The Naylor wealth came from a Liverpool banking concern, Leyland and Bullins, which was started up by Thomas Leyland who, it is said, had three ambitions:
- To make a fortune – which he did several times over;
- To become Lord Mayor of Liverpool – he became Mayor three times;
- To found a dynasty – the only one of his ambitions which he failed to achieve, as he died childless.
As a result, his fortune went to his two nephews Richard and Christopher Bullin, who were bachelors, with a condition that on their death the Leyland Entailed Estates, a partnership in the banking firm of Leyland and Bullins, went to his great nephews, Thomas, Richard, and John Naylor.
Thomas Leyland was born in Knowsley, near Liverpool in 1752. He worked for a short time with Edward Bridge and Company, Coopers, and then entered the service of Gerald Dillon, an Irish merchant. He became a partner in 1774 (aged 22) borrowing £500 (£49,100 at current values) from three friends to invest in the business.
In the late 18th Century Liverpool was thriving, enjoying a prosperous trade with the West Indies in sugar, rum and privateering that was growing out of the European Wars, and in addition it had a large share in the African slave trade. Liverpool’s prosperity was based on the slave trade. It has been estimated that slavery generated a staggering £15 million in Liverpool in one year alone. In the late 18th Century and early 19th Century that would have been wealth on a scale only equalled today in the City of London’s money markets.
Leyland was not slow at grabbing his opportunities. Dillon and Leyland in 1776 won the State Lottery worth £20,000 (£2,100,000 in current values) with a £7 stake (£735 in current values). Leyland married his former employer’s daughter, Ellen Bridge, in may 1777. Edward Bridge died and his widow carried on with the business. When she died in 1782 Leyland and his wife inherited one third of the estate.
Christopher Bullin, a Staffordshire Ware merchant, married Thomas Leyland’s sister Margaret. Bullin became bankrupt in 1778 and Leyland acquired his premises. Thomas Leyland appears to have had a great regard for his sister’s two sons Richard and Christopher Bullin and her daughter Dorothy. In 1809 Dorothy married a John Naylor of Hartford Hill, Cheshire. They had three sons, Thomas, Richard and John.
In 1779 Dillon and Leyland took a one-sixteenth share in the privateer “Enterprize” trading in pork, beef, olive oil, sherry, oats etc.. Leyland became a 50% partner. In 1780 he dissolved the partnership with Gerald Dillon and formed Thomas Leyland and Company. He became Mayor of Liverpool in 1798 (the first of three times, the others being 1814 and 1820). The records show that Leyland took into partnership his nephew Richard Bullin. He traded in olive oil from Spain, Peruvian bark, sherry wines in butts and hogsheads, ox-beef , pork in barrels, butter, oats, hides and white herrings in barrels. He also embarked on the African slave trade, amassing a huge sum of money. His partners in the slave trade were his nephew Richard Bullin and William Molyneux.
Hugh Thomas’s book on the slave trade includes a letter, dated 18th July 1803, from the owners of the Enterprize (Leyland half share, Bullin and Molyneux quarter share each) to their Captain Cesar Lawson instructing him what slaves to purchase: they must be males, as they are looking at the Spanish market. The Enterprize was only registered for 400 slaves per ship. There are also instructions on what to do if they capture a prize (remember we were at war with France at the time).
His ship “The Lottery” in 1798 made a profit of £12,091 (£993,000 at current values). This ship and the Enterprize in 1802 delivered 412 slaves and made a profit of £23,430 (£1,630,000 at current values).
In 1802, whilst still in the shipping and slavery business, Leyland went into partnership with a banker and well known anti-slavery reformer and friend of Wilberforce, William Roscoe (Clarkes and Roscoe). Roscoe was also a friend of the American President Thomas Jefferson. Roscoe, Ohio, is apparently named after him. The company of Leyland, Clarke and Roscoe was formed. William Clarke died in 1805, and in 1806 William Roscoe won the Parliamentary Election for Liverpool. Leyland then resigned from the partnership in the same year.
Leyland set up his own banking business on 10th January 1807, the same year that slavery was deemed to be illegal. This firm was Leyland and Bullin Bank (again, with his nephew Richard Bullin). His other nephew Christopher Bullin joined the bank in 1809, the bank being renamed Leyland Bullins.
Thomas Leyland died in 1827 leaving £600,000, equivalent to over £40,500,000 today. He was one of the richest men in Britain and today would be well up in the Sunday Times Rich List. His will stated that his property should go to the lawful male heirs of his nephews Richard and Christopher Bullin, and, failing that, to the male heirs of his niece Dorothy, namely Thomas, Richard and John Naylor.
Richard Bullin, a bachelor, adopted the name of Leyland in accordance with his uncle’s will. He was also Mayor of Liverpool in 1821-22, following Thomas Leyland. He died in 1844.
Christopher Bullin, also a bachelor, then inherited the title of Leyland and retired in 1847; he died in 1849. On the death of their Uncle Christopher, Thomas, John and Richard Naylor became partners in the Bank after being sent to Eton and Cambridge. Thomas Naylor inherited th name of Leyland and the wealth that went with it.
John Naylor was named after his father, John, who was from Hartford Hill, Cheshire. His father had married Dorothy Bullin, the sister of Christopher Bullin (Leyland). They had four children: Thomas, John, Richard Christopher and Elisabeth Mary. John was born on 15th April 1813 in Mount Pleasant, Liverpool. He was just three years of age when his father died and the family went to live with Dorothy’s brother Richard Bullin in Liverpool.
John was educated at Eton around 1826–32 and then spent three years at Trinity College, Cambridge. He was admitted into the partnership of the Leyland Bullins Bank on the death of his uncle Richard Leyland (Bullin) in 1844.
On 20th August 1846, aged 33, John Naylor married Georgiana Edwards, the daughter of John Edwards of Ness Strange, Shropshire. She was descended from the Duke of Athol. On their return from honeymoon at Corndavon Lodge, Aberdeenshire (not far from Balmoral Castle) they went to live at Liscard Manor, Wallasey.
The Leighton Estate (over 4,000 acres) was purchased by John’s Uncle Christopher Leyland (Bullin) in 1845 for £85,503 12s 7p (£6.6 million now) and he gave it to the couple as a wedding present. John also inherited the Brynllawch Estate in Kerry which was purchased by Richard Leyland and added to by Christopher Leyland. In addition to these handsome presents, in 1847 Uncle Christopher gave £100,000 (£7.13 million now) to each of his two nephews John and Richard Christopher. Not a bad start to a married life.
John Naylor inherited Leighton Hall, a Tudor style house, and a range of old farm buildings called Leighton House Farm, the site of the current Home Farm. He must have worked very quickly in obtaining the services of Mr W. H Gee, a relatively little known Liverpool Architect, to demolish the old hall and design the new Hall, Stables, Kennels, the Church, and the new Leighton Park Farm (Home Farm) buildings.
For the interior of the new hall Naylor drew on what he must have seen in the Medieval Court at the Great Exhibition 1851 as he employed A.W.N. Pugin as its designer. Pugin managed to complete this work just before his death in 1852, the same year as he designed the Big Ben Tower. The interior work to the new hall, which not only included the interior design but also furniture, was carried out posthumously by J. G. Crace.
The church was carefully sited so that it can be seen for miles around, which was probably the intent of the patron. Although Pugin had no part in its design, Gee built in many of the gothic features that Pugin revelled in. He also used Minton for the floor tiles and John Hardman & Co, a Birmingham metal working business, for all the brass fittings. The Hardman’s ranges of church metal work were made exclusively to Pugin designs. Crace provided the 49 gold leaf bosses in the chancel roof. The Church foundation stone was laid in 1851 and the Church was conveyed to the Diocese of Hereford as a Chapel of Ease to Trelystan Church on 20th October 1853. The deeds of the Church state that the building sits on a piece of land comprising 1 acre and 16 perches, being part of a close called the Nearest Baze Croft Fields.
John Naylor also employed Edward Kemp, a pupil of Paxton who designed Birkenhead Park. Kemp lived in the Italian Lodge in the park and worked as an author and as a freelance garden designer. No doubt Naylor must have been impressed with his work to employ him.
By 1856 John Naylor had spent £200,000 on constructing the estate, and he had not even finished. At the time it was recorded that his wife expressed considerable alarm at the mounting expenditure.
John Naylor died on 13th July 1889 after a lifetime accumulating a fine collection of oil and watercolour paintings, constructing the extensive Leighton Park Farm (now known as the Home Farm/Leighton Centre), the funicular railway to the viewpoint where Leighton House now stands, the pumping of water from the River Severn to a reservoir on the estate to ensure a regular supply of water for the turbines in the buildings, a private water system that originally provided not only water power to drive the turbines in the buildings, but a water supply that served the buildings, the Hall, many of the properties and the fields. The most impressive piece of advanced engineering was the provision of a manure irrigation system that served a large area of the Park Farm. Manure was collected under the piggery in the round building at Leighton Home Farm and then pumped from the Bone Mill (by Severnleigh Farm) up to the large tank situated above Mab (by Leighton House) and then probably diluted and fed to the pipes in the fields below. This system probably failed after a heavy frost, and the pipes and bronze fittings were lifted before the First World War for scrap.
John Naylor also looked after his sister Elisabeth Mary, building Garthmyl Hall for her and her husband, William George Gold, who became a Lieutenant General and Colonel of the 53rd Foot. Further land was purchased at Leighton, and also on the Brynllawch Estate in Kerry, together with land at Nantcribba, Forden and Glanhafren, which was bought from the Earl of Hereford (the Devereux family). With the extra land came the need to build more extensive buildings such as those at Nantcribba, the Mill at Cilcewydd, and the storage buildings at Glanhafren Farm, now sadly destroyed by fire.