents of the Georgian house were auctioned off in 1843, and a demolition sale was held in July 1844, at which sixteen tons of lead from the roof, 120 doors, 66 pairs of sash windows, staircases, flooring and 9,000 feet of wainscoting were sold off, together with marble chimneypieces and hearths, stone pilasters etc. Some of the materials were evidently retained for reuse, as Burn's new house stands on foundations of old red brick which were evidently recycled as Pacey had proposed. The new house is otherwise of stone and has an E-plan entrance front with shaped gables, strapwork crestings, and mixed sub-Renaissance details. In the centre is a big porte-cochère which seems to have been added after the initial designs. 

Revesby Abbey: entrance front in about 1900.

The interior is planned around a central hall, with separate service and family wings, and mixed Jacobethan elements like the hall ceiling with Continental Baroque elements, apparent in the staircase ceiling and the Viennese-style plasterwork. The hall chimneypiece is a Flemish piece dated 1659, and was presumably imported especially for use at Revesby. At the same time as the house was being built, new gardens were laid out by Alexander Roos, who was born in Italy, but whose parentage was German, and who may have been a pupil of Schinkel. He came to England in about 1835, and rapidly made a name for himself as a designer of Italianate houses and gardens; he was probably recommended to Stanhope by Burn, as the two men had previously worked together on commissions in Scotland. Roos peopled the gardens with much 18th century German statuary (now sold off), and a grand screen and gates with urn-topped piers (dated 1848) at the end of the drive.

Revesby Abbey: looking along the terrace of the garden front, c.1900, from an old postcard.
Revesby House: the new house built in the 1960s for Ann Lee. Image: Susan Griffiths.
After the Second World War, the Victorian house at Revesby seemed unmanageably large, and it was abandoned and slid into dereliction. To replace it, a new house was built half a mile to the east in the early 1960s, which is now known as Revesby House. This was still quite a large house, again on an E-plan, with an eleven bay front. The pedimented central bay and the two bays at either end project forward, but the neo-Georgian intentions of the architect were let down by the use of plate glass windows and weak proportions and details. 

In 1977 Ann Lee applied for permission to demolish the old house, which was refused, and in 1983 she advertised it for sale, but did not find a buyer. In 1987 English Heritage exercised their rarely used powers to carry out urgent works and recover the cost from the owner, and as a result, the house was again put on the market, and sold away from the estate. It changed hands a number of times until in 1999 it was bought by the present owners, who have made slow but significant progress with a restoration scheme with the architectural advice of Paul Bradley. The house remains unoccupied, although the owners live nearby, and is used as a venue for 'paranormal experience' tours, and more practically as a venue for stonemasonry workshops, while restoration continues. The estate, shorn of the Victorian house, is now in a flourishing condition.

Descent: Crown granted to Charles Brandon (c.1484-1545), 1st Duke of Suffolk; to John Carsley; to son, Francis Carsley; sold 1575 to William Cecil (1520-98), 1st Baron Burghley; to son, Thomas Cecil (1542-1623), 2nd Baron Burghley and 1st Earl of Exeter; to son, William Cecil (1566-1640), 2nd Earl of Exeter; to daughter, Lady Elizabeth (d. 1672), wife of Thomas Howard (c.1590-1669), 1st Earl of Berkshire; given to son, Hon. Henry Howard (c.1620-63); to son, Craven Howard (c.1649-1700); to son, Henry Bowes Howard (1687-1757), 4th Earl of Berkshire and 11th Earl of Suffolk, who sold in 1711 to Joseph Banks (1665-1727); given to his son, Joseph Banks (1695-1741); to son, William Banks (1719-61); to son, Rt. Hon. Sir Joseph Banks (1743-1820), 1st bt.; to widow, Dorothea Banks (1758-1828) for life and then to first cousin once removed, Hon. James Hamilton Stanhope (1781-1825); to son, James Banks Stanhope (1821-1904); given c.1883 to kinsman, Rt. Hon. Edward Stanhope (1840-93); to widow (d. 1907); to kinsman, Richard Philip Stanhope (d. 1916); to widow, Lady Beryl (d. 1958), later wife of Walter Raleigh Gilbert (d. 1977); to daughter Ann Destine (1918-2006), first wife of Walter Wiggins Wiggins-Davies MRCS (1904-74) and later of Carol William Phippen Lee (1916-71); sold house and gardens but retained the estate, c.1989...sold 1999 to current owners. The estate is now the property of Gavin Julian Raleigh Wiggins-Davies (b. 1952) and his sons Alexander and Peter.

Banks family of Beck House, Giggleswick

Banks, Robert (1572-1616). Younger son of Thomas Banks (d. 1606) of Bankwell in Giggleswick, and his wife Margaret, baptised 18 February 1571/2. Attorney of the Court of Common Pleas at Giggleswick in reigns of Queen Elizabeth and King James I. Trustee of Giggleswick School by 1610. He married, 22 February 1595/6 at Giggleswick, Anne (1577-1633), daughter of Joseph Creyke of Beck Hall, Giggleswick, and had issue:
(1) Margaret Banks (1597-98), baptised at Giggleswick, 8 May 1597; died in infancy and was buried at Giggleswick, 12 March 1597/8;
(2) Luke Banks (1598-1621?) (q.v.); 
(3) Margaret Banks (1601-86), baptised at Giggleswick, 24 May 1601; married, 1 September 1617 at Giggleswick, Ralph Baynes, gent., of Mewith Head, Bentham (Yorks), and had issue; died 1686;
(4) Robert Banks (b. 1603) (q.v.);
(5) Thomas Banks (1604-23), baptised at Giggleswick, 1 January 1604; died unmarried, 5 November and was buried at Giggleswick, 10 November 1623; administration of goods granted to his sister Ann, 19 January 1623/4;
(6) John Banks (b. & d. 1608), baptised at Giggleswick, 1 May 1608; died in infancy and was buried at Giggleswick, 12 June 1608;
(7) Ann Banks (1609-86), baptised at Giggleswick, 3 December 1609; married, 15 July 1631 at Giggleswick, Rev. William Pickering/Puckering (d. 1646), rector of Swillington (Yorks); and had issue;
(8) Judith Banks (b. 1613), baptised at Giggleswick, 4 May 1613;
(9) Joseph Banks (b. 1614), baptised at Giggleswick, 5 November 1614; said to have been a barrister-at-law and one of the six clerks in Chancery, but I have been unable to find any evidence of someone of this name attending the inns of court; said to have died unmarried at Giggleswick;
(10) Mary Banks (1616-18), born posthumously and baptised at Giggleswick, 2 January 1616/7; died in infancy and was buried at Giggleswick, 5 February 1617/8.
He inherited a lease of Beck Hall in right of his wife, and bought the freehold from the Earl of Cumberland in 1615.
He was buried at Giggleswick, 10 December 1616; his will was proved 12 December 1616. His widow was buried at Giggleswick, 20 September 1633; her will was proved in the PCY, 9 April 1635.

Banks, Luke (1598-1621?). Eldest son of Robert Banks (d. 1616) and his wife Anne, daughter of Joseph Creyke of Beck Hall, Giggleswick, baptised 22 January 1598/9. He married and had issue:
(1.1) Anne Banks (1618-41), baptised at Giggleswick, 29 August 1618; married Roger Pepys MP (1617-88) of Middle Temple, London, but died without issue and was buried 16 February 1641;
(1.2) Robert Banks (1620-21), baptised at Giggleswick, 1 July 1620; died in infancy and was buried at Giggleswick, 10 June 1621.
He inherited Beck Hall from his father in 1616. On his death, the estate passed to his daughter, and when she died without issue, to his brother Robert.
He was probably the man of this name buried at Giggleswick, 8 February 1620/1. His wife's date of death is unknown.

Banks, Robert (b. 1603; fl. 1641). Second son of Robert Banks (d. 1616) and his wife Anne, daughter of Joseph Creyke of Beck Hall, Giggleswick, baptised at Giggleswick, 17 December 1603. Lawyer (not a clergyman as some sources state). Possibly to be identified with the 'Mr. Banks, whose father suffered for the Crown, having had a troop of horse in Newcastle's regiment in 1642, and served bravely at the head of it : he was thought to have lost several thousand pounds for his Majesty, and was a gentleman of good esteem in Yorkshire'. He married Anne, daughter of Stephen Pudsey, and had issue:
(1) Robert Banks (1630-1711) (q.v.).
He inherited Beck Hall from his niece in 1641.
He was living in 1641. His wife's date of death is unknown.

Banks, Robert (1630-1711). Only recorded son of Robert Banks (b. 1603) and his wife Anne, daughter of Stephen Pudsey, born at Giggleswick, 27 March 1630. He was not a clergyman as some sources state, and was probably also a lawyer. He married, c.1649 (sep. c.1690), Margaret (1632-1700), daughter of John Frankland of Rathmell and sister of Rev. Richard Frankland, an ejected minister who founded a dissenting academy at Rathmell; they had issue:
(1) Rev. Robert Banks (1650-1714) (q.v.);
(2) John Banks (1653-62), baptised 26 November 1653; died young and was buried 26 June 1662;
(3) Richard Banks (1657-68), baptised 2 March 1656/7; died young and was buried, 17 December 1668;
(2) Joseph Banks (1665-1727) [for whom see below, Banks family of Revesby Abbey].
He inherited Beck Hall from his father but moved to Levens in Westmorland and sold it for £700 in 1688.
He died at the house of his son in Scofton (Notts) and was buried at Worksop (Notts), 27 September 1711. After separating from him, his wife lived with her brother at Rathmell, and was buried at Giggleswick, 5 April 1700.

Banks, Rev. Robert (1650-1714). Elder son of Robert Banks (1630-1711) and his wife Margaret, daughter of John Frankland of Rathmell, born 22 June 1650. Educated at Giggleswick School and Christ's College, Cambridge (matriculated 1667; BA 1670/1; MA 1675). Rector of Thrybergh, 1671-78 and Hooton Roberts, 1678-93; Vicar of Conisborough, 1680-81 and Holy Trinity, Hull, 1689-1715; prebendary of Southwell Minster, 1689-95 and of York Minster, 1695-1715. He was interested in historical matters, and corresponded with Ralph Thoresby about the history of Hull. He married 1st, 10 June 1678, Margaret (d. 1697), daughter of Rev. Robert Thornton, rector of Birkin (Yorks), and 2nd, 21 January 1700 at Wath-upon-Dearne (Yorks WR), Millicent (d. 1730), daughter of Sir Edward Rhodes and widow of Charles Hutton of Poppleton (Yorks), and had issue:
(1.1) Elizabeth Banks (1679-1766), baptised at Birkin, 3 June 1679; married, 18 June 1713 at Hull, Rev. John Wilkinson (d. 1716), vicar of Holy Trinity, Hull, 1715-16, but had no issue; buried at Hull, 3 July 1766;
(1.2) Millicent Banks (b. c. 1681), born about 1681; living in 1695;
(1.3) Robert Banks (b. 1683), baptised at Hooton Roberts, 13 April 1683; attorney at Bawtry (Yorks WR); clerk of the peace for Nottinghamshire; married Jane Wharton and had issue one son (whose two sons both died in infancy);
(1.4) Anne Banks (1684-1759), baptised at Hooton Roberts, 15 April 1684; married, 1709 (licence 31 May), Rev. William Steer (1681-1745), vicar of Ecclesfield (Yorks WR) and prebendary of York, and had issue three sons and six daughters; buried at Wakefield (Yorks WR), 17 May 1759;
(1.5) Thomas Banks (b. & d. 1685); baptised at Hooton Roberts, 7 May 1685; died in infancy and was buried at Hooton Roberts, 10 August 1685;
(1.6) Hammond Banks (1687?-1718), probably the child baptised at Hooton Roberts, 19 August 1687 (name illegible in bishop's transcript); apprenticed to Alexander Bosvile, bookseller and stationer in London, 1704; freeman of the Stationers Company, City of London, 1711; married, 22 December 1712 at St Andrew-by-the-Wardrobe, London, Anne Rogers, and had issue one daughter; buried at Hooton Roberts, 2 September 1718;
(1.7) Frances Banks (1689-90), baptised at Hooton Roberts, 15 February 1688/9; died in infancy and was buried at Hull, 3 January 1690/1;
(1.8) Rev. Joseph Banks (1690-1757), baptised April 1690; educated at Sedbergh School and St John's College, Cambridge (matriculated 1708; BA 1711/1); ordained deacon, 1712 and priest, 1714; rector of Hooton Roberts (Yorks WR), 1714-57; married 1st, 12 April 1716 at Brantingham (Yorks ER), Mary, daughter of Alderman Sykes of Leeds and had issue five sons and three daughters; married 2nd, 31 December 1741, Harriet Lambert, widow; buried at Hooton Roberts, 18 June 1757;
(1.9) William Banks (1692-95), baptised at Holy Trinity, Hull, 24 February 1691/2; died young and was buried at Hull, 28 May 1695;
(1.10) Clare Banks (1694-95), baptised at Holy Trinity, Hull, 18 April 1694; died young and was buried at Hull, 12 June 1695.
He died 3 November 1714. His first wife was buried at Hull, 15 June 1697. His widow was buried at Hooton Roberts, 16 July 1730.

Banks family of Revesby Abbey

Banks, Joseph (1665-1727). Younger son of Robert Banks (1630-1711) and his wife Margaret, daughter of John Frankland of Rathmell, baptised at Giggleswick, 6 September 1665. Nothing is known of his education, but he was articled in 1681 to Thomas Chappell of Sheffield, attorney, and after completing his articles he also established a practice that developed rapidly. He was appointed Under-Sheriff of Yorkshire, 1692, and succeeded his former master as a Town Trustee and as agent to the estates of the Dukes of Leeds, Norfolk and Newcastle. In 1706 the Duke of Newcastle arranged for his appointment as Clerk of the Peace for Nottinghamshire, and he held this appointment until his death. He had the reputation of being a faithful servant of his clients, but one who ensured he was well-paid for his services, and he grew rich on the business of his three ducal clients, and began to invest in property. He was elected as Whig MP for Grimsby (Lincs), 1715-22 and Totnes (Devon), 1722-27. In 1719 he and another self-made man bought a half-share of the Durham estates of Lord Widdrington, which had been forfeited for his part in the 1715 rebellion, for £7,300 and in 1727 he sold them back to the Widdrington family for £12,000. He had antiquarian interests, and corresponded with both Browne Willis and William Stukeley, and was described as 'a pleasant and very facetious companion'. He married, 1689, Mary, daughter of Rev. Rowland Handcock, a dissenting minister, of Shiercliffe Hall, Ecclesfield (Yorks WR), and had issue:
(1) Joseph Banks (1695-1741) (q.v.);
(2) Mary Banks (1690-1726), born 4 June 1690; married Sir Francis Whichcote (c.1692-1775), 3rd bt., of Aswarby Park (Lincs) but had no issue; buried with great pomp at Chesham (Bucks), 1726, where she is commemorated by an elaborate monument; it is said that the cost of her funeral was so great that Sir Francis was forced to sell his manor at Chesham to pay for it.
Joseph Banks also had an illegitimate son:
(X1) John Norton (d. 1730), for whom Joseph Banks (1695-1741) made provision as his father had omitted to include him in his will.
He lived at Shiercliffe Hall near Sheffield after his marriage. In the 1690s he bought the Scofton estate near Worksop (Notts), and this became his principal home from 1702. He began buying land in Lincolnshire in 1702, and purchased the Revesby Abbey estate in 1711 for his son. He had a town house in London by 1716, and his will shows he also owned smaller properties in Essex and the manors of Cheadle and Kingsley in Staffordshire, which he bought in 1719.
He died, reputedly from an infected cut, 27 September 1727 and was given a grand funeral at Revesby costing £224; a large monument by Van Nost was erected to his memory at Revesby, but only part of it was preserved when the church was rebuilt in 1890; his will was proved 13 December 1727, but confusion over its meaning was only ended by a new settlement of his estates, ratified by Act of Parliament (9 George II, cap. 16) in 1736. His wife's date of death is unknown.

Banks, Joseph (1695-1741). Only son of Joseph Banks (1665-1727) and his wife Mary, daughter of Rev. Rowland Handcock of Shircliffe Hall, Ecclesfield (Yorks WR), born 21 June and baptised at Sheffield (Yorks WR), 18 July 1695. Educated under Rev. John Balguy at Sheffield, and later at Middle Temple (admitted 1710/11). On inheriting the Revesby estate he carried out his father's intention and built a set of ten almshouses, 1728, and rebuilt the parish church, 1730 (rebuilt again, 1890). He served as an officer in the Nottinghamshire militia (Lt.) in 1715. He was elected MP for Peterborough, 1728-34 on the interest of the Whig government, but when his application to become Custos Rotulorum for Peterborough was rejected a few months later he joined the Tory opposition and voted consistently with them for the rest of the Parliament. High Sheriff of Lincolnshire, 1736. He shared his father's antiquarian interests and was a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London and a member of the Spalding Gentleman's Society; he was also elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, 1730. He married 1st, 11 April 1714 at Ashover (Derbys), Anne, daughter and heiress of William Hodgkinson of Overton (Derbys), receiver-general of the customs, and 2nd, 19 October 1731 at Lincoln Cathedral, Catherine, daughter of [f.u.] Collingwood of Northumberland and widow of Newman Wallis of Stamford (Lincs), and had issue (with another daughter who died in infancy):
(1.1) Joseph Banks (1715-40), born 27 February 1714/5 and baptised at Ashover, 27 March 1715; educated at Geneva; went as a volunteer on a naval fleet to the Mediterranean; died unmarried and intestate in the lifetime of his father, 1740;
(1.2) Lettice Mary Banks (1716-57), baptised at St Clement Danes, London, 18 April 1716; died unmarried and was buried at Revesby, 13 September 1757; will proved 1 December 1757;
(1.3) William Banks (1719-61) (q.v.);
(1.4) Elizabeth Banks (1720-77), baptised at St Mary Magdalene, Lincoln, 6 January 1720/1; eloped and married at Grays Inn Chapel, 8 November 1744, Dr James Hawley MD (1705-77) of Brentford (Middx) and Leybourne Grange (Kent), and had issue one son; died 27 November 1766 and was buried at Isleworth (Middx) but later moved to Leybourne;
(1.5) Robert Banks (later Hodgkinson) (1722-92), born 20 February and baptised at St Mary Magdalene, Lincoln, 20 March 1721/2; apprenticed to Mr Jefferies, merchant, of Bristol, 1739, but presumably gave this up when his prospects were transformed by his eldest brother's death the following year, and proceeded to Christ Church, Oxford (matriculated 1741); his brother transferred the Overton (Derbys) estate to him under the terms of their grandfather's will and a Chancery decree, 1743, and he subsequently took the name Hodgkinson; MP for Wareham, 1748-54; High Sheriff of Carmarthenshire, 1784; Fellow of Royal Society and of the Society of Antiquaries of London; married, 1 October 1757, Bridget, daughter and co-heriess of Thomas Williams of Edwinsford (Carmarthens.), chancellor and chamberlain of the counties of Carmarthen, Pembroke and Cardigan; committed suicide, 11 November 1792 and was buried at Battersea (Surrey); will proved 16 November 1792;
(1.6) Margaret Eleanor Banks (1723-93), baptised at St Clement Danes, London, April 1723; said to have been 'one of the most striking women of the age'; accompanied her husband to Constantinople (Turkey) when he was ambassador there, 1761-65; married, 11 October 1757, Hon. Henry Grenville MP (1717-84) of Shrub Hill, Dorking (Surrey), fourth son of Richard Grenville and his wife, the Countess Temple, and had issue one daughter (Louisa, later Countess Stanhope, from whom the 19th and 20th century owners of Revesby descended); died 19 June 1793;
(2.1) Collingwood Banks (1734-55), born 8 August and baptised at St James, Piccadilly, Westminster (Middx), 2 September 1734; educated at Christ Church, Oxford (matriculated 1751) and Middle Temple (admitted 1753); buried at Christ Church, Oxford, 25 January 1755; will proved 5 July 1755;
(2.2) George Banks (1736-68?), born 6 or 10 March 1735/6 and baptised at St James, Piccadilly, Westminster, April 1736; educated at Christ Church, Oxford (matriculated 1753); an officer in the Coldstream Guards (Lt.); died unmarried in or after 1768, when his will was written.
After the death of his second wife, he took as his mistress one of his servants, Elizabeth Buckley, for whom he provided in his will.
His father bought the Revesby estate for him in 1711, the year in which he came of age, and he altered the house in 1716-18. He inherited the Scofton (Notts) estate from his father in 1727 but sold it before 1737 to Brig. Richard Sutton. He also inherited the Cheadle and Kingsley (Staffs) estate from his father. He rented a property in Lincoln from the dean and chapter in the 1720s, but gave it up and bought a town house in St James' Square, London, when he became an MP. In 1731 he rented Quickswood (Herts) from Lord Salisbury, and he later bought a house at Ancaster (Lincs), where he seems to have spent most of his time after 1734.
He died 31 March 1741; his will was proved 15 April 1741. His first wife died 9 September 1730. His second wife died in childbirth, and was buried 15 March 1737.

Banks, William (1719-61). Eldest surviving son of Joseph Banks (1695-1741) and his first wife, Anne, daughter and heiress of William Hodgkinson of Overton (Derbys), born 19 April 1719. Educated at Westminster, 1730-33 and Middle Temple (admitted 1736). He assumed the name and arms of Hodgkinson in 1733 after inheriting the Overton estate from his grandfather, but reverted to Banks when his father died and he inherited Revesby; he then made Overton over to his younger brother, Robert so that the two estates remained separate, as his grandfather had intended. Tory MP for Grampound, 1741-47, on the Prince of Wales' interest; JP and DL for Lincolnshire. From 1754 onwards, he was a prime mover in schemes for the drainage of Holland Fen and the construction of the Grand Sluice at Boston, and he was a promoter of the Witham Navigation Act, finally passed in the year of his death. In 1745 he contracted a fever which deprived him of the use of his lower limbs for the rest of his life (except for a brief period of six months in 1752 when he had a temporary recovery), and this curtailed his Parliamentary career. He married, 26 September 1741 in the chapel of Burghley House (Lincs), Sarah (1719-1804), daughter of William Bate of Foston Hall (Derbys) and niece-by-marriage of the Earl of Exeter, and had issue:
(1) Rt. Hon. Sir Joseph Banks (1743-1820), 1st bt. (q.v.);
(2) Sarah Sophia Banks (1744-1818), born 17 October 1744; a woman of character, devoted to her brother, for whom she kept house at Spring Grove and Soho Square; she shared his passion for natural history, but was also a great collector of ephemera such as ballad sheets, tradesmen’s cards and tokens; her collections are now in the British Library; she died unmarried, 27 September 1818, as a result of a carriage accident in which her brother was also injured.
He inherited the Overton estate from his grandfather in 1727, but passed this on to his next brother under the terms of his grandfather's will when he inherited Revesby and the Cheadle and Kingsley estates from his father in 1741. He refurnished Revesby in 1743. His widow moved to a house at 22 Paradise Row, Chelsea (Middx), which made a convenient base from which her son could visit the Chelsea Physick Garden.
He was buried at Revesby, 1 October 1761; his will was proved 8 October 1761. His widow was buried 7 September 1804; administration of her goods with will annexed was granted 1 October 1804.

Sir Joseph Banks (1743-1820), 1st bt.
Banks, Rt. Hon. Sir Joseph (1743-1820), 1st bt. Only son of William Banks (1719-61) and his wife Sarah, daughter of William Bate of Foston Hall (Derbys), born 2 February and baptised at St James, Piccadilly, Westminster (Middx), 26 February 1742/3. Educated at Harrow, 1752-56, Eton, 1756-60 and Christ Church, Oxford (matriculated 1760; honorary DCL 1771). He early developed a fascination with botany and it became his ruling passion. At Oxford he largely abandoned the classical curriculum, and spent his time studying botany and geology with like-minded friends. From 1765 he studied with Dr. Solander at the British Museum (who had trained under Linneaus), adopted the Linnean classification system and struck up a correspondence with Linnaeus himself. He next made long voyages to discover new species, going to Newfoundland in 1766, Iceland in 1772, and accompanying Capt. Cook on his voyage around the world, 1768-71. His journals show that his interests extended beyond botany to the animal kingdom and the indigenous peoples of the islands he visited. He seems to have been curious but not patronising about native customs, and to have lacked any sense of racial superiority. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1766 and served as its President, 1778-1820, a role in which he was ex officio a member of various important bodies, including the Royal Observatory and the Board of Agriculture. He was the inaugural President of the Royal Institution, 1799-1800; and was a Member of the Royal Society of Arts from 1761. His interests extended to antiquities, and he commissioned J.C. Nattes, S.H. Grimm and others to make record drawings of Lincolnshire antiquities and assiduously collected archaeological finds made on sites across the county; he was a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London from 1766 and a member of the Spalding Gentlemen's Society. On his return from circumnavigating the world with Cook he became a national celebrity, and was introduced to King George III, whose friend and scientific adviser he became. This led him to become, in effect, the Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, and he was created a baronet, 1781. His ever-growing collections were housed at his house in Soho Square, where he employed Solander and a team of other botanists in what became a kind of research institute, and after his death his collections became the core of the British Museum's natural history collection (and later that of the Natural History Museum). Despite his wide-ranging and profound knowledge of natural history, he published little (mainly in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society) and he made his contribution to science largely through the opportunities he created for others through his influence with Government and as a patron of science. He made little time for conventional public affairs, but served as an adviser to the Privy Council Committee on Trade, chaired by Charles Jenkinson (later Lord Hawkesbury and Earl of Liverpool), who valued his suggestions for commercially valuable crops, such as tea and cotton, which might be established in British colonies; this work led to his becoming a Commissioner of the Board of Trade and Privy Councillor in 1797. He continued to promote research expeditions to under-explored areas of the globe. The establishment of a penal colony at Botany Bay in Australia was undertaken at his suggestion, and he was one of the founders of the African Society, set up in 1788 to encourage the exploration of the African interior. Although keen to foster British colonial interests abroad, he strove to keep channels of academic correspondence open during the Napoleonic wars with France, and intervened with the Government to secure the return of a collection of botanical specimens to the French naturalist La Billardière which had been seized by the Navy. This led to his being chosen as a member of the National Institute of France in 1802, an honour which he received too enthusiastically for some in the Royal Society. At his death he left substantial bequests to his librarian and draughtsman, to enable them to continue work on his collections and at Kew Gardens. He spent time every autumn on his Lincolnshire estate, engaging with local society, dispensing lavish hospitality, and overseeing the harvest and estate improvements such as enclosure, stock-breeding, and drainage schemes. He played a leading part in the drainage and enclosure of 40,000 acres in the East, West and Wildmore Fens, for which an Act of Parliament was obtained in 1801, and he was also active in promoting the Horncastle Canal. He was an instinctive Tory in politics, but felt it incumbent upon him in his position with the Royal Society not to engage in party politics, although he did occasionally use his influence with the Government where local interests were in play. He was a JP for Lincolnshire, and served as High Sheriff in 1794-95 and Recorder of Boston from 1809-20 (neither of these being political appointments). He was made a Knight of the Bath, 1795 and GCB, 1815. He was 'tall and well-formed' but according to Lord Glenbervie, he was 'awkward in his person' though 'extremely well-bred… one of the many instances to prove that the personal graces are far from essential to politeness'. In old age he became overweight and suffered from gout with increasing severity. He had at least two recorded mistresses prior to his marriage: Harriet Blosset (who he was seeing in the 1760s), and Sarah Wells (his established mistress in the 1770s), who were both generously provided for when he ended the connection. He married, 23 March 1779 at St Andrew, Holborn (Middx), Dorothea (1758-1828), daughter and co-heiress of William Weston Hugessen of Provender, Norton (Kent), but had no issue.
He inherited the Revesby estate and the Cheadle and Kingsley estate in Staffordshire from his father in 1761 and came of age in 1764. He purchased the Spring Grove estate at Hounslow (Middx) in 1779, and he also had a town house at 32 Soho Square (where his collections were housed) and another in Horncastle (Lincs). He sold the Cheadle and Kingsley estate in about 1790. At his death, his Lincolnshire estates passed to his widow for life and then were to be divided between the heirs of Sir Henry Hawley, bt. (1745-1826) and Col. James Hamilton Stanhope (1788-1825). The division was agreed between 1828 and 1831 and ratified by Act of Parliament (1&2 William IV, cap.20): Revesby passed to Stanhope's son, James Banks Stanhope (1821-1904). Spring Grove was left to his widow absolutely and she bequeathed it to the Knatchbull-Hugessens of Mersham-le-Hatch (Kent).
He died 19 June 1820, when his baronetcy became extinct, and was buried at Heston (Middx); his will was proved 19 September 1820 (estate under £40,000), and expressly requested that no monument should be erected to his memory. This wish was essentially complied with, although there is a small mural tablet at Heston recording his burial there. His widow was buried at Heston, 4 July 1828; her will was proved 8 July 1828.


Burke's Extinct and Dormant Baronetcies, 2nd edn., 1841, pp. 34-35; J.D. Griffith Davies, 'The Banks family', Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London, vol. 3 (1940-41), pp. 85-87 ; J.W.F. Hill, The letters and papers of the Banks family of Revesby Abbey, 1704-1760, 1952; D. Walker, 'William Burn: the country house in transition', in J. Fawcett (ed), Seven Victorian Architects, 1976, pp. 8-31; M. Girouard, The Victorian Country House, 1979, p. 417; W.M. Hunt, 'The role of Sir Joseph Banks KB PRS in the promotion and development of Lincolnshire canals and navigations', Open University PhD thesis, 1986; Sir N. Pevsner, J. Harris, & N. Antram, The buildings of England: Lincolnshire, 2nd edn., 1989, p. 610; C. Sturman, 'We Fall to Rise... Revesby Abbey from the 1820s to the 1840s', in C. Sturman (ed.), Lincolnshire People and Places, 1996, pp. 73-77; R. Garnier, 'Alexander Roos', Georgian Group Journal, xv, 2006, p.11-68; P. Leach & Sir N. Pevsner, The buildings of England: Yorkshire West Riding - Leeds, Bradford and the north, 2009, p.276; ODNB entry on Sir Joseph Banks, 1st bt.

Location of archives

Banks family of Revesby Abbey: manorial records, estate and family papers, 1626-1953 [Lincolnshire Archives, 22; RA1-3]; manorial records and estate papers, 1742-1963 [Kent History & Library Centre, U1590/ A48-56, E193-202A, M10-20, S1]
Banks, Sir Joseph (1743-1820), 1st bt.: diaries, correspondence and papers, 1750-1820 [British Library, Add MSS 8094-100, 8967-68, 33977-82, 52281, 56297-302; Natural History Museum, L MSS BAN; Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Banks corresp.; Kent History & Library Centre, U951 A75-76, Z26-48; California State Library (USA): Sutro Library (no ref.); State Library of New South Wales (Australia) ML MSS 743; Royal Geographical Society of Queensland (Australia) (no ref.); McGill University (Canada): Blacker Wood Library of Biology (no ref.); National Library of New Zealand, MS Papers 155;  Wellcome Library, MSS 1049, 2826, 5215-19, 5250]. A major archive publishing project on the scattered Banks archives is now in progress, based at Nottingham Trent University:

Coat of arms

Sable, a cross or between four fleurs-de-lys argent.

Notes about missing information and help wanted with this entry

  • Does anyone know more about the history of Beck Hall, and in particular its ownership between 1688 and 1743? For whom was the early 18th century house built?
  • Can anyone provide additional images of the pre-1844 house at Revesby? And can anyone provide further information about the ownership of the Burn house after it was sold by the Revesby estate in the 1980s?
  • I would be most grateful if anyone can provide photographs or portraits of people whose names appear in bold above, and who are not already illustrated. 
  • As always, any additions or corrections to the account given above will be gratefully received and incorporated.

Revision and acknowledgements

This post was first published 27 January 2019 and updated 29 January 2019. I am grateful to Paul Bradley, 
Susan Griffiths and Robert Wheeler for supplying information and images for this article.

No comments:

Post a Comment

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.