Just some of the events surrounding the death of Sir Harry James Goodricke in 1833.
Just some of the events surrounding the death of Sir Harry James Goodricke in 1833.
How did Sir Harry Goodricke actually die?
The story of the circumstances surrounding Sir Harry’s death, written down by a female family member shortly after Sir Harry died in 1833.
Some peoples thoughts never published until now, but well speculated on at the time and talked about by many long after the event.
As to its validity I know not, but I can understand why the speculation, so many questions unanswered and also some mysterious and unusual events followed in the ensuing years, but that’s another story for another time. The reader must make his or her
own mind up as to what happened on that fateful night and why.
Before taking up the story a back ground of the man and his interests. Sir Harry James Goodricke a fabulously wealthy young man, the seventh Baronet, was born in North Earl Street, Dublin, 16th September, 1797 He was baptized at the Parish Church of St. Thomas, Dublin, 23rd October, 1797 and this baptism was publicly declared and confirmed in the Chapel at Ribston Yorkshire, 30th July, 1798 in the presence of Sir Henry Goodricke the sixth Baronet his father, his mother Lady Charlotte Goodricke (*formally Fortescue of Ravensdale Park Ireland) and the Rev. Henry Goodricke, then Vicar of Hunsingore. He inherited an estate, which, at the time, was spoken of and acknowledged to be one of the finest in the northern counties. Ribston the Goodricke family seat for the Yorkshire branch of the family, the home of his ancestors for three hundred years. This place was full, of memories with so much of interest for the possessor of such a patrimony.
Sir Harry, however, appears to have thought lightly of these things his father's early death no doubt tending to dull the effect, that his family history and traditions would otherwise have made on his mind. He was a sportsman of some note interested as many at that time, with a more than ample bank balance to indulge his interest in racing hunting, the prize ring. A quote taken from the Norfolk and Norwich Notes and Queries June 21, 1902 as can be seen he was in good company “Norfolk patrons of pugilism (fist fighting) In looking over some old records of the prize ring, many well-known Norfolk names were active supporters.
There was Sir Charles Brown, of Clenchwarton, who smuggled Jack Teasdale down from London, disguised as his groom, and matched him under the name of Johnson, against Joe Cox, the Norwich blacksmith. Another West Norfolk sportsman was Mr Goold, the horse-dealer of Swaffham, backer of Peter Warren, who fought Cox at Elsing in 1828. A large interest from the Swaffham area in that contest Mr Morse, the brewer; Mr Claxton, the coachbuilder; Mr W Rix, corn merchant; Edward Seppings, auctioneer, and others, all put their money on Warren.
Among those who constantly drove over to Swaffham during the training of the pugilist were Sir Henry Bedingfield, of Oxburgh Hall, "in his stylish curricle"; Andrew Fountaine, from Narford Hall, "famous for its art treasures", collected by the ancestor of the present owner, who had been Chamberlain to Caroline, Queen of George IV and bosom friend of Pope; young Jephson, from Cressingham Manor House, "in his dashing tandem;" Sir Harry Goodricke of (Holyoake, Goodricke, and Co, bankers, Wolverhampton) "with his team of roans", from Clermont Lodge; (Clermont hunting lodge inherited by the Goodricke`s at the marriage of Sir Henry Goodricke sixth Baronet and Lady Charlotte Goodricke (formally Fortescue of Ravensdale Park Ireland) Sir Richard Sutton, "in his well-known mail phaeton and greys", from Lynford-hall; Sir W Brown ffolkes, of Hillington Hall, "always mounted on his wonderful cob, whom he had christened Belcher, after the illustrious James of that ilk, and which carried 18 stone without an effort"; Edmund Elsden, "of timber-dealing fame", and jolly Jem Allsebrook, the tanner, who drove over together in the spicy yellow gig of the former.
Cox, the Norwich man, had an equally distinguished following. "Young Mr Gurney, son of the great banker of Earlham Hall, used to drive William out every morning in his dogcart to take his breathers on the country roads"; Major Cubitt, of the Upper Close; Edward Lubbock, of Bethel Street; Capt Maingaye, RN (Mingay); Mr Chettleburgh, Mr W Durrant, Capt Banks, of Thorpe; Bartholomew Earl, and Mr Upcroft, the auctioneer, were all good supporters of the man.
In addition to those above-named, there were at the fight Major Case, of Testerton Hall, "with his florid face and silvery hair, the picture of a fine old English gentleman"; the Hon W R Rous, of Worstead, elder brother of the Admiral, then commanding the Rainbow frigate in the East Indies"; Lord Charles Townshend of Rainham, "the renowned cocker"; Lord Walsingham, of Merton Hall; Mr Wyrley-Birch, of Wretham Hall, "famous for his breed of setters", who drove over "in his tandem-cart, with Mr Bingham Waring, MP, beside him". From the same neighbourhood came "an immensely stout gentleman, weighing upwards of 23 stone, whose neatly dressed figure and shrewd good-humoured face were well known to everyone" - Thomas Thornhill, of Riddlesworth, owner of three Derby winners, Emilius, Sam, and Sailor.
Dereham put in Mr Lee Warner, of Quebec House, and the Hon J G Milles, of Elmham Hall; and “Young Mr Lacon, son of the well-known banker, of Ormesby Hall”, represented Yarmouth. From Norwich and its environs came Sir William Beauchamp Proctor, of Langley Park; Sir Robert Kerrison Harvey, of Thorpe; Lord George Stafford, of Costessey Hall; Sir Hanson Berney, of Kirby Hall, "whose hair had grown white in a single night from fright at the apparition of his murdered brother"; and Col Wodehouse, of Witton Hall.”
Harry Goodricke`s chief pleasure was hunting, his time, during the season, being entirely devoted to its pursuit.
Sir Harry James Goodricke 7th Bart of Ribston Hall. The
following obituary notices I copied from the Gentleman's Magazine, for
1833, Vol 103, and part ll. page 368.
"Aug. 22. At Ravensdale Park, Co. Louth, in his 36th year. Sir Harry James Goodricke, the seventh Baronet, of Ribston Hall, Yorkshire.
"This wealthy Nimrod was born September 26th 1797, the only son of Sir Henry, the sixth Baronet, by Charlotte, second daughter of the Right Hon. James Fortescue, of Ravensdale Park. Co. Louth. He succeeded to the Baronetcy when only in the fifth year of his age, on the death of his father, March 23rd 1802, and was educated at Rugby. The death of his maternal uncle William-Charles, second and last Viscount Clermont, in March 1829 left him possessed of very large estates in Ireland; and the aggregate of his income is said to have amounted to £40,000. plus per annum. He served the office of Sheriff of Yorkshire in 1831.
"Sir Harry Goodricke had been known in Leicestershire for the last ten years as a leading member of the Quorn Hunt, of which he became Master on the retirement of Lord Southampton two years ago. He kept the whole of the establishment at his own expense, and resided during the winter season, in conjunction with Lords Gardiner and Rokeby, and L. Gilmore, Esq., in a spacious house at Melton Mowbray. At Thrussington, about seven miles from that town, he only in his last year completed a fine range of stabling, kennels, etc.; and his stud usually averaged between fifty and sixty of the finest horses. At the period of his death seventy-five capital hunters were in his stables, ready to commence the next season with renewed vigour and spirit. In the voluntary duties which he had assumed, Sir Harry Goodricke was exceedingly popular, and his courtesy, hospitality and attention was as fully in evidence towards the neighbouring farmers as to the opulent and tided members of the Hunt.
His life was finally sacrificed to his ardour in all the pursuits of the sportsman. He had experienced an attack of influenza, from which he had scarcely recovered, when he sailed in his yacht to visit his Irish
estates. He was their superintending considerable improvement, and when indulging in his Favourite sport, otter hunting, caught a severe cold, which proved fatal in forty-eight hours.
He had promised to join a numerous circle of noblemen, and gentlemen in the Highlands during the present shooting season. Many of them had already arrived at his shooting-box, Marr Lodge, Braemar on the river Dee Aberdeenshire which he recently purchased off the Earl of Fife, and" the feelings of the guests may be better conceived than described, on the intelligence of the premature demise of their hospitable host."
Sir Harry’s programme goes to Ireland and oversees the improvements to his Irish Estate from here to join his acquaintances and friends at his new shooting box in Scotland for his birthday celebrations.
We take up the story with Sir Harry’s departure to Ireland.
In August 1833, having
shortly recovered from influenza Sir Harry eager to see the new building work being carried out at Ravensdale Park in co Louth, took his yacht and set sailed with his acquaintance Francis Lyttleton Holyoake, the weather not being very kind, heavy rain with
very cold northerly winds not the weather you might expect for August at all. On arrival not wanting to waste a single moment the two men set out Otter hunting Sir Harry’s favourite sport speculating on the day’s bag, the banter well known with
Sir Harry’s circle friends and acquaintances had begun. Food wine and ale in large quantities got together hurriedly by the serving staff loaded into a small gig Sir Harry’s favourite horse saddled barley waiting to catch his breath called up the
dogs and they were off, jostling each other to see who could get to the Otter grounds first. On arrival the hunting started almost without missing a beat by the time lunch was served in picnic style not being put of by the rain. Sir Harry had a great deal
to drink, not stopping to dry himself soaked to the skin the hunting carried on. It was almost dark when the two men both worst the wear for the drink raced off to see who would be first back to the house. The staff left to clear up the bag and make way home.
As far as can be ascertained no one set eyes on either man until the next morning. Holyoake’s account follows “I must have arrived first, settling into an arm chair by a large fire fell asleep not waking until about 8`o`clock the next morning”
a member of staff remembers Holyoake shouting for his breakfast demanding wine and Oysters. Sir Harry was no where to be found in the house, at about 10`o`clock a search was mounted on the Estate by 10.30 am Sir Harry was found by a large tree in the grounds
quite near the house his horse still standing by him. Still soaking wet Sir Harry barley conscious, was carried back to the house pale and shivering with the cold. The staff sent a stable lad for the village doctor while others got Sir Harry to bed the doctor
arrived at midday the stable lad had found him tending another patient and got him to come at once. After examining Sir Harry who was now suffering from a fever and shaking enough to make his bones rattle the doctor tolled Holyoake that “Sir Harry had
a sever cold possible a recurrence of influenza”, at this point Holyoake sent for the Captain of the yacht its not quite clear why but he stayed at the house running errands Holyoake also sent for Sir Harry’s solicitor from Dublin to make Harry
a will? Holyoake taking over the situation becoming very agitated and unapproachable.
Within forty-eight hours Sir Harry would be dead from pneumonia.
Why when a Will was made just a few weeks before was
the solicitor sent for? I speculate maybe this had not been signed and Holyoake could not miss out on this little lot, being the main beneficiary. It’s a fact that Sir Harry and Holyoake were into business ventures together Holyoake the ideas man Sir
Harry the financier, for one The Holyoake, Goodricke, and Co, Bankers, Wolverhampton 1825 .Again I speculate was the will to guarantee a business venture? I believe a mortgage was held on the Ribston Estate not under Sir Harry but Holyoake and that no money
cash changed hands when it was sold? It appears that Holyoake was up to his eyes in gambling and gaming dept. Perhaps Holyoake realising the loss of his benefactor allowed events to take over who can say?
Did no one miss Sir Harry that night friend acquaintance or staff if you had just own a race would you not have been eager to flout the advantage?
Back to the will, if Sir Harry confirmed this will on his death bed, was he of sound mind? ” Sir Harry who was now suffering from a fever and shaking enough to make his bones rattle” the doctor tolled Holyoake that Sir Harry had a sever cold, possible pneumonia. It is very possible that Sir Harry was delirious and unfit non compos mentis.
Holyoake now took possession of Ribston, which he let temporarily, and in 1836 entered into negotiations with Mr. George Robins, the well-known estate agent of the day, for its sale, and in September 1836 this property was sold to Joseph Dent, Esq. Mr. Robins stated in a pamphlet which he published in 1840, that he was prohibited by Mr. Holyoake (then Sir Francis Littleton Holyoake-Goodricke) from any public announcement of the intended sale, and not even allowed to mention the name of the property, Sir Francis being desirous that the transfer should take place with as little publicity as possible. The following is a copy of the circular Mr. Robins drew up in September 1836, for distribution among capitalists.
IMPORTANT INVESTMENT IN YORKSHIRE.
Mr. George Robins has been instructed to offer, by private treaty, to the attention of the monied world, one of the Most Important Landed Investments that has been in the market since the memorable time of 1825 when he had the good fortune to sell the extensive estates of the Earl of Ormonde. In this case it is only intended to give a very faint outline, as the full particulars will be reserved for those only who are disposed to embark in this most favourable opportunity to invest largely and in perfect security.
"The property is situated in the most favoured part of Yorkshire, not far distant from Weatherby and Ferrybridge: it embraces a mansion of importance, with extensive grounds in the highest possible order, hot and Succession houses of great extent and which are at present most respectably but inadequately let with the extensive gardens. The offices of every description are in good keeping with the residence.
"The estate surrounding it, which may be termed a little principality, extends to 4,110 acres of land, in the highest possible state of cultivation, lying entirely within a ring fence, the reduced rental from which is £5860 a year.
"It may be well to observe, and especially to those who have been led to believe that a present rental is not a Criterion always to be relied on, that the whole estate was re-let, and a considerable abatement made, so lately as Lady-day, 1835, at a time, it should be remembered, when agricultural pursuits had put on a most unfavourable and cheerless aspect. The present income is therefore one that must induce a purchaser to rely on a considerable augmentation; and if an additional argument would be needed, it will be found in the short analysis that will presently follow
Meadow and Pasture Land 1300
Plantations and Woods 144
Gardens and Pleasure Grounds 16
Amble Land 2650
Total . . . 4110
Value of the mansion and grounds, manors and manorial rights. It is nearly exempt from tithe and an
unusually low poor rate; there is also a valuable advowson.
"It may be well to observe here, that a deduction for land tax and other matters will reduce the rental about £200 a year. The clear rental would be nearly £5,000 a year.
Mr. Robins will be but too happy to confer with those who are seriously disposed to purchase, and he can assure them most confidently that, as it regards the present investment, he can give them the most satisfactory information."
Sir Harry’s York solicitor was unable or unwilling to provide the deeds for Ribston at the time the Deeds turning up some years later. Perhaps held as guarantee or was it a suspicion of foul play why was Sir Harry’s will not made by this man instead of the solicitor in Dublin to many questions not enough answers.
The fact is the Will presented was dated 25th July 1833, and proved at London 27th November 1833, and Administration granted to Francis
Lyttelton Holyoake Esquire., Executor.
Witnesses, R. Duncombe; J. Shafto, Whitworth Park, Durham; Travers Wright of Dundalk ,Co Louth; Fetherston H. Briscoe of Rutland Sq., Dublin, Solicitors.
At this point I refer to the family notes of Georgina Mary Goodricke daughter of George Michael Goodricke and Ada Mary Goodricke of Sands Lodge Bedford, 26th August 1894.
At page 42 of the history of the Goodricke Family she records in the margin that Sir H.J.G (Harry James Goodricke) had a natural daughter named Susan Jacques, who lived with Lady G. (Lady Goodricke) at Hampton House and died 16th Feb 1845 aged 17, She was buried in Hampton Church yard Where C.A.G (Charles Alfred Goodricke) in 1886 recorded that he had seen her grave stone. Susan appears not to be mentioned as a beneficiary in the full will recorded at the end of this work.
Sir Harry’s remains were brought over and interred in
the Goodricke vault at Hunsingore Church near Ribston Yorkshire. Not before the funeral party had stopped in Wetherby for refreshments the party very noisy drunk and disorderly were reprimanded by the landlord of the Inn for lack of respect, his reply "no
more than Sir Harry would have done for any one of us".
"Out of respect for the memory of Sir Harry".
Memories of rollicking and disreputable scenes Holyoake doubtless had in abundance, but none of real respect. At all events Holyoake showed his pretended respect for Sir Harry in a curious way for, instead of taking up his residence at Ribston as might have been expected he immediately let the residence furnished and set about the disposal of it and every Goodricke acre as early as decency would permit. Ribston was eventually sold in 1836 to Mr. Joseph Dent Dent of Appleby in Lincolnshire for the sum of £180,000. Mr. George Robins, the agent who carried out the sale was so disgusted with Holyoake for cheating him out of £1,000 of his remuneration that he published in 1840 a fifty page pamphlet describing the whole transaction.
Foot Notes From the Book “Mrs Fitzherbert and sons”
By Jim & Philippa Foord-Kelcey.
1825-1878 George Payne of Sulby Hall
When Maria arrived at Sulby Hall Eleanor told her how she had distributed the fortune which Rene Payne's executors had wrongly awarded to George. She expressed the hope that her eldest son, William Ralph, would buy himself an estate in the shires when he came of age.
She then broke the news of George's relationship with her daughter Elizabeth Martha. She explained that they were in love and that George had sworn that he would never marry any other girl and her daughter would not look at any other man. Her other worry was that, one day, someone would notice that she had five children; not the four she was known to have had at her husband's tragic death. Maria offered to ask Frederick if he would have John at Tours as his assistant and after a short exchange of correspondence this was arranged. Within a few months John had joined Frederick and was learning the' job. Eleanor's family at Sulby was reduced to four again!
The situation with George was most worrying to Maria. People were already wondering how it was that a young man of his exceptional charm, popularity and worldly endowment remained unmarried despite the numerous eligible young ladies who laid themselves at his feet. If George declared publicly that there was no impediment to their marriage, it-* her eldest son bought Pitstone Hall where he lived until he died in 1859.' He had been called William Ralph to distinguish him from Maria's son, the other William of Sulby Hall, but historically they got confused.-wouldput the family secret at risk. They wanted to continue to live in the district and in the home they loved. It was eventually decided that their only recourse was to pay someone to give Elizabeth a respectable married name and for them to live together as man and wife. George's situation was somewhat unique, but similar and less innocent expedients were not unknown, particularly in the private lives of Royal Dukes and Princes.
George engaged an agent to find a man who needed money urgently, wanted status, not a wife, and was prepared to sell the use of his name.
In 1827 at the age of twenty-two Elizabeth Martha Payne assumed the name `Mrs Holyoake'. There is no mention in the Welford Parish Records of this marriage. Soon after, her `brother' George Payne made substantial extensions to his home, Sulby Hall. On 28 January 1830 the Parish Records of Welford registered the baptism of Francis Lyttleton son of Francis Lyttleton Holyoake and Elizabeth Martha of Sulby. This child may have died in infancy. In 1833 Francis Holyoake succeeded to his father's estate at Studley in Warwickshire, and built a house which he called Studley Castle. He assumed the name 'Goodricke'. Two years later he was created first Baronet of Studley Castle. Elizabeth Martha became Lady Goodricke. In 1836 Elizabeth had a son, Harry, who was educated at Rugby School and entered the 90th Light Infantry at the age of eighteen. He served in the Crimean War and was severely wounded, receiving the Crimean medal and clasp. Elizabeth had a third son, George, and four daughters.
In 1842 Sir Francis Goodricke became Master of the Pytchley Hunt, which fulfilled another of his ambitions. By 1863 he was bankrupt and had to sell Studley Castle. Two years later he died and Harry Goodricke became the second Baronet.
George Payne of Sulby became a very well-known figure in the hunting, racing and gambling world and much has been written about him, mostly in retrospect. In The Dictionary of National Biography the earliest source of information was the `Sporting Magazine' of 1837 when he was thirty-four and `The Illustrated News' of 1844. Other information comes from much later bibliography and would have come largely from legend.
He was always portrayed as a mystery and the subject of much colourful gossip and rumour, a man who was spoken of with affection, respect and almost with reverence. . He was a man who might have done anything and did nothing; still he was loved and looked up to by all who knew him, as the sealed pattern of the perfect gentleman.' Another biographer writes: `There never has been and never will be but one George Payne - a stalwart form, handsome countenance, winning smile, and a charm of manner never equalled, took captive all who came within the circle of their attraction. It would scarcely be going too far to say that no man ever possessed in the same degree a similar gift of making himself acceptable to all sorts of persons. It seemed as though he could at all times reach the soft spot in anyone's heart, be they of either sex, or in any condition of life."' Heir to a fine place and a splendid fortune, and endowed with abilities of no common order, it is no wonder that he entered public life as a sort of "Prince Camaralzaman".
On George's spending and gambling excesses much has also been written: `He came of age in 1824 and into possession of the family seat, Sulby Hall, with a rent roll of £17,000 a year ... the money disappeared in a few years together with two other large inheritances from relatives.,*
'He seems to have set out to spend as fast as possible. His coming-of-age party was fabulous.
About this Northamptonshire character a special book could be written. His colourful life encompassed a drama** as exciting as many a stage plot. As a betting man he must have been the biggest mug in history. Sometimes he would back nearly every horse in a race and still manage to miss the winner. In 1824 he lost £33,000 on one horse."
In 1824 he lost £20,000 on the St Ledger. (A different figure from the other biographer.
* It is Payne family tradition that one of the uncles owned racehorses; lost three fortunes racing and gambling; drank enough to float a battleship and spent enough to buy one.
George, being the youngest, would have received his patrimony and the legacies from his mother, and father within the short period of thirteen years. He was probably thought locally to own all the land belonging to the Secret Trust, not Sulby estate alone.
** This could refer either to his parentage or to his love life, or both!
His ruling passion was racing and gambling.
Payne's gambling had by this time eaten up most of his patrimony . .
He was an infatuated gambler not only on the turf but also at the card table.
George Payne was Master of the Pytchley Hunt from 1835 to 1838 and then again, succeeding Sir Francis Goodricke, from 1844 to 1848.
He is described in The Huntsman, Volume XLIV as: . . . “The very handsomest man I ever saw. From top to toe, he was and is the perfect model of an English gentleman. His face was clear and open; his eyes were grey, with dark lashes,
expressive then only of excitement at other times of purest good nature. He was about five feet eleven, and weighed about twelve stone. His dress was perfection; utterly free from the smallest taint of dandyism, it was admirably adapted for the business in hand and the person it adorned. There was no modern invention of beard and moustache, which reduces even a decent looking fellow to somewhat of the calibre of a rat-catcher's dog. His well curled black whiskers matched his short curled hair.”
William Ralph was the exact opposite of his handsome `brother' George. He was short and round with short thighs and a very bad seat. He was, however, always amusing and indomitably cheerful. George and Ralph were great companions.
George's true brother William was between nine and ten years his senior but there were strong ties of kinship between them. For both, Sulby Hall was his spiritual home and their periodical separations from one another when at different schools at different times and from the rest of their family, drew them together. George and Billy was a devoted couple.
The cause and date of William's death is not known but George's loss of his brother, his father in 1830 and his mother in 1837 would have come within a short period of time. It is very likely that it was these events that led him to resign his mastership of the Pytchley Hunt and to move his true family to a far off neighbourhood where they could shake off the burden of secrecy and escape the bestirring whispers of gossip. Railways had introduced quick and comfortable travel over long distances. George still owned valuable farming properties in Northamptonshire and attended to the progressive disposal of land owned by the Family Trust for distribution to his brothers and sisters. .It was at the end of his second term of Mastership, when, in 1847, he sold Sulby Hall. His successor as Master was Viscount Alford of Ashridge near Berkhamsted (heir to Earl Brownlow).
At the age of seventy-five George Payne died at 10 Queen Street, Mayfair. In his will, made a month before his death, he left nearly allthat he possessed, valued for probate at £35,000, to his sister, Lady Elizabeth Martha Goodricke. His will did not record her address. The mystery of his family life remains
George was buried in Kensal Green cemetery among the rich and famous of his time. The Prince of Wales, later King Edward VII, attended his funeral, which was reported in every newspaper in the country. Later, a magnificent memorial cross was erected over his grave." The inscription on the front of the monument reads:
Born at Sulby 3rd April, 1803.
Died at Queen Street, Mayfair on 2nd September 1878.
Probably unnoticed and five years later, another name was engraved on the back of the memorial:
and his nephew
Sir HARRY GOODRICKE Bart.
Born at Studley Castle, Warwickshire, August 7th 1836. Died London October 25th 1883.
With Sir Harry's death the title died out.
* The Memorial to the two men can still be seen in the overgrown and derelict cemetery at Kensal Green in north-west London.