GPS Accuracy (Feet): 3
(Thanks go to Lesley Newnham for researching this article).
Eliza Browne was born on 28 December 1828 in Helensburgh, Dunbarton, Scotland. Her parents were William Brown(e) and Margaret McTaggart.
She married first James Hargreaves Sykes in 1861 in Anderston Glasgow Lanarkshire. He was a woollen merchant in Scarborough. He died in 1864, age 51, leaving £729 in his will which described him as a merchant and ship owner. His brother, who seems to have been his partner, was mentioned in his will but he left Eliza well provided for. See 1871 Census below:-
In 1871 Eliza is living in Belmont Villa Belmont Road and appears to own Grosvenor Villa and Woodville House in which her servants live! Belmont Road is one of the select roads on the South Cliff area of Scarborough, see photograph below.
Eliza's second husband was John Bilton who she married in September 1871.
Taken from Shipping and Mercantile Gazette:-
“Married at St Michael’s Church, Chester Square London, to John Bilton of Hull, September 1871”
John was described in the 1871 Hull census as a merchant and was in lodgings. However he was obviously a successful merchant, - see below.
The death of John Bilton of John Bilton and Co, in 1872 aged 51 at his residence in Park Lea Scarborough, was reported in the Sheffield Independent 31st July 1872 and the Shipping and Mercantile Gazette, London on 30th July. See Will below:-
In January 1878 Eliza became John Barran's second wife. It was her third marriage.
He was a Liberal, a Councillor and had been Mayor of Leeds for two successive years 1871-2.
Sheffield Independent 12 Jan 1878:-
At the time John Barran had been a widower for 4 years and had a large, grown-up family some of whom were still living at home with him in Chapel Allerton Hall. Eliza had no children.
She was president of the Leeds Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) and on the committee of the Leeds Unmarried Women’s Benevolent Association.
She not only supported her husband’s political career but later became President of the Bingley
Women’s Liberal Party.
John was President of local Chamber of Commerce and had a reputation as a shrewd businessman. He supplied the British and foreign governments with clothing, making several thousand suits a day. He was a Liberal, a devoted follower of Mr Gladstone and became an MP in 1876. The Barrans supported the Temperance Movement – as lifelong Baptists they were teetotal.
John and Eliza had a London House at 24 Queens Gate. She was presented at court and in turn presented John Barran's daughter.
Leeds Times April 1880 Liberal campaigning:-
Leeds Times 3rd July 1880:-
Eliza was treasurer of Leeds Shelter Home for Girls. She was prepared to do the work herself and not just organise. In 1895 she ran a refreshment stall at a fundraiser for the students’ union of the Yorkshire College as reported in the Yorkshire Post May 1895.
In 1895 when he was 74 years old and Eliza was 73, John Barran was created Baron of Chapel Allerton and Eliza became Lady Barran,
1896 Leeds Times reports her giving a reception as President of the Executive Committee of the YWCA.
Sir John represented Leeds & Otley in Parliament from 1876 to 1895. In 1896 he was asked to stand as MP for Otley again but said after consultation with Lady Barran that he felt he must decline as he felt a younger candidate was needed.
Despite their advanced ages the Barrans continued to have a very active public social life. There are many reports of their presence at weddings in the newspapers – they pretty well cornered the market in silver salvers with occasionally a cruet set as wedding gifts. (Newspaper accounts always listed the wedding presents – it was something of a disgrace to be in the final phrase which stated “ – and diverse other gifts”).
Lady Barran still continued to support some of her own organisations, although in 1897 she gave up her Presidency of the Bingley Women’s Liberal Association, of which she had been president since 1893.
The fact that 'The Gentlewoman' in January 1897 reports what Lady Barran was wearing, shows how newsworthy they were. For example, “Monday January 4th, they were at an event at the Town Hall where one thousand, eight hundred guests were invited. She was in a lustrous silver satin brocade, with a cluster of dark crimson roses with Brussels lace, silver embroideries, magnificent tiara and parure of diamonds.”
They spent time at 24 Queens Gate, their London property and The Gentlewoman magazine, or some other newspaper, reported their every arrival there. They were guests of the Marquis and Marchioness of Ripon for various events. They were invited to recitals by Dame Clara Butt and others in some very elevated company as reported in The Gentlewoman July 1898. In other words, they were society gossip column news albeit a long way down the guest list.
1899 Leeds Times reports her election on to the committee of the Leeds Unmarried Women’s Benevolent Association which she had been involved with since 1895 when her husband was President and which she continued to support to the end of her life and included in her Will.
Sir John Barran died in 1905. After his death the Dowager Lady Barran, although described in 1906 in the newspaper as being rarely seen in public, continued to be involved in the Baptist movement expansion in Leeds and in the development of the University.
Eliza died on 4 May 1917, age 87, at Chapel Allerton Hall. She left £20,560.16s.4d. in her Will (see below).
£500 for the education of the sons of Annie Mabel Barran
£100 and a further £4,000 to her niece Marion Wharton
£4,000 in trust for her nephews and nieces William George Brown, Amy Brown, Marianne Brown.
£300 to the South Parade Baptist Chapel, Headingley
£50 Rev R.C. Lemin of Moseley, Birmingham
£200 to the Leeds Unmarried Women's Benevolent Institute (sic)
£40 to her maid Agnes Prentice
£40 to her butler Robert Sandford
£40 to her servant John Franklin
£10 to cook-housekeeper Mrs Crump
£20 coachman Thomas Tate
£20 gardener James Wood
Jewellery/heirlooms to Sir John Nicholson Barran
£50 each to executors
Residue to Henry Barran and Sir Rowland Hirst Barran equally.