David Lyon junior

18th Sep 1794 - 8th Apr 1872

Claimant or beneficiary


London slave-owner, MP for Bere Alston 1831-1832, awarded the compensation for three estates in Jamaica as owner-in-fee and party to the Chancery suit of David Lyon v Andrew Colvile into which was paid the compensation for a further 10 estates. David Lyon jun. is included in the ODNB entry for his father David Lyon (q.v.) senior 'West India merchant and slave-owner.'

  1. He left £180,000 on his death: his heirs were his brother William and his nephew Sir Arthur James Lyon Fremantle.

  2. David Lyon junior was buried in Brompton Cemetery 23/04/1872; his monument bears the dates 'Born 18 September 1794 / Died 8 April 1872', and the National Probate Calendar confirms that he died in Nice on 8 April 1872. He is the sole occupant of the grave, which is marked by a granite sarcophagus abutting the cemetery wall, a somewhat understated location and monument for a man of his wealth.

  3. Deed between 1. Philip Haughton James of Sidmouth, esquire 2. David Lyon of Grosvenor Square, Middlesex, esquire 3. Robert Hawthorn of Lime Street Square, City of London for a mortgage of £8686 1s 9d at 4% per annum on Haughton Hall Estate and Burnt Ground, parish of Hanover in Jamaica.

  4. A court case brought against David Lyon in 1859 by the proprietor of a ladies' dress shop for the non-payment of £362 reveals details of Lyon's marital difficulties and was much publicised at the time. His wife Blanche nee Bury, whom he married in 1848, had apparently "contracted an unfortunate taste for stimulants. The propensity gained such an ascendancy over her that in the winter of 1852 it was beyond all control." In early 1853 she was placed under medical care at Torbay and husband and wife legally separated. A decree was agreed to by both parties in 1858 that conjugal rights were to be restored but according to Blanche Lyon's testimony, when she met her husband again at 46 Gloucester Place, he treated her unkindly, locked her in the house and refused to allow her to leave or meet other people. She returned to her mother's house shortly after. In February 1859 a jury found David Lyon liable for the payment of £125 of debts contracted by his wife. David Lyon's solicitors advertised publicly in June 1859 that "Mrs Lyon is absenting herself without cause and without the consent of her husband, Daivd Lyon, Esq., from his residence, No. 1, York-place, Portman-square, and that she has no authority to order goods upon his credit: and that the said David Lyon will NOT BE RESPONSIBLE for any DEBT which his said wife may contract whilst she continues to absent herself..." Blanche died in Clifton, Bristol, 18/03/1876, and was buried in the same cemetery at Brompton but in a separate grave to her husband.

  5. Obituary in the Illustrated London News: "David Lyon, Esq., J.P., D L., of Goring, Sussex, and Balintrie Castle, in the county of Forfar, whose death abroad is just announced, was the third son of David Lyon, Esq., of Jamaica, and of Portland-place, London, by his wife, Isabella, eldest daughter of John Read, Esq., of Cairney, Forfarshire, and claimed descent from the Easter Ogil branch of the noble house of Glamis. Mr. Lyon was M.P. for Beeralston, 1831-2. He married, 1848, Blanche, daughter of the Rev. Edward and Lady Charlotte Bury, but leaves no issue. His nephew and heir male, Edmund David Lyon, is son of the late James Lyon, of Woolavington, Sussex. Of Mr. David Lyon's sisters, the eldest, Elizabeth, was the first wife of the present Lord Kilmaine."

  6. The portrait (c. 1825) of David Lyon junior by Thomas Lawrence, now in the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza in Madrid, was included in the 'Citizens and Kings: Portraits in the Age of Revolution 1760-1830' exhibition at the Galeries nationales du Grand Palais, Paris and the Royal Academy, London October 2006-April 2007. The catalogue entry for the portrait reads as follows:

"Sir Thomas Lawrence's portrait of David Lyon junior (c. 1794-1872) remained in private ownership until relatively recently, and has received little attention from scholars. Lyons is depicted wearing a black frock-coat trimmed with fur and lined with silk; his gloved right hand rests upon a walking stick, and holds the glove for his bared left hand. He is shown standing in a country setting, perhaps with the suggestion that he owns the land around him. The use of a low viewing point brings the level of the horizon downwards on the canvas space, serving to accentuate Lyon's stature, and this effect is increased by the horizontal banding of the clouds and foliage which form the background. The background light is arranged in such a way that Lyon's coat is palely silhouetted, while his head is set against brooding clouds. One commentator has suggested that his clothing, pose and hair are typical of the ninteenth-century dandy (Perez-Jofre, 2001, p. 471).

Little is known about the gestation of the work and only the outlines of the sitter's life can be sketched. Of Scottish descent, he was one of the five sons and five daughters of Davd Lyon senior (c. 1750-1827) and his wife Isabella Read (1776-1836). The sitter's father, a West India merchant partly based in Jamaica, and much of whose trade was in sugar, had amassed a fortune approaching £600,000 by the time of his death. David Lyon junior, after briefly attending Harrow School around 1809, also became a West India merchant, and inherited the major part of his father's wealth. That he was thus favoured, rather than one of his two elder brothers, was possibly because his father anticipated that he would be active in land purchase; indeed, Lyon went on to purchase a small estate, Goring Hall in Sussex, and another in Scotland, Balentore Castle, Forfarshire (Thompson 1990 pp. 54, 60; Thompson 1992, p. 373).

Lyon's portrait comes at the end of the artist's career, when Lawrence was seen as unquestionably England's leading portrait painter. In a letter to his sister in 1825, Lawrence described the exhausting demands of his presidency of the Royal Academy, yet also declared 'I have never painted better' (Levy 2005, pp. 261, 279). He also painted Lyons' father, and both portraits remained, not yet completed, in the artist's possession at the time of his death in 1830. An initial payment of 250 guineas was made for Lyon's picture in 1828; his father's was paid for in 1818. Regarding the son's portrait, Lawrence's executor wrote that the 'person' was finished and the 'drapery partly' - about three-quarters - complete; the work was eventually delivered later in 1830, when the outstanding balance of 150 guineas was paid (Garlick 1962-64, p. 302.). Some of the drapery and landscape were painted by an assistant (Christie's 1980, p. 146). A final coda to Lyon's portrait may also be suggested: at Lawrence's funeral procession, among the carriages of the dignitaries and acquaintances of the artist following the hearse was one belonging to a 'Mr Lyon' (Williams 1831, vol. 2 p. 561).

Although the known information on the painting does not allow for it to be precisely dated, similarities in pose and costume to other works by Lawrence support an approximation that it dates from the mid-1820s. The position of Lyon's left hand, clasping his coat's fur-trimmed edges together, was used in reverse in John Bloomfield (exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1820). Another comparable work is Henry Lascelles, 2nd Earl of Harewood, MP (RA, 1823). This too shows a standing figure in a country setting with the accoutrements of walking stick, gloves and a long black coat. It has been observed that the latter portrait exemplifies the changing fashion in elite male clothing, which was becoming increasingly restrained; Lyon's image, by contrast, is comparatively flamboyant (Levey 2005, pp. 246-48).

Lyon served from 1831 to 1832 as MP for Beeralaston in Devon, a burgage borough in the influence of the Earl of Beverley, which was disenfranchised by the 1832 Parliamentary Reform Act (to which Lyon was opposed). He employed Sir Francis Chantry to sculpt a memorial to his mother in 1836; this was placed in the parish church at Goring (which was itself rebuilt to the design of Decimus Burton, at Lyon's sole expense). (Yarrington et al. 1994 p. 327; Fox-Wilson 1987, pp. 46-53, 139). In 1848 he married Blanche Bury, whose mother was the novelist Lady Charlotte Bury; their London residence was in Mayfair. Benjamin Disraeli described Lyon in a letter of 1849 as 'the celebrated yachter' and 'very rich' (Disraeli 1982-2004, vol. 3 p. 188). Lyon was made Sheriff of Sussex in 1851, and he died, leaving no issue, in 1872 at Nice. SM"


T71/874 Trelawny nos 42 (Barnstaple), 191 (Reserve) and 374 (Holland); T71/872 Hanover 561, Westmoreland nos. 26, 209, 211, 334B, 419, 543, 544, 545, 546; Nicholas Draper, ‘Lyon, David, senior (bap. 1754, d. 1827)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Sept 2016 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/107422, accessed 21 Oct 2016]; http://www.historyofparliamentonline.org/volume/1820-1832/member/lyon-david-1794-1872 [accessed 21/10/2016].

  1. William D. Rubinstein, Who were the rich? 1860- (Volumes 3 and 4, manuscripts in preparation), reference 1872/70. London Gazette, Issue 23877, 19/07/1872, p. 3280.

  2. Email from Signe Hoffos 23/01/2016.

  3. Email from Peter Selley 21/12/2020 sourced to Devon Heritage Ventre, 2792Z/F/5.

  4. The Leader no. 464 p. 197 (12/02/1859); other accounts in newspapers such as Brighton Gazette 10/02/1859 and Belfast Morning News 08/02/1859. Notice of absence without cause from London Daily News 14/06/1859. Burial record at Ancestry.com, Brompton, London, England, Cemetery Registers, 1840-2012 [database online].

  5. Illustrated London News 20/04/1872.

  6. SM [Dr Simon MacDonald], '147. David Lyon', in Citizens and Kings: Portraits in the Age of Revolution 1760-1830, first published as Portraits publics, portraits prives, 1770-1830 copyright 2006, Editions de la Reunion des musees nationaux, Paris; English edition, redesigned with new material, copyright 2007, Royal Academy of Arts, London, p. 352. We are grateful to Peter Sawbridge of the Royal Academy for permission to reproduce the catalogue entry and to Dr Simon MacDonald of McGill University, Montreal and previously of University College London for drawing our attention to the exhibition catalogue and to his entry on David Lyon.

We are grateful to Signe Hoffos and Peter Selley for their assistance with compiling this entry.

Further Information

Blanche Bury

Details of his will as given in the Illustrated London News 06/07/1872:

"The will of David Lyon, Esq., of Grosvenor-street, and of South-street, Park-lane; Goring Hall, Sussex; and Balenterie Castle, Forfar, N. B., was proved in London, on the 24th ult., under £160,000 personalty in the United Kingdom, by John Kellermann Wedderburn, Esq., his nephew; William Bryce Watson, Esq., of London; and Philip Haughton James, Esq., of Sidmouth, Devon, the joint acting executors. The will is dated May 7, 1870, with a codicil July 14 following, and the testator died, April 8 last, at Nice. He has left several legacies of £lO,OOO each to his nephews, nieces, and cousins, free of duty; amongst the legatees are his nephews Edmund David Lyon and James Carisbrook Lyon, and his great-nephew Massey Edmund David Lyon. He bequeaths to Edward Walker £2OOO, and to each of his executors £5OO. His estates of Angmering and Kingston, Sussex, he leaves to his nephew Arthur James Freemantle and issue. The person beneficially entitled to his freeholds and landed estates is to apply for Royal license to use and bear the surname and arms of Lyon. He bequeaths the residue of his property to his brother William, whom he appoints his residuary legatee."

Wealth at death
West India merchant

Associated Claims (13)

£5,622 17s 11d
Claimants in List E or Chancery cases
£3,425 12s 5d
Awardee (Owner-in-fee)
£3,070 4s 9d
Awardee (Owner-in-fee)
£2,996 16s 7d
Awardee (Owner-in-fee)
£5,866 16s 8d
Claimants in List E or Chancery cases
£5,417 1s 5d
Claimants in List E or Chancery cases
£1,855 7s 7d
Claimants in List E or Chancery cases
£2,755 18s 10d
Claimants in List E or Chancery cases
£4,583 13s 7d
Claimants in List E or Chancery cases
£3,574 3s 0d
Claimants in List E or Chancery cases
£2,839 1s 4d
Claimants in List E or Chancery cases
£2,727 6s 5d
Claimants in List E or Chancery cases
£2,125 6s 7d
Claimants in List E or Chancery cases

Associated Estates (4)

The dates listed below have different categories as denoted by the letters in the brackets following each date. Here is a key to explain those letter codes:

  • SD - Association Start Date
  • SY - Association Start Year
  • EA - Earliest Known Association
  • ED - Association End Date
  • EY - Association End Year
  • LA - Latest Known Association
1827 [SY] - 1834 [LA] → Owner
1827 [EA] - 1834 [LA] → Owner
1834 [EA] - → Receiver
1829 [EA] - 1834 [LA] → Owner

Legacies Summary

Cultural (1)

Portrait of David Lyon junior by Thomas Lawrence, c. 1825. Now held by the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza in... 
notes →
SM [Dr Simon MacDonald], '147. David Lyon', in Citizens and Kings: Portraits in the Age of Revolution 1760-1830, first published as Portraits publics, portraits prives, 1770-1830 copyright 2006,...

Physical (2)

St Mary's Goring  
description →
Country house
Goring Hall [Built] 
description →
Goring Hall, country house near Worthing West Sussex, built by Charles Barry for David Lyon in 1840, and after a fire rebuilt as a replica (although unrendered) 1888-1889....
notes →
Now a private hospital, formerly a...

Political (1)

election →
Bere Alston Devon
1831 - 1832

Relationships (7)

Son → Father
Uncle → Nephew
Brother → Sister
Nephew → Uncle
Notes →
David Lyon jun. was also executor and...

Addresses (6)

1 York Place, Portman Square, London, Middlesex, London, England
31 South Street, Park Lane, London, Middlesex, London, England
34 Grosvenor Street, London, Middlesex, London, England
5 Lime Street Square, City of London, Middlesex, London, England
Balentore Castle, Glamis, Forfarshire, North-east Scotland, Scotland
Goring Hall, Goring, Worthing, Sussex, South-east England, England