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Lansdown Villa, Tyndalls Park, Bristol

Research into this property and its inhabitants came about as a result of an address given on the death certificate of my great grandfather, John Denton Laycock, in 1879 by his sister Ann Laycock, the informant - "Landsdown [sic] House, Tyndalls Park, Bristol".  There is no Landsdown House but there is a Lansdown Villa.  I presume that Ann Laycock, my great-great aunt, was in service there at the time of her brother's death in 1879 -- I have no reason or evidence to suggest any other connection with that property or, indeed, Bristol.

In 1871 and 1881 Lansdown Villa was occupied by Lucretia Ariel, a widow, with her daughter Mary E. Ariel (unmarried and aged 44 in 1881 although she went on later to marry Roberto Bompiano in Italy).  They employed two servants in 1871 and three servants in 1881.  Lucretia was living on
"Income from Railway Dividends" in 1871 and "Dividends" in 1881.  She died on 9 March 1889 (will proved 29 March 1889).  She is indexed in the Great Western Railway (GWR) Register of Shareholders for 1876 and 1889.  The 1876 date is the transfer of stock to Lucretia on the death of her sister Hannah Matilda Clark who died 24 January 1876 (will proved 8 February 1876); the 1889 date is the transfer of stock on her death to her executors.  Lucretia and daughter Mary E. Ariel were living with Lucretia's brother Edward Clark and his wife in 1861, along with their 7 children, 10 servants and a governess.  They were in the same household in 1851.  In 1841 they appear to be in the household of Thomas Clark but there is apparently no husband for Lucretia.  Daughter Mary is named as Mary Eyer [sic] Ariel; the 1841 census is the only one where Mary's middle name is given in full.

My findings from the census returns prompted me to research further into the Ariel family and what an intriguing story unfolded, revolving around the Ariels and Clarks, two very wealthy Bristol families and the Naylors and Eyres, two equally wealthy Yorkshire families.  The Ariels were merchants in Bristol with links to the West Indies; the Clarks were, largely, lawyers in Bristol; the Naylors were wool merchants and mill owners with properties in Cleckheaton; and the Eyres appear to have been wool merchants in Wakefield.  In summary, the Naylors seem to have prospered until they became entangled with the Ariels and they, in turn, appear to have done well until they inter-married with the Clarks.

The following brief information was pieced together by me from my own research and from exchanges of information in several forums on www.genealogistsforum.co.uk, a thread between researchers looking for ancestors of the branch of the Ariel family which subsequently emigrated to Australia.  I subscribed to this thread and found the researchers very helpful and thorough in their research.  I have personally verified their research for the purposes of the information published here.

Lucretia Ariel was born Lucretia Clark in Bristol in 1803 and she married Myles Ariel in 1839.  Myles Ariel (born Bristol 1791) was by then a widower, his first wife Elizabeth Naylor having died in 1837.  She was the only surviving child of George Naylor (1739-1806) and Elizabeth Eyre (1756-1829) who married in 1795 and she inherited a considerable estate from her widowed mother when she died in 1829.  Myles Ariel and Elizabeth Naylor had married in 1815 in Yorkshire but were back in Bristol by the time the first baby, Elizabeth Naylor Ariel, was born in 1817.  In 1839, their second daughter Agatha Ariel (born 1822) married Edward Clark (born about 1818) in Bristol who was the younger brother of Lucretia.  Myles Ariel died suddenly in 1840 and Lucretia remained a widow for the rest of her life.  Edward Clark divorced Agatha Ariel in 1845 on the grounds of her adultery with Dr William James Dunsford
[see notes on next page for William James Dunsford].

Elizabeth Naylor (wife of Myles Ariel) had died in 1837 leaving a will which begins:-
"This is the last will and testament or testamentary writing of me Elizabeth the wife of Myles Ariel of the city of Bristol Broker made and published pursuant to the power and authority or several powers and authorities contained in the indenture or deed of Settlement made and executed on or previous to my intermarriage with my said husband the said Myles Ariel . . ."  There is obviously reference here to a settlement deed made upon her marriage to Myles Ariel, but I have been unable to locate it.

This will was contested in court by Myles Ariel and in 1839, the year he married Lucretia, the following was annexed to Elizabeth's will:- 
"On the 1st of June 1839 Admon, with the will annexed of the Goods, Chattels and Credits of Elizabeth Ariel, wife of Myles Ariel, late of the city of Bristol deceased was granted to Robert Leonard and Edward Jarrett Ransford the Executors having been first sworn by Canon duly to administer. The said Myles Ariel the lawful husband of the said deceased and as such the only person entitled to her personal estate over which she had us disposing power and concerning which she is dead intestate having first consented as by Acts of Courts appears".  Thus, Elizabeth was legally declared to have died intestate and the inheritance she left to her children and (as yet unborn) grandchildren was null and void and her entire estate, including her mother's inheritance which included properties and lands in Cleckheaton and Wakefield, passed to Myles Ariel.

When Lucretia died in 1889 she left a will declaring a personal estate of around 2,800.  Although she had the use of Myles Ariel's real and personal estate on trust for the rest of her natural life under the terms of his will, the properties were not hers to pass on and they reverted to become part of the residual personal estate of Myles Ariel upon her death.

Following her stay in service with Lucretia Ariel at Lansdown Villa, my great-great aunt Ann Laycock moved back home to Yorkshire where she is found in the 1881 census living with her step-father John Hinchliffe at Hunshelf, her mother Ann Denton having died in 1874.  By 1891 Ann was living-in at the Sheffield High School for Girls in Rutland Park as a
"domestic servant, general".  The Girls High School opened in Surrey Street Sheffield in 1878 and moved to purpose-built premises in Rutland Park in 1887.  By 1901 Ann was still there and described as "Housekeeper, Domestic" and in 1911 she completed and signed the household schedule, describing herself as "Housekeeper & Caretaker".  In all 3 census returns there were only 2 people resident on the night of the census.  It would appear that Ann remained there until she retired and never married.  She died in 1939 at the age of 82.

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