West Moors & the Fryer family and legacy

The Gulliver – Fryer – Castleman ‘dynasty’

 On St. George’s Day, the 23rd April, 2008, Miss Frances Evelyn Fryer died and now lies at peace in a corner of St. Mary’s churchyard, West Moors, Dorset, alongside several members of her family. She was the youngest of five siblings: two brothers (Frederic & William) and three sisters (Kathleen, Esme & Frances herself); each of them died without leaving any descendants – William (William Arthur Francis, known as ‘Frankie’) died in 1941 at sea during service with the Fleet Air Arm. With Frances’ death, the line of the Fryer family that had the strongest link with West Moors ended after over 180 years. However, the name “Fryer” will live on across the community, alongside that of Gulliver & Castleman.

 Indeed, if I were a Winston Graham, a John Galsworthy or a Thomas Hardy, I could write a major novel surrounding the ‘doings’ of these three families, covering the latter part of the 18th and much of the 19th centuries, which would rival any ‘Poldark’, ‘Forsyte Saga’ or ‘Mayor of Casterbridge’! I’m not, but the story is a fascinating one nonetheless: between them, these three names resonate across the history of this part of Dorset and adjacent counties. Not only were they business associates, but the three families were united through marriage & inheritance.

 The Gulliver ‘story’ is well known hereabouts. Isaac Gulliver (junior) was a smuggler – as was his father before him, also named Isaac. The son developed a large, and it has to be said successful smuggling empire, in the process buying up land and property across the counties of Devon, Dorset, Wiltshire and Hampshire. Eventually, he ‘came in from the cold’ and accepted a King’s Pardon in 1782 (in return for effectively paying a large fine, by buying the services of two ‘volunteers’ for service in the Navy) and ended his life in Wimborne as a respected member of the community. Isaac Gulliver (d. September 1822) was accounted a wealthy man. He owned several houses between Poole and Wimborne and in 1789 acquired Manor Farm in West Moors which had been built a few years earlier; this became ‘Gulliver’s Farm’ – a name it retains to this day[1]. Only the original barn remains; the eighteenth-century farm house burnt down in 1935. It would have been logical to have owned property in the area, both as an investment for the future and also to act as staging posts on the contraband route from the coast to the city of Salisbury & elsewhere.

([1] For a brief time during the latter 19th century, it was known as ‘Hatchard’s Farm’ after the family living there – this change of name to reflect the occupants is a common feature hereabouts.)

 Isaac Gulliver became a Churchwarden at Wimborne Minster & is buried there. The Fryers were known to Isaac and were associated with them (through John Fryer [b. ~1724, d. 1810] in the smuggling trade in the late 18th and very early 19th century, but John Fryer (and later his son, William) also had legitimate interests in the lucrative shipping & fishing trade with Newfoundland (through the port of Poole) & was also to become involved with banking in Dorset. The Castlemans were also heavily involved in banking, and of course through Charles Castleman, were responsible for bringing the railway to southwest Hampshire and southern Dorset – and in the process hastening the social and economic changes that brought a revolution to people’s lives through the 19th and early 20th century.

  The ‘Fryer’ link with West Moors comes about through the marriage of Elizabeth Gulliver, eldest child of Isaac, to William Fryer in 1793; the latter was a prominent banker in Wimborne Minster (an important town in this part of Dorset) & who was associated (partner of?) Charles Castleman, of railway ‘corkscrew’ fame. Elizabeth was granted gifts of land in the local area (from her father on her marriage & again on his death), which in turn became associated with the ‘Fryer’ name. Elizabeth and William also invested in local hostelries on their own account – a useful hedge against the future.

 A further familial link with railways comes about later, as Gulliver’s grand-daughter, Ann (or Anne) Fryer, married Edward Castleman, elder brother of Charles [ E & C Castleman, Solicitors, Wimborne & Ringwood ]. Following formation of the railway company (Southampton & Dorchester), Edward invested £3500 in shares, but had little direct involvement in the running of the company. He was apparently a specialist in administration of large country estates – links with Uddens & Canford perhaps over whose lands lengths of the railway run.

Some dates of importance:-
1842: Land in West Moors owned by the Fryer family conveyed to the National Society for a school. This was probably close to the modern-day Memorial Hall.

1896**: On January 6th, some land along Station Road was sold by Sir Frederic William Richards Fryer and his wife, Dame Frances Elizabeth to Trustees, (presumably Claud Brown as Vicar of Verwood and the serving Church Wardens), “containing by estimation one and a half acres” for the sum of £37-10s.
**However, there’s something odd about the dates here: in “The Heart of the Village”, by Catherine Hazard, which is a history of St. Mary’s School, the date of opening of the school was given as the 18th February, 1896. If the land was conveyed on the 6th January, and the school opened (a substantial brick-built building) on the 18th February, some pretty nifty building work had been going on! I’m more inclined to believe that the land was conveyed the previous year – but this is only my speculation.

1914: In this year, Sir Frederic William Richards FRYER offered the West Parley Parish Council (the local council at the time) a piece of land as a site for a village hall in West Moors. The Great War (1914-1918) prevented the project going ahead straightaway, but in 1920 an ex-Army hut was erected on the spot now used as the Memorial Hall car park. A fund was set up to raise money to build a hall as a memorial to those that had been killed in the war. It was completed in 1929. Sir Frederick was born in 1845 and died in 1922, so he didn’t live to see the project finished, but his heir, Brigadier-General FAB Fryer (see below) carried through his father’s wishes, ceding the land to the Council in 1929.

1973: About 100 years after the opening of the first public house (see 1871 above), the Blandford Brewery, Hall & Woodhouse Ltd., bought a piece of land from Captain F.W.B. FRYER (Frederic Walter Balfe: d. 9/3/1978) and the ‘FRYER ARMS’ opened for business in 1973. Captain Fryer was a direct descendant following the marriage of William Fryer & Elizabeth Gulliver. The ‘Fryer Arms’ did not last long! It was demolished around 2005, and the ‘Fryer Mews’ development stands in its place – the home of the author of this note.

Specific entries for the ‘main players’ in the Gulliver – Fryer – Castleman saga, as it relates to West Moors.

John FRYER (~1724 – 1810):
 Nominally ‘of Southampton’ but there is an inscription at Wimborne Minster which mentions him as being .. ” of this town ” & he probably also had links with the Isle of Wight. Died 29th September, 1810 at the age of 86. Associate of Isaac Gulliver in the smuggling trade. He married Ann Rolles [ hence the ‘Rolles’ connection in later names ] and was father to William Fryer (q.v.), who married Gulliver’s daughter, Elizabeth; the Fryers became very wealthy through the Newfoundland fishing trade, dealing / trading between Newfoundland & England (via Poole) & banking. In particular, this from the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) web site: ” …. private bank was established in Wimborne c.1790 as Fryer, Andrews, Woolfry & Co., by John Fryer, John Andrews and William Woolfry. A 1797 list of country bankers lists ‘Fryer & Co’ as bankers at both ‘Winbourn and Poole’. It was also known as ‘Wimborne, Poole & Blandford Bank’ and ‘Dorset Bank’. By 1840 (when William Fryer had inherited his father’s interest in the bank), it had branches at Poole, Ringwood, Blandford, Wareham and Sturminster Newton. It was acquired by the National Provincial Bank in 1840, which later was merged with the Westminster Bank (1970), the group becoming the National Westminster (later NatWest); this too was eventually absorbed into the RBS ’empire’.

Isaac GULLIVER (1745 – 1822):
 Born – Semington, nr. Melksham, Wiltshire, 1745 (September 5th), settled end of life in Wimborne where he died in 1822 (Friday 13th September), aged 77; however for several years at the end of his life, he resided, albeit often turning up in other of his properties, in what is now West Moors, from at least 1789 (Gulliver’s Farm, was Manor Farm) to 1817, at which latter date he moved to Wimborne for the last years of his life. His father (also Isaac) was a smuggler (spirits, wine, tea & tobacco – all heavily taxed commodities), and Isaac junior followed the family trade. His area of operation for smuggling purposes extended over large parts of both east & west Dorset, including [ in this part of the county ] Longham, Kinson, Corfe Mullen & West Moors: the ‘shore-line’ front for seaward operations probably extended from Poole to Christchurch, which at the time was virtually uninhabited and backed by the wide expanse of Poole Heath – itself a part of the great Dorset heathlands that extended well to the north and west. Married in 1768 (Gulliver aged 23 at the time) Elizabeth Beale, whose father (William) was also in the ‘trade’.
Daughter Elizabeth (q.v.) married William Fryer (q.v.); the ‘Gulliver-Fryer’ dynasty were to own large tracts of land & a wide variety of property, including a number of inns, in this area. Note that Gulliver’s grand-daughter (daughter of Elizabeth & William), Anne (or Ann q.v.) married Edward Castleman (q.v.), who was the brother of Charles Castleman (railway, q.v.).
On his death, the majority of Isaac Gulliver’s lands in West Parley (which would have included those in West Moors), passed to Frederick William Fryer (q.v.), the youngest child/son of the marriage of William Fryer & Elizabeth Gulliver: this was a magnificent bequest! It specifically included the farm at West Moors, and presumably large parcels of land attached.
[N.B. According to Roger Guttridge in … ” The Evening Echo book of Heritage in Dorset & The New Forest / Ensign Publications / 1991 “, Isaac Gulliver did have a son (also Isaac), who would in the ordinary course of things inherited his father’s estate: but he died, unmarried, in 1798 aged 24. ]

William CASTLEMAN (1766 – 1844):
 The family Castleman had their roots (at least in the 18th century) in the small Dorset village of Chettle, about 6 miles NE of Blandford Forum. William moved to Wimborne Minster (then an important financial, commercial & trading centre in the county) during the latter part of the eighteenth century and established himself in the legal profession, but he was undoubtedly linked, no matter how loosely, with messrs Gulliver & Fryer (above) in the contraband trade. However, as was often the case at the time, he migrated to a more respectable occupation, becoming Deanery Steward of the considerable Hanham Estate. During 1800, he went into partnership with William Dean and George Adams to form the Christchurch, Wimborne & Ringwood Bank, also acting as that bank’s legal advisor. The link with Dean is interesting, as this gentleman was influential in the development of Bournemouth. The bank failed but Castleman had already distanced himself from the venture. Although William & his wife had 10 children, only three survived to adulthood: Henry, Edward & Charles. Henry entered the legal profession, but otherwise does not figure in this story. The other brothers are listed below.

William Rolles (or Rolls) FRYER (1770 – 1834):
 Born 1770: banker (amongst other interests, including shipping & possibly smuggling) of Wimborne, where he died in 1834 (age 64). It is almost certain that William (and hence this branch of the Fryer family) benefitted from the marriage to Isaac Gulliver’s daughter, Elizabeth (q.v.) in 1793, both in monetary terms and in land/property: however, the Fryers were wealthy in their own right.

Elizabeth GULLIVER [FRYER on marriage in 1793, aged 23] (1770 – 1839):
 Born – Sixpenny Handley, 1770 (late January/baptised 4th February), daughter (and eldest child) of Isaac Gulliver (q.v.); died 1839. Thought to be the ‘favourite’ child of Isaac Gulliver & inherited the entire estate on his death, his son having died without marrying and his second daughter (Ann) doesn’t seem to have figured prominently: she married twice, without bearing any children.

Ann (or Anne) FRYER [CASTLEMAN on marriage in 1823, aged 24] (1799 – 1883):
 Was the third child / eldest daughter from the marriage of William Rolles Fryer & Elizabeth Gulliver. She married Edward Castleman in 1823. She had a considerable fortune in her own right, through the provision made for her by her grandfather, Isaac Gulliver. It is now considered that she was her grandfather’s ‘favourite’, hence the settlement of considerable estates on his death. Large tracts of the (then) West Parley parish would have passed to her.

Edward (or Edmund in some texts?) CASTLEMAN (1800 – 1861):
 Edward is the brother of Charles (of ‘Corkscrew’ fame), and was a minor shareholder in the Southampton & Dorchester Railway (see elsewhere for more on this). On marriage, Ann & Edward made their home in one of the inns that Ann’s grandfather (Isaac Gulliver) had owned in the area, but eventually they moved in to the family home at Allendale House, Wimborne until Edward’s retirement, when they moved back to Chettle House, Chettle, which his father had bought in 1826. As well as being a lawyer (he was to administer, or assist with the administration of many great estates in the area), he was a partner in the Wimborne Bank, which eventually was purchased by the Wilts and Dorset bank, which in turn became part of Lloyds Bank.

Frederic William FRYER (1812 – 1890):
 The youngest child / son of the marriage of William Fryer & Elizabeth Gulliver (see above): he was born 22nd March, 1812. On the death of his grandfather (Isaac Gulliver q.v.), the considerable land holdings in West Parley, Hampreston & Wimborne Minster civil parishes (which all included West Moors – the greater part in West Parley) passed to Frederic(k) William: as he would have only been 10 years old, this must have been held in trust until he was 21 years old (in 1833). By 1869, Frederick was one of the major land-owners across what we now know as West Moors, though at this time, habitation was still sparse – mainly concentrated in the farms along the Uddens / Mannington brooks, some clustered around & to the north of the railway station (built in 1867) & some individual cottages around the moorland edge.
Apparently, he lived for some years in middle-age on the Isle of Wight (where there was a large Fryer ‘clan’) but he ended his days in the village of Holdenhurst, then in the county of Hampshire (now in Dorset), not far to the north of Christchurch). He married (in 1838) Emily Frances Richards (born 1818 in Worcester) and they had several children: in order: Clara Matilda (b.1841 in Switzerland), Emily Frances (b.~1843 in Worcestershire), Frederic William Richards – the eldest son & heir – (b.1845 in Worcestershire), Alfred Charles (b.~1847 in Worcestershire), Mary Ada (b.1848 in Worcestershire), Eleanor Constance (b.~1851 in Belgium) & Evelyn (or Eveline) Louise (b. ~1856, probably in Belgium). Frederic William (q.v.), being the eldest male child, would inherit the West Moors estates on his father’s death, and much later, he would begin the process of gifting plots of land for village use – see later.

Charles Castleman (1807 – 1876):
 The brother (younger by 7 years) of the above Edward. He was also trained for the legal profession and was a practising solicitor in Wimborne Minster. Charles was the ‘moving force’ behind the Southampton & Dorchester Railway, which was to run through what is now West Moors, though at the time was little more than a collection of farms on the edge of a wide expanse of moorland. On the deposition of the Bill seeking authorisation for the railway, Charles Castleman is listed as a ‘principal director / shareholder’ and also acted as the Secretary & Solicitor for the company. The London & South Western Railway (L & SWR) took over the Southampton & Dorchester [ in 1848, a year after opening; it had always run the railway ] and in 1855 Charles became a director of that company, eventually holding the post of Chairman between 1873 & 1875. Given the family connections outlined elsewhere, it is inconceivable that the Castlemans didn’t benefit the Fryers and vice-versa with land-for-cash deals and appropriate shares in the railway. Charles married thrice, and is buried at Melcombe Regis, Weymouth.

Frederic (later Sir Frederic) William Richards FRYER (1845 – 1922):
 born: 25th January, 1845, died 20th February 1922. Frederic was the eldest son (& therefore heir) from the marriage of Frederic William Fryer & Emily Frances Richards. He married Frances Elizabeth Bashford (August 1870 in Westminster), the daughter of W.C. Lake Bashford of Soberton, Hampshire – she died on Christmas Day, 1920.

He was born in Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, about 16 miles NE of Worcester (the latter being the birth-place of his mother). His entry in the ‘India lists’ note he was educated at ‘foreign schools’ and we must assume that these were establishments where his father was living (considerable doubt about this) though at some stage he was sent back to England and attended Bromsgrove Grammar school (the town of his birth & perhaps near his maternal parents), a fee-paying establishment of some importance, though not of the status of Eton, Winchester et.al.
By November 1863 FWR is listed as having attended University College, London, being attached as a student to the Middle Temple of the Inns of Court. He sat the examination for entry to the Bengal (Indian) Civil Service, and having passed, subsequently took up his appointment with the Bengal Civil Service in 1864 (aged 19), graduating within that service in 1869 (aged 24) and the first 22 years of his working career were spent in the Punjab where he served with distinction.

His later posts include: Financial Commissioner in Burma (1888), Officiating Financial Commissioner, Punjab (1894-1895) then the first Lt-Governor of Burma from 1897 to 1903: a unified Burma had been regarded as a province of British India since 1886, but it had only had a ‘Chief Commissioner’ to represent the Crown (in the person of the Viceroy). He was invested as Knight Commander, Order of the Star of India (K.C.S.I.) in the New Year honours list of 1895 [he had been created a Companion in that order in 1890], prior to taking up his last appointment in Burma – initially with the title “Chief Commissioner” (3rd April 1895), then that office was re-defined and Frederic William Richards Fryer became the first ‘Lieutenant-Governor’ of the unified province of Burma – effectively the ‘second man’ in the Imperial Indian administration, subsidiary only to the Viceroy in Calcutta.

In 1903 he retired (though the official ‘Gazette of India’ has this as … “allowed to resign”) and returned to Britain, though it is fair to point out that up to that point, the vast majority of his life had been spent outside Britain! He was active right up until his death in 1922, attending (& chairing) meetings of various societies relating to ‘eastern’ matters and often presenting papers.

Sir Frederic was a great keeper of diaries, and these have been published – along with photograph albums of his time in India & Burma. His extensive diaries from 1865-1880 describe his early life in the Punjab. He also published (in 1907) a book relating to the tribes of frontier Burma. In addition, he is the author of the ” Dera Ghazi Khan settlement report (1876) “, which was effectively the ‘Domesday Book’ of the region to which he was assigned. The following is taken from that report ….
In regard to the Settlement Officer (i.e. Fryer) himself, His Honor the Lieutenant Governor, in his orders on the Assessment Reports, expressed his concurrence in the Officiating Financial Commissioner’s high approval of Mr. Fryer’s labours, and remarked that he had spared no pains to acquire an intimate knowledge of the district, and had evinced sound judgement in his assessments. I think he has left a name which will be long remembered in Dera Gházi Khan. The people liked him, as he was accessible, genial, and a good linguist. His popularity and local knowledge made him a power in the district. Thanks to his discretion …. no disturbance, conflict of authority, or other avoidable difficulty occurred in the five years during which Settlement operations were in progress … [ J. B. Lyall, Settlement Commissioner ]

It is through his line that parcels of land in West Moors derive: their son, Frederic Arthur Bashford FRYER, eventually rising to the rank of Brigadier General with the 6th Inniskilling Dragoons. This Frederic married Frances Esme Balfe (who died in 1948), and they had five children; Kathleen, Frederic, Esme, William (‘Frankie’) and Frances – the aforementioned Frederic is mentioned below. Frances Balfe came from Irish Roman Catholic stock [ her new husband possibly converting to Roman Catholicism on marriage ], and it is interesting to speculate that perhaps the land that now accommodates the Roman Catholic church on lower Pinehurst Road was once part of the Fryer inheritance, which was ceded to the church (in the 1920s) at the instigation of Frances.

[ There is much more relating to Sir Frederic Fryer elsewhere …. ]

Frederic (or Frederick) Arthur Bashford FRYER (1871 – 1943):
 The eldest child (and eldest son / heir, born 13th August, 1871) of the marriage between Frederic William Richards Fryer & Frances Elizabeth Bashford. Joined 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons, 1890 and for a time (from 1897) was A.D.C. to the Lieutenant-Governor of Burma (who was, of course, his father). He served in the South African (‘Boer’) wars, and was promoted to Major in 1903. On the 30th January, 1904, he married Frances Esme Balfe (q.v.) and they had five children, who all died without issue – one being lost at sea in 1941 (Fleet Air Arm), the remainder being buried in the churchyard in West Moors. With these deaths (the last in 2008), the ‘local’ Fryers were to lose their link with West Moors. Brigadier-General Fryer and his family had their seat at Shroton House, Iwerne Courtney ( ~6 km / ~4 miles NNW of Blandford Forum ), and he was sometime Deputy Lieutenant of the County of Dorset and also a J.P. He died on the 23rd September, 1943.

Frances Esme BALFE (1874 – 1946):
Frances Balfe married Frederic Arthur Bashford Fryer (then either Major or Brigadier-General) on the 30th January, 1904. She was the second child (and second daughter) of the marriage of Lt-Col. Walter Balfe & Esme Mary Fitzgibbon. She died on 3rd December, 1946. Frances came from an old Irish family, following the Roman Catholic tradition (on her mother’s side). She was raised as a Catholic and it is interesting to speculate that, as we know the Fryers owned the land where the later ‘Fryer Arms’ was built, they also owned & perhaps gifted the land where the RC church stands now. It would probably all be part of the same large property – the freehold lands making up the former Woolslope Farm.

Frederic (or Frederick) Walter Balfe FRYER (1909 – 1978):
Eldest son (and second child) of the marriage of Frederic Arthur Bashford Fryer and Frances Esme Balfe. As the sole male heir to this line of the Fryer family, the remaining estates in West Moors came to him on the death of his father (in 1943), and it is he who sold parcels of land for building places like the ‘Fryer Arms’ etc. He died, as did his sisters (Kathleen, Esme & Frances) & his brother (William, known as ‘Frankie’) leaving no heirs. His younger sister (Frances) died in 2008 and was the last of the ‘West Moors’ Fryers to die.

Description of Fryer tombstone at Kinson:
” Sacred to the memory of William Fryer Esq. of Wimborne Minster and Lytchett, Dorset, banker. Died March 1834, aged 64 years. Also Elizabeth, his wife, daughter of Isaac Gulliver Esq. of West Moors, Dorset. Died 1839 aged 69 years. [ by this marriage, the families of Gulliver and Fryer are linked ]
Also John Fryer Esq. of Wimborne Minster eldest son of above, died Oct 1854 aged 57 years. Also Mary his wife, daughter of Christopher Harding Esq. died 1886 aged 79 years. Also Lieut. General Sir John Fryer Knight Commander of the Most Honourable Order of Bath Colonel of the 6th Dragoon Guards, the Carabiniers eldest son of the above John and Mary Fryer. Died 28th January 1917 aged 78 years. Also Catherine Lady Fryer, 52 years wife of Lieut. General Sir John Fryer, K.C.B and daughter of George Reed Esq. East Brent Manor, Somerset died August 1914 aged 74 years. Erected in 1915 by Lieut. General Sir John Fryer K.C.B. to the honoured memory of his forefathers. “

The diagram below is an attempt (much simplified) to portray the ‘linking’ between the three families through business partnerships and marriage.

Sources: (as on the dates shown … they may not be active now!)
http://www.communigate.co.uk/dorset/kinsondorset/page3.phtml [ last accessed 10th October 2011 ]
http://www.communigate.co.uk/dorset/kinsondorset/page12.phtml [ last accessed 10th October 2011 ]
http://www.thedorsetpage.com/history/Smugglers/Smugglers.htm [ last accessed 10th October 2011 ]
http://www.stmaryswestmoors.org.uk/parish_history.htm [ last accessed 15th December 2011: this latter a particularly useful source with a more detailed family tree]
[ last accessed 14th December 2011 ]
http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Page:The_Indian_Biographical_Dictionary.djvu/191 [ accessed 14th August 2011 ]
[ accessed 14th August 2011 ]
http://tinyurl.com/3stdvzj [ accessed 14th August 2011 ]
http://tinyurl.com/4xd4quw [ accessed 14th August 2011 ]
[ accessed 14th August 2011 ]
http://www.archive.org/stream/finalreportonfi00fryegoog#page/n41/mode/1up [ accessed 14th August 2011 ]