A dynasty of Upholders,
Makers, House Brokers & Undertakers.
This “history” of the Wilkinson family covers several
generations of Wilkinsons living in London
and running the family business from the mid eighteenth to the late nineteenth
century. Brief mention is also included of some of the family living in the
latter half of the nineteenth century who are the direct ancestors of the
JOSHUA WILKINSON 1725 - 1790
Joshua Wilkinson was born in 1725 and is
thought to have been the son of Joseph Wilkinson, a clothier of Leeds, Yorkshire. Joshua is believed to have had at least two
brothers, William and Joseph. Joshua’s wife was Sarah Brind, daughter of John
Brind, a Loriner and Founder. Joshua and Sarah were married at St Leonard’s, Shoreditch on July 20th
1755. The baptismal records of their children are in the records of the same
church. Their first child, John Wilkinson, was born in May 1756 and died in
January of the following year. They subsequently had two daughters, Sarah
(1758) and Elizabeth (1761) and three sons, Joshua junior born 1759, William
born 1763 and John Henry born 1770. There were three other children who probably
all died in childhood, including Thomas (b 1767; d 1769) and twins Mary and
Martha (b 1764). The family lived in Moorfields throughout this time and their
address is recorded as being “Broker Row” in the baptismal records for William
and for Thomas and John Henry.
Joshua became a Freeman of the City of London, by virtue of
admission to the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths, by “Redemption” (nomination & payment), in 1756. He became a Liveryman of the Company in 1763. In general, membership of
the livery companies “conferred social prestige, some business advantages, a
share in deciding the political actions of the City of London and, in cases of distress and
hardship, provided charitable assistance”. Joshua was neither a goldsmith nor
a banker, so the business advantage in his case may simply have been that as a
house broker he needed to be a ‘Freeman’ (automatically granted to members of a
livery company) in order to own property in the City of London. There were
several Brinds, presumably relatives of his wife, in the Goldsmiths Company and
this may well have given him the necessary contacts to gain nomination for his
admission. On the record of his admission there was a notation, in the margin,
that he was “Son of Joseph, late of Leeds, Yorkshire,
By 1766 Joshua Wilkinson is known to have
been in business in Moorfields as an upholder, cabinet-maker and house broker.
In the 18 century, Upholders upheld or undertook to furnish peoples’ houses,
and were typically dealers, manufacturers, upholsterers and repairers of
furniture, and were also often brokers and auctioneers. Great names in l8
century furniture such as Chippendale, Vile, Ince and Mayhew, were proud to
call themselves upholders first and cabinet-makers second. Some of the larger
upholders employed several hundred workers and were stockists of furniture,
mirrors, fabrics, marble, wall-paper etc. and waited on clients, prepared
designs and undertook the making, upholstering and installation of furniture,
draperies and blinds, and hanging of wall-paper. Upholders were pre-eminent in
the furniture industry throughout the 18 and the first quarter of the 19
century, and the Worshipful Company of Upholders was the pre-eminent guild or
company regulating the industry. However, some furniture makers belonged to
We know from apprenticeship records that
Joshua’s business was in Moorfields from at least 1766 to 1784, in which year his youngest son, John Henry,
bound himself to his father, “Citizen and Goldsmith of London to learn his art
of a Housebroker.” Joshua made his fortune as a house broker and through the
prosperous furniture business, which he ran with his eldest son Joshua Jnr and
his younger brother Joseph, from at least 1778 – the company being registered
as “Wilkinson and Sons”. In that year he is recorded as taking out a licence to
employ twenty non-freemen for three months at his upholders shop at 24 Exchange
Alley. He did the same again in 1780
(having been forced by a fire to move to Cheapside).
Stock and utensils at the Exchange Alley shop were valued at £300 out of a total insurance value
of £1,500. Business must have
thrived at the Cheapside shop because the
insurance value of their stock and utensils there had increased within two
years to £1,400 (out of
a total cover of £2,100). From
their Cheapside premises Wilkinson and Sons advertised themselves as a
‘Cabinet, Upholstery, Carpet and Looking Glass Warehouse’, and indicated that
their stock included ‘down, goose and other feather beds; Turkey, Brussels,
Wilton, Kidderminster and Scotch carpets; library, writing, ladies’ dressing,
Pembroke card, and tea tables; cabriole, japanned and Windsor chairs etc.’ By
the number of men employed it is evident that there was a fairly extensive
manufacturing side to their business.
During the 18th century, furniture making was a respectable
occupation whose main centre in London was in
the neighbourhood of St Paul’s.
At the beginning of the century there existed specialist cabinet-making shops,
specialist gilders or upholsterers and so forth. From around 1740 all these various crafts
were amalgamated and the general furniture shop or warehouse came into
existence. The owner-managers of such shops, however, such as the Wilkinsons,
were still called “upholders.”
The Wilkinsons made a great deal of money
from their furniture business and also from dealing in and renting out properties
all over London.
Upholder also meant undertaker and that too was part of their business. Their
wealth had put them into the top reaches of the “comfortable middling classes”
already by the end of the 18th
century. And in the first half of the 19th
century they were recognised as one of the main London furniture dealers. They ran their
business as a family company, fathers, brothers and sons in partnership with
each other and this tradition continued into the late nineteenth century.
After his retirement in about 1784, Joshua moved at first to
Bush Hill in Middlesex and then came back closer to London to live on Highgate Hill, overlooking
the City. The pew book of the old Highgate Chapel shows that he and his wife
began to attend church there regularly from 1789 onwards. He died the following year on December
23. The death was recorded
not only in the Gentleman’s Magazine
and the European Magazine and London
Review but also in The Times which
indicates that he was a person of some standing. The notice simply read: “Mr
Joshua Wilkinson of Highgate hill, upholder and cabinet maker, Moorfields.”
In his Will, which runs to fourteen pages,
Joshua left his second daughter Elizabeth Cowdall (1761- ) two of the properties plus an annuity
of £50. (Elizabeth’s husband, Joseph Cowdall, was a hosier at Mumford Court Milk Street,
Cheapside). Relations were obviously strained
with his eldest daughter Sarah (1758-
), or at least with her husband, Thomas Pearson, upholsterer, who owed Joshua
money. For this reason he added a Codicil to the will reducing her settlement
from £50 to £25 just before he died. To his
three sons, Joshua Jnr (1759-1806 ), William (1763-1833), and John Henry (1770- ), he left £1000 each plus various of his many
“leasehold messuages or tenements and appurtenances.” He entrusted £1000 to his brother William and
his nephew Thomas Wilkinson, both of whom were upholders. The money was to be
invested in the family upholders business in order to provide for his daughters’
and wife’s annuities. He also settled small sums on his grandsons (Joshua Jnr’s
two sons), William James and Joshua Richard and his sister-in-law, Mary and
his nephews, Thomas and William. To his wife Sarah he left all his other
properties, his household goods, his linen, pictures, and plate, his horses,
cows and carriages, plus a lump sum of £500 and an annuity of £500 payable in quarterly instalments until
her death and thereafter to revert to the other legatees.
Sarah died in Stoke Newington in 1793. Her death was noticed in
the Gentleman’s Magazine. She was
buried next to her husband Joshua in the family vault at old Highgate Chapel.
The memorial tablet stood before the Communion Table until 1833, in which year the chapel
was pulled down to build the new Highgate School chapel. The family vault
continued in use up to 1838.
In her Will she specified that her sons
William and John Henry be appointed the undertakers at her funeral. The Will
also contains detailed instructions for the disposal of large quantities of
silver utensils including “three Mahogany knife Cases with Crests” left to John
Henry. One wonders whether the ‘Crest’ mentioned was the same as that which has
come down through several branches of the family over the subsequent generations,
with a fox’s head carrying a goose wing in its mouth and the motto “Praesto et
Persto” (“I stand in front and I stand fast”).
WILLIAM WILKINSON 1763 - 1833
William Wilkinson, the second son of Joshua
Sr. was born in Broker’s Row, London
on May 20th 1763. It is probable that in the 1780s he worked as a cabinet-maker
with his father in the premises at 7 Broker’s Row. In 1791 he married eighteen-year-old Jane Ayscough
(1773-1838) at the old city church of St Giles, Cripplegate (today it is in the
grounds of the Barbican). Jane was almost ten years younger than William. They
had twelve children: Mary 1794, William Ayscough 1796, Jane Ayscough 1798,
Charles 1800, Sarah 1803, Josiah 1804, Jane 1806, Thomas 1809, Alfred 1810,
Francis and Hannah (twins) 1812, and Peter Richard 1814. Up until 1807 the
family address was shown (on their baptismal records) as Broker’s Row,
Moorfields, after which the address was 14 Ludgate Hill. This may have meant
that William and Jane Wilkinson and their family resided at the same address as
the business, perhaps an apartment over the premises below.
Jane’s younger sister, Elizabeth Ayscough,
is also an ancestor of several Wilkinsons. She married Robert Meacock at St
Giles, Cripplegate on June 26 1793 and two of her daughters, Eliza and Emma,
married Wilkinson cousins – William Ayscough Wilkinson and Josiah (both sons of
William and Jane).
Jane’s and Elizabeth’s father, William
Ayscough (born circa 1745), was an undertaker whose business was at 1 Fore St,
Cripplegate. The Ayscough business was established in 1741, probably by his
grandfather (also William Ayscough) and went down through successive
generations of the family, including Jane & Elizabeth’s youngest brother, Thomas Ayscough. The Ayscoughs were members
/ freemen of the Carpenters Company, of which Thomas became Master in 1842.
William himself joined the Goldsmiths’ in 1784 and the Upholders’ in 1809. In 1790 he set up in partnership with his
cousin, Thomas Wilkinson at the Wheatsheaf and at the Sun & Plough (9 and 10 Brokers Row). They advertised as
“Cabinet and Plate Glass Manufacturers, Appraisers, Auctioneers &
Undertakers; General Dealers in all kinds of Household Furniture.” His
younger brother John-Henry was also involved in a similar business, being registered
as a director of a “Wholesale Upholsterer” business at 25 Budge Row in 1794.
William and Thomas were in business together as estate
agents, furniture dealers and undertakers at Brokers Row from 1790 to 1807. They specialised in patent furniture,
especially extending tables, using for example the “lazy tongs” principle. In 1807, the last year of their
partnership, they claimed that their Dining Table occupied when closed a
“space considerable smaller than is necessary for the standing of any other
Dining Table now in use.” They also claimed that their Patent Card Table “is
equally remarkable for its ornamental effect, and for the singularity of the
principles on which it is made.” In 1808,
the partnership ended: William set up at 14 Ludgate Hill and Thomas continued at No. 10 Broker’s Row. Thomas then
renamed his business Thomas Wilkinson & Co., and continued at Broker’s Row,
eventually occupying numbers 7 to 10. By the early l820s, Thomas had also
established an address at 1
Finsbury Square, continuing in business until
The reason for this change was that William was able
to take over the famous and long-established Ludgate Hill business of Quentin
Kay who had died in 1807. No. 14
Ludgate Hill was the main Wilkinson shop until 1855 when the business was transferred to Bond Street. The
building at Ludgate Hill was a large shop-house and from its commencement William’s
business there was of substantial size, the insurance coverage in March 1808
being 2000 pounds. William clearly saw the commercial advantage of promoting
patent furniture at his new address, and in 1812 advertised patent bedsteads
‘which for their utter utility, firmness and simplicity, surpass everything of
the kind ever presented to the public: they effectually exclude vermin and may
be fixed and unfixed in five minutes.’ William had several such beds in his
showroom, together with ‘portable mahogany chairs, japanned chairs and portable
dining tables and every other article made solid and warranted for any
Wilkinsons was a large and well-established
family business. Indeed, to illustrate the usage of the word “upholder” in
the sense of “upholsterer”, the Oxford
English Dictionary quotes The Annual
Register (Chronicle) of 1812:
“Messrs Wilkinsons, upholders, on Ludgate-hill, having of late been frequently
robbed of feathers...” The reference is to Joshua’s son William Wilkinson
who from 1808 was
in business on his own account at 14
Ludgate Hill. The thief, according to the contemporary newspaper, was one
of the porters, who having been caught, instead of leading his captors to the
receivers as had been agreed, threw the feathers into the Thames and jumped off
Blackfriars Bridge and was never seen again.
a fire in the shophouse destroyed part of the Upholders’ Company valuables
which the Wilkinsons had been storing. In 1824 there was another fire on the premises, but the
business was not seriously affected.
In the early to mid 1820s William brought his two Sons
William Ayscough Wilkinson and Charles Wilkinson into the business, which then
changed its name from “William Wilkinson, cabinet-maker and upholder”, to
“William Wilkinson & Sons”. In November 1824 there was another fire at the
premises, thought possibly in the part used for manufacturing, although it
appeared that the business was soon back on its feet in the same premises.
From the early beginnings in Ludgate Hill in 1808,
William adopted a policy of stamping his products, and a wide range of
furniture in the Regency style, with the impressed stamp Wilkinson Ludgate
Hill, often followed by a number, although initially he used the stamp
Wilkinson Late Kaye 14 Ludgate Hill London. Items so stamped include sofa
tables, breakfast tables, extending dining tables, sets of tables, bookcases,
cabinets, chiffoniers, chests of drawers, dining chairs, sideboards, and music
and reading stands. Some patent extending dining tables bear a rectangular
brass plate die-stamped with the Royal coat of arms and the words
Patent/Wilkinson/14 Ludgate Hill.
William was well known as a versatile
designer and craftsman, who worked in a variety of styles producing furniture
in the Egyptian, Rococo and Grecian manner. In 1826 the firm signed the
prefatory recommendation to P. and M. A. Nicholson’s Practical Cabinet Maker.
He also received important commissions including one in 1829 by the architect
John Rennie to make a table for the Earl of Lonsdale at Lowther Castle
(which is still there). By the end of his career he had developed a flourishing
business, his work was prolific, and he was respected among his peers.
Sometime after 1814 William Wilkinson acquired a house
in Highbury Grove, Islington. He was thought to have been living there in 1833,
when on May 29 at the age of seventy, he passed away. Jane died five years
later in Stoke Newington in 1738, at the age of sixty-five. Following their
father’s death in 1833 William and Charles changed the name of the business to
W. & C. Wilkinson.
Like his father, William made a great
deal of money as a real estate broker. In his 14-page Will, he stipulated that he be buried in “a
plain and correct manner in the family vault at Highgate Chapel.” He left £600 to Jane and £3,000
to each of his 8
children on their attaining the age of twenty-two years. He
bequeathed to his eldest son, William
Ayscough, the diamond ring and silver cruet and stand which had belonged to his
late father, Joshua. To his daughter Sarah, he bequeathed his father’s silver
coffee pot. He left his children his various shares (in the Atlas Insurance
Company and in the West Middlesex Water Works), but above all he bequeathed
them his many properties mainly scattered all over London, but also in Kingston,
Maidstone and Brighton. His brother-in-laws, Thomas Ayscough and Robert
Meacock (of Canonbury Square,
Islington), and a business associate, William Goodman, were his executors.
Jane Wilkinson died in 1838
and was buried in the family vault at Highgate Chapel.
WILLIAM AYSCOUGH WILKINSON
William Ayscough Wilkinson was the eldest
son of William and Jane Wilkinson. He was born in Hackney and, like so many of
the Wilkinsons, he was christened at St
Leonard’s, Shoreditch. One of his younger brothers,
Josiah Wilkinson (1804-89), a solicitor, married his
first cousin Eliza Meacock in 1826. Four years later, William Ayscough married
her sister, Emma Meacock (1812-1886 ) who was therefore not only his
sister-in-law but also his first cousin. She was 18 years old at the time and
16 years younger than he was. Emma and Eliza’a mother, Elizabeth, was a younger
sister of William Ayscough and Josiah’s mother, Jane Ayscough. Elizabeth had married Robert Meacock in the
same church in which Jane had married William senior – St Giles, Cripplegate,
in June 1793. He was an ironmonger with a business at 3, Redcross-str.,
Barbican. Later he had a business in Oxford
Street. Emma and William Ayscough had 12 children of whom 11 reached
adult life. The phenomenon of Wilkinsons marrying siblings recurred in the next
generation when William’s son George Ayscough and his nephew Josiah married
two sisters (Charlotte Elizabeth Bingley and Florence Bingley). This resulted in some unusual relationships. George
Ayscough and Josiah had fathers who were brothers and mothers who were sisters.
Thus they were double first cousins. As their mothers were themselves first
cousins to their fathers they were also second cousins to one another! The
children of George Ayscough and Josiah had even more complex
inter-relationships. They were second cousins (doubly) and third cousins! They
were also first cousins through their mothers, who were sisters. Fortunately
there was no further intermarriage between the later generations, who
(according to family legend) were deliberately kept apart during their
childhood and adolescent years!
William Ayscough Wilkinson became a freeman
of the Upholders’ in 1822
(in the same year as his brother Charles, 1800-71).
In 1829, William
was advertising an upholders business at 17 Cliffords Inn.
On the death of his father in 1833, he and Charles took over
the Ludgate Hill business. In 1833-34 they made furniture to the
designs of Philip Hardwick for the Court Room, Dining Room and Drawing Room of
the new Goldsmiths’ Hall. The total bill came to £8,471.14s. 7d. Most of the furniture is still in place
including the enormous collapsible, banjo-shaped banqueting table (to seat 40) for which Hardwicke specified:
“top of best Spanish Mahogany... on firmly fraimed telescopic frames of
wainscot with Mahogany frieze supported by Standards of Spanish Mahogany on
large and superior Castors.” The price of this table was £322. They made a smaller one for
the Court Room. The dining table is still in use for special occasions.
William and Charles Wilkinson’s invoice to
the Goldsmiths’ Company has survived. The billhead reads: “Cabinet & Plate
Glass Manufactory, Bo.s of Will.m & Charl.s Wilkinson,
Upholders & Interior Decorators, Appraising & House Agency, 14 Ludgate Hill.” The “motto” on
the “coat of arms” at the top left hand side of the bill reads, “Funerals
According to one authority (Litchfield, 1894), Wilkinsons was one of the
best known London
furniture companies of the first half of the century. A later more critical
authority (Collard, 1985)
states that “the Wilkinsons were not one of the very top firms making the most
fashionable furniture, but had a good solid reputation.” Their furniture can
still be found in the sale rooms today.
When he died at the early age of 57, William Ayscough Wilkinson
was living in Paradise House, Paradise Row, Stoke Newington. The cause of
death was entered as “Inflammation of the left Lung; a. d. Pleura 4 weeks; Empyema 3 weeks; Hydrothorax of right side;
Dropsy of Pericardium.” In his Will he stipulated that his funeral “be
conducted without ostentation or show and in as pious a manner as consistent
with decency - no feathers, velvets or any such nonsense - the whole of the
expense not to exceed £50
at most.” This comment suggests that the practice of placing a “lid of
feathers” (for example black ostrich plumes and velvet) on the coffin which had
been common in the 18th
century was no longer followed in the mid 19th century, even by an undertaker.
William left everything to his wife Emma:
his freehold, copyhold and leasehold estates at Ludgate Hill, Cheapside and
Grosvenor Street (and all the moneys arising from the upholstery business
at Ludgate Hill, which he had inherited from his father, as well as the wines
and liquors in the cellars there), and also his shares in railways.
Shortly after the death of her husband, Emma appears to have sold off
her share of the core Wilkinson businesses at Ludgate Hill to her
brother-in-law, Charles Wilkinson, who carried on the family tradition in a new
establishment at 8
Bond Street and 22
Grosvenor Mews (the factory was at Little Charles St, Munster Square).
CHARLES WILKINSON 1800 - 1871
Charles Wilkinson, the second son of William and Jane
Wilkinson was born on February 9 1800 at 9 Broker Row, Moorfields.
On February 9 1822 Charles married Henrietta Cowland
at St. Mary’s, Islington. Henrietta was born about 1802 in Clerkenwell and was
therefore twenty at the time of the marriage. They had eight children: Charles
1824, William Ayscough 1825, Jane 1827, Frederick 1828, Augustus 1830, Joseph
1832, Emily 1834, and Henrietta. They were all born at 14 Ludgate Hill, and it
can therefore be presumed that certainly until the mid 1 830s the family had
its residence at the same place as its business.
After the death of his brother William, the widow sold
her share of the furniture business to Charles who then became sole owner of
the firm. Shortly after this Charles opened premises at 8 Bond Street, however it is not known
whether he continued in the City. His son Frederick joined him in the business
and was active in the firm for the rest of his life. Sometime after the mid 1830s
Charles purchased his residence Sandfield, Nevill Park,
Speldhurst, where he lived until his death from Bright’s (kidney) Disease on
May 21 1871.
Charles was a gentleman of considerable means having
expanded his business to include property. At the time of his death he owned
properties in Cherry, Whitney, Coventry, Leadenhall, Elbon, Eawirk, and King
Edward’s Streets; the Haymarket; The Strand; King’s Road, Chelsea; Clapham Park
Road and Mile End New Town. Upon his death, these properties, together with
other investments and a considerable amount of cash, was divided between his
wife Henrietta and the various children.
FREDERICK WILKINSON 1828 -
Frederick Wilkinson, the third son of Charles
and Henrietta, was born at 14 Ludgate Hill on October 20 1828. He became a
valuer and upholsterer and joined his father Charles in the family business.
On February 22 1853 Frederick Wilkinson married
Harriet Ann Townend in Clapham.
They had thirteen children: Annie 1854, Emily 1855,
Charles 1856, Helen 1858, Margaret 1860, Frederick 1861, Minnie 1863, William
1864, Herbert 1866, Edith 1867, Alfred 1870, Louisa 1871, and Richard Henry
For the first few years of their marriage the couple
lived at 8 Old Bond Street,
where their first three children were born and where the main family business
moved in the mid 1850s after his father had purchased William Ayscough’s share
from his widow. In 1857/8 the family then moved to New Park Road, Clapham, where they lived
for about the next four years and their next two children were born. By 1861
they had moved to Llynthill Lodge, Tulse Hill, where they stayed until the late
1860s and where their next five children were born. Frederick then purchased the large family
home, Clevelands in Barnes, where their last three children were born and where
they were to live for the remainder of their married life.
It is known that in 1871, after his father’s death,
the business employed thirty workers. Frederick
may not have possessed the same talents as his father and grandfather, as very
little of him professionally is known after this date. He is not recorded in
directories of fine furniture manufacturers of the period. This may in part
have been due to declining health, as on March 26 1877, at his home, Clevelands, he too died
of kidney disease, just six years after his father before him. His wife,
Harriett, and the unmarried children later moved to Sandfield, Putney Heath Lane,
Wandsworth. This of course was also the name of the house in
Speldhurst/Tunbridge Wells where Charles Wilkinson had lived up until his death
In 1909 the Old
Bond Street building was demolished, and the
company, re-named Hindley and Wilkinson, relocated to 70/71 Welbeck Street. It is not known
son Charles remained with the business, bringing in Hindley as a partner, or
whether it was sold to Hindley who maintained the Wilkinson name for
continuity. In any event, the business was eventually absorbed by Marshall
& Snellgrove in about 1918. The Wilkinson firm founded by Joshua Wilkinson
passed through the hands of four Wilkinson generations over a period of one
hundred and fifty years.
This brought the family business to an end!
The other sons of William and Jane Wilkinson, who
survived into adult life, were:
Josiah Wilkinson, was born November 19th 1804 in Moorfields
and became a solicitor. In 1826 he married his first cousin, twenty-one
year-old Eliza Meacock. They had five sons, three of whom became solicitors and
one an artist. One of his sons, Josiah (also a solicitor) married Florence Emma
Bingley, the sister of Charlotte Elizabeth Bingley who married George Ayscough
Wilkinson. This son (Josiah) is credited with preparing the family tree in
1879, which covered four generations of Wilkinsons starting with his
grandfather, William Wilkinson. Josiah senior died in 1889, aged 85 and Josiah
junior died in 1923 at the age of 77.
Alfred Wilkinson was born December 29 1810 in Ludgate Hill,
went to Mill Hill school and from there was the first Wilkinson to go Cambridge. He was at Jesus College,
and was 34th (lowest) Wrangler (first class honours graduate in mathematics tripos)
in 1833. Upon graduating Alfred became a parish priest. He first became a
curate in Teddington, and later, in the 1860s, was appointed to a position in
In 1837 he married twenty-one year-old Caroline Arabella Blunt. They had ten children.
He died in 1868.
Peter Richard Wilkinson, was born on May 1814 in Ludgate Hill. He moved
to Brighton where he became an Auctioneer and
Estate Agent. He married Elizabeth Hodgkinson and had ten children.
Sons of William Ayscough and
Emma, who survived to adult life:
George Ayscough Wilkinson 1837-1906
George Ayscough Wilkinson was William Ayscough
Wilkinson and Emma’s 5th
child and eldest son. His father had died when he was a teenager and his mother
had sold her interest in the furniture business to his uncle. Therefore, unlike
his father, grandfather and great grandfather, he did not join the Upholders’
Company. Instead he pursued another of the Wilkinsons’ traditional business
activities, being an auctioneer and surveyor (what we would today call an
estate agent). His offices were variously at 7 Poultry
Lane, at 37
Bucklerbury EC, and at 4a
Place, Old Jewery. He was in partnership with his sons. The firm undertook a
number of important property auctions in the City of London, the catalogues of which are preserved
in the Guildhall Library. The firm survived until 1934 when it passed into the hands of Daniel
Watney & Sons. In 1945
it became Daniel Watney, Eilcart, Inman and Nunn, Architects and Surveyors. It
finally went out of business in 1980.
In 1862 George Ayscough married Charlotte
Elizabeth Bingley (1841-)
of Knab Cottages, Ecclesall near Sheffield, Yorkshire.
She was the daughter of a Sheffield solicitor,
Charles William Bingley. They had 8
children of whom 6
survived. Their home was at Monkenholt, Hadley Green Road, High Barnet. The house
is still there. Next door is Livingstone Cottage, which was the residence in
1857-8, of Dr. David Livingstone, who wrote “Missionary Travels and Researches
in South Africa”
George Ayscough Wilkinson
died in 1906 at
the age of 59 of
influenza followed by pneumonia. He left no will. Some of his monogrammed
silver tableware (D. & J. Welby, 1894)
Wilkinson 1839 – 1872
Arthur Wilkinson died aged 33.
He was unmarried and, in 1871, was living at home with the family. Nothing else
is known about him.
Wilkinson 1847 – 1914
Herbert Wilkinson is listed
in the 1891 census as a manufacturer and in the 1901 census as an auctioneer’s
clerk. He married Mary Rose Gliddon, but it is not known whether they had any
children (there were none listed in the 1891 or 1901 census). In 1891 they were
living in St Marylebone in London;
In 1901 in North Sheen.
Harry Collard Wilkinson 1851 – 1891
Harry Collard Wilkinson was the
youngest son and the last of 12 children of William Ayscough Wilkinson and
Emma. He was born at the family home at Stoke Newington and, after his father’s
premature death, was educated at Clifton
College (soon after its foundation)
and later at Tonbridge School, before entering Lichfield Theological
College and joining the Anglican
Church as a minister. He considered
joining a monastic mission in southern Africa, but decided against and returned
to England and a Curateship in Torquay, where he met his future wife Elizabeth
Ellen Douglas (1864-1937), the daughter of James Douglas and his wife Emily Ann
(nee Harris). James Douglas was the first tobacconist in Torquay. They were
married in 1884 and subsequently moved to Cheshire,
where Harry was chaplain to the Conwall-Legh family at High Legh, near
Knutsford. They had three sons before Harry Collard died of appendicitis in
October 1891, just two weeks short of his fortieth birthday.
Notes on the authors:
This document was compiled by
James Wilkinson from data provided by David Allison, Endymion Wilkinson and Michael
The early Wilkinson data was
researched extensively by Michael Wilkinson and David Allison, with additional
data provided by Endymion Wilkinson. Michael Wilkinson provided information
about the Brind family connection and also found records of marriage, baptisms
and deaths from St Leonard’s, Shoreditch. He has also gathered data about the
Ayscough family over several generations.
Two documents formed the main
basis for this history – “History of the Wilkinsons” (David Allison, 2004) and
“My Wilkinsons” (Endymion Wilkinson, 2004).
David Forbes Allison (b 1943) is the son of Marion Forbes Wilkinson (b 1913).
His maternal grandfather was Richard Henry Wilkinson (1874 – 1941), who was a
son of Frederick Wilkinson (1828 – 1877), and grandson of Charles Wilkinson, of
the furniture making dynasty. He is a retired company director, living in Toronto.
Dr Endymion Porter Wilkinson (b 1941) is descended from William Ayscough Wilkinson (elder
brother of the above mentioned Charles Wilkinson., He is a great grandson of
George Ayscough Wilkinson and is a fourth cousin to David Allison and to John Michael
Wilkinson. He was EU Ambassador to China
(1994 to 2001) and is a senior fellow at the Asia
Center, Harvard University
where he lectures on East Asian Languages and Civilizations.
Dr (John) Michael
Wilkinson (b 1938) is descended from Rev. Alfred Wilkinson (another brother
of Charles Wilkinson) and is a fourth cousin to David Allison and Endymion Wilkinson.
He is a retired University Academic (Biochemistry) and lives in London.
Prof James Leonard Wilkinson (Jim - b 1943) is a great grandson of William Ayscough
Wilkinson and grandson of Harry Collard Wilkinson. He is a second cousin, once
removed, to Endymion Wilkinson and a third cousin, once removed, to David
Allison and to John Michael Wilkinson. He is a Professorial Fellow, in
Paediatrics, at the University of Melbourne.