William James Dunderdale (1847-1895)

William James Dunderdale was a surveyor, civil engineer and land agent.


He was born on 4 December 1847, the son of Whitley Beaumont Estate land agent and steward Thomas Dunderdale of Whitley Hall and his wife Mary Eliza, and was baptised on 18 February 1848 at St. John the Baptist, Kirkheaton.

By 1871, the family had moved to Grove Place, Long Lane, Dalton, where William James (aged 23) was working as a land surveyor and civil engineer.

He married Florence Laycock in 1879 at Sheffield. It was around this time that his father retired and William James took over the stewardship of the Whitley Beaumont Estate. The couple's children are known to have included:

  • Gladys Dunderdale (1881-1961)[1]
  • Annie Dunderdale Dunderdale (1884-1961)[2]
  • Geoffrey Dunderdale (1886-?)[3]

In May 1879, he wrote to Huddersfield Corporation on behalf of his employer, Henry Frederick Beaumont, offering over 30 acres of land in Crosland Moor "to the town of Huddersfield for a public park." Ultimately the land was thought unsuitable and Beaumont was instead persuaded to offer Dungeon Wood, which was formally opened as Beaumont Park in 1883.[4]

At the time of 1881 Census, the couple were visiting Thomas, who was a widower residing at Bellomonte, Lepton.[5]

By the summer of 1890, ill-health forced him to resign from his stewardship of the estate. In July, a meeting of tenants held at the Beaumont Arms Inn in South Crosland led to the following letter being sent to Dunderdale in July 1890:[6]

Dear sir. We, the tenants on the estate of H.F. Beaumont, Esq., M.P., having learned with deep regret that on account of a protracted illness you have been compelled to give up your office as steward for the Whitley Beaumont estates, hereby beg to express our unfeigned sympathy with you in your sickness, and we hope and trust that it may please an all-wise Providence soon to restore you to your wonted health and strength. We could not allow you to leave the stewardship without a reference to the mutual goodwill which has always been maintained between you, as steward, and us, as tenants, and we trust the recollection of that good feeling may be strongly cemented by our most sincere expressions for your future welfare and happiness, and lastly, for a complete restoration of your health.

His response was reported as:

Gentlemen, I beg you to accept my most sincere thanks for the very gratifying letter of sympathy and regret which you have been kind enough to address to me. I am very sorry that the state of my health leaves me no alternative but to sever my connection with the Whitley Beaumont estates, a connection which my friendly relations with you have always contributed to render so pleasant, but your kind wishes and the expression of your kindly feeling, which I value most highly, and most cordially reciprocate, soften somewhat the keen sense of regret which the severance of my connection with you occasions. I hope that I should have had an opportunity of taking leave of you personally, but as I am strictly enjoined to avoid all excitement, I fear it will be impossible for me to do so in the short interval which will elapse before I leave England. I shall always look back with pleasure on the period of my association with you and beg to assure you of my continued lively interest in the best wishes of your welfare and prosperity.

At the end of July, H.F. Beaumont wrote to his tenants and noted, "You will be glad to hear that our mutual friend Mr. W.J. Dunderdale was evidently better the last time I heard of him — a few days ago."[7]

In October 1890, it was reported that Dunderdale was intending to travel to South Africa. The tenants of the South Crosland estate had bought him a "silver salver and travelling bag" as a token of respect. He replied, "Your gifts will be most highly prized, and will serve to remind me, if any reminder were needed, of what I cannot but regard as the happiest period of my life."[8]

It is assumed he did indeed travel abroad as the family is absent from the 1891 Census. However, he returned to England as some point prior to his death.

William James Dunderdale died on 30 November 1895 at Boscombe, Hampshire, aged 47, leaving an estate valued at £11,449 11s. 7d.

Florence then moved to "Woodsome"[9], Cecil Road, Bournemouth (1901 Census), then to 10 Victoria Place, Eastbourne (1911 Census) and finally to "Kirkheaton", Hartfield Road, Eastbourne. It was at this last address that she died on 30 September 1918, aged 60.

Gladys and Annie D. Dunderdale did not marry and were living together at Nethercroft, Battle, Sussex, at the time of the 1939 Register. They both died in January 1961 at St. Helen's Hospital, Hastings, and were buried together at St Bartholomew, Burwash, East Sussex. Between them, they left an estate valued at over £21,000.

Geoffrey Dunderdale studied medicine and moved to East Africa circa 1910, He is known to have lived in Kenya in the 1940s.

Notes and References

  1. Born 21 October 1881. Died 7 January 1961.
  2. Born 27 April 1884. Died 29 January 1961. Her name was usually recorded as "Annie D. Dunderdale" but her full name appears in her probate entry.
  3. Born 23 October 1886 in Scarborough and baptised on 22 December 1886 at Holy Trinity Church, Highfields. Worked as a medical practitioner (1911 Census). Curiously, he appears twice in the 1911 Census — at Eastbourne with his widowed mother and also as a House Surgeon at Guy's Hospital, London. Moved to Africa and served as a medical officer in the East African Medical Service of the Royal Air Force from circa 1918 to 1920. Known to have lived in Kenya in the 1940s.
  4. "Offer of Land of a Public Park" in Huddersfield Chronicle (21/May/1879).
  5. William Bellomonte was an ancestor of the Beaumonts of Whitley.
  6. "Mr. W.J. Dunderdale and the Tenantry on the Whitley Beaumont Estates" in Huddersfield Chronicle (24/Jul/1890).
  7. "Remission of Rent by Mr. H.F. Beaumont, M.P." in Huddersfield Chronicle (02/Aug/1890).
  8. "South Crosland" in Huddersfield Chronicle (11/Oct/1890).
  9. Perhaps a reference to Woodsome Hall.