Thomas Bentley and Mary Locke

Thomas Bentley Locke of Hessle Mount

Thomas Bentley Locke was one of Hessle’s wealthiest residents in the first half of the nineteenth century. He was the son of a Hull shipowner and Warden of Trinity House, Thomas Locke and Barbara Annett. The Locke family had lived in Hessle for many years, possibly occupying the Old Hall which stood between South Lane and Southgate, though Thomas was born in Hull around 1796. Around 1820 the family acquired 22 Grove Hill from the heirs of Marmaduke Wadman. Thomas Bentley lived there from around 1821 to 1826. Previous to living in Hessle the Locke's had lived in Hull and in Paull

Locke was a banker in Hull and in 1826 he purchased Hessle Mount from James Watson. He was Sheriff of Hull in 1819, Mayor in 1833 and a JP for the East Riding from 1839. On 8th June 1819 Thomas married Mary Anne Winter in Leeds and they had two children, Thomas (1821) and Mary (1822). Unfortunately Mary died in November 1823 after an accident a few days earlier: she was “thrown from a Gig in consequence of the horse taking fright when going from the house of her brother in law… to Leeds”. In 1825 Thomas re married to Mary Swan, the daughter of Caroline Swan and grandaughter of Francis and Mary Hall, in Hessle but there were no more children. He also served as churchwarden of Hessle Parish Church in 1838-1839.

Locke was a banker, a partner in the firm of Harrison, Watson and Locke, until 1831 when he retired from banking.

The family lived at Hessle Mount, one of the grand houses that were built following the enclosure of 1796. It was built on Jenny Brough Lane for James Watson a Hull Banker who sold it to Locke. The Locke Family lived there from 1826 to1890 – 64 years. Locke bought house with its outbuildings, consisting of the coach houses, stables, yard, gardens, the adjacent plantations, meadow, pasture and grounds of 36 acres. He is listed at this house in White’s Directory (1826) and Pigot’s Directory (1834), among others, and lived there until his death in 1857. In 1841 he employed six servants and in 1851 five. It was still recorded as being in the possession of the Locke family in 1882 (White) and 1885 (Kelly) 1888 (Atkinson). Thomas Bentley Locke jnr died in 1890 and the house had passed to Henry Burstall and then to Colonel John H Burstall (Bulmer, 1892).

On 7th January 1846 Thomas Locke lost his second wife who died at the age of 43. Mary had not enjoyed full health and was often ill during her adult life. She was one of the leading philanthropists of the area and well respected in the locality, especially by the poor of Hessle and neighbourhood, and J R Pease recorded in his journal that “the memory of this lady will be long and affectionately cherished by a large circle of friends and especially by the poor of Hessle”. In 1840, for example, she had helped to set up the School for Domestics on Swinegate where Lydia Stather taught young girls in the skills required of a domestic servant as well as giving them a more formal education. Not only did Mary Locke finance the school but she was also a regular visitor and employed some of the girls in her home. On Christmas Day 1845 she had treated thirty girls to dinner at Hessle Mount despite the fact that she was already unwell with the illness that was to take her life. Her acts of charity, however, went far beyond this single example. Not only did she provide money for the needy, she also visited their homes in times of anguish and despair. She was buried in Hessle Church where a plaque recorded her memory.

Thomas spent the remaining eleven years of his life as a widower, living with his son at Hessle Mount. His son did not marry nor have children but his daughter Mary married Robert Reynard of Sunderlandwick. After Mary’s death Locke seems to fallen into some form of depression: J R Pease recorded in his journal that, over the next few years, Locke displayed a regular opposition to anything that was proposed for the improvement of the parish and scorned ideas for draining, new pews for the church, expanding the churchyard and building a National School

On 1st October 1857 tragedy struck the Locke family when Thomas committed suicide after his former bank had failed, even though he had retired from it many years earlier and left in a healthy financial state. He was 65 and blew his brains out with a pistol to avoid the ignominy of being implicated in the bank’s demise. He left his son, also Thomas Bentley Locke, to continue the family name at Hessle Mount.

J R Pease of Hesslewood attempted to console the younger Thomas, whom Pease refers to as Bentley, and his sister, Mary in their hours of despair. (Thomas had also attended school with Joseph Walker Pease.) Though the family thought of burying their father at Paull, Pease advised that given the circumstances of the father’s death, a modest private funeral at Hessle would suffice. They followed his advice on the place but not on the size and they had a full procession to the church.

The immediate family line ended with the death of the Thomas B Locke jnr in 1890.

Census Details for TBL



Directory Details for T B Locke