Thomas Ayrton

Thomas Ayrton

b: 1744
d: 1811
32 Red Lion Square (office)

England From Matilda Adriana Ayrton memoirs written in 1899:

My grandfather came to London, on a pony, to seek his fortune, which he certainly found in the law, as he lived in good style in Queen Square, but took to drinking and dissipation.

From 'The Chaplin and Skinner Families' page 21:

>> Thomas Ayrton (the exact date of whose birth I have not yet been able to ascertain) was the son of the Rev. Francis Ayrton, master of the Grammar School at Ripon. When quite a boy he was sent off to London by his father with a very small supply of money and some letters of introduction to several friends of the family. His grand-daughter, Mrs. Matilda Adriana Chaplin, has often told me how he rode up to London on a pony, and how, after many days on the road, he arrived at the sign of 'The Swan with Two Necks' in Lad Lane, near Cheapside (now [in 1899] a receiving office of the London and North-Western Railway Company in Gresham Street).
He became a lawyer, and practised with considerable success in Red Lion Square.
On the 11th April, 1775, he married Anne Hodges, of Newent, Gloucestershire, a sister of Mr. Benjamin Hodges, the well-known distiller, of Southwark, at St. George's, Hanover Square.
According to the earliest records of the Incorporated Law Society, Thomas Ayrton was in 1780 carrying on business as a solicitor at 11 Princes Street, Bedford Row, where he remained until 1792, when he removed to 32 Red Lion Square, Holborn.
It is clear that in these days there was some uncertainty as to the spelling of the family name, for in 1781 and 1783 he is officially described as Thomas Ayreton. Thomas Ayrton retired a few years before his death in 1811, and his name does not appear in the roll of solicitors after 1806.

His children were:-
(1) EDWIN WILLIAM AYRTON, a solicitor who died at the age of 40, or thereabouts, without leaving children. In 1804 he was with his father at 32 Red Lion Square, and remained with him until 1808, when he removed to 9 Wine Office Court, Fleet Street, after which year his name does not again appear on the roll of solicitors.
(2) FREDERICK AYRTON (Of whom hereafter)
(3) ALFRED AYRTON, who lived at Chertsey, where he died unmarried on the 8th March, 1858. A man of eccentric character and peculiar habits. There is a tale which relates - rightly of wrongly - that his death was due to his falling into the Thames, as he was in the habit of walking about with his eyes shut. He had been told by a doctor that within a certain period he would probably lose his sight, and he therefore proposed to accustom himself to this state of things. Mrs. M. A. Chaplin assured me that this tale was true.
(4) MATILDA, who married Mr. Cater, and died in 1813 leaving -
(B) A daughter, VICTOIRE, who was born in 1812, and in 1835 was married to the Rev. George Johnson, of Ayrtondale, Horton, Nova Scotia. Mrs. Johnson recently died at an advanced age, leaving numerous descendants settled in Nova Scotia. <<

There are some notes about Red Lion Square, Holborn (possibly by Ayrton Chaplin, Thomas's great grandson) in Ann Mendell's copy of the Chaplin and Skinner book. The square was about 170 by 80 paces with an obelisk in the centre. There used to be a stone watch house at each corner and avenues of trees in the centre surrounded by iron railings on a low wall. The square got its name from the inn of that name in Holborn. Cromwell, Ireton and Bradshaw were carried thither from the Abbey preparatory to Tyburn in 1698. The Chancellor of the Exchequer who backed the South Sea Company and was sent to the Tower, lived there; also Mr Knightley, implicated in a plot to murder William III on his way to hunt in Richmond Park, and many important people. There is a memorial tablet affixed to 17 Red Lion Square in memory of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, William Morris and Sir Edward C Burne-Jones, who lived there .............. and much more!

From 'Prince of Pleasure' by Saul David, publ. Abacus, London 1999 (ISBN 0 349 11087 5):
(A book about the reign of George III and his son the Prince of Wales, later George IV)

The part of London inhabited by high society was essentially Mayfair, bounded by Bond Street to the east, Park Lane to the west, Grosvenor Square to the north and St James's Park to the south. Fields lay beyond the turnpike at Hyde Park Corner, interrupted only by the villages of Chelsea, Brompton and Kensington. From Oxford Street (then known as Oxford Road) clear views could be had of Hampstead. St Paul's and the City lay outside this exclusive perimeter, home to merchants and lawyers. 'A nobleman,' wrote Robert Southey, 'would not be found by any accident to live in that part which is properly called the City, unless he should be confined for treason or sedition in Newgate or the Tower.

Entertainment for the well-heeled included balls and dinners, the theatre, the circus and the pleasure-gardens of Vauxhall and Ranelagh. One of the highlights of the Season was the Cyprians' Ball at the Argyle Rooms where the courtesans - the 'Fashionable Impures' - played hostess to their admirers and protectors. But the most popular way for both the grande and demi-monde to spend the evening was at the opera where Court dress - knee-breeches and chapeaux bras (three-cornered flat silk hats) - was de rigueur. It was because the opera was the ideal showcase for her charms that Harriette Wilson was prepared to pay 200 guineas a season for a box in the first tier.

Overall, however, London was a noisy, chaotic amalgam of city, town and village. Its two ancient citadels, Westminster and the City, were separated by a densely populated area of stark contrast: on the one hand, elegant squares and opulent thoroughfares; on the other, warrens of dark, dirty alleyways in which a stranger was in danger of losing anything from his pocket-book to his life. In 1807, 13 gas-lamps were installed on the south side of Pall Mall, and five years later the Gas Light and Coke Company established its first gasworks ; in Westminster. But the process of lighting the common roads of London - as opposed to the main streets of the West End and the City - took more than 20 years to complete. Often, popular venues were in the midst of seedy districts. Drury Lane and Covent Garden Theatres, for example, were in a notoriously dangerous area, the haunt of murderers, escaped convicts and prostitutes. But the really hard-core 'rookeries' (criminal districts), 'hells' (illegal gambling clubs) and 'flash-houses' (pubs frequented by criminals) were concentrated in Whitechapel, St Giles, Clerkenwell and Southwark.

London had virtually no drainage system. Even the biggest houses were only just beginning to replace chamber-pots with water closets. Outside the smarter areas, slops were slung from windows and refuse accumulated in the gutters. This poor state of hygiene was partly '' responsible for the high rate of infant mortality: more than 50 per cent of infant deaths were not even reported; many of those which were notified were put down to convulsions. The apothecary still treated most minor ailments, while dentistry was still in its infancy and teeth were either good or bad. When they were bad, most people had them drawn at the street corner by itinerant quacks. False teeth - an expensive luxury - were either made from boxwood or the real thing taken from somebody else's mouth (living and dead).

By 1801, London had grown to just under 1 million inhabitants, - more than eleven times the population of any other British city. Its sheer size, allied to a long tradition of lawlessness, encouraged crime on a huge scale. In 1797 Patrick Colquhoun, the Chief Magistrate of Westminster, estimated that no fewer than 115,000 Londoners were engaged in criminal pursuits: there were 52,000 prostitutes and bawdy-house keepers, 8,500 'cheats, swindlers, and gamblers', 8,000 'thieves, pilferers and embezzlers', 3,000 'dissolute Characters' who seduced others 'to intemperance, lewdness, debauchery, gambling, and excess' (Colquhoun did not specify whether the Prince himself was included in this category), and 2,000 'Thieves, Burglars, Highway Robbers, Pick-pockets and River Pirates'. The City had its watchmen - known as 'charleys' because they were instituted in the reign of Charles II - and Westminster its Bow Street Runners, but the rest of London was in a state of virtual anarchy because the 90 or so parishes and precincts lacked unity and central control. Some headway was made by the Middlesex Justices' Act of 1792, which established seven new Public Offices, each with three stipendiary magistrates and six salaried constables, and the setting up of the Bow Street Horse Patrol in 1805, but there was no unitary police authority until the Metropolitan Police came into being in 1829.

Most convicted criminals were either transported to Australia or sent to the dreaded hulks, former men-of-war moored in the Thames. Conditions were appalling, with unwashed prisoners packed together on three airless decks. At night the hatches were screwed down, leaving the inmates to fight among themselves. Many died of disease; a few at the hands of their fellow prisoners. 'Whatever little remains of innocence or honesty a man might have is sure to be lost there,' wrote one convict. In 1816, more than 2,500 prisoners were aboard five hulks; by 1828, both figures had almost doubled. Newgate, close to the Old Bailey, the common gaol for both the City and the county of Middlesex, was positively benign in comparison. Its population was mainly made up of prisoners awaiting trial, and those who had been sentenced to transportation and death. Largely left to their own devices, the inmates staged 'prize-fights' and mock trials, aping the language of the courts and awarding harsh 'sentences' to those who transgressed their unwritten code. Riots were commonplace, particularly when a group of convicts was due to be shipped overseas. Public hangings took place outside the gaol or at Tyburn, where huge crowds turned the event into something of a public holiday. Debtors were kept in three separate prisons: the Fleet, not far from Newgate, the King's Bench at Southwark, and the Marshalsea, also south of the river. Those with money (something of a contradiction in terms) could live there in relative comfort with their families, receiving visitors and sending out for food and drink. At the King's Bench in Southwark, where the gaolers together made more than £800 a year from the sale of beer alone, the prisoners often sub-let rooms to each other.

Perhaps the best contemporary account of London at this time is given in Robert Southey's Letters from England (1807), which purport to be the correspondence of a Spanish visitor. This ruse enabled Southey to make general observations that most Britons would take for granted, and also to express particularly frank criticism of their social customs. Of the sights and sounds of the City he wrote:

When I reached Cheapside the crowd completely astonished me. On each side of the way were two uninterrupted streams of people, one going east, the other west. At first I thought some extraordinary occasion must have collected such a concourse; but I soon perceived it was only the usual course of business . . . [The] rapidity with which they moved was as remarkable as their numbers . . . The carriages were numerous in proportion, and were driven with answerable velocity. If possible, I was still more astonished at the splendour of the shops: drapers, stationers, confectioners, pastry-cooks, seal- cutters, book-sellers, print-sellers, hosiers, fruiterers, china-sellers - one close to another, without intermission, a shop to every house, street after street, and mile after mile.

London's inhabitants, he observed, were:

… divided into two distinct casts, - the Solar and Lunar races, - those who live by day, and those who live by night, antipodes to each other, the one rising just as the others go to bed. The clatter of the night coaches had scarcely ceased, before that of the morning carts began. The dustman with his bell, and his chant of dust-ho! succeeded to the watchman; then came the porter-house boy for the pewter-pots which had been set out for supper the preceding night; the milkman next, and so on, a succession of cries, each in a different tune. He also wrote about ballad-sellers peddling news of murders, quack-doctors approaching strangers with their 'never-failing pills', and watchmen calling out the state of the weather every half-hour of the night. London was not for the faint-hearted.

  • 1744 - Birth - ; Ripon, Yorkshire
  • 1811 - Death -
  • 1780 - Fact -
  • 1792 - Fact -
Thomas Ayrton
1744 - 1811
Family Group Sheet - Child
PARENT (M) Rev Francis Ayrton
BirthABT 1700Ripley, Yorkshire
Marriageto ?
FatherEdward Ayrton , M.A.
MotherJudith Vicars
MThomas Ayrton
Birth1744Ripon, Yorkshire
Marriage11 APR 1775to Ann Hodges at St. George's, Hanover Square, London
Family Group Sheet - Spouse
PARENT (M) Thomas Ayrton
Birth1744Ripon, Yorkshire
Marriage11 APR 1775to Ann Hodges at St. George's, Hanover Square, London
FatherRev Francis Ayrton
PARENT (F) Ann Hodges
Birth30 OCT 1754(Date of christening, at Newent, Gloucestershire)
Marriage11 APR 1775to Thomas Ayrton at St. George's, Hanover Square, London
FatherWilliam Hodges
MFrederick Ayrton
Birth1780London. Christened 6 April 1780 at Saint Andrew, Holborn.
Death24 NOV 1824Bombay, India
Marriage1 JUN 1811to Juliana Caroline Rebecca Adriana Nugent at St. Lukes Church, Chelsea, London
MEdwin William Ayrton
Marriage(1803?)to Eliza George
MAlfred Ayrton
Death8 MAR 1858
FMatilda Ayrton
Marriageto ? Cater
[S37942] Raymond Airton emails etc from 19 July 2006 (and some earlier)
Descendancy Chart
Thomas Ayrton b: 1744 d: 1811
Ann Hodges b: 30 OCT 1754
Frederick Ayrton b: 1780 d: 24 NOV 1824
Juliana Caroline Rebecca Adriana Nugent b: AFT 1787 d: 10 MAR 1833
Matilda Adriana Ayrton b: 1 JUN 1813 d: 26 JAN 1899
John Clarke Chaplin b: 25 AUG 1806 d: 2 JUN 1856
Holroyd Chaplin b: 17 MAR 1840 d: 23 DEC 1917
Euphemia Isabella Skinner b: 7 JUN 1847 d: 10 SEP 1939
Irene Kate Chaplin b: 1 MAR 1873 d: 22 JUN 1962
John William Ernest Pearce b: 4 APR 1864 d: 25 JAN 1951
Edward Holroyd Pearce , Lord b: 9 FEB 1901 d: 27 NOV 1990
Erica Priestman b: 1906 d: DEC 1985
Richard Bruce Holroyd Pearce b: 12 MAY 1930 d: 1987
James Edward Holroyd Pearce b: 18 MAR 1934 d: 11 JUN 1985
Phyllis Margaret Pearce b: 8 FEB 1910 d: 6 JUN 1973
Edward Douglas Eade b: 7 FEB 1911 d: 24 DEC 1984
John Allan Chaplin Pearce b: 21 OCT 1912 d: 15 SEP 2006
Helen Nugent Pearce b: 22 NOV 1917 d: 6 APR 1920
Effie Irene Pearce b: 18 AUG 1899 d: 26 JAN 1996
Raymond Ray-Jones b: 31 AUG 1886 d: 26 FEB 1942
Holroyd Anthony Ray-Jones b: 7 JUN 1941 d: 13 MAR 1972
Allan Nugent Chaplin b: 8 JUN 1871 d: 1917
Son Chaplin b: 29 NOV 1900 d: ABT 29 NOV 1900
Matilda Effie Chaplin b: 20 JUN 1874 d: 20 DEC 1874
Phyllis Chaplin b: 7 JUN 1879 d: 27 JUL 1924
Philip Herbert Cowell b: 1870 d: 1949
Theodoric Chaplin b: 14 FEB 1881 d: 29 OCT 1906
Daphne Grace Chaplin b: 6 SEP 1884 d: 16 FEB 1964
Daphne Grace Chaplin b: 6 SEP 1884 d: 16 FEB 1964
Cecil Arbuthnot Gould b: 1883 d: 1917
Allan Chaplin , Col b: 20 JUN 1844 d: 19 AUG 1910
Maud Elizabeth Skinner b: 25 OCT 1844 d: 24 JUN 1904
Wyndham Allan Chaplin , Mus. Bac. Oxon., Rev b: 12 NOV 1872 d: 29 AUG 1914
Evelyn Dorothea Williamson b: 1873 d: 1945
Mabel Florance Ida Chaplin b: 7 OCT 1875 d: 1970
Charles Nugent Hope-Wallace b: 3 FEB 1877 d: 15 OCT 1953
Philip Hope-Wallace b: NOV 1911 d: 1979
Nina Mary Hope-Wallace b: 14 DEC 1905 d: 1995
BART, Sir Edward O Hoare b: 29 APR 1898 d: 1969
Maud Dorothea Fanny Chaplin b: 23 JUL 1880 d: 6 NOV 1899
Louisa Sarah Chaplin b: 23 APR 1838 d: 9 JUL 1897
John Edwin Hilary Skinner b: 11 JAN 1839 d: 20 NOV 1894
John Allan Cleveland Skinner b: 19 SEP 1865 d: 8 SEP 1925
Hilary Francis Cleveland Skinner b: 10 OCT 1889 d: 25 JUL 1916
John Adrian Dudley Skinner b: 2 SEP 1891 d: 30 MAY 1965
Bruce Allan Maclean Skinner b: 29 AUG 1927 d: 2002
Caroline Louisa Marianne Skinner b: 22 FEB 1873 d: 20 JUN 1936
Roandeu Albert Henry Bickford-Smith b: 3 MAY 1859 d: 13 DEC 1916
William Nugent Venning Bickford-Smith b: 14 MAY 1892 d: 3 SEP 1975
Amy Evelyn Holme b: 6 SEP 1906 d: 21 JUL 1979
Leslie Evelyn Bickford-Smith b: 1928 d: 1990
Leonard James Jacob b: 1928 d: 1989
John Allan Bickford-Smith b: 23 APR 1895 d: 8 MAY 1970
Joan Angel Allsebrook Simon b: 8 AUG 1901 d: 13 APR 1991
Norman Kennedy d: 1926
Hilary John Bickford-Smith Cdr RN b: 8 FEB 1926 d: 25 MAY 1988
Aubrey Louis Bickford-Smith b: 4 FEB 1902 d: 9 JUL 1975
Roger Bickford-Smith b: 1939 d: 1997
Clifton Wyndham Hilary Skinner , R.F.A. b: 26 MAR 1880 d: 17 FEB 1908
Ayrton Chaplin , Rev b: 19 OCT 1842 d: 1930
Edith Elizabeth Pyne b: 28 SEP 1845 d: 1928
Ursula (Ulla) Chaplin , M.D. b: 30 NOV 1869 d: 1937
Adriana (Audrey) Chaplin b: 26 APR 1872 d: 15 DEC 1945
Ursula Joan Gregory b: 29 JUL 1896 d: 17 JUL 1959
Christopher John (Kit) Gregory b: 11 JUL 1900 d: 1977
Marion Eastty Black b: 3 MAY 1902 d: AUG 1998
Elizabeth Gregory b: 22 OCT 1933 d: 1938
Henry Ayrton Chaplin , L.R.C.P. & S. b: 21 AUG 1876 d: 2 JUL 1905
Matilda Charlotte Chaplin , M.D. b: 20 JUN 1846 d: 19 JUL 1883
William Edward Ayrton , F.R.S. b: 14 SEP 1847 d: 6 NOV 1908
Edith Chaplin Ayrton b: 1 OCT 1874 d: 5 MAY 1945
Israel Zangwill b: 21 JAN 1864 d: 1 AUG 1926
Margaret (Peggy) Zangwill b: 12 APR 1910
Oliver Louis Zangwill b: 29 OCT 1913 d: 12 OCT 1987
Joy Moult b: 1924 d: 2016
David Ayrton Zangwill b: FEB 1952 d: 1953
Ayrton Israel Zangwill b: 15 AUG 1906
James Edward Nugent b: 3 JAN 1833
Margaret Louisa Nugent d: JUL 1905
Philip O'Reilly d: 24 SEP 1912
Edward Nugent Ayrton b: 13 MAR 1815 d: 28 NOV 1873
William Edward Ayrton , F.R.S. b: 14 SEP 1847 d: 6 NOV 1908
Matilda Charlotte Chaplin , M.D. b: 20 JUN 1846 d: 19 JUL 1883
Edith Chaplin Ayrton b: 1 OCT 1874 d: 5 MAY 1945
Israel Zangwill b: 21 JAN 1864 d: 1 AUG 1926
Margaret (Peggy) Zangwill b: 12 APR 1910
Oliver Louis Zangwill b: 29 OCT 1913 d: 12 OCT 1987
Joy Moult b: 1924 d: 2016
David Ayrton Zangwill b: FEB 1952 d: 1953
Ayrton Israel Zangwill b: 15 AUG 1906
Phoebe Sarah (Hertha) Marks b: 28 APR 1854 d: 26 AUG 1923
Barbara Bodichon Ayrton b: 3 APR 1886 d: OCT 1950
Gerald Gould b: 1885 d: 1936
Michael Ayrton b: 20 FEB 1921 d: 17 NOV 1975
Frederick Ayrton b: 20 MAR 1812 d: 20 JUN 1873
Margaret Hicks b: 1808 d: 12 SEP 1873
Agnes Nugent Ayrton b: 31 MAY 1834 d: 24 APR 1907
Charles Cyril Hicks , Dr b: 1832 d: ABT OCT 1894
Frederick Ayrton b: 1836
Acton Smee Ayrton b: 5 AUG 1816 d: 30 NOV 1886
John Hyde Ayrton b: 4 JAN 1818 d: 1845
Alfred Ayrton b: 1784 d: 8 MAR 1858
Matilda Ayrton b: 1788 d: 1813
Victoire Cater b: 1812