The Clitherow family first became prominent as merchants in the City of London in the 16th century, acquiring property in the parishes of St Mary Woolchurch and St Andrew Undershaft (see ACC/1360/021-022) as well as in adjoining counties. In 1635 Sir Christopher Clitherow was chosen Lord Mayor of London. One of his younger sons, James Clitherow, born in 1618, was active as a merchant and banker by 1642. His account books survive from 1642 until his death in 1682 (ref ACC/1360/435-440) giving details of his investment in voyages to the East Indies and elsewhere, his loans to relatives and others, and the deposits of money which he held on their account, as well as his purchase of Boston Manor in 1670 and other lands.
Before the Reformation Boston Manor, including the township of New Brentford, in the parish of Hanwell, was held by the priory of St Helen, Bishopsgate, in the City of London. In 1572 Queen Elizabeth I granted it to Robert, Earl of Leicester, who then sold it to Sir Thomas Gresham. On his death it passed first to his wife, then to his stepson, Sir William Reade. It was Sir William's widow, Dame Mary Reade, who built the present Boston Manor House in 1622/3, though it was extensively repaired by James Clitherow in 1671 after it had been damaged by fire. Dame Mary subsequently married Sir Edward Spencer, who took up residence at Boston House. She died in 1658 a childless widow and left Boston Manor to her kinsman, John Goldsmith. After his death in 1670, James Clitherow (referred to in the list of the records as James Clitherow [I]) purchased the manor from his executors. (see ACC/1360/028/1-8. and ACC/1360/440). The Manor of Boston, also known as Burston or Bordeston, was coterminous with the township of New Brentford, which had its own chapel dedicated to St Lawrence. In 1747 the chapelry of New Brentford became legally independent of Hanwell. The neighbouring township of Old Brentford remained in the parish of Ealing.
On his death in 1682 James Clitherow [I] left Boston Manor to Christopher, his only son by his third wife, who was born in 1666. He also left a son, James, by his first wife, as well as two daughters, Jane Jenyns and Elizabeth Powel. On reaching his majority Christopher Clitherow continued his father's practice of holding money on deposit for relations, friends, tenants, and other (see ACC/1360/441-442). He and his father acquired additional property in Middlesex, mainly in the parishes of Ealing, Hanwell, Isleworth and Hayes. They also purchased or inherited from other members of the Clitherow family land in Pinner, estates at Langham in Rutland, Lolham in Northamptonshire, Keyston in Huntingdonshire, and fee farm rents in Berkshire and Middlesex. In 1696 Christopher Clitherow exchanged the manors of Nether and Upper Bilsington in Kent with Thomas Rider for Pinners Hall and other property in Austin Friars in the City of London (see ACC/1360/017-019 and ACC/1360/153/1-2). He sold the Langham estate in 1720 as being more trouble than it was worth (see ACC/1360/444) and in 1723 draw up a detailed description and valuation of Boston Manor and his other property in case a good match was proposed for his son (ACC/1360/444).
Christopher Clitherow married Rachel Paule in 1689, who bore him fifteen children before dying in 1714. Christopher Clitherow's summaries of his personal expenditure 1699-1727 (ref ACC/1360/450-472) show his anxiety to control his expenditure on his large family. He established some of his younger sons as merchants in the City of London, or in the case of Henry, as an East India merchant in Bombay (see ACC/1360/341/12), but of these only Nathaniel, a mercer, lived long enough to marry.
On Christopher Clitherow's death in 1727, Boston Manor was inherited by his eldest son, James Clitherow [II], who appears to have been brought up to be a country gentleman completing his education at Oxford. In January 1731 he married Philippa Gale, one of the three daughters of Leonard Gale of Crabbet in Sussex. On the deaths of both her brother Henry and her father in 1750, Philippa Clitherow and her two sisters, Elizabeth Humphery and Sarah Blunt, each inherited a third share of their lands in Crawley, Worth, Ifield, Beeding, Steyning, and East Grinstead in Sussex, as well as of his other property. They also inherited the property of their relation, Henry Gale of Ifield, who had died in 1739, subject to an annuity to his wife, Mary. The Sussex property was owned in common until 1761, when it was divided between the heirs of the three sisters.
James Clitherow [II] died in 1752 leaving Boston Manor and his other estates to his elder son, James Clitherow [III], who was born in October 1731. By making a careful examination of his financial situation on entering into his inheritance, he discovered that his income would be considerably less than he had expected, owing mainly to the generous provision made by his father for his wife and younger children (see ACC/1360/167/11). This induced him to keep careful accounts of his expenditure, adopting some of his grandfather's methods, and to take an active part in the management of his estates, including his mother's Sussex estates which she had handed over to him on his marriage in 1757 to Ann Kemeys. He also paid great attention to the orderly keeping and labelling of title deeds and other records and papers, relating both to his estate and to family affairs. The survival of so few expired leases amongst the Clitherow papers is probably explained by the family's practice of cutting up old leases and other deeds of no apparent value and using the blank side of the parchment as covers for books or labels for bundles of documents.
In 1781 James Clitherow [III] received an unexpected bequest from a neighbour, Martha Heddin of Isleworth, the last survivor of a large family of unmarried sisters and one brother, who had died childless. Rather than dividing her property amongst her numerous impoverished cousins, Martha Heddin sought to keep intact the estates accumulated by her family in the parishes of Isleworth, Twickenham and Heston, by leaving them all to one gentleman who already had substantial property. Her intentions were largely defeated by an Irish gentleman, Lieutenant Colonel Redmond Kelly, who after her death produced a bond for £5,000 supposedly signed by Martha Heddin. In order to satisfy his claims, James Clitherow had to sell much of the Heddin property. (For a full accounts of this and an "epitaph" to Martha Heddin see ACC/1360/232).
His abilities, integrity, and reputation made James Clitherow [III] much in demand as an executor of wills and as trustee of his relations' and friends' affairs. A substantial proportion of the Clitherow papers relate to his activities on behalf of others, together with those of his son Colonel James Clitherow, and also of a few trusts administered by his father, James [II], grandfather, Christopher, brother Christopher, and nephew, General John Clitherow. The more notable trusts included those on behalf of his brother-in-law, Sir William Blackstone, who had married Sarah Clitherow in 1761, the Bourchier family of Hertfordshire whose property included shares in a lead mine in Brittany, his cousin's husband, Philip Barling, a surgeon, who seemed to be in constant financial difficulties in his old age, the Baker family, lessees of an estate in Saint Marylebone, during the minority of Peter William Baker, who subsequently married James Clitherow's daughter, Jane, in 1781, and the Feilde family of Stanstead Abbots, Hertfordshire.
Paul Feilde was one of James Clitherow's fellow trustees in what was to prove by far the most troublesome and expensive of the trusts in which he was involved, that undertaken in 1774 on behalf of John Gardner Kemeys, whose wife Jane was the sister of James Clitherow's wife, Ann. Jane Gardner Kemeys had inherited the Bartholey estate in Monmouthshire from her father, Reginald Kemeys, while her husband owned a share in the Plantain Garden River Plantation in Jamaica. By the early 1770s he was so deeply in debt that the only way to avoid ruin appeared to be obtain a private Act of Parliament enabling him to vest all his estates, settled and unsettled, in trustees, who then mortgaged them in order to raise money to pay his debts. The trustees also lent money to John Gardner Kemeys to enable him to travel to Jamaica to take over direct management of the plantation. But he failed either to pay the interest on the mortgage himself or to remit money to his trustees, resulting in the mortgagees taking possession of all his estates both in Jamaica and in Monmouthshire in 1779. Legal action was taken against the trustees forcing them to raise further large sums from their own resources.
On being forced to leave Bartholey, Jane Gardner Kemeys and her daughters sought refuge in Monmouth, with the help of friends and relatives. Her troubles were compounded by the elopement of her elder daughter, Jane, with a servant Providence Hansard. After the death of John Gardner Kemeys in 1793, his son, John Kemeys Gardner Kemeys, after many years' endeavours and the passing of two further private Acts of Parliament in 1794 and 1801 finally succeeded in regaining possession of the family estates. For James Clitherow's accounts of the trust see ACC/1360/666 and ACC/1360/628.
On the death of James Clitherow [III] in May 1805, his estates were inherited by his only son, James Clitherow [IV]. Much less survives in the Clitherow papers relating to his management of the family property, nor, with two exceptions, do they contain anything relating to the many public duties which he undertook in Middlesex, where he was a Justice of the Peace and Chairman of the Committee responsible for building the first county lunatic asylum for Middlesex at Hanwell. (See MA/A/J1-J2 and MJ/SP/1827/LC/1-24). The Clitherow Papers do, however, include title deeds of Sir Thomas Ingram's Almshouses in Isleworth (ref ACC/1360/656/1-18), of which Colonel Clitherow was treasurer, being largely responsible for raising a subscription for their repair in 1816. They also include extensive correspondence, accounts, vouchers, and other papers relating to the Royal Westminster Regiment of the Middlesex Militia 1796-1826 (ref ACC/1360/736-778) of which James Clitherow [IV] was Colonel.
Colonel James Clitherow died in 1841 leaving no children. He left Boston Manor and his other estates to his wife, Jane, for her life, then after her death in 1847, they passed to his cousin, General John Clitherow (1782-1852). Very little survives amongst the Clitherow papers relating to the tenure of the family estates either by General Clitherow or by his only son, John Christie Clitherow, who died unmarried in 1865. Ownership of Boston Manor then passed to his cousin, Colonel Edward John Stracey, the elder son of Emma Elizabeth Clitherow, daughter of Christopher Clitherow, who had married John Stracey of Sprowston, Norfolk, the fourth son of Sir Edward Stracey. On inheriting Boston Manor, Edward John Stracey adopted the additional name and arms of Clitherow in accordance with the terms of Colonel James Clitherow's will.
Edward John Stracey-Clitherow also inherited from his cousin the reversion to the Hotham Hall estate in the East Riding of Yorkshire, which had been settled on John Christie Clitherow in 1819. John Clitherow had in 1809 married Sarah, daughter of General Napier Christie Burton and his wife, Mary, who was daughter and heiress of General Ralph Burton of Hull Bank House, Cottingham, East Yorkshire. Their marriage resulted in the birth of an only child, John Christie Clitherow, in December 1809, but was ended by the Clitherow Divorce Act of 1819 (59 George III c.71). In 1822 Sarah Clitherow married Hugh Peters, who took the name Burton. In the same year she inherited Hotham Hall on the death of her brother, Robert Christie Burton. Ownership of Hotham Hall passed to Edward John Stracey-Clitherow on the death of Sarah Burton in 1869. Colonel Stracey-Clitherow, who had married Harriet Marjoribanks in 1846, on dying childless in 1900, left the Hotham estate to his nephew, Colonel John Bourchier Stracey, later Stracey-Clitherow, while Boston Manor passed to his younger brother, the Reverend William James Stracey, who assumed the name Stracey-Clitherow.
Little record survives amongst the Clitherow Papers of Edward John Stracey-Clitherow's tenure of the family estates, or of his other activities. Much more exists relating to his brother, William James, and to his brother's eldest son, John Bourchier Stracey-Clitherow, but their connection or interest in Boston Manor and Middlesex was considerably less than that of their predecessors. The Reverend William James Stracey-Clitherow did not inherit Boston Manor until he was aged almost 80. His surviving account books, diary, correspondence and papers relate mainly to affairs in Norfolk, where he was Vicar of Buxton and Rector of Skeyton and Oxnead from 1855 to 1888 as well as managing both his own and his brother's property in Norfolk. He retired in 1888 to 50 Portland Place in London, where he continued to live after he inherited Boston Manor.
His eldest son, Colonel John Bourchier Stracey-Clitherow took up residence at Hotham Hall in the autumn of 1900 and became much involved in the county activities of the East Riding, being commissioned a major in the East Riding Yeomanry in 1902 (ACC/1360/780) and helping to establish the Territorial Force Association of the East Riding of Yorkshire (see ACC/1360/781/1-87). In 1897 he had married Mrs Alice Gurney, who had four children by her first marriage, Laura, Lady Troubridge, Rachel, Countess of Dudley, Major Henry Edward Gurney, and Thomas Claud Gurney. Amongst the Clitherow Papers are the letters and telegrams sent by Thomas Gurney to his mother and stepfather while he was serving overseas in the South African War 1901-1902 (ACC/1360/555/1-173) and in the 1st World War 1917-1919 (ACC/1360/556/1-37). In 1906 he married Muriel Frances Sykes, daughter of the late Mr C.P. Sykes of West Ella Hall, near Hull.
John Bourchier Stracey-Clitherow inherited Boston Manor on his father's death in 1912. Some of his correspondence and papers relate to the management of the Boston Manor estate, including road widening and building schemes, sale of land, and the development of Clitherow Avenue (ACC/1360/523-527). In 1923 he sold the Boston Manor estate. Brentford Urban District Council brought Boston House and 20 acres of land, which they opened as a public park in 1924.
On John Bourchier Stracey-Clitherow's death in 1931, he left the Hotham estate to his younger stepson, Thomas Claud Gurney, who in 1932 assumed by Royal Licence the surname and arms of Clitherow in lieu of his patronymic.
The Clitherow Papers listed below were discovered in 1975 in the attics and over the stables of Hotham Hall, then in the ownership of Thomas Clitherow's granddaughter and her husband, who decided that they should be deposited on loan in the Greater London Record Office.