Map of the week: a century of Bradford Hailstones

As I work on the reserve map collection the same local land-owners appear regularly. Examples are: Rev. Godfrey Wright, Mrs Giles and Miss Dawson. Godfrey Wright owned a great deal of property around Bradford, but seemingly lived near Doncaster. ‘Mrs Giles’ was clearly a member of a family who owned much of Horton, and she sold the land on which the Bradford workhouse (later St Luke’s Hospital) was built. ‘Miss Dawson’ was probably Eliza Dawson, grand-daughter of Joseph Dawson, partner in the Low Moor Iron Company. The name of Samuel Hailstone also occurs regularly. His importance to Bradford, and his fame as a Yorkshire naturalist, will ensure that his memory stays green.

Samuel Hailstone (1768-1851) was that rare combination, a lawyer and a botanist. His brother John Hailstone MA FRS took holy orders and became a professor of geology at Cambridge. Samuel himself was born in Hoxton, London but his family soon moved to York. In time he became articled to John Hardy, a Bradford solicitor, and Hardy & Hailstone eventually became partners. John Hardy was elected an MP and was the father of another politician Gathorne Gathorne-Hardy who was created Earl of Cranbrook. I understand that Samuel and John Hardy were the moving spirits behind the 1803 Bradford Improvement Act. More than forty years before Bradford became a borough this act established commissioners with a variety of local government powers such as street cleaning, lighting, and water provision.

Samuel continued to practise as a solicitor and was later in partnership with the Thomas Mason who became a director of the Bolling Iron Company and lived at Bolling Hall (see the previous map). Samuel Hailstone was the classic example of a wealthy and highly successful professional man. His politics were Liberal and, slightly unusually for non-conformist Bradford, he was an Anglican. He purchased the Bolton House estate although he never resided there. I get the impression that Yorkshire botany and geology were Samuel’s main interests. A collection of more than 2000 plant specimens was passed to the Yorkshire Museum on his death. But despite these studies he was active in issues affecting his chosen town. He helped found the Bradford Literary & Philosophical Society and also the Mechanics Institute. He served as a major in the Bradford Volunteer Infantry and was clerk to the Trustees of the Leeds and Halifax Turnpike Road.

This brings us to the maps. In Samuel Hailstone 1837 he offered for sale the land between Croft Street & Bridge Street. A small portion of a very large sale plan is illustrated here.

Map of the Week 011A

A second map shows land further south which is also divided into lots. This map is stylistically very similar and shows Samuel’s place of business and house. What is now called Croft Street took its name from Croft House, in Bowling Lane (now Manchester Road) which was was where Samuel lived in his early years.

Map of the Week 011B

In 1808, quite late in life, Samuel married Ann Jones, the daughter of a Bradford surgeon, and the couple had several children.  Samuel died at Horton Hall, Bradford in 1851. In his census return for that year he indicates that he is living alone, except for a house-keeper and five servants.

The Hailstones were a very high achieving family. One son, Samuel jnr., was also a noted amateur naturalist and a collector of crustacea. He pre-deceased his father in 1841. There were two surviving sons, Rev John Hailstone (1810-1871), the vicar of Bottisham, Cambridgeshire, and Edward Hailstone FSA (1818-1890). Edward took over the Bradford legal practice but is famous for a huge assembly of books and documents relating to Yorkshire history, especially those of the Sharp family who were the previous owners of Horton Hall. This was the project of his retirement when he lived at Walton Hall, near Wakefield. At his death the collection was left to the archives of York Minster where it can still be consulted today.

Derek Barker, Local Studies Library Volunteer

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