Friday, September 21, 2018

Bifrons House: The End

by Lauren Gilbert

Bifrons Park by Jan Wyck
See also, Bifrons House: The Beginning

After John Bargrave “the youngest” sold the house to Sir Arthur Slingsby in 1662, the house had a family in residence again. Sir Arthur was knighted at Brussels in June of 1657, and was granted a baronetcy by letters patent in 1658 at Bruges. He was married, and had two sons and two daughters. Sadly, Sir Arthur died in 1665, at which point his son Charles succeeded to the baronetcy and the estate. Sir Arthur was buried in Patrixbourne on February 12, 1665. Sir Charles sold Bifrons in 1677. This sale was to the first of three or four additional owners. Little is known about the owners of Bifrons until it was purchased by John Taylor Esquire in 1694.

John Taylor was born December 7, 1655. He was the son Nathaniel Taylor Esquire, who had represented Bedford County in Parliament, and had served as recorder for the city of Colchester in Essex under Cromwell. John married the daughter of Sir Nicholas Tempest, baronet, from Durham. Her name was Olivia, and the couple had six sons and one daughter. The two oldest children were Brook (his father’s heir) born August 18, 1685, and Herbert (who succeeded his brother) possibly born sometime in early 1698 (he was baptized May 15, 1698). Sadly, only the two oldest boys survived. Olivia died in 1716. She was buried in Patrixbourne. John represented Sandwich in Kent in Parliament 1695-1698, and again from February-November 1701. John Taylor died April 24, 1729 and was also buried in Patrixbourne. He was succeeded by his son Brook.

The Children of John Taylor of Bifrons Park by John Closterman c 1696

Brook Taylor was a learned mathematician and a fellow of the Royal Society. He became secretary of the Royal Society in 1714, the same year he completed his degree at Cambridge. He was married to Elizabeth Sawbridge, and they had one child, a daughter, also named Elizabeth. Robert died in London in 1731 and was buried in St. Anne’s. His brother Herbert succeeded.

Herbert Taylor was a member of the clergy, being the rector of Hunton and the vicar of Patrixbourne. He married Mary Wake, and the couple had two sons: the oldest was Herbert who succeeded his father, and the younger was Edward who succeeded his brother. Reverend Taylor died September 29, 1763 and was buried in Patrixbourne. His older son Herbert never married, and died November 19, 1767 in London. He was only 36 years old. His brother Edward, now Reverend Edward Taylor, inherited. Reverend Edward Taylor was married to Margaret Paylor in 1769, and they had 5 sons and 6 daughters, the oldest being a son Edward born June 24, 1744, who was his father’s heir.

In 1770, the Jacobean house was demolished and a Georgian style house erected in its place. (Pictures of the later house can be seen at Lost Heritage: England's Lost Country Houses.) As Syrie James explained in her excellent post, the reverend moved his family to Europe due to financial constraints. Margaret died in Bruges April 27, 1780 at the age of 37. They returned to Bifrons, but financial problems continued to dog the family. It appears Reverend Edward Taylor died in 1798, and was succeeded by his son Edward. (Syrie’s article tells Edward’s story in detail.)

The house remained in Edward’s hands, but he moved to a nearby estate and leased Bifrons to John Loftus, the second Marquess of Ely in 1825. The Marquess was the first tenant and lived there 2 years between 1825-1827. In 1828, the house was let Anne Isabella (Annabella) Byron, baroness, Lord Byron’s estranged wife, and her daughter Ada. The house remained in the Taylor family’s hands until, about April of 1830, when Edward Taylor sold Bifrons House to Henry Burton Conyngham, 1st Marquess of Conyngham and his wife Elizabeth (born Dennison), realizing possibly as much as 100,000 pounds.

The Conynghams were an interesting couple. Henry Conyngham was born December 26, 1766, was Irish and succeeded his father as 3rd Baron Conyngham in 1787. He was later made Viscount Conyngham of Mountcharles in the Irish peerage in 1789. He married Elizabeth Dennison July 5, 1794. She was the daughter of a wealthy merchant turned banker. The couple was not themselves particularly well off, until Henry was rewarded for his support of union with Great Britain in the Irish Parliament. When the smoke cleared after the Act of Union passed, he received (among other benefits) 15,000 pounds for his borough in the Irish House of Commons and was made the Earl Conyngham in the Irish peerage. They had 2 sons and 2 daughters.
Elizabeth, Lady Conyngham
His wife’s friendship with the Prince Regent, later George IV, propelled them to court circles around 1812. She became the Prince’s last mistress around 1820. Lord Conyngham benefited from the friendship and her later position as mistress, receiving titles (including the title of Marquess in 1816), a position on the Privy Council and other benefices. Lady Conyngham became a person of influence at court, which lasted until George IV’s death early in the morning of June 26, 1830. Lady Conyngham left for Paris the next day. The Marquess remained in England, and died in London December 28, 1832, at the age of 66. He was succeeded by his oldest son Francis.

Print: The Cunning and Happy Family
(the Marquess of Conyngham is at the left seated on the chamberpot.) 1822
Lady Conyngham had not made herself popular while the king’s mistress, and consequently spent a great deal of time thereafter in Paris. She retained the use of the house until her death, apparently living there when not in Paris. Her son Francis, 2nd Marquess of Conyngham, did a great deal of work in Patrixbourne, including the remodelling of Bifrons House, especially after his mother’s death. She died in Bifrons House October 11, 1861. It appears that the family left the area permanently in 1874, but held the ownership of the property. It was leased to several different tenants including Frank Penn, a famous cricketer. The last tenants were Col. The Hon. Milo Talbot and his wife. Apparently, after the Colonel died in 1932, Mrs. Talbot continued to live in the house until shortly before, in 1939, it was requisitioned for use by the military; Canadian soldiers were housed there. It was used for military purposes until the war ended. It was razed in 1945, as it was deemed too damaged to repair.

Sources include:

See Bifrons House: The Beginning for the sources used.

GoogleBooks. Burke, John, Esq. A GENEALOGICAL AND HERALDIC HISTORY OF THE EXTINCT AND DORMANT BARONETCIES OF ENGLAND. London: Scott, Webster and Geary, 1848. P. 490. HERE; Burke, John Esq., A GENEALOGICAL AND HERALDIC HISTORY OF THE LANDED GENTRY; Or Commoners of Great Britain, Ireland Etc. Vol. III. London: Henry Colburn, 1839. P. 108. HERE; LA BELLE ASSEMBLEE, or Court and Fashionable Magazine. Vol XI from January to June 1830. No. LXIV April, 1830, p. 181. HERE

A Web of English History. “Lord and Lady Conyngham (1766-1832, 1769-1861).” Last modified January 12, 2016. Dr. Marjorie Bloy. HERE

Images from Wikimedia Commons

House: HERE

The Children of John Taylor: HERE


Elizabeth: HERE


Lauren Gilbert was introduced to English authors early in life. Lauren has a bachelor of arts degree in liberal arts English with a minor in Art History. A long-time member of JASNA, she has presented various programs at the South Florida Region, and a breakout session at the the Annual General Meeting in Ft. Worth, TX in 2011. She lives in Florida with her husband. Her first book HEYERWOOD: A Novel is available. She is finishing a second novel, A RATIONAL ATTACHMENT.

For more information, visit her website.

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