Landowner of Teddington & Twickenham
1724 - 1796
Acquires properties and land
John Davenport inherited Elmfield House in 1770 from his cousin Edward Holden who had lived here. Edward left the property first to John, then to his wife Rebecca Davenport and then to another cousin Simon Reeves of Twickenham who surrendered his reversion to John Davenport. It is thought that John and his wife Rebecca lived at The Lodge in Twickenham before he inherited the Teddington property and probably continued to live there. It is reported that Davenport enclosed an acre of ground here as a plantation in which his wife, who was an invalid, could take exercise. She died in 1776.
The Lodge (sometimes called Twickenham Lodge), a property near the junction of the Hampton Road and Wellesley Road, Twickenham surrounded by a substantial amount of land. He bought this property in 1772 from Edward Styles who had owned it since 1765. The property was leased to Francis Salvador who went over to America in 1773 to visit family property and did not return, having been shot and scalped by Cherokee Indians at the outset of the American War of Independence in 1776.
Abrasive and land-hungry
Over the years John Davenport acquired a considerable amount of property in Teddington including Bridgeman House on the south side of the High Street. Although he attended the Teddington Vestry meetings and took a considerable interest in the affairs here there is no evidence to suggest that he lived in Teddington although it is possible that he spent a short time in Elmfield House before his properties were leased by his tenants. In 1785 he had tenants in seven houses in Teddington.
Davenport appears to have been abrasive and land-hungry. His neighbour Horace Walpole, writing in 1785, commented that "...Mr Davenport, the King's Taylor (sic) on the Common, is a very litigious man and likely to give trouble - but I have always kept on good terms with him by great civility and little favours. He also pretends to a title to a shot in the same field, and to a piece of one of my (?) meadows; but I do not think that he has a right to the latter and do not at all believe he has any to the former. He has said that he would never molest me for my civility to him, but that he will assert his claims after my death..."
There was certainly no love lost between John Davenport and Walpole and in one of his letters to Miss Mary Berry he writes "The best news that I can tell you is that the public nuisance of this district Davenport seems growing frantic ... "He also calls him "Devilport" when he records that he had a poor women beaten when caught gleaning in his fields. But some of Walpole's stories may have been written to amuse Miss Berry. A young man staying with the curate in Teddington in 1792 visited John Davenport at his villa near Teddington where he says he lived in great hospitality "All his appointments were in first style and his table served with elegance and plenty"
Walpole actually outlived Davenport by a year so the issue probably never had to be resolved.
Davenport married twice: Rebecca, his first wife was buried at Teddington in 1776. His second wife, Elizabeth, was to be the first beneficiary of his estate. However, a codicil transferred the eventual inheritance to his godson John Davenport Bromfield via a cousin, Joshua Rose.
Anthony Beckles Willson, Strawberry Hill - A History of the Neighbourhood, Strawberry Hill Residents Association, 1991
Pamela A Ching, Teddington in1800 - the Year of the Enclosure, Borough of Twickenham Local History Society Paper No 51, 1983
R S Cobbett, Memorials of Twickenham, 1872
Manor Court Records, with extracts from Davenport's will
James Gifford, Letters, 1792