AN ILLUSTRATED HISTORY OF ALWOODLEY
Roger Jackson owned the whole of the manor from 1682 to 1693 when it passed to Doctor George Jackson. When he died six years later everyone expected that his eldest son, the Reverend George Jackson, would inherit the estate. The tenants of Alwoodley had enjoyed seventeen years of stability and everyone must have been stunned when, in 1699, Sir Gervase Clifton (jnr), in a totally audacious move, resurrected his family’s claim to the estate in Chancery Court. He reiterated the charge that his late mother, Sarah Clifton, had had no right to mortgage the manor and therefore he was still entitled to the estate. After seven years of legal argument, judgement was finally made in favour of the Jackson family and an order barred the Clifton family from making any further claim.
Unfortunately the Reverend George Jackson constantly used the manor as surety to raise large amounts of money on the London markets. Manorial property was a good investment and City of London merchants and mariners with surplus income were keen to lend money to owners of such estates. Between 1712 and 1718 George constantly borrowed but had at least repaid the debts by the time his daughter and brother inherited the estate in 1719. Ten years later they sold the whole of Alwoodley to Lord Bingley for the princely sum of £6,671 17s 6d.34
Robert Benson was M.P. for York but speedily rose through the ranks to become Chancellor of the Exchequer before being created Lord Bingley on 21 July 1713. He became a leading figure at the court of Queen Anne and as a reward for his loyal service received a large tract of land near Wetherby known as Bramham Park where he built a substantial mansion. A favourable marriage to Elizabeth, daughter of the first Earl of Aylesford, further boosted his fortune and he set about acquiring other estates, so the acquisition of Alwoodley fitted nicely into his financial strategy.35 Alwoodley was to remain in the hands of this family for over two centuries but a significant difference to all previous owners was the fact that he had also purchased the manorial rights, including the ability to hold his own court.36 It is fortunate as a fascinating collection of these documents survive today.
34. WYAS LF Additional Papers 1.
35. Guide to Bramham Park (Leeds, n.d.)
36. F.S.Colman, A History of Barwick in Elmet, Thoresby Soc., XVΙΙ (Leeds, 1908) p.124 f.n.
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