HISTORY OF NOTTINGHAMSHIRE,
(Of Lenton Priory)
Stretton of Lenton
The following notes on some of the early members of the Stretton family where written by Mr. William Stretton in the year 1817:-
“The Strettons from Willis’s Cathedrals & other works.
John de Stretton was Prior of Burton on Trent where he died 6 July 1260; he possessed property in Land at Dunsmore & Longdon in Staffordshire. Reginald de Stretton in 1280 at Longdon.
Adam de Stretton a Judge of Ed. I. in 1290 from ditto and others in regular succession to John in 1470 Preb. of Lichfield. and to 1676.
Robert de Stretton Lt. D. Canon of Lichfield was confirmed Bishop Sep. 26 and consecrated the next day 1360. He died March 28, 1385 at Heywood and was buried in St. Andrews Oratory, in his own Cathedral. Robert Stretton (or Stratton) was admitted Archdeacon of Coventry Dec. 28, 1639.
The Strettons resided for centuries at Longdon in Staffordshire, where my Grandfather (& Father) was born to good to good property, which the former dissipated, and obliged the latter to leave Longdon from whence he came into Notts 1750.” Dunsmore, mentioned in the first of the above notes, is in Warwickshire, and appears to be identical with Dunsmore Heath, near to which is the village of Stretton-on-Dunsmore. Longdon is about three miles north of Lichfield. As our interest in the Stretton family is confined to the branch which was connected with Nottinghamshire for a little more than a century we commence our notes on the family with
1. SAMUEL STRETTON, who appears to have been born at Longdon in Staffordshire in 1731 or 1732 and to have migrated to Lenton in Nottinghamshire in 1750, where he was married and where all his children were baptized. He carried on the business of a builder to Nottingham, at first on his own account, and later in partnership with his son William, and was engaged in the many important works referred to on pages 180-182 post. In this connection it is of interest to note that he built in Nottingham, in 1769, the first Cotton Mill erected in England.
The Nottingham Date-Book, under the year 1776, states “Colwick Hall, near this town, was built about this period by Mr. S. Stretton, of Nottingham, under the direction of Mr. John Carr, of York, architect.” In the following year Samuel Stretton built the Grand Stand on the Nottingham Racecourse. As this building has recently (1910) been demolished the following description of it contained in a local newspaper of February 1st 1777 is of interest:-
“On Monday morning were begun to be dug on the Forest, near Nottingham race-course, the foundations of a new grand stand, and on Tuesday the first stone thereof was laid by Mr. Samuel Stretton, builder, one of the undertakers of the said fabric. The above stand will be built on an entire new plan, designed by that ingenious architect, John Carr, Esq., of York, to whom, and the subscribers of so noble an edifice, it is not to be doubted, but praise will be handed down to future generations. The above building will extend upwards of 81 feet in the front, and in the centre upwards of 52 feet wide; the lower story will consist of tea and card rooms, a vestibule, and geometrical staircase, exclusive of a kitchen, bar, store rooms, cellars, & etc.; and the upper story of a genteel room, upwards of 61 feet long (breadth in proportion) ; this room is designed, not only or entertainments, but so ordered that those ladies and gentlemen who don’t choose to stand on the miranda or platform (which is to be supported by an arcade below) may have an opportunity of seeing the course in every part. The roof will have steps thereon, covered with lead, on which near 500 people may stand at once and will, as well as the miranda or platform below, be enclosed with a stone balustrade.”
The Nottingham Date-Book records, under the date 1786, December 12, “A remarkable escape from death at the premises of Mr. Wilson, bookseller, South-parade. Mr. Stretton, builder, accidentally met a Mr. Wood, of Eastwood, and stood conversing with him on the causeway in front of the shop. Suddenly, a violent gust of wind overthrew a stack of chimneys, which in their descent brought down with them a large portion of the roof, and a quantity of the brick-work of the front wall. Neither of the gentlemen had warning sufficient to run out of danger. An apparently solid mass fell upon the back and head of Mr. Stretton, but chiefly upon his shoulders, beating him to the ground, and cutting the back of his coat into shreds. He endeavored two or three times to get up, but the bricks continually falling upon him, prevented him. Mr. Wood also received serious injuries. They were taken away in sedan chairs, and both of them eventually recovered, though not without great difficulty.”
Mr. Stretton appears to have retired from business prior to the publication of the first Nottingham Directory in 1799, in which appears the name of Samuel Stretton, gentleman, of Pannier Row. He died 11 May, and was buried at Lenton, 16 May 1811. M.I. In the Lenton burial register he is described as of Nottingham, gentleman, aged 79 years, but on his tombstone he is stated to have been 80 years of age.
He married, at Lenton, July 14th 1754, Elizabeth Wombwell, (the daughter of a wealthy yeoman resident in that parish) who died February 22nd, aged 70 year’s, and was buried at Lenton 25 February, 1802. Ml.
i. William Stretton, of whom next.
ii. Ann, bapt. at Lenton 24 April 1757, died 11 April 1820, bur. at Lenton. M.I. Mar. Samuel. Pinkney, who predeceased her at Dublin. (Note 1.)
iii. Elizabeth, bapt. at Lenton, 3 June 1759. (Note 2.)
iv. Mary, Bapt. at Lenton 20 January 1760
v. Samuel Stretton, bapt. at Lenton, 23 August. 1761. One of the executors of the will of his father.
vi. Sarah, bapt. at Lenton, 3 July 1763
2. WILLIAM STRETTON, eldest child of Samuel Stretton, was baptized at Lenton, April 20th 1755. For many years he carried on the business of an architect and builder in Nottingham, at first in partnership with his father, and afterwards on his own account. He appears in the first Nottingham Directory (1799) as a builder on the Long Row, his father having then apparently retired from business. It will be seem in the following notes (pages 162-3) that in 1811 and 1814 he refers to his stone yard in Cow Lane, now known as Clumber Street. A list of some of the buildings erected, and other works executed, by S. & W. Stretton down to the year 1798 is given on pages 180-182 post. Mr. Stretton also rebuilt the Exchange and restored St. Mary’s and St. Peter’s Churches, Nottingham, and his own parish church at Lenton. Early in the last century he purchased that portion of the Lenton Priory demesne close by the site of the Priory, and built thereon a mansion, which he designated “Lenton Priory,” and which seems to occupy pretty nearly the site of the Priors lodgings. This mansion is now occupied by the Sisters of Nazareth who have greatly extended it. He took an active part in the development of Standard Hill, a small extraparochial district adjoining the western boundary of the Town of Nottingham, and built three houses thereon between the years 1810 and 1814. On April 12th 1810 he recorded his weight as being 11 stones 7 pounds.
Mr. Stretton had a taste in articles of vertu, of which, at the time of his death, he possessed an extensive museum, at all times open to the inspection of persons of a kindred taste. Specimens of his coins, Nuremburg tokens, Seventeenth century Nottinghamshire tokens, seals, monastic paving tiles, and other objects, are shown in the engravings executed under his direction and reproduced in this volume. He also possessed an oil painting of Dr. Charles Deering the historian of Nottingham, and Smithson’s original plan of Nottingham Castle made in 1617, and still in existence. For at least a quarter of a century prior to his decease, his leisure time had been principally employed in the collection of materials (previously referred to) for a work on the History and Antiquities of Nottinghamshire. He made a series of excavations on the site of Lenton Priory, with the view of ascertaining its ground plan, and “not only dug out seven very fine specimens of the ancient pillars, to the height of a few feet above their bases,” but was also “enabled nearly to trace out the ground plan of the whole.’’ The notes on these excavations which, doubtless, were made at the time, are unfortunately not to be found amongst Mr. Stretton’s papers. It should also be mentioned that he disinterred on the same site a magnificent Norman font which, it has been stated, “has not its peer in the country.” This font stood for several years in Mr. Stretton’s garden, and was presented by one of his sons, in 1842, to the new Church at Lenton. The registers of St. Mary’s Church, Nottingham, show that he was Churchwarden for four successive years, from Easter 1802 to Easter 1806. During his residence at Lenton Mr. Stretton took an active interest in all public matters, and filled the several parish offices in an efficient manner. He held the two offices of Overseer 0f the Poor and Surveyor of Highways in 1806 and was Churchwarden in 1810 and 1811. In 1815 he was appointed one of the Overseers of the Poor for Standard Hill.
Mr. Stretton states that he left Lenton Priory, and went to reside on Standard Hill, near Nottingham, June 25th, 1854. He was residing there in 1816 when he had a family reunion as recorded in the following note.
“1816. All the Family met on Standard Hill. In number as follows
In August 1817 he visited Paris and Rouen, going by Dover and Calais, and returning by Dieppe and Brighton. He later returned to Lenton Priory, where he died March 12th, 1828, aged 72 years, and was interred in the churchyard at Lenton on the 18th of the same month. M.I. His death is thus announced in the Nottingham Journal:- “On Wednesday, the 12th inst, in the 73 rd year of his age, after a long and painful affliction, sustained with true Christian fortitude and resignation, William Stretton, Esq., of Lenton Priory. Words would but faintly convey the deep grief which his irreparable loss has occasioned to those who knew his worth. In him antiquarians have lost a fund of general and useful knowledge, and the poor a warm and benevolent friend.”
Mr. Stretton married at Eakring, Notts., by license, in the presence of Samuel Pinkney and T. Lynam, 22 June 1778, Susanna ( baptized at Eakring, 28 August1757, died 7 December 1815, Buried at Lenton ) daughter of William Lynam, of Eakring, by whom he had issue:-
i. Stella, bapt. at St. Mary’s, Nottingham, 28 October 1779, mar. at Lenton, 10 November 1803, to Thomas Naylor, of Mansfield, Notts. who died at Standard Hill, Notts. 5 November 1818, aged 48, and was buried at Lenton. M.I. In 1816 they had six children living, one of their grandchildren, the Rev. H. Stretton Naylor, being now (1910) Vicar of Horsley Woodhouse, co. Derby. Mrs. Naylor died at Lenton, 18 September 1863, and was buried there. M.I.
ii. Sempronius Stretton, of whom next.
iii. Severus Stretton, born 7 November, bapt. at St. Mary’s, Nottingham, 14 November 1783, being entered in the Register as Servius. Died 19 December 1785, bur. at Lenton. M.I.
iv. Salcia, bapt. at St. Mary’s, Nottingham. 16 December 1784, mar. there, 24 August 1803, to MARTIN ROE, of Nottingham, and had five children living in 1816.
v. Sabina, bapt. at St. Mary’s, Nottingham, 25 July, 1787, mar. to – CURSHAM, and had three children living in 1816.
vi, Severus William Lynam Stretton, of whom presently.
It will be observed that each of Mr. Stretton’s children possessed an uncommon Christian name commencing with the letter S. There are errors in the entries of the baptisms of each of his sons, a fact which does not speak well for the accuracy of St. Mary’s registers at that period when about 800 baptisms were recorded annually.
It may be mentioned that Mr. Stretton is styled “Esquire” in the Nottingham Directory for 1815, in his obituary notice, on his tombstone, in the foregoing note written by his son, and elsewhere. He and his family bore these arms—Argent, a bend engrailed sable, plain cotised gules.
III. SEMPRONIUS STRETTON, eldest son of William Stretton, was born at Nottingham 15 May, and baptized at St. Mary’s Church 24 May, 1781. In the parish register he is erroneously described as the son of William and Sarah Stretton. He entered the army at an early age, commencing his military career in the Nottinghamshire Militia, which he joined at Dumfries, in April 1800. In the following November, he entered the 6th Regiment of Foot as an ensign, joining the depot of that regiment at Chatham. In April 1801, he was promoted to a lieutenancy in the 49th Regiment, and shortly afterwards sailed with it to Quebec. In this regiment, Lieutenant Stretton served under Colonel Brock, who generally selected him, to act as his aide-de-camp in his visits to the upper country to distribute presents, or meet the Indian Chiefs in council. Having been promoted to a company in the 40th Regiment, he returned to England, and was employed for some time in the recruiting service. In 1812, Captain Stretton sailed for Lisbon, where he met his brother, then an ensign in the 68th Light Infantry and the two brothers proceeded to join the army under Lord Wellington. Captain Stretton’s first engagement with the enemy was at the battle of Vittoria, 21 June 1813. The regiment afterwards took an active part in the investment of Pampeluna, and the numerous brilliant actions during the passage of the Pyrenees; and on 28 July 1813, Captain Stretton received the thanks of Lord Wellington, conveyed to him through H.R.H. the Prince of Orange, for the gallant defence made by the 40th, under his command, supported by two Portuguese regiments, in defending the key of the position on the heights before Pampeluna, against an overwhelming force of the enemy. For this service Captain Stretton was awarded the gold medal, and received the brevet rank of major. He was present in the numerous actions with the enemy which terminated in the battle of Toulouse, 10 April 1814, and the abdication of Napoleon. When the army was withdrawn from France, he accompanied the 40th in the expedition to New Orleans in 1814, and narrowly escaped with his life when shipwrecked, with part of his corps, in he Baring transport, in Bantry Bay, on the 10th October, on which occasion all the baggage was lost, and many soldiers drowned. Having returned to Cork, Major Stretton again sailed, in the Wellington transport, and arrived in the Mississippi 9 January 1815. The disastrous results of that unfortunate expedition are too well known to require recapitulation here. The troops returned to Portsmouth, and the 40th, with other regiments, proceeded to Flanders, and joined the army assembled near Brussels, in time to share in the memorable victory of Waterloo. On the arrival of the Allies in Paris, the Duke of Wellington, in acknowledgment of Major Stretton’s services, appointed him commandant of the 15th Arondissement of that city, which post he held for a considerable time. Some of Major Stretton’s movements are thus chronicled by his father “Major Sempronius Stretton arrived at Nottingham from France (blank). Returned for France Fr(iday) Aug. 8. 1816. Sempronius Lieutenant-Colonel June 21/17 for Special Services. Sempronius went from Glasgow to London Oct. 26/17 and from thence for Paris Nov. 21/17- returned to Nottingham in July 1818, then to Glasgow.” He also obtained, June 21st 1817, the brevet rank of Lieutenant-Colonel for special services. When the British troops were withdrawn from France, Lieutenant-Colonel Stretton, with his regiment, was quartered successively in Scotland and Ireland. On the corps being ordered for service in New South Wales, he retired on half-pay, and passed several years in traveling on the Continent, returning occasionally to his residence at Lenton. His military services obtained for him the rank of colonel, and the Companionship of the Order of the Bath. He received the gold medal, as before stated, for the battle of the Pyrenees, and the silver medal for Waterloo, but died before the Peninsular medal was granted. Colonel Stretton had the good fortune to escape being wounded in the various actions in which he was engaged, (note 3.) but he had one of his epaulettes shot away in the Pyrenees, and his charger was wounded at Toulouse; he also had a horse killed at Waterloo. For many years, Colonel Stretton was a much - honored guest at the annual banquet given by the Duke of Wellington on the anniversary of the battle of Waterloo, and a portrait of him is to he found in Salter’s celebrated painting of that scene. Colonel Stretton was an able draughtsman, and during his services in Canada, and travels on the Continent, made many valuable contributions to his father’s extensive museum. He was twice married; first, 3 March 1821, to the Honorable Catherine Jane Massey, elder daughter of General the Right Hon. Nathaniel William, second Lord Clarina, who died four months after marriage. He married, secondly, 14 October 1830, the Honorable Anne Handcock, (note 4.) youngest daughter of the second Lord Castlemaine, but had no issue by either of these ladies. Colonel Stretton died at Croydon, February 6th, 1842, and was buried in Bromley churchyard, in Kent, where a plain monument marks his last resting place.
SEVERUS WILLIAM LYNAM STRETTON, youngest child of William Stretton, was baptized at Sr. Mary’s Church, Nottingham, 29 May 1793, and is erroneously described in the register as the son of Samuel and Susanna Stretton. Evincing an early desire for the profession of arms, a commission was obtained for him in the Nottinghamshire Militia which he joined at Plymouth in 1810, and accompanied the regiment to Ireland. In 1812 he obtained an ensigncy in the 68th light Infantry, and joined the regiment in Portugal, serving in the second Peninsular campaign of 1812-13. Having been severely wounded at the battle of Vittoria, 21 June 1813, by two musket balls, lodged in the body, he was removed, in a very precarious state, to England. Prior to this, one of the balls was extracted, but the other, at different periods, was a source of great trouble and pain, relieved only by severe surgical operations, until, after 56 years of lodgment, it was successfully extracted in the year 1870. The excellent nursing and skilful medical treatment he received, whilst at his father’s house at Lenton, restored him so far that in the course 0f twelve months he was enabled to rejoin his regiment, then stationed in Ireland. Some of Lieutenant Stretton’s movements are thus noted by his father—“Lieut. Will. Stretton arrived at Nottingham from Castlebar, Ireland [blank] Returned to Castlebar Th. Aug. 14, 1816. William came home from Dublin November 1, 1817. William sailed for Canada in May 1818.” He accompanied the same regiment to Canada in 1818, and in 1825 was promoted to an unattached company, shortly after which he exchanged to the 64th regiment, and joined it at Gibraltar. He was promoted major in 1832. He succeeded to the lieutenant-colonelcy and command of this regiment in 1842, having accompanied it to the West Indies and Nova Scotia, from whence he returned with it in 1843. He had, in the meantime, inherited the Lenton property from his brother, but never resided there. Lieutenant-Colonel Stretton, in 1848, exchanged to his brother’s old regiment, the 40th, of which he retained the command until June, 1852. He was awarded the Peninsular medal and clasp and was also in receipt of a pension for wounds. About the year 1848, Colonel Stretton gave to Sir Henry Dryden, Baronet, Canons Ashby, Northamptonshire, a large earthenware jug, fourteen encaustic tiles, and a small piece of carved masonry, found on the site of Lenton Priory (note 5). The gallant officer retired in 1852 from active service, but was three years later appointed to the command of the Hampshire Artillery Militia, which he held until 1868, when he retired at the age of 75. In 1862 Colonel Stretton was appointed a Justice of the Peace for the Borough of Southampton, and he took an active part in the management of the Royal South Hants Infirmary, Southampton Dispensary and other charitable institutions in the town.
He continued in his usual good health until about three weeks prior to his death, which took place at Southampton 22 November 1884. Colonel Stretton married, 24 October 1851, the Hon. Catherine Adela de Courcy, youngest daughter of the 28th Lord Kingsale, premier baron of Ireland, who survived him with seven children, the eldest son being William, de Courcy Stretton, then a lieutenant in the Royal Artillery.
Near the gateway at the south-western corner of Old Lenton churchyard is a large monument in the form of a sarcophagus, bearing the following inscriptions on slabs of black marble :-
“Sacred to the memory of William Stretton, Esq., late of Lenton Priory, who departed this life March 12, 1828, age 72 years.”
“Here lieth entombed, Susanna, wife of William Stretton, a pattern of piety and virtue, who having borne the rod of affliction near 20 years with almost unexampled fortitude, resigned her soul to God who gave it Dec. 7, 1815, aged 58 years; leaving to the world this memento: ‘Tho’ afflicted, not forsaken. Reader! if thou hast never yet considered the state of thy immortal soul, or that but briefly, go home and examine thyself, the present moment to thee is invaluable. But if thou be a true follower of Jesus Christ, lift up thy heart with praise and thanksgiving to thy Blessed Lord and Savior, and pray Him to keep thee in the true faith. For what shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul, or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?’”
“In memory of Colonel Sempronius Stretton, C. B., late of the 40th Regiment, who died at Croydon, February 6, 1842, aged 59 years, and was buried at Bromley, in Kent. His distinguished services in the Peninsula, and at the memorable battle of Waterloo, were rewarded with several honorary decorations, and he was also made a Companion of the Most Honorable Order of the Bath. 0 God, my Lord, the strength of my salvation, thou hast covered my head in the day of battle. Glory be to thee, 0 Lord.”
“In memory of Thomas Naylor, of Standard Hill, who died November 5, 1818, aged 48 years Also, Stella, his wife, who died at Lenton, September 18, 1863, aged 82 years. She was a tender and loving mother, and beloved most by those who knew her best. He, which raised up the Lord Jesus, shall raise up us also by Jesus.”
“Sacred to the memory of Agnes Stella, youngest daughter of the late Thomas and Stella Naylor, of Standard Hill, Nottingham, who departed this life in the year of our Lord, 1866, in the 49th year of her age.”
Near to is a plain headstone inscribed:-
“Severus, son of W. & S. Stretton, Born November 7th 1783. Died December 19th 1785.”
“When ye Arch Angel’s Trump shall sound,
And Souls to Bodies join,
What Crowds will wish their Lives below,
Had been as short as Thine.”
Other memorials adjoining record the burials of the following members of the Stretton family:- Elizabeth, wife of Samuel Stretton, died February 22nd, 1802, aged 70 years; Samuel Stretton, died May 11th, 1811, aged 80; Ann, daughter of Samuel and Elizabeth Stretton, and relict of Samuel Pinkney, of Dublin, died April 11th, 1820, aged 63 years. Also, Samuel Bilby, son of George and Mary Stretton, died March 4th, 1805, aged —months; George Burbage Stretton, died March 6th, 1817, aged 17 years; Elizabeth Stretton, died July 6th. 1828, aged 26 years; and George Stretton, died December 7th, 1833, aged 62 years.
In Old Lenton Church is a plain tablet of white marble inscribed:-
to the memory of
late of Nottingham,
Died December VIIth, MDCCCXXXIII, aged LXII years.
Also one son and one daughter.
George Burbage Stretton,
died March VIth, MDCCCXVII, aged XVII years.
died July VIth, MDCCCXXVIII, aged XXVI years.
The above George Stretton was a printer on the Long Row, Nottingham, in partnership with George Burbage. Who was for 3o years proprietor of the Nottingham Journal, and who died 6 December 1807, aged 80 years. He married, at St. Mary’s Church, Nottingham, 6 February 1792, when twenty-one years of age, Mary Burbage, a daughter of his future partner, to whom he may have been apprenticed. In 1799 he occurs as an ensign in the Nottingham Volunteer Infantry. He succeeded his partner as proprietor of the Nottingham Journal from 1807 to 1832, when he retired from business. The relationship between George Stretton and William Stretton the antiquary has not been ascertained, but that some relationship existed appears probable, as the former appears to be identical with the George Stretton who, on page 188 post, is mentioned as one of the executors of Samuel Stretton who died in 1811. In fact it is both possible and probable that he may have been a son of the latter.
John T. Godfrey
(Note 1.) John Girton Wilcockson, of Nottingham, apothecary (died 16 June 1847, aged 69) mar. Lucy. dau. of Samuel Pinkney, of Nottingham, by Ann, his wife. She was baptized at St. Mary’s, Nottingham, 2 October 1778, and died 29 May 1860, leaving issue.
(note 2.) The marriage took place, by licence, at St. Mary’s Church, Nottingham, 31 March 1778, of George Dodson and Elizabeth Stretton, but we have no evidence that the bride was identical with the above Elizabeth Stretton.
(Note 3.) The verse adapted from the 140th Psalm, engraved upon the cenotaph in the old churchyard at Lenton (vide post) was evidently chosen in allusion to this.
(Note 4.) This lady (who died 1 March1878) married secondly, in 1846, Colonel St. John-Gore Browne, R.A., who died 1861.
(Note 5.) These articles were presented by Sir Henry Dryden to the Corporation of Nottingham, in the year 1881, and are now preserved in the Castle Museum.