Records of the Wilson and Wilson-Filmer families

Scope and Content

The collection contains personal and property papers belonging to Arthur Wilson of Tranby Croft and his descendants. The personal papers include records relating to the estates of Arthur Wilson and his son Arthur Stanley Wilson; letters sent by Edward Kenneth Wilson during a trip around the world as a young man; letters, press cuttings and ephemera relating to Clive Wilson; letters and other papers relating to Robin Filmer Wilson and Arthur Wilson-Filmer; and family photographs. The property records include deeds and other papers relating to the Wilsons' property at Bentley; Cottingham and Rowley; Hessle; Skidby; Willerby; the Risby Estate; the parish and advowson of Walkington; and the East Sutton Estate, Kent.

Administrative / Biographical History

The firm of Thomas Wilson Sons & Co (TWSC), later Ellerman's Wilson Line (EWL) was founded in Hull by Thomas Wilson. This single company helped to make Hull Britain's third largest port by the beginning of the twentieth century.

Thomas Wilson was born in Hull on 12 February 1792. In 1820 he chose to set up in business for himself, relying on various partners for the provision of capital. By 1830, Wilson and his partners owned two ships and in 1841, with the withdrawal of his business partners, Wilson took his eldest son David as a partner in the renamed Thomas Wilson Son & Co. (becoming 'Sons' in about 1850 when Charles Henry and Arthur, the two youngest, joined). The firm was successful and when Thomas Wilson died at the age of 77 on 21 June 1869 had over 20 ships; it passed into the hands of his sons Charles (as chairman) and Arthur Wilson. Under the stewardship of the Wilson brothers the firm continued to grow and prosper.

The sons of Charles and Arthur did not become involved in the day to day management of the business, and from 1905 the post of managing director was held by Oswald Sanderson. Following Charles Wilson's death in 1907 Arthur Wilson became chairman, and following Arthur's death in 1909 his son E Kenneth Wilson became chairman, with Charles's son, also Charles, 2nd Lord Nunburnholme, as deputy chairman. In 1916, however, the business was sold to Sir John Reeves Ellerman and was renamed Ellerman's Wilson Line, and the Wilson family was no longer involved.

Arthur Wilson

As well as his position at TWSC, Arthur Wilson (1836-1909) was a director of the North Eastern Railway, and chairman of the shipping committee of the Hull chamber of commerce; he was also Sheriff of Hull in 1888-89 and High Sheriff of Yorkshire in 1891. He was a keen sportsman and was Master of the Holderness Hunt for 25 years. He was well known in Hull for his generosity to charitable causes and was particularly associated with the Victoria Children's Hospital.

He bought land at Tranby near Hull and built a mansion, Tranby Croft, which was completed in 1876. The notorious baccarat scandal and libel case occurred following alleged cheating by a member of the Prince of Wales' party whilst staying at Tranby Croft for the Doncaster St Leger races in September 1890.

Arthur Wilson married Mary Emma Smith of Leeds in 1863. The couple had seven children: Susannah (1864-1943), who married, first, John Menzies, and second, Lt Col Sir George Holford; Ethel (1865-1935), who married Sir Edward Lycett Green; Arthur Stanley (1868-1938); Edward Kenneth (1869-1947); Thomas (1872-1885); Muriel (1875-1964), who married Major Richard Warde; and Clive (1876-1921). He died of cancer on 21 October 1909.

A Stanley Wilson

Arthur Stanley Wilson, known in the family as Jack, was born on 30 July 1868. He became a Conservative Party politician and was elected as MP for Holderness in 1900, holding this seat until his defeat in the 1922 general election. During the First World War he was captured and became a prisoner of war while acting as a Foreign Service Messenger, being held from December 1915 until July 1917.

He married Alice Cecile Agnes Filmer (b. 17 July 1869), daughter of Sir Edmund Filmer, 9th baronet, of East Sutton in Kent. The couple had two children, Arthur Thomas Filmer, who later changed his surname to Wilson-Filmer, and Robert Filmer, known as Robin. A Stanley Wilson died on 12 April 1938 and Alice died the following year, on 3 August 1939.

E Kenneth Wilson

Edward Kenneth Wilson (1869-1947) was the fourth child and second son of Arthur and Mary Wilson. He became chairman of Thomas Wilson Sons & Co on his father's death in 1909, and remained so until the company was sold to Sir John Reeves Ellerman in 1916. He purchased Cannizaro Park in Wimbledon in 1920, and laid out a new garden; in 1947/48 the house and grounds were sold to the Corporation of Wimbledon , who opened the gardens to the public.

Kenneth Wilson married Molly Hacket in 1895, and they had one daughter, Hilary (1903-1979), who married the 5th Earl of Munster in 1928. Hilary was an accomplished musician and in 1958 founded the Countess of Munster Musical Trust.

Clive H A Wilson

Clive Harry Adolphus Wilson (1876-1921) was the youngest child of Arthur and Mary Wilson. He served in the Boer War (1899-1902), initially with the 12th Battalion Imperial Yeomanry, then with General Hamilton's staff, and finally with Rimington's Guide (later renamed Damant's Horse). He became a lieutenant, was twice mentioned in despatches and was awarded the DSO, the Queen's Medal with four clasps, and the King's Medal with two clasps. In December 1901 he was injured and lost one of the fingers on his right hand, and so following a period of sick leave he returned to Britain shortly before the end of the war. The Hull News estimated that 30,000 people turned out to see Clive return home, such was the popularity of the Wilson family at the time. He returned to the army following the outbreak of war in 1914, rising to the rank of major, before retiring for health reasons in 1916.

Clive was a director of Thomas Wilson Sons & Co until its acquisition by Ellerman; he was also a director of United Shipping Co, London, and Story, Smithson & Co, Hull, and was chairman of Messrs Lamberts, Parker and Gaines Ltd. He was a keen rider and was Master of the Holderness Hounds for several years before his death. He had also been a prominent member of the Hull Polo Club on Westbourne Avenue, which flourished briefly in the late 1890s.

In 1907 Clive married Elvira Magherini of Florence; the couple had two children, Thetis and Raymond, and the family lived in Beverley. Clive was found dead in bed in January 1921 at the age of 44. His early death was attributed to apoplexy.

Arthur Thomas Filmer Wilson-Filmer

Arthur Thomas Filmer Wilson (1895-1968) was the elder son of A Stanley Wilson and Alice Cecile Agnes, nee Filmer. In 1916 his maternal uncle Sir Robert Filmer, 10th baronet, died of wounds during the First World War, and Arthur inherited his estate of East Sutton Park in Kent. As a condition of this inheritance he added the Filmer surname to his own, becoming Arthur Thomas Filmer Wilson-Filmer. The house at East Sutton was requisitioned by the army in 1939 and became a borstal in 1946; as of 2016 it is a women's open prison. The park was sold in 1948 and Wilson-Filmer bought Rowley Manor, where he lived until his death in 1968.

He married, first, the Hon. Olivia Paget, daughter of Lord Queensborough, with whom he acquired Leeds Castle, Kent in 1927. His wife kept Leeds Castle when they divorced in 1931. Wilson-Filmer later married Lettice Ward.

Robert (Robin) Filmer Wilson

Robert Filmer Wilson (1903-1944), known as Robin, was the younger son of A Stanley Wilson and his wife Alice. He became a major in the British army and saw active service during the Second World War. He was killed in a car accident in Italy in 1944 and was buried at the Military Cemetery, Assisi.

In 1937 he had married Patricia Child Villiers, nee Richards, former wife of the 9th Earl of Jersey and daughter of Kenneth and Eileen Richards of New South Wales, Australia. The couple had two children, James and Sara, and the family lived at Crastock Farm, Woking, Surrey.

Sir Robert Filmer, 10th baronet

Sir Robert Marcus Filmer was born on 25 February 1878, the second son of Sir Edmund Filmer, 9th Baronet. His elder brother died in infancy and thus Robert succeeded as tenth baronet when his father died. Educated at Eton, Filmer went on to study at Sandhurst and became a Lieutenant in the Grenadier Guards. He served in Sudan (1896) and later in the Boer War (1899-1902). He went on to serve in the First World War and was awarded the Military Cross for an act of conspicuous bravery whilst fighting near Neuve Chapelle in December 1915. He was killed in action in 1916. He never married and with his death the Baronetcy became extinct.


U DFW Records of the Wilson and Wilson-Filmer families

U DFW/1 Personal records

U DFW/1/1 Arthur Wilson

U DFW/1/2 Mary Wilson

U DFW/1/3 Arthur Stanley Wilson

U DFW/1/4 Alice Wilson

U DFW/1/5 E Kenneth Wilson

U DFW/1/6 Clive H A Wilson

U DFW/1/7 Robert (Robin) Filmer Wilson

U DFW/1/8 Arthur Thomas Filmer Wilson-Filmer

U DFW/1/9 Photographs

U DFW/1/10 Miscellaneous

U DFW/2 Property records

U DFW/2/1 Property at Bentley

U DFW/2/2 Property at Cottingham and Rowley

U DFW/2/3 Property at Hessle

U DFW/2/4 Risby Estate

U DFW/2/5 Property at Skidby

U DFW/2/6 Parish and advowson of Walkington

U DFW/2/7 Property at Willerby

U DFW/2/8 East Sutton Estate, Kent

Access Information

Access will be granted to any accredited reader

Conditions Governing Use

With creators; some items may be out of copyright

Custodial History

The records in this collection were deposited with Hull University Archives by descendants of Clive Wilson and Robin Filmer Wilson. Some of the material appears to have been gathered and used by D A H Cleggett for his book on Leeds Castle, Kent.

Related Material

U DEW Archives of Ellerman's Wilson Line

U DX368 Material relating to the Ellerman Wilson Line and company

U DX385 Material relating to the Wilson family of the Wilson Lines company

Film of Clive Wilson and the Wilson family on his return from the Boer War can be seen at