Lupton family

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The Lupton family are of Yorkshire origin[1] and first achieved prominence in ecclesiastical and academic circles in England in the 16th century through the fame of Dr Roger Lupton, provost of Eton College and chaplain to Henry VIII. By the Georgian era, the family's fame was cemented in the Northern English city of Leeds. Described in the City of Leeds archives as "landed gentry, a political and business dynasty",[2][3] they had become successful woollen cloth merchants and manufacturers who flourished during the Industrial Revolution and traded throughout northern Europe, the Americas and Australia.

As Members of Parliament and local politicians, the Lupton family contributed to the political life of both the UK and to the civic life of Leeds well into the 20th century.[4] Several members were close to the British Royal Family[5][6][7] and particularly philanthropic. Many were Mayor and later Lord Mayor of Leeds and were progressive in their views,[8] They were associated with both the Church of England and the Unitarian church in England. The Lupton Residences of the University of Leeds are named after members of the family and the world's largest law firm, DLA Piper, was established by solicitor Sir Charles Lupton as Dibb-Lupton.[9][10] The Luptons are the paternal ancestors of Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge.[11]

Early Luptons of Yorkshire[edit]

The earliest record of the name is of Father Rob. Lupton, Vicar of Skipton, in 1430.[12]

Eton College Provost and benefactor, Dr Roger Lupton, was born in Sedbergh, Yorkshire, in 1456 and graduated from King's College, Cambridge University in 1483. Lupton himself does not appear to have been educated at Eton College, though a number of his fellow Yorkshire relatives were Etonians, including Ralph Lupton with whom Dr Roger Lupton had much in common; both were natives of Sedbergh, both were students of Kings College, (Ralph was admitted to King's in 1506), and both were later considerable benefactors to their alma mater, Eton. Another Yorkshire (Nun Monkton) relative was Thomas Lupton, also an Etonian, who was admitted to King's in 1517.[13][14]

Roger Lupton became a Doctor of canon law and a Canon of Windsor. He was chaplain to Henry VIII at the time of the King's coronation in April 1509.[15] Lupton founded the Sedbergh School, initially providing for a Chantry school in the town whilst he was Provost of Eton. By 1528, land had been bought, a school built, probably on the site of the present Sedbergh school library, and the foundation deed had been signed, binding Sedbergh to St John's College, Cambridge at which Lupton had established a number of fellowships and scholarships. Lupton was Provost of Eton School for 30 years, and the prominent tower in the School Yard is named after him. Lupton died in 1540 and was buried with much ceremony in the Lupton Chapel - his own chantry at Eton.[16][17][18][19]

Early Luptons of Leeds[edit]

The earliest recorded member of the Leeds (Holbeck) family is Thomas Lupton,[20] whose son Thomas (b. 1628) was a scholar at Leeds Grammar and admitted as a sizar, age 20, to St John's College, Cambridge in 1648. He became a minister.[21] Francis Lupton (1658–1717) married Ester Midgeley of Breary in 1688. Francis was appointed clerk to the Anglican parish church (now Leeds Minster) on 31 August 1694. Many memorials to the Lupton family lie within the church.[22] More recent memorials are found in St John's Church in the suburb of Roundhay,[23][24] as well as the Unitarian church in Leeds City Square, Mill Hill Chapel, where a stained glass window commemorates the Lupton family.[25]

Francis and Ester Lupton had nine children.[8]


Their second son, William I (1700–1771), became a successful farmer and clothier with business connections in Germany and the Netherlands. He was the chief cloth-dresser ("the highest paid and most skilled artisan in the woollen industry") to Sir Henry Ibbetson,[26] sometime High Sheriff of Yorkshire. William later managed his firm. He had three sons, all of whom attended Leeds Grammar. The eldest, Francis II (1731–1770), was sent to Lisbon to trade, especially English cloth, and was caught up in the devastating earthquake of 1755. His second son, William II (1732–1782), although born in Leeds, was sent to board at Sedbergh School which had been founded by his kin, Dr Roger Lupton,[27] and then became a "Sedbergh scholar"[28] of St John's College, University of Cambridge. William was an assistant master at Leeds Grammar[29] and eventually became ordained, pursuing a ministry in the Church of England.[30][31]

The third son, Arthur I (1748–1807), was sent at the age of 15 to the school of Leopold Pfeil in Frankfurt, where he studied High Dutch (German) and French. (In 1764, Wolfgang von Goethe was a pupil at the school and wrote of his schoolmate.[8]) Arthur returned to England in 1766 before leaving for Lisbon. In 1768, he took on two partners and then was joined by John Luccock , with whom he set up a subsidiary, Lupton & Luccock, in Rio de Janeiro. In 1773 Arthur founded William Lupton and Co. and married Olive Rider. He sat on the original committee of the Cloth Halls, regulating their activities; see by way of comparison the Worshipful Company of Clothworkers in London. In 1774 the leading merchants came together to organise the construction of the 3rd White Cloth Hall. The trade directory of 1790 refers to Lupton & Co. Merchants, in the district of Leeds known as Leylands. He built new woollen cloths works as the Industrial Revolution brought cottage weaving to an end, and passed the business to his son, William III.[8]

William III (1777–1828) is listed in the 1817 Register of the Nobility, Clergy and Gentry for the West Riding of the County of York.[32] His wife Ann, daughter of tobacconist John Darnton,[33] died in 1865 at Gledhow Mount Mansion, near Leeds.[34] He initially shared the responsibility for the business with his brother, Arthur II (born 1782), and the business prospered until 1819. John Luccock, their cousin, sought to expand the business in New Orleans in 1822 but was forced to give up in 1823. The South American trade opened up again, albeit with difficulties in Peru.

Joseph Lupton

Several of the Luptons were supporters of the Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society, a learned society founded in 1819, which established the city's museum. They subscribed generously to its building fund.[35]

Early Victorians[edit]

William III's son Darnton (1806–1873) was Mayor of Leeds in 1844[36] and a magistrate.[37] He was also a director of the Bank of Leeds, which eventually became part of the Royal Bank of Scotland.[38] Darnton lived at Potternewton Hall, and then at the adjacent Newton Hall,[39] just north of Leeds ,[40] and from the 1860s in the Victorian Gothic villa known as Headingley Castle.[41] Darnton's daughter, Kate Lupton (1833–1913), married Edward, Baron von Schunck and lived at Gledhow Wood Estate, near Leeds; their daughter, Baroness Airedale, living at the adjacent Gledhow Hall.[42][43]

Henry Lupton

Darnton's younger brother Francis III (1813–1884) was 15 when his father died, but he had already acquired an extensive knowledge of the cloth trade. He joined the board of the Bank of Leeds, became a West Riding magistrate and overseer of the parish of Roundhay. He was chairman of the finance committee of the Yorkshire College of Science, created in 1874 (later part of the federal Victoria University, and from 1904 the University of Leeds). In 1847 he married Frances Greenhow, niece of writers and reformers Harriet and Dr James Martineau. Frances's entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography focuses on her pioneering work expanding opportunities for female education, not least in co-founding Leeds Girls' High School. The married couple lived first at Potternewton Hall which was adjacent to Newton Hall, another Lupton estate. Potternewton Hall had been built in the early 1700s and was where their children were born.[44] By the early 1860s, Francis and Frances had established their family seat at Beechwood,[45] a Georgian country house in Roundhay, which they bought from the politician Sir George Goodman.[46] As a landowner, Francis successfully managed his farming estate there until he died suddenly at the age of 70.[47][8] Their sons - Francis Martineau, Arthur, Charles, and Hugh, whose lives are detailed below - all contributed to the eminence of Leeds.

William III's son Joseph (1816–1894) was a committed Liberal, on the executive of the National Reform Union. Like many of his family, he was a leading Unitarian, serving as president[48] and later vice-president[49] of Manchester New College, the training college for ministers, during the 1880s and 1890s, helping to plan and finance its move from London to Oxford. He was a passionate anti-slavery campaigner, joining with the minister of Mill Hill Chapel, Charles Wicksteed, in being "ardent admirers" of the campaigner William Lloyd Garrison,[50] who advocated immediate, not gradual, abolition. (See Anti-Slavery Society.) He also supported the campaign for votes for women, sitting on the committee for the National Society for Women's Suffrage.[51] Joseph married Eliza Buckton (1818–1901) in 1842. Their son, Henry (1850–1932), a cloth merchant, married Clara Taylor (1860–1897). They in turn had five surviving children,[8] see Twentieth century section below.

Late Victorians[edit]

Brought up at Beechwood alongside the children of Francis III was their first cousin Mabel Greenhow, following the death of her mother. She grew up to write prolifically, under the name Mrs Murray Hickson.

Two of Francis's sons married sisters named Ashton: Arthur to Harriet, and Charles to Katharine. A third Ashton sister, Marion, married James Bryce, 1st Viscount Bryce, the British Ambassador to the United States. Their brother was Thomas Ashton, 1st Baron Ashton of Hyde.[8][52]

Francis Martineau and descendants[edit]

Francis Martineau IV (1848–1921), Francis III's eldest son, attended Leeds Grammar School before going up to Trinity College, Cambridge, reading history and then entering the family business. From 1870 to 1880, he was a member of the Leeds Rifles. From the 1880s, he and his fellow directors adapted Wm. Lupton & Co. significantly by moving the business from just merchants to manufacturing, in response to the restructuring of the economics of cloth making. They acquired mills and power looms and gradually converted their mills to be driven by electricity. They took advantage of new sources of supply from the Americas and Australia. The family's textile mills were in Whitehall Road, Leeds.[8] Francis Martineau lived with his children at Rockland, the large stone house built for him on his family's Newton Park Estate.[53]

Francis devoted his life to the business and civic work. A Liberal, he broke away from Gladstone over Home Rule (of Ireland) and became a Liberal Unionist. In 1895, he became a Unionist alderman and remained one until 1916. Impressed by the ideas of housing reformer Octavia Hill, he served as Chairman of the Unhealthy Areas Committee, later the Improvements Committee, addressing the legacy of 100 years of slums. Halfway through this period, he wrote a book on this experience, Housing Improvement: A Summary of Ten Years' Work in Leeds (1906). He was an active member of the West Riding bench and took great interest in Cookridge Hospital. During the Great War he served on the Pensions Committee. As a Unitarian, he took a large share of the work and activities of Mill Hill Chapel.[8]

In 1880, he married Harriet Albina Davis (1850–1892), the daughter of Thomas Davis, a Church of England clergyman,[54] but she died in 1892, two weeks after the birth of their youngest son. The couple's three sons all boarded at Rugby School following which all three graduated, as had their father, from Trinity College, Cambridge University.[55][56]All three of their sons died in the Great War. Capt. Maurice Lupton was the first to be killed in action by a sniper bullet in the trenches at Lille on 19 June 1915. Lt. Lionel Martineau Lupton was wounded, mentioned in dispatches twice and, after recovering, was killed during the Battle of the Somme in July 1916. Maj. Francis Ashford Lupton was reported missing at Miraumont on the night of 19 February 1917 when he went out with one man on reconnaissance and was later found dead. At this point, Francis Martineau turned his family home, Rockland, on the family's Newton Park Estate,[53] to an institution for the children of sailors and soldiers, and moved with his daughters to Roundhay. A generous benefactor, Francis Martineau contributed financially to many causes and institutions, including the extension fund of Norwich's Octagon Chapel, of which his great grandfather, Thomas Martineau, had once been deacon and also the rebuilding in 1907 of Martineau Hall, the Sunday school his great uncle Dr James Martineau had established.[57][53]

Francis Martineau had two daughters. The eldest, Olive Christiana, (1881-1936) was born and grew up on the family's Potternewton Hall Estate.[58] Olive was educated at Roedean, boarding at the school until 1900. She married solicitor Richard Noel Middleton in 1914.[59] Their son, pilot Peter Francis Middleton (1920-2010), was the grandfather of Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge.[60][61]

Franicis' younger daughter, Anne Muriel, (1888-1967) wished to enter the family business, but as women were excluded, she travelled abroad for many years; in South America and Canada in particular.[62] She never married, but on her return to England, she set up a home in Chelsea with Enid Moberly Bell, a sort of Boston marriage. The daughter and biographer of The Times editor Charles Frederic Moberly Bell, Enid was vice-chair (to Lady Frances Balfour, former president of the National Society for Women's Suffrage) of the Lyceum Club for female artists and writers.[63] Enid was also second mistress at Lady Margaret School in nearby Parsons Green, and in 1937 Anne financed the purchase of one of the Georgian properties, Elm House, in which the school is located.

Arthur and descendants[edit]

Arthur V (1850–1930) was Francis III's second son. Educated at Leeds Grammar School, he entered the family business at the age of sixteen. He was elected to the board of governors of Yorkshire College at 25 and, after his father's death, took over his position as chairperson of its Finance Committee. At 36, he was elected to the City Council and in 1889 became its chairperson. Arthur negotiated the separation of Yorkshire College from the federal Victoria University. The new redbrick Leeds University received its royal charter in 1904, which named "Our trusty and well-beloved Arthur Greenhow Lupton, chairperson of the Council of the Yorkshire College" as its first Pro Chancellor. He held this post for sixteen years before returning to the Council, promoting co-operation between the University and industry, especially the Clothworkers Company.[8]

Recognising the changing need for large-scale generation of electricity, Arthur founded the Yorkshire Electric Power Company and Electrical Distribution of Yorkshire Ltd, being chairperson until nationalisation. He promoted the House to House Electricity Company, which was eventually taken over by Leeds Corporation. With friends, he started the Wetherby Water Works, was concerned with the Yorkshire Waste Heat Company, a Director of the North Eastern Railway and a West Riding magistrate.[8] During the Great War, he established a shell filling factory at Barnbow. In 1921, on the death of his brother, Francis, he took over responsibility for Wm. Lupton & Co.

He married Harriet Ashton, with whom he had two daughters: Elinor (1886–1979) and Elizabeth (Bessie, 1888-1977). Harriet died shortly after giving birth to Bessie. The girls' second cousin Beatrix Potter created watercolour Christmas cards for them, there are surviving examples from 1890 to 1895.[64][65][66] The sisters never married; their brother Arthur VI survived the Great War only to suffer in a riding accident with the Bramham Moor Hunt in 1928 and die of his injuries the following year.[46]

Elinor was awarded an honorary degree in 1945 for services to the University[67] – for 23 years she had chaired its Women's Halls Committee; the Lupton Halls of Residence were named after her and her father.[68] (Her father and uncle had also been granted the honorary LLD, Arthur in 1910 and Charles in 1919.[69]) In 1942-3, Elinor was the Lady Mayoress (ceremonial companion) to Jessie Beatrice Kitson,[36][61] hosting several visits from Royalty, including the Princess Royal, the Duchess of Kent and Lady Louis Mountbatten. The Yorkshire Evening Post reports that the sisters were campaigning for the preservation of open land in Asket Hill in Roundhay in the 1970s.[70] After Elinor's death, the Leeds Girls' High School acquired a substantial Grade II listed building and named it after her.[71]

Charles and descendants[edit]

Sir Charles Lupton OBE (1855–1935) was Francis III's fourth son, the third (Herbert) having died young. He was educated at Leeds Grammar School, Rugby School (both the preparatory and senior school) and then followed his elder brother to Trinity College, Cambridge, to read history. He qualified as a solicitor in 1881[72] practising mainly at Dibb & Co., later Dibb Lupton, and now DLA Piper, the world's largest law firm.[73] In 1888 he married Katharine Ashton.

Charles was elected to the Board of Management of the Leeds General Infirmary, and in 1900 was appointed treasurer and chairperson of the board as the Infirmary evolved into a modern hospital. The Medical School was integrated with the Yorkshire College (later Leeds University). He retired from the appointment in 1921 and remained on the Board. He became a member of the Court and Council of the University and Chairman of the Law Committee.

In 1915, Charles served as Lord Mayor of Leeds, raising money to enlarge Beckett's Park Hospital, which was then a military hospital.[8] Newsreel footage survives of him inspecting troops in this role, travelling with his three brothers to Colsterdale in the Yorkshire Dales to show support for the Leeds Pals battalion.[74]

Starting as a Liberal, he also became a Liberal-Unionist at the time of the First Home Rule Bill. In 1918 he was Deputy-Lieutenant for the West Riding of Yorkshire;[75] his Lord Lieutenant being Lord Harewood, the father-in-law of Princess Mary, Countess of Harewood. He was granted the Freedom of the City in 1926, alongside e.g. Stanley Baldwin and David Lloyd George.[76] He became the City Council's Chairman of the Improvements Committee and promoted the ring road in the post-war years and led the widening of Upper and Lower Headrows. He left his art collection to the city.

Hugh and descendants[edit]

Hugh (1861–1947) was Francis III's fifth son and followed Charles to Rugby School before attending University College, Oxford, reading modern history. He was then apprenticed to Hathorn Davey & Co., makers of heavy pumping machinery, joining the firm in 1881 and rising to managing director, only to see the Great Depression force it into a takeover by Sulzer's of Zurich. Hugh was a member of the Institute of Mechanical Engineers, as was his cousin, Professor Arnold Lupton, who was the Member of Parliament for Sleaford from 1906 to 1910.[4]

Hugh sat on the Roundhay and Seacroft Rural District Council and, for a year, was chairperson of the board. When the RDC became a ward of the City in 1913, he was elected to Leeds City Council and served until 1926. During most of this time he was Chairman of the Electricity Committee. In 1926, he became Lord Mayor of Leeds, with his wife Isabella Simey as Lady Mayoress.[8] In these roles, they hosted visits by Mary, The Princess Royal, and her husband Lord Harewood; a film of one such visit, captured on British Pathe newsreel, was discovered in July 2013.[74][77]

Two of Hugh's sons survived the Great War: Hugh, who married Joyce Ransome (sister of the Swallows and Amazons author Arthur), and Charles Athelstane, known as Athel, who wrote a book on the family.[46]

Twentieth century[edit]

Barbara Lupton (later Lady Bullock) at Cambridge c. 1913

Henry's eldest son, Geoffrey Lupton (1882–1949), was a significant figure in the Arts and Crafts Movement.

Henry's middle daughter, Barbara May Lupton (1891–1974), attended as an early pupil at the innovative Bedales School, then Newnham College, Cambridge (1910–1913) and the London School of Economics (1913–1914). She worked with the Ministry of Munitions during the First World War. In April 1917, she married Sir Christopher Bullock, whom she had met at Cambridge; he was a powerful civil servant at the British Air Ministry, rising to Permanent Under-Secretary from 1931 to 1936. Sir Christopher - the great grandson of Thomas FitzMaurice, 5th Earl of Orkney -[78] and Lady Bullock had two sons, Richard Henry Watson Bullock C.B. (1920–1998)[79] and Edward Anthony Watson Bullock, both of whom entered public service, in the Home Civil Service and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office respectively.

Two other grandchildren of Darnton, the brother and sister Agnes and Norman Lupton, left a substantial bequest to the Leeds Art Gallery in 1952. Their donation, "one of the finest collections of English watercolours in private hands", included works by John Sell Cotman, Thomas Girtin, and J. M. W. Turner.[70][80][81]

The family business, Wm. Lupton & Co., was sold to Hainsworth in 1958.[82] Much of the farming estate land surrounding Beechwood, the home of the brothers described in the previous section, was sold in the 1950s. The house itself remained in family hands into the 1990s.[60]

Other Luptons[edit]

  • Dilworth Lupton, minister of the Cleveland Unitarian Church and instrumental in the early days of Alcoholics Anonymous[83]
  • Hugh Lupton, born 1952, prominent in the revival of the British oral story telling tradition


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Further reading[edit]

  • The Lupton Family website
  • Gentlemen Merchants: The Merchant Community in Leeds, 1700–1830 by Richard George Wilson. Manchester University Press, 1971