Birth: 1844 - September Quarter

Place or Registered Place of Birth: St. George's Hanover Square, London

Baptism: Not Known

Place of Baptism: Not Known

Death: 26 October 1909 - Aged 65

Place or Registered Place of Death: Eastbourne, Sussex

Father: Thomas Thornhill of Fixby Hall (1780-1844)

Mother: Honoria Forester (1817-1859)

Spouse(s): Arthur Watson de Capell-Brooke

Date of Marriage: 3 August 1865

Place or Registered Place of Marriage: St. George's, Hanover Square, Middlesex


Catherine Honoria de Capell-Brooke (1866-1943)
Edith Julia de Capell-Brooke (1867-)
Arthur Francis Forester de Capell-Brooke (1873-1902)
Eleanor Grace de Capell Brooke (1877-)


Thomas Thornhill, the son of Thomas Thornhill and Eleanor Lynne, was born at Berkeley Square, St. George, Hanover Square in London on 15 December 1780. Thomas died there, aged 68, on 29 May 1844.

Thomas married first Sarah Sober of Southampton, widow of S.T. Wood and daughter of C. Sober, who died on 10 July 1831. Thomas and Sarah had two children:

Thomas Thornhill, b. 22 February 1804, m. in 1830 Martha Mary Anne Waddington, eldest dau. of the late Harry Spencer Waddington, M.P., of Caversham Hall in Suffolk.

Sarah Thornhill, married in 1829 to Wyndham Berkeley Portman, R.N. of Hare Park, Cambridge.

Thomas married secondly, on 8 July 1835, Clara Peirce, daughter of Henry Peirce, of Bedale, M.P. of Bedale in Yorkshire (Clara d. 29 November 1836), a spinster, and had issue one child, Clara Thornhill, who was born May 20, 1836. Clara married William Capel Clarke 20 November 1855 and d. 16 July 1865.

For his third wife, Thomas Thornhill married Honoria Forester, spinster. Honoria was the daughter of Major Francis Forester, brother to the 1st Baron Forester, by his wife Louisa Catherine Barbara Henry, eldest daughter of William Henry, Duke of Cleveland, K.G., mar. in 1839. Honoria was born in London about 1817 and was baptised at Somerby in Leicestershire on 3 March 1817. Honoria died at Pau in the Basse Pyranees in Austria on 16 July 1859. She was buried at Dinkley in Northamptonshire. Honoria Mar. Secondly, to H.H. Hungerford, Esq., of Dingley Park, Leicestershire. Thomas and Honoria had two children:

Honoria Louisa Thornhill, mar. 7 April 1864, to Lieut.-Col. Thomas Harvey Bramston, Grenadier Guards, eldest son of T.W. Bramston, Esq., of Skreens, Essex.

Eleanor Frances Thornhill, mar. 3 August 1865. to Captain Arthur Watson de Capell Brooke, 4th Queen's Own Hussars, 3rd son of Sir William de Capell Brooke, Bart.

On the 29th May, 1844, Thomas Thornhill died. His widow Honoria married Henry Hungerford Holdich Hungerford. In 1852 and 1854 Acts of Parliament were passed authorizing sale, leasing &c. of the Thornhill Estates. In 1855 Clara Thornhill of Fixby, spinster, in her 20th year, a ward in chancery, agreed to marriage settlements with Wm. Capel Clarke, who should assume the surname of Thornhill as the last and principal name and bear the coat of arms of Thornhill quartered. The marriage took place Nov. 20, 1855, and she attained the age of 21, in May, 1857. In July 1859, Mrs. Honoria Hungerford died at Pau, Basse Pyrenees, and was buried at Dingley, Northants. Mr. and Mrs. Clarke Thornhill resided at Rushton Hall, Northants. They and Thomas Thornhill of Eiddlesworth Hall, Butiblk, Esq., Dr. John Hodgson Eamsbotham, Leeds, Christr. White, gent., London, as Trustees, attest many Rastrick deeds of sale, or lease.

The New Sporting Magazine - 1844
Few men, for the last thirty years, continued to hold so prominent a place on the turf as Mr. Thornhill; with ample means, sound judgment, and certainly his full share of good fortune, his racing career furnishes us with one of those rare instances of a gentleman indulging his passion for that hazardous pastime without injury either to his honour or estate. This is the more remarkable, as during the whole period we have named he embarked heavily in every department of his favourite pursuit, had always one of the largest strings of horses in work at Newmarket, an extensive breeding establishment at Riddlesworth, and invariably a strong book on coming events. In breeding, training, or backing his horses, none displayed a greater spirit, and few enjoyed equal success. Beyond a little annual practice in the autumn among the game preserves at Riddlesworth, the term "Turfite" will define and include all Mr. Thornhill's claim to the name of a sportsman; for the more active amusements of the field, he was naturally unfitted, seldom, we believe, early or late in life, attempting to ride to hounds. When a young man and a leading buck, he certainly, in conformity with the fashion of the day, was wont to appear on horseback in boots and breeches; but the well-known phaeton was from the first, we are told, his favourite hack. Our notice, then, being necessarily confined to his performances on the turf, previous to proceeding with it, we may give a few particulars usually expected in papers of this description.

Mr. Thornhill, after finishing his education at Cambridge, where, like many others before and after him, he acquired a greater taste for Olympics than mathematics, and a notion of feeling more at home on Newmarket Heath than he did in Trinity Hall, on attaining his majority, came into possession of a splendid fortune, none the worse for a long minority, with Fixby Hall, in Yorkshire, as the family seat. Fixby, however, for many reasons, was never a favourite residence of his, and when he purchased Riddlesworth of Sir William Wake, " the friend of the people," Mr. Oastler, was left to represent him and his interest in the north. Mr. Thornhill was thrice married-first, to the widow of T. Wood, Esq.; on her decease, to Miss Peirse, daughter of W. Peirse, Esq., the father of the turf in the north; and Miss Forester, daughter of Colonel Forester, and grand-daughter of the late Duke of Cleveland, became the third Mrs. Thornhill. He has left three daughters, but no male heir, the entailed estate will consequently go to another branch of the family. Mr. Thornhill died in London, on the 29th of May, at his house in Berkeley-square, the same, we believe, in which he was born. He was in the 68th year of his age, and weighed, we have been informed by a gentleman who knew him well, something like four-and-twenty stone.

We will now proceed at once to a review of his career on the turf, In 1809, we find him first figuring as an owner of race-horses with Ralphina, by Buzzard, a mare with which he made a good opening, winning four races at seven starts that season.

From 1810 to 1815, the list of his public runners comprised Fairing (one of the first mares put to the Riddlesworth stud) filly; by Hambletonian; Topaz (bought of Lord G. Cavendish) ; Aquarius; Historia; colt by Golumpus, dam by Sweeper; Anticipation and Phosphor. Fairing won fifty guineas, at Newmarket; Aquarius, a couple of hundred and a fifty; Historia received a forfeit, and won sixty guineas and two hundred guineas ; and Anticipation two fifties. Anticipation was one of a lot purchased at the sale of Sir Sitwell Sitwell's stud, in which the celebrated Hyale, the dam of Clinker, Clasher, and Sam, was also included. Scud, the sire of Sam, Sailor, and Shoveler, was the first stud horse Mr. Thornhill become possessed of, and was advertised to cover at Riddlesworth in 1812.

The next five years, from 1816 to 1820, are by far the most glorious in the annals of Riddlesworth; indeed, Mr. Thornhill's success at this period, we should say, was altogether unprecedented. The Duke of Grafton has eclipsed him, if we take the grand total as the criterion, but for the three years in succession, nothing more satisfactory could be desired. The fellow labourers in this time of triumph were Phosphor, Anticipation, Sir Thomas, Sam, Screw, Steeltrap, Snare, Manfreda, Sail, Shoveler, Ringleader, Sailor, Sardonyx, Spring Gun, Lepus, Rebecca, and Mr. Low.

Phosphor won 100 guineas at Newmarket; Anticipation, the gold cup at Ascot, 100 guineas, the King's plate, a class of the Oatlands, and a brace of 200 guineas stakes at Newmarket; Sir Thomas, 500 guineas, and a hundred three times over, when he was sold to the Duke of Grafton ; Sam, in 1818, won fifty, and a hundred at Newmarket, and the Derby at Epsom, for which he was backed at seven to two against him. People, particularly in these days of jumbling three and four years old together, are apt to attach some importance to the fact of a horse being an early foal; but this was no recommendation to Mr. Thornhill's first grand winner, for Sam, by an extraordinary coincidence, won the Derby on his birth-day, the 28th of May. After achieving the Epsom victory, Sam never won another race; and having made two fruitless efforts in 1819, was sold to Mr. Lechmere Charlton, of whom he was re-purchased to join the Riddlesworth stud in 1822. Screw won a small stake at Newmarket; Steeltrap, 70 guineas at Ascot, 500 guineas at Newmarket, and was then sold to Mr. Dilly; Snare, a match, and then sold. Manfreda, bought of Mr. Stonehewer, proved but a middling investment, only winning a dirty half hundred, after throwing out five or six times in succession. Sail won 150 guineas at home; and her half sister, Shoveler, the same year (1819), 200 guineas at Newmarket, and the Oaks at Epsom ; the next year a solitary King's plate was the only prize awarded to the winner of the Oaks, and she consequently found it prudent to retire for a season or two from public life. Ringleader, bought of Lord Stowell, won a couple of hundred, and in 1820, Sailor, another son of Scud, for the third time claimed the Epsom honours for Mr. Thornhill, who it was reported won thirty thousand by the race. The " extraordinary coincidence " on this occasion was a Sailor winning in a violent gale of wind, which, despite the saying, did blow somebody good. Poor Sailor died early the next season, and it was said that he had been ill-used-first, tried against every horse in the stable, one at a time; and then with two, starting with one and finishing with the other, of course either doing their share of the work at the very top of their speed. So rumour killed the hero that weathered the storm, but the story was contradicted in the strongest terms by Mr. Thornhill.* Sardonyx won 200 guineas (twice) and a fifty; Spring Gun 160 guineas; Lepus divided a .£60 plate at Swaffham ; Rebecca, bought of Mr. Bat son, turned up blank; and Mr. Low, just purchased of the Duke of Portland, received a beating in two matches. Mr. Thornhill's horses at this period, and for some considerable time afterwards, were under the care of the Chifney brothers-William as the trainer, and " old Sam " the accomplished artis-te in the scarlet and white.

"After a storm there comes a calm," and for the next ten years (from 1821 to 1830), after Sailor's memorable Derby, Mr. Thornhill introduced us to nothing particularly brilliant; of this the following names, "the pick of the basket" be it understood, without an exception, tend to assure us: Sardonyx, Swivel, sister to Sailor, Spoilt Child, Specie, Reformer, Hogarth, Surprise, the General, Mustard, Mariner, Merchant, Bee in a Bonnet, Worry, Esprit, and Earwig.

To again sift this lot, we may name Specie, Reformer, Surprise, and The Merchant, as about the most successful. Reformer (bought of Mr. Wilson) and The General both figured as first favourites for the Derby-the former running, but without in any way distinguishing himself, and The General retreating from the contest at the last moment, much to the disgust of those who had made winning a certainty without providing for the chance of his not even running. " The general sensation" of '26 must still be fresh in the memory of the veteran turfite. We may remark here that the run on the letter S. was in compliment to Scud or his son Sam; on M. to Merlin, who first covered at Riddlesworth in 1821; and on E. to Emilius, purchased of Mr. Udney in 1826. During the latter part of the time we have been referring to, the Chifneys had been succeeded by Pettit as trainer, and Conolly as jockey; in which situation the latter continued up to the time of his decease, and Pettit until his break-up at Newmarket, at the commencement of the present season, when Sam Chifney became not only jockey but trainer, and appeared for the last time in that double capacity for Mr. Thornhill, at Epsom, where he rode Elemi for the Derby, and Example for the Oaks.

We almost fear that we were looking only at Sam, Sailor, and Shoveler, when we talked of unequalled success ; for, really, now we come to add the result of the last fourteen years to the ten moderate seasons we have just disposed of, and bearing in mind the extent to which Mr. Thornhill went in breeding for the turf, the names and performances of the concluding batch are no ways dazzling. A dead heat for the St. Leger, which certainly was the next thing to winning it; second for the Oaks, which it is equally certain should have been first; the Ascot Vase, with the Clearwell, the Riddlesworth, and a few other fair stakes at Newmarket, are all we can make of this era; during which the following shone as the cream of the stable-Earwig, Farce, Kate Kearney, Slendizabel, Egeria, Saintfoin, Castaside, Euclid, Eringo, and Extempore. Of the "have-beens" among these, Mendizabel was almost the only one that continued to run on, and, what is better, always ran respectably. Of those yet in training, we fancy Extempore to be one of the best mares of her year, and, at her own distance, very difficult to beat. Of Elemi, Eclogue, and so forth, little can be said that would benefit them on their appearance at the hammer on Thursday next.

In concluding this brief notice, we may add a word or two about the Riddlesworth stud. The first stallion that stood there we have already stated to be Scud, joined in '21 by Merlin, who became so dangerous that it at length was found necessary to destroy him, not, however, before he had dreadfully injured the man who looked after him; in fact, we believe the poor fellow died from the effects of an attack. Sam, Emilius, Magnet, Merchant, St. Patrick, Albemarle, Euclid, The Commodore, and Erymus, have also served mares at Riddlesworth; and we need not say how successful the progeny of Emilius and St. Patrick, in particular, have proved. Euclid, Albemarle, and The Commodore, are announced for sale with the brood mares and foals in one of the October meetings; but Emilius, it appears, is not to be priced by Messrs. Tattersall and Son.

The produce of the Riddlesworth stud were always for sale, consequently Mr. Thornhill frequently saw some of his best stock running under other colours-to wit, St. Francis, Mango, Preserve, Garry Owen, Pompey, and many more. The brood mares include Maria (the dam of Euclid and Extempore), Mustard (the dam of Mango and Preserve), Surprise (the dam of St. Francis), Mendizabel's dam, Erica, Apollonia, Variation, Tarantella, Kate Kearney, and Rint.

In a public point of view, all true sportsmen must regret the decease of Mr. Thornhill as one of those staunch friends of racing of which we have but too few remaining. It is in such we can place confidence ; it is with their steady support that racing will continue to prosper, rather than from the patronage of the flashy " mad for a minute" speculator, who this season is buying and breeding all over the country, and the next " declining the turf.”

Huddersfield Golf Club - Fixby Hall
Little is known about the early history of Fixby Hall, some of the stonework on the easterly elevation indicates the wall as being of a much earlier date than the other external walls. The building probably evolved over the centuries before being modernised in the mid 18th century to the current Georgian style.

The Orangery was built in 1786 as a wedding present from Thomas Thornhill to his bride Eleanor Lynne. The pediment over the door bears the coats of arms of both families. The Thornhill family lived full time at Fixby Hall until 1809 when they moved to Norfolk and the building was divided into three livings.
Their daughter Clara Thornhill, whose magnificent portrait hangs in the clubs dining room, inherited Fixby and later bought Rushton Hall in Northamptonshire. She became a personal friend of Charles Dickens and it is thought that he gained his inspiration for Haversham Hall in Great Expectations from his visits.


1841 Census:

Berkeley Square, St George Hanover Square, Westminster, Middlesex
Thomas Thornhill - 60 - 1781
Honoria Thornhill - 20 - 1821 - Middlesex
Clara Thornhill - 5 - 1836 - Middlesex
Honoria Thornhill - 2 Months - 1841 - Middlesex


Plantagenet Roll of the Blood Royal
Honoria Forester, d. 16 July 1859; m. 1st, as third wife, Thomas Thornhill of Fixby and Riddlesworth, d. 29 May 1844; 2ndly, 4 Aug. 1846, Henry Hungerford Holdich-Hungerford of Dingley Park, co. Leic., J.P., D.L., b. Jan. 1803; d. 2 Dec. 1872; and had issue.


1851 Census:

16, Halkin Street West, Saint Georges Hanover Square, Westminster, Middlesex
Honoria Hungerford - Wife - Married - 34 - 1817 - Fundholder - Middlesex
Clara Thornhill - Step Daughter - 14 - 1837 - Scholar - Middlesex
Honoria Louise Thornhill - Daughter - 9 - 1842 - Scholar - Middlesex
Eleanor Frances Thornhill - Daughter - 6 - 1845 - Scholar - Middlesex

Eleanor Frances Thornhill