The Ellison Family of Sudbrooke Holme and Boultham

The Ellisons of Sudbrooke Holme

The Ellison family first became connected with Lincoln in 1740, when Richard Ellison of Thorne, in Yorkshire, became the lessee of the Fossdyke, the Roman Canal which joined the Witham to the Trent at Torksey Lock. He was descended from the family of Ellison of Hebburn in County Durham, and was a wood-merchant, but had already had considerable and profitable experience in similar enterprises in south Yorkshire.

The waterways were not only channels for the drainage of land, but were also channels of communication. By using the Fossdyke, and then the rivers. corn, wood, ale and pit-props could be sent westwards from Lincoln to the West Riding cloth towns, and coal came back, which the Lincoln merchants supplied to distant parts of the county. In 1735 the state of the Fossdyke was so bad, however that wagons laden with hay were able to pass over it, and Lincoln Corporation, whose responsibility the maintenance of the navigation was, were unable to find sufficient money for more than minor works. They therefore resolved to seek a private undertaker to make the canal navigable, and, because of his experience, Ellison was one of those approached. In 1740 the two-thirds share of the city in the navigation was granted to Ellison by lease for 99 years at an annual rental of 25. He was bound by covenant to maintain a channel of 3 feet 6 inches, keep up Saxilby bridge, and indemnify the City against any claims arising on the altering of Torksey bridge. and by 1743 the work had already cost 3,000 and was far from finished. The canal was navigable in 1744, but by that time Ellison was dead.

The re-opening of the Fossdyke brought considerable benefit to Lincoln, including a reduction in the price of coal. The rent, fixed in 1740, was equal to the revenue the Corporation had been accustomed to receive, and although they now received it without deduction for repair, they left to the undertaker the whole benefit to be derived from the improved navigation and increasing traffic. The revenue from the tolls increased five-fold between 1736 and 1746, from 112 to 565, and this, of course, went to the Ellisons.

Richard Ellison I died on 20 December 1743, and was buried in the church of St Peter-at-Arches, which stood at the junction of the High Street and Silver Street, and was removed uphill about 1932 as part of a road widening scheme, to become St Giles church. His wife, born Susanna Venoy, whom he had married at Cantley in 1717, died in 1747, and was buried at Thorne. He was succeeded by his son Richard II, who controlled the navigation until his death In 1797, and is regarded as the architect of the Lincoln family's fortune. In 1775 he entered into a partnership with Abel Smith of Nottingham, one of the founders of the London banking firm of Smith and Payne, and John Brown, a Lincoln alderman, to establish the first bank in Lincoln. This bank, after two mergers, became the National Provincial Bank in 1918, and is now the National Westminster Bank Ltd., although it is still known as Smith's Branch, and that name appears above the door. The son of Abel Smith was created Lord Carrington in 1796, and was the ancestor of Lord Carrington formerly Foreign Secretary, and Secretary-General of NATO.

In 1759 Ellison bought the Sudbrooke Holme estate from Everard Buckworth, and went to live there in 1774 after the death of the life tenant. He built the last house to bear that name, which was demolished about 1930, although some alterations were made by his son Richard 111. In 1792 he purchased the Kirkstead estate, near Woodhall Spa, and this was sold by his executors about 1836. Richard II married Esther, daughter and Co-heir of Henry Walker of Whitby, and had several children. The eldest son, Richard III, who succeeded him and Henry, the second son, will occur later, and a third son, John, married Harriet, daughter of John Parker of Woodthorpe-in-Handsworth, Yorkshire, but died childless in 1810. The daughter Anne, wife of Samuel Buck, of New Grange, Recorder of Leeds, whose daughter Anne married in 1798, Sir Francis Lindley Wood, father of the first Viscount Halifax, Susanna, who, when she married Humfrey Sibthorpe of Canwick 1744~1815, Recorder of Lincoln, and M.P. for Boston and later for Lincoln, was described as a lady of amiable disposition and possessed of a large fortune' (although the latter was not yet true), and Harriet, who lived in Minster Yard and died unmarried on 2 June, 1830, at the age of 72. Sir Charles Anderson said of her a few years earlier that she 'had been very handsome, and was a fine figure, but as stiff as a poker and very prim'. Richard II died on 10 July, 1797, aged 76 and was buried on the north side of the chancel in Scothorpe church. His wife, Esther, known in the family as 'Silk-Grandmamma’, died on 30th December 1813, in her 88th year, and was buried in the sane vault. In his will he settled a two~thirds interest in the Fossdyke on his eldest son Richard III, and a one-third on his son Henry of Beverley. His personal estate was 35,604.

Richard III was High Sheriff of the county in 1793, but never achieved his ambition to represent the county in parliament, although he was M.P. for the City from 1796 to 1812, and was invited to stand again in 1814, but by that time he had been returned for Wootton Bassett in Wiltshire. In 1822, he was again invited to stand in the by-election caused by the death of his nephew, Coningsby Sibthorp, from the results of an accident caused by the removal of the linchpin from the wheel of his carriage, but he was too depressed by his nephew's death.

In 1805 the Lincoln West Drainage Scheme was undertaken to drain the low lands to the west of Lincoln on both sides of the Fossdyke, an area of nearly 4,000 acres growing only gorse and heather, and supporting myriads of wild duck, for which there were decoys at Burton, South Carlton, and Skellingthorpe. As a part of this scheme new bridges were built over the Great and Little Gowts drains in the High Street. It had some immediate success, as in 1806 a correspondent in the city noted that fat beef was growing on Swanpool, where fishes lately swam. The Fossdyke had always been difficult to maintain as the banks stood 10-14 feet above the water, and being of sand, part of them quicksand, were constantly falling in, especially if a vessel ran against them. Some work was done at the time the West Drainage embankment was constructed in 1805, when Ellison emptied the Fossdyke for a mile and a quarter from Lincoln and deepened it, but for nearly 15 years after that nothing more was done. Complaints became numerous, and in 1819 traders said that the channel was so silted up that they could not pass up and down even with empty vessels drawing only 2 feet of water. In 1826 an exceptional drought brought complaints to a head, and Ellison spent 6,000 in deepening the Fossdyke.

He married Hannah Jane, daughter of Isaac Cookson, Esq. of Whitwell Park, Durham, who died childless on 4 January 1810, in the 55th year of her age, and was buried in a vault on the south side of the chancel in Scothern church. Although he left no legitimate issue, he did leave one illegitimate son, Richard, born in 1607,who was to become the first Ellison of Boultham, by a Miss Jane Maxwell, whom he married within a few years of his wife’s death. The place and date of this marriage are not known, but it apparently took place somewhere in Scotland. The marriage register for St George's, Hanover Square, London, under the date 14 December, 1814, records 'Richard Ellison of the Parish of Hampton in the County of Middlesex and Jane Maxwell (now Ellison) of this Parish (the Parties having heretofore been married to each other) were married in this Church by Licence'. The circumstances surrounding this ceremony were given in a sworn statement Ellison had to make on the previous day, when he applied to the Archbishop of Canterbury for the licence. He declared that sum time before be, being a widower, and Jane Maxwell, then being a spinster, were married to each other in North Britain (Scotland) according to the Usage and Law or Scotland', and that they now wished to be married according to the rites and ceremonies of the Church of England. The identity of Jane still remains a mystery, as although she was stated to be the daughter of William Maxwell, Esq., and an achievement in Scothern church has the arms of Ellison impaling those of Maxwell of Monreith, no member of that family who could have been married to Ellison is to be found in Burke Peerage, nor is the present head of the family aware of her.

It seems that Jane bore him at least one other son, as the Lincoln Date Book records the death, on 1 December 1840,at Birr Barracks, King's County. Ireland, of typhus fever, in his 26th year, of Christopher Ellison, Esq., captain in the 88th Regiment, youngest son of the late Colonel Ellison, M.P., and brother to Major Ellison of Boultham Hall. Although, by his age, we may assume that he was born after the death of his father's first wife, he, too, must have been illegitimate, as if he was born after Richard's marriage to Jane, he would, presumably have inherited the Sudbrooke Holme estate. There is a monumental inscription to him in St.Helen's Church, Boultham.

Ellison died at his house in Great George Street, Westminster, on 7 July, 1827, in the 74th year of his age, and on 18 July his remains passed through Lincoln for interment at Scothern. The hearse containing the body was drawn by six horses beautifully plumed with ostrich feathers, and the bier was also decorated with ostrich feathers, and followed by eleven coaches. His second wife, formerly Jane Ellison, died at Teddington, Hampton, Middlesex, on 7 February 1847, aged 71, and was buried at Hampton. There is a memorial to her also in St Helen's, Boultham.

On the death of Richard III without legitimate issue, the Sudbrooke estate passed to his brother Henry, of Beverley, who was born in October 1761, and married Mary Perryman, daughter of William Berry, of Bristol by Mary, daughter and co-heir of Sir Warton Perryman, Bart., and by her had issue one son, Richard, and two daughters, Mary Esther-,who married her cousin Humphrey Waldo~Sibthorp of Canwick, and Caroline Harriet, wife of General Marten.

For some time before the death of Richard III, opposition to the way that the Ellisons were carrying out their responsibilities concerning the Fossdyke had been growing, and a ‘careless and ineffectual cleansing' of 1827 did not appease the public. A Commission of inquiry in the Court of Chancery was instigated by the merchants and traders and dragged on for years. By 1837 both Richard and Henry were dead and the heat had gone out of the battle, which ended in 1839 in Ellison’s favour. Henry had died in 1636 and was succeeded by his only son Richard, who, as soon as the litigation was ended, offered to sell the lease, but the city council felt that the price was too high. The Stamford Mercury newspaper said that a railway to Gainsborough could be built for less, and a few years later this became a reality when it was proposed to build just such a line. This would have captured the Fossdyke grain trade and had an adverse effect on Ellison income, so he sold his lease to the railway company, which built the line along the bank of the Fossdyke. Thus ended the Ellison connection with the Fossdyke after a little more than 100 years.

Richard Ellison IV was born at Thorne on 25 March 1788, and educated at Eton. He entered the army about 1806 as an officer in the lst Regiment of Foot Guards, and served under Sir John Moore in the Peninsular War, including the Battle of Corunna. Later he served in the Walcheren expedition, where he caught such a virulent fever that he was invalided home and resigned his commission. In 1814 he married Elizabeth, the eldest daughter of General Terrott of the Royal Artillery, but they had no children. He was High Sheriff of the county in 1848, but apart from that took little part in public affairs. He was described by one contemporary as 'the most estimable man and the most thorough Christian I know', and by another as one of the kindliest of men .He was a real patron of art, especially in water-colours, and had fine specimens of Copley Fielding and De Wint. He was also one the first of Millais patrons. He left his paintings to the nation. He greatly improved the grounds and made a piece of water at Sudbrooke...... He lived a retired life, and did not enter into great society, but few were more hospitable to his friends and acquaintances.'

A generous supporter of all good causes, he founded a school at Scothern in 1837, and in 1850 the curate of Sudbrooke said that Scothern was a village supported by the bounty of Richard Ellison but it was full of the most ungrateful set of blackguards he ever met in his life. When the Lincoln Poor Law Union was set up in 1836 he was elected Treasurer, but he resigned in protest against the use of force against paupers...He died on 20 November 1859, leaving about 350,000, about 10,000 of which he left to various charities immediately, and several similar legacies to be paid annually. He also left 2,000 to the Rev Charles Pratt Terrott, Vicar of Wispington from 1838 to 1886, (who was almost certainly his brother-in-law), for the rebuilding of Sudbrooke church, and his pictures were to be exhibited in the South Kensington Museum, but not on Sundays, and in order to comply with this condition they were fitted with blinds, which were drawn on Sundays. His widow died on 14 May 1873, aged 77, and buried with her husband in the chancel of Scothern church. As Richard left no issue the Sudbrooke Holme estate was then inherited by his two sisters, Mrs. Waldo-Sibthorp and Mrs Marten, and later passed to Coningsby Charles Sibthorp, who sold it in 1919. The house was demolished in the 1920's and houses built on the estate.

The Ellisons of Boultham

As we have seen previously, the first Ellison of Boultham was Richard, the illegitimate son of Richard Ellison III of Sudbrooke by Jane Maxwell, (Ellison III’s mistress) and he was born in 1807, while his father was still married to his first wife. Ellison 1 of Boultham afterwards called Ellison 1a married Charlotte, the daughter of Sir George Chetwind, 2nd Baronet, on 1 August 1830, and according to Sir Francis Hill's Victorian Lincoln, page 71, his father provided for him at Boultham on his marriage, but if this were so it must have. been made in anticipation of the marriage, as by the time it took place his father had been dead for three years. He became a Justice of the Peace and a Deputy Lieutenant of the county, and the Lieutenant commanding the Royal North Lincoln Militia. Like his ancestors he soon became involved in drainage problems, as in 1840 there were such severe floods that even unladen vessels could not get through the High Bridge, and two new steam pumps were put in, one by Ellison 1a at Boultham. In 1864 he rebuilt the chancel of St Helens church, Boultham, and in 1868 added the small churchyard, where both he, and his wife were buried on their deaths on 30 December, 1881 and 8 April, 1863, respectively. They had two sons and two daughters.

Richard George, the elder son, we will cover later. The younger son, Charles Christopher Ellison, was born on 26 November, 1834, and was educated at Rugby and Trinity College, Cambridge. He was ordained in 1858, and was curate of Newark until 1868, then for a time Curate in charge of Wrawby near Brigg, until he became Curate of Boultham in 1863. In 1874 he became Vicar of Bracebridge and Rector of Boultham. An interesting book was published early in the twentieth century 'solely for private publication'. entitled 'Lincolnshire Leaders, Social and Political’, The book which was obviously written for the social class it described, said of C.C. Ellison that in 1897 he retired into private life, or practically so, for he still officiated as Rector of Boultham'. The present Rector is unlikely to consider that his position is equivalent to private life, but the population of the parish in 1897 was only about 600.

C.C. Ellison took a leading part in local affairs. He was chairman of the Lincoln Board of Guardians for nearly 30 years, and Chaplain of Bracebridge Asylum for 43 years. He was an expert in ivory and metal turning, an angler and a fine shot, but was probably most famous as a rose grower. He laid out 4 acres of garden at Bracebridge with thousands of roses, and when he opened the garden to the public it was one of the outstanding events of the Lincoln year as thousands of people visited it. On 29 September 1863 he married Elizabeth, the daughter of Henry Beevor, Esq., of Blyth, Notts, and she died on 5 June 1909, he on 11 March, 1912. Of their 6 sons, the 4th, Alfred Astley, became a Rear Admiral and died in 1932. The youngest, Major Guy Moretom Ellison, born in 1883, married in 1910 Evelyn Constance Boyd Garfit, daughter of Bartholomew Garfit, of Dalby Hall, near Spilsby and they lived latterly at Hykeham Hall. Their daughter, now Mrs Anne Faulding, is the only member of the Ellison family still living in Lincoln. A great-grandson of C.C.Ellison, and son of a cousin of Mrs Faulding, is Richard Ellison, who used to be a Test cricketer.

The elder of the two daughters of Richard Ellison 1a of Boultham Hall, Charlotte Elizabeth Mary, married in 1854, Captain Charles Coningsby Sibthorp of Canwick (1817-96), and the younger, Caroline Jane, married in 1861, as his second wife, Joseph Shuttleworth of Old Warden Park, Biggleswade, Bedfordshire, the Lincoln ironfounder, on whose Bedfordshire estate the Shuttleworth Collection of Vintage Aircraft is now preserved. He married Miss Ellison, but there were no children.

Shuttleworth tried unsuccessfully to buy Newstead, in Nottinghamshire the former home of Lord Byron, the poet.. He then bought land at Hartsholme, where he built Hartsholme Hall. The final occupant of Hartsholme Hall was Lord Liverpool and after the house was occupied by the army during the war it was bought by the Corporation in 1951, and demolished.

Ellison Street and Beevor Streer commemorate the families of the Rev. C.C. Ellison and his wife. Richard George Ellison, the elder son of Richard of Boultham Hall, was born on 9 May, 1831, at Teddington in Middlesex, and was educated at Eton. He was commissioned in the 47th Regiment, and served as a Major in the Crimean War, during which he acted as aide-de-camp to General Sir John Pennefather. He was present at Alma, Inkerman, Sebastol and the capture of Balaclava. On his return to Lincoln he was met at the railway station by the Mayor and Corporation, who took him in an open carriage with 4 horses to Boultham, where they lunched, and "half the town had cheese and ale". On the 4th of June 1863 he married Amelia, only child of John Todd, Esq., of West Newton, Cumberland, and they had two sons and two daughters. The elder son, Richard Todd Ellison, we will come to later. His younger brother, George Paget Ellison, a Captain in the 9th Lancers, was born in 1868, and died of enteric fever at Kroonstad in South Africa on 7 June 1902. There is a wall brass to him in St Helen’s Church.

Charlotte Amelia, the elder daughter, married in 1888 Michael Stocks of Upper Shibden Hall, Yorkshire and their elder son Michael George Stocks, (born 1892), a lieutenant in the Grenadier Guards, was killed in action at Ypres on 10 November, 1914. The younger daughter, Constance Mary, married in 1869 Harry Plumridge Levita, and their son, Francis Ellison Levita, was killed in action in October 1914. R.G. Ellison's son, and his two grandsons, are commemorated by the broken column (to denote they were the last of the male line) in Boultham churchyard. R.G. Ellison was high Sheriff in 1886, a Deputy Lieutenant of the county and a Justice of the Peace. He was also Colonel of the 2nd Volunteer Battalion of the Lincolnshire Regiment ' He was Appointed Ensign on the Body Guard of Yeoman of the Guard, made a Companion of the Victorian Order, and in 1907, as the oldest Yeoman, was knighted. He died on 27th February 1908, and his widow in October 1914.
Broken column monument in St. Helens churchyard.

His elder son, Richard Todd Ellison, was born on 19 September, 1867, and was married in 1896, to Elma, the only child of Sir Albert Kaye Rollitt, a Hull solicitor, steamship owner and Liberal M.P. for Islington North. In 1913 R.T.Ellison sold the Boultham estate to a Nottingham Syndicate for development and went to live at Grantham, where he died in January 1932. He is interred in the churchyard at Stoke Rochford and the East Window was inserted in his memory. His ledger slab complete with his coat of arms lies outside and just to the east of the north porch door. There is a nice wall tablet in his memory next to the Ellison window in the south wall of the nave in St Helen’s church. The Ellison window was badly damaged in the 1980’s and was one of the items restored for the Millennium in 2000A.D.

For about 40 years after they left Boultham the family retained the advowsons (the right to nominate clergymen to the Bishop for institution as incumbents) of Boultham and Bracebridge, but they have now relinquished those rights. The sale of the contents of Boultham Hall extended over five days in June 1913

The Boultham estate covered a vast area, and Boultham Park, extensive as it is, is but a shadow of its former self. The plans which were prepared in 1913 for the sale of the estate by the developers for building show that the Park covered the whole of the area between Boultham Park Road and the river, extending to Newark Road at its junction with Rookery lane. The present Moorland Avenue is shown as a footpath to Boultham Moor. Access to Boultham Park Road was then obtained by means of a private bridge across the river behind where Sharp's motor-cycle shop used to be in the High Street. This shop was originally the drive lodge. A leafy lane then led to Boultham Park Road at what is now the Co-operative Society's dairy, and a further lodge still stands at the top of Hall Drive.

When the present Dixon Street bridge was constructed and the road joining it to Boultham at the Dairy junction was made up in 1924, the private bridge was dismantled and re-erected over a mile or so up river. It now connects Russell Street, Bracebridge, with Boultham via "The Track" or "Cinder Path" as it was always known. Part of the foundations of the original drive bridge can still be seen on the east bank of the river a few yards to the north of the present Dixon Street river bridge

No buildings at all were shown on either Boultham Park Road or Skellingthorpe Road.

The proposed layout of the estate roads, which were never constructed, is fascinating - for instance, Hamilton Road was to be extended across St Catherine's and Boultham Park Road to come out where the Parklands public house now stands, with roads running off it, and the whole area along the railway line from Skellingthorpe Road to the old avoiding line was earmarked for sites for works. At the bottom of the footpath to Boultham Moor it was proposed to lay out a golf links. Before the Great War came, 150 houses had been built on Boultham Park Road, including the Brancaster Drive area, but the War prevented most of the proposed development, and the post-war thinking on the layout of the estate was different. Most of the houses were built between the two wars - for instance, building of the Swanpool Garden Suburb, a Ruston venture, began in the summer of 1919, and the first house was completed in October of that year. From 1919 to 1930 the Estate Office was on Boultham Park road, between the premises of Mr A. Priestly, builder, on one side, and those of Mr H.W. Stoor, grocer, on the other.

During the Great War Boultham Hall, which in happier days had been the scene of many garden fetes and other similar events, was a military hospital, and the bridge in Hall Drive over the Catchwater Drain earned the name of 'Soldiers' Bridge,( or Soldiers Lump) as it was a favourite spot for convalescent soldiers to stop for a smoke having been forbidden to go any further away. In 1929 the Hall and Park were bought by the City Council and the grounds laid out as a public park. Early in 1959 the roof on the house had some attention and made water tight. The house was finally demolished some six months later.

In the garden of a house in St Peter’s Avenue stood a monument, supposedly erected in memory of a favourite Ellison horse named Simon said to have been brought back from the Crimea. It was believed that the area derived its name of Simon’s Hill Estate from the horse. In fact the monument is what is known as a Vista Monument. It was placed in the location to be seen as an interesting monument to stand on higher ground and visible from the house. Some years ago it was going to be sold but I brought it to Councillor Baldock’s notice and the sale was stopped. The monument now stands on Simon’s Green, a circular collection of pensioner’s bungalows just off Lakeview Road a movement of only about 250 yards.



Much of the original was written April 2nd 1985 by Mr R. Drury to be available for the opening of St Helen's Church on Easter Day, 1985. In compiling it he made considerable use of the two books by Sir Francis Hill ‘Georgian Lincoln and Victorian Lincoln’. Other information was obtained from ‘Burke Landed Gentry’, ‘An Account of The Sibthorp Family’ by Canon A.R. Maddison, and the Lincoln Date Book.

Ron Drury .lived until the late 1990’s at 27 Mayfair Avenue, Lincoln.
(A house built on part of the old Boultham Park.) 2 April, 1985.

I have brought the details up to date and added some extra information from my own sources.
P.Fairweather. Bell Grove Lincoln.




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