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The Third Baronet of Tregullow

Biography 
 
Sir William Robert Williams (1860-1903)


Eton and Sandhurst
Sir William Robert Williams was born on 23 Feb 1860 in Tregullow, Scorrier, Gwennap, Cornwall. He was the eldest son and second child of Sir Frederick Martin Williams (1830-1878), the 2nd Baronet of Tregullow, an MP and a magistrate. His mother was Mary Christian Law (1839-1892), daughter of the Rev. Robert Law1, who bore Sir Frederick a total of eleven children. Sir William was educated at Eton and the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst.2

Goonvrea Manor (1871)
William Robert Williams's childhood home was Goonvrea Manor, a large country house built on the slopes of Cove Hill, in Perranarworthal, near Truro, Cornwall. In 1871, Sir Frederick Martin Williams (41) and Mary Christian Williams (32) were living there with eight children.

Siblings
The 1871 England Census recorded the following persons living at Goonvrea Manor (age in brackets):

1. Caroline Sydney Williams: 12
2. William Robert Williams: 11
3. Mary Christian Williams: 10
4. Beatrice Julia Williams: 7
5. Edward Harvey Williams: 6
6. Claude Albert Williams: 6
7. Leonard Alfred Williams: 3
8. Amy Gertrude Williams: 1

Household (1871)
The household William Robert Williams grew up in was run by 10 domestic servants: governess, nurse, nursery maid, cook, kitchen maid, butler, page [ed. uncommon], two housemaids and a lady maid. 

Other siblings
Sir William's other children who were not living in Goonvrea Manor in 1871 were:
9. Bertram Leopold Williams (b. 1871, after the census)
10. Frederick Law Williams (b. 1863), 7th Baronet of Tregullow
11. Victor George Williams (b. 1874)

Fire demolishes Goonvrea Manor (1880)
In 1880, two years after William Robert Williams's father died, the manor burnt down and the remains were demolished. The land on which Goonvrea Manor once stood is now an upmarket housing estate.

Tredrea Manor
Sir Frederick had also owned another grand house close by, Tredrea Manor, where he had large stables and a barn built. Although these buildings still exist today, the house was originally converted into a hotel, but  since then has been turned into flats, as have Tredrea's stable block and barn.3

Family moves to Bristol (1881)
After the fire, the family, which by then was headed by Mary Christian Williams, moved to Auburn House in the Clifton area of Bristol, Gloucestershire. The family included Caroline Sydney, Beatrice, both unmarried, and five sons: Edward, Leonard, Ernest, Victor and Bertram. Mary Williams must have been left well provided for, as she was running a household together with five domestic servants, including a cook and a page, but was not employed herself.     

Baronetcy and marriage
William Robert Williams became the 3rd Baronet of Tregullow, as was the custom, on the death of his father on 3 Sep 1878. While his mother, brothers and sisters were living in Bristol in 1881, Sir William (21) was living separately in Heanton House, Heanton Punchardon, Barnstaple, Devon, with his brother Frederick Law Williams (18). The house was being run by John (62) and Susan (51) Holland, butler and cook, respectively. Sir Williams's 'rank, profession or occupation' is recorded as 'baronet', and his brother's 'gentleman'.

Marriage
Sir William Robert Williams married Matilda Frances Beauchamp (b. 1860), the eldest daughter of Sir E. Beauchamp Beauchamp of Trevince, Cornwall4, on 13 July 1881. The couple had one daughter and three sons:5
- Frances Maria Williams (dau.)
- Sir William Frederick Williams: 4th Baronet of Tregullow (b. 1886)
- Sir Frederick William Williams: 5th Baronet of Tregullow (b. 1888)
- Sir Burton Robert Williams: 6th Baronet of Tregullow (b. 1889)

Uppcott House (1891)
By April 1891, Sir William had moved to Uppcott House in the town of Morthoe, Pilton, Devon, where he worked as a local magistrate. He lived there with his wife, eight domestic servants including a butler, a footman and a ladies maid, and his four children:6
1. Frances Maria Williams: 8
2. William Frederick Williams: 4
3. Frederick William Williams: 3
4. Burton Robert Williams: 1

'Tregullow Offices' (1891-1902)
Sir William occupied the Tregullow Offices (later Zimapan), renting the building from Charles A.V. Conybeare from ±1891-1902.7 The Tregullow Offices had been used as a mine office by Williams & Sons to administer all the company's various mining and business interests8, and is thought to have been the place where the mine captain paid the miners their wages. The Tregullow Offices were originally owned by Sir William Robert Williams, because he sold the property in 1889 to Edward Carleton Holmes, who then sold it on immediately to Charles Conybeare. The building then doubled as a dwellinghouse. Although the 1902 Indenture confirms that Sir William actually occupied the Tregullow Offices and dwellinghouse from 1891, his primary residence at that time was in Morthoe, Devon.

Offices & occupations
Sir William held the following offices:
1. Captain of the 3rd Brigade, West Division of the Royal Artillery.
2. Deputy Lieutenant of Devon.
3. Member of the Cornwall County Council.
4. Morthoe's magistrate (1891).

Breeder of Devon cattle
He was well known in the Western counties as a breeder of Devon cattle and as a sportsman. His herd of Devon cattle was probably one of the best in the country, and he was a frequent exhibitor at leading shows.9

Passion for hunting
For several years he kept a pack of harriers10, which he hunted in the neighbourhood of Barnstaple, Devon. These he relinquished to become master of the Stevenston fox-hounds, which he hunted for five years, and when he retired from the position of Master, he was presented with his portrait. Afterwards, he hunted the country north of Barnstaple with a pack of his own fox-hounds, and much later he hunted the Exmoor country.11

Twilight years
Sometime after 1891, Sir William moved to Oare House, Lynton, Devonshire. On Saturday 16 May 1903, Sir William died suddenly from cardiac failure aged just 42. He died in the presence of Charles Goss who was living in Springfield Lodge, Marwood.12 His wife, Matilda Frances Williams, survived him by forty-three years, passing away on 25 May 1946.

Jinxed family
The family must have been jinxed. Sir William himself died relatively young, as did his three sons, none of whom attained the age of 29:
- Sir William Frederick Williams died in 1905 aged 19
- Sir Frederick William Williams died in 1913 aged 25
- Sir Burton Robert Williams died 1917 aged 28, killed in action during WW1

Fate of the baronetcy
None of Sir William's sons ever married and none had children. His daughter, Frances Williams, on the other hand, married Captain John F. Richardson, but there were no children from the marriage. This particular line of the Williams family and their entitlement to the baronetcy had come to an end. Frances Williams divorced in 1926. Sir William's younger brother, Sir Frederick Law Williams (54), took over the baronetcy and became the 7th Baronet of Tregullow until 1921.


Footnotes
1. WRW's obituary, The Times, 18 May 1903.
2. As f/n 1.
3. Historic Environment Service, Cornwall County Council, 2005.
4. As f/n 1.
5. DOBs from www.thePeerage.com.
6. The 1891 England Census.
7. Ian K. Nelson, Portsmouth, 2009.
8. The Book of St Day, Mills & Annear.
9. As f/n 1.
10. Harehounds.
11. As f/n 1.
12. Death certificate, 20 May 1903.