Catalogue description Archive of Howlett and Clarke of Brighton, solicitors

This record is held by East Sussex and Brighton and Hove Record Office (ESBHRO)

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Reference: HOW
Title: Archive of Howlett and Clarke of Brighton, solicitors

This is a temporary catalogue, mainly compiled as the firm's records were sorted at its offices. Those which have been retained are here listed by the boxes to which they were transferred. In the case of clients' records, the catalogue uses as headings those markings which were found on the original boxes. Several headings appear more than once: the records relating to one client have not all been brought together and the cross-references within the list should not be assumed to be complete. The numbers of the original boxes have been recorded as 'Formerly Box nnn'. Many records were not retained and were destroyed; the record office holds a list giving the numbers of the boxes of which part of, or all, the contents were destroyed


Some of the deposits with the Sussex Archaeological Society are incorporated in this list, namely records relating to the parish of Brighton at HOW/34/16 to HOW/39/14. Others of those deposits were listed as SAS/BRI and SAS/Wsx; the latter group have been transferred to West Sussex Record Office. A schedule of the SAS accessions which have not been relisted is appended to this introduction


Summary of contents


History of Howlett and Clarke, by Anthony Dale, c. 1990


HOW/1 Records of the firm: ledgers, cash books, letter books, registers of deeds held 1858-1963


HOW/2 Sartin and Evershed, builders: drafts and plans 1884-1911


HOW/3/1-9 George Shelley's estate 1848-1904


HOW/3/10 Wm Willett deed's trustees (nephew and legatee of Laura Verrall) 1865-1897


HOW/3/11-13 William Good's estate; builder 1851-1919


HOW/4; 5; 6 Hallett Trust (William Hallett, brewer) c1820-1926


HOW/7; 8; 9; 10/1-8 Thomas Attree, esq 1775-1887


HOW/10/9-10 Mr and Mrs Smithers (settlement) 1817-1893


HOW/10/11-15 J W Howlett 1871-1878


HOW/10/16-23 Trustees of Joseph Sattin 1840-1925


HOW/11/1-5 Trustees of Swan Downer's Charity School 1820-1942


HOW/11/6-14; 12/1 Smithers 1884-1927


HOW/12/2-6; 13/1-5 Miscellaneous parchment deeds 1616-1861


HOW/13/6-10; 14 Mrs Thackeray's old deeds 1673-1870


HOW/15/1-2 Walter H Fry (1795-1887) 1815-1861


HOW/15/3 William Attree? 1764


HOW/15/4-14; 16 H C Bridger's estate 1832-1874


HOW/17/1-6; 17/8, 9; 18; 19/1-17 Miscellaneous 1779-1886


HOW/17/7; 19/20 Apprenticeship indentures 1781-1891


HOW/19/18 John Cornish, Dowran, Southsea 1788-1819


HOW/19/19 St Nicholas Memorial School, Brighton 1928-1940


HOW/19/20 Apprenticeship indenture 1786


HOW/19/21,22 William Harvey 1876


HOW/19/23-28 John King 1878-1900


HOW/20 Estate of J B Padden c1840-1910


HOW/21/1-11 Mrs W P Harmer 1805-1858


HOW/21/12-22 Matilda Gaitskell, family papers 1813-1891


HOW/22/1-3 Dr Thomas Boycott 1809-1882


HOW/22/4-17 Commissioners of Taxes, Brighton District 1833-1941


HOW/22/18, 19 Firm's records 1881-1911


HOW/22/20 Atlas Insurance Co. 1866-1906


HOW/23; 24/1-3 King 1803-c1920


HOW/24/4-7 Friend and Abbey 1893-1901


HOW/24/8-12 Miscellaneous 1647-1869


HOW/25; 26 Da Costa (South Australian property) 19th c


HOW/27/1-18 Miscellaneous 1780-1885


HOW/27/19-28; 28 William Hallett, estate and trustees of 1824-1904


HOW/29 Miscellaneous 1694-1906


HOW/30/1-28 Percy and Wagner Almshouses 1830-1956


HOW/30/29 Records of the firm: apprenticeship indentures 1781-1858


HOW/31/1-3 Unmarked 1737-1844


HOW/31/4-8 Swan Downer's Charity for Clothing 1819-1916


HOW/32/1-8 C H Matthews 1859-1935


HOW/32/9 Brighton Jubilee and Accident Fund 1934-1952


HOW/33/1-10 Parish of Brighton 1788-1953


HOW/33/11-15 Records of the firm 1832-1881


HOW/34; 35; 36; 37; 38; 39/1-16 Parish of Brighton 1683-1908


HOW/39/17-27 Estate of William Harvey of Brighton, gent. 1855-1914


HOW/40 Miss Attree 1809-1908


HOW/41; 42/1-2 Brighton, Hove and Preston Dispensary 1848-1942


HOW/42/3-24 Mrs Wood of 2 Ventnor Villas, Hove (deceased) 1863-1908


HOW/43; 44/1-8 Mr J W Howlett 1798-1906


HOW/44/9-20 William Attree 1831-1914


HOW/45/1-8 Tugwell 1815-1882


HOW/45/9-17; 46/1-6 James Bollan estate 1747-1909


HOW/46/7-15 Charles Field of Brighton, builder 1819-1881


HOW/47; 48; 49/1-7 Brighton Guardians of the Poor 1854-1917


HOW/49/8-12; 50 Scabes Castle estate (Abbey and Friend, formerly Hallett) 1874-1911


HOW/51; 52 Eliza Barnett 1792-1884


HOW/53/1-8 W Gould 1847-1883


HOW/53/9-17; 54/1-13 W S Mutton 1807-1911


HOW/54/14 St Nicholas Memorial School, Brighton 1940-1955


HOW/55; 56; 57; 58 William Hallett's estate 1835-1906


HOW/59; 60/1-3 Thomas Read Kemp and John Hicks 1612-1805


HOW/60/4-8 Hallett (deceased) 1858-1888


HOW/61; 62/1-4 Brighton New Club 1793-1861


HOW/62/5-8; 63/1-2 Miscellaneous papers 1661-1914


HOW/63/3-10 Mrs M Hallett 1773-1926


HOW/63/11 Trustees of Mrs Bardoux 1848-1914


HOW/64; 65/1-6, 12 Scrase Dickens 1800-1842


HOW/65/7-11 J A S Hoskins 1823-1870


HOW/66; 67/1-5 Burgess Hill Water Company 1780-1882


HOW/67/6-7 J W Howlett deceased 1843-1934


HOW/67/8-14 G W Willett 1895-1901


HOW/68/1-5 Allin (deceased) and Godwin's Trust 1731-1888


HOW/68/6-12; 69; 70; 71 Film activities: Britannia Film Distributors Ltd; Pax Films 1952-1967


HOW/72 B da Costa 1869-1913


HOW/73 Sarah Coppard estate (Pulborough) 1876-1883


HOW/74/1-3 Chichester Diocesan Training College, Brighton 1855-1937


HOW/74/4-6; 75; 76; 77; 78; 79; 80; 81; 82; 83 Miscellaneous 1708-1906


HOW/84/1-20 Percy Almhouses 1819-1913


HOW/84/21-27 G W and C H Taylor 1849-1906


HOW/85; 86 Miss M A Boddington 1667-1898


HOW/87/1-9 Mrs Challis 1871-1885


HOW/87/10-13 Cornish Trusts 1863-1890


HOW/87/14-16 No provenance 1855-1953


HOW/87/16-26 Plans 1810-1868


HOW/88; 89; 90; 91; 92; 93; 94; 95/1 C Scrase Dickins 1662-1907


HOW/95; 96 N P Blaker: Pyecombe property c1600-1920


HOW/97/1-4 E B Blaker 1836-1911


HOW/97/5 Lawrence (and others) 1620-1900


HOW/97/6 Dr and Mrs Dill 1855-1927


HOW/98/1-2 John Hallett (deceased) 1749-1924


HOW/98/3-4; 99; 100; 101 Thomas Attree's estate 1590-1904


HOW/102; 103/1-2 V C M Cornish trustees 1685-1919


HOW/103/3-7 Charles Tulley 1836-1914


HOW/103/8; 104; 105/1-4 C Somers Clarke (deceased) 1889-1939


HOW/105/5 No provenance 1877-1915


HOW/105/6 Smithers and Sons 1838-1902


HOW/106 William Good's estate 1823-1934


HOW/107; 108; 109; 110; 111; 112 Deeds: numerical sequence starting at 5000 1706-1910


HOW/113/1 Thomas Smith (deceased) 1665-1911


HOW/113/2 John Hallett 1707-1868


HOW/113/3-8 Portslade title deeds prior to Smith and Son Ltd's title 1665-1903


HOW/114 Other plans 1856-c1920


HOW/115 Trustees of Shoreham Bridge 1781-1839


HOW/116 Brighton Improvement Commissioners 1810


HOW/117 Shoreham Harbour Commissioners 1816 and nd


HOW/118 Various clients 17th c-1828




Keymer Manor


SAS-ACC/964 Court Rolls 1645-6, 1653-55, 1657-61 (6 mems)


SAS-ACC/965 Court Rolls 1630-67 (20 mems)


SAS-ACC/966 Court Book 1632-88 (ex 1637-56), marked "B"


SAS-ACC/967 Court Book 1669-79 marked "E", & roughly "D", & "6"


SAS-ACC/968 Court Book 1688-1719 marked "E"


SAS-ACC/969 Court Book 1720-32 marked "F"


SAS-ACC/970 Court Book 1732-98 marked "G"


SAS-ACC/971 Court Book 1799-1832 marked "H"


SAS-ACC/972 Court Book 1833-55 marked "I"


SAS-ACC/973 Court Book 1855-64 marked "K"


SAS-ACC/974 Court Book 1864-79 marked "L"


SAS-ACC/975 Court Book 1879-1919 marked "M"


SAS-ACC/976 Court Book 1920-35 marked "N"


SAS-ACC/977 "Imperfect Table" to Court Books A to F


SAS-ACC/978 Index to Court Books A to I


SAS-ACC/979 Draft Index commencing 1833


SAS-ACC/980 Index to Court Books G to N


SAS-ACC/981 Bundle of Vols & papers re Enclosure Act 1828


SAS-ACC/982 Deed Box of Misc Manorial documents including rental temp Elizabeth I and draft 17th century court books


SAS-ACC/1040 Deed of co-partnership. Attree, Clarke & McWhinnie 1832, and miscellaneous clients papers - Somers Clark, Howlett (Kitton), C. Scrase Dickins c.1818-1856


SAS-ACC/1044 BRIGHTON Abstract of title of Thos Read Kemp, Thos Attree, and Philip Mighell, esqrs, to several pieces land in Brighton; 1737-1830. (Large vol, of 202 pages with Plans and Schedule)


BRIGHTON Abstract of title of Thos Attree to same; 1819-30. (Similar Vol with pp numbered 203 to 318)


WOODMANCOATE MANOR Rentals, minutes etc. 1697-1856


SAS-ACC/1055 BRIGHTON Tithe plan of parish c.1852; with enlarged plan of some 70 premises and about 42 certificates of rent charge or apportionments


SAS-ACC/1056 BRIGHTON Coloured plan of parish, undated; copied by T H Boore, law-stationer, Brighton, from an original of late 18th c. with furlongs and proprietors names; tentative date 1792; see Brighton Terrier AMS/5897/8-9


SAS-ACC/1057 BRIGHTON Ground near Queens Park, with 3 torn copies of plan of building land on W side of Queens Park for sale 1868


SAS-ACC/1058a BRIGHTON Harrington estate, between Ditchling and Lewes roads, by (?) Lanison & Son, surveyors, 17 Nov 1894. About 49 x 42


SAS-ACC/1058 PORTSLADE Estate of Mrs Elizabeth Bridger, 288a, by Henry S. Tiffen, land surveyor, Hythe, Kent, 1840; scale illegible

Date: c1600-1963
Held by: East Sussex and Brighton and Hove Record Office (ESBHRO), not available at The National Archives
Language: English

Howlett and Clarke, Brighton, solicitors

Physical description: 118 Boxes
Immediate source of acquisition:

Deposited in Feb 1983 (ACC 4026), Mar 1987 (ACC 4801). Previous deposits were made to the Sussex Archaeological Society in Feb 1961 (ACC 964-1073) and were transferred to ESRO in Dec 1969 (ACC 1025) and June 1982 (ACC 2967, 3252, 3264, 3283, 3405)

  • East Sussex
  • Land tenure
Administrative / biographical background:



Howlett & Clarke is not only the oldest firm of Solicitors in Brighton but the only one that can be traced back to the eighteenth century. Its first known principal or partner was William Attree. He came of an old established Ditchling family. His grand-father, William Attree, was a brick-layer there. The latter died in 1767 but left a Will, so he must have been a man of some education. This William Attree's son, John Attree, was a prosperous malster. In 1745 John Attree married at Newtimber Susannah, daughter of Henry Scrase of Withdean, Patcham. He died on the 9th June 1772 and is buried in a table-tomb in Ditchling church-yard to the north of the church


John and Susannah Attree had one daughter and four sons


William Attree was the second of these sons and was born in 1749. In 1765 he was articled for 5 years to an attorney in Lewes named Henry Burtenshaw. He was admitted to the roll of solicitors before 1775. But this must have been at least two years earlier, as in 1773, when the Brighton Town Commissioners were first set up to pave and light the streets and to erect groynes in front of the town, he became their first Clerk and also Treasurer. The Commissioners' minutes have not survived from before 1789, but Bishops' "Brighton in the Olden Time" quotes an advertisement by William Attree as Clerk to the Commissioners of 1st August 1773, so he must have held this office since the initiation of the Commission. His salary as such in 1789 was £4-10-0 a year


He was also Clerk to the Brighton Vestry. The date when he was appointed to that office is unknown because again the minutes of the Vestry have not survived from before 1790. He may well have been in office for some time before that date and perhaps was even appointed Clerk to the Commissioners in 1773 because he was already Clerk to the Vestry. His salary as Clerk to the Vestry was £10-10-0 a year in 1790 and £30-0-0 a year in 1804


It is just possible that William Attree's legal connection may extend further back than this. His mother's first cousin, Charles Scrase, was also an attorney. He was born in 1709 and was Town Clerk of Seaford in 1733. In 1771 Scrase purchased a moiety of the manor of Brighton and lived in the Manor House there which was on the site of Royal York Buildings in Old Steine. Scrase was also the solicitor of Dr Johnson's friend, Hester Thrale, later Mrs Piozzi. She stayed with him at the Manor House and subsequently bought a house of her own in Brighton in West Street. William Attree acted as steward of the Manor for Scrase from 1778 onwards. So it is possible that he had been articled to Scrase. The latter died in 1791


When William Attree established his practice in Brighton, he built himself an office and a house where he also lived. In 1775 he bought a site in Ship Street for £50. On this he built No. 8 Ship Street and probably the adjoining house, No. 9. No. 8 was his residence and office combined until his death and after that the residence and office of his son until 1830. William Attree mortgaged the building for £2,000 in 1803, and this loan was not finally paid off by his son until 1824. The house was rebuilt in its present form, but still with a facade of Georgian character, at some time between 1830 and 1863. But continuity has been preserved as the building is still the office of Howlett & Clarke today


In or before 1800 there were few attorneys in Brighton, so William Attree easily acquired a near monopoly of the best legal work in the town. Amongst his fashionable clients was the Prince of Wales. When the Prince was acquiring land to enlarge the grounds of his Brighton house, he employed Attree in the various purchases which this involved. Attree's position will have been of benefit to both parties when, in 1803, the Prince sought the agreement of the Town Commisioners to divert the north end of Great East Street, as East Street was then called, which ran almost directly under his windows, and to give the town instead a piece of land further west which, in 1806, became New Road


In May 1810, a new local Act of Parliament came into force which set up a fresh set of Town Commissioners with different powers and different qualifications. William Attree, who was 61 in that year and possibly not in good health, resigned his positions as Clerk and Treasurer to the old Commission. He remained however Clerk to the Vestry but not for long. He died on the 18th August 1810 and was buried five days later in Ditchling church-yard in a table-tomb adjoining that of his father. His will was dated the 6th August 1810 and proved in London on the 12th February 1811. His estates was valued at under £5,000 most of his property was left to his four daughters. This included the Old Ship Hotel which William Attree had purchased in 1802. But in 1817 his daughters sold their rights in the hotel to their brother Thomas. A portrait of him hangs in Howlett & Clarke's Office


William Attree had four sons and four daughters. Two of the sons became attorneys: John, who was born in 1776 and Thomas who was born at 8 Ship Street, Brighton in 1778. Both sons practised with their father during the last years of his life under the name of Attree & Son. John's connection with the firm seems to have been rather a floating one. He was admitted before 1800 and, according to the Law Society's records, practised on his own account from 1801 till 1804. Then for three years he was associated with his father and brother but from 1807 until 1810 returned to practising on his own. At his father's death, he was living at Bishop's Hall, Essex, but thereafter seems to have disappeared from view, though he did not die until 1834


Thomas Attree was a far more distinct figure than either his brother or his father and, in fact, became one of the most prominent men in Brighton. He was admitted as a solicitor in 1799 and immediately went into practice with his father. In 1805 he was elected as a Town Commissioner in Brighton but only held the seat for the last five years of the old Commission's life. When the new Commission of 1810 was forecast, his father resigned in his favour as Clerk and Treasurer, and Thomas took William Attree's place for the winding up process. Expenses of £300 were paid to him when this was completed. When the new Commission actually came into force in May 1810 he was formally appointed Clerk & Treasurer on providing security to the value of £1,500. A year later his salary was increased by £30-0-0


By 1821 it was found inconvenient that the same man should hold the position of Clerk and Treasurer to the Commissioners and Thomas Atree resigned as Treasurer. Henceforward one of the local banks carried out the financial work on a yearly basis. But Attree remained not only Clerk but also Solicitor to the Commissioners on a fee-paying basis whenever legal work was required


When his father died in August 1810, he was also appointed Clerk to the Brighton Vestry. His salary in 1820 was £100 per year. The Act of 1810 assigned the responsibility for the Poor, which had previously been the direct charge of the Vestry, to a new body named the Directors and Guardians of the Poor. Attree also acted as their Clerk. All these were part-time appointments. But at some time or other he also acquired the remunerative post of Stamp Director of Sussex & Surrey which he held until his death. So it is not perhaps surprising that his enemies at one time called him "the king of Brighton"


The multiplicity of offices held by Thomas Attree did not prevent him running a thriving legal practice, but by about 1820 this had lost its near-monopoly in the town. Two other firms were by then also prominent in Brighton. The first was G & H Faithful of No 15 Ship Street. George Faithful in particular was a well-known figure who was returned as one of the first Members of Parliament for Brighton in 1833. The second firm was Furner & Hill of No 3 Pavilion Parade. G & H Faithful has been one of the casualties of time and no longer exists. Furner & Hill is still carried on as Fizhugh, Eggar & Port and is the second oldest firm of solicitors in Brighton. The high status of Attree & Son remained undiminished. Their connection with the Royal Family lasted until after George IV's death. When William IV made some small purchases of land to add some ancillary buildings to the Royal Pavilion estate, he continued to employ Thomas Attree for the legal work involved


Thomas Attree married about 1805. His wife's Christian names were Elizabeth Austin. They had a son and a daughter. The son, William Wakeford Attree, was born in 1806. He followed his father into the legal profession, but became a barrister in the Middle Temple. He was Recorder of Rye, Hastings and Seaford. He died in his father's life-time and at his father's Brighton house on the 28th January 1862 aged 56. He was buried in Ditchling church-yard


In his memory his father endowed a scholarship at Brighton College. To provide the money for this he conveyed to the Trustees of the College No 9 Ship Street adjoining his office and, if this Trust was invalidated by his death within 6 months of the date of gift, he substituted in his Will a bequest to the College of £1,000. Thomas Attree's daughter, Elizabeth Wakeford Attree, died when quite young. Stained glass windows in memory of both the son and daughter were inserted in the north wall of the nave of Ditchling Church in 1863.


Owing to William Wakeford Attree's choice of the other branch of the legal profession, when Thomas Attree took a partner he had to go outside his family. At some time before 1822 he entered into partnership with Frederick Cooper, and the name of the firm was changed from Attree & Son to Attree & Cooper. At the same time, either on account of pressure of work or because of the criticism of his holding too many offices, Frederick Cooper became joint Clerk to the Town Commissioners with Attree. However, this arrangement did not work. In May 1823 a certain E Savage appealed against the burdensome obligation of serving for one year in the honorary office of Inspector of Weights & Measures. One of his grounds of appeal was that the summons to serve was invalid as this was signed by two Clerks to the Commissioners instead of one, as provided by the Brighton Commissioners Act of 1810. The Brighton Magistrates agreed that the summons was invalid on these grounds. So Attree resigned wholly in Frederick Cooper's favour. Cooper's salary at the time as Clerk was £100 per year. But when the Town Commissioners Act of 1810 was replaced by a third local Act in 1825, a committee of commissioners investigated the question of the Clerk's emoluments. This committee found that most of Cooper's time and that of several of his clerks was spent on Clerk's business, but that the bulk of money paid to him by the Commissioners actually derived from fees paid to him as solicitor to the Commissioners as the result of law cases. The whole question of payment was therefore re-organised, and from the 25th December 1825 Cooper was paid a comprehensive salary of £300 a year as a Clerk and Solicitor.


There was at the time a party within the Commisioners which was extremely hostile to Frederick Cooper. This was led by Lewis Slight, who eventually succeeded him as Clerk. This party suggested that £300 a year was greatly in excess of what need be paid and even went so far as to say that a competent person could be found to do the job for £50 a year. At this point Frederick Cooper angrily resigned. The Commissioners as a whole however asked him to reconsider his resignation. This produced a petition against him by his opponents, together with a counter-petition in his favour. He agreed to withdraw his resignation on the basis of the offer made to him. But his opponents persisted in their ill-will and on the 9th August 1826 a resolution was passed by the Commissioners, reducing the Clerk's salary to £100 a year. Cooper thereupon re-submitted his resignation as from Michelmas. A few weeks later the position of Clerk was given to Lewis Slight, who in due course came to occupy such a prominent position in the town that he too was accused of being "the king of Brighton".


The termination of the connection of Attree & Cooper with the Town Commissioners in 1826 left their chief public commitment as being to the Vestry. But about 1828 Thomas Attree and Frederick Cooper dissolved partnership. About a year later Frederick Cooper's place was taken by Somers Clarke. The name of the firm was then changed from Attree & Cooper to Attree & Clarke. In 1830 the new partner, Somers Clarke, took Attree's place as Clerk to the Vestry - an office which he held until his death in 1892.


Frederick Cooper seems to have retained the position of Clerk to the Directors and Guardians of the poor for some years, for in 1836 he was involved in one of the scandals that periodically affected the Brighton Workhouse. It was then discovered that he was being paid a salary of £500, whereas the Vestry had only voted him £300 a year. Moreover his costs amounting to £69-1-0 had been paid for resisting on behalf of the parish officers an appeal against an assessment to the poor-rate, which was contrary to the express instructions of the Vestry. There is no record of Cooper's dismissal or resignation as a result of this row.


The replacement of Thomas Attree by Somers Clarke as Vestry Clerk in 1830 left Attree free to devote more of his time to other matters and he entered the development world. At some time before 1820 he acquired the lordship of the manor of Atlingworth and with it a large tract of land in Brighton behind the East Cliff. At that time Brighton did not extend eastwards beyond Royal Crescent. In 1823 Thomas Read Kemp began to lay out Kemp Town as an independent estate. Attree's land lay between Royal Crescent and Kemp Town. On this he built Marine Square in the years 1824-5. The architects of the Square were probably Amon Wilds and Charles Augustus Busby who designed Kemp Town. The houses were quickly sold, but the garden enclosure remained in Attree's hands until his death.


More interesting than Marine Square was Attree's development of land to the north of this. The previous owner seems to have had plans to make a park there which was to have been called Brighton Park. Attreee obtained permission from William IV to rename this Queen's Park after Queen Adelaide. Around it he planned to build a series of detached houses in their own grounds rather similar to Decimus Burton's contemporary development at Calverley Park in Tunbridge Wells. A drawing of the houses was made, which is still in the possession of Howlett & Clarke and a print was made from this. However most of the houses were never built. Attree did however lay out the roads which later became West Drive and Park Hill, and connected these with Egremont Place on the south. The Town Commissioners made a contribution of £50 towards the work.


By this time Thomas Attree had evidently become too grand a man to live in a town house in a street like No. 8 Ship Street, where he had been born. His principal aim in planning this park was to provide for himself a new residence which would be a country house on the edge of the town. His connection with the Sussex County Hospital, which had begun in 1824, brought him into touch with the architect, Charles Barry, who was then beginning his career. Barry designed for him a house which in Attree's lifetime was always called the Attree Villa, but which later became the Xaverian College. This was built in 1830. Barry chose to design it in Italianate style. Except for Barry's own St Andrew's church in Waterloo Street, Hove, which was built in 1826, the villa was the earliest piece of Italianate architecture in England. With the house Barry designed an Italian terraced garden with a temple that contained a marble statue of the Emperor, Marcus Aurelius, in the south east corner and two figures of dogs copied from models in the Tuilleries gardens in Paris. The most prominent feature was an ornamental water-tower in the form of a circular tempietto to the south west of the house. When the villa was supplied with water from the mains this tower became redundant and, after Thomas Attree's time, was detached from the grounds of the villa and incorporated in the road pattern. It is still a landmark of the area and is generally known as the Pepper-box, but has suffered the indignity of being converted into a public lavatory. The house itself was demolished in 1972 in scandalous circumstances, but the temple survives - without its statue - and is now very incongruously surrounded by modern houses and flats.


The villa originally was a country house in miniature. Adjoining it were meadows for cows and farm buildings, which were only replaced by houses in the last quarter of the nineteenth century. Of the houses round the park which were envisaged in the original plan, only one was built - to the south west of the villa. This was originally called Pennant Lodge but is now known as No. 30 West Drive. It was let during Thomas Attree's life and sold after his death. It was for many years occupied by the Bernard Baron Nursing Home.


At the south end of the Park was an archway with lodges and also the German Spa building. The archway survives but was much altered about 1890. The lodges have disappeared. The German Spa remained intact until 1971, when it was converted into an ornamental feature of the Park. All the other houses round the Park were not built until the turn of the century.


Other land which was controlled and partly owned by Thomas Attree comprised the surviving portions of the medieval "tenantry laines" which were still held in common for the community. These were the Old Steine enclosure, the North Steine enclosures (now the Valley Gardens), Richmond Green (now the site of St. Peter's church), the Level or cricket-ground, and the race course. In 1822 managers had been appointed to regulate the use of these pieces of land, but no regulations had been made for them. By 1846 Attree and Charles Scrase Dickens were the only survivors of this managing board. Old Steine and the Level had gradually passed into the hands of the Town Commissioners. St Peter's church had been built on Richmond Green, but other pieces of land still remained under Attree's control. The Commissioners were dissatisfied with the position and laid claim to the use of the land. Attree replied that this was subject to private rights which were incompatible with public ownership. No progress was made for three years, and eventually a few members of the Commissioners' committee in exasperation took possession of the land illegally. Attree responded with an action for illegal trespass. Eventually in 1849 a settlement was reached whereby a new committee of management was appointed who purchased the land for £360 from Attree and his beneficiaries. In due course the race course passed into the ownership of Brighton Corporation


From such incidents as this, one has the impression that Thomas Attree was, or at least at times could be, an awkward customer who exacted his pound of flesh. His life followed the pattern of many prosperous business men and lawyers in the nineteenth century in that by his own efforts he became a very successful man and clearly made a fortune. The necessary aggressiveness involved in such a procedure, mixed with the usual degree of envy, inevitably leads to making enemies. So it was with Attree


However on the other hand his obituaries stressed that he was also a man of very charitable disposition. He was largely the driving force behind the foundation of the Brighton Dispensary in 1809 and of the Sussex County Hospital in 1824. He was the first Honorary Secretary of both institutions, in the latter case, jointly with the Rev. Dr. Edward Everard. Attree's obituary in the Brighton Gazette 12th February 1863) records that on one occasion he gave a crown piece to every inhabitant of Brighton who was over seventy, and drove round in his carriage to present the coins to all the recipients personally


Towards the end of his life Thomas Attree retired from active practice but remained a sleeping partner in the firm. In 1858 he attained the age of eighty and evidently thought that it was time for him to make proper arrangements about the freehold of his office and former residence. No. 8 Ship Street had not been left to him in his father's Will but in trust for his four sisters. He bought out three of these sisters on the 1st and 2nd January, 1823. However, the fourth sister retained her share until she died. On 26th February, 1858, Thomas Attree acquired her fourth share from her son and on the following day conveyed the whole property, unencumbered, to his partner, Somers Clarke, for the consideration of £500. It was probably at this time that the house was rebuilt in its present form


Thomas Attree always retained his connection with the Royal Family. In the last year of his life he was visited at his villa in Queen's Park by the old Duchess of Cambridge and her daughter, Princess Mary, when they were staying at 36 Adelaide Crescent, Hove. The Duchess was the last surviving member of the generation of George IV. The Princess later became the mother of Queen Mary


Thomas Attree died at his house in Queen's Park on 7th February, 1863, aged eighty-five. He was buried two days later in Ditchling church yard in his son's grave, and adjoining the tombs of his father and grandfather. A stained glass window in his memory was inserted in the north wall of the nave of Ditchling Church together with two others in memory of his son and daughter. No portrait or print of Thomas Attree seems to have survived, but may exist in the possession of some collateral member of his family


His will was dated the day before his death. It is a long and complicated document but contains several mysteries. His executors were his partners, Somers Clarke and James Warnes Howlett, and also Thomas Hill Attree, who is described as "of New Inn, Strand, London, Gentleman." From this description and from the fact that he was placed third in the list of executors, one presumes that he was not a lawyer, but his relationship to the testator is not mentioned in the Will. He was left all the testator's lands in Ditchling "in the belief that he do and will worthily preserve the Attree name and keep up the Attree customs in the parish." He was presumably a nephew of Thomas Attree senior. As late as 1918 members of the Attree family were still living in Ditchling and even today there are descendants of theirs resident in the parish, though they no longer bear the name of Attree


The second mystery in Thomas Attree's will relates to his wife. She survived him but is not mentioned anywhere in the will.


Moreover, a reference is made in it to the fact that his niece, Frances Eliza Wakeford Attree, was keeping house for him at the time. It was provided that, after an interval of six months from his death, his household effects should be sold and the proceeds divided between the Sussex County Hospital, the Eye Hospital, the Brighton Dispensary, and the Vicar of Ditchling for the benefit of the National School and other charities in that parish. From this one can only assume that Attree's wife was suffering from some mental illness which necessitated that she was cared for in as nursing-home and that he had made financial provisions for this in other documents during his life


There is also no mention in the will of his villa in Queen's Park, other than of its contents. But, as was provided for the furniture, the house was sold on the 28th November, 1863, together with the adjoining house, Pennant Lodge, the whole of Queen's Park with its entrance gateway and lodges, and the German Spa. The whole property fetched £28,000 and was bought by a Mr Dudhill of 92 Piccadilly, London. Thomas Attree's other Brighton properties, Nos. 64, 77, 78 and 79 King's Road, were specifically devised to four separate nieces, to whom the residue of his estate was also bequeathed in quarter shares


The third mystery in the will relates to the size of his estate. The £28,000 which was raised from the sale of the house and land in Queen's Park cannot have formed part of his estate as the latter was sworn at under £12,000 - a very small sum for a man of Thomas Attree's standing. His will in fact contemplated that the estate might not provide sufficient funds to pay all the legacies enumerated. It seems very likely that this was indeed the case. The larger portion of what he had to leave must have been the subject of other provisions during his life


Elizabeth Austin Attree survived her husband for nearly three years. When she died on 3rd November, 1865, the nearest church to the former Attree Villa was by then the newly built Church of the Annunciation in Washington Street. The stained glass in its west (liturgical east) window was inserted in her memory. This represents the Annunciation. The centre panel was designed by Dante Gabriel Rossetti and the side panels by Edward Burne-Jones. The glass was made in William Morris's factory. Its quality is very different from the three Attree windows in Ditchling church, which are in the least acceptable Victorian manner


About 1832 a new partner John Sidney McWhinnie was admitted to Attree's firm, and the name of the partnership was changed from Attree & Clarke to Attree, Clarke & McWhinnie. Not much is known about John McWhinnie. He was admitted as a solicitor in 1832, he lived at 4 Upper Brunswick Place, Hove, and he seems not to have held any public office. He died on the 13th December, 1857, probably when still quite young. A tablet in his memory was erected in the south aisle of the old Hove parish church (St. Andrew's, Church Road.) This gives the picturesque detail that he died in Nice "in the kingdom of Sardinia," i.e. before the house of Savoy had ceded their duchy of origin to France as a miserable "job" between Count Cavour & Napoleon III. John McWhinnie must have been one of the early Englishmen to enjoy the famous promenade des Anglais at Nice, which was commissioned to relieve unemployment and laid out earlier in the century by another Sussex man, Lewis Way of Stanstead Park in the parish of Westbourne, near Chichester. John Sidney McWhinnie was presumably buried in the Protestant cemetery at Nice


He was replaced as a partner by James Warnes Howlett, and the name of the firm was changed from Attree, Clarke & McWhinnie to Attree, Clarke & Howlett. At Thomas Attree's death in 1863, this became Clarke & Howlett. It will be more convenient to deal with James Warnes Howlett in detail at a later point in the story.


Thomas Attree's successor both as the senior partner of his firm and in Brighton life was Somers Clarke, one of the four sons of Samuel and Mary Clarke. The parents were born in 1774 and 1772 respectively. His father was a clergyman who was a curate in the parish church of Midhurst in Sussex. Somers Clarke was born in Midhurst in 1802. In 1811 his father moved to Plumpton near Lewes, where he remained for 20 years. He only held the curacy of that parish, but probably acted for a non-resident Rector, the Rev. William Peckham Woodward, who held the living from 1796 until 1849. Woodward was also Rector of West Grinstead, where there was a very fine Rectory (now the Glebe House). He no doubt resided there.


Somers Clarke was articled to an attorney in London named Bethell. The latter was the uncle of Lord Westbury, who was Lord Chancellor in Lord Palmerston's Government of 1861 to 1865. Somers Clarke was admitted as a solicitor in 1824 and became Managing Clerk to Few, Ashmore & Hamilton of Henrietta Street, Covent Garden. In 1827 he came to Brighton and entered the office of Attree & Cooper, as the firm was then called. In the next year he became their Managing Clerk and in 1829 took Frederick Cooper's place in the partnership. The name of the firm was changed to Attree & Clarke.


In 1830 Attree resigned the clerkship of the Brighton Vestry in favour of Somers Clarke, who was annually re-elected to this office for 62 years. In 1833 two candidates stood against him but only polled 231 and 46 votes respectively against his vote of 994. Somers Clarke later became solicitor to the Directors and Guardians of the Poor, but whether this was in succession to Frederick Cooper or at the same time as Cooper was their Clerk is not clear. This post Somers Clarke held for at least fifty three years. He was also Clerk to the Commissioners of Taxes, whose local office at the time of his appointment was at Lewes. He was successful in arranging for a Brighton district to be formed. According to his obituaries, his principal accomplishment in that connection was on the occasion when a defalcation of £7,000 was made by a Collector. Somers Clarke appeared at 11 Downing Street before William Gladstone as Chancellor of the Exchequer and spoke so eloquently that no surcharge to make good the amount of the default was imposed upon the town.


For the first twenty years of his life in Brighton, Somers Clarke lived at 27 Oriental Place. In 1838 he married Sarah Blaker, who was the daughter of a Brighton surgeon. Ten years later he moved to 57 Regency Square, where he lived until his death. His residence in Regency Square led him to play a prominent part in 1884 in the arrangements for the acquisition of the freehold of the Regency Square enclosure by Brighton Corporation from the heirs of Joshua Flesher Hanson, who had laid out the garden in 1818.


Somers Clarke was prominent in local politics as a supporter of the Liberal party. He acted as Agent for Admiral Sir George Augustus Brooke Pechell, who was unsuccessful at the election of 1833, when Brighton first returned Members of Parliament, but was later Member for Brighton from 1835 till his death in 1860.


Perhaps Somers Clarke's most active sphere of interest was in the affairs of St Nicholas' Church. He was not only Vestry Clerk but also the Solicitor, friend and principal ally of the Rev. Henry Michell Wagner, who was Vicar of Brighton from 1824 to 1870. Wagner was a controversial figure whose incumbency was bedevilled by the issue of compulsory church rates. This split the parish and dominated all Vestry meetings from 1835 for 18 years. Feelings ran so high that the parishioners almost came to blows, and the meetings lasted for anything up to seven hours. Somers Clarke was bound to follow the Vicar's official line, however unjust this might be to Dissenters and others who were not members of the Church of England. But he seems to have come through the disputes with serenity and without incurring the enmity that fell to the Vicar's share. When in 1852 the Duke of Wellington died it was Somers Clarke who suggested that, as the Duke had worshipped at St. Nicholas's Church as a boy, the building should be restored on a voluntary basis by public subscription. The money flowed in, and no more was heard of compulsory church rates. In 1867 Somers Clarke made a gift to the church of an iron pulpit, designed by his son, to replace the existing wooden one. A few years later he purchased the rectorial tithes so that stalls could be erected in the chancel. At the same time he gave a stained glass window in memory of his old friend, the Vicar of Brighton, the Rev. H M Wagner, who had died in 1870. This was placed in the south wall of the chancel.


Somers Clarke was also active in the charitable world. From 1829 to 1853 a Famine Relief Committee operated in Brighton to provide soup kitchens for the poor. He acted as its Honorary Secretary from 1836 to 1853. He succeeded Thomas Attree as Honorary Secretary to the Brighton Dispensary and held that office for fifty years, only resigning in about 1890. He was also connected with the Sussex County Hospital and with the Eye Hospital.


From the reaction of contemporaries, one has the impression that throughout all this public work he was a less combative and more genial figure than Thomas Attree had been. He certainly had fewer, if any, enemies and was never accused of holding too many offices at one time. Public presentations were made to him on two occasions at an interval of nearly fifty years.


The first occasion was on the first visit of Queen Victoria to Brighton, which was on the 4th October, 1837. A committee was formed to organise the reception of the Queen, of which Somers Clarke was Honorary Secretary. £613-7-0 was subscribed, which was spent on an amphitheatre to accommodate spectators, and a floral arch of welcome. After meeting these expenses, £119 was left over. Twenty five guineas of this was used to purchase a gold snuff-box for presentation to Somers Clarke in recognition of his work in arranging the celebration. The balance was given to the Sussex County Hospital. Six years later when the Queen left Brighton by sea to visit King Louis-Philippe in France, her departure from the Chain Pier was recorded by the marine artist, R H Nibbs. The picture was purchased by private subscription and presented to the Town Commissioners. Somers Clarke was among the subscribers.


The other gift to him was not on a specific occasion but in recognition of more than fifty years of public work. On the 16 June, 1886 he was presented with a portrait and bust of himself which had been commissioned by public subscription. The presentation on behalf of the town was made by the Vicar of Brighton, John Hannah, who was also Archdeacon of Lewes. The portrait was given to Mrs Clarke to descend as an heirloom in the family. Whether or not this is the same portrait as today hangs in No. 8 Ship Street in Howlett & Clarke's office, it is difficult to say. The bust was originally placed in the vestibule of the Royal Pavilion, but is now housed in the Town Hall.


At the end of the same year (1886) Somers Clarke offered his resignation on account of age to the Brighton Vestry. However, he was unanimously requested to reconsider this decision and so withdrew his resignation. His grandson, Cecil Somers Clarke, who was also a solicitor and had by then become a partner in the firm (Clarke, Howlett & Clarke) was appointed as his Deputy to perform the few tasks that the office still generated.


Just over a year later, on 26th January, 1888, Somers Clarke executed a lease of 8 Ship Street in favour of his two partners, James Warnes Howlett & Cecil Somers Clarke, at a rent of £100 a year. However, he retained the freehold of the building until his death four years later. It was at this time (1887) that the name of Attree was dropped from the firm and it became Clarke, Howlett & Clarke.


Somers Clarke died at 57 Regency Square on the 12th January 1892 after a short illness. He was 89. He was buried three days later in the family vault in the Lewes Road cemetery at Brighton, where his mother and father had been buried in 1849 and 1854 respectively. The grave is to the south west of the chapel which is now the Woodvale crematorium. A muffled peal of bells was rung the same evening at St Nicholas's church, Brighton, where he had worshipped all his life


Somers Clarke had a son and two daughters. One of the latter, Mary Anne Charlotte Clarke, was the Mistress of the National School in Upper Gardner Street in 1869, when Somers Clarke's friend, the Vicar of Brighton, the Rev. H M Wagner, bequeathed to her a legacy of £100 in a codicil to his Will. But presumably she died between then and 1892 as she is not mentioned in Somers Clarke's own will. There is no inscription in her memory on his family grave. His will appointed his wife and son, together with George Walter Willett and Nathaniel Paine Blaker, as executors. No. 8 Ship Street was specifically devised to the testator's son, Somers Clarke junior, together with the manor of Atlingworth and the lay rectory of St Nicholas's church, Brighton. The residue of the estate was left to the testator's wife for life and then to his son and daughter, Arabella, in equal shares. This daughter was married, but her husband's name is, unusually, not given in the will. Somers Clarke's estate was valued at £91,469-19-8 - a very large sum in 1892. His widow only survived him by three months. She died on 16th April 1892


The son, Somers Clarke junior, was a fairly well-known architect. He was born in Brighton on the 22nd July 1841 and was articled to Sir Gilbert Scott. His finest work is probably St. Martin's Church, Lewes Road, Brighton (1875). In Brighton he also designed the east front of Holy Trinity Church, Ship Street (1885), the clerestory of St Nicholas's Church, Church Street (1892), and the chancel of St Peter's Church (1889 - 1906). From 1876 to 1892 he was in partnership with J T Micklethwaite. Subsequently he was for ten years from 1896 onwards Surveyor to the fabric of St Paul's cathedral and for two years of this period also held the same office to Chichester Cathedral. He was a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries


There is no record of his marriage, but he had a son, Cecil Somers Clarke, who became a solicitor and a partner in his grandfather's firm from 1886 onwards. On 10th August 1897 Somers Clarke junior executed a voluntary conveyance to this son of 8 Ship Street, where the practice was conducted, but which had been specifically devised to the father. Somers Clarke junior survived to the age of 86 and died at Mahamid in Upper Egypt on the 31st August 1926. A slab inscribed with his name and dates was added to the family grave in the Lewes Road cemetery in Brighton


Somers Clarke's junior was not the only member of the family to follow architecture as a profession. Somers Clarke senior also had a brother, George Somers Clarke senior, who was an architect. Roger Dixon & Stephen Muthesius's "Victorian Architecture" gives his date of birth as 1825, but this cannot be correct because his mother was 55 in that year and his brother was born in 1802. He designed Cowley Manor, Gloucestershire (1854 - 62), the Merchant Seamen's Orphan Asylum in Wanstead, Essex, (1861) the General Credit and Discounty Company's Office (now the Overseas Bankers Club) in Lothbury, London (1866) and Wyfold Court, Oxfordshire (1872-6). The date of his death is given as 1882


George Somers Clarke had a son, George Somers Clarke junior, who was also an architect and is often confused with his first cousin, Somers Clarke junior. He is a rather shadowy figure but he designed two buildings in Brighton: the Venetian Gothic Blind School in Eastern Road (1865), which was demolished in 1956, and 11 Dyke Road (1867), which was the second building occupied by the Swan Downer School. George Somers Clarke junior died in the early years of the 20th century


Somers Clarke senior's death was really the end of an epoch in Brighton, as he was the last survivor of local government officers from the days before the incorporation of the town. Owing to the fact that the Brighton Vestry had been defunct since 1854 but Somers Clarke had remained, in name at least, Vestry Clerk until his death, the minute-books of the Vestry meetings remained in the hands of Howlett & Clarke not only during that time but for seventy years afterwards. About 1960 they were presented by the firm to the Sussex Archaeological Society, which then had its own department of archives in the Barbican tower of Lewes Castle. When the Society ceased to operate this archive, the minute books passed to the East Sussex County Record Office. However, the books deposited with the Society go back only as far as 1790. There was originally one earlier volume which covered the period from about 1580 till 1790


Two historians of repute - Dr A E Wilson, the Head of the History Section of the Brighton College of Technology, and W A Barron, Headmaster of the Brighton and Hove Grammar School, have testified to inspecting this volume when it was in the hands of Howlett & Clarke. It now cannot be found. Its disappearance is a complete mystery. It is to be hoped that one day it will reappear, as it is one of the most valuable records of Brighton's history. The firm still holds the original "book of all the ancient customs" agreed between the landsmen and the fishermen of the town on the 23rd July 1580


When Somers Clarke died in 1892, his successor as senior partner was James Warnes Howlett, a Norfolk man. He was born on 30th January 1828 and brought up at a village near King's Lynn. He was educated first at St James's School, King's Lynn, later by private tuition from a clerical relative in Cumberland, and finally at the Mile End School in Norwich. He was articled to a firm of solicitors in King's Lynn. After qualifying in 1849 he became a managing clerk to a firm in the City of London and then to a larger office in Lincoln's Inn. At this period he became Secretary of the Law Students' Debating Association. When he relinquished that office in 1854 he was presented with a gold watch by the Association. He practised on his own at 2 Lower Colthorpe Street, London from 1856-7


James Howlett came to Brighton in 1857. On the death of John Sidney McWhinnie in that year, he took his place in the partnership which was then called Attree, Clarke & McWhinnie. Its name was thereupon changed to Attree, Clarke & Howlett. In Brighton he was responsible for the resuscitation of the Brighton Law Society, which was later expanded into the Sussex Law Society. Hitherto the connection of the Attree & Clarke firm had been with the local government of Brighton prior to the incorporation of the town. James Howlett's associations were with Hove. He took up residence there, at 3 Brunswick Place. At that time the local government of Hove was in the hands of the Brunswick Town Commissioners, who had been founded in 1830 to deal with Brunswick Square and Terrace and whose jurisdiction had been expanded in 1851 to include the land to the north and west of the original district. About 1870 the Stanford Estate began to develop the land to the west of the expanded district of Brunswick Town, which was then called West Brighton but which eventually became the Avenues. The Estate needed to promote a bill in parliament for the local government of their new area and had the choice of either adhering to the Borough of Brighton or of seeking to transform the old expanded Brunswick Town into a wider organisation for Hove as a whole. James Howlett advised them to adopt the latter course, which they duly did. Brighton responded by promoting its own bill to take over the whole of Hove. James Howlett took a leading part in opposing this bill and in successfully promoting the Hove Commissioners Act of 1873. This set up full local government for the whole of Hove. In 1876 Brighton Corporation again tried to absorb Hove but were again unsuccessful


James Howlett was nominated as one of the original commissioners under the Act of 1873 for St John's Ward. This was the area of the Stanford estate's interest. He retained his connection with the Stanford estate throughout his life but later came to represent the Brunswick ward, where he lived. On the formation of the Commission he was chosen as the first Chairman of the General Purposes Committee. He held this position from January 1874 until April 1878, when he was chosen as Chairman of the Commissioners as a whole. This office he held for thirteen years. When Hove was granted a charter of incorporation in 1898, he was chosen as an Alderman. However, a greater honour was that he was elected by the first Council as an Honorary Freeman of the Borough. He was the first of only about twelve people to receive this honour in the near century, since then. He was also a Hove Magistrate. He was a member of the Council of the Law Society from 1879 to 1903, and President of the Sussex Law Society in 1881-2. He died on the 12th January, 1911, aged 83, and his estate was sworn at £121,037


Somers Clarke senior had a grandson, Cecil Somers Clarke, who was born on 25th July 1861. He was articled to his grandfather and qualified as a solicitor in 1884. Three years later he was taken into the partnership for the provisional period of seven years and on the basis of providing a quarter of the capital and of the valuation of the books and furniture and of receiving a quarter of the profits. The name of the firm was changed from Attree, Clarke and Howlett to Clarke, Howlett & Clarke. From 1887 to 1892 Cecil Somers Clarke acted as Deputy for his grandfather as Clerk to the Brighton Vestry. When Somers Clarke senior died in 1892 the name of the firm was again changed to Howlett & Clarke. This it has remained ever since, despite several later changes in the composition of the partnership


8 Ship Street belonged to Somers Clarke senior personally, and not to the firm. On 26th January, 1888 he had granted a lease of it for £100 a year to his partners, James Warnes Howlett and Cecil Somers Clarke. However, when he died, he left the freehold of the house to his son, Somers Clarke junior. On 10th August 1897 the latter executed a voluntary conveyance of the property to his son, Cecil Somers Clarke


When James Warnes Howlett died in 1911, Cecil Somers Clarke became the senior partner and remained so for the next twenty-five years. He was President of the Sussex Law Society in 1917-18. In 1912 Robert Arthur Dendy was taken into the partnership. He was born on the 5th September 1873 and educated at Brighton College and the University of Oxford. He was first a partner in Thompson, Hirtley & Dendy, then from 1903 until 1912 he practised on his own in Brighton


In the 1920s the office began to have a very old-fashioned air. There was for instance no electric light in the building. One of the firm's clients was the Brighton & Hove Gas Company. Their solicitors evidently thought that they ought to practise what they preached and stick to gas lighting in their office. There were also no female clerks or typists. Some of the more senior clerks were military types as Cecil Somers Clarke had been a Colonel in the Territorial Army


In 1927 Cecil Somers Clarke retired from the partnership, but for some unexplained reason he subsequently practised again on his own. He had no son, but a nephew named Ernest Hugh Lawrence succeeded him in the practice. This nephew was born on 7th January. 1893 and was articled to his uncle in 1920. After qualifying he practised on his own for a few years, but when his uncle retired from the firm he became a partner in Howlett & Clarke and changed his name to Somers Clarke to do so. On the 14th October, 1927 Cecil Somers Clarke executed a lease of 8 Ship Street for £154 a year to the new partners, Robert Arthur Dendy and Ernest Hugh Somers Clarke, but retained the freehold of the building


Cecil Somers Clarke died on 21st July, 1936, aged 75. His estate was sworn at £102,098. Ernest Hugh Somers Clarke died on 18th August, 1941, unmarried, and aged only forty-eight. This ended the Somers Clarke dynasty. At Cecil Somers Clarke's death the freehold of 8 Ship Street and the manor of Atlingworth passed to his widow, Mary Clelan Somers Clarke. She was a member of the Smithers family who owned a large brewery at Old Portslade. Seven years later, on 20th May, 1946, she conveyed the office to the then members of the partnership of Howlett & Clarke for £3,000. This was the first time since the days of William Attree that the office had belonged to the partnership as a whole, instead of to one individual member of this


The partners at that date were Robert Arthur Dendy, his son, Philip Charles Dendy and Robert Claude Pascoe. Philip Charles Dendy had become a partner in 1936, but his partnership was dissolved in 1950 as he proved an unsuitable recruit. Robert Arthur Dendy died on 19th June, 1960. With Robert Claude Pascoe we reach the present day. He only retired from the position of senior partner in April 1985 and is still a consultant to the firm. He was succeeded as senior partner by Paul Horton Albrecht. The other partners are Trevor K Attwell, Roger C Back, Hilary Williams, (the firm's first female partner) and David Pollard

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