THE CLEGG'S OF SHEFFIELD

WILLIAM JOHNSON CLEGG (1827 - 1895)

Whilst researching the events in the life of Charles Clegg I became aware that he was part of a family that played a major role in the development of Sheffield as a city in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.     

The first mention I came across was in Keith Farnsworth's book "Wednesday" when he states that Charles was the son of WILLIAM JOHNSON CLEGG. His father is in the "Directory of the Borough and Parish of Sheffield, 1852" which gives the following entry   

Clegg William Johnson, highway rate collector, 53 Spring lane

There is also another mention of William in White's Directory of 1852 "The Sheffield, Magistrates, Highways and Courts 1852" which states that the Highways Board's office "is at 40 Queen street. Mr. J. Wheatley is the clerk; George Padley & W. J. Clegg, are the collectors, & Mr. John Smith, assistant surveyor. Mr. John Buxton is collector of Highway rates, and Mr. S. F. Holmes, surveyor of Highways for Ecclesall Bierlow, for which township a Board of Surveyors are elected yearly"

In the book "The Making of Sheffield I865-1914 by J. H. Stainton (E. Weston & Sons, Change Alley, Sheffield 1924) the author points out that William was born on September 26th 1827  in Earl Street, the son of a small cutlery manufacturer. He was educated at Carver Street National School (established 1812) where the fee was 1d a week. He left the school at 12 years of age and started his business career at the the offices of Mr. Vickers (Solicitor) before becoming a Highway Rate Collector with the local Highways board. He moved on from that position and became an accountant at premises on Chapel Walk. However it was to be the aftermath of the Sheffield Flood of 1864 that was to prove the turning point in his life. Together with a Mr C. E. Broadbent he vigorously pursued claims against the Sheffield Waterworks Company for compensation on behalf of the victims of the flood and their families. The success he enjoyed in this work led William to leave his family in Sheffield and train to become a solicitor in London. Stainton, fully appreciates the single minded dedication that William showed in following ambitions which were rewarded when he returned to Sheffield in 1868 and established the firm of Clegg and Sons. For many years, Clegg & Sons practised in Figtree Lane, in premises famous for being formerly the original Sheffield "Women's Hospital". The firm more recently occupied offices in Mazda Buildings, Campo Lane, Sheffield but then merged with yet another firm of solicitors, Benson Flint, in October 2000 to form Benson Clegg. 

William was later joined in the practice by his two sons John Charles and William Edwin CLEGG  

The 1881Census finds the family living at

Dwelling: 22 Victoria Road    Census Place: Ecclesall Bierlow, York, England

FHLF: 1342119    PRO Ref:    RG11/Piece/Folio 4633/86 Page No. 15 

SURNAME FORENAME Age Rel Occupation Place of Birth
CLEGG Wm.J. 54 Head Alderman (Solicitor) Sheffield Yorkshire
CLEGG Asenath 52 Wife   Hathersage Derbyshire
CLEGG Asenath H. 17 Daughter   Sheffield Yorkshire
CLEGG Sara A. 15 Daughter   Sheffield Yorkshire
CLEGG Leonard J. 13 Son Scholar Sheffield Yorkshire
HARROP Amanda 48 Sister in Law Housekeeper (Dom) Hathersage Derbyshire
MARSDEN Mary H 31 Servant Gen Servant (Dom) Sheffield Yorkshire
RODGERS Jessie 16 Servant Gen Servant (Dom) Liverpool Lancashire
ELLIOT Geo.Hy 19 Servant Groom Gen Servant (Dom) Bradwell Derbyshire

22 Victoria Road, Broomhall, Sheffield - Photo taken July 2004

The house was in the Broomhall area of Sheffield which in the late nineteenth century was one of the most prestigious areas of Sheffield. The road leads off Collegiate Crescent and runs parallel to Ecclesall Road. His son Charles lived nearby on Wharncliffe Road. The details on the census speak for themselves - William Johnson Clegg was one of the city's most prominent citizens and had a lifestyle that reflected his position in society.  In 1883 following the passing of the Bankruptcy Act, William Johnson Clegg was appointed Sheffield's first Official Receiver and in 1887 was elected Mayor of Sheffield. He was also Mayor the following year. He also took over the office in 1891 following the sudden death of the incumbent Mayor Samuel Osborn. 

William Johnson Clegg in his mayoral robes (photo kind courtesy of Tony Beardshaw)

It was during this third term of office that William laid the Foundation Stone for the new Town Hall that was to be built in Sheffield. The ceremony took place on October 9th, 1891. The stone can still be seen in the main entrance/foyer of Sheffield Town Hall.

In July 2004 I was contacted by William's great great grandson who informed that William's first wife was called MARY CLEGG nee SYKES and that it was MARY who the mother of CHARLES, WILLIAM and MARY ELLEN CLEGG. 

Mary Clegg, William's first wife and the mother of John Charles, William Edwin and Mary Ellen Clegg (photo kind courtesy of Tony Beardshaw)

From the information that I have been given Mary does not appear on the 1861 Census, whilst her husband and three children (John Charles, William Edwin and Mary Ellen) do. The assumption is that Mary must have died prior to that date. The next child to be born was ASENETH HARROP CLEGG in 1864 who took the name of her mother and William's second wife ASENETH .  

ASENETH CLEGG was the daughter of Samuel and Mary HARROP of Hathersage, Derbyshire. There is a record in the IGI Index (Batch No C013133 1813 - 1875 Source Call No 0498087) that shows that ASENATH HARROP was christened on 8th February 1829 in the Parish Church at Hathersage. Her younger sister AMANDA who in 1881 was the housekeeper at Victoria Road was christened in the same church four years later on 9th August 1833 (Batch No C013133 1813 - 1875 Source Call No 0498087). There was an older brother ABSOLOM (1827 - ) but a younger brother Abner (1831 - 32) and sister Aramenta (1836 - 1838) died in early childhood. 

A daughter ASENETH HARROP CLEGG was born in the March quarter of 1864 (District: Ecclesall Bierlow PRO Ref: Vol 9c Page 244) and married at the age of 21 in the December quarter of 1885 (Sheffield PRO Ref: Vol 9c Page 664). Her husband was called Charles Maples who originated from Rochdale, Lancashire. The 1901 Census shows ASENETH MAPLES still living in the Ecclesall district of Sheffield and still married to CHARLES. Charles's age in the census is given as 47 which makes him ten years older than his wife. His occupation is given as a "traveler with a manufacturing chemist" 

The younger daughter SARA AMANDA CLEGG was born in the December quarter of 1865 (District: Ecclesall Bierlow PRO Ref: Vol 9c Page 229) and married, at the age of 27, a THOMAS EDGAR FREESTON (GRO Reference September 1892 Ecclesall Bierlow Vol 9c Page 445).

In January 2007 I was contacted by a descendent of the family who kindly added the following information about SARA and her husband THOMAS

"Sara married Thomas Edgar Freeston in 1892 at Ecclesall Bierlow. Thomas was the manager of a local steelworks, possibly part of John Brown & Co Ltd. They lived at 39 Bromsgrove Road, Ecclesall, and had one child, Margaret Sara, born in 1898. 

In 1886, Thomas had spent some time in Shropshire inaugurating a Bessemer steel department at the Lilleshall Company's Priorslee works, and in 1918 he accepted an invitation to become their managing director. He and Sara took up residence at Priorslee Hall (owned by the company), and they stayed there until his retirement in 1944 at the age of 83. They then moved to a private house where Sara died in 1949 and Thomas in 1953. They were both buried at Priorlee parish church. 

During their time at Priorslee, they both became involved in other organisations. Thomas was a JP, president of the local Hospitals Committee, vice-chairman of governors at Walker Technical College, president of various sports organisations, and heavily involved with the council in the improvement of local housing. Sara was secretary of the local Child Welfare Committee and Nursing Association, and president of the British Women's Temperance Association (no doubt inspired by her father's example).

Thomas was a native of Sheffield, born there in 1861, the youngest of three children of Thomas and Eliza Freeston, nee Horspool. Thomas senior was born at Waltham-in-the-Wolds in Leicestershire into a humble labouring family, moved to Sheffield in 1860 and by 1871 was managing a steelworks in Brightside. In 1881, the family was living at Attercliffe, close to the current Don Valley International Stadium. In fact the private road they were on, just off Leigh Street, was later named Freeston Place.

In about 1887, Thomas senior took over the tenancy of Eastwell Hall close to his birthplace in Leicestershire. This was intended for his retirement, but the 1891 census shows him still at Attercliffe, whilst his wife Eliza was in residence at the Hall with a variety of visitors. These included Sara Amanda Clegg, no doubt at this stage engaged to Thomas junior. By 1901, he had retired to the Hall and now described himself as a farmer. Visiting them were Sara's widowed mother Asenath Clegg, and Thomas and Sara's infant daughter, Margaret Sara."

THE DESCENDENT of Thomas and Sara who supplied me with this information would very much like to find out more about which companies the Freestons worked for in Sheffield (there was another son, Richard Adams Freeston, who was also employed in the steel industry),"

If you can assist in any way whatsoever please contact me by e-mail

In January 2008 I was contacted by another descendent of the family who gave me the following information

"I have a good connection with the Freestons, but on the 'poor' side. My grandparents married at Sheffield St.Peters' in November 17,1889. Grandad William Anstey Sleath's mother was Elizabeth nee Freeston,. born Grimston, Leics. [as was grandad.] She must have come up to Sheffield from Grimston, for her son's wedding as Thomas Freeston, and Elizabeth, Mrs Sleath, witness the marriage. I believe these two people are brother and sister as in the 1881 census I have Thomas [b.Grimston] and wife Sarah [b.Cropwell Bishop.Notts] living at 31,Houghton St. Brightside Bierlow, Yorks. He is 42 and a Railway foreman. Grandad is a Railway Porter. Also in the 1881 census living in the same area is brother George Freeston, 31 and born in Grimston, Leics. He is a boiler maker.
The Freeston family [from Waltham on the Wolds, Leics. originally] who settled in Sheffield in 1861 are related to the above, and it makes interesting reading how well Thomas Freeston, got on in the steel industry. Do you think it possible that the 'cousins' knew one another in Sheffield then and maybe one helped the other? My Sleath grandad was 'in service' before marriage and as he was a porter briefly, I would think his Uncle Thomas Freeston, Railway foreman might have put in a good word for William Sleath, nephew. Incidentally, the Sleaths' returned to Leicestershire pretty quickly.

As before if you can assist in any way whatsoever please contact me by e-mail


WILLIAM died at Cliffe Tower on June 15th 1895 at the age of 68 (PRO Reference Ecclesall Bierlow PRO Ref: Vol 9c Page 210)

J.H. Stainton in his previously mentioned book gives this insight into William's character :

"He was a pleasant man, spare in build, with keen grey eyes and a thin beard, a man of great intelligence, tremendous activity and resolution. A militant and aggressive temperance advocate, he led many campaigns against the "trade." His greatest triumphs came in municipal life, and in the Council he was a very frequent speaker, a dialectic duellist with Mr. Herbert Bramley, and his keen instinct and ready humour gave him many successes. Into that Chamber he took a style which, sometimes dictatorial, was generally convincing. Altogether there were few abler debaters in the Council, and his judgment was sound and reliable, whilst his impartiality during his mayoralties, which extended over two and a half years, was acknowledged very freely by his opponents".   


WILLIAM is buried in the churchyard of Christ Church Fulwood, Sheffield. An impressive monument gives the following inscriptions

In Loving Memory of

WILLIAM JOHNSON CLEGG J.P.

BORN 23rd Sept 1826

DIED 15th June 1895

In Loving Memory of

CHARLES WILLIAM CLEGG

dearly loved husband of Kate M Clegg

Died 28th January 1927 in his 53rd year

Also LEONARD JOHNSON CLEGG J.P.

dearly loved husband of Kate M Clegg who passed away May 16th 1939 in his 72nd year

Also the above KATE CLEGG who passed away Nov 9th 1947 in her 78th year

Also of ASENATH the widow of WILLIAM JOHNSON CLEGG

BORN 7th Jan 1829

DIED 4th Aug 1907

In Loving Memory of

JOHN CHARLES CLEGG Kt

BORN June 15th 1850

PASSED ON June 26th 1937

In Loving Memory of

MARY

The beloved wife of JOHN CHARLES CLEGG Kt

BORN 1st April 1850

CALLED HOME 22nd August 1933

"Whosoever believeth on me hath everlasting life"  

NB there seems to be a difference on William's date of birth. Stainton, gives it as September 26th 1827 whilst his epitaph states 23rd September 1826

In August 2010 I was contacted by a person who was researching Wilks Bros. & Comp.of Sheffield, and kindly provided me with the following information

"Leonard Johnson Clegg 1st. married Ethel Maud Wilks born May 26, 1867 , daughter of Edward John Wilks and Eliza Ann Reckless.  (Edward John Wilks is one of the brother's in Wilks Bros. & Comp. of Sheffield).  Ethel married Leonard Johnson Clegg in Sheffield in 1890.  
They had a daughter Ethel Theodora Clegg b. Mar. 12, 1891 in Ecclesall Bierlow, Sheffield.  Ethel's mother Ethel Maud Wilks died March 19, 1891.  Ethel Theodora Clegg married Thomas O. Leaf  1920 in Sheffield.  Ethel died in 1972 in London and Thomas died in 1952 in Brighton, Sussex.
Leonard Johnson Clegg married 2nd. Kate Turton in 1896 in Sheffield.  They had at least two children: William John Clegg b. 1898 who became a Solicitor and Ellen Clara Clegg.
Ancestry.com has all this information as well as the England National Probate Calendar - Index of Wills which includes entries for Leonard Johnson Clegg and his first wife Ethel Maud Clegg (nee Wilks). The Will Index for William Johnson Clegg (Died 25 Jul. 1895 - Will probated 15 Jun. 1895) - Effects: 31827 pounds.4s.2d. and the Will Index for Aseneth Clegg (Died 04 Aug. 1907-Will probated  16 Aug. 1907). Effects: 997 pounds. 12 s. 6 d".

In October 2011 I received some excellent information about the son of Leonard Johnson and Kate Clegg WILLIAM JOHN CLEGG

"I have some information on William John Clegg as part of research into the Great War participation of the former pupils of Hazelwood Prep school at Limpsfield in Surrey and thought you might like to see it, and if you would like to,  include it on your site
His entry is below and I hope you find it useful/interesting
 
(98) Clegg, William John Lieutenant MC
1/1st Yorkshire Dragoons (Queens’ Own) Yeomanry
He was born in September 1897 the son of Leonard Johnson Clegg JP, a solicitor, and his second wife, Kate M (nee Turton) Clegg of Whiteley Wood, Sheffield in Yorkshire. He left Hazelwood School in the summer of 1911 for Uppingham School where he was educated from September 1911 until April 1914.
On leaving school he was articled to the firm of L.J. Clegg, solicitors of Sheffield.
He was appointed as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Yorkshire Dragoons on the 12th of November 1915. He was later promoted to Lieutenant and served in France, Belgium and Germany from September 1916 to May 1919.
He was awarded the Military Cross which was announced in the London Gazette of the 4th of October 1919 and the citation read:-
"On 20th October 1918, south-west of Vichte, for conspicuous gallantry and good work whilst leading an advanced platoon. He continually came under very heavy machine-gun fire from his flank. He pressed forward, and succeeded in capturing seven field guns and over thirty prisoners. It was greatly owing to his fearless leadership that his company were able to advance about a mile and a half in front of the infantry."
After the war he returned to work as a solicitor. He married Audrey Ivy (nee MacLaren) at Hove Parish Church on the 2nd of September 1926 and they lived at Bay House, 1 Marine Parade, Budleigh Salterton.
During the Second World War he served with the War Claims Commission and he died in February 1969"

I am also placing on this page an Obituary from The Times dated 23rd August 1932 regarding Sir William Clegg who was the brother of Charles and the son of WILLIAM JOHNSON CLEGG J.P.

There is an interesting footnote to this article. The house where William and his family lived - 22 Victoria Road, Broomhall, Sheffield - became a hotel. (The Rowdall Hotel) One of the proprietors of the hotel in the twentieth century was one LILY SIDDALL. Lily was instrumental in the arrest of Lee Doon who was tried and eventually executed for the murder of his employer Sing Lee in what became known as the Crookes Chinese Laundry Murder

Sources

Keith Farnsworth -  "Wednesday"

The Making of Sheffield I865-1914  -  J. H. Stainton (1924)

1881 Census

The Times dated 23rd August 1932

Tony Beardshaw (William Johnson Clegg's great great grandson) - www.my-history.co.uk
My History sells Family Tree Software, Books and Archival products for beginners and experienced genealogists. They stock: Family Historian,
Family Tree Maker, Good Web Guide Genealogy, Genealogy for Beginners plus more. Thanks to Tony for the two family portraits and information supplied

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This page was last updated on 03/04/14 16:16