Juliana Elizabeth Byron
Aunt of Lord Byron the Poet
c1753 - 1788
Juliana Elizabeth Byron was a daughter of Vice-Admiral John Byron (1723-1786), and Sophia, née Trevanion. The admiral was a younger brother of William Byron, 5th Baron Rochdale (1722-98) of Newstead Abbey in Nottinghamshire.
In 1771 Juliana eloped with William’s son, the hon William Byron, her 1st cousin, heir to the barony and the Newstead Abbey estate and already betrothed to a lady of substance. William’s father was angered by the marriage, which he regarded as marginally incestuous. Worse, Juliana, herself the daughter of first cousins, had insufficient portion to contribute usefully to an estate encumbered with debt. So, following the marriage at Gretna Green and estranged from his father, they went to live at Pinner. The union was short-lived: William junior died, aged 26, only five years later, in 1776 and was buried at St Mary’s Church, Twickenham. There was a son of the marriage, born in 1772, also William, and now the heir to the Barony, However, joining the army, he was killed in 1794 at Calvi, Corsica. His death, in his grandfather’s lifetime, diverted succession in the barony to George Gordon Byron, son of Juliana’s sister Catherine, known better as Lord Byron, the poet.
William's burial at St Mary's suggests that the Byrons had moved to Twickenham by 1776. Widowed, Juliana was certainly there in 1778, possibly attracted to the place where her Berkeley ancestors had lived, at Twickenham Park, in the previous century. Here she was joined by her mother-in-law, and daughter Caroline her sister-in-law, refugees from the desolation created at Newstead by her father-in-law.* He had sold most of the furniture in the house, pillaged the estate for commercial timber, killed over 2,000 deer and left the property virtually uninhabitable, although he remained there, solitary, until his death in 1798.
A number of other family burials at St Mary's Church in Twickenham took place during this period, perhaps indicative that the family vault at Hucknall Torkard was not available during the life time of the 5th Baron. On 18 September 1779 Juliana's sister Sophia was buried at St Mary's, to be joined five years later by Caroline, on 20 November 1784.
When Juliana's father, Admiral Byron, died in 1786, he was brought for burial in St Mary's Church, Twickenham. Being, through his mother, the Hon. Frances Berkeley, a descendant of John Berkeley, 1st Baron Berkeley of Stratton, he was placed in the Berkeley vault.
Finally, on 10 May, 1789 Henry George Byron, described in the Register as “the honble” was buried at St Mary's. It is thought that he was a younger brother of the admiral, born in 1730 and uncle to Juliana. Her mother-in-law, Lady Byron, died in 1788 and was buried in the family vault at Besthorpe in Norfolk. Her mother died at Bath in 1790 and was buried in the abbey there.
Juliana married again, Sir Robert Wilmot, 2nd Baronet of Osmaston in Derbyshire, on 23 September 1783 and it can be assumed that by this time she had moved away from Twickenham.
It has not been established just where Juliana lived in Twickenham: she is not recorded as a ratepayer in the Churchwardens Accounts for the period. However, it can be suggested that she might have been staying in one of the three houses forming the demesne known as Copt Hall, as a tenant of Lady Anne Connolly (1713-97) who had moved there from Riverside in 1774. Lady Anne's daughter Frances was married to General William Howe, brother of Admiral Earl Howe who was a contemporary of Admiral Byron. Indeed, Copt Hall (and the area) was a popular retirement base for admirals. Among these, Admiral Martin had owned the property, joined there by Admiral Fox, and Admiral Sir George Pocock retired to Orleans House in 1763.
* see /,b/.Byron & Newstead: The Aristocrat and the Abbey, J V Becket, Sheila Aley, University of Delaware Press, 2001, p75: “shortly after the 1778 sale (of the contents of Newstead), Lady Byron and her daughter Caroline, Byron's only surviving child, left to live with the widowed Juliana in Twickenham.”