Allerton Hall
Roscoe's house

THE LOST INHERITANCE

Medieval Period:  Richard and Elizabeth Lathom

The estate of Allerton Hall is in Clarkes Gardens, Allerton, Merseyside, England. It is recorded in the National Heritage List for England as a designated Grade IIBorn listed building.  During the medieval period the manor of Allerton was held by Richard and Elizabeth Lathom.

Richard died before Elizabeth and during her long widowhood (1563-1602) she occupied Allerton Hall.  In her Will and Codicil, both executed in July 1624, Elizabeth bequeathed the occupation and profit of the estate to her second son, Edward Lathom, “this my hall in Allerton”.  The houses and land for three years after her death were for the better discharging of her debts and to keep her other sons, Richard and John, until the grandson, Richard Lathom, of Parbold, son of Thomas, who died in 1623, then an infant of two years old, “came of age”, and became the heir of Parbold and Allerton.

Richard Lathom was a Royalist who fought alongside his uncles in the English Civil War.  He survived the war but the estate was “forfeited in the name of treason” by Oliver Cromwell in 1652.

1654

“The commissioners” of parliament who had confiscated the estate sold it to John Sumpner of Midhurst, Sussex for £2,700. 

Notwithstanding that, the Lathom family, now dispossessed, tried to hold on the estate, it was only in 1670 that the Sumpner family managed to eject the Lathoms, and only then by increasing the amount of the original purchase price!

When assessments were made for the hearth tax in 1666, Allerton Hall was one of the larger houses in the parish of Childwall with eight hearths, this was exceeded only by Speke Hall with twenty-one hearths. 

1736.

The estate was bought by the brothers John and James Hardman. John Hardman was a West Indies merchant originally from Rochdale.

During the American Civil War, the mansion was rented by Charles Kuhn Prioleau, an American landowner from South Carolina, who financially supported the Confederate States and who married Mary Elizabeth Wright, daughter of the owner of the hall.

In the early part of the 20th century the building belonged to the Clarke Family, the tobacco merchants, who donated it to Liverpool City Council in 1927.  The building was damaged by two fires, in 1994 and in 1995.  Surviving the fires, are a room at the west end which has panelled walls and a stucco ceiling in Rococo style, and parts of Roscoe’s library.  In the grounds to the west of the house is a sundial dated 1750.  However, an amount of the proceeds had been paid into the Account General for possible claims by the heirs.

Hardman Brothers

In 1736, the Allerton Hall was purchased by John and James Hardman (brothers). 

John Hardman married Jane Cockshutt, they had no children

James Hardman married Jane Leigh they had four children.  James died on the 24th June 1740 aged about 50.  Jane lived to be 93, dying in 1795.  By 1759 the last of her children had pre-deceased her.

According to the Liverpool Press and other publications in 1889, this estate was worth more than £1.5 million.

The Hardman brothers partly built a house on the site, and in 1779 it was bought by William Roscoe. Roscoe’s influence was primarily that of a lawyer, a banker, an entrepreneur, philanthropist and cultural leader.  He was among the first people to actively engage in abolishing the slave trade.  He completed building the house.  Unfortunately, the end of war with France brought Roscoe into financial difficulties and he went bankrupt.  He took up a more modest residence nearer Liverpool.  His career at Allerton was typical of the new age which threw up many new men of wealth, and then brought them down again, the nouveau riche!

The Love Affair!

Grace Roscoe was the daughter of William Roscoe and Margaret Hardman.  Margaret was a cousin of John and James Hardman.  The Hardman brothers had “adopted” Grace and took her to live with them at Allerton Hall

John Hazlehurst born in 1714 had been employed as a coachman at Allerton Hall, and being on the property he met and he fell in love with Grace Roscoe born in 1715.  Their love was, however, not approved of by her family, and their union was not encouraged.  It had been accepted that Grace would marry James Percival, and that his finances would be beneficial to them.

Never-the-less the lovers eloped, and it is rumoured that they married in Jamaica in 1735.  

The result of their actions was so serious to the family that Grace was removed from the Last Will and Testament of John Hardman, and when he died in 1755, Grace Hazlehurst and her descendants, were barred, under his will, from any inheritance from the estate for 99 years

When Grace and John married they leased a farm from Robert Vyner, which was known as Brow Farm, and this stayed in their family for many years, passing eventually to the Povall family.  The farmhouse was demolished around 1936 to make way for housing but, by overlapping old maps, we know it was situated on the bend in Worcester Road, Birkenhead.

John died 30 March 1800.  Grace died on 12 January 1795.

After 1854 the descendants of John and Grace Hazlehurst became entitled to inherit a share of the estate.

Beneficiaries of the Inheritance

In 1895 a compromise was offered to the third generation of descendants of Grace and John Hazlehurst, namely:

Thomas Bartly Hazlehurst born 1802

Samuel Hazlehurst born 1803   (The claimant of Smithdown Road)

The sum of £250,000 was allocated to them, by the owners of Allerton Hall at that time, payable at £25,000 per year for 10 years.  In 1922 the whole property of Allerton Hall and the grounds, was donated as a New Year’s gift from the nine Clarke sons to the Corporation of Liverpool.  The Clarke family were reputed to have been very wealthy.

Other claims by the descendants of John and Grace were presented, but none were granted.

Joseph Hazelhurst (Big Joe) 2nd generation South African, attempted to claim from the proceeds of Allerton Hall.  In spite of extensive efforts by his attorney, Mr H. Sausenthaller, Reverend D.P. Ackerman of Wakkerstroom, and Mr Alfred Hazelhurst, then a practising attorney in Pretoria, nothing came of it and the descendants were, obviously not entitled to any further claim.

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