The Family of William Banks (1804 – 1886) of Shoreditch and Holborn

Family Chart

William Banks was born on 7 May 1804 and baptised 3 June 1804 at St Leonard Shoreditch, a son of Samuel Bank (sic) and Elizabeth of Tabernacle Square.

William (bachelor) married Mary Woodland Seymour (spinster) at St Marylebone in 1825. Mary was the daughter of Constant Seymour and William Woodland.

In the evidence (17 November 1840) at the formal proving of the will of William Woodland in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, James Dodsley Tawney, solicitor, stated that “I knew Mr. William Woodland the deceased in this cause for several years, but I was not professionally concerned for him until very shortly before his death.  I used to meet him frequently at the house of business of his son in law Mr. William Banks …..  It was at Kings Mews Grays Inn Road that I so met him, W. Banks being a partner of Mr Osborne the horse dealer.  I have seen him also at his son in law's private house at Holloway".  This establishes that William Banks married the daughter of William Woodland.  In the estate duty registers, 1840, the executor of William Woodland's will was given as William Banks, of Hornsey Road. This is close to Holloway.


Henry Osborne (born about 1783) was the senior partner of Osborne, Son and Banks of Kings Mews, and probably started the business in 1812.  The earliest advertisement so far found for H. Osborn’s commission stables is 1813.  In the records of the Sun Fire Office, insurance was taken out 18 January 1826 by Henry Osborn stable keeper of The Kings Mews, Kings Road.

The business became H. Osborn and Son (Henry David Osborn, born 1809) by 1831 and Osborn, Son and Banks by 1838 - in 1841 they were aged 58, 32 and 35 respectively.  Henry David Osborne left the partnership on 1 January 1854 and Henry Osborn senior and William Banks continued from 4 January 1854.  Henry Osborne senior’s death was registered in the September quarter 1855, in the Holborn district.  He was buried in the South Metropolitan Cemetery (West Norwood Cemetery), Norwood Road, Lambeth, on 10 September 1855.  He was of 8 Grays Inn Terrace and aged 72.  His will with a codicil was proved at London 22 November 1855 by William Banks and Augustus Booker, his executors.  From this point onwards William Banks operated the business on his own.

In the Post Office Directory of London 1841 in the Trades section, p. 750, under Livery Stable Keepers, it lists Henry Osborn, Son and Banks of Kings Mews, Grays Inn Lane. Henry (David) Osborn is also listed at 12 Grays Inn Terrace.

In the 1841 census of Grays Inn Lane Terrace, Holborn, William Banks was aged 35, a horse dealer, Mary Banks was aged 36, Charlotte Seymour was aged 35, a female servant and Sarah Stodart(?) was aged 23, a female servant.  William did not know whether he had been born in the county, Mary and Sarah were born in the county but Charlotte wasn't. Charlotte was later found to be Mary's cousin and it is not clear whether she was a servant in the Banks household or a servant somewhere else and just happened to be visiting when the census was taken.

There was an inquest at the Yorkshire Grey, Gray’s Inn Lane, into the death of William Finch aged 61 who committed suicide by hanging himself in his apartment at Kings Mews.  William Banks gave evidence that he had been a clerk employed by the business for upwards of 20 years.  He had sent for William Finch to point out to him some items in an account which Finch had been unable to explain.  It was Henry David Osborne who had seen him hide a paper under a desk and had demanded to see it and found that it was about his business.  He had been misappropriating funds (defalcation) of about £200 and, having been discovered then went and hung himself rather than face the consequences (Morning Post 24 September 1841).

James Dodsley Tawney of 21 Regent Square was the solicitor who was instrumental in settling William Woodland’s estate on his daughter, Mary Woodland Banks in 1840 and was a close personal friend of William and Mary Banks as she chose him to be one of her trustees in her will of 1845.  Sadly his death, aged 53, in January 1850 was sudden and shocking.  He died unexpectedly at the foot of the witness box in the Central Criminal Court ‘on Monday last’ directly after giving evidence in a trial in which he was the prosecutor, against Samuel Greave Harvey, a horse dealer living at Raby, for violently assaulting him.  From the evidence given by William Banks and others at the inquest, James Dodsley Tawney, who kept his horses at Kings Mews was in the counting house on 3 November 1849 as he  had come to collect his horse and gig.  Harvey was also in the counting house and the pair began a difficult conversation.  Harvey had discovered that James Dodsley Tawney was appearing against him at the insolvent debtors’ court the following Saturday and demanded to know who he was representing.  The solicitor wouldn’t tell him and Harvey then struck him two or three times violently with a horse whip about the head and shoulders.  James Dodsley Tawney got into his gig and Harvey continued to strike him as he was driven out into the road by his groom who was also struck whilst trying to protect the solicitor.  There was also evidence to show that James Dodsley Tawney suffered frequently from pains in the chest and throat and suffered very much from difficulty in breathing and his family had been warned that his death would be sudden.  The verdict of the jury was that death was due to congestion of blood in the brain produced by disease of the heart and that on 3 November James Dodsley Tawney was cruelly and brutally assaulted by Samuel Greave Harvey (Morning Post 11 January 1850).

In the 1851 census of 11 Grays Inn Terrace, Holborn, William was aged 46, a commission agent, born in Finsbury, Mary was aged 47 born in St George's, Middx. Their children were Mary Ann, single, aged 24, born in St Andrew Holborn, Theophila, single aged 23, born in St Pancras, Emily E. aged 7 born in St Andrew, Holborn and Frederick S, aged 5, born at Willingdon, Sussex. There were two servants.

In 1855 the Banks family were still living at Grays Inn Terrace (death certificate of Mary Ann Banks).  This terrace lay along the west side of Grays Inn Lane, starting at the junction with Kings Road and continued north to North Place. 

William Banks was clearly keen to make his business succeed.  As well as his horse commission business he was also renting out light workshops suitable for goldsmiths, watchmakers, fancy cabinet makers and others making little or no noise - so as not to scare the horses, no doubt.  Application was to be made to William Banks Kings Mews Gray’s Inn Lane.  (Notice in the Clerkenwell News 27 February 1858)

In the 1861 census of 4, John Street, Holborn, William was aged 56, a horse dealer, born in London, and Mary was aged 57, born in London. Their children were William W., single, aged 24, a horse dealer, born in London and F.S. Banks, aged 16, a scholar, born in Willingdon, Sussex. There were three single servants.

On Thursday 8 December 1864 there was a fatal accident at Kings Mews.  John Lynch, aged 12, lived with his mother at 8 Fleur-de-lis Court, Gray’s Inn Road.  He was riding a spirited horse at the Banks’s riding school at Kings Mews when he was thrown off and landed heavily and was then kicked on the temple by the horse, fracturing his skull.  He was taken to the Royal Free Hospital, Gray’s Inn Road, but died of internal bleeding.  A verdict of accidental death was returned by the inquest jury.  William Banks sent £20 to his mother towards the funeral costs and by way of some compensation (Holborn Journal 17 December 1864).

In 1865 it seems that William Banks purchased 69 Wellington Street, Milton next Gravesend for there is a conveyance dated 12 October in a box of papers that now belong to North West Kent Family History Society.

In the 1871 census of 4 John Street, William was aged 66, a horse commission agent, born in London, and Mary was aged 67 and born in London. Their unmarried children were William W. aged 34, a horse commission agent born in London and Emily E. aged 27, birth place not stated. There was an unmarried visitor, Kirstle Angle aged 28 born in ... France and three unmarried servants.

In the 1881 census of 4, John Street, William was aged 76, a horse dealer and Mary was aged 77, both born in London. There was a visitor, widow Theophila Holmes aged 69 born at Horncastle, Lincs., and three unmarried servants.

William Banks’s business also operated a riding school in Kings Mews.  This was in existence by December 1864 and was still advertising for a lady to give riding lessons at the school and on the road in March 1883. Application was to be made to A.B. 4 John Street, Bedford Row (Morning Post 8 March 1883)

William Banks died 22 August 1886, at 4 John Street and he was buried in Highgate Cemetery.

His will was dated 12 November 1885 and probate was granted 13 September 1886, to Mary Woodland Banks, widow, of the same address, Thomas Robinson, [son-in-law, married to daughter Theophila] of 65, Richmond Road, Barnsbury, Middx, corn merchant, and Eugene Monteuuis [son-in-law, widower of Emily Eliza] of Marquise, Putney Hill, Surrey, the executors. There were legacies amongst others, to his sister Matilda and wife of James Fairbrother, to Louisa Sarah Paget, the wife of Thomas Paget and a daughter of his late sister, Amelia Eastland, to his nephew, William Banks, coachmaker of Edmonton and to Louisa Banks his niece [children of his brother Samuel]. His personal estate was valued at £25,403.4s.4d, revised, in December 1887, to £25,820.7s.0d.

The commission stables were then run jointly by William Woodland Banks and Frederick Seymour Banks, until the end of 1893 after which Frederick ran them alone.

Mary Woodland Banks died 17 January 1890 at 4 John Street. Her will was dated 20 August 1845 and witnessed by Joseph Seymour Jnr, miller of Willingdon [her cousin, the son of Joseph Seymour] and Henry Thomas, miller of Folkington [the husband of Phillis, a sister of Joseph Seymour Jnr]. [These witnesses strongly suggest that she made her will at Willingdon, at the time that she gave birth to Frederick Seymour Banks on 2 September 1845.] Her address was 11, Grays Inn Terrace. In her will she exercised a power of appointment under the will of William Woodland, late of Esher, bearing date around 30 July 1840, concerning Nos 3, 4 and 5 Pollen Street, St George's Hanover Square, to the use of Samuel Banks, Jeweller, of Bride Street, Liverpool Road and James Dodsley Tawney, Gent, of Regent Square (trustees). A codicil was dated 10 December 1889, witnessed by W.H. Hudson solicitor and Elizabeth Harding of 4, John Street. Mary, a widow, gave her address as 4, John Street. She appointed new trustees, the former being deceased. They were William Woodland Banks, Frederick Seymour Banks and Theophila Robinson of 65, Richmond Road, Barnsbury, Middx. There were additional instructions concerning two bonds. The first was a Russian bond, the dividends of which were to be paid to Mr Edward Smith of 24 Clarissa Street, Lee Street, Haggerston for life, and when sold, the proceeds to pay for his funeral and the residue to Rebecca Dobson [Mary's great-niece, the daughter of William Banks, coachmaker ], the wife of Charles James Dobson of 2 Tiptree Villas, Cambridge Road, Southend and Mary Ann Banks of 34, Beulah Road, Walthamstow. The second was an Egyptian bond, the dividends of which were to be paid to Mr Edward Smith and then to her executors, together with the residue, subject to an annual payment to Mr James Fairbrother and his wife Matilda of 29 Montague Road, Dalstone, Middx. Her will was proved by William Woodland Banks, Frederick Seymour Banks and Theophila Robinson, wife of Thomas Robinson of 65, Richmond Road, Barnsbury [her three surviving children]. Her personal effects were valued at £1,613.8s.0d.

William and Mary's children were:

  1. Mary Ann (1826 – 1855), born 9 August 1826 and baptised 24 September 1826, St Andrew Holborn (Kings Mews, servant).  She died 7 February 1855 of pleuropneumonia at 11 Grays Inn Terrace.  She was buried 15 February 1855 at Holy Trinity Church, Grays Inn Road (in the parish of St Andrew Holborn).  She was of Grays Inn Terrace aged 28.  Her gravestone is now in the back garden of a nearby property, having probably been moved there when the burial ground was cleared [1].
  2. Theophila (1827 – 1902), born 2 September 1827 and baptised 24 October 1827 at St Andrew Holborn (Guildford Street, stable keeper).
  3. Amelia (1830 – 1831), born 6 March 1830 and baptised 4 April 1830 at St Andrew Holborn (Kings Mews, stable keeper).  She was buried 10 February 1831, aged 11 months, of Kings Mews, at Bunhill Fields.
  4. William Rose (1832 – 1833), born 5 July 1832 and baptised 1 August 1832 at St Andrew Holborn (1 Kings Mews, horse dealer). He may be named after William Rose (of St Pancras, Middx), who married his mother Mary's cousin, Hannah Seymour, at Willingdon, by licence, 28 August 1828.  He was buried 27 October 1833, aged 2, of Kings Mews, at St Andrew Holborn.
  5. James Woodland (1833 – 1841), born 30 August 1833 and baptised 6 September 1833 at St Andrew Holborn (Kings Mews, Kings Road, horse dealer). He died 14 March 1841 at 11 Terrace Grays Inn Lane, the son of William Banks, stable keeper, of whooping cough, aged 7 years and 6 months.
  6. William Woodland (1836 – 1896), born 17 December 1836 and baptised 15 January 1837 at St Andrew Holborn (Kings Mews, stable keeper).
  7. Emily Eliza (1843 – 1882), born 14 May 1843 and baptised 23 March 1845 at St Andrew Holborn (11, Grays Inn Terrace, commission agent).
  8. Frederick Seymour, born 2 September 1845 at Willingdon and baptised 6 November 1846 at St Andrew Holborn (Grays Inn Terrace, horse dealer).

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Updated April 2017

[1]              I am very grateful to Van Raynor for bringing this to my attention and to Kathryn Green for further details.