02 The Owners

Of all the people connected with Gedling House between the eighteenth and twentieth centuries two played crucial roles in its development, Thomas Smith and William Elliott Elliott. They both inherited fortunes from successful commercial families based in Nottingham, the first from banking, the second from textiles. The complex connections between the various families involved in the story of Gedling House is important for understanding the development of the estate. Both men also appear to have had an important influence on the way the estate looked from the nineteenth century until the present day. Smith brought the land together as a unified estate and built the house, and Elliott probably made the changes that influenced the way the landscape and house finally looked. Because of the complexity of the relationships of the families of the early owners and to throw some light on the connections between them a series of family trees are provided in appendix 3. There is a profusion of Thomas Smiths and William Elliotts for this period and while the Elliotts are easily disentangled and placed in their rightful place, the Smiths are much harder to satisfactorily trace.

Thomas Smith - 1780s-1803.

The rise of the Nottingham Smith family began in 1658 when Thomas Smith [1631-1699] bought property for £210 at the corner of Peck Lane, Nottingham and set up business as a mercer. He later founded a bank, the oldest county banking house in the country, and the family fortune and influence grew (Easton 1903; Leighton-Boyce 1958). Thomas Smith had three sons, of whom Abel Smith provides the continued link with the story of Gedling House. As a banker Abel Smith provided mortgages that led to his bank coming into possession of lands in Gedling, starting the build up of the Smiths' estate (NAO: DD.LK 50/26).

The Thomas Smith who built Gedling House has a less clear history than others associated with the house, partly due to the profusion of people of that name in Nottingham during the late eighteenth century. Confusion over the dates is apparent in the literature, where the dates for several people can be wildly different (Compton-Reade 1902; Easton 1903). When it comes to looking at Thomas Smith the secondary sources appear muddled. Information about him can be cobbled together from the various sources. Much of the archive and secondary sources are unclear and some are contradictory. The best clue to the genealogy of Thomas Smith lies in Gedling House estate documents that refer to his grandfather as being Abel Smith and his wife being named Mary (NAO: DD.LK.50/45 & 54-5). This would seem to suggest that Thomas Smith was the son of John Smith and married to Mary Bigsby at St Peter's church, Nottingham in 1765. If this is correct, then he is the cousin of Sir George Bromley, Lord Carrington, Samuel Smith and George Smith, whose names keep cropping up in connection with Gedling House and Thomas Smith. It is unclear when he was born, and the date of 1806 for the death of a Thomas Smith of Bromley House might be referring to someone else. Either in 1768 or 1771 Thomas and Mary had a son, who was also called Thomas.

The younger Thomas Smith provides a number of interesting entries in Abigail Gawthern's diaries for 1803-4. In January of 1803 Thomas Smith danced with and proposed to Anna Gawthern, daughter of Abigail, at an assembly celebrating the Queen's birthday, and three days later he sent a letter to Abigail. The letter presumably requested permission for the marriage to go ahead. In 1804 she records, "Thomas Smith wrote a note to desire I would send him the letter he wrote to me from Gedling; I returned an answer that I had committed it to the flames, considering it of no importance." (Henstock 1980 106).

Thomas Smith first appears in the archive as the owner of land in Gedling when the records for the Land Tax Assessment began in 1780. He remains as an owner until 1803. He is also one of the most substantial landowners at East Bridgford until 1803. In the 1796 Land Tax Assessment he is described as the owner and occupier, which might give the date from which he actually moved into Gedling House (NRO: QDE 1/4; Appendix 1). He owned at least four houses in Gedling so the Land Tax might be referring to any one of them.

John Throsby noted in 1790 that Thomas Smith of Nottingham, one of the principal landowners in East Bridgford, was the heir to the title and estates of Sir George Bromley, Bart, if that gentleman died without male issue (Barley & Train 1972 i 298). Sir George Bromley, who changed his name from Smith, was a cousin of Thomas Smith, and he died in 1808 leaving his affairs in a very poor state. A chancery suit finally led to his property being auctioned in 1820 (NAO: DD 1109/25-26). In 1791 Sir George was also jailed for two years for an "attempt to commit an unnatural crime" (Hoskins 1991 59).

Charles Gerring refers to Thomas Smith and Mary, his wife, as witnesses to the sale of the house in 1803. He also refers to him as a banker, which at this later date is incorrect. Thomas Smith is refered to in mortgages of the 1780s as a banker (NAO: DD.LK 50/46). He is described in the Universal British Directory of 1793 as the Distributor of Stamps for Nottinghamshire. That the Distributor of Stamps and the builder of Gedling House are the same can be ascertained from an indenture taken out in 1798 to cover his liabilities, using the land in Gedling to cover a mortgage of £10,000 (NRO: DD/LK/50/50). He retained the post of Distributor of Stamps at least until 1806, when, according to certain documents, he died intestate (NRO: DD 1109/25-6). However, a Thomas Smith is recorded in this post until 1809 according to Holden's Directory. As distributor of stamps he was based in offices at Bromley house, Angel Row, Nottingham, which was also his home after he left Gedling (ibid). Bromley House was owned by Sir George Bromley, a close cousin of Thomas Smith.

Although he was one of the biggest landowners in Gedling and East Bridgford and part of the commercially successful Smith family of Nottingham Thomas Smith has not been as well documented as many of his cousins have. He can be traced as at Gedling and East Bridgford from 1780 to 1803 after which he was based at Bromley House, Nottingham.

William Elliott Elliott (1756-1844), owner 1803-1844.

While there is also a profusion of William Elliotts during the period covered they are better documented and the relationship between them can be directly followed. William Elliott Stanford, his brother Colonel John Stanford (1757-1823) and, their father William Stanford (1730-1796) all changed their surnames from Stanford on inheriting the textile fortune of William Elliott (1704-1792). The father changed his name in 1792 on the death of William Elliott and, the brothers in 1796 on the death of their father. They were required to change their names by licence under the terms of William Elliott's will in order to receive their large inheritance (NAO: M2093, probate of the will of William Elliott 1792; M18,094 abstract of wills). Godfrey and Stevenson provide the following note, that in the "Title of Mrs Eliza Rawson to a capital messuage or mansion house situate in Castle Gate, Nottingham... is the following paragraph:-'14th November, 1796, license granted by His Majesty King George 3rd to William Elliott Stanford Elliott, and John Stanford Elliott, to take and use the surname of 'Elliott.''" (1900 69).

In the middle of the eighteenth century the elder William Elliott, a Nottingham silk-throwster, discovered a superior method of dying and trimming black silk stockings. The workers in his firm had to sign a bond of secrecy 'not to disclose the art of dying' (NAO: M2088). For the later eighteenth century Elliott held a monopoly for finishing superior silk hose in the East Midlands. William Stanford and his brother Thomas Stanford were apprenticed to their uncle William Elliott in the mid- eighteenth century and in 1768 set up their own business as dyers and silk traders. In the 1780s William Stanford built a silk mill in Sheep Lane, Nottingham, with an adjoining cotton mill. A partnership was set up around 1788 with William Stanford's son-in-law, John Burnside, who already had a cotton mill and foundry on the River Maun in Mansfield. In 1800 Stanford's sons set up a cotton mill by the River Leen in Nottingham (Chapman 1967 42, 88-9; Felkin 1867 75). It was through these prodigious industrial activities that William Elliott Stanford was able to afford the Gedling estate and, from 1803, to put resources into improving his new property.

In 1788 William Elliott Stanford married Frances Beaumont at St Nicholas' church, Nottingham, a marriage at which the Reverend Thomas Beaumont officiated; the only marriage which he led at St Nicholas' at this time. It is unclear if Thomas Beaumont was the father or brother of Frances Beaumont, though the latter seems more likely.

William Elliott Elliott and John Elliott inherited their fortune in 1796 and both initially continued to live at their house at Stanford House, 19 Castlegate, Nottingham. Stanford House had been bought from Anne Stead by their father in 1775. William Stanford either remodelled or rebuilt.this house between 1775 and 1785. John Elliott continued to live here until his death in 1823 (Anon 1962). The house in Castlegate is of red brick with stone and stucco dressings and is discussed further in chapter three as one of the possible influences upon Gedling House. Another house, which may have influenced the garden temple at Gedling House, was built by the elder William Elliott around 1790 at Radford Grove, just outside Nottingham (Fig 14).

Later Owners and Tenants.

Although the later owners do not all share the same surname they all came into ownership of the estate through family inheritance. Until the house was sold to the War Department in 1952 the house passed to the Burnsides in 1844 and the Rawnsleys in 1904.

On the death of William Elliott Elliott in 1844 the house and the main part of his wealth and other properties were left to William Stanford Burnside [1791-1870] and his brother the Reverend John Burnside [1792-1864]. The Burnsides inherited the estate as their father, John Burnside, had

in 1786 married Ann Stanford, the sister of William E. Elliott and John Stanford Elliott. John Burnside was in business with William Stanford as a silk-dyer and framework knitter. It was William S..Burnside, a barrister, who occupied Gedling House with his wife Mary for 26 years until 1870. By the time William occupied Gedling House he was no longer practising law. Immediately he occupied the house there were changes made, although it is not clear what these were. William Burnside had, until he came into his inheritance, occupied Aspley Hall, part of the Woollaton estate. William E. Elliott was the lord and principal owner in Plumtree and had given the living of the Rectory to the Reverend John Burnside, which he held from 1816 until his death in 1864.

When William S. Burnside died in 1870 the estates then went to his son, John Elliott Burnside [1817-1904], who married his cousin, Julia Georgiana Burnside [1821-1887], the daughter of the Reverend John Burnside. There appears to have been no changes made to the estate during their ownership of Gedling House.

Walter Hugh Rawnsley, of Well Vale, Alford, Lincolnshire inherited the estate in 1904, although, it is unclear why John Elliott Burnside overlooked his son, William Elliott Burnside (1845-1911), who was still alive at this time. There are stories of one of the Burnsides at this time, known as "Baccy", who was somewhat eccentric, which might explain why the inheritance passed to the Rawnsleys. The connection between the Rawnsley family and the Burnsides comes through William Stanford Burnside's sister, Catherine Elizabeth Franklin. The daughter of Catherine and Sir Willingham Franklin, Catherine Ann, married the Reverend Robert Rawnsley (Appendix 3 B).

From this time the house was not lived in by the owners but leased out. The first and most illustrious tenant was Sir John Turney (1839-1927). In 1861 John and Edward Turney opened a tannery in Nottingham on a site known as Sneinton Island, to provide material for the fancier end of the leather and glove trade. The tannery prospered with John Turney becoming the sole proprietor as Chairman and Managing Director. He was a member of Nottingham Corporation for 46 years, acting as Sheriff in 1878, then Alderman and in 1886-8 Lord Mayor. He also served as a justice of the peace. He became the chairman of a number of other companies, including Raleigh (Mellors 1924 343-4). Until he moved to Gedling House in 1907 he had lived at a house called Springfield in Alexandra Park, Mapperley, a neo-Elizabethan house designed by Thomas Chambers Hine in 1857, one of Nottinghams most distinguished nineteenth century architects (Brand n.d..16). After the death of Sir John Turney the property was let to John William Carnegie Kirk and Norman Pilkington Haynes.

According to title deeds at the Sandfield Centre on the death of W.H. Rawnsley in 1936, the property passed to Helen Maud Rawnsley, Major John Richard Chaplin Rawnsley and Edmund Larken (Meaby 1952).

In 1954 the War Department paid £5,000 to Major Rawnsley for Gedling House and a part of the estate. At this time the house was left with only 10.957 acres of land. The War Department used the house for the Claims Commission. Also in 1954 Nottinghamshire County Council bought some of the land from the War Department, in the area that is now Carlton-Le-Willows School, and from 1966 the house was used as the Education Resource Centre.