Saturday, 3 October 2020

(432) Bass of Rangemore Hall and Byrkley Lodge, baronets and Barons Burton

Bass family
The Basses are a classic example of a family which rose from modest origins to great wealth and a seat in the House of Lords through entrepreneurial skill in a manufacturing industry. Their story begins with William Bass (c.1721-87) of Hinckley (Leics), who appears to have possessed a flair for business. He inherited a smallholding and then moved into the carrying trade, at first in partnership with his elder brother John, but later on his own. With the growth of the brewery trade around Burton-on-Trent, the carriage of beer became an important part of his business, but when he realised there was better money to be made from making beer than from moving it, he sold his business to a rival concern and invested the profits in buying a brewery in the High Street at Burton. He was already sixty years of age when he embarked on his new venture, but he threw himself into it with vigour, exploiting his understanding of transport infrastructure to develop a profitable new market for his product in Russia. He was succeeded by his sons Michael and William, but the latter was not a businessman by temperament and sold his interest to Michael Bass (1759-1827) in 1795. Michael expanded the Russian and domestic markets, and when war with France disrupted the overseas trade, he developed a new type of beer, Indian Pale Ale, which was suited to the needs of British officers and civil servants in the Indian sub-continent and could stand the long journey to its market.

Michael Thomas Bass was succeeded as head of the firm by his son and namesake, Michael Thomas Bass (1799-1884), who not only inherited the entrepreneurial gene but added to it a phenomenal energy. He joined the firm in 1817 and by the time he died sixty-seven years later, he had made the firm the largest brewery in the world, operating from three plants at Burton and producing more than a million barrels of beer a year. Although he remained actively engaged in the business until his death, from about 1850 he delegated more to his partners and managers and made time for a political career as MP for Derby, 1848-83. His growing wealth enable him to move out of the town of Burton and to lease first Byrkley Lodge and later Rangemore Hall (which he rebuilt), as well as a shooting lodge in Scotland where he took his annual holiday. His wealth also supported wide-ranging philanthropic projects, especially in Derby and Burton, and the industries associated with those towns. He is reported to have turned down both a baronetcy and a peerage, and at his death his wealth was estimated at £1.8m, making him one of the richest commoners in the country. 

The younger Michael Bass left two sons, Michael Arthur Bass (1837-1909) and Hamar Alfred Bass (1842-98), although only the former was judged to have the temperament for business, and took over the management of the brewery. Both men also had political careers, although Hamar's principal focus was on horse-racing and breeding. In 1882, while his father was still alive, Michael accepted the baronetcy which his father had rejected, and it was probably because this was a vicarious honour for his father that the patent included a special remainder to Hamar and his descendants. Although the brewing industry generally faced difficult trading conditions in the late 19th century, with declining demand as a result of the temperance movement and a more hostile legislative climate, Bass continued to do well by offering a premium product, and Sir Michael's munificent gifts to his home town were on an even larger scale than those of his father. In 1886, he was advanced to the peerage, as 1st Baron Burton, and in 1897, since he had no son to succeed him, he was granted a second barony with a very similar title, with a special remainder to his daughter. With the peerage came a whole new social standing, and Lord Burton invested heavily in his properties to ensure they reflected his status. In London, he acquired Chesterfield House - one of the grandest of the Mayfair town houses - as his residence, and filled it with paintings by 18th century British masters. He bought the freehold of Rangemore in 1886 and more than doubled it in size in 1898-1901 ahead of a visit by King Edward VII in 1902. The King also visited his leased estate at Glenquoich in Scotland, where he enlarged the lodge at the same time as work was in progress at Rangemore. With the death of Lord Burton in 1909, the brewery company passed out of family control, but his peerage and property passed to his daughter, Nellie Lisa Bass (1873-1962), Baroness Burton, whose first husband was Col. James Evan Bruce Baillie (1859-1931) of Dochfour. They had two sons and one daughter, and on Lady Burton's death the peerage passed to their descendants. Lady Burton sold Chesterfield House in London in about 1920, but kept Rangemore until 1949, when she moved to a smaller house on the estate and sold the big house to Staffordshire County Council, which turned it into a residential school for the partially sighted.

Lord Burton's younger brother, Hamar Alfred Bass (1842-98), purchased Byrkley Lodge after his father's death and rebuilt it on a much larger scale to the designs of Col. R.W. Edis in 1887-91. At his death it passed to his only son, William Arthur Hamar Bass (1879-1952), who in 1909 inherited Lord Burton's baronetcy under the special remainder of 1882. Sir William saw military service during the Boer War and First World War, but had no involvement with the management of the brewery and did not follow his father into politics. He invested in the nascent British film and cinema industry, but his chief love was horse-racing, and he filled many roles in that sport, including being a steward of the Jockey Club. His marriage to a daughter of the 14th Earl of Huntingdon was childless, and at his death he bequeathed Byrkley Lodge to her nephew, who promptly sold it, and it was demolished shortly afterwards.

Rangemore Hall, Staffordshire

Rangemore House: the house built for John Barton in about 1850. 

The first house on the site was a small Georgian house called Rangemore House of 1822, which was evidently replaced or incorporated within a two-storey Italianate mansion with tall dormer windows breaking through the parapet to light an attic storey, built in about 1850 for John Barton. This was described, when the lease was sold in 1853 after Barton's death, as "delightfully situated on a rising lawn in Rangemoor Park, commanding views of the immediate park scenery, comprising a fine lake of ornamental water, rich greensward aud noble oakwoods".  The accommodation consisted of a spacious entrance hall, drawing room, dining-room, library, numerous principal and secondary edrooms and dressing rooms, together with the usual "domestic offices, stabling, coach houses, and granaries upon an extensive scale". The architect is unknown. 

Rangemore House: a side by side comparison of the 1st and 2nd edition 25" maps of 1881 and 1901
shows how much the house was enlarged by Lord Burton.

The house was monstrously enlarged and internally redecorated by Col. Robert William Edis (1839-1927) for Lord Burton in 1898-1901, when it was more than doubled in size to accommodate a visit by King Edward VII, who came in 1902 and again in 1907. The overall style remains loosely Italianate, but the external elevations lack coherence and the many different facades created by running out wings in several different directions do not relate meaningfully to one another. 

Rangemore Hall: the house as massively enlarged for Lord Burton in 1898-1901 by Col. R.W. Edis.

Rangemore Hall: a detail of the elevation demonstrates the cavalier juxtaposition of irregular elements.
The interior is much better, with richly detailed and beautifully executed plasterwork and woodwork in a generally mid-18th century style. Lord Burton is said to have spent £200,000 on the place, but this seems an excessive estimate, even considering the scale and the quality of the internal finish.

Rangemore Hall: the drawing room and dining room of one of the apartments into which the house has been divided.

Rangemore Hall: the principal staircase is an example of the excellent Edwardian craftsmanship.
The roadway adjoining the house was moved to allow the enlargement of the gardens at the time of the 1850s rebuilding, but a more extensive landscaping was commissioned from Edward Milner in 1875. In the grounds are the stables, dated 1895, and a large brick-lined ice house approached by a long tunnel, with a pit said to be eighteen feet deep, which is a survival from the Georgian landscape. In Victorian times, there was an extensive complex of more than forty glasshouses, including an orchid house, which were heated by three large boilers and three and a half miles of pipes.

Descent: Duchy of Lancaster leased to John Rigby (fl. 1834); lease sold by 1835 to Henry Barton (1806-52) and then to Michael Thomas Bass (1799-1884); the Duchy sold the freehold after his death to his son, Sir Michael Arthur Bass (1837-1909), 1st bt. and 1st Baron Burton; to daughter, Nellie Lisa (1873-1962), 2nd Baroness Burton, wife of Col. James Evan Bruce Baillie (1859-1931) of Dochfour, and later of Maj. William Eugene Melles (d. 1953); she sold it 1949 to Staffordshire County Council, which operated it as Needwood School for the partially deaf, 1954-85; subsequently sold and divided into eight self-contained houses.

Byrkley Lodge, Rangemore, Staffordshire. 

In the medieval period, the estate formed part of Needwood Forest, and the first house here was a hunting lodge built in the 13th century. The property became part of the Duchy of Lancaster lands and was favoured as a royal hunting preserve by King James I and others. In the late 17th and 18th centuries the timber trees were harvested and much of the Forest was converted to pasture, and Byrkley Lodge was rented to Lord Townshend, whose wife had inherited the nearby Tamworth Castle estate. He seems to have engaged William Wyatt (1734-80) to rebuild the house on a somewhat larger scale as an occasional residence; the grounds were also landscaped at the same time, and included a cascade. A series of late 18th century drawings show the house with a one-and-a-half storey neo-classical front of three wide bays and two-storey service range behind, while a long detached stable block is visible behind. Edward Sneyd made improvements in the 1790s, perhaps including a long curving wall or covered passage linking the house to the stable block. There was also considerable internal remodelling in the 1820s, and further landscaping work in the grounds: the two pools south-east of the house were created in 1826. When advertised to let in 1834, the house contained “an eating room, library and drawing room, seven bedrooms, two with dressing rooms, five servant’s rooms, housekeeper’s room, and all other domestic offices”, and in 1852 the main reception rooms were still the hall, drawing room, library and dining room.

Byrkley Lodge: detail of a watercolour by John Spyers of 1786, showing the house designed by William Wyatt for Lord Townshend.
Image: British Library Maps K.Top.38.49.a

Byrkley Lodge: entrance front as rebuilt by R.W. Edis for Hamar Bass, 1887-91. Image: Historic England/Knight Frank & Rutley BB83/4292
The Georgian house was replaced by a large Elizabethan-style hous
e designed by R.W. Edis for Hamar Bass, the brother of the 1st Lord Burton, and built in 1887-91 by Walker & Slater of Derby, builders, reputedly at a cost of £150,000. The new house was constructed of intensely red Ruabon brick with Hollington stone dressings. The main block was planned around a central hall, with a service wing attached to one corner. The quality of the internal fittings and decoration - which ranged from the Jacobethan to neo-Adam in style - was uniformly high.

Byrkley Lodge: the central hall in the early 20th century. Image: Historic England/Knight Frank & Rutley BB83/4297

Byrkley Lodge: the library in the early 20th century. Image: Historic England/Knight Frank & Rutley BB83/4298
From the beginning the house had six bathrooms on the principal bedroom floor - an early example of such generous provision - and when advertised for sale in 1913, it was said to contain ‘a beautiful hall, 52ft by 43 ft, [a] suite of magnificent entertaining rooms, including the ballroom, study, boudoir, drawing room and library; well-lighted bedrooms and dressing rooms; and eleven bathrooms’, as well as the service accommodation.  

The house was put on the market in 1913 but failed to sell, although much of the estate was sold off, two farms going back to the Duchy of Lancaster. The house then remained the property of Sir William Bass until his death, but was sold and demolished soon afterwards. The site is now occupied by St George's Park National Football Centre.

Descent: Duchy of Lancaster leased 1754 to Field Marshal George Townsend, 4th Viscount Townshend; sold 1786 to Arthur Chichester (d. 1799), 1st Marquess of Donegall; sold in 1790s to Rear Admiral Edward Sneyd (d. 1832), who acquired the freehold; to widow, Maria Sneyd (d. 1848); to daughter, Mary Emma Sneyd (d. 1858), who leased it in 1850 to Michael Bass (1799-1864) and later sold to Col. Francis William Newdegate (1822-93); sold 1886 to Hamar Alfred Bass (1842-98); to son, Sir William Arthur Hamar Bass (1879-1952), 2nd bt.; to nephew by marriage, Peter Hastings (later Hastings-Bass) (d. 1964) who sold 1952; demolished soon afterwards.

Glenquoich Lodge, Invernesshire

In 1838 Edward Ellice MP bought the western half of the McDonnell estate from the impoverished lairds of the clan, who had already 'cleared' their tenantry from the estate through programmes of assisted, and later forced, emigration to Canada. Ellice (d. 1863), who was a 53-year old widower, was deeply influenced by the Romantic enthusiasm for Scotland, encouraged by Sir Walter Scott and later by Queen Victoria, and perhaps by his own early experiences in Canada. He built a modest shooting lodge in this wild and remote corner of the Highlands, on the shores of Loch Quoich. 

Glenquoich House: two watercolours of the original shooting lodge, showing the simple exterior and spartan interior in the 1840s,
from Janie Ellice's album of sketches.

As first built, it was a one-and-a-half storey building with dormer windows lighting the upper floor, sash windows and a slate roof. The interior, recorded in a number of family sketches from the 1840s, was sparsely and simply furnished with cane-bottomed chairs and iron bedsteads, suggesting that simple living was part of the attraction of highland life at this time. 

On Edward Ellice's death in 1863, the estate passed to his son of the same name, who later the same year purchased the eastern half of the former McDonnell estate, around Invergarry. He commissioned a new house there (Invergarry House) from David Bryce and made it his principal home. Glenquoich was let from 1873 to Michael Arthur Bass, later 1st Lord Burton, who had been brought up on holidays in the Highlands, and enjoyed stalking, shooting and fishing from an early age. 

Glenquoich Lodge: the house as enlarged and remodelled by Alexander Ross c.1900.
At first, he seems to have been content with the rather spartan conditions of Glenquoich Lodge, but after he became friends with Edward, Prince of Wales in the 1890s, he transformed the house into a luxurious highland mansion to the designs of Alexander Ross. The work was carried out at the same time as he was doubling the size of Rangemore Hall (Staffs), also with a view to royal visitors. At Glenquoich, the improvements (to what was still only a rented estate) went far beyond the enlargement of the house. Lord Burton laid out 130 miles of roads and carriage drives on the estate, and even bankrolled the construction of the Invergarry and Fort Augustus railway (opened in 1903) to provide access to it, via the station at Invergarry. King Edward VII came to Glenquoich in 1904 and 1905, but after the King's second visit Lord Burton gave up the lease. The lodge survived until 1955, when the construction of a new dam turned Loch Quoich into a much larger reservoir. The house was demolished and the site was flooded later that year. Any remains now lie several fathoms deep.

Bass family of Rangemore, baronets and Barons Burton


Bass, William (c.1721-87). Second son of William Bass (1695-1732) of Hinckley (Leics), plumber, glazier and smallholder, and his wife Hannah Fish, born about 1721*. He succeeded to his father's smallholding, and later established a carrying business between London and Manchester with his elder brother, John Bass. John withdrew from this concern in 1755, and after William's marriage he moved to Burton-on-Trent, where he was increasingly concerned with the carriage of beer from the town's growing brewery industry. In 1777 he sold his carrying business to Pickfords, and invested the proceeds in a house and brewery in the High St. at Burton-on-Trent (Staffs), from which he produced a premium quality beer for the English market. In 1784 he began exporting a strong warming ale to Russia via the River Trent and the port of Hull, and this remained an important market for the firm until the Napoleonic Wars. He married, 4 December 1757 at St Michael, Wood St., London, Mary Gibbons (d. 1786), the daughter of a London publican, and had issue:
(1) Michael Thomas Bass (1759-1827) (q.v.);
(2) William Bass (b. 1763), baptised at Burton-on-Trent, 2 July 1763; partner with his brother in the Bass brewery, Burton-on-Trent, 1787-95, but then sold his interest to his brother; his later career has not been traced.
He lived at Hinckley until 1758 and thereafter at Burton-on-Trent.
He was buried at Burton-on-Trent, 2 September 1787. His wife was buried at Burton-on-Trent, 2 March 1786.
*Some sources state he was born in 1717 but his parents were only married (at Derby) in that year, and he was their second son.

Michael Thomas Bass (1760-1827) 
Bass, Michael Thomas (1759-1827).
Elder son of William Bass (c.1721-87) and his wife Mary Gibbons, born 23 July and baptised at Burton-on-Trent, 26 July 1759. He and his brother inherited his father's brewery at Burton-on-Trent in 1787, but he bought out his brother in 1795, and 
entered into partnership with John Ratcliff (d. 1834) the following year. He continued to develop the Baltic trade with Russia and North Germany, exporting via the River Trent and Hull, and in 1799 he built a second brewery at Burton. After the decline in his export trade caused by the Napoleonic Wars, he and his son developed Indian Pale Ale for the south Asian marketHe married, 2 January 1794 at Burton-on-Trent, Sarah (1763-1837), daughter of Abram or Abraham Hoskyns of Newton Solney (Derbys), and had issue:
(1) Mary Bass (1795-1879), baptised at Burton-on-Trent, 7 August 1795; married, 4 October 1843 at Barton-under-Needwood (Staffs), Walter Joseph Gisborne (1797-1887) of Yoxall Lodge (Staffs) and Lingen, Presteigne (Radnors), but had no issue; died 20 December 1879; administration (with will annexed) granted, 13 February 1880 (effects under £8,000);
(2) Sarah Bass (1796-1858), baptised at Burton-on-Trent, 11 January 1797; lived at Derby; died unmarried, 17 December, and was buried at Burton-on-Trent, 22 December 1858; will proved 2 February 1859 (effects under £7,000);
(3) Frances Bass (1798-1881), baptised at Burton-on-Trent, 26 October 1798; married, 26 June 1837 at Barton-under-Needwood (Staffs), Archibald Fox (1800-71) of Derby, and had issue one son; lived latterly at 7 Vanbrugh Park, Blackheath (Kent); died 17 July 1881; administration of goods (with will annexed) granted 3 September 1881 (effects £14,874);
(4) Michael Thomas Bass (1799-1884) (q.v.);
(5) William Bass (1801-80), born 20 July 1801 and baptised at Burton-on-Trent, 13 January 1802; educated at Middle Temple (admitted 1839; called 1843); barrister-at-law; from 1852 land agent to Francis Dukinfield Palmer Astley of Dukinfield Lodge; lived at The Lakes, Dukinfield (Ches) and later at Duffield (Derbys); died unmarried, 23 September and was buried at Duffield, 27 September 1880; will proved 8 November 1880 (effects under £12,000);
(6) Abraham Bass (1804-82), of Moat Bank, Burton-on-Trent, born 23 February and baptised at Burton-on-Trent, 20 July 1804; solicitor; an amateur cricketer who played three first class matches and was chiefly responsible for the formation of Burton Cricket Club; married, 11 May 1852 at Stapenhill (Derbys), Margaret Jane (1816-78), daughter of Rev. George Wood Lloyd DD, vicar of Gresley (Derbys), and had issue one son; died 15 August 1882 and was buried at Stapenhill; will proved 14 December 1882 (estate £17,991);
(7) Rev. Roger Bass (1805-44), born 15 April and baptised at Burton-on-Trent, 31 July 1805; educated at Repton and Trinity College, Cambridge (matriculated 1826; BA 1830; MA 1834); ordained priest, 1836; vicar of Austrey (Warks), 1839-44; married, 17 August 1835 at Burton-on-Trent, Anne (1795-1859), daughter of William Worthington of Burton, but had no issue; died suddenly while riding, 8 April, and was buried at Austrey, 9 April 1844; will proved 15 February 1845.
He lived at Burton-on-Trent.
He died 9 March and was buried at Burton-on-Trent, 14 March 1827; his will was proved 14 February 1828. His widow died 22 August and was buried at Burton-on-Trent, 28 August 1837.

Michael Thomas Bass (1799-1884)
Image: Parliamentary Archives.
Bass, Michael Thomas (1799-1884).
Eldest son of Michael Thomas Bass (1759-1827) and his wife Sarah, daughter of Abraham Hoskyns of Newton Solney (Derbys), born 6 July 1799. Educated at Burton on Trent Grammar School and later at Nottingham. As a young man he was an officer in the Staffordshire Yeomanry Cavalry (Lt., 1824), and assisted in putting down riots before the passage of the Great Reform Act in 1832. He entered the family brewery business at Burton-on-Trent in 1817 and succeeded his father as head of the firm in 1827. When he joined the firm it was not flourishing because the Napoleonic wars had disrupted sales to its important Russian market. To substitute for this trade, a beer (the famous Indian Pale Ale) was developed for export to south Asia, which was the salvation of the firm. Between 1830 and 1880 
Bass and his partners (two generations of Ratcliffs and Grettons, and later his sons) expanded the business until it was the largest brewery in the world, eclipsing the major London brewers and producing about 1,000,000 barrels a year by the latter date. Bass increasingly delegated the day-to-day operation of the firm to his partners and managers, and became an advocate for the brewing trade in general, and this led him into politics. He served as Liberal MP for Derby, 1848-83, and although opposed to the hostile policy of his party on licensing, he was in other respects a committed Liberal, advocating free trade, low taxation, and improved working-class living standards. As his wealth grew in proportion to the success of the brewery, he became a generous benefactor to both Burton-on-Trent and Derby, and in the latter town he paid for a new library, art gallery, recreation ground, and swimming-baths. No doubt as a result of this generosity, he was enormously popular with his electorate. His growing wealth allowed him to assimilate to the landed elite, and he was JP and DL for Staffordshire from 1852, and a keen field sportsman, hunting until just a few years before his death. From the 1840s, he spent between four and six weeks a year in Scotland to shoot grouse, stalk deer, and catch salmon, latterly leasing Tulchan Lodge, Strathspey. He married, 8 December 1835, Eliza Jane (1812-97), daughter of Maj. Samuel Arden of Longcroft (Staffs), and had issue including:
(1) Sir Michael Arthur Bass (1837-1909), 1st bt. and 1st Baron Burton (q.v.);
(2) Emily Frances Anne Bass (1841-1915), baptised at Burton-on-Trent, 28 May 1841; married, 30 September 1862 at Tatenhill, Sir William Chichele Plowden KCSI (1832-1915) of Aston Rowant (Oxon), and had issue one daughter; died 29 November 1915; administration of goods granted 23 March 1916 (estate £15,518);
(3) Hamar Alfred Bass (1842-98) (q.v.);
(4) Alice Jane Bass (1843-1919), born 1 August and baptised at Yoxhall (Staffs), 16 December 1843; married, 21 October 1868 at Rangemore, Sir George Chetwode (1823-1905), 6th bt., and had issue two sons and three daughters; died at Lucerne (Switzerland), 27 November 1919; will proved 27 January 1920 (estate £4,385);
(5) Mary Arden Bass (1846-89), born 2 December 1846 and baptised at Barton-under-Needwood, 6 April 1847; she seems to have been excluded from the family circle and lived as a boarder with families in the London area, latterly at Sutton (Surrey), although she was not completely ostracized as her father bequeathed her an annuity; she died unmarried and was buried at Norwood Cemetery, 7 March 1889.
He lived at Brewery House, High St., Burton-on-Trent until 1848 and then leased Byrkley Lodge, where he lived during the 1850s. He leased Rangemore Hall from about 1853 and moved there in about 1860.
He died 29 April 1884, and was buried at Rangemore; his will was proved 27 May 1884 (effects £1,830,291). His widow died 7 August 1897; her will was proved 16 September 1897 (effects £5,406).

Sir Michael Arthur Bass (1837-1909),
1st Baron Burton. Image: NPG.
Bass, Sir Michael Arthur (1837-1909), 1st bt. and 1st Baron Burton. 
Elder son of Michael Thomas Bass MP (1799-1884) and his wife Eliza Jane, daughter of Maj. Samuel Arden of Longcroft (Staffs), born 12 November 1837 and baptised at Burton-on-Trent, 20 April 1838. Educated at Harrow and Trinity College, Cambridge (matriculated 1856; BA 1860; MA 1864). On leaving university he entered the family brewing business of Bass, Ratcliff and Gretton at Burton-on-Trent, eventually succeeding his father as Chairman in 1884, and ensuring that the business continued to thrive by offering a quality product at a time of increasing competition and decreasing demand for beer. He was also Deputy Chairman of the South-Eastern Railway, JP and DL for Staffordshire and Hon. Col. of 6th battalion, North Staffordshire Regiment (retired 1881). He entered politics as Liberal MP for Stafford, 1865-68, East Staffordshire, 1868-85, and Burton-on-Trent, 1885-86, and became a personal friend of Gladstone, although he joined the Liberal Unionists in 1894 in protest at the Liberal party's growing hostility to the brewing interest. His father having declined both a baronetcy and a peerage, he was created a baronet in his father's lifetime, 1882, and this explains why he was able to secure a remainder to his younger brother and the latter's heirs male. He was later raised to the peerage as Baron Burton of Rangemore and Burton-on-Trent, 13 August 1886. As he had no male issue, this peerage died with him, but he obtained a new grant as Baron Burton of Burton-on-Trent and Rangemore, 29 November 1897, with a special remainder to his daughter. A genial man, he became a personal friend of the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII), who stayed at Rangemore, his London house, and Glenquoich, and who appointed him KCVO, 1904. He was a freemason from a young age and became a prominent contributor to masonic charities, and well as continuing the tradition established by his father of munificent benefactions to the town of Burton, where his major projects including the new town hall (£65,000), St Paul's church (£120,000 and a £40,000 endowment) and a bridge across the River Trent (£30,000). He formed a notable art collection of works by the leading English 18th century painters (which were housed in 18th century surroundings at Chesterfield House) and also collected the work of contemporary artists (which was kept at Rangemore). He married, 28 October 1869, Harriet Georgina (1842-1931), fourth daughter of Edward Thornewill of Dove Cliff (Staffs), and had issue:
(1) Nellie Lisa Bass (1873-1962), 2nd Baroness Burton (q.v.).
He inherited the lease of Rangemore Hall from his father in 1884, purchased the freehold in 1886, and doubled it in size in 1898-1901 in anticipation of a visit by the Prince of Wales: it was estimated that the works cost £200,000. He bought Chesterfield House, Mayfair in about 1880, and also leased an estate in Scotland (Glenquoich Lodge) from 1873-1905, employing Alexander Ross to make additions to it c.1900, laying out 130 miles of roads and carriage drives on the estate, and even bankrolling a railway to provide access to it (from Invergarry station).
He died following an operation, 1 February 1909, when his was succeeded in his baronetcy by his nephew, Sir William Bass, 2nd bt. (q.v.) and in the 1897 barony by his daughter; his 1886 barony became extinct on his death; his will was proved 11 March 1909 (estate £1,000,000). His widow died 21 January 1931; her will was proved 12 May and 30 September 1931 (estate £207,027).

Bass, Nellie Lisa (1873-1962), 2nd Baroness Burton. Only child of Sir Michael Arthur Bass (1837-1909), 1st bt. and 1st Baron Burton, and his wife Harriet Georgina, fourth daughter of Edward Thornewill of Dove Cliff (Staffs), born 27 December 1873. She succeeded her father as 2nd Baroness Burton of Burton-on-Trent and Rangemore, 1 February 1909. She married 1st, 31 January 1894, Col. James Evan Bruce Baillie (1859-1931) of Dochfour, and 2nd, 25 July 1932 at St George, Hanover Sq., London, Maj. William Eugene Melles (d. 1953), eldest son of Joseph William Melles of Gruline, Isle of Mull (Argylls), and had issue two sons and one daughter by her first husband [for whom see my post on that family].
She inherited Rangemore Hall from her father in 1909, and on the death of her first husband inherited his estates at Dochfour (Inverness-shire) and Redcastle and Tarradale (Ross & Cromarty) for life. She sold Rangemore Hall to Staffordshire County Council in 1949 but to replace it she purchased Needwood Hall from her cousin, Sir William Bass. She inherited Chesterfield House from her father but sold it to Lord Lascelles in about 1920.
She died 28 May 1962; her will was proved 15 June 1962 and 2 May 1963 (estate £215,230). Her first husband died 6 May 1931; his will was confirmed in Scotland and sealed in England, 23 June 1931 (effects £33,669). Her second husband died 20 February 1953; his will was proved 26 August 1953 (estate £25,644).

Bass, Hamar Alfred (1842-98). Second son of Michael Thomas Bass MP (1799-1884) and his wife Eliza Jane, daughter of Maj. Samuel Arden of Longcroft (Staffs), born 30 July and baptised at Yoxhall (Staffs), 30 September 1842. Educated at Harrow. He was a director of Bass, Ratcliff, Gretton & Co., brewers, of Burton-on-Trent, but was effectively excluded from its management on account of his 'addiction to the Turf', which was thought to make him unreliable. He became Liberal (later Liberal Unionist) MP for Tamworth, 1878-85 and for West Staffordshire, 1885-98, and was Hon. Col. of 4th battalion, North Staffordshire Regiment and a JP and DL for Staffordshire. He was a keen racehorse owner and breeder and won the Ascot Gold Cup in 1896; he was also Master of the Meynell Hunt for 12 years. He married, 22 February 1879, the Hon. Louisa (1853-1942), daughter of William Bagot, 3rd Baron Bagot, and had issue:
(1) Sir William Arthur Hamar Bass (1879-1952), 2nd bt. (q.v.);
(2) Alexander Michael Bass (1885-91), born 10 February 1885; died young, 9 March 1891;
(3) Sibell Lucia Bass (1881-1957), born 28 June 1881; married, 2 June 1900 at St Peter, Eaton Sq., London, Capt. Berkeley John Talbot Levett (1863-1941) of London, second son of Col. Theophilus John Levett of Wychnor Park (Staffs), and had issue two sons and one daughter; died 23 January 1957.
He purchased Byrkley Lodge and Needwood House, Rangemore, and rebuilt the former to the designs of Col. R.W. Edis in 1887-91. He also had a town house at 145 Piccadilly, London.
He died of complications arising from a form of rheumatism, 8 April 1898; his will was proved 8 July 1898 (estate £196,547). His widow married 2nd, 28 Nov 1901, Rev. Bernard Day Douglas Shaw (1856-1922), vicar of The Annunciation, Bryanston Street, London; she died aged 88, from shock as the result of breaking her leg while alighting from a train at Lichfield, 18 May 1942; administration of her goods (with will annexed) was granted 16 November 1942 (estate £17,232).

Bass, Sir William Arthur Hamar (1879-1952), 2nd bt. Only surviving son of Hamar Alfred Bass (1842-98) and his wife the Hon. Louisa, daughter of William Bagot, 3rd Baron Bagot, born 24 December 1879.  Educated at Harrow, and entered Trinity College, Cambridge but gave up his place and joined the army instead. An officer in the 10th Hussars (2nd Lt., 1899; Lt., 1900; retired 1904; returned to colours, 1914; Capt., 1915; retired 1919), who served in the Boer War and First World War. He was Chairman of Provincial Cinematograph Theatres, from 1909, and also gave financial support to the London Film Co., but was chiefly associated with the horse-racing industry. He was a racehorse owner from 1901, a member and steward of the Jockey Club, joint Master of the Meynell Hunt, a Steward of the Pony Turf Club, and was involved in the foundation of Northolt Park Racecourse in 1929. He married, 9 June 1903 at Clewer (Berks), Lady Wilmot Ida Noreen (1880-1949), youngest daughter of Francis Power Plantagenet Hastings, 14th Earl of Huntingdon, but had no issue.
He inherited Byrkley Lodge from his father in 1898.
He died 28 February 1952, when the baronetcy expired; his will was proved 30 May 1952 (estate £269,900). His wife died 25 May 1949; her will was proved 23 July 1949 (estate £2,246).

Principal sources

Burke's Peerage and Baronetage, 2003, pp. 598-600; Sir N. Pevsner, The buildings of England: Staffordshire, 1974, p. 224; N. Tringham (ed.), The Victoria County History of Staffordshire: vol. X: Tutbury and Needwood Forest, 2007, pp. 70-71; T. Mowl & D. Barre, The historic gardens of England: Staffordshire, 2009, pp. 255-57; M. Miers, Highland Retreats, 2017, pp. 59, 66, 140, 210; Oxford Dictionary of National Biography entries for Michael Thomas Bass (1799-1884) and Sir Michael Arthur Bass (1837-1909), 1st Baron Burton.

Location of archives

Bass family, baronets and Barons Burton: deeds of Staffordshire estates, 1617-1924 [Staffordshire Record Office, D1165]

Coat of arms

Gules on a chevron cottised argent, between three plates each charged with a fleur-de-lys azure, a demi-lion couped of the first.

Can you help?

  • Can anyone provide additional or clearer images of the mid 19th century Rangemore House, or a view of its predecessor of 1822?
  • Does anyone know what happened to William Bass (b. 1763) after he sold his partnership in the brewery to his brother; or any more about the history of Mary Arden Bass (1846-89) and why she was treated so differently from her siblings in her father's will?
  • 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 3 October 2020 and updated 4 October and 8 October 2020.



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