Review Number 86 – June 2019

The Goldings of Walsham le Willows

Online genealogists have traced a Golding family tree back to the birth of (Sir) Nicholas Golding in 1370 in Estonia, and indeed to three further (undated) generations before him. The first Suffolk entry in this line starts with William Golding of Glemsford (1390-1467) and, 10 generations later, unburdened by much other than sparse and intermittent evidence, we reach Samuel Golding of Walsham le Willows (1784-1855). During this time there are some chronological incongruities in the chain – probably of little real significance as we do not know much about most of the names listed anyway, but there is diverse speculation and opinion as we get to the immediate parentage of Samuel. We do know with some certainty that Samuel Golding came from Bury St Edmunds and was baptised at the Bury parish church of St James (not yet having undergone its comprehensive 18th century restoration and ultimate rebirth as a cathedral) on 24th November 1784. It seems to be most likely that his parents were William Golding, probably the one from Clare, Suffolk, who was married to a Susannah Clarke, about whom little else is known. Eleven years later William and Susannah had another son, James, a brother to Samuel. He was born in 1795 in Fornham St Martin and he died in 1835. The year after James’ birth his parents had another surviving child, Susannah (1796-1873), and she, according to varying records, was born either in Walsham Le Willows or Finningham. And there was also another daughter, Elizabeth, probably born after this: in August 1826 the marriage took place in St Mary’s Church of Frederick Fowell of Hopton, solicitor, and an Elizabeth Golding of Walsham le Willows. There was also a possible further brother to Samuel: a Henry Golding is mentioned in some records but nothing more has been traced of him so far. But Samuel may have had at least four siblings.

On 28th February 1804, at the age of 20, the young Samuel Golding, by now “of Fornham St Martin” was enrolled for a period of 5 years articled clerkship[1] with, as his Master, John Sparke, solicitor, of Walsham Le Willows. John Sparke (1753-1814) was a well-regarded local lawyer. Born in Irchester, Northamptonshire he was educated at Rugby School and Lincoln College, Oxford (Bachelor of Civil Law 1778, Doctorate 1782). In 1785 he bought the Manor of Reeves Hall, which he left to his son John upon his death together with various other holdings in Walsham.  He is buried in the chancel of St Mary’s church, Walsham.

In 1812, and prior to John Sparke’s death, Samuel, having been trained for his profession, was a practising solicitor working with the older man and acting as conveyancer in the purchase and sale of property in the surrounding area[2]. He acted on behalf of Henry Keeble in the sale of a house and 8 acres of land in Woolpit[3]. Among other transactions at that time he acted in conjunction with Messrs Isaacson, surveyors, of Newmarket, in the sale of the mansion belonging to the Mingay family in Thetford[4]. He also acted in the sale of a small estate at Great Ashfield and Badwell Ash for the executors of the late James Mingay[5].

In 1814, it was announced that Mrs Elizabeth Searles (68), formerly of Ipswich, had died[6]. Her estate was valued at over £50,000, a “great deal” of which she had bequeathed to Mr Samuel Golding of Walsham le Willows[7]. But the legacy was problematical and a court case ensued when many of the details were aired for all to see. Mrs Searles was in fact unmarried; her title was honorific and she had no close relatives, although she did have quite a lot of money. The hearing was held at the Suffolk Assizes[8], at Bury St Edmunds, on 26th June 1815 – a week after the Battle of Waterloo and when the newspapers were full of this news[9].

The case was taken at the behest of three distant, but aggrieved, relatives of Mrs Searles, to try the validity of the Will, with a member of the Searles family as plaintiff and the three nominated executors, Messers John Sparke, George Paske, and Samuel Golding as defendants. John Sparke was included as the son (and executor – and heir) of the John Sparke senior with whom Samuel had continued to work following his apprenticeship. Sparke senior had been, until he died, Mrs Searles’ lawyer. George Paske of Needham Market was a member of a distinguished local family, lawyer, and Suffolk Magistrate. Samuel Golding had, in place of the ailing Sparke, drawn up the Will on Sunday 29th May 1814.  John Sparke senior had died in August 1814, and Mrs Searles died in June the following year. The Court asked the jury to pay particular attention to the impropriety of an attorney drawing up a Will against the relations of a testator, and in favour of himself. The Will bequeathed some small legacies to various poor relations of the deceased but the significant residue was left to the three attorneys involved – with a survivorship clause: if any of them predeceased her his share would be divided among the others.

Sarah Candler, a servant of the late Mrs Searles, gave evidence that while in her final years the health of Mrs Searles was bad, she was however “perfectly in possession of her senses”. She also testified that Mrs Searles was occasionally visited by members of the Golding family, including Samuel’s mother and sister, and on one occasion had seemed emotionally dependant on the young Mr Golding. Another lawyer, Reeve Bunn, one of the witnesses of the Will, was called upon to testify that, prompted by “her weak state” he had confirmed with the testator that the Will had been read over to her and that the contents were perfectly satisfactory. Other witnesses gave evidence to show that Mrs Searles had employed Mr Golding out of respect for Mr Sparke senior but that in the event of the latter’s death she intended to take her business out of Mr Golding’s hands as being “too young and flighty”.

For the defence Serjeant Frere also called to court the evidence of Mr and Mrs Piper at whose house Mrs Searles had died. They were also the two other witnesses to the Will and they fully corroborated Mr Bunn’s testimony with regard to Mrs Searles’ knowledge of its contents. In their view she was fully in possession of her senses, never under restraint, and no person was denied access to her. Susannah Golding, sister of Samuel and at this point nineteen years of age was then called to testify – in circumstantial detail – that she had been present at the making of the new Will. Any potential conflict of interest seems to have been ignored. An earlier Will, drawn up by Mr Sparke, had been read over by her brother to Mrs Searles and any suggested amendments noted. When specifically asked if she had any other relations to whom she wished to leave anything she had replied “none that she cared for, or they for her”. The former Will had specified Messrs Sparke and Paske as executors and residual beneficiaries. Mr Golding had demurred when Mrs Searles proposed that his (Mr Golding’s) name be inserted in the new Will in place of Mr Sparke, who was now clearly unwell. He had further suggested that some other professional gentleman must write the Will but she would have no one else to do it but him: “she did not wish the entire world to know her concerns” and insisted that he therefore be included as joint executor with the other two – and potential beneficiary. Mr Golding had then gone away in the afternoon to draw up the new Will and upon his return had read it out carefully to Mrs Searles. He had then left it with her to be read over by her, while he went to fetch witnesses. She further confirmed that the Will subsequently signed and witnessed, was the same document read out to Mrs Searles.

Judgement was ultimately given for the defendants, particular attention being giving to the evidence of Mr Bunn. As John Sparke senior had in fact died before Mrs Searles, the survivorship clause was implemented, benefitting Messers Paske and Golding. The sum involved would be the equivalent of at least £3 million pounds today and potentially created a very useful nest egg for a single young man of 31. By the time of his marriage, some years later, Samuel would be well established locally.  

A few months after the trial, on 31st August 1815, Samuel took into Articled Clerkship, “for a period of five years” his brother, James Golding. James trained and worked with him for four years but on 9th of August 1819 the clerkship was transferred “for completion” to William Brooke, solicitor, of Kenninghall, Norfolk. James completed his training there before setting up in practice in London. An immediate replacement in Walsham was found in the clerkship of John Waredale King[10], son of Samuel King, of Swaffham, who entered into five years of Articles with Samuel. By 1823, following his completed apprenticeship, James lived and practiced as a solicitor in Salisbury Square, Fleet Street, London. Thereafter he was frequently involved in legal transactions in conjunction with his brother[11]. No doubt an affiliated metropolitan address also added some stature to a rural solicitor’s practice.

Throughout his professional career Samuel had numerous other trainee solicitors apprenticed to him from time to time. These included:

Thomas Andrew of Coggeshall 1820
Daniel Potter of Great Chesterford 1825
Henry Rodwell of Little Livermere 1831
Thomas Fox Simpson of Bardwell 1843

Susannah and Samuel Golding, sister and brother, both got married locally and, whether by coincidence or convenience, they married a pair of siblings. Susannah married Daniel Vautier (1795-1831) in Walsham church in 1817, when they were aged 21 and 22 respectively. After their marriage Susannah and Daniel Vautier lived at Stanton Park, Stanton. They had six children[12]. Daniel died in tragic circumstances at the age of 36 (in The Four Swans, Bishopsgate, London, of “an apoplectic fit”)[13]. The estate had to be subsequently sold. In the 1851 census Susannah Vautier, “Widow and Landed Proprietor”, is living in the newly developed Eaton Terrace, Belsize Park, Hampstead. The three unmarried sons with her are Richard (29), “clergyman not having care of souls”, Joseph (26),”gentleman” and Alfred (24), “architect”.

In 1820, three years after Susannah’s marriage, Samuel married Daniel’s sister, Harriet Vautier (1799-1877) in Stanton. He was 35 and she was 21. The Vautier family were of French Huguenot stock from Luneray, Haute Normandy. Born in London, Harriet had been baptised at the Huguenot church of St Ethelburga, Bishopsgate. 

The father of both of the Vautier children was another Daniel Vautier (1764-1813)[14]. He had been commissioned into the Royal Navy. The naval records show that he died at Stilton in 1813, before his children reached maturity. He had married Jane Wright in 1792 in Southwark. She was aged 21 and she died in Walsham in 1846 at the age of 75. She shares a memorial stone with, among others, her daughter Harriet – in St Mary’s churchyard as we will see later.

Samuel and Harriet had three daughters, Jane (1821-1856), Ellen (1825-1911), and Mary Anne Dorothy (1831-1884) and two surviving sons, Samuel (1823-1896) and Thomas Mingaye (1827-1904). An earlier Thomas died in infancy. All of Samuel’s children were born in Walsham Le Willows and baptised at St Mary’s church. The distinctive middle name of the second Thomas, Mingaye, is something of a mystery, particularly as a given name. It is of Huguenot origin and certainly it was not an unknown family name in Northern France, and may therefore have been familiar to the Vautier family. There had however been a ‘Mingay’ family in Norfolk for centuries, supposedly descended from the woollen industry émigrés from France, and one descendant of that line at this time was William James Mingay  (1784-1865)  of nearby Thetford. He was a well-known and successful naval officer, often appearing in the newspapers[15]. Like his fellow Norfolk contemporary, Horatio Nelson, he too progressed from midshipman to Admiral. It would be interesting to know if there was any connection between Mingay and his fellow naval officer Daniel Vautier RN (1764-1813), Harriett’s father. But nor is it taking speculation too far to consider that there may have been more than just a coincidence in the conveyancing work Samuel had done for the Mingay family in 1812, referred to above.


On 21st October 1826 it was announced that Mrs Ann Miller had died in her mansion house locally. Samuel Golding had acted for her in various legal matters including the protection of her sporting rights on farms leased by Messrs Miller, Clamp and Brook, in Walsham Le Willows, Wattisfield, and Stanton[16].  She was the widow of the Very Rev Combe Miller, late Dean of Chichester Cathedral, who had similarly died in Walsham a decade previously. She was also the daughter of the late Rev. Sir William Green, Bart., Rector of Eccles and Snetterton – she had significant means in her own right – and she bequeathed her substantial property to her nieces who lived in Sussex. This they subsequently sold. Accordingly the following year, on 11th July 1827, the ‘For Sale’ columns of the Bury and Norwich Post carried an advertisement for the following disposals:


An extensive mansion, most delightfully situate, with Offices, Coach-houses, Stables, and other conveniences, in a very complete state; walled-in Gardens, Shrubberies, Pleasure Grounds, and Lawns, most tastefully laid out, and about 30 acres of fine meadow land attached, late the residence of Mrs Miller, deceased.


With excellent Houses, Agricultural Buildings, and Cottages, in capital repair, containing


of rich Arable and Grass land, in the occupation of most respectable Tenants, under Leases, in all which the Game and Right of Sporting are reserved.
The Estate is very compact, handsomely wooded, and highly desirable either for the Residence of a Family of Distinction or Investment.
Further particulars of Mr Golding, Solicitor, Walsham; Mr Golding, Solicitor, 13 Salisbury Square, Fleet Street; and of Mr WW Simpson, Estate Agent, Bucklersbury, where Plans of the Estate may be seen, and tickets to view obtained.

In ‘Pigot’s Directory for Botesdale and Redgrave (1830)’ Samuel Golding is listed among the Gentry and Clergy of Walsham. Over the following decades he acquired an extensive portfolio of properties in Walsham and became the “most significant landowner” according to ‘Kelly’s Suffolk Directory’.

The Grove, Walsham le Willows

In 1835 he bought The Grove. The 1841 census shows Samuel (50) living at Church Street’ with four servants (while Harriet and their two daughters Jane and Ellen, are staying on the night of the census in Maddox Street, Mayfair, London).

By 1842[17] Samuel Golding owned some 29 plots of land in the parish, mostly in the centre and to the east, totalling 152 acres. He owned Folly Hall Farm and Heywood Farm in the south-east corner of the parish boundary. His holdings included houses, fields, plantations and allotments. In addition to The Grove, set in 30 acres of pleasant parkland, he owned the various houses and cottages on its southern and northern flanks. He owned Brook House and Brook Cottage, and “Bridge House” (now “Priors Close”), The Priory, and also the churchyard surrounding the church itself. But he also had significant assets elsewhere, as his will subsequently showed Samuel bequeathed “cottages farms lands and other hereditaments ……… belonging in Walsham le Willows Ashfield Magna Badwell Ash Wattisfield Gislingham [and] North Lopham”.

BURY AND NORWICH POST Wednesday 13th July 1842

William Alderton, aged 24, Bury Saint Edmund s, labourer, pleaded guilty of having on the 22nd of May last, feloniously stolen a snaffle bridle, and divers other articles, the property of Samuel Golding, Esq. solicitor, of Walsham le Willows; 7 years transportation.

John Lock and John Langley were charged with having received some horse clothes, shoes brushes, and other articles, the property of Samuel Golding, Esq., of Walsham-le- Willows, knowing them have been stolen. Mr. O’Malley appeared for the prosecution and Mr. Dasent for the defence – Acquitted.

A study of the ‘Topography and Genealogy of Suffolk’[18] published in 1844, had the following summary for Walsham: “In the 20th [year of the reign] of Queen Elizabeth, Sir Nicholas Bacon, Knt., Lord Keeper, had a Court of Survey of the chief manor of Walsham, and also of the Manor of Church-house, and of the customs and tithes of the rectory. The tithes continued in the Bacon family until 1673, when they were purchased by John Hunt, Gent., of Cambridge; whose descendants held the same until 1782; when they were purchased by John Sparke. Gent., whose son in 1835, sold portions to diverse persons having estates in this parish[19], and the residue, with the rectory, and the site of the manor of Church-house (or Parsonage-House), to Samuel Golding, Gent., who is the present owner, and has a neat residence and good estate here, formerly Aston’s; since, Barton’s”[20].

He is mentioned in White’s Directory of 1844: “Jas. B[aden] Powell Esq is now Lord of the Manor[21] but a great part of the parish belongs to HJ and TH Wilkinson[22], S Golding and J Fisher[23] Esqrs who have handsome mansions here”.

The 1851 census for Walsham also includes some of Samuel’s employees. Living in Brook House near The Grove, were Frederick Lawley (34) and family from Uttoxeter, “Solicitor on the Rolls, now a general clerk in solicitors office”, and nearby, Ziba Jones[24] and family, “solicitor’s general clerk”. Communications were also constantly improving; a universal cheap postal system (the Penny Black) started in 1844 and the local main line railway to London opened in 1846.

Samuel’s Children

All of Samuel’s children were born in Walsham Le Willows and baptised at St Mary’s church. Three of his children married. Jane, the eldest child, lived at home where she appears at The Grove in the 1851 census. Jane Golding died in 1856 at the age of 35, unmarried. Her death occurred a year after the death of her father. They are buried together in the chancel of St Mary’s.

The two sons, Samuel and Thomas, were initially educated at Dedham Grammar School[25] in Essex. Samuel was then educated for the Church at St Peters College, Cambridge (BA; 1845) and was ordained by the Bishop of Ely following graduation. He was appointed to the curacy of Walsham le Willows in 1846. His father’s property purchases from John Sparke (son) included an investment in the ‘Advowson’ of the parish which gave him various financial responsibilities but which included the right to nominate the appointed clergy. The following year, in March 1847 after some years of the terrible potato famine in Ireland[26] a collection was made in Walsham parish church, simultaneously with other parishes elsewhere, “for the relief of the distressed Irish and Scotch”.  After “an appropriate and impressive sermon preached by the Rev Samuel Golding” the sum of £35.10s.  was raised locally[27]. This would be the equivalent of £3,500 today and whatever the sources of the funds it is a remarkable sum from a village which at that time would have contained many pauper families in its own right. He resigned his Walsham appointment in 1848 and was subsequently appointed to the curacy of Mautby, Norfolk and then in 1858 to the ‘perpetual’ curacy of Martindale, Westmoreland. Reverend Samuel Golding married Elizabeth Harcourt from Norwich (the marriage took place in Shoreditch, also in 1858) and they had four children, all born in Martindale: Harriett (1861), Blanche (1863), Arthur Vautier (1865) and Frederick (1872). In 1876 he was appointed Rector in the tiny village of Ousby, Cumberland where he conscientiously served, and he died there twenty years later at the age of 73. He did seem to inherit some property responsibilities from his father’s estate.

Ellen lived at home, unmarried, and later in life cared for her widowed mother Harriet, moving with her to various addresses. In the 1861 census Harriett (60)”Fundholder” and Ellen (36) – ditto – are living together “near the church” with 2 servants. By the time of the 1871 census they have moved away to 159, (Old) Norwich Road, Ipswich. Upon Harriet’s death in 1877 Ellen stayed some time with her brother Samuel in Cumberland and also with some of her other siblings. The death of her mother Harriet was registered in Kensington, presumably while staying with Mary Ann. Harriet’s remains were then taken back to Walsham to be buried. She is buried with her mother Jane (nee Wright), (1768-1846) and, subsequently, the unmarried Ellen (1825-1911) in St Mary’s Churchyard.

The year after her father’s death Mary Anne Dorothy left Walsham and married William Paterson, also a solicitor, at the fashionable St James Church, Piccadilly, Westminster in 1856. Their home was a smart address at 13 Sheffield Terrace, Kensington Gardens, and they had 3 children. Mary Ann died in Kensington, seven years later, at the age of 53.  In April 1881 prior to her death, the family were renting a house by the sea at 19 Clarence Parade, Portsea, Portsmouth, overlooking the promenade gardens and with views of the seafront from a big bay window. Her sister Ellen was staying with them there.

Thomas Mingaye continued to live in Walsham and practiced law[28] like his father, and became a partner in his father’s Walsham le Willows practice, eventually succeeding him while still a young man. In 1858, three years after his father’s death Thomas married Isabella Exshaw. She was 19 and he was 31. Born in county Tipperary, Ireland, she was the youngest daughter of the 13 children of the Church of Ireland rector of the village of Kinnitty (pop.350) in County Offaly (then called ‘King’s County’) in the centre of the country and the middle of the Bog of Allan. Her father, John Exshaw[29], was a member of an extensive and well established Anglo-Irish family.  Samuel Golding, brother of the groom, travelled from Martindale to conduct the wedding ceremony in Kinnitty church.

BURY FREE PRESS Saturday 3rd July 1858

WALSHAM LE WILLOWS: A very gratifying scene occurred here on Thursday evening last, on the occasion of T. Golding, Esq., returning from his wedding tour in Ireland. On entering the village, between and 6 and 7 o’clock, the church bells rang out merrily, and continued to send forth their inspiring music during the evening. The Walsham brass band paraded the High-street, and the inhabitants joined in singing cordial welcome to their respected neighbour. Many of the principal inhabitants retired to the Boar Inn, where Mr, Golding’s good health was enthusiastically drunk, many good wishes expressed for the future happiness of himself and his lady. The ringers also repaired to the Boar, and rang several changes on hand-bells; and some of the company did not separate till late hour,

Thomas’ Children

The married couple returned to The Grove, Walsham, where over the next twelve years they had nine children, eight of whom survived to adulthood. They were all baptised in St Mary’s church: Samuel (1859-1918), Thomas (1860), John (1861-1898), Ellen Isabel (1862-1953), Richard (1864-1949), Francis (1866-1936), Angel Eveline (1867-1945), Herbert (1868-1930) and Reginald (1870-1913). Four of the children would marry but only one of them in this country.

In June 1865 Golding became a member of the ‘The Scientific’ Lodge of the Freemasons in Cambridge. In June 1869 he joined the ‘Royal St Edmunds Lodge’ in Bury St Edmunds.  

Thomas Mingaye Golding (1827-1904) Isabella Golding (1839-1911)

The married couple returned to The Grove, Walsham, where over the next twelve years they had nine children, eight of whom survived to adulthood. They were all baptised in St Mary’s church: Samuel (1859-1918), Thomas (1860), John (1861-1898), Ellen Isabel (1862-1953), Richard (1864-1949), Francis (1866-1936), Angel Eveline (1867-1945), Herbert (1868-1930) and Reginald (1870-1913). Four of the children would marry but only one of them in this country.

In 1878 the Golding Memorial window was installed in St Mary’s Church where Thomas was sometime Church Warden. It commemorates in particular Samuel (d.1855) and his wife Harriett (d.1877) and their eldest daughter Jane (d.1856).

(detail) Makers of the ‘Golding’ window St Mary’s church

Of the next generation, Samuel followed his father into law and became a solicitor locally, initially in partnership with his father. He did not marry. Thomas joined the Trinity House Lighthouse service and also did not marry.

John, having been a Lieutenant in the local West Suffolk Militia, joined the regular army in 1882 at the age of 21. He rose through the ranks of the 13th Hussars and was commissioned 2nd Lieutenant in the 1st Battalion, Royal West Kent Regiment in 1890.  He married Ethel Ada Blythe from an army family[30] in Malta in November 1891, a year after the death of her father, Lt Colonel Samuel Fritche Blythe of the 35th Royal Sussex Regiment. John was promoted Captain of a company in the Suffolk Regiment in 1897 but he died at home in Walsham the following year. They had one daughter, Ellen. He is buried next to his father in Walsham churchyard.

BURY AND NORWICH POST Tuesday 4th February 1890

WALSHAM-LE-WILLOWS. Sergt. J. Golding, 13th Hussars, who was lately gazetted to a Second Lieutenancy in the 1st Battalion Royal West Kent Regiment, is a son of Mr. T.M . Golding, of Walsham le- Willows. He was formerly a Lieutenant in the West Suffolk Militia.
SUFFOLK AND ESSEX FREE PRESS Wednesday 12th February 1890

WALSHAM LE WILLOWS – Lieutenant J. Golding – A meeting was held in the sergeants mess room of the 13th Hussars at Piershall Barracks, Edinburgh on the 4th inst. on the occasion of bidding farewell to Sergt. J. Golding (who is a son of Mr T. Golding of Walsham le Willows) who has been promoted to a second lieutenancy in the Royal West Kent Regiment. The evening was opened by RSM Sergeant (presided) who in presenting Lieut. Golding on behalf of the mess with a carriage clock said he had known Lieut. Golding during his service to be an exemplary NCO; that he was well liked by all ranks and that during his three years in the mess had been a credit to it. He hoped he would prosper in the new regiment as he had in the old one. Lt Golding in responding said that during his years in the 13th Hussars he had always found friends and trusted that he might find as open-hearted ones in the new regiment: as for the present he had received it would always keep him in mind of his old friends. During the evening several songs and recitations were rendered.
ARMY AND NAVY GAZETTE Saturday 2nd July 1898

OBITUARY Capt. John Golding, 1st Batn. Suffolk Regiment, died at Walsham-le-Willows on the 22nd ult., aged 37 years. After serving for close on eight years in the ranks the deceased officer obtained his commission in the Royal West Kent Regiment Jan. 29, 1890; became Lieutenant Oct. 4, 1893; and was promoted to a company in the Suffolk Regiment in February last.

Ellen married locally (see below). Richard, Francis and Herbert all emigrated to Australia where Richard and Herbert married and raised families, now spread throughout Queensland. Angel was unmarried and lived with her unmarried brother Samuel in Walsham. Reginald left Walsham and lived at various addresses in London. He was employed as a stockbroker’s clerk. He did not marry and died aged 43.

Despite his relatively high profile locally Thomas Mingaye Golding had constant money problems, perhaps not unlinked to the cost of raising a large family.  But despite subsequent public ignominy he seemed remarkably resilient. On 23rd March 1880 a small paragraph appeared in the Bury and Norwich Post announcing the resolution of the financial affairs of Golding. That same day parliament was dissolved as the Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli, had called a General Election[31], so the newspapers were pressed for space, which may have accounted for the limited coverage of his affairs; or perhaps this was simply an early example of “burying of bad news”. So far as Mr Golding was concerned he had major debts that he could not pay. He owed over a million pounds in today’s terms and for (say) no more than 20% of that his creditors held security. The value of his other assets fell well short of covering the balance due.

His insolvency must have been a blow to the local Walsham shopkeepers and tradesmen as they would be ill-placed to absorb significant bad debts. It was nevertheless agreed at the creditors meeting that they would not seek full bankruptcy but would accept the liquidation of his assets in settlement. Accordingly on 23rd April 1880 rather more publicity was given to the consequent auction conducted at West House, West Street, Ixworth Road, Walsham of the entire contents of his home there. These included the furniture, china, paintings, silver, wine, linen, glass etc. together with his horses and carriages and even the “greenhouse plants – Camellias, Azaleas, Roses etc.” Because over 1,000 people attended the sale, which took place in a marquee in the grounds of the house,  “conveyances” were arranged to meet the trains at Elmswell and Finningham railway stations together with an omnibus from the Angel Hotel in Bury St Edmunds.

The paintings sold included works by quite distinguished and in some cases contemporary local artists and seem to have been mainly of charming rustic scenes and animals. They included works by Edward Robert Smythe (1810-1899), John Frederick Herring (1795-1865), George Armfield (1808-1893), George Morland (1763-1804), a “reputed” work by Thomas Gainsborough (1727-1788), a “supposed” Teniers (1610-1690), Richard Wilson (1714-1782), Delacroix (1798-1863), and Wouvermans (1619-1698). Purchasers included an agent on behalf of the Duke of Hamilton, and various local collectors. Despite the “spirited” bidding for the oil paintings, the watercolours and prints “did not sell well”.  However “an ebony cabinet, inlaid with ivory set with precious stones in gold and silver” made 50 guineas (£5,000 today) and was bought by the husband of Mary Ann Golding. The house silver raised the equivalent of £15,000 and in the meticulous detail of these things the auction included 16 pairs of sheets and 13 tablecloths and “about 36 dozen of healthy bedding plants”.

The following month a further auction took place, this time at the Angel Inn, Bury St Edmunds, for a ragbag of his assorted financial assets. For sale were a collection of Life Policies on various lives, some tenanted cottages in Badwell Ash, 12 shares in the Walsham Institute, a rather complicated Reversionary Interest which would not mature for some time, a smallholding in Wyverstone, and the Manor of Drinkstone Timperlies. The sale proceeds were duly passed to Mr Clayton, as Receiver for the Creditors.

“Bridge House” (circa 1890)

In much reduced circumstances the family then moved from West House to Bridge House[32] in the village.  According to the 1881 census the family living at Bridge House including the following children: John (19), Ellen (18), Richard (16), Angel (13), Herbert (12), and Reginald (10). The Governess then living with them was Sally Dening, from North Creake, Norfolk. The 1871 census had shown a Governess, Deborah Emma Sizer, of Manningtree, Essex, among the seven live-in staff at The Grove. Presumably there was also outdoor staff living elsewhere to take care of the horses and the grounds etc. Perhaps this contrast emphasized to the family the extent of their decline.

In September 1885 when she was twenty-three Thomas Golding’s daughter Ellen married Thomas Prosser Hale. Mrs Hale, his mother, a wealthy widow from Somerton near Sudbury, had purchased The Grove some years previously as the Golding fortunes faded. But the marriage did not reinstate the connection for the Goldings with The Grove. Instead Thomas and Ellen moved to the Hale family home at Somerton Hall. At Somerton Ellen had three daughters and her sister Angel also spent time there. But in 1897, at the age of 48, Thomas died. Ellen and the children moved away, initially to Folkestone and subsequently to London where, as a widow, she lived near Hyde Park. Mrs Hale continued to live at The Grove with her other children. She died in 1904, at a good age, blind, and with her remaining daughter described, perhaps harshly, in the 1901 census as ‘imbecile’.

Before he died in 1904 Thomas Golding had mortgaged Bridge House (to John Martineau, for £700). His son, Samuel Golding was the sole beneficiary under his will and he repaid the mortgage in 1907. Simultaneously he then sold the property to his siblings, “Captain” Thomas and Angel Golding. Their mother Isabella continued to live there until her death in 1911. It was sold by Thomas and Angel in 1919 to William Knights for £520 and the name was changed to Priors Close during the 1930’s.

MARCH 2019


[1] National Record Office All UK, Articles of Clerkship, 1756-1874
[2] BURY AND NORWICH POST Wednesday 17th June 1812
[4] BURY AND NORWICH POST 9th September 1812
[5] THE SUFFOLK CHRONICLE 29th August 1812
[6] She was born on Christmas day 1743 and christened by her parents Daniel and Mary Searles of Kelsale, Suffolk at the Walpole (Independent) Meeting House, near Halesworth. She is buried in the churchyard at Gislingham, in a grave next to her mother, Mary.
[7] BURY AND NORWICH POST Wednesday 29th June 1814
[8] Presiding: Sir Vicary Gibbs, Chief Justice of the Court of Common Pleas and Sir Alexander Thomson, Chief Baron of the Exchequer.
[9] BURY AND NORWICH POST Wednesday 28th June 1815
[10] Subsequently in the 1843 Law List (England and Wales) we see Samuel Golding and John Waredale King continuing to work together in practice at Walsham le Willows. ‘Golding and King’ were sometime business partners. John King lived at The Priory. He died tragically in 1875 (Review #81).
[11] In 1823 he had married Elizabeth Frances Steel of Bacton. From then on until James’ death in 1835 the brothers seem to have worked together, particularly on the conveyancing of property and on Bankruptcy proceedings
[13] BURY AND NORWICH POST Wednesday 10th August 1831
[14] His cousin on his mother’s side was a distinguished Huguenot politician and lawyer, Sir Samuel Romilly. His father Isaac Vautier was baptised in the (French) Chapel of the Hospital, Spitalfields, in 1735. Two others of their children, Richard and Elizabeth Vautier (twins) were born in 1796 but did not survive.
[15] From THE BRIGHTON GAZETTE Thursday 1st February 1827 following the death of the heir to the throne: “The whole of the officers and men of the Coast Blockade Service are mourning for the Duke of York: the officers wear black waistcoats and trousers and the men have crape round their straw hats. Captain Mingaye has had the ship Hyperion (42 guns), under his command at Newhaven, painted black all over”.
[16] BURY AND NORWICH POST Wednesday 10th September 1823
[17] Tithe Map for the Parish of Walsham Le Willows
[18] PAGE, Joshua (comp.): A Supplement to the Suffolk Traveller,J.B.Nichols and Son, London (1844)
[19] John Hector Munro bought the “mansion and part of the estate of the late John Sparke, Gent”. This property was subsequently sold to the Martineau family.
[20] “Barton’s” was the site of The Grove in Wortouts Lane (Grove Road). Barton was the family name of the mother of James Powell, a London merchant, who had bought various interests in the village at the time (1782) John Sparke was doing likewise.
[21] He was succeeded by his son, Reverend Thomas Baden Powell of High Hall Farm.
[22] Hooper John Wilkinson of Walsham Hall, Summer Road. Thomas Hutton Wilkinson of West House, Ixworth Road.
[23] John Fisher of Old Hall Farm, Upper Way (Finningham Road).
[24] Witness to Samuel Golding’s Last Will and Testament.
[25] A former pupil was John Constable RA (1776-1837)
[26] The Irish Famine: A potato blight destroyed two-thirds of Ireland’s staple crop and lead to an estimated 1 million deaths and emigration of a further 1 million people. There was widespread debate on the causes of the on-going disaster including the, probably over-simplified, laying of blame on absentee landlords. A week after the above sermon took place, on 24th March, THE TIMESof London thundered that “Britain had permitted in Ireland a mass of poverty, disaffection, and degradation without a parallel in the world. It allowed proprietors to suck the very life-blood of that wretched race”
[27] BURY AND NORWICH POST 17th March 1847.
[28] 1851 census “Attorney”(aged 23)
[29]Educated at Trinity College, Dublin, John Exshaw lived until 1882, dying at the age of 85. The Church of Ireland was Disestablished in 1871. One could suppose that he may well have been part of the antidisestablishmentarianism movement in his views.
[30] She was born in Agra, Bengal 21st January 1862
[31] The Conservative party lost decisively to the Liberals. Gladstone became Prime Minister for the second time.
[32] It was all one house then, as indicated on the architectural drawings in/of the Priory Room, The Causeway.

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