The Polhill Family History

Compiled, copyright © 2002 - Rob Gaskell
Published with his kind permission

Nathaniel Polhill

Nathaniel was the son of William Polhill and Hannah Lade. He was born on 7th January 1723 Nathaniel married Elizabeth, daughter of William Coppard Esq., who was five times Mayor of Hastings, on 5th March 1750 in Hastings, Sussex. Nathaniel made his business centre in Southwark, where he became an eminent tobacco merchant and brewer. His tobacco business was at 35, Borough, LondonNathaniel was also a banker in the City of London with Langston, Polhill, Towgood and Amory of 29, St. Clement's Lane, Lombard St. He contested the election for the borough of Southwark, as a Whig, in October 1774 and headed the Poll. Polhill 1195 Thrale 1026 Lee 741 Hume 457 In 1780 Nathaniel again appealed to the electors of Southwark. This time he had Dr. Johnson and Mrs. Thrale canvassing for the opposition, Mr. Thrale. In a letter to her daughter, Queeney, of 15th May 1780 Mrs. Thrale said that "she fears poor Mr. Polhill will lose his seat as all the folks are mad for Sir Richard Hotham". Hotham headed the poll with 1300 votes but Polhill scored 1138 and was also elected. Thrale was a bad third, with 855 votes and was not elected. According to the Librarian of the House of Commons, "Nathaniel appears not to have spoken in the House; this restraint was less unusual in his days than ours". Nathaniel acquired Howbury Hall from the Becher family in 1781 for £17,500 (£1,235,000 in money of 2000) and in that year sold his brewery business to Henry Thale and Robert BarclayNathaniel and Elizabeth had six children who survived to adulthood:

Hannah born on 2nd February 1752 and baptised on 24th February, died unmarried aged 17 in 1769

Nathaniel baptised on 9th November 1756 at St Thomas Presbyterian Church, Southwark, Surrey. He was of Tolworth, Surrey and of Burwash, Suusex as well as Howbury, very briefly; He died in France in 1782 and was buried in the Cathedral Church of St Saviours, Southwork. He married Ursula, daughter of Ebenezer Maitland. He was M.P. for Camberley, Surrey. Nathaniel, died shortly after his father and shortly after inheriting Howbury Hall, being buried in the Cathedral Church of St Saviours, Southwark in 1782.

They had one daughter, Elizabeth, who married Robert Joseph Chambers, Barrister-at-law, on 23rd July 1805.

They also had a son, Nathaniel who inherited Howbury in 1782 £ the third owner in one year. He was admitted Fellow Commoner at St John£s College, Cambridge on 21st February 1799, having attended a private school. He was admitted at Lincoln's Inn on 30th June 1801. He died on 19th April 1802, £a youth of promising hope.£ Howbury then came into the hands of his Uncle, John.

John baptised at St Thomas Presbyterian Church, Southwark, Surrey on 8th December 1757

Edward baptised at St Thomas Presbyterian Church, Southwark, Surrey on 12th October 1761. He was of York Place, St Marylebone. With his brother, Robert, he carried on his father's business of tobacco merchant in Southwark at 35, Borough. He Married Sarah Ward, daughter. of John Spooner, of Barbados on 18th January 1787 at St Mary, St Marylebone Road, London. They had the following children, all baptised at St Mary, St Marylebone Road:

Louisa, baptised on 6th February 1788 and married, on 13th November 1821 at Holy Trinity, Clapham, Surrey, Rev. Edward Henley Acton of Shillington, Dorset and had issue

Edward, baptised on 1st October 1789 and later of Brighton. He was admitted Pensioner at Trinity College, Cambridge on 18th January 1810. He matriculated Michaelmas. 1811, moving to Trinity Hall on 10th December 1811; He obtained LL.B in. 1819 and was admitted at Lincoln's Inn on 28th April 1813. He married Anne Margaret Graham in 1824 and they had three sons, of whom Robert Graham was born in 1828 and, as a Lieutenant in the 95th Regiment, was killed at the Battle of Alma, in the Crimean War, on 20th September 1854. His father, Edward, died on 7th October 1859 aged 70 and the youngest son, Charles Davenport, born in 1840, died at the age of 20 on 7th February 1860

Sarah, baptised on 19th May 1793 and died unmarried in 1828

William, baptised on 17th January 1796, was a Cornet in the 16th. Light Dragoons on 1st July1813, and present at the battle of Waterloo. His invitation to the Ball given by the Duchess of Richmond on the eve of that momentous battle is in the possession of a member of the family (Mr. E.P. Acton) descended from William's sister Louisa. General Horrocks tells how the dancers hurried from the Ball on receiving the call to action without time to change into more practicable uniform. The tunic and vest, very elaborately embroidered with gold and silver thread together with the plume from his shake are now in the Museum of the Royal United Service Institution, Whitehall;- the gift of another member of the family, the Rev. J. Action. William was promoted Lieutenant on 13th December 1815 and on the 26th October 1816 transferred to the Life Guards and on the 10th January 1819 to the 23rd. Light Dragoons. On his retirement he lived at Broadwell and died in 1867.

Robert baptised on 11th June 1764 at St Thomas Presbyterian Church, Southwark, Surrey In addition to being a partner in the tobacco business, he travelled to China, as a result of which he gained a considerable fortune. He died unmarried in 1816

Mary baptised on 23rd November 1770 and married Rev. Charles Bond of Margaretting, Essex on 7th November 1797 at Woodmansterne, Surrey. They had three sons and four daughters

At his death in 1782, Nathaniel possessed estates in Surrey, Kent, Middlesex and Bedford in addition to his Sussex inheritance. He is buried in the Cathedral Church of St. Saviours, Southwark, together with his wife and son, Nathaniel, all of whom died in 1782.
John Polhill

John Polhill was the son of Nathaniel Polhill and Elizabeth Coppard. He was baptised on 8th December 1757 at St Thomas Presbyterian Church, Southwark, Surrey. John was a Captain in 15th (Kings) Light Dragoons until 1803 and was a resident of Cavendish Square, London. As a Captain he distinguished himself in the Birmingham riots of 1791, when the mob took umbrage at the Unitarian Divine and Scientist, Dr. Joseph Priestley, for his support of the French Revolution. The mob burned down the Old and New Meeting Houses and many residences including that of Priestley with all his books, papers and scientific apparatus. Wylie's History of the regiment says that Captain Polhill's conduct in connection with the riot was highly commended. After four days' turmoil the Dragoons were brought from Nottingham and their timely arrival saved the city from destruction. Capt. Polhill was presented with a ceremonial sword and testimonial and a very handsome gold and jewelled medallion. John succeeded to Howbury on the death of his nephew, Nathaniel who died without issue in 1803, and resigned his commission. He was appointed High Sheriff of Bedfordshire in 1805 and Deputy-Lieutenant in 1807. He married Mary, daughter of James Bennett on 21st March 1793 in Walthamstow, Essex. The children of John and Mary were:

Thomas born in London on 21st December 1794 and baptised on 16th January 1795 at St Mary, St Marylebone Road, London.He went to Eton. Amd was admitted a Pensioner at Trinity College, Cambridge on 24th May 1813. He obtained a B.A. in 1817 and M.A. in 1820. He died, unmarried, on 15th October 1828 at Bath, six weeks after his father

Charles baptised on 25th January 1796 at St Mary, St Marylebone Road, London and died in 1813

Frederick baptised on 30th July 1798 at St Mary, St Marylebone Road, London

Frederick succeeded John to Howbury HallJohn died on September 3rd 1828 and Mary on 17th March 1833; both were buried in Renhold
Frederick Polhill

Frederick Polhill was the son of John Polhill and Mary Bennett. He was baptised on 30th July 1798 at St Mary, St Marylebone Road, London. He married Frances Margaretta, the daughter of John Deakin and Anna Maria Beauvoir of Bagthorpe House, Basford, Nottingamshire on 6th January 1824 at Basford, Nottinghamshire; Frances was baptised at Basford on 30th January 1803.Frederick followed his father in adopting a military career, serving in the 1st. King's Dragoon Guards. On the death of his father in October 1828 he succeeded to the family estate, resigned his commission as a Captain and settled down to the life of a country gentleman at Howbury Hall. In the summer of 1830 he started to cultivate an interest in theatrical matters, and in the autumn was persuaded by local politicians to contest the Bedford constituency for Parliament. His Parliamentary venture was more successful than his theatrical one. He stood as an Independent against the Whigs and defeated Lord John Russell by one vote. With the exception of the 1832 election, Capt. Frederick Polhill represented Bedford in Parliament from 1831 to 1847 £ a free trade conservative. He was also a J.P.In association with the composer George Alexander Lee he took a lease of the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. Lee subscribed the musical knowledge while Polhill put up the cash. Despite many favourable notices from the dramatic critics the productions lost money. Lee dropped out of the arrangement in 1831 and in the next year Capt. Polhill made Alfred Dunn his manager and nominal lessee of Drury Lane. In the next year he added Covent Garden Theatre to his cares. Profits continued to elude him and in December 1834 he withdrew from his theatrical ventures having lost a very considerable sum of money. He did not entirely cease his interest in the theatre and in May 1836 produced his opera 'Rose of the Alhambra' at Covent Garden and in the following July at the English Opera House (the Lyceum) with good notices. The theatrical ventures were strongly disapproved of by his mother and contributed to causing a rift with his wife, culminating in a final separation in 1834. In July of that year Capt. Polhill signed an Indenture of Release and Settlement, by which his various manors and estates were settled for life on her and her children at his decease. Captain Frederick pursued his parliamentary and local duties, which included those of a trustee for the Harper Foundation, (an important Bedford Charity). He took an interest in the railway boom and became a director of the Great Leeds and London Direct Railway in 1845. Life at Howbury ceased to have an attraction for him and he leased the Hall and moved to London. In June 1837 he married Mary, daughter of the late Humphrey Jeans, and for the next ten years lived at no, 10 King William St. (now William IV St.) off the Strand, and later at Stamford St. Blackfriars. The children by her were Frederick, Victoria and Alexander, In failing health he again moved, this time to Ramsgate where he died on the 20th September 1848 at the early age of 50.Their children of Frederick and Frances Margaretta were:

Frances Sarah baptised in Basford on 25th November 1824 and died on 19th August 1832

Frederick Charles baptised on 21st March 1826 in Renhold

William Henry baptised 1827 in London, Cavendish Square and died on 23rd August 1832

Georgiana Petrina born in 1829 and died aged 86 and unmarried on 13th January 1915

Adelaide Emily Sophia baptised on 30th July 1831 in Renhold and died on 23rd December 1838

Edward Brooke baptised 3rd March 1834 in London, Cavendish Square and died on 1st February 1844

Frances Margaretta, Frederick£s wife, married again in 1851 the Rev. J.H.B. Mountain, the eldest son of the first bishop of Quebec, and she died in 1876. Frederick Charles survived childhood and inherited the Estate from his father.
Frederick Charles Polhill - Turner

Frederick Charles was the son of Frederick Polhill and Frances Margaretta Deakin. He was baptised on 12th march 1826 in Renhold and educated at Dr Burney£s School, Gosport.Old Howbury Hall had been almost destroyed by fire on 17th March 1847, caused by a bricklayer, who was repairing the roof, and lit a fire to drive out some bees. The house was unoccupied at the time and unfurnished, and all books had been removed. The west wing was burnt to the ground with only stacks of chimneys remaining and the eastwing remained although severely damaged.The house was rebuilt by Frederick Charles in 1852, only the eastern end of the old building being retained, although that was pulled down in 1858. All that remained from the old Howbury Hall was carved panelling which now forms part of the side entrance lobby and a staircase with a hand carved balustrade, thought to have been installed by Sir William Becher in 1666.Frederick Charles served in the 6th Dragoon Guards (the Carabineers).Frederick Charles became a Captain on 24th November 1848 and retired on the 10th February 1852 when he married. at St. George's, Hanover Square, Emily Frances, daughter of Sir Henry Winston Barron, Bart and Anna-Leigh Guy, daughter and Heiress of Sir Gregory Page-Turner, Bart. By Royal Licence, Frederick Charles assumed the additional surname of Turner on 21st February 1853, in compliance with the testamentary injunction of Frances, Lady Page-Turner. Frederick Charles Polhill-Turner became J.P, D.L, High Sheriff for Bedfordshire in 1855 and M.P. for Bedford from 3rd February 1874 to 24th March1880. He contested the seat unsuccessfully on 29th April 1859, 28th June 1859, 18th November 1868 and 1st April 1880.He was appointed Captain of the Duke of Manchester£s Mounted Volunteers in 1860His marriage to Emily went some way to restoring the fortunes of Howbury. In the early 18th Century, Sir Gregory Page, second and last baronet, who had been left a minor under the care of two guardians, inherited with other properties a substantial holding in South Sea Stock, estimated at £200,000 (£29.4 million in money of 2000) The guardians disagreed as to the advisability of retaining or selling this stock and called in a third party, who advised immediate selling. Fortunately the stock was sold a few months before the bursting of the South Sea Bubble, which ruined thousands of investors. Sir Gregory Page spent a large part of his fortune on the purchase, in 1725, of the vast estate of Wricklemarch in Blackheath from the executors of Dame Susan Morden. He pulled down the old manor house and engaged John James to design what was described fifty years later as 'the first habitable house in the Kingdom'. The building cost £90,000. It was furnished most sumptuously with costly carvings and hangings and the walls were hung with over 100 valuable paintings, including works by Rubens, Vandyke, Titian and other masters. On his death without issue in 1775, he bequeathed all to his great-nephew Sir Gregory Turner, descended from Mary, sister of Ambrosden, Oxfordshire. Sir Gregory Turner added Page to his surname and married Frances, daughter of James Howell of Elm, Wisbech, Cambridgeshire. Their surviving grand-daughter, Emily Frances, married Capt. Frederick Charles Polhill, as mentioned above. The income from the Page-Turner estates was stated sometime afterwards to be £16,000 per year. The greater part of the fortune which the Page-Turners brought to Howbury came from Emily Frances' brother Sir Henry Page-Turner Barron, C.M.G., who died without issue in 1900; he made his nephew, Cecil Henry Polhill-Turner the heir in tail male of his English estates. Sir Gregory Page-Turner sold Wricklemarsh and its 283 acres of land for £22,000 in 1783 and the mansion was demolished and the land divided into building lots. Much of the stonework and the colonnades of the mansion were incorporated in building the Paragon by Michael Searle in 1790.Frederick Charles and Emily Frances had three sons and three daughters, all with the surname Polhill-Turner.

Alice Kate Frances born 1856 and married in January 1892, the Rev. James Marsh, son of Rev. J Challis. Alice died on 25th July 1931 and is buried in Renhold

Frederick Edward Fiennes born on 10th June 1858.

Cecil Henry born on 23rd February 1860

Arthur Twistleton born on 7th February 1862. He went to Eton and was admitted Pensioner at Trinity Hall, Cambridge, Michaelmas 1881. He obtained B.A in. 1884 and went in that year to Ridley to prepare for ordination. Arthur was ordained in China in 1888 and he became M.A. in 1892. For ten years he lived at Pachow in North Szechwan, later moving to other stations in the province, using them as bases for evangelisation of the thickly populated countryside. He was in China throughout the Boxer rising and the Revolution of 1911 and did not retire until 1928 at the age of 66. He was ordained deacon (Mid-China) in 1888 and priest in 1890. In the early 1880s the American Evangelist, D.L. Moody, was conducting a mission in England. His eloquence and fervour made a great impression upon Arthur and by 1882 he had made a clean break with his old life and was determined to offer himself for missionary service in China - one of the £Cambridge Seven, as was his brother Cecil Henry, who joined the China Inland Mission in 1885. His missionaries were at Pacheo Szch'uan, West China, 1888 to 1898; at Shu-ting, 1898 to 1928. In 1902 Arthur discarded the name Turner by deed poll. He was licensed to officiate in the Diocese of St Albans, 1928 to 1930 and was Vicar of Furneaux Pelham, Herts from 1930 to 1932. He, finally, worked in the Diocese of St Albans from 1932 to 1935.

Arthur Married firstly on 9th May 1888, Alice, daughter of James Drake, of Gloucester, who died on 7th January 1907. They had four children who survived to adulthood:

Douglas Arthur, born on 23rd January 1889. He was educated at Christ£s College, Cambridge obtaining his BA in 1912. He married on 6th September 1919 Elizabeth Mary, daughter of Rev. A Phelps, Vicar of Sutton, Norfolk. Douglas became a priest and was Vicar of East Ruston, Norfolk from 1924 to 1932, St Paul£s, Greenwich from 1932 to 1938 and of St Michael£s, Battersea from 1938 to 1947. They had three children. Douglas died on 8th February 1965 and Elizabeth on 6th June 1961

Stanley Frederick was born on 10th May 1891. He was educated at Jesus College, Cambridge obtaining his BA in 1913. He was a Captain in the Royal Flying Corps in the First World War. He married Evelyn Davidson and had four children. Stanley died in Kenya on 7th October 1970

Montagu Cecil was born on 29th November 1892. He was educated at London University and was BSc, M.R.C.S., L.R C.P., late Captain in the R..A.M.C. He was Medical Inspector for the London County Council in 1920. He married, firstly, on 10th August 1918, Elsie, daughter of Edwin Alfred Evans of Eastbourne and they had two children. Elsie died on 8th January 1961 and Montagu then married, on 14th April 1961, Margaret Grace, daughter of the late Earnest John Rawlins of Tring, Herts. Montagu died on 11th September 1963. They has children

Theodore Robert was born on 25th October 1900. He married, on 3rd September 1930, Dorothy Sarah, daughter of Edwin Wiltshire of Chiverdens, Chippenham, Wiltshire. He served in the Second World War as a Captain with King£s African Rifles in Somaliland and Abyssinia. Theodore died on 13th September 1969. They had children

Arthur secondly married on 26th June 1908 Agnes Augusta, daughter of the Rev. Frederick. Hart, of Kimberley, Notts, who died on 26th February 1962. Arthur and Agnes had children. Arthur lived at Briar Cottage, Wilbury Road, Letchworth from 1932 to 1935; dying there on 21st November, aged 73

Emily Beatrice Violet died unmarried in 1930

Helen Augusta Rose born 1868 and died unmarried on 13th April 1951 and was buried in Renhold

Frederick Charles died on 18th August 1881 in Newcastle, County Down and Emily died on 2nd April 1913

Frederick Edward Fiennes Polhill-Turner

Frederick was the eldest son of Frederick Charles Polhill and Emily Frances Barron. He succeeded to Howbury on the death of his father in 1881. He attended Eton and was admitted Pensioner at Magdalene College, Cambridge on 18th October 1876. He was a Lieutenant in the Bedford Militia in 1880; afterwards in the 5th Dragoon Guards. He died, unmarried in 1903

Cecil Henry Polhill

Cecil was born on 23rd February 1860. He was the second son of Frederick Charles Polhill and Emily Frances Barron. He went to Eton and was admitted Pensioner at Jesus College, Cambridge on 1st October 1879. He was destined for a military career and in 1880 was commissioned in the Bedford Yeomanry. From Cambridge University, in 1881, he went to the 2nd Dragoon Guards (Queen's Bays). Cecil had not been so moved as his brother in 1883 but two years later, while on holiday in Germany, he was equally stirred with thoughts about service in China and resigned his commission in 1885 on hearing the call to missionary service. The two brothers became closely associated with five other Cambridge graduates, all moved with the same consecration towards missionary work in China. On 4th February 1885, at a great meeting in the old Exeter Hall, Strand, London, organised by the China Inland Mission, the Cambridge Seven, as they came to be called, were given a great farewell. Mrs. Polhill-Turner had viewed the enthusiasm of her two sons with some misgivings but she was present at the Exeter Hall with her three daughters. Their eldest brother, Frederick Edward, who had succeeded his father, was not there. Backed by the presence of forty other Cambridge graduates on the platform, all of whom had volunteered for service in China, the Seven made rousing speeches and amid an unprecedented wave of enthusiasm the Seven sailed for China the next day. Cecil was stationed in Shansi for a short while but he moved steadily north-west, set upon reaching the prohibited land of Tibet. He became great friends with the Tibetans at Kansu, and through travellers made contact with the Dalai Lama. He moved to Sungpan in Western Szechwan, still bordering on Tibet where Cecil and his wife nearly lost their lives in a violent riot in 1892. After a recovery of health by a visit to England they spent nearly a year on the Indian border of Tibet and moving round reached again the Chinese border of that mysterious land. In 1900 they were withdrawn with other missionaries to the coast during the Boxer rising and Cecil was invalided home. The doctor forbade his permanent return. Soon after, in 1903, having adopted the surname of Polhill only, by deed poll in 1902, he inherited the Howbury estates on the death of his unmarried brother, but his heart was in China and he made several prolonged visits to that country until the end of his life. He married, on 3rd May 1888, Eleanor Agnes, daughter of Dr Marston.Henry and Eleanor had the following children who survived to adulthood

Cecil Charles born on 18th March 1890

Arthur Harry born on 2nd September 1891. Lieutenant Commander Polhill was educated at the Royal Naval Colleges Osborne and Dartmouth. He married, firstly, in 1919, Elizabeth Mary, daughter of Colonel Cecil Sydney de Butts Martindale of Chelsea, who died on 22nd September 1939. They had the following children:

Anthony Nathaniel born on 18th December 1921

Elizabeth Unity, born on 9th November 1923. She married, on 27th July 1949, Robert Michael, son of James Glen Harley of Edinburgh. They had three children

Frederick John, born on 21st June 1927. He was educated at Canford and Wadham College, Oxford, obtaining a BA in 1951. He married, on 20th August 1955, Helen Boswell, daughter of Norman Dunlop McCombe of Geilsland. Beith, Ayrshire. They had two children:

Arthur Julian George born on 6th July 1956

Sybil Louise, born on 27th July 1958

Arthur secondly married, in 1939, Lillie Nicholson, eldest daughter of Joseph Penter of Belfast. They did not have any children

Arthur died on 6th April 1950 and was buried in Renhold.

Kathleen Louise born 1891. She married Rev. H. W. Funnell of the Inland China Mission She died in 1974

Kenneth born 1897 and died on 15th June 1904

Eleanor Mary born on 19th April 1899. She married in 1921 Miles Hay Martindale. Eleanor died in 1976 and Miles, who was born in 1893, died in 1957

Cecily Eileen born on 22nd May 1903. She married in May 1955 Rev. John Keble Cowburn MA, Rector of Clapham, Bedfordshire. Cecily died on 6th January 1970 and her husband in 1959

Henry Cecil died on 9th March 1938 at Hampstead aged 78 and Eleanor died on 31st December 1904. Henry and Eleanor were buried in Renhold
Cecil Charles PolhillCecil Charles was born on 18th March 1890, the eldest son of Henry Cecil Polhill and Eleanor Agnes Marston. He was educated at Repton School and Trinity College, Cambridge.He married Elizabeth Ellen, daughter of Lewis Evans of Bangor, Wales, in July 1931. They had a son:

Charles Howard Polhill born on 25th October 1946 and died on 14th November.

They also had two daughters:

Irene Helen> born 27th February 1941 and died 1988

Hilda Elizabeth born on 3rd July 1937.

Cecil died on 9th December 1957 and Elizabeth, his wife, in 1987

Cecil had inherited Howbury Hall from his father in 1938 and was in residence until his death on 9th December 1957, when the Estate went to his nephew, Anthony Nathaniel Pohill
Anthony Nathaniel Polhill

Anthony, the son of Lieutenant Commander Arthur Polhill and Elizabeth May de Butts Martindale. Anthony£s father, Arthur, was the second son of Henry Cecil Polhill and Eleanor Agnes Marston. Anthony was born on 18th December 1921 and educated at Canford. Anthony served with RAF during the Second World War and became a Fellow of the Chartered Accountants in 1951. He married Nora Margaret Dixon on 15th April 1952 and inherited Howbury Hall from his Uncle in 1957. Nora, known as Margaret, was born on 17th July 1915, the only daughter of the Rev. James Edwin Dixon of Blairgowrie, Pertshire, and died on 5th November 1995. She is buried in Renhold

Arthur Julian George Polhill

Arthur Julian George, known as Julian, is the only son of Frederick John Polhill and Helen Boswell McCombe. Frederick John is the second son of Lieutenant Commander Arthur Polhill and Elizabeth May de Butts Martindale. Julian was born on 6th July 1956 and inherited Howbury Hall from his Uncle Anthony in 1995, when Anthony£s wife "Margaret" died.


The Topographer and Genealogist Volume 1: Publised 1846 in London by John Fowler, Nichols & Son
Notes by R G Bennett 1958
Burkes landed GentryParish Records
Victoria County History of Bedfordshire
Illustrated London News September 1848
Gentleman£s magazine £ various dates
Whos£s Who of British Members of Parliament Vol I
County Families of the United Kingdom 1883
The Beds Times & Record various issues