The building of Taitlands, “a small mansion” on the outskirts of Stainforth, is known to have been commissioned by Thomas Redmayne but little is known of the man himself. Hearsay has it that he was a mill owner and/or quarry owner, possibly from Bradford, but hearsay is not always correct and not always supported by reliable documentation. Furthermore, in families with a small vocabulary of names and much inter-marriage, confusion between members of similar name and birth date is all too common. Such has been the case with the Redmaynes.
From his youth, Thomas may well have dreamt of a fine country house but, when, in 1824, he unexpectedly inherited the Stainforth property, the dream could become reality.
The site he chose, just south of Stainforth, commands a spectacular outlook over fell and farmland. He retained George Webster of Kendal, the leading architect at the time, and responsible for many fine buildings in the region, including the town halls of Settle and Kendal and Falcon Manor, Anley Hall and The Terrace in Settle, as well as the remodelling of Broughton Hall1. The Greek revival style of Taitlands was typical of his work. Construction probably began in the late 1820s, the initial square-built house being completed in 1831.
Thomas had been born in Stainforth, at the close of the 18th century2, into a family of yeoman farmers who held considerable land and property in the Craven area. A large proportion of this had come to Thomas’s father, Richard Redmayne, “gentleman of Stainforth”, along with an “earnest request to conform himself in matter of religion as a protestant to the Rites and ceremonies of the Church of England as established by law”3.
In 1793, Richard’s second marriage, obediently by Anglican rite, was to Ann, the daughter of Thomas Batty, yeoman farmer of Feizor4. Richard Jr. was born a year later, Ellen followed in 1795 and Thomas in 17963. Three years later, Richard Sr. died5, only 31 years old. Ann, herself only twenty-six, was left, not only with three very young children, but well advanced in her fourth pregnancy. Giles was born a week after his father’s death but died at the age of 10 months6.
Richard had provided well for his family7. Ann was to retain the house for life and to receive the income from his properties until Richard Jr. came of age and inherited the estate and the responsibility for the maintenance of the family. Each of his siblings would have a cash legacy when they reached 21 years. Richard’s Sr.’s friend and neighbour, Thomas Stackhouse, and his brother, Thomas Redmayne in Feizor, were guardians of the children and, with Ann, co-executors and trustees of the estate. A brass memorial plate was set in the floor of Giggleswick church.
Thomas’s childhood in the close farming community was probably both unremarkable and secure.The deaths of his father and infant brother, followed closely by that of his sister, Ellen8, possibly had little lasting effect upon the young boy. No doubt he spent much time with the Stackhouse family; Thomas Stackhouse Jr. became a lifelong friend.
While Richard Jr. was learning to manage the properties he was to inherit (duly conveyed to him in 18189), Thomas needed to plan a different future. His uncle, cotton merchant Giles Redmayne, was also a linen draper in Settle. Thomas may have learnt the drapery business there, for indeed that was his initial occupation.
‘Of full age’ in 1817 and in possession of his legacy of £500, Thomas travelled to London to join his father’s cousin, another Giles Redmayne, haberdasher and linen draper. This Giles, only three years Thomas’s senior, had grown up in Ingleton10 ; the two must have known each other well. Giles, who may also have learnt his trade from his namesake in Settle, had moved to London by 181111 and five years later was a draper in Covent Garden12. By 1818, he was a linen draper in New Bond Street and Thomas was his partner13.
New Bond Street, in what was to become Mayfair, had been a fashionable social venue in the 18th century; stone pavements, raised above the mud and filth, provided a popular promenade for the beau monde to see and be seen. But, in 1784, Georgiana Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire and powerful socialite, demanded people boycott merchants in Covent Garden after its residents voted against Charles James Fox, causing him to lose his parliamentary seat and the Fox-North coalition to collapse14. New Bond Street then became the fashionable place to shop in Regency London, the best dressmakers and tailors, jewellers, bootmakers and haberdashers serving the gentry and aristocracy in well-appointed premises.
By night, however, Bond Street was the haunt of gentlemen frequenting gambling houses and sporting clubs and some the “sporting hotels” (brothels) and ladies were not seen there after 4 in the afternoon. Even earlier in the day, unmarried young ladies were accompanied by chaperones.
It was to this world of high living and fashion that the country boy from Stainforth came in October 1817.
The next few years saw major changes in the lives of the two cousins. In daily contact with the rich and fashionable of the capital, Thomas no doubt soon absorbed rules of etiquette and fashion and an appreciation of the finer things of life. The business expanded15 and, as shown by his expenditure only a few years later, provided a substantial return on Thomas’s investment.
The personal lives of the two young men were also about to change. On a very cold day in December 1819, Thomas witnessed Giles’s marriage at St George’s, Hanover Square16. Two years later, he too was married, not in London, but in Thornton-in- Lonsdale, to Ann, the daughter of the Rev. Thomas Pooley, vicar of St Oswald’s17. The officiating minister, on that wet fourteenth day of November 1821, was Ann’s brother, the Rev. Thomas Burrow Pooley who had also signed Thomas’s marriage bond the day before18. Thomas’s uncles, Robert Redmayne and William Batty, and his cousin John Redmayne (son of Robert) were witnesses.
Thomas appears to have known the Pooley family well. Young Pooley had attended Kirkby Lonsdale Grammar19 where he and Thomas may have been a school friends; they were certainly close friends thereafter.
Initially, Thomas and Ann lived in New Bond Street where Thomas Jr. was born a year later20 but, whereas the house may have been adequate for two bachelors four years earlier, there were now two growing families to accommodate. So, in the mid-summer of 1824, Thomas took a house in nearby South Moulton Street. Ann Redmayne junior was born there, in July 182421.
About this time, Thomas had become a supporter and steward of the London Infant Orphan Asylum. He and his family later became life subscribers to the Orphanage22.
A month later, on August 7th, Thomas’s brother Richard died23. His mother, then living with Richard in Austwick, was granted administration24 but Thomas, as ‘natural heir in law’, inherited all his father’s estate (and any Richard had added), valued at under £3000 and which finally passed to him in 182825.
Now the only son, all family responsibility fell upon him but, in spite of this and his new responsibilities as land proprietor, Thomas clearly intended to stay in London. He had bought the leasehold on the South Moulton Street house when it was offered for sale in 182526 and continued to pay the rates until March 182827. With family to watch over things in Yorkshire he could continue as absentee landlord.
But further personal tragedy was to change his plans. In December 1825 his five-month-old daughter died28 and then, just over a year later, in February 1826, Ann also died29. Ann’s death may have been pregnancy-related but both she and her daughter may have succumbed to one of the frequent outbreaks of cholera or typhoid in the city. Indeed, Ann’s burial was one of ten at the same church that day. The risk to his son’s health may have contributed to Thomas’s decision to leave London or he may just have needed the support of his family in Yorkshire.
He let the London house and was in New Bond Street when, in February 1827, he purchased “several messuages, tenaments and parcels of land” in Austwick from William Beecroft Whaley’s executors of whom one was his uncle, William Batty30. However, when purchasing further land in June 183031, he was ‘of Austwick’ where his mother was possibly caring for her four-year-old (and only) grandchild , allowing Thomas to travel to and fro between London and Austwick, sorting out his affairs in both places. His partnership with Giles was not dissolved until 183032.
The Stainforth property also required his attention and during the course of his visits, Thomas became re-acquainted with Jane, daughter of his neighbour Thomas Brown and a child of eight when Thomas had left for London. In April 1830 Jane agreed to become his wife33.
A marriage settlement was agreed: £2,000 (more than £250,000 today), to which Jane was entitled under her grandfather’s will, came to Thomas and an annual income of £100, chargeable on his Stainforth property, would be paid to Jane for life. After their deaths, it would pass to any children of the marriage34. This ‘dowry’, with the £2,000 inherited from his mother35, no doubt helped Thomas meet building costs.
The marriage, on Jane’s twenty-second birthday, April 19 183136, was witnessed by Thomas Burrow Pooley. Sadly, Thomas’s mother was unable to see him settled; she had died two months after his betrothal37.‘1831’and ‘RTJ’ were carved into a lintel, now over the coach house doors, to commemorate the event.
The excitement on moving into the new house would have been heightened by the prospect of their first child. But Elizabeth Ann, baptised on February 5th 1832, survived for only a few days and was buried on the 17th38. Their second daughter, Jane, born in July 183439, survived and thrived, but Richard Brown Redmayne, born the following summer, also died shortly after birth40.
Meanwhile, Thomas increased his Austwick holdings, by further purchase41 and by Uncle William Batty’s will 42, so that, by 1835, he owned a extensive acreage in the township.
In 1833, in the manner of the local gentry, he had sent his son to Sedbergh School43. He had also started to become a prominent figure in parish affairs, frequently jury foreman at Austwick Court Baron, Church Warden at St Alkelda’s, and, in 1831, with others, established a fund of £520 to provide for the education of thirteen Austwick children44. In Stainforth, he became Guardian of the Poor and Chairman of the Parish Meeting.
It seems Thomas was a man of political views or complaint. He was co-signatory to an invitation in the press in 1835, to “fellow freeholders, electors and inhabitants of West Riding of Yorkshire,” to discuss the recently passed Corporation Reform Act, “mangled and transformed” by the House of Lords, and to consider petitioning the House of Commons on “this important measure”45. Other signatories were Charles Tempest, of Broughton Hall, William Bywater, William Clayton and William Birkbeck, Settle and Thomas Brown, Stainforth.
Life was probably evolving as Thomas had wished but, just before Christmas 1836, history appeared to be cruelly repeating itself. A year after the birth of her last child, Jane died46, probably in association with a further pregnancy. She was buried in Giggleswick47.
Fortunately, in addition to good friends, Thomas had a large supportive family network (Fig 2). His father’s siblings, Giles and Jane Redmayne, had married Ouseburn siblings, Mary and John Henlock48. John Henlock’s neices, Isabella Henlock and Mary Ann Stubbs, were also in Settle where they had an ‘Academy’ for young ladies at The Terrace. Visits of relatives across the Pennines would inevitably have brought Thomas into frequent contact with his cousin Jane, daughter of John and Jane Henlock and, after four years, they were married, in Gt Ouseburn on March 3rd 184049. The occasion was marked by the inscription ‘1840’ on a bird bath at Taitlands.
Later that year, Thomas took his son, now eighteen, to London, to be articled to an Attorney of the Queen’s Bench50,51. With his son’s future assured, the Redmaynes were able to settle into life at Taitlands. The 1840s were largely taken up with the management of property, tenants and young children. Daughter Jane, now six, was joined by Henry in 184152 and then by Mary in 184353; both were healthy babies. Henry’s baptism, on December 28th, was the first to be recorded in the new church register, rather fittingly, perhaps, as Thomas, now churchwarden, had contributed £200 towards the church building costs54. From1844 he was a church trustee.
If not a ‘hands-on’ farmer, Thomas did take an interest in his home farm. He supported the North Ribblesdale Agricultural Association and regularly attended the annual show in Settle55, and not without reward. He won first prize for his store pig56 in 1850 and, the following year, second for “the cheapest and best pump, cart and apparatus for taking out liquid manure, to be drawn by horse-power”57. The show was always followed by a grand dinner, with many toasts and many speeches58.
Although well established in the community, Thomas was not always on good terms with his neighbours. In the summer of 1843, Joseph Foster brought an action in trespass against him at the Yorkshire Assizes. Thomas had claimed right of way to his own pasture across Foster’s ‘close’ but, in a case “destitute of public interest”, the jury found for the plaintiff. Thomas paid damages of one shilling59.
The development of the railways in the 1830s and 1840s had not escaped Thomas’s notice, nor was he alone in anticipating a good return on investment in shorter stretches of track connecting local industries to the wider network60. As the early, over-optimistic speculation subsided, he promoted, and later became director of the Manchester, Liverpool and Great North of England Union Railway61, the North West Railway,62 and the Clitheroe Junction Railway63. In 1846 alone, he subscribed a staggering £20,290 (£2 million today) to Railway Subscription Contracts64.
His success enabled him to enlarge Taitlands into a luxurious country residence ‘with spacious drawing, dining and breakfast rooms and nine bedrooms with dressing rooms’, lavishly furnished with ‘rosewood and spanish mahogany furniture, Brussels and tapestry carpets’ and the usual accoutrements of early Victorian fashion. Attics, kitchens, scullery, butler’s pantry, cellars, and outbuildings, stables and coach house with pigeon loft, not to mention fourteen bee boles, completed the establishment. The date, 1848, was carved into a fireplace when the new north wing was completed. A second fireplace, carved with ‘1841’, Henry’s birth, was probably moved from its original site. Mary Ann’s arrival had not warranted a date stone.
The deaths of his aunt/mother-in-law in 184465 and of Thomas Burrow Pooley in 184766 would have saddenedThomas greatly, but a more profound blow was yet to come. Thomas Jr. had enrolled as attorney at the Queen’s Bench in June 184767 but, after a while in London68, emigrated to Australia. He arrived at Port Phillip Bay, on March 6 185269 but, seven weeks later, on April 6, he died as a result of a “Visitation of God”70. He left no will. His landlord and creditor who arranged a burial was granted letters of administration.
Despite this, life at Taitlands settled into one of socialising with the local gentry and of domestic comfort. Jane’s nephew, John Stubbs, made frequent visits both during and after his time at Giggleswick school, and the life of the Redmayne family during the 1850s is well illustrated in his diaries71. John would join Henry in ferreting or shooting or accompany Mary out riding. There were visits with Aunt Jane to Redmayne relatives - the Misses Redmayne, the Marriners at Clapham vicarage and ‘Mrs Robert’, widow of Thomas’s brother, in Settle - and many tea-drinking visitors to Taitlands. Occasionally there was dancing. Thomas and Jane continued to make frequent visits to relatives in Knaresborough and Ouseburn, and they to them, with occasional expeditions to London.
A family party, including Mrs Stackhouse, travelled to Knavesmire in September 1860 to watch General Cathcart’s review of the Yorkshire Volunteers; Thomas and Henry were in uniform. A month later Thomas and Jane were enjoying the sea breezes in Scarborough.
At home, Thomas clearly enjoyed being out with the guns. John Stubbs described one shoot in 1859: “...with Uncle, Henry & Thos Stackhouse to Austwick Wood to shoot. Mr Foster, Mr Ingleby, John Ingleby, Robt Hargraves, Thos Clapham, Joe Birkbeck, Thomas Stackhouse [Jr], John Hartley ...were there. We shot 46 hares 17 pheasants & 18 rabbits. We all dined at Thomas Clapham’s...” . An extraordinary ‘bag’.
The major event was daughter Jane’s marriage, on January 14 1858, to Leonard Sedgwick at St Peter’s Church. This was a grand affair. Thirty sat down to the wedding breakfast and more than fifty attended the dinner and “a splendid dance” in the evening. Celebrations continued until 3.30am.
On February 18 1862, John wrote“Aunt Redmayne died today at two o’clock”. Jane had had cancer “for about two years”72. Thomas died just five days later73 from brochitis, “softening of the brain for one year” being a contributary factor74. They were both buried at St Peter’s, Stainforth where a stained glass window was later commissioned by their family as a memorial.
A declining income, or extravagant living, had caused Thomas, three years earlier, to mortgage his property75. His Austwick holdings of about 160 acres and not subject to this, were sold 76. Jane received her mother’s legacy of £2000 plus a further £1000 and £10,000 was invested to provide for Mary. All else, including the mortgage, passed to Henry. The residual value of Thomas’s estate was initially £6,000, a far cry from the £20,000 he was able to invest 15 years earlier, but was later revalued at the Stamp Office at £1400077.
Mary Redmayne went to stay with her sister in London where a year later she married her brother-in-law’s brother, James Sedgwick78 in February1863. Henry, less fortunate, contracted pneumonia79 and died at Taitlands on March 13 186880. A military funeral at Stainforth followed, the North Craven Rifles firing the traditional three volleys over Ensign Redmayne’s grave81.
Henry left no will. After complex legal process82, his sisters Jane and Mary Sedgwick were confirmed his only next of kin83 and granted letters of admimistration.Taitlands, including 250 acres, was sold on June 2 1868, raising £13,33584; Thomas Stackhouse bought the house, with 2.5 acres, for £3,200. The contents were sold separately 10 days later85. Henry’s sisters shared the residual estate of £16,000.
Other than the Stubbs diaries, no contemporary accounts of Thomas Redmayne exist and the question ‘What of the man himself?’ remains largely unanswered. One gains an impression, however, of an ambitious man who aspired to, and achieved, the status of country gentleman; a man who endured great personal loss, but remained philanthropic, sociable, a loyal friend and widely regarded with affection. I also suspect he was charming and sartorially elegant.
Acknowledgements:The excerpts from John Stubbs’s diary are reproduced by kind permission of Alice Barrigan whose correspondence about the Redmayne-Henlock network has been most helpful. I am ever indebted to those who have selflessly transcribed numerous documents and made them available on the web site of Dales Community Archives.
Figure 1: Taitlands
Figure 2: Redmayne − Henlock Relationships