The Story of the Lucas Shadwell Family Part 2

The Story of the Lucas Shadwell Family by Paul Draper (previously published in Fairlight News in 2016)

Part 2 – William Shadwell – later William Lucas-Shadwell:

In part 1, I introduced you to the four generations of Lucas-Shadwells and showed how they were all related to each other. In this part we will look at the first William Lucas-Shadwell.

William was baptised William Shadwell on the 1st January 1766 in Ringmer, Sussex. We know little of his early years but at some time he moved to Hastings and qualified as an attorney. His name appears in early documentation as a partner in the firm of solicitors, Shadwell, Bishop and Thorpe of High Street, Hastings. Perhaps of more interest is the name of Hastings’ first bank, Hilden, Shadwell, Tilder, Harvey and Gill, of 90 High Street, Hastings. The bank was founded in 1791 and today there is a blue plaque on the wall, inscribed “In 1791 the first bank was established here – the Hastings Old Bank”.

However, although he undoubtedly inherited from his family and acquired some wealth from these latter adventures, the main source of his wealth appears to have been from bricks!

In 1804, England was very nervous about the activities of a certain Monsieur Napolean Bonaparte just across the Channel in France. Fears were growing of a possible invasion and so we decided to build a strong defence network. The chosen scheme was a series of Martello towers supplemented by the Royal Military Canal.

Estimates vary but it seems that each Martello Tower contained somewhere in the region of 400,000 to 500,000 bricks. With a string of towers all along the south coast, that required the supply of a lot of bricks. William Shadwell, as he was still known at the time, happened to be the agent for Sir William Ashburnham (of Broomham, Guestling – now Buckswood School) who owned the local brickfields and William Shadwell managed the whole operation. Today very few of the towers remain as most were built at the edge of the Channel and subsequently suffered from the inevitable ravages of the sea. The exact position is unclear, but only one tower, number 38, was actually within the boundaries of Fairlight Parish, at a time when Cliff End was part of Fairlight. Tower 38 was one of the first to go.

So this appears to be how he made the bulk of his money. It seems that William, whilst living in All Saints Street, Hastings at this time, decided to invest his wealth in land. How, when and why he acquired so much land is unclear but he started purchasing farms in Fairlight. Stonelynk Farm, Waites Farm, at the heart of Fairlight Cove, were early purchases.

In 1809, his aunt, Anne Lucas died and left her assets and Camois Court in Barcombe, Sussex to William. William’s mother, Mary Lucas had married William Shadwell in Barcombe in 1754. Mary and Anne were two of six children and it was Anne who was the last child to die and had inherited the family estate. Anne, a spinster, left her the assets to our William, but the codicil to her Will contained one condition – that he added the name ‘Lucas’ to his existing surname to create the name Lucas-Shadwell. This he did in 1811, by Royal Licence. Hence the name was born.

William Lucas-Shadwell, as he was henceforth known, continued to acquire land and, at the time of his death in Fairlight on 18th December 1844, he owned most of the farms, houses and land from Martineau Lane all the way east to Rye Harbour. These lands were to remain in the Lucas-Shadwell family up until 1917 when most of the properties were put up for auction.

The 1841 census, the only census in which he features, shows William and his wife Elizabeth Shadwell (nb. Not Lucas-Shadwell?) living in All Saints Street, Hastings.

William had married Elizabeth Ayling in Tillington, Sussex in 1788 but they did not have any children of their own. The matter of succession was therefore a problem. Elizabeth predeceased William in 1842. However, it seems that William Stent and his son William Drew Stent had been friends and frequent visitors and companions to the Lucas-Shadwells. William Drew Stent’s mother was born Sarah

 Drew, but his grandmother was born Mary Ayling. Mary Ayling was Elizabeth’s sister and this explains the family connection.

William Lucas-Shadwell, in his six page Will, decided to leave Estate to his wife’s great-nephew, William Drew Stent. William Drew Stent decided that as a sign of gratitude and respect of change his name by royal Licence to William Drew Lucas-Shadwell.

Hence, he became the second William Lucas-Shadwell.

To be continued……. Next, Part 3, the second William Lucas-Shadwell:-

William Drew Lucas-Shadwell.

By Paul Draper




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