Owners of the Tile Kilns owners over the years

Green Lanes Pottery, Tile Kilns - view northwards

At the time of the heyday of the Tile Kilns in the 19th century, it was normal for heads of businesses to lease the the property from which they worked.

This page documents the various ownerships of the Tile Kilns. These are quite distinct from the directors or managers of the work there.


The owners

Contributed by Peter Maggs

Nathanial Vye Lee

"Green Lanes in the parish of Tottenham in the County of Middlesex in the Occupation of William Scales" is wording towards the end of the will of Nathaniel Vye Lee of Ilfracombe dated June 1849. The will was proved 14th Jan 1850, but Nathaniel Vye Lee must have died by 9/11/1849 when another paper was signed but no earlier than 17/7/1849 when a codicil to the will was made. A copy of the will etc is available online for a small fee from the government's Public Records Office. I imagine the original writers of the 1850, 1870 and 1880 references to him on your website had not realised that Nathaniel had died in 1849.

James Lee who married Mary Vye at Ilfracombe 1776 were the parents of Nathaniel Vye Lee who was born two years later. The will mentions an ancestral tomb at Ilfracombe Church.

There is a reference in the London Gazette 9 Nov 1822 of Nathaniel Vye Lee's partnership with William Dennis and William Huxtable as Merchants, Shipwrights and Ship Owners at Ilfracombe being dissolved on 15th July 1822. The Gazette for 15th Oct 1825 announced that he had retired from the banking partnership with William Blackmore Vye, Nathaniel Vye and Edward Gaydon a week previously. Ilfracombe's Vye and Harris bank lasted from 1807 to 1836 when it became the 1st to be taken over by the National Provincial Bank (now NatWest).

Walter Raleigh Gilbert and John Pomeroy Gilbert

The Green Lanes property seems to have been left in the will to Walter Raleigh Gilbert, captain Royal Horse Artillery, and I think equally to John Pomeroy Gilbert esq the younger of Barnstaple (the copy of the will is not easy to read). The will mentions Otho as the son of John.

Walter Raleigh Gilbert lived from 1813 to 1896. He became Lieutenant Colonel 1st Cornwall Artillery Volunteers and Chief Constable of that county and had a son, grandson and uncle of the same name. The 1881 census shows one of the dtr's of W R G to be Limerick born aged 29, so he might not have been around the tile works much shortly after inheriting. There is a 144 ft obelisk at Bodmin to Walter, the uncle, (father of Sir Francis Hastings Gilbert, British consul, Scutari) who died in 1853 having reached the rank of Lieutenant-General, but he was in the Bengal infantry /fusiliers (India /Khyber Pass etc) so is not to be confused with the Royal Horse Artillery one in the Nathaniel Vye Lee's will. The only son of the Walter in the will first married Clara, the sister of J C Williams of Caerhay's Castle (renowned for camellia and rhododendron cultivation) and after her death married his cousin, a grand-daughter of the Lieutenant-General.

The John and Walter in the will were brothers whose middle names can be explained by their family background. Their father, also called John Pomeroy Gilbert, was a Cornish vicar. In the 18th century a Pomeroy married one of his ancestors who was descended from Sir Humphrey Gilbert, the explorer (Sir Walter Raleigh's half brother). Otho was also the name of the father and great-grandfather of Sir Humphrey. The Gilbert family seat, Compton. a fortified house (National Trust) is not far from the ruined Berry Pomeroy Castle in Devon, where the Pomeroys who came over with the Conqueror lived until an army Sir Thomas led was defeated in 1549 in a riot near Exeter. The distinctive names of the brothers and their relations helped me identify them in various sources, I recently checked the lineage of the Copners and Gilberts at the library in Burke's Landed Gentry but found the on-line copy easier to use (a day's subscription can be purchased and it is then possible to explore various connections of the families in Burke's Peerage records). I have a Dictionary of National Biography CD which gives the Major General's biography and a Who's Who 1897-1996 CD with some recent and current relatives of Walter.

As Nathaniel Vye Lee's will described John Pomeroy Gilbert as from Barnstaple, I looked for prominent Gilberts there in the book "Barnstaple 1837-1897" by W F Gardiner. This mentions a J P Gilbert who (like N V L) was a banker. He was the manager at the National Provincial Bank at Cross St, Barnstaple taking over from a proprietor of the former North Devon Bank, who had retained the power to make that appointment. He also became the second person to manage the West of England and South Wales District Bank branch in Bridge Buildings, Barnstaple opened in 1845. Another manager of a later bank to use those premises was also the son of a churchman, in his case the Parson Jack Russell of terrier fame. John's son Otho later worked in a Plymouth bank. I don't know if John was born in Cornwall or Bristol; sources on the Latter Day Saints' website differ. John's second marriage in 1867 was to Mary Copner, the grand-daughter of Nathaniel Vye Lee's business partner Nathaniel Vye. The Copners, Lees and and my Vye ancestors all lived in Ilfracombe.

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