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Leighton (Tre’llai) is a small village near Welshpool in Montgomeryshire. It is set around the Leighton Farm Estate which is the best example of a Victorian model farm in Wales.

The History of the Naylor Family of Leighton Hall



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 East Front

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.

The west Front

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.

The Salon

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.

John Markwick




12 Comments so far

  1. Bailey Family wrote on Wednesday 28 August 2013 at 16:39:

    Thank you for such a comprehensive piece. We are related to John Naylor through his brother Richard Christopher Naylor and know little about that side of the family. Now you have done it for us!

  2. Wyndham Marsh wrote on Sunday 9 November 2014 at 09:05:

    Hello John,

    a remarkable piece and an enjoyable read. I am a very, very distant relative, at least the Naylor family appear in my Family Tree, through some random marriages. You article has been very helpful. Keep up the good work.

  3. jack wrote on Thursday 7 May 2015 at 21:14:

    interesting that RC Naylor spent 5% of his inheritance on St. Paul’s church in hooton if he inherited £100k and the church cost £5k. I’d imagine he had other wealth. Did he own hooton hall?

  4. Richard wrote on Tuesday 12 January 2016 at 18:13:

    Richard Christopher Naylor was my great great grandfather. He did indeed own Hooton Hall, as well as Kelmarsh in Northamptonshire. He is buried there. His horse,Macaroni won the Derby in about 1869 and Naylor placed a 10,000 guinea bet at ten to one and collected the then fantastic sum of 100,000 guineas which he gave to the poor of Liverpool. His London house was Hurlingham Hall.
    I have a note that one of his daughters said that he didn’t like it as he thought that living near the Thames gave him a cold! He therefore founded the Hurlingham Club there in 1869 as a pigeon shooting club for gentlemen, which is why the Hurlingham Club flag bears a pigeon on it! His first wife, Caroline, died in childbirth and is interred in a vault under the church of St Paul’s Hooton and is probably the reason he expended such a large sum of money on building this very beautiful church, which must be visited if you are ever in the area.

  5. Juliette Gammon nee Harrison wrote on Sunday 24 January 2016 at 18:15:

    John Naylor of Leighton Hall was my great-grandfather. I’ve totally lost touch with the Naylor side of my family and would be pleased to hear from any of them.

    My father Jimmy Harrison was the son of Emily Naylor (John’s daughter) and his best buddy was his first cousin Tom Naylor.

  6. Mike Bird wrote on Tuesday 1 March 2016 at 15:16:

    What a very informative article, I am researching a group called the Liverpool Field Naturalists’ who visit different parts of the north west of England during the period 1860 to 1881. Local knowledge regarding Richard Christopher Naylor state that he leaves Hooton hall around 1874 because they build the Manchester ship canal but work doesn’t start on that until the late 1880’s and that he had a yacht on the river Mersey. Do you know of any family stories relating to his love of sailing?

  7. Claire Gibson wrote on Tuesday 2 August 2016 at 14:02:

    I wonder if you can help me at all. I’ve been compiling my family tree. On the 1911 census 2 of my ancestors are boarders at a school in Yealand Conyers. On the census records the address given is Leighton Hall, Yealand Conyers. There is the Master a Mr Marshall, several members of staff and about 30 boarders aged from 11 to 19 yrs. I have an old copy of ‘Longfellow’s Poetical Works’. This was given as a prize from the school to one of my Grandmother’s young brothers. Inside the front cover it says ‘Leighton Hall School Carnforth. Presented to Lionel C. Burgess and signed J.W. Marshall Principal July 26th 1911’. Lionel Calam Burgess was killed in WW1 in 1917.
    I have ‘Googled’ Leighton Hall and nowhere is there a mention of a school. I have also emailed Leighton Lodge who have no record of a school there. I wonder if anyone can let me have any further information. I am merely curious.

  8. Jenny Fortescue wrote on Saturday 31 March 2018 at 13:28:

    Could you pass to Claire Gibson – Have just seen this – The school concerned was in Carnforth Lancs, My grandfather was there in the early 1900s and I have a school brochure from that era. Leighton Hall is now a historic house and wedding venue but also has no mention of having been a school.

  9. Diana Taylor wrote on Sunday 10 June 2018 at 10:27:

    What a wonderful history to read. Thank you!
    I am interested to know of any connection or association between the. Naylor family and Lord Edward St Maur of Llanfair.
    In 1911 my grandfather was a gamekeeper on the Leighton Hall estate whilst my grandmother was cook to Lord Edward and Lady Lilian St Maur. In her will, Lady Lilian left my grandmother a Cottage.
    My grandmother returned to her family in Warwickshire to give birth to my mother out of wedlock. Six months after the birth (so 15 months after conception) my grandfather, aged on 18, left Leighton Hall to go to Warwickshire and marry my grandmother. He was only 18. My grandmother was 23. I can’t work out why or how they knew one another and suspect that grandfather was “sent” by the St Maur’s to marry grandmother. But how did they chose him as he was living in Leighton.
    Soon after the marriage, my grandparents were so I sired to emigrate to New Zealand,
    If there any detectives reading this, I should be most grateful to find a connection between the St Maur’s and the. Aylors, Leighton Hall and Llanfair.
    Thank you

  10. John Morris wrote on Monday 13 August 2018 at 08:10:

    Do any of Richard C.Naylor’s descendants have photographs of Hooton Hall they would be willing to share? I have created a virtual 3D model of the house and gardens from photographs provided by Hooton Park Trust. (See my website
    I am particularly looking for views of the Italian garden monument and views of the house/gardens from the racecourse grandstands.

    I am a volunteer at Hooton Park Hangars. The three Belfast Hangars and ancillary buildings were constructed close to the hall in 1917. I present my 3D recreations during the history tours – last Sunday in the month starting at 1pm.

  11. John Morris wrote on Tuesday 13 November 2018 at 11:26:

    I am a volunteer at Hooton Park Hangars on the Wirral. Click the following weblink to see a 3D recreation of the Hangars and Hooton Hall (the home of R.C.Naylor before moving to Kelmarsh Hall) as they would have appeared in 1918.

    This recreation is based on half dozen photos provided by ‘Hooton Park Trust’. Do any of the extended Naylor family have photographs of Hooton Hall exterior/interior that they are willing to share to help me improve?

  12. Lewis leyland wrote on Thursday 17 January 2019 at 13:14:

    My father was joseph baybut leyland .my uncle was thomas leyland.have i got any connection to the naylor.leylands

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