The Twickenham Museum
People : Writers, Poets and Historians

Sarah Disraeli
Benjamin Disraeli's sister who lived in St Margaret's

Sarah Disraeli was born at 6 Kings Road, Bedford Row London, the daughter of Isaac (1766-1848) and Miriam (Maria), née Basevi (1774-1847) the aunt of the architect, George Basevi. She was the eldest of five, her younger brother being Benjamin (1804-1881). Sarah was educated at home and lived for much of her life under the influence of her father, in effect becoming his secretary. In 1817, apparently advised by the historian Sharon Turner, Isaac had his four surviving children baptised at St Andrew's church, Islington. It was held that membership of the established church conveyed social advantages. In 1821 Sarah became engaged to William Meredith. The marriage was postponed because William's uncle was opposed to a marriage with someone of the Jewish faith and, in 1830, William was sent on a year's travel with Benjamin. While in Egypt he contracted smallpox and died on 19 July 1831. In 1829 Isaac had moved the family to Bradenham Manor near High Wycombe. Sarah never married and, while continuing to live with her parents, she became closely involved in Benjamin's political and literary career.. They even wrote a book together in 1834: A Year at Hartlebury or The Election. Hartlebury was a synonym for Bradenham, near High Wycombe where Benjamin twice stood for election to parliament, unsuccessfully.

1848 at St Margarets, Twickenham

Sarah's mother Miriam died at Bradenham in 1847 and Isaac on 19 January 1848. With his death the lease of Bradenham expired and Sarah had to move out. She went briefly to Hastings before taking a suite of furnished rooms in no3 Ailsa Park Villas, St Margareta, Twickenham. Ten years earlier, in the summer of 1838, no4 (now Drayton House) had been occupied by Charles Dickens.

Ailsa Park Villas, a row of eight detached and a pair of semi detached houses had been built on the edge of the TwickenhamPark estate during the 1830s. The estate had been acquired by Joseph Todd in 1818. The old mansion had been demolished by the previous owner, Francis Gosling, and Todd erected a new house to the designs of Leonard Wild Lloyd, completed in 1828. Todd also commissioned Lloyd to design the Villas.

During 1859 Sarah became seriously ill and on 19 December died, at her brother Ralph's house, 73 Gloucester Place, Hyde Park. It has been claimed that she actually died at Twickenham from a stroke but this may be incorrect because the Grant of Probate states that she was actually 'formerly' of Ailsa Park Villas. She bequeathed the whole of her estate to Ralph.

further reading:

Disraeli, Benjamin. Benjamin Disraeli Letters. eds. Gunn, J.A.W et al . Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1982

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