Wednesday 19 August 2020

(427) Barwick of Thimbleby Hall, baronets

Barwick of Thimbleby Hall
John Storey Barwick (1840-1915), with whom the genealogy below begins, was a prominent Victorian industrialist in the north-east of England. He came from relatively humble origins, being the eldest son of a Sunderland butcher, and was sent to a local school before finding employment as a clerk in the Ryhope Coal Co. He quickly rose within that firm (eventually becoming its managing director) and he seems to have spent some time in London as a manager, where he was married in 1872. His bride was the sister of the four Short Brothers whose family firm became one of the leading shipbuilding businesses in the country, and his marriage firmly enmeshed him in the network of leading industrial families in and around Sunderland. By the 1880s he was a principal representative of the Marquess of Londonderry in his mining and other business dealings in the north-east, and had invested his spare capital in the shipping industry. Barwick progressed his career by joining forces with other northern industrial entrepreneurs, notably Sir Christopher Furness, (later 1st Baron Furness) and Sir Walter Scott, 1st bt. Together, these men participated in a series of ventures across a range of industries, Scott and Barwick serving as directors or trustees for debenture holders in several public firms that were associated with Furness, and investing heavily in his enterprises. Barwick was also involved in Furness-led shipping ventures, such as the Northumberland Shipbuilding Company, which pioneered the construction of standardised general cargo vessels. Eventually Barwick would become one of the largest shareholders of Furness Withy & Company, founded in 1891 with eighteen ships operating between New York and Newcastle. In 1899, Furness and Barwick joined forces to form the Easington Coal Co. to develop a previously untapped coalfield on the coast between Hartlepool and Seaham, with mines running out under the sea. Progress with developing the mine was at first slow and difficult, but it eventually became one of the most productive mines in the country, being nationalised in 1947 and only closing in 1993. 

Ashbrooke Grange, Sunderland (Image: Izzy Hutchison) 
Sir John Barwick lived for much of his adult life in a modest villa in the suburbs of Sunderland called Ashbrooke Grange (demolished in about 1960), but in 1898 he bought 
Thimbleby Hall, a shooting estate of nearly 3,000 acres on the North Yorkshire moors. In 1912, he completed his transition to the landed gentry when he was awarded a baronetcy. Barwick was a Liberal in politics, but although he was active in local public affairs he was not one of those Victorian entrepreneurs who aspired to a seat in Parliament or took a major part in local church-building or charitable work. His baronetcy is therefore rather unexpected, and it was perhaps solicited on his behalf by Lord Furness, who of all his close friends wielded the greatest political influence. Sir John died in 1915 and was succeeded by his elder son and namesake, Sir John Storey Barwick (1876-1953), 2nd bt, who inherited Thimbleby and most of his father's business interests.

The second Sir John took a lease on a newly-rebuilt London town house (18 Upper Brook St.) in 1916 and after the end of the First World War hired Maple & Co. - who then offered an interior decoration service - to alter the interior to suit his requirements. Once work had been completed there, he turned his attention to Thimbleby, which seems to have been remodelled in the early 1920s. It is possible that Maples were again involved, although the structural works to the house imply the involvement of an architect as well. Although Sir John followed in his father's footsteps as an assiduous businessman, he had an additional passion in horse-racing, and in the 1920s and 1930s most of the references to him in the press are as the owner of horses running at courses across England. Both Sir John's sons served in the RAF during the Second World War, and both of them survived, but after the war a series of blows fell in quick succession. The nationalisation of the coal industry in 1947 removed Easington and the family's other coal interests from their control. Although compensation was paid, it was not at a level which enabled Sir John to generate the same income as he would have enjoyed from the collieries in the long term. Perhaps because he shared the fears of many in his class about the impact of further state socialism, Sir John began to spend time in South Africa, and perhaps contemplated emigration there. In January 1949 his alcoholic elder son and heir, John Morgan Barwick (1908-49), dropped dead of a heart attack, and just six days later Lady Barwick, who had been an invalid since before the war, also died. Following this double tragedy, Sir John seems to have mothballed Thimbleby and acquired a smaller house, Old Forest Lodge, Crowborough (Sussex), to which he brought his second wife in 1950. He died in 1953, leaving his remaining business interests to his surviving son, Sir Richard Llewellyn Barwick (1916-79), 3rd bt.

Even after the payment of death duties, Sir Richard was a wealthy man when he inherited the estate, but he was bored by his business interests and estate management and pursued an expensive and hedonistic lifestyle which by the end of his life had destroyed his health and dissipated much of his fortune (although, due to inflation, his estate was still valued in seven figures). His first marriage, to Valerie Ward, a young beauty raised in Kenya who was on the fringes of the Happy Valley set, and who had been separated from her first husband after a brief and unsatisfactory marriage, was founded on a caddish ruse to separate her from an existing fiancé and quickly degenerated into a more or less openly abusive relationship and serial infidelity. They were eventually divorced in 1968 when he left her to live with his mistress, whom he later married. (His first wife's third marriage, contracted for cynical financial motives, proved, if anything, more disastrous than the others, as her memoirs reveal). Sir Richard and his first wife never produced a son, and so the baronetcy died with him in 1979. Sir Richard and his second wife lived at Littlethorpe Hall, the house near Ripon which he had bought for her when she was his mistress, and by the time he died, Thimbleby Hall had been neglected for years. It was sold by his executors in 1981. 

Thimbleby Hall, Yorkshire (NR)

Thimbleby Lodge: the footprint as shown on the 1st edition 6" map of c.1854. 
The house (originally Thimbleby Lodge) was at first a quadrangular building arranged around a small light well, which was built for Richard William Peirse (1753-98) in the late 18th century: probably in about 1780 when he sold the family's chief seat at Hutton Bonville. It is now effectively U-shaped, following the demolition of the southern range of the building, which perhaps took place only in the 1980s. The house has a symmetrical north-facing garden front composed of a three-bay centre linked to projecting lower wings with canted bays, which are carried back to form ranges enclosing a courtyard. The centre of the north front was originally of two-and-a-half storeys but the top floor was removed during alterations between the First and Second World Wars. The west range forms the entrance front and has five widely-spaced bays with a one-bay pediment in the centre: this at first had a tripartite entrance feature, incorporating arched windows either side of a doorcase with a clumsy broken pediment, but this was replaced by the present more elegant six-column Doric portico in the 20th century: the stone lions now standing on its balustraded top are a recent addition.

Thimbleby Hall: the house from the north-west in about 1905, from an old postcard. At this time the tripartite entrance and three-storey centre to the north front were still in place.
Thimbleby Hall: a similar view of the house in 2003. 
The rear of the house was been subject to at least two radical changes, involving the demolition of the south range and some associated tidying up, probably in 1981-82, and then a more radical transformation in 2011-14, when after some further demolition the east wing was given a two-storey addition, an orangery was added to the south end of the west wing, and the courtyard was laid out as a formal garden. The unsympathetic red pantiled roof shown in the photograph above has also been replaced. The interior was greatly altered in the 19th century, when it was given a late Victorian staircase, lit by a 19th century Venetian window looking into the courtyard. One room is said to have a good neo-classical marble chimneypiece moved from the family's town house at 18 Upper Brook St., London after the Second World War.

Thimbleby Hall: the late 18th century gate lodges. Image: Andrew Curtis. Some rights reserved.
At the end of the drive are a pair of simple but most attractive late 18th century Gothick lodges (one extended in the 20th century), with quadrant walls to either side, and a screen consisting of four stone gatepiers connected by wrought-iron railings and gates. The choice of the Gothick style for the lodges of a simple classical house is rather unexpected, but cheerfully whimsical.

Descent: Christopher Wandesforde sold 1694 or possibly after 1705 to Richard Peirse; to son or grandson, Richard William Peirse (1753-98); to son, Richard William Christopher Peirse (1781-1844); to son, Richard William Peirse (1804-72); sold 1837-38 to Robert Haynes jun. (1795-1873), a Barbados merchant; to son, William Reece Haynes (1830-89), who let it to a syndicate of sportsmen as a shooting box; to ?brother, Henry Haynes; sold 1898 to Sir John Storey Barwick (1840-1915), 1st bt.; to son, Sir John Storey Barwick (1876-1953), 2nd bt.; to son, Sir Richard Llewellyn Barwick (1916-79), 3rd bt.; sold in 1981 to Tom Gray; sold 1986 to David Patrick Brown (b. 1955); sold 2005 to Andrea Shelley (b. 1961) and her husband Andrew (b. 1960).

Inholmes, Woodlands St. Mary, Berkshire

An account of this house has been given in an earlier post.

Barwick family of Thimbleby Hall, baronets

Sir J.S. Barwick, 1st bt. 
Barwick, Sir John Storey (1840-1915), 1st bt.
Only surviving son of William Barwick (1816-1900), butcher, and his wife Mary (1818-88), daughter of Robert Storey, born 23 February 1840. Educated at Sunderland. He began his working life as a clerk in the Ryhope Coal Co. (where he eventually became managing director) and invested as much as he could afford in the shipping industry. By the end of his career he was one of the leading shipowners and coal factors in Sunderland and well on the way to being a millionaire. He was 
for many years associated with Sir Christopher Furness (later Lord Furness) in a number of enterprises in the coal, mining and railway industries, and he was Chairman of the Broomhill Collieries, the Easington Coal Co. Ltd. (which he founded with Furness), and the Weardale Steel Coal & Coke Company; Vice-Chairman of the Cargo Fleet Iron Company and the Seaham Harbour Dock Company; a director of the Northumberland Shipbuilding Company, Lloyd's British Testing Company, the North East Banking Co. and the European Petroleum Co. He was chairman of the Sunderland Liberal Association and was active in public life as a member of the River Wear Commission, the Wear Pilotage Board, the River Wear Watch Committee, the Sunderland Local Marine Board and the Sunderland Chamber of Commerce. JP for Co. Durham, Sunderland, and North Riding of Yorkshire. He was created a baronet, 1 February 1912. He married, 17 September 1872 at St Clement Danes, London, Margaret (1853-1908), daughter of George Short of Pallion, Sunderland, shipbuilder, and had issue:
(1) Margaret Ethel Barwick (1873-1950), born 20 June 1873; married, 19 December 1905 at St Stephen, Kensington (Middx), as his second wife, Maj. Reginald Edward Traherne Bray (1860-1931), son of Maj-Gen. George Frederick Campbell Bray, and had issue one son and two daughters; died 7 June 1950; will proved 2 February 1951 (estate £43,023);
(2) Edith Mary Barwick (1874-1954), born 7 December 1874; married, 24 April 1901 at St. George, Hanover Sq., London, George Gilbey (1874-1933) of Overthorpe Hall, Middleton Cheney (Northants), son of Alfred Gilbey of Wooburn House (Bucks), and had issue one daughter; died 7 June 1954; will proved 21 August 1954 (estate £75,511);
(3) Sir John Storey Barwick (1876-1953), 2nd bt. (q.v.);
(4) Kathleen Maud Barwick (1878-1955), born 28 June 1878; lived in Lowndes Sq., London; died unmarried, 11 December 1955 and was cremated at Golders Green Crematorium (Middx); will proved 9 February 1956 (estate £49,709);
(5) George Short Barwick (1879-1937) (q.v.);
(6) Ella Martha Barwick (1881-1920); married, 29 April 1914 at St Mark, North Audley St., Westminster (Middx), George Herbert Croft (1877-1946) of Pasture House, Northallerton (Yorks NR), Inspector for Board of Agriculture, son of Henry Herbert Stephen Croft, barrister, but had no issue; died 28 November 1920; will proved 19 November 1921 (estate £18,441);
(7) Meggie Barwick (b. & d. 1884), born November 1884; died in infancy, 26 December 1884 and was buried in Sunderland Cemetery.

He lived at Ashbrooke Grange, Sunderland (Co. Durham), which was a suburban villa, until he purchased Thimbleby Hall in December 1898.
He died 12 August 1915 and was buried at Sunderland Cemetery; his will was proved 23 September 1915 (estate £625,403). His wife died 17 October 1908; administration of her goods was granted 12 January 1909 (effects £1,576).

Sir John Storey Barwick, 2nd bt.
(Image: Izzy Hutchison) 

Barwick, Sir John Storey (1876-1953), 2nd bt.
Elder son of Sir John Storey Barwick (1840-1915), 1st bt., and his wife Margaret, daughter of George Short of Pallion, Sunderland (Co. Durham), shipbuilder, born 4 August 1876. Educated at Uppingham School. 
He succeeded his father as 2nd baronet, 12 August 1915. Colliery owner and Chairman of Easington Coal Co. Ltd until nationalisation in 1947; a director of Seaham Harbour Dock Co. and of Martins Bank. High Sheriff of Co. Durham, 1922. He was a keen racehorse owner. He married 1st, 12 August 1907, Gwladys Jessie (1876-1949), third daughter of George William Griffith Thomas of Ystradmynach (Glam.) and formerly wife of Auberon Joseph Stourton (1867-1923), and 2nd, 28 July 1950 at Caxton Hall Register Office, London, Evelyn Maude (1905-67), youngest daughter of Charles Turner of Bournemouth (Hants), and had issue:
(1.1) John Morgan Barwick (1908-49), born 22 November 1908; educated at Harrow; director of Easington Coal Co. Ltd.; served in Second World War with Royal Air Force (Pilot Officer); Master of the Bedale Hunt; President of the York and Leeming Flying Club and a competitor in the King's Cup air races before the Second World War; became an alcoholic after the war; married, 1 June 1933, Rhona (1913-83) (who m2, 29 July 1954, Basil George Everard Webster (d. 1963) of Coverham Abbey (Yorks NR), eldest son of Cyril Gray Webster), eldest daughter of Maj. William Wharton Burdon of Constable Burton Hall (Yorks NR), but had no issue; died suddenly of a heart attack in the lifetime of his father, 2 January 1949; will proved 22 March 1949 (estate £31,785);
(1.2) Rosamond Gwladys Barwick (1909-73), born 13 October 1909; married, 20 July 1931, Roland Anthony Cookson OBE (1908-91) (who m2, 1974, Elizabeth Anne Milburn Aitchison (née Reed) of Howden Dene, Corbridge (Northbld), son of Bryan Cookson, and had issue one daughter; died 13 August 1973; will proved 22 October 1973 (estate £155,745);
(1.3) Margaret Syssylt Barwick (1914-71), born 2 January 1914; married, 7 February 1944, Lt-Col. (Montagu Charles Warcop) Peter Consett (1909-2001) of Brawith Hall, Thirsk (Yorks NR), eldest son of Rear-Adm. Montagu William Warcop Peter Consett CMG, and had issue three sons; died 23 August 1971; will proved 28 January 1972 (estate £88,005);
(1.4) Sir Richard Llewellyn Barwick (1916-79), 3rd bt. (q.v.).
He inherited Thimbleby Hall from his father in 1915, and remodelled it in the 1920s or 1930s, but in his later years he spent a good deal of time in South Africa and after his second marriage he lived at Old Forest Lodge, Crowborough (Sussex).
He died 20 March 1953 and was cremated at Charing (Kent); administration of his goods was granted to his widow and younger son, 13 August 1953 (estate £37,592). His first wife died just a few days after her elder son, 10 January 1949; her will was proved 29 December 1949 (estate £72,377). His widow died in Jersey, 8 August 1967; her will was proved 9 February 1968 (estate in England, £125,890).

Sir R.L. Barwick, 3rd bt. 
Barwick, Sir Richard Llewellyn (1916-79), 3rd bt.
Younger but only surviving son of Sir John Storey Barwick (1876-1953), 2nd bt. and his first wife, Gwladys Jessie, third daughter of George William Griffith Thomas of Ystradmynach (Glam.) and formerly wife of Auberon Joseph Stourton, born 4 November 1916. Educated at Harrow and Christ's College, Cambridge. He served in the Second World War with the RAF, 1940-46 and succeeded his father as 3rd baronet, 20 March 1953. A larger-than-life character with a loud voice and a bullying manner, he proved to be a poor steward of his business interests and his estate, where he was only interested in its shooting. He married 1st, 26 July 1948 (div. 1968), Valerie Maud (1920-89), (briefly a film actress, as Valerie Ward), only daughter of Robert Jeremiah Skelton of Nairobi (Kenya), and formerly wife* of Lt-Col. the Hon. Roderick John Ward (1902-52), second son of William Humble Ward, 2nd Earl of Dudley. He married 2nd, 26 September 1968, his former mistress, Denise (1913-85), daughter of Alexander Reginald Pole and widow of Hugh Christian Radcliffe (d. 1959). He had issue:
(1.1) Rozanne Valerie Barwick (b. 1950), born 17 March 1950; edited her mother's memoirs as Hard Bargains** (2019); married, Apr-Jun 1970, Alan Michael Bulmer (b. 1944) and had issue two daughters;
(1.2) Sandra-Anne Barwick (b. 1952), born 24 November 1952; doctor of medicine and later hotelier at New Inn, Coln St. Aldwyns (Glos), and minister of One Spirit Interfaith Foundation; married, Apr-June 1971 (div. 1986), Timothy George Wheaton Heycock, and had issue one son and one daughter; married 2nd, August 1989, Brian Antony Evans CBE FRCS (b. 1936);
(1.3) Victoria Lorraine Barwick (b. 1961), born 13 November 1961; married, 1994 (div.), as his second wife, Andrew Kenneth Wallis (d. 2009), land agent and later property developer, and had issue one son and one daughter.
He inherited Thimbleby Hall from his father in 1953. His executors sold it in 1981.
He died in Jersey, 16 June 1979, when the baronetcy became extinct, and was buried at Sunderland Cemetery; his will was proved 11 September 1979 (estate £1,456,312). His first wife married 3rd, Jul-Sept 1972, Col. Walter Lancaster Hey CBE (d. 1981) of Thorpe Underwood Hall, Little Ouseburn (Yorks), and after his death she sold that house and purchased Sharow Cross House, near Ripon; she died 9 May 1989 and was buried in Sheffield; her will was proved 14 December 1989 (estate £693,035). His widow married 3rd, 1981, George William Odey MP (1900-85) of Keldgate Manor, Beverley (Yorks ER), and died 4 February 1985; her will was proved 27 February 1985 (estate £882,784).
* She had one son by this marriage, Robert John Christopher Ward (1942-2017), who later took the name Barwick-Ward by deed poll, but who was never adopted by his stepfather and was not, of course, in succession to the baronetcy. 
** A revealing narrative that reveals how turbulent her three marriages were.

Barwick, George Short (1879-1937). Younger son of Sir John Storey Barwick (1840-1915), 1st bt., and his wife Margaret, daughter of George Short of Pallion, Sunderland (Co. Durham), shipbuilder, born 7 July 1879. Educated at Uppingham. Company director, primarily of colliery and shipping companies, but also of Straits Settlements Rubber Co and Daimler Motor Co. He was an active participant in motor racing in the early days of the sport before the First World War. JP for Berkshire, 1936-37. He married, 31 July 1913, Marianne (1882-1975), daughter of William Marshall of Weaverham (Ches.), and had issue:
(1) Angela Ruth Barwick (1916-86), born 26 June 1916; married, 21 January 1947, John Gilbert Gilbey (1917-82) of Newbies, Banghurst (Hants), only son of Gilbert Gilbey of Overthorpe Hall, Banbury (Oxon), and had issue one son and one daughter; lived latterly at Inholmes; died 24 March 1986; will proved 21 October 1986 (estate £598,591);
(2) Diana Marianne Barwick (1917-2008), born 2 October 1917; married 1st, 27 July 1945 at St Paul, Knightsbridge (Middx) (div. 1955), Lt. John Louis Arnott Bowles RN (1919-98), only son of Capt. Guy Bowles DSO RN, and had issue one son and one daughter; married 2nd, 25 November 1959, as his second wife, Gerald Leopold Wiener OBE (1913-2008) of London W8, chartered accountant; died 7 February 2008; will proved 5 December 2008;
(3) Valerie Margaret Barwick (1924-70), born 6 February 1924; married, 19 April 1950, Sir Frederick Bernard (k/a Tim) Bolton, kt., MC (1921-2005) of Barton House, Blakesley (Northants), chairman of companies in shipping industry and President of the International Shipping Federation, 1973-82 (who m2, 1971, Vanessa Mary Anne (b. 1939), daughter of Anthony Vere Cyprian Robarts, and had further issue two sons and two daughters), only son of Louis Hamilton Bolton of Hinton House, Woodford Halse (Northants), and had issue two sons; died 5 July 1970; will proved 9 November 1970 (estate £285,966).
He purchased Inholmes, Woodlands St. Mary (Berks) in 1919. His wife and eldest daughter continued to occupy it until 1986.
He died from a heart attack on a cross-Channel ferry while returning from holiday in France, 25 February 1937 and was buried at Lambourn (Berks), where he is commemorated by a monument; his will was proved 11 May 1937 (estate £64,623). His widow died 11 September 1975; her will was proved 26 January 1976 (estate £405,630).

Principal sources

Burke's Peerage and Baronetage, 1967, p. 184; V. Barwick, Hard Bargains, 2019;

Location of archives

No significant accumulation is known to survive.

Coat of arms

Azure, a galley or, in chief two bears' heads couped argent muzzled gules

Can you help?

  • I should be most grateful if anyone can provide photographs or portraits of people whose names appear in bold above, and who are not already illustrated.
  • Any additions or corrections to the account given above will be gratefully received and incorporated. I am always particularly pleased to hear from members of the family who can supply recent personal information for inclusion.

Revision and acknowledgements

This post was first published 19 August 2020 and updated 27 August 2020. I am most grateful to Izzy Hutchison for additional information and images.

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