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The House on Salthouse Lane

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Maisters

The first tenant of the house was Arthur Maister, one of the family of merchants whose High Street home still stands. Arthur, born in 1738, had served his apprenticeship with the family firm in the St. Petersburg office,from where timber and iron were shipped to England. He had his portrait painted “In the garb of a Russian merchant” by Francis Cotes. The picture is now in a private collection. Arthur returned home, and in 1771 married Esther Thompson, a young widow who had been born Esther Rickaby of Burlington Quay.

When the couple moved into Salthouse Lane they brought with them their three sons, Arthur, Henry and John. Their first and fifth children had died in infancy. Two more daughters who were born in Salthouse Lane grew to adulthood, but another son, George, did not survive.

In March 1789 Henry Wilkinson died. He had recently made his will,stipulating that the Salthouse Lane property should be sold and the proceeds divided among his eight younger children for their maintenance and education until they were 21. The executors of his estate were his son-in-law William Barker and John Mathews of North Shields. They apparently found it difficult to sell the house, or perhaps to get the price they wanted, and the Maisters were undisturbed for another two years.

On February 18th 1791 Arthur Maister died, after a short illness, aged only 53. His will, made 4 years earlier, left to Esther a house he owned on High Street; all his “plate, linen, China, Glass, household furniture and wearing apparel”; a lump sum of £200; and an annuity of £100, to be paid quarterly. His eldest son, Arthur, was bequeathed other properties in High Street and Bishop Lane. After a few small bequests everything else was to be divided among the five children. Arthur’s executors were Esther, his brother Henry and his business partner Richard Rennards. The York Courant newspaper’s obituary described Arthur Maister as “a gentleman highly respected by his friends, and a numerous and polite acquaintance, by whom his death is sincerely lamented.” He was buried in Holy Trinity Church, Hull.

Arthur’s widow was reluctant to leave the Salthouse Lane house. Two letters which she wrote to her brother in 1791 show her aware of the Wilkinson trustees’ efforts to sell, but determined to stay as long as she could. On August 28th she wrote:

I shall get a house in Hull at an easy rent that will contain my family when they all come home – but I am afraid nobody will buy that House for the purpose of letting it. However, I shall not remove my furniture till it is sold.She had only 3 months to wait.

A buyer was found who wanted to live in the house rather than let it. On November 30th 1791 Mathews and Barker, together with John Wilkinson, Henry’s eldest son, sold it to James Walker of Springhead, Cottingham. Esther wrote to her brother:

Mr. Walker has bought this House for £1600 – the cheapest house ever bought in this town as there are 1000 & 50 square yards of ground for which Wilkinson was offered £1400 before he had laid a brick upon it. As they are in a great hurry to come into it I am to have everything out by Saturday.

The Walkers

James Walker and his wife, Jane, had been married for two years when they moved into Salthouse Lane. James was a member of a wealthy family based in Springhead, Cottingham. Jane was the daughter and heiress of John Porter,another of Hull’s wealthy burgesses. Porter invested heavily in the development of housing to the west of the city, and named the new streets after his family. Porter Street, Walker Street and Hill Street (named after a son-in-law) still exist. James was 36 and Jane 27 when they married. Their stay in Hull lasted only three years. In 1794 they moved back to Cottingham,and then to Beverley, where their three children were born.The Walkers became one of the best-known families in Beverley, their son James becoming High Sheriff of Yorkshire and, in 1868, a baronet. All the Walker memorials can be seen in Beverley Minster. James died in 1829 and is described on his tombstone as a man “in whom all the Christian virtues were truly combined.” Jane lived to the ripe old age of 92.

1794 – 1801

The Walkers sold the house to William Watson Bolton. He was the son of a surgeon, William Bolton, who died in 1785 leaving to his son his “shop” with all its fixtures and his “Drugs Salves Medicines Chymical Preparations and all [my] physical Books .... and Instruments of [my] profession”. William Watson had followed his father’s profession, beginning apparently at the age of 18 in1782. Two years later he was one of the first surgeons appointed to the new Hull General Infirmary. However, his businesses interests developed to the point where, in 1798, he gave up surgery. With his brother Christopher he owned oil mills, crushing linseed, hemp and rape for the oil used in lighting, lubrication and paint making. He also went into the whaling business, owning four ships and having interests in another five as a principal member of Eggingtons and Co. Like many wealthy businessmen he was also an insurance underwriter.

Bolton married Ann Wilkinson of Kirkella in 1789, but she died in her 29th year. He later married a Miss Smith of Gainsborough. He was Sheriff of Hull in 1792, and Mayor in 1794 and again in 1802. The Bench Books of the period show Bolton caught up in contemporary sleaze allegations at the beginning of his second period as Mayor. He had been nominated along with Alderman Wray, whose turn it was, but there was apparently a campaign against Wray – “many false and scandalous reports to prejudice the public mind against him” – so Bolton was elected. Wray survived the scandal and had his turn as Mayor the following year.

Bolton sold the Salthouse Lane house in 1796, moving to the fashionable new area of Charlotte Street. The new owner was Simon Horner. Presumably this was Horner senior. The family seat was at Sunderlandwick,and Horner also owned property at Fitling in Yorkshire, but he lived in Prospect Street, Hull. At some point much of Horner's property passed to his nephew, also Simon. Uncle and nephew were wealthy property owners, and Simon senior had a house at Middlesmoor near Kirkby Malzeard in the Yorkshire Dales which he passed on to his nephew. In 1809 he had granted £20 per annum out of his estate at Stonebeck to pay for a Schoolmaster to teach poor children, and later built a School House1 . He died in 1828. Simon Horner junior had a reputation as an eccentric. He lived at 28 High Street with his brother and sister, all three of them unmarried. There are two affectionate contemporary descriptions of Simon, the fullest from John Richardson:

He was the last man in Hull as a gentleman who wore Hair Powder.He was one of the old school of polite gentlemen of the days of Fox and Pitt and to the last wore a blue coat with gilt buttons; a thick and loose white kerchief folded round his neck falling down in front; his garments were not made fashionable but fitted him loosely and his well-powdered head and agreeable manners at once stamped him as a gentleman, unpretending and unassuming. I had often interviews professionally with him, and whenever he visited me and placed his well-powdered head upon the black velvet cushion of my chair, and left his mark upon it, he invariably left a sovereign to dust it clean. He was a most humane and inoffensive man, generous to a degree, often giving his money to very unworthy people rather than refuse to do good acts; I do not think he had a single enemy, so good and even and Christian were the even tenors of his way of life. As a fine old English gentleman, he was punctilious as to the mode in which gentlemen should receive each other, and his opinions were that men in the higher ranks of society, if they could afford it, should descend from their high position to guide and lead the people, and spend their incomes as much at home as possible. He did this and therefore if anyone in a higher station of life was mean and avaricious he disliked it much.

Horner was also a shrewd businessman. He owned considerable property in Hull, including plots in the New Street, soon to be known as Parliament Street. In High Street he owned warehouses, quays and staithes. He died in1841.

The House on Salthouse Lane by Ann Godden - Page 2

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Copyright © 2005 Ann Godden


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