The Gadesden Family Of Ewell Castle

Part 1 - James Gadesden

Note: This is not an exhaustive family history of the Gadesden family! I have tried to concentrate on those who had strong connections with Ewell and those descendants about whom I could find concrete details. Many thanks are due to previous research done by the Nonsuch Antiquarian Society and to materials provided by Bourne Hall Museum.

Ewell Castle

Ewell Castle c.1830
Ewell Castle c.1830
Image courtesy of Surrey Libraries and is held in the
Epsom & Ewell Local And Family History Centre Collection

This building has a rich history, much of which is documented elsewhere on this website. Briefly, it was built in Church Street, Ewell in 1814 for Thomas Calverley from a design by architect Henry Kitchen. Then called Nonsuch House, it stood on part of Henry VIII's old Nonsuch Palace estate. Today, of course, it is part of Ewell Castle School.

James Gadesden

To preface with a note, the name 'Gadesden' was formerly 'Gadsden' and members of the family used different spelling. James Gadesden (supposedly born in Yorkshire in about 1791, but quite possibly a Londoner) started out as 'Gadsden' but then adopted the longer version. I will stay with the longer version for the sake of consistency.

The 1851 census says that James Gadesden was born in Grange, Yorkshire (he probably meant Hessle Grange, which is near Hull), but his tombstone (see below) says he is 'of Hessle Grange' and gives his date of birth as 1794, which, christening records suggest, pins down his birthplace as Enfield, Middlesex. The Gadesdens had business interests in London and the North of England and seem to have 'flitted about' between homes. In the 1841 census, which does not give exact dates or places of birth, he was living in Mayfair, London and was described as 'born in county', i.e. Middlesex.

James bought Ewell Castle in 1852, although he was already there as a lessee in the 1851 census with his wife, Maria (née Ansell, born in Penrith, Cumberland in 1792). James was in sugar refining and had various partners, particularly a man named Wainwright and a Samuel Thornton. Thornton was a cousin of William Wilberforce, owned refineries in Hull and was at one time the Member of Parliament for that city. See for further information on the Hull sugar trade, including mention of Gadesden and Thornton. Wainwright's main business was probably based in the Liverpool area.

James Gadesden's partnership with Thornton was dissolved in 1823. He remained in partnership with Wainwright for some years and then, when his only son, Augustus William, had completed a seven year apprenticeship with Thornton, the business became Gadesden & Son, with premises in London. The 'mecca' of sugar refining in the London area was at St George in the East in the East End. There is an interesting article about this at

James was appointed High Sheriff of Surrey in 1855. At that time the High Sheriff, who was appointed for one year only, still had meaningful powers in the county, concerning police and prisons for example, but that changed from 1856 onwards and the office became largely ceremonial. High Sheriffs were usually wealthy landowners because of the expenses associated with the post. The appointment is made by the monarch and James was presented to Queen Victoria in 1855. He completed his year as High Sheriff, but died very suddenly on 22 December 1856 at Ewell Castle.

Monumental inscription for James and Maria Gadesden in the churchyard of St Mary's Ewell
Monumental inscription for James and Maria Gadesden in the churchyard of St Mary's Ewell,
near the Old Tower. This is just one side of a Gadesden family tomb.
Image courtesy of Linda Jackson © 2011

On James's death in 1856, Augustus William (born on 10 May 1816) inherited Ewell Castle. His mother, Maria, was still alive and she was there in the 1861 census, rattling around in it no doubt, alone with just a butler and three other servants. By 1871 she had vacated the Castle and was in residence at Hessle House in Epsom Road, Ewell, still with a butler and three servants. This was probably named after Hessle Grange, where James and Maria had lived in Yorkshire. Hessle House later became the Wilmar Lodge Nursing Home and is now The Elders Care Home. Maria died there on 10 August 1877.

This is a convenient moment to look very briefly at some of James's siblings, before moving on to Augustus William and his tenure at Ewell Castle.

Name Approximate birth year Death date if known Spouse
Robert Hope 1795 1875 Sophia Matilda Miskey (died 1840)
Caroline Mary Blurton (died 1899)
Anne 1797 20 October 1870 Francis Humphris abt 1804-61
David 1800 4 Jan 1893 Elizabeth Mary Savage Greetham (died 1853)

The children of James and Maria are shown below

Name Approximate birth year Death date if known Spouse
Harriet Eliza 31 May 1812 13 July 1897 William Wainwright (sugar refiner) 1808-88
Mary Ansell 1813 19 Feb 1896 Edward Priestley Cooper (barrister) about 1805-57
Maria Louisa 1814    
Augustus William 1816 1901 Emma Barkworth
Georgiana Day 1818    
Emma Warden 1825 3 March 1895 Richard Dacre Dunn (corn factor) about 1818 - 8 February 1872

Augustus William went into partnership with William Wainwright (born in 1808 in Halewood/Childwall, Lancashire and died on 5 Feb 1888). William was Augustus's brother-in-law, married to Harriet Eliza Gadesden; the Wainwrights lived at Hoe Place, Woking.

Hoe Place, Woking
Hoe Place, Woking, which now forms the central portion of Hoe Bridge School.
Photo by Colin Smith © 2011 and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

They were the parents of Sir James Gadesden Wainwright, (1837-1929), who was a governor, almoner and treasurer of St Thomas's Hospital, London. He lived at Norney Grange, Godalming.

Sir James Gadesden Wainwright
Sir James Gadesden Wainwright.
Image: Wikipedia Commons

Another daughter of James Gadesden, Emma Warden, (died 1895), was married to Richard Dacre Dunn and their daughter, Emma Gertrude, married Edward Alexander Mackie; their son was Anglican clergyman and England rugby union centre Osbert Gadesden Mackie - see

In Part 2 we shall return to Ewell and Augustus William Gadesden!

Linda Jackson © November 2011

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