is set out the history of the earliest known generations of this branch
of the Burnell family. Here we continue the history of Robert
Burnell, who moved from Roundhay Park to Shadwell in the parish of
Thorner some time before 1717. Here he was a small scale farmer. Robert
and his wife, Jane Wiggin, had four sons:
(b1721), Timothy (b1724), Benjamin (b1727) and Abraham (b1730).
four married, neither Benjamin nor Abraham had children.
oldest son, Samuel, moved further northeast and from 1763 was farming
near Wetherby. Timothy also moved northeast, to Little Ribston.
live in Shadwell and was reasonably successful as
a farmer, sufficiently so that when he died in 1808 he was
land in Shadwell to Samuel’s children, Robert, Caleb,
(Procter) and Ann (Dixon) and land in Little Ribston to
Timothy’s son Peter
with instructions that amounts be paid from this to Timothy’s
James, Abraham and Elizabeth (Nichols).
it was the youngest of Robert’s children, Abraham, who did
really well for
himself. He did not follow his brothers into
farming, but at some stage must have acquired experience in trade.
Before the age of 30, he took the major step of moving to
London to seek his fortune. We find him in the Land Tax records for
1762 living at 133 New Bond Street, the owner of a haberdashery and
household hardware shop. At this stage, New Bond Street was a
comparatively recent development on a field alongside the River Tyburn
constructed by a consortium led by Thomas Bond during the 1720s. It
mostly consisted of narrow town houses where the proprietor lived
literally above the shop. The illustration shows typical houses in the
street, but not number 133.
the time Abraham moved
there, New Bond Street was just beginning to become fashionable, partly
because it had pavements raised above the dirt of the road along which
fashionable society could promenade. It
was only in the 18th century that shopping became a pastime
upper classes as opposed to something to be left to servants. In 1784
the Duchess of Devonshire, a prominent socialite, encouraged a boycott
of the shops in Covent Garden where the residents had voted against the
sitting member of Parliament and coalition leader Charles James Fox.
She encouraged people to shop instead in New Bond Street.
ribbons and buttons
which Abraham sold would have attracted upper class ladies and the
trade directories of the period show that from 1780 he had moved into
selling clothing as well as haberdashery and cut out the household
hardwares. By the end of the 18th century, New Bond Street was
frequented by a group of young men known as the Bond Street Loungers who
distinctive walk known as the Bond Street Roll. New Bond Street became
in the 19th century the most up-market shopping street in
London, but by this time Abraham had retired.
some point Abraham
married, but the only evidence for this comes from his will where he
asks to be buried in the same grave as his "dear wife, deceased". From
the fact that bequests were left to his nephews in law, John and
William Cousins, we may infer that this was the maiden name of his
wife. Perhaps in due course evidence of the marriage and of her burial
will be found.
extract from this map
of 1746 shows the layout of the streets at that time and the
approximate location of Abraham's shop.
a property owner,
Abraham was entitled to vote in the Westminster elections, and since
the secret ballot did not exist then, we even know which way he voted.
The 1780 election marked the beginning of modern parliamentary history
with the reformer and populist, Charles James Fox, opposing
the sitting government of Lord North, whose Westminster candidates were
Admiral Rodney and Lord Lincoln. It came in the wake of the
anti-Catholic Gordon Riots. Abraham voted for Rodney and Lincoln, but
Fox, dubbed 'Man of the People' won and formed a coalition government
with Lord North.
The Rise and Fall of Radical Westminster, 1780-1890 by Marc
satirical print includes the symbols of Neptune (Rodney),
Britania (Fox) and the Devil (Lincoln) with a realistic portrayal of
of The British Library.
proved unpopular and was dissolved by George III in 1784. In the
subsequent election, Fox fought to retain his Westminster seat against
Lord Hood and Sir Cecil Wray. Abraham voted for Hood and Wray. After 40
days of polling, Fox won by the narrow margin of 236 votes. Both sides
had engaged in dubious practices securing false votes while preventing
opponents' supporters from voting and the outcome was contested. There
was a surprising amount of doubt about who was entitled to vote.
One man voted for Hood and Wray on one day and Fox on
another, believing that as he owned two houses, he was entitled to vote
against the radical candidate in these two elections, this may be more
out of a personal dislike of Fox, since in the 1774 election he had
voted for Viscount Montmorres and Viscount Mahon who were associates of
the radical John Wilkes.
position as a
property owner and taxpayer also meant that he could be asked to serve
on the Coroner's Jury and we know of four inquests in which he took
part. On 14th January 1764 the case concerned Ann Gascoine, servant to
Lady Tyrconnel, who gave birth to an illegitimate female child who died
shortly after childbirth. Servants at this time were often prey to the
attention of their masters. It was ruled that death was due to natural
causes and not to any action by the mother.
on 30th July 1768
the inquest concerned Thomas Perrin who accidentally drowned while
bathing in water near Chelsea Water Works. The fact that his death had
occurred only two days earlier indicates how rapidly jury members were
required to respond to a summons. They usually physically inspected the
body before drawing their conclusions. 8 of the 12 jurors lived in Bond
Street, 1 in Grosvenor Mews and 3 in Pimlico.
on 16th January 1775
there was an inquest concerned an unknown man found drowned and
floating in the Thames. The jury found no marks of violence, but could
not reach any conclusion as to how he had drowned. Finally, on 11th
March 1783, Abraham was on the jury inquiring into the death by gunshot
of a John Argyle.
"That the said John Argyle not being of sound Mind Memory and
Understanding but lunatick and distracted on the Tenth day of March in
the Year aforesaid at the Parish aforesaid within the Liberty and
County aforesaid a certain Pistol Charged with Gun powder and a leaden
Bullet which he the said John Argyle then and there had in his Hand, to
and against the left side of him the said John Argyle did then and
there Shoot off and discharge, by Means whereof he the said John Argyle
did then and there give unto himself with the leaden Bullet aforesaid
so discharged and shot out of the Pistol aforesaid by the force of the
Gunpowder aforesaid in and upon the left side of him the said John
Argyle one Mortal wound of the Breadth of one Inch and of the Depth of
five Inches, of which said Mortal wound he the said John Argyle then
and there instantly died." Inspecting the corpse must have been a
London Lives 1690-1800. The University of Sheffield
1792 Abraham was 62
and had been working in the shop for 30 years. During that time he had
amassed considerable wealth for a merchant and could afford to retire.
He moved to Chelsea, then a fashionable, semi-rural village on
London. Here he lived in at 23 Lawrence Street, just off Cheyne Walk
local charities such as the Sunday School and School of Industry in
Street and St George’s Hospital at Hyde Park Corner. His shop was taken
over by the music seller, Robert Birchall, previously at no. 129. London
Metropolitan Archives; London City Directories
Sunday School movement began in the 1780s, frequently associated with
or other non-conformist chapels. The curriculum was not confined to
subjects but was designed to give working class children (and
adults) a broader education. It ultimately paved the way for the
of organised state education in 1870.
Street runs down to the River and contained a mixture of housing (some
grand) together with smaller workshops. From 1750-1784 the Chelsea
Works was located in the Street, but this would have closed by the time
view shows the end of Lawrence
Street where it meets Cheyne Walk and the River Thames.
Lawrence Street and Church Street, in former times, was the stabling
old Chelsea stage-coaches. The fare for inside passengers was 1s. 6d.;
1s.; and no intermediate fare of a lower sum was taken. Such are the
however, brought about by the "whirligig of time," that passengers
can now go almost from one extremity of London to the other for
Chelsea can now be reached by steamboat for the moderate sum of
and New London, Edward Walford, 1878
map below dates from 1814, 10 years after Abraham's death and shows 23
Lawrence Street. Map provided by Harvard
5th April 1802, ten years after his retirement, Abraham purchased
Bramley Grange Farm
Malzard, North Yorkshire from James Geldart of Kirk Deighton. (Wakefield
Deeds EN 134). The purpose of this
appears to have been to assist Timothy and his sons, because the land
leased back in 5 parts to Timothy, his son Abraham, James Geldart, John
and James Ridsdale of Kirkby Overblow, maltster. (James Ridsdale was
the Burnells, being the brother of Peter Ridsdale who married
would have been too old to work the land and in practice it may have
over by Timothy’s son, James. James witnessed the signatures
on the deed and we
know he later lived at Bramley Grange. The property included not only
buildings and surrounding land but also rights to two pews in Kirkby
Church opposite each other against the south and north walls.
buying Bramley Grange, Abraham made a codicil to his will leaving the
jointly to James and Abraham, sons of Timothy, but with the stipulation
they paid one thousand pounds to the children of Peter and Elizabeth,
other two surviving children.
Abraham died in Chelsea in 1804, his estate, including the Bramley
was valued at £7500. This sum in 1804, compared to average
earnings then, would be
worth over £6m today compared to today's average earnings.
However, its purchasing
power in 1804 would be only equivalent to about £500,000 in
today’s money. This
is because goods were relatively much more expensive in 1804 than they
today. On either count, Abraham was a wealthy man when he died. Lawrence H.
Officer, "Purchasing Power of British
Pounds from 1264 to 2007."
left specific bequests to all his nephews and nieces, small sums to
through marriage and to friends, and some money to St
George’s Hospital and the
Sunday School. It would seem that he had a servant or servants, because
were to get gratuities. The balance of the estate (excluding Bramley
was divided equally between Peter, James and Abraham (sons of Timothy)
Robert (son of Samuel).
was 45 when he inherited half of Bramley Grange. He reached an
his brother Abraham who had inherited the other half to buy out his
5th April 1805, immediately after probate had been granted. (Wakefield
Deeds EU 307). Abraham had a successful
as a corn merchant in the centre of Leeds and was no doubt happy to
farming to James.
seems likely that James moved permanently to Bramley Grange around
know that as late as 1802 he was still working as a carpenter in Little
record for the birth of his son
1804 his eldest daughter got married in St Andrews Church in Kirkby
her address in the parish record was given as Bramley Grange.
remained at Bramley Grange until 1818. By then he was 59 and may have
finding the farming too much. Anyway, he sold some or all of the land
February of that year to Thomas Durham of Masham, a grocer, linen and
draper and to William Lightfoot of Howe Farm, Masham, a yeoman. One
of the sale was that Peter had inherited the tenancy that Abraham
granted to Timothy, so Peter was also a party. (Wakefield
Deeds GR 609). James
moved to the nearby village of Grewelthorpe where he died in 1844 aged
Mary, his wife, had died in 1819 at the age of 60.
is no doubt that the money James and his brothers inherited from their
Abraham increased their status and enabled their own children to
James’ eldest daughter married a farmer in 1804. His son
schoolmaster, as did the youngest son, another Abraham. So
the things James was able to buy for his sons was an education.
also benefited. He inherited land from his uncle Benjamin and got
£500 plus a
quarter share of the residue of the estate from his uncle Abraham. He
left his sons Robert and yet another Abraham to carry on the joinery
Ribston. He was a staunch Methodist, having been described as a
preacher when he married in 1780. This was a period of rapid expansion
Methodist Church with many new chapels being built. Peter, with other
Methodists, was involved in the purchase of land to build new chapels.
On 27th June
1815 he and others purchased land at Cherry Gart, Knaresborough, almost
certainly to build a chapel, although this is not stated. Peter is
a “gentleman”. (Wakefield
7th May 1817 another group including Peter purchased land in the Low
Close at Boston Spa with the intention of “now erecting and
building a certain
Chapel or Meeting House for the Worship and Service of God”. (Wakefield
Deeds GN 644). Then on 17th March 1818
Peter as the lead name on the deed to purchase land in Little Ribston
piece or parcel of land a chapel or meeting house in which divine
intended to be performed…”
Read the Will
doubt Peter’s inherited wealth enabled him to contribute
enhance his status in the community, as well as putting the joinery
a sound footing. The names of the uncles, Abraham and Benjamin, became
family names which crop up down the generations to the present