The Twickenham Museum
People : Landowners and Gentry

Richard Ell
Retired Sea Captain
c1705 - 1774

Captain Richard Ell came to live in Twickenham, paying rates from 1648, with his wife Elizabeth, son Richard and two daughters. He may have been the Richard Ell, Master of a ship called “Increase” sailing from Virginia to England in July1635, indicating that he was a mariner. Between 1648 and 1672, when he appears to have gone to live elsewhere, he acquired or leased a substantial amount of property and land in Twickenham and Isleworth. In particular, this included a lease of the crown land of the Orleans House estate then known as The Queen’s Farm, and the neighbouring property later owned by the Earl of Strafford and later known as Mount Lebanon.

Twickenham properties

In the 1661 Survey of the parish He was assessed for 7 houses and 46 acres of land, although only two of the houses can as yet be identified with certainty from the descriptions:

1 The house Dr Fuller lives in
with the orchards
2 The house Mr Bretton lives in
3 The farme house & orchard he now
lives in
4 The great Orchard
5 The great new house in the Lane
6 The two other new houses
7 Mrs Blacketts house

With the 46 acres he was the 5th largest property owner in the parish, which then included Whitton.

Samuel Pepys's friend Dr William Fuller was teaching at a school on the riverside here between about 1658 and 1661. His house (1) was bought by Henry Plumptre (1644-93) in 1688 and by Lord Raby in 1701 (created Earl of Strafford in 1713), being rebuilt in 1791 and later named Mount Lebanon. Richard Ell probably lived in this house between 1648 and.1652.

detail from Ralph Tresswell's map of 1607 showing the land occupied by Sir James Pemberton

Predecessors of Orleans House

The farm house (3) was known as the Queen's Farm, being the predecessor on the site of the house built in 1710 by Secretary Johnston and later known as Orleans House. The estate is first recorded, or at least the land it occupied, leased by the Crown to Sir Thomas Newenham in 1567, Sir James Pemberton in 1607 and then to Andrew Pitcarne in 1622 on a 30 year lease. His widow, Charity took over the lease when he died in 1640 and the estate was described in detail in the Parliamentary survey of 1649/50*. The Survey noted Captain Ell's claim to be the “immediate /tenant” of the premises although he had not shown title. The house, with a nearby small cottage stood 20 poles (say110yards) from the river bank at that time. The house was demolished and replaced with a new house in about 1662, by Richard Webb. This house was later occupied by Mrs Jane Davies and itself demolished in about 1706 to make way for Secretary Johnston's house.

Connections with St Mary's Church

On 31 March 1662 Captain Ell was awarded the pew that had been Captain Hacker's, and on 23 June he was moved to a pew that had been built by Dr Fuller, now departed. In 1689 this pew was acknowledged to belong to “the great house in which Mr Plumptre now liveth in”. There was, perhaps, an implication that Richard was living in this house at this time, having moved from the farm house.

Richard Ell served as Churchwarden in 1656, for one year only. In that year the Vestry sold him the redundant font for 13/4d. Referred to as “a certain stone”, it had been deposited in the church porch. Why he wanted this and what use he made of it was not related, nor what eventually became of the stone.

Departure from Twickenham

Richard Ell left Twickenham in about 1672, and went to live at Wallingford where he died and was buried in 1677. Elizabeth, his widow remained at Wallingford, dying there in 1684 desiring to be buried in St Peter's Church graveyard beside her husband.

He made his will on 1 January 1675/6 (proved April 1677 PCC Prob11/353). In it, he left specific property to his wife Elizabeth: “my house at the corner of the Wall now in the possession of James Hopkins and thirty and four acres of land in Twickenham and Isleworth. His son Richard was left a lifetime allowance of £3 each quarter and on the death of Elizabeth his entire real estate was to pass to a grandchild, Henry Gooding and to his heirs. This estate was described as: “all my real estate and all those houses and lands and Wharfe Ground of the Queen's houlding…”. In this way he had created an entail, so that when Elizabeth died she had virtually nothing to leave, and her Will reflected this (proved 1684 PCC Prob11/376). She left little more than her personal belongings to her daughter-in-law Abigail Eustace

Richard's will was to be overseen by his well beloved sonnes in law Thomas Eustace and George Gooding. Elizabeth's reference to her daughter-in-law Abigail Eustace may suggest that Richard, too, had married into this family. He is not mentioned in her Will.


further reading:

*Parliamentary Survey of Premises at Twickenham, in 1650. Copy made for George Pocock Esq, London Metropolitan Archives ACC 232/4

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