There were many Hankeys, especially in Surrey, and they all seem to have been related. In Epsom there was briefly a Beaumont Hankey and for many years Thomas Alers Hankey and his son Edward Alers lived there. Others (Norman Frederick and Spencer Taverner Hankey - see below) resided at The Shrubbery in the 1890s. To make the connection between Beaumont and Thomas Alers we need to go back to a Sir Thomas Hankey who died in 1770.

Sir Thomas Hankey (1703-70)
Thomas Hankey (1740-93)John Hankey (1741-92)
William Alers* (1771-1859),
son of Thomas Hankey's relationship with a woman surnamed Alers.
John Barnard Hankey (1784-1868),
son of Thomas Hankey's marriage to Elizabeth Weaver.
John Peter Hankey
Thomson Hankey
Thomas Alers*
-John Alexander Hankey
Beaumont Hankey
*In 1815 William Alers changed his name to William Alers Hankey by royal letters patent.

The chart does not show all the offspring as only some are relevant to Epsom. The Hankeys were fundamentally bankers, but a number were also owners of plantations and slaves in the West Indies. You will see that I have a John Peter and John Alexander Hankey in the chart and, although they were not Epsom people, they were involved in the same business activities as the others, particularly the plantations.

The Hankey bank

The bank was a former constituent part of the Royal Bank of Scotland Group, whose website tells us that it was founded in 1685 by Captain Samuel Hankey from Cheshire, who was a goldsmith by trade. Technically the 1685 enterprise was not a bank as we now understand it, but a goldsmith's business which also dealt with cash. Samuel died very soon afterwards and the firm was taken over by his young son Henry. RBS says it is possible that his mother steered the business as, in 1692, it was known as Widow Hankey & Co. Henry was eventually knighted and, when he died in 1737, his sons Joseph and Thomas (also both knighted) took over: this Thomas is the Sir Thomas Hankey at the top of the chart above. Later, his son Thomas (1740-93) and that Thomas's son, William Alers, became partners. The bank was at 7 Fenchurch Street.

Plantations and slavery

Plantain Walk by William Berryman.
Plantain Walk by William Berryman.
Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Captain Samuel Hankey, as partner in a firm called (John) Houblon & Hankey (this was almost certainly the same John Houblon who was knighted and became first Governor of the Bank of England and who, until fairly recently, had his picture on the 50 note), had been involved in trade with the West Indies even before he founded the bank. John Hankey (1741-92), another son of Sir Thomas, was a merchant banker and had extensive interests in sugar plantations, mills and slaves in the West Indies, as did John Peter, John Alexander and William Alers.

I do not need to comment on slavery, save to say that it was a means by which many British merchants and financiers got very rich, but in the time of William Alers Hankey the tide was inexorably turning. In 1807, largely due to the efforts of Wilberforce, trading in slaves had been abolished and in 1833 slavery was banished altogether.

William was a religious man, who had co-founded the British and Foreign Bible Society (1804) and the Eclectic Review (1805), but he managed to square his beliefs with slave ownership and in 1832, just before total abolition, maintained that he was only the mortgagee by inheritance of the Arcadia sugar estate in Trelawny, Jamaica, where slaves were kept (he even received compensation when they were freed), as if that absolved him from any involvement or responsibility. Nevertheless, he resigned from the British and Foreign Bible Society that same year. The town of Hankey in South Africa was named after him.

Engraving of William Alers Hankey in the town named after him.
Engraving of William Alers Hankey in the town named after him.
Image source: Wikipedia

These were the children of William Alers Hankey and his wife, Mary Martin.

Mary HallBorn 1798 London. Married solicitor Isaac Sewell. Died 1866.
William AugustusBorn 1801 London. Died 1803.
JohnBorn 1803 London. Banker. Married Sarah Andrews Jameson. Died 1872.
WilliamBorn 1804 London. West India merchant (bankrupt 1831) and colonial broker. Married Elizabeth Matilda Keeling. Died 1866.
ThomasBorn 1806 London. See later.
ElizabethBorn 1807 London. Died 1888, unmarried.
StephenBorn 1809 London. Merchant. Married Lilias Agnes Mackenzie. Died 1878.
SarahBorn 1812 London. Married stockbroker Henry Sewell. Died 1887.
AlfredBorn 1814 London. Member of the Stock Exchange. Died 1902, unmarried.
Note: All of the children were surnamed Alers until William added the Hankey.

William Alers Hankey died in 1859.

Beaumont Hankey

Beaumont was a wine merchant (his firm was Hankey Bannister and its whisky is still around today, even though the firm is no longer in the family). In 1846 he married Eleanor Catherine Atkins Bowyer. A son, Wentworth Beaumont, was born in 1848, followed by Evelyn Mary (born Brighton 1853) and Maurice Beaumont (born Brighton 1854). We know that this family moved to Epsom in 1854, since young Maurice died there on 21 December 1854, aged 7 months.

Grave of Maurice Beaumont Hankey at St Martin's, Epsom.
Grave of Maurice Beaumont Hankey at St Martin's, Epsom.
Image source: Epsom & Ewell Local & family History Centre

The 1855 Kelly's Directory gives their address as Clay Hill, but they had gone by 1859. There were several more children. Eleanor died in 1892 and Beaumont in 1909. Wentworth became a clergyman.

Thomas Alers Hankey

Thomas Hankey
Thomas Hankey photographed by Cuthbert Hopkins c.1870.
Image source: Bourne Hall Museum

Thomas came to Epsom in about 1862; he was a banker in the family firm and in 1839 he was appointed as one of Her Majesty's Commissioners to look into the current state of the laws on bankruptcy and the relevant courts. Another of the Commissioners was banker George Carr Glyn, later the 1st Baron Wolverton. Thomas was also a magistrate for Surrey.

On 22 January 1831 he had married Elizabeth Green of Blackwall and they seem to have lived at Clapham Common for some years. Subsequently they resided at Woodcote Road, Epsom. Their children were as follows.

Frederick Alers (born 1833)
Edward Alers (born 1835)
Sydney Alers (born 1839)

Elizabeth died in 1868. In the 1871 census Thomas was to be found living in South Street with his son Edward and several servants: this may or may not be the same house (with cottage in grounds) that is subsequently described as being in Dorking Road. Anyway, the South Street property looks to be immediately next door to the Queen's Head public house, which was Number 77. (Also see the article on The Advowson for further information on Thomas and, particularly, his involvement with local church matters.)

In 1863 the Hankey Bank 'amalgamated' with the Consolidated Bank (the RBS website says that Consolidated took over Hankey's) and Thomas joined the board of the new firm, as did his son Frederick. In that same year, in conjunction with two others, Thomas purchased the Plymouth Iron Works at Merthyr Tydfil. This business will rear its head again in due course.

Thomas died on 29 February 1872; he left somewhere in the region of half a million pounds (about fifty million in today's money, so he was a very rich man indeed).

Frederick Alers Hankey

Frederick Alers Hankey
Frederick Alers Hankey
Image courtesy of Simon Tosswill © 2015

Frederick was educated at Harrow and Oxford and also became a banker. In 1885 he was elected as Conservative MP for Chertsey. He first married, in 1862, Australian-born Mary Wickham Flower, (daughter of West India merchant Philip Flower, who was born in Epsom), but she sadly died less than a year later, almost certainly as a result of childbirth. Their son, Philip, was born on 15 December 1862, christened on 20 December and died that same day.

In 1865 Frederick married Marian Elizabeth Miller, daughter of Taverner John Miller, the MP for Colchester. At this point he was still giving his address as Epsom.

The children are shown below (all born Chertsey, except Norman, who was born in London).

Norman Frederick (1865 London)Mayor of Merthyr Tydfil 1916-18 and heavily involved with the Plymouth Ironworks business (see later). Married Elizabeth Gertrude Sarah James.
Oswald Miller (1868)Died London 1887, soon after being commissioned into the Army.
Spencer Taverner (1870)Colliery proprietor and later leather manufacturer, among other things. Married Mrs Nina Newton Dunning (widow, formerly Penn, nee Webb-Bowen). Died 1960 Los Angeles, having become a US citizen.
Gilbert Lionel (1873)Sometime laundry proprietor. Married Kathleen Constance Desmond. Died 1941.
Esme Marian (1875)Married Rev Thomas Karl Sopwith (ultimately Archdeacon of Canterbury). Died 1948.
Harold Vere (1883)Emigrated to New Zealand. Married Rose Meronia Rendall. Died 1951 New Zealand.

Frederick with one of his children.
Frederick with one of his children.
Image courtesy of Simon Tosswill © 2015

Frederick and family lived at Silverlands, Chertsey, which has been used for a number of purposes since then and now stands derelict. There is a film of it on You Tube and an interesting article from the Daily Mail Online.

Frederick died on 15 February 1892, followed by his wife in 1907.

Image courtesy of Simon Tosswill © 2015

Edward Alers Hankey

Edward Hankey
Edward Hankey photographed by Cuthbert Hopkins c.1870.
Image courtesy of Simon Tosswill © 2015

Edward, a bachelor, lived in Dorking Road until his death in 1896. He was wealthy and involved in the Plymouth enterprise, which we will come to shortly.

Sydney Alers Hankey

Sydney was a banker, magistrate and sometime High Sheriff of Berkshire. In 1865 he married Louisa Fanny Thornhill; they lived latterly in Bournemouth, Sydney dying in 1920.

The Ironworks

Since many Hankeys were involved with the Ironworks, we shall deal with it briefly now. There is a potted history of it, with pictures, on Alan George's website. From 1863 the business was owned by Fothergill, Hankey & Bateman (Richard Fothergill and Benjamin Bateman were in the iron trade and Thomas Alers Hankey was the money man). Bateman left the partnership after three years, with Fothergill & Hankey going bust in 1875, and the business gradually declined. There was subsequent litigation involving the Hankeys, but it is not necessary to deal with it here. The works closed in 1882.


As I said at the beginning there were many Surrey Hankeys and also in our general area were Thomas (1740-93), father of William Alers, and his legitimate son John Barnard Hankey, both of Fetcham Park. Happily for me, someone else has already done the hard yards on the Fetcham brigade and I refer you to Fetcham Park itself for a short history.

There were also a lot of Hankeys connected to our people who found fame, fortune or misfortune in one respect or another and here is just a brief selection.

Robert Alers Hankey (1838-1906)Son of John Alers and Sarah, grandson of William Alers. Colonial sheep farmer. Lived in Brighton and Australia.
Jameson Alers Hankey (1836-1917)Brother of Robert Alers. Shipowner and merchant.
Maurice Pascal Alers Hankey, 1st Baron Hankey, GCB, GCMG, GCVO, PC, FRS (1877-1963)Son of Robert Alers. The first Cabinet Secretary and later a Government minister.
Donald William Alers Hankey (1884-1916)Son of Robert Alers. Killed in action at the Somme 1916. Known for his war essays.
Major Robin Humphrey Nigel Alers Hankey, Royal Green Jackets (1936-72)Probably the great-grandson of Jameson Alers. Shot by IRA snipers in the Bogside, Derry whilst providing covering fire for the Fire Brigade and died of wounds 4 months later.

Linda Jackson © 2015.