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Middelton Mini-Biographies

Clara Middelton William Middelton

William and Clara Middelton (1760-1847) Originally named William Constable, this fortunate younger son inherited the Middelton estates through his grandmother and took up the name and arms of Middelton. But it was the longest and most expensive divorce case in history that made William Middelton's name known throughout the country. William at first refused to believe his servants' stories about his wife Clara and the groom John Rose, but once compelling evidence made him reconsider he expelled them from the house and pursued them through the courts with extraordinary tenacity. His retirement to Myddelton Lodge and lack of enthusiasm for development ensured that Ilkley remained a rural retreat quite unlike its neighbours at Burley and Addingham.

More about the divorce

Peter MiddeltonPeter Middelton (1785-1866) Though William had ten children only three survived him. His eldest son Peter had no grasp of financial affairs and caused much of the family's decline by mortgaging the family estates beyond hope of redemption. His 'immense family' of eleven children, all of whom survived him, provides some excuse. Dominated by his bullying wife Juliana, it was said that he 'enjoys his liberty amazingly' after her death. As a result of his extravagances the whole of the manor of Ilkley was put up for auction but Peter's death the day after the advertisement for sale appeared thwarted the scheme.

William MiddeltonWilliam Middelton (1815-1885) William Middelton continued the family decline by living beyond his means. After his father's death in 1866 he started the sale of the manor of Ilkley in lots, and it was his agents who designed the new town of Ilkley which replaced the backwards village which had stood there before. Together they managed to instil confidence in the future prosperity of Ilkley and by encouraging investors and speculators raised a huge sum from land sales over several years. Middelton never married but evidence abounds of his amorous indiscretions, which led in one instance to two boys from Germany, apparently his illegitimate sons, appearing in Ilkley and demanding money.

More about Middelton's putative sons

Charles MiddeltonCharles Middelton (1820-1904) Charles was William's younger brother and Ilkley's last 'squire'. He shared the family's incompetence in financial matters and in 1866 was forced to sell his attractive country mansion at Linton Spring as he could not afford to keep it. It was during his time that the manorial rights of Ilkley were sold to the local authority and in 1892 he and his family left the town. Myddelton Lodge was subsequently let to tenants, and Stockeld Park sold.

Find out how Charles' younger brother John adopted a girl from Otley Workhouse

Lionel MiddeltonThe last generation - Charles Middelton had four children, none of whom married. The eldest, Marmaduke, who inherited what was left of the family estates, continued the pattern of mortgage and sale. Said to have been a gambler who suffered heavy losses, he finished his days living on the charity of distant relatives. His brother Reginald became a Jesuit priest, and another, Lionel, after an unfortunate incident in Northumberland in which a maid was shot and killed, retreated overseas and ended his days in a remote settlement in Western Australia. Like many of the family their sister Hilda suffered from mental illness and disappears from view just after 1900.

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