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1233 Joseph Clay 1756-1824

Joseph Clay, the second of Burton, was born on 3 August 1756, the second surviving son of Joseph Clay the first of Burton and Elizabeth nee Robinson.  He was baptised at St Modwen's three days later.  Nothing is known about his youth and schooling[1] but by 1789 (when he was 33), according to the Tunnicliffe "Survey of Staffordshire", he was in partnership with his father as Joseph Clay & Son, Brewers, of Burton.  Two years later, according to the District Registry of 1791, he had branched out on his own and is referred to as Joseph Clay Junior, Wine and Brandy Merchant, but still retaining his partnership in his father's brewery.

On 15 September 1791 he was married at the age of 35, in the Burton Old Church (St Modwen's) to Sarah Spender, see below. At marriage, he described himself as "Joseph Clay, Junior, Gentleman, aged 28".  Sarah was then 22;  she was to become an heiress, like her mother, so financially it was a good match for Joseph, although there was no reason for him to have had any inkling of this at the time, for the youngest of her ten siblings was only six at the time. 

It is thought that this Joseph was the moving spirit[2] when Clay's Bank was started in the 1780's or 1790's, at the time that, in France, Napoleon Buonaparte was just getting into his stride.

When his father died in 1800, Joseph junior inherited the business and in the following year purchased the nearby Leeson brewery for £700.  As a result of this, the Clay family appears at that time to have owned all the Horninglow property up to the High Street corner.  The Leeson brewery round No. 6 Horninglow Street was described as having a brewhouse and later a malthouse, supplying these commodities for the Three Queens (in 2020 still operating as a Hotel) and other large inns in Horninglow Street, whose own brewhouses would have been too small for such large quantities, and who in any case would have had to buy malt. No.5 Horninglow Street is now the premises of Astle Paterson, Solicitors, but is still called Clay House.

C.W. Underhill, the Burton historian, has given a description of the house at No.6 Horninglow Street -

"the house appears to have been adapted from at least two old small houses, and probably three.  These would have been round the small yard near the old brewhouse since it was customary for the men employed to live near their job, the employer living in a slightly larger house.  The oldest of the houses appear to date from the 16th century, and would have a wide stick hearth, probably concealed in the right hand wall of the hall, and the timbers of the ceiling in the space filled up over the hall.  The conversion from at least two small houses probably took place in the early 18th century.  Then the additional room took the place of the yard on the right hand side, and the front door put into the street.  Prior to then there would be a blank wall to the street, the windows looking inwards to the yard.  The house would then only be two stories high, the third storey being built in the early 19th century. ... the owner of this property had a share in the common lands of the town, so that a small-holding would probably be worked in the fields at the back and running down to the stream which formerly ran past Machins Yard where the Pavement House used to be."

Joseph and Sarah had six children, three sons and three daughters :-

Margaret (Ann),     baptised on 9 August 1793, married her first cousin once removed, Canon Hastings Robinson, who has already been mentioned.  His father, the Rev Richard George Robinson, was the brother of Elizabeth Robinson, Margaret's grandmother and wife of Joseph Clay senior - a "family tree" explaining this can be found here.  Margaret's husband became Canon of Rochester; he and Margaret had no children.  

Sarah,                     baptised on 8 May 1795, never married, and lived in the Burton neighbourhood for many years.

Henry,                     born on 11 August 1796.

Caroline,                 born on 27 July 1798, married the Rev. Charles John Fynes-Clinton in 1826, and on 11 January the following year, she died giving birth to a daughter also called Caroline, who died soon after.  The two Carolines were buried in the Clay tomb at Burton.  Her husband C.J. Fynes-Clinton was a relation of the Duke of Newcastle; he re-married and had other children. We have a “pocket” Bible inscribed :-

Charles John Clay 
With the affectionate good wishes of his godfather
C.J. Fynes-Clinton
8th May 1829 [possibly on the occasion of his baptism]
Proverbs 9th Chap : 11 & 17 ver.
Isaiah 55th chap : verse 6
John 5th chap : verse 39
John 3rd chapter.

Pasted into the flyleaf is part of a letter dated 30.9.1930 from Rev. H.J. Fynes-Clinton, Rector of St. Maurice(?) the Martyr, 8 Finsbury Sq. , London Bridge:

I am very interested to hear about your connection with us. CHARLES JOHN was my grandfather, but we are descended from his second wife, Rosabella Mathews.  There are two of her brothers still living, dear old gentlemen.   Yours truly

Also an obituary notice from The Telegraph(?)

FYNES-CLINTON – On July 3, 1934, at Gladstone, Invercargill, New Zealand, GEOFFREY, last surviving child of the late REV. CHARLES JOHN FYNES-CLINTON, Rector of Cromwell, Notts, aged 87.

Joseph,                   baptised on 1 August 1800.

John,                       baptised on 19 April 1805.

On 12 August 1803, as war on the continent loomed, Joseph, now aged 47, was gazetted as Captain in the Burton Volunteers

By 1810 when their 14-year-old son Henry went to Repton School, the family was living on the other side of the River Trent from Burton (in Staffordshire, not Derbyshire) at Stapenhill House,[3] which at one time had belonged - perhaps still did belong - to Joseph's wife's family, the Spenders, and which in January 1824 Joseph was in the process of buying when he made his Will.  Sarah's mother had died in 1808, so it may be that they were living with her father John Spender to keep him company; John died in 1820.  Clay House, 5 Horninglow Street, was built from 1792 onwards, but perhaps that was just offices.

The early years of the nineteenth century were years of great and increasing anxieties for the brewers of Burton.  The Baltic trade involvd the export of beer to Scandinavia, matched by the impot of iron and timber used by the breweries for barrel hoops, horse-shoes, pipework, tools, etc., so had much depended on the Baltic trade, but it was ended suddenly in 1807 by the Napoleonic blockade

The brewers then had to use their ingenuity to find markets for their beer, and this led to the development of a new beer that "travelled well", and was exported to India; this was known as "India Pale Ale" or IPA. Fortunately the opening of the canals had made it possible to send their beers to London, Liverpool and Manchester.  Only when the war ended after the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 did the trade to the Baltic begin again, and even then it never recovered to its previous levels.  It finally ceased between 1822 and 1825, when the Baltic countries began to set up their own breweries and put heavy tariffs on imports from England.  Joseph Clay's Wine and Brandy business must also have suffered from the Napoleonic blockade, and it seems fortunate (or far-sighted) that he and his eldest son Henry turned more and more to what became known as The Old Bank. 

By 1818 the name of Clay & Son, Brewers, did not appear in the Parsons and Bradshaw Directory, but in their place was the name of "Clay & Son, Bankers, Horninglow Street, on Robarts, Curtis & Co. of London."  By this time Henry was 22 years old and had been taken into partnership with his father.  The old brewing premises were leased to Thomas Salt who had been employed by the Clays as a Maltster 44 years before, and who had established his own brewery on the east side of the High Street in 1800.  However the Clays retained the front of their brewery as the premises for their Commercial Bank.  Deeds have survived concerning the mortgage of both Bass and Alsop properties to the Clays in 1819 and 1822.

A brief personal glimpse of Joseph Clay in his later years has survived.  His grandson Charles John Clay was not born until two years after his grandfather's death, but he told his sons that he "had a childish memory of a description given him of his grandfather as an old man wearing a bright blue coat with brass buttons sitting outside the house in Horninglow Street smoking a long churchwarden pipe."

On 23 June 1824 Joseph Clay junior died at Burton.  The following notice appeared in the Derby Mercury :-

Suddenly of apoplexy, on Wednesday morning the 23rd June, Joseph Clay, Esq., of Burton-on-Trent, senior partner in the Old Bank there.  He was a man of the very strictest honour and integrity, and died possessed of a very large property.

His Will was proved at London on 17 July 1824.  It had been signed on 10 January 1824.  He described himself as being "of Burton upon Trent in the County of Stafford, Banker."  He left to his wife Sarah "all my household goods and furniture, beds, bedding, glass, plate, linen and china, printed books, drawings, prints and pictures, and also my wines and spirits and other liquors of every sort.  ... also ... all the watches, rings, trinkets, jewels, pearls and other ornaments of her person usually worn by her or called hers together with all her wearing apparel paraphernalia whatsoever to and for her own use and benefit absolutely for ever."

(Gervas wrote that he could not resist commenting that the word paraphernalia which appears at first sight to be just the sort of word any Clay would use, up to the present day, to describe his wife's possessions, has in fact a technical meaning as used here.  Chamber's Twentieth Century Dictionary (1979) gives this meaning as "formerly, property other than dower that remained under a married woman's own control, esp. articles of jewellery, dress, personal belongings ...")

Joseph also left to Sarah "my barouche and a pair of horses and harness thereto belonging."  Apart from his possessions which included land and buildings at Burton and elsewhere, he left legacies in money to his wife and children which totalled £157,000 (2020 value about £17.5 million).  The boys received £20,000 each (£2.5 m in 2020), with John (still a minor) getting £23,000 (perhaps because the cost of his education was included), and the girls £18,000 each.  He was obviously a very wealthy man when he died.


Sarah Clay née Spender

Sarah Spender had five sisters and five brothers, she was the second of eleven children of John Spender was born at Edgmond, Salop, on 24 June 1742, and he died at Burton on 29 September 1820, having been a surgeon there for many years. 

The Spender male line has been traced back to Cheswardine, Salop, in 1602.  John's father was the Rev. Arthur Spender, educated at Magdalene Hall, Oxford (B.A. 1729), who was Vicar of Edgmond when his son was born.  Arthur was the son of James Spender, born at Soudley, Salop, but of Cheswardine, and described as "Gentleman", when his son was born.

Sarah's father John married her mother, a Miss Wright, who was born in 174; her name is given as Eleanor in the Marriage Licence, as Ellen in her husband's Will, and as Helen in the Burial Register.  John married Ellen (as he called her) at Stone, Staffordshire, on 9 December 1765, Ellen was buried on 16 January 1808 at Burton-on-Trent.  Ellen's brother, John, who died in 1816, left all his possessions, including land, to John Spender his brother-in-law for the benefit of his sister Ellen's children. 

Returning now to Sarah, it is thought that she was born in Burton (see below), but it is not known exactly when, but, from her age (63) when she died at Stapenhill in 1831, it appears that she was born in 1769.  Somewhat surprisingly, none of her brothers or sisters married, but nearly all died young.  For this reason all the Spender possessions eventually came into the Clay family;  these included the inheritance which Sarah's mother had brought into the Spender family, as seen above.  Sarah's elder sister Margaret, who was born about 1766, died on 10 December 1844, aged 78, leaving a long and interesting Will.  Her younger brother John, also a surgeon like his father, was born about 1771 and died intestate on 23 January 1847 aged 76, and his Will was administrated by his nephew Henry Clay.  Margaret and John, sister and brother, lived in some affluence on opposite sides of Burton High Street[4].  The Spender Mausoleum is behind the church of St Modwen.

People who completed the 1841 Census form were required to say whether they were born in the county in which they were currently living, or elsewhere.  Sarah's elder sister said she was born "elsewhere" (in 1766).  Her younger brother said he was born in Staffordshire (in 1771).  Sarah was born between them, in 1768, but as she died in 1831, she did not complete the 1841 census form;  so it is not yet known where she was born.  The youngest five children were all born in Burton, but the elder six were not, and it has not yet been discovered where their parents were between their marriage at Stone and their arrival at Burton.

[1]  He may have gone to his father's old school - but we don't know where that was.

[2]  Well, he would be, wouldn't he - moving from his Wine and Brandy business !

[3]  Joseph's father-in-law, John Spender, died in 1820, four years before Joseph was negotiating to buy Stapenhill House - from whom ?  Perhaps the other three surviving children of John Spender (Joseph's father-in-law), Margaret, John and Richard, had "moved out" - or perhaps they hadn't, and all lived together in that large house ?  None of those three marrid, and when their mother died in 1808, perhaps Sarah's father invited Sarah and her husband Joseph and children to move into Stapenhill House with him.  Where had they been living before that ?  Joseph's father had died in 1800, so they could have moved into his house ?  In 1808 their children ranged from 3 to 15.

[4]  Do we know which houses ?

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