What I do know: Richard Guise was married to Elizabeth Windham (aka Morgan) in December 1761 at St George’s Church Hanover. Richard attended Cambridge University, earning a bachelor’s of music in 1758. He served as a lay vicar at St George’s Chapel Windsor, and at Eton College until the 1790s, when he moved to London full-time and became choirmaster at Westminster Abbey and also a Gentleman of the Chapel Royal (St James Chapel). He and Elizabeth had two daughters: Sarah Eliza (or Elizabeth) (1762) and Frances (1772). [I might have also found another daughter Anne – who died shortly after birth]. He died in 1806, and was buried in Westminster Abbey. In his will he left his estate to his wife Elizabeth, his daughter Sarah, her children, and his grandchildren by Frances – John William Wright and Richard Baron, and to his uncle John Guise. This estate included a manor at Clewer, Berkshire.
From research in the regular databases [Ancestry and Findmypast] I have noted that he owned this manor in Clewer throughout his marriage to Elizabeth, but did not live there full-time. He also had a home in Horseshoe Close at Windsor Castle, which appears to have been his principle residence while he worked there and at Eton. When he lived in London he lived in Pall Mall, and Leicester Square – in the parish of Westminster.
I have a few ideas which come from what I know, and most lie in how Richard lived. First of all an education at Cambridge is not cheap at this period (well not cheap now either…) and it would seem to me that his obtaining of a degree meant that his family was either rich or well-connected, or both. Richard owned land, and had the vote, again something that leads me to believe that he was from money. I can’t believe that he made extraordinary amounts of money from his work as a choirmaster or lay vicar.
I haven’t definitively found Richard’s birth information yet. Most histories say he was born about 1740. There are a number of Richard Guises born about this time, one being the son of a John Guise, but if his uncle was John Guise, then I don’t think this is the same man. I thought that perhaps the Clewer estate was a way to find out more, and maybe connect him definitively to a specific Guise family.
What I have run into is a lot of clues, and some ideas, but nothing concrete. Here is what I found out.
In 1864, an unnamed grandson of Richard Guise said this in relation to the discovery of a work of art hidden in a room at the former Guise estate in Gloucestershire:
The Pictures Discovered in Gloucester – A Correspondent of the Builder writes: – “From accidental circumstances I am enabled to clear up the mystery about the “fine portrait of Pope” and the “Temptation” by Guido, lately discovered walled up in “Pope’s Room,” in the Guise mansion at Gloucester. My grandfather, Richard Guise, of Clewer, Berks, who died at an advanced age in the very beginning of the present century, told me that when his nearest relative, General Guise, left by will to Christ Church College, Oxford, his valuable collection of pictures (so valuable that they were sent to Manchester for the Arts Exhibition in that town, which followed the Exhibition in London), his heirs were grievously disappointed at the loss. These pictures, no doubt, hung at his country mansion in the county. Pope’s portrait and the “Temptation” by Guido formed a part of the furniture in the Guise residence at Gloucester, and we may naturally suppose, were secretly “walled up” out of sight, to prevent their transmission to Christ Church, as part of the legacy to that college. Such a step would shut out any claim or dispute about them afterwards; and they could in due time, be unwalled and again restored to the Guise family. The parties privy to this concealment dropped off, and the hidden treasures were entirely forgotten.” [Oxford Chronicle and Reading Gazette 23 January 1864]
So the first question I asked myself was “who were the Guise family in Gloucestershire?” Google set me to the Wikipedia page for the Guise baronets:
The Guise Baronetcy, of Elmore in the County of Gloucester, was created in the Baronetage of England on 10 July 1661 for Christopher Guise, Member of Parliament forGloucestershire. The second Baronet also sat as Member of Parliament for Gloucestershire. The third represented Gloucestershire and Great Marlow in the House of Commons. The fourth Baronet was Member of Parliament for Aylesbury. The fifth Baronet represented Gloucestershire in Parliament. This title became extinct on his death in 1783.
The Guise Baronetcy, of Highnam Court in the County of Gloucester, was created in the Baronetage of Great Britain on 9 December 1783 for John Guise. The cousin and heir male of the last Baronet of the 1661 creation, he was the great-grandson of Henry Guise, younger brother of the first baronet. The second Baronet sat as MP for Gloucestershire and Gloucestershire East. The fourth and fifth Baronets both served as High Sheriff of Gloucestershire.” [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guise_baronets]
Are these people related to my Richard Guise? No earthly idea, right now. I have a feeling that I will have to figure out their tree and see if there are any intersections. A “for later” project, clearly. But it is evident that this unnamed grandson does connect the two families.
I am more curious as to how the family present themselves as descendants of Richard Guise of Clewer, Berks. This is a most specific description and perhaps a way that they saw themselves, and one at odds in a way with the connection of the family to the Windhams through Richard’s wife. Do they choose the Guise connection because it is higher – has more prominence and recognition, or is it because the Windham connection is through an illegitimate child?
When Sarah Guise Cutler died in 1833 one of her obituaries uses both : “Died on the 1st inst at Kennington, Mrs Cutler, late of Sherborne, Dorset, age 71, deeply beloved and regretted by her family, and sincerely esteemed by her friends. She was the only surviving child of the late Richard Guise, Esq of Clewer, and neice of the late Right Hon William Windham” [Windsor and Eton Express, 3 August 1833 page 1].
A lot of questions, but not many answers yet.
I was also curious as to where this estate actually was. It was described as a manor in Richard Guise’s will, so I am assuming it is a rather large building, or at least a fairly good portion of land. Manor is not a house alone, but a property for income, and I am wondering as to how big it was, and whether it did provide the family with a significant income.
In 1826 the family decided to sell the Clewer property, and I found its sale notice here:
“Valuable and highly improvable FREEEHOLD ESTATE Clewer, Berks
Situated near the Church, one mile from Windsor, and commanding fine views of Windsor Castle, Eton College and St Leonard’s Hill.
TO BE SOLD BY AUCTION
By Mr Stephenson
At the Star and Garter Inn, Windsor, on Thursday July the 27th at Two o’clock
By order of the devisees of the late Richard Guise, Esq.
In one lot;
A neat and substantial cottage residence; containing two servants’ bedrooms, three principal bed rooms, dressing room, drawing room, 18 ft by 16’ on the ground floor, a dining parlour, 18 ft by 16, with marble chimney piece. Venetian window and door leading into pleasure garden; an entrance hall, kitchen and passage and back staircase, good washhouse with pump, pantry, beer and coal cellars, pleasure garden laid out with lawn, shrubs and evergreens; kitchen garden, lawn in front, yard & c; the front and north end inclosed[sic] with substantial high brick wall, commanding frontage 109 ft (138 ft in depth); in the occupation of Mr Siddenham Jun, subject to a trifling quit rent; land tax £1 6s per annum.
Particulars and tickets to view may be had at the neighbouring inns, and of the auctioneer and appraiser, Eton, Bucks.” [Windsor and Eton Express, 8 July 1826, page 1]
This advertisement gives me clues to where this property actually was near the church which from a search I made is called St Andrew’s. There is a lovely house extant next to the church, which is also on the river which could be Richard’s place. I used google maps to situate properties near the church in Clewer and it would be a good choice. Of course this place was sold in 1826, and there is no reason to believe that it survived to 2016, so I am just throwing out ideas.
Will Clewer provide the connections I need to find out where Richard was from and who were his family? More research to follow. Also might consider visiting England again …….. hmmmm.