John Woodman (1724 - 1816)

of 1 Cleveland Row, St James, London, and Ewell,
with connections to Jane Austen and Warren Hastings

In The letters of Warren Hastings to his wife, 1905, Sidney C. Grier remarks: -
'[Warren] Hastings' only sister was Ann, who was about a year older than himself. She married John Woodman, who had been steward to the Duke of Bridgewater, and who, though, as he says, he did not 'pretend to any knowlidge in India Politicks,' managed Hastings' money matters for him in England with great care and attention. The Woodmans lived in Cleveland Row, St James's, and had a country farm at Ewell. Their children were Thomas, and Elizabeth, who married the Rev. Myers. They seem to have regarded their son as his uncle's heir, but received the news of Hastings' second marriage with a very good grace. A rather breathless letter from Mr Woodman, written in May, 1778, acknowledges the receipt of 'a letter to us of the 23rd November on your own health and welfare and change of condition to which your sister and myself wish you both all the happiness this world can afford, if there is a certain degree of allotment of it for any man you have many years to live to receive your share as your life hitherto has been that of cares and anxietye. May the happy state into which you have entered help to relieve your mind. Mrs Woodman is much obliged to her sister for her kind letter, which she intends answering the first Opportunity. 'The two ladies corresponded very amicably while Mrs Hastings was in India, and when she returned, the Woodmans seem to have realised without bitterness that she moved in a different sphere from theirs. When Mrs Woodman has a severe illness, Mrs Hastings makes her a warm pelisse to wear during convalescence, and the Woodmans try to use Mrs Hastings' friends in high places to secure their son's advancement in the Church. Mrs Woodman was dead by the year 1812, after which Mr Woodman is found living sometimes at Ewell with his daughter and sometimes at Brackley with his son. He was in pecuniary difficulties, but this appears to have been due rather to the decay of his faculties than to actual need of money. He died in 1816, at the age of ninety-two.'

Ann Hastings (b. 1731, Churchill, Oxford) had married John Woodman at St George's, Hanover Square, Westminster, on 18 May 1758. She was described as a spinster of Kensington and he bachelor of that parish. A son, Thomas Bartholomew, was born in 1760. Between 1763 and 1769 the Woodmans commissioned a house to be built in Maiden Lane, Covent Garden [Gloucestershire Archives D2079/II/8/E9]. The baptism of his sister Elizabeth Philadelphia Woodman, at St James' Westminster did not take place until 28 September 1770.

Woodman, described as a 'cautious lawyer' became one of Warren Hastings' Attorneys in England, together with Sir Francis Sykes and William Waller. He lived in London at 1 Cleveland Row, St. James's, the west continuation of Pall-Mall, facing the Palace, and extending from St. James's street to the Stable-yard in the Palace. This house appears to have been on the corner of St James's Street conveniently close to his employer Francis, 3rd Duke of Bridgewater [The 'Canal Duke'], who occupied Cleveland House, also on Cleveland Row. Later re-built as Bridgewater House, it appears on the following plan from 1850:-

Barry's Scheme to widen Cleveland Row 1850
Barry's Scheme to widen Cleveland Row 1850
Image source Wikimedia Commons

A member of the Hastings family acquires a residence in Ewell, 1771

The connection with Ewell appears to date from 1771 when Elizabeth Hastings came into possession of a copyhold, later part of Plot 238 on the Enclosure Map, near the Red House, 7 Church Street. She is thought to have been Warren Hastings' maiden aunt, sister of his uncle Howard (sometimes confused with his wife although her Christian name was Jane).

When Elizabeth Hastings died [Will 'Spinster of Kensington' proved 3 August 1786 - PROB 11/1145/25] this property descended to John Woodman and his wife, Ann. In James Edwards' Companion from London to Brighthelmston, 1789, it was described on the way from Ewell Church as 'a genteel white house'.

John Woodman and Eliza Hancock, later Comtesse de Feuillide, Jane Austen's cousin

Woodman and Rev George Austen became Trustees of the Hancock family trust created by Warren Hastings for the benefit of Tysoe Saul Hancock and his wife during their lives, and, on the death of the survivor, to his god-daughter 'Betsy'. Hastings had promised a sum amounting at first to £5000, but increased during 1775 to £10,000. In 1781, Elizabeth ('Eliza' formerly called 'Betsy') , daughter of Mrs Philadelphia Hancock, nee Austen, married a French officer Jean-Francois Capote, Comte de Feuillide.

John Woodman also takes a 'country villa' at Ewell, 1784 and later acquires additional real estate in the village. Almost all of these premises were sold to Joseph Harrisom for the benefit of his daughter Miss Eleanor Posthuma Harrison during 1809.

Mrs Marian [née Anna Maria Apollonia Chapuset, formerly Marian von Imhoff, Baroness von Imhoff (1747-1837)] Hastings sailed for England on the Atlas in January 1784. In preparation for his second wife's arrival, Warren Hastings had sent the most precise directions as to the preparations to be made for her. Mr Woodman was 'to engage a good and furnished house for her reception in the most healthy part of the town. She prefers Portman Square', and he replies to Hastings that 'You may, my dear Brother, assure yourself that a House, Coach, Servants and everything shall be ready for her reception, in a proper Stile against her arrival'. Woodman was reported to have 'taken a delightful house for her in one of the most airy and healthy situations in London, and everything is ready. The house is in South Street, close to Hyde Park, with a fine view of the Park and the Surry Hills'. The anxious Woodman wrote that it is scarcely to be equalled for situation, as well as warm and convenient ; it is airy, with an uninterrupted view to Banstead Downs, and is the second house from Park Lane next Hyde Park wall. He had 'procured a new Coach, with your Crest and Cypher upon it...Servants we have also prepared, who are alredy in the House, with every other necessary'.

The Atlas did not arrive at her moorings in Blackwall until 5 August 1784: later in that month Woodman sent reassurances that both horses were well, and that he has sent the grey which arrived by the Atlas to his fields at Ewell, that he may recover the use of his limbs.

Having resigned his position as Governor General of Bengal and returned to England, Warren Hastings rented a furnished house in St James's Place, but two years later purchased Beaumont Lodge, Old Windsor, Berks. On 26 October 1786, he 'rode ye Arab to Ewell - a journey of at least twenty-two miles without baiting' . Mrs Hastings followed in a Phaeton and they spent four days with the Woodmans, Mrs Hancock and her daughter. There Hastings began preparations in anticipation that he might be impeached over his activities in India.

Ewell Court Rolls show that Henry Kitchen had passed over a copyhold tenement with garden to John Woodman to John Woodman in 1784 - on a site which is now occupied by Persfield Mews. Kitchen was licensed to demise all his copyholds to Woodman in 1790, including a messuage and garden in West Street, near what is now the rear of John Gale Court . On 2 July1791, John Woodman entered a 21 year lease from Henry Kitchen of a house and garden, presumed to have been located in Ewell, formerly in the tenure of [Susan(Hedges)] Lady Bishopp. Its terms were changed to permit assignment, 20 May 1796, as was done in January 1809 in favour of Joseph Harrison [SHCOL_2103/6].

The tenement with garden appears as freehold plot 299, Stable, yard, etc., on the 1803 Enclosure Map and by that that time Woodman also held plots 102, 238 (inherited from Miss Elizabeth Hastings), 312, 392, 405 & 433, including three allotments out of the Common Fields and Marsh. Additionally, Rev Thomas Bartholomew Woodman is named as copyholder on Plot 313.

Extract From 1803 Enclosure Map Plots 299 & 405
Extract From 1803 Enclosure Map Plots 299 & 405

As may be seen from the map, plot 405 (an allotment in the Common Field on Horse Fair) had no structures upon it.

Writing to his wife from Brackley, 29/10/1809, Warren Hastings remarked: - 'Old Woodman is as well, and looks as well,as I remember him forty years ago. I too am as well,and look as well, as I did four days ago'. The absence of any reference to Mrs Ann Woodman suggests she was already dead and she is probably the woman bearing that name whose interment at St Mary's churchyard Ewell was recorded on 20 May 1802. As remarked by Mr Grier above, John Woodman had encountered some financial difficulties which may explain why he sold off most of his interests real estate at Ewell during 1809 to Joseph Harrison for the benefit of his daughter Miss Eleanor Posthuma Harrison (later wife of Rev. James Ivory Holmes).

He retained the copyhold on Church Street inherited from his aunt Elizabeth.

On 1 January 1825, Rev James Ivory Holmes of Exeter, Devon, and Eleanor Posthuma his wife, with Margaret Harrison late of Banstead, widow, leased out the 'messuage...with the stables buildings yards and gardens to the same belonging situate...in the parish of Ewell....and also all that meadow or piece or parcel of copyhold land containing...1a 2r 3p situate in Money Pit Shot in the Common Fields of Ewell and also all that other meadow or piece or parcel of copyhold land containing...1a 2r 6p...situate in Ewell Common Fields aforesaid in a certain place there heretofore called the Horse Fair' [SHC 2103/7/2].

It appears that much later the Holmes family built another house on what had been Enclosure Plot 405 which with Plot 299 eventually became the grounds for the property Persfield [highlighted in red on the following map], one of the estates in Ewell acquired by the Walters Family after 1858. John Eldad Walters is listed as occupier in the1859 Kelly's Directory. On a modern map this area is shown to have been re-developed as Persfield Mews with houses numbered 25 to 33 further along Epsom Road.

Extract from 1866 OS Map
Extract from 1866 OS Map

Persfield
Persfield
Image courtesy Bourne Hall Museum

Rev John Myers and Elizabeth Philadelphia Woodman

A settlement before marriage of John Myers of Walton on the Hill, Surrey, clerk, and Elizabeth Philadelphia Woodman, daughter of John Woodman, of Ewell, Surrey, with letter from Myers to Woodman seeking consent for the marriage, survives [Gloucester Archives - D2079/II/8/F2 1801]. Their wedding took place on 15 November 1801 at St James' Westminster.

The Rev John Myers, AM, late Rector of Walton on the Hill and Vicar of Witley cum Thursley, Surrey, died at Ewell, aged 68, 25 August 1815. He lies buried in St Mary's churchyard [Exwood plot 328].

Description of Rev John Mayers headstone
Description of Rev John Mayers headstone

Parson Maggs' Gravestone
Parson Maggs' Gravestone
Image courtesy of Brian Bouchard © 2011

On 6 September 1824 Rev James Maggs , Vicar of Ewell (1802 -1824), died at Dalston aged 76, but was brought back to Ewell for interment, oddly, in the tomb of Rev. Myers. Mrs Elizabeth Philadelphia Myers had inherited the Ewell copyhold on Church Street, earlier held by Miss Elizabeth Hastings, after her father's death in 1816 and retained it until 1824. Having died at Plaistow, 4 May 1825, she was buried with her late husband and Rev Maggs.

Funeral of the Duke of Bridgewater, 1803

Francis, Duke of Bridgewater died on 8 March 1803, without issue, -'At his town-house, in Cleveland-row, about half past 3 o'clock in the morning, after a short illness from a cold, which brought on the complaints accompanying the influenza, [he was] marquis of Brackley, and baron of Ellesmere, of Worsley, in Lancashire, and Ashridge, Bucks...Between 5 and 6 o'clock in the morning of the 16th , his remains were removed for interment to the family vault at Little Gaddesden, in Hertfordshire. The funeral was conducted in the plainest manner, according to his grace's request. The procession moved from Cleveland-row, in the following order: a hearse and feathers, with six horses; his grace's carriage, with six horses; three mourning coaches, with six horses to each; ten out-riders, and the usual retinue of mutes and other attendants. ' The ageing John Woodman is reported to have led this cortege.

Demise of John Woodman

John Woodman himself died on 19 February 1816, aged 92, also in London but was brought down to Ewell for burial at St Mary's, 27 February 1816. Presumably this was arranged for him to join his late wife believed to have been interred in the churchyard in 1802.

Thomas Bartholomew Woodman

His son, Thomas Bartholomew Woodman, educated at Westminster School, had been admitted pensioner, aged 17, at Trinity, 28 May 1777. He matriculated 1777; Scholar, 1778; B.A. 1781; M.A. 1784. Admitted at Lincoln's Inn, 20 November 20, 1779. Vicar of Ivinghoe, Bucks., 1797-1803. Vicar of Brackley, Northants., 1803-25. Vicar of Wingrave, Bucks., 1803-4.

He married, 22 July 1811, Louise, 2nd daughter of Baron von Chapuset, of Stuttgart, Germany, niece of Warren Hastings' second wife, Marian. On 4 October 1811 Warren Hastings had written of 'the marriage of my nephew [Thomas] Woodman to Mrs. Hastings's niece, Miss Louise Chapuset, an amiable young woman, and so great a favourite of us both, that no other cause could have reconciled us to her separation from us'. Louise Chapuset was the daughter of Baron Chapuset of Mergentheim, Germany

The Rev.Thomas B. Woodman,had been instituted as prebendary canon of Bugthorpe, (Yorks), 1807: he was admitted and instituted as rector of Daylesford, Worcs., 1814, and exempted from residence as prebend on becoming vicar of Brackley, Northants., in 1815. Folowing Warren Hastings demise, 22 August 1818, Rev Woodman, Chaplain to the Duke of Clarence, and Rector of Brackley, Northamptonshire, attended the remains of his venerable uncle to the grave. The New Monthly Magazine and Literary Journal, Part 3 for 1825 reported the death at Cheltenham of The Rev. T B Woodman but he was buried in Daylesford on 6 June 1825. At Daylesford, there is a MI: - 'To the memory of the Rev. T.B. Woodman, rector of this parish and vicar of Brackley in the county of Northampton. He died May 30, 1825, aged 65 years. His remains are interred in the same vault with those of his uncle, the right Honourable Warren Hastings'.

With helpful contributions by Margaret Bower, Volunteer at Bourne Hall Family and Local History Centre, and Margaret Griffiths, Archivist at Surrey History Centre.

Brian Bouchard
October 2013

HV Usill
HV Usill
Jimmy Page
Jimmy Page
Page Family
Page Family
TH Snow
TH Snow
JA Larby
JA Larby
J Harrison
J Harrison
Foundlings
Foundlings
Nonsuch Mansion
Nonsuch Mansion
New Stables
New Stables