History of the Rhodes Family by Hilda Thornhill

Scope and Content

Manuscript entitled: "Concerning Cecil John Rhodes and his kinsfolk of olden time and some familiar places" by Hilda Thornhill, a history of the Rhodes family and of the life of Cecil John Rhodes. Included are photographs (some of which are reproductions) of Rhodes, Bishop's Stortford, the Groote Schuur estate and the Rhodes Memorial.

Administrative / Biographical History

This information is taken from the various pedigrees and genealogical notes amongst Rhodes papers held at the library.

The earliest traceable direct ancestor of Cecil Rhodes is James Rhodes (fl 1660) of Snape Green, Whitmore, Staffordshire, husband of Christian/Christiana. Given the connection, the next generation of the family appear in the Stockport area. James's eldest son, William was baptised in Disley, Cheshire in 1664 and his second son, Thomas, is listed as of Bramhall, Stockport.

Thomas's son William was baptised in Disley but came to London c1720, farming property in the Gray's Inn and Regent's Park areas, and leasing Brill Farm, St. Pancras. He died in 1787 and, in common with the four subsequent generations, was commemorated at St. Pancras Old Church. William's son, Thomas held freehold land in St. Pancras and various other London properties.

Thomas's son Samuel (1736-1794) of Hoxton, Hackney, Middlesex (a few miles north east of St. Pancras) became aware of building work encroaching on the surrounding farmland by the rapid outward growth of London. He therefore purchased land containing brick earth, most of which was sold at his death. His estate in Dalston (Hackney), however, was left jointly to his three surviving sons, Thomas (1762-1856), William (1774-1843) and Samuel (1766-1822).

Samuel sold his share in the property to his brothers in 1802, then amassed property as a brickmaster in Islington (Hackney). His descendants were later based in Surrey. Thomas and William continued their joint brick manufacturing business for a number of years. Thomas eventually acquired the Tottenham Wood estate. His descendants held land in Tottenham Wood and Muswell Hill, North London, and later settled in Northamptonshire. William was an inventor and in 1824 patented his own brick manufacturing improvements. In 1802 he leased the de Beauvoir estate in Hackney and gained a building lease for the estate in 1821. However, after a period of lengthy litigation, the estate passed back to Richard de Beauvoir in 1834. William's family lived as tenants of Leyton Grange, Essex, 1829-1843. They also possessed property at Cold Harbour, Shoreditch.

William's children were born or baptised in Hackney. His eldest son, Francis William (1807-1878) was perpetual curate of Brentwood, Essex, 1834-1843 and Vicar of Bishops Stortford, Essex, 1849-1876. Most of Francis William's children were born at Bishops Stortford.

Of Francis William's children, Herbert (1845-1879) was involved with his brother Cecil in prospecting for diamonds in Kimberley, Cape Colony early in his career, but was accidentally killed while pioneering in the Lake Nyasa area. Francis William (1850-1905) joined the 1st Royal Dragoons as 2nd Lieutenant in 1873, rising to the rank of Colonel in 1889. He fought in Egypt, 1884, the Sudan, 1884-1885, 1888, in the Ndebele War, 1896 and the South African War, 1899-1900. Ernest Frederick (1852-1901) joined the Royal Engineers as Lieutenant in 1872 and retired as Captain in 1884 (his wife, Helen Irving, leased Hildersham Hall, Cambridge in 1939). Cecil John (1853-1902) was father of the De Beers Consolidated Mining Company and the British South Africa Company, as well as a major architect of British policy in southern Africa, founder of a university at Salisbury, Rhodesia, and a benefactor to Oxord University. Elmhurst (b 1858) entered the army in 1878 as an Ensign in the 49th Foot, rose to Captain of the Royal Berkshire Regiment, and retired as Major in 1903. He fought in Egypt, 1882, the Sudan, 1885, 1885-1886, and in the South African War, 1899-1902. Arthur Montagu (1859-1935) fought in the 2nd Ndebele War. Bernard Maitland (1861-1935) entered the Royal Artillery in 1880 as Lieutenant and retired in 1897 as Captain. During the mid-19th century Cecil came into possession of Dalham Hall, Suffolk, as well as the Groote Schuur estate in Cape Colony. After his death, Dalham passed eventually to the eldest son of Cecil's brother Ernest Frederick.

Ernest Frederick had four children - Francis William (1898-1938), Cecil John (1904-1936), Georgia Margaret (1891-1978) and Violet (1893-1978). Georgia Margaret and Violet held Hildersham Hall jointly after their mother's death. Dalham Hall was sold during this generation.

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Collection level description created by staff at the Bodleian Library of Commonwealth and African Studies at Rhodes House.

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The library holds a card index of all manuscript collections in its reading room.

Listed as no. 834 in Manuscript Collections in Rhodes House Library Oxford, Accessions 1978-1994 (Oxford, Bodleian Library, 1996).

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