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Sir John Lade

Thanks to Sue Atkinson Sue Atkinson, whose kind assistance and contribution helped to bring this information to you.

  • Posted on: 20 September 2009
  • By: David Thrale

Sir John Lade (senior)

One of Henry Thrale’s sisters was Lady Mary Lade (1733-1802), who married Baronet Sir John Lade, MP for Camelford, on 27 May 1756. It was said1 that Lady Mary Lade bore an illegitimate child for Colonel Sir Philip Jennings Clerke M.P. (died 1788) after the death of her husband. As Sir John the younger was born after the death of his father Sir John Lade, it is possible that Sir John Lade the younger was the illegitimate son of Colonel Sir Philip Jennings Clerke.

Sir John Lade (junior)

Sir John Lade portrait by Sir Joshua Reynolds

They had a son, also called John who inherited his father’s fortune and Baronetcy. Sir John Lade the junior was made ward of Henry Thrale, but when freed of this he took Samuel Johnson’s advice and became a notorious rake.

Verses by Samuel Johnson

It was of Sir John Lade the junior that Samuel Johnson wrote the following poem in 1780…

To Sir John Lade, on His Coming of Age 'A short song of congratulation'
Long-expected one and twenty
Lingering year at last is flown
Pomp and pleasure, pride and plenty
Great Sir John, are all your own.

Loosened from the minor’s tether,
Free to mortgage or to sell,
Wild as wind, and light as feather,
Bid the slaves of thrift farewell.

Call the Bettys, Kates, and Jennys
Every name that laughs at care,
Lavish of your grandsire’s guineas,
Show the spirit of an heir.

All that prey on vice and folly
Joy to see their quarry fly,
Here the gamester light and jolly,
There the lender grave and sly.

Wealth, Sir John2, was made to wander,
Let it wander as it will;
See the jockey, see the pander,
Bid them come, and take their fill.

When the bonny blade carouses,
Pockets full, and spirits high,
What are acres?
What are houses?
Only dirt, or wet or dry.

If the guardian or the mother
Tell the woes of wilful waste,
Scorn their counsel and their pother3
You can hang or drown at last.

Marriage to Letitia Derby

Lady Letitia Lade after Sir Joshua Reynolds

Lade later married Letitia Derby (or Smith, the sources are unclear) who was at one time mistress to highway man John Rann and later to the Duke of York. They between them got through the immense fortune left by the first Sir John.

Lady Letitia Lade by George Stubbs 1793

  • 1. By Hester Thrale in Thraliana dated 1 March 1779.
  • 2. When Hester Thrale first published the poem, she substituted “;my lad”; for “;Sir John”; to protect his name. The version thus altered is said to have influenced A.E. Housman when writing A Shropshire Lad.
  • 3. A commotion or fuss.


While researching my Lade family I found your marvellous web-site and am full of admiration. It is beautifully laid out and a delight to read.

My particular interest was caught by the FAQs which include a reference under Thrale - Miscellaneous about marrying MP's...

Henry Thrale's sister Lady Mary Lade ... bore an illegitimate son after the death of her husband Sir John Lade.

In our family research we have Sir John Lade's marriage licence to Ann Thrale 27 May 1756, Order 0052305 Faculty Office Marriage Licence Allegations 1701-1850. We also have the Warbleton, Sussex, Parish Register entry for the burial of Lady Ann Lade 31 March 1802 with the note that she was brought from St. Albans. Presumably this is the same lady, and I wonder if its possible that she was known both as Ann and Mary? Do you have Parish Register entries, family Bible?

Secondly, we know that Sir John died as a result of a fall from his horse, and that a child, John, was born posthumously and was made the ward of his uncle Henry Thrale. Is this the child referred to as fathered by Colonel Sir Phillip Jennings Clerke, or would that be a further child?

Do you have any information about where Lady Ann/Mary lived after the death of her husband and where the child/children were brought up? We know that Sir John owned an estate at Etchingham, bought by his guardians when he came of age, but perhaps she returned to the Thrale family home.

Samuel Johnson wrote some verses on the new Sir John's coming of age, remarking on his extravagance which his life as a friend of the Prince Regent eroded most of his inherited fortune!

Does Thraliana contain any references to Lady Ann/Mary? Any information you can offer of this fascinating period when the lives of the Thrales and Lades were joined for a short while would be most welcome.

Sue Atkinson

David Thrale's picture


Thanks for your very kind comments, which make all the hard work worthwhile.

I'm not sure that I can tell you any more. I'm afraid that I don't have a copy of Thraliana - I borrowed it from a library. However Thraliana is 1,300 pages long and is Hester Thrale's 'ana' spanning over 20 years. It is stuffed full of recollections and her writings and comments about whatever is 'in the news' that day. I have taken from it little bits that have relevance to Thrale family history, but distilling the family history bits from all the rest was very hard work.

Thraliana didn't mention the child's name, and is likely to be gossip. I'm afraid that I don't know where they lived.

I have a few more bits from Thraliana that I'm still working my way through and if it has anything helpful to you, I'll email you. I don't have any parish register entries.

I'm sure that in time we will get the answer. In the next few days will be publishing a Thrale family tree which has 800 individuals. I am very confident that people will send me more details and people to add. In fact I'm about to include the marriage date and cause of death etc. that you have just sent me!

I would of course be grateful if you could let me know about any useful information that you find out about the Thrale and the Lades so that I may place it on the website. owner: David Thrale | My blog | Family motto: In cruce confido

David Thrale's picture

Hi again Sue, I have discovered a little more about Sir John Lade. The information came from the Book Samuel Johnson edited by Donald Greene.

Baronet Sir John Lade and Mary Lade (sister of Henry Thrale) had one legitimate son, also called John. Sir John Lade died whilst his son John was still a child. Upon the death of John the elder, John the younger inherited his father's fortune and Baronetcy. Hence father and son were at different times confusingly known as Sir John Lade.

As Henry Thrale was a guardian to Sir John Lade (the younger), Lade jnr grew to know Samuel Johnson and in 1780 Johnson wrote verses entitled To Sir John Lade, on His Coming of Age. A short song of congratulation.

In relation to your query about Mary Lade also being known as Ann, I have nothing to support that. However, a clue that is worth bearing in mind is that Mary Ann(e) Thrale is clearly a Thrale family name as there are three women with that name in my family tree.

Do let me know if you make any more progress. owner: David Thrale | My blog | Family motto: In cruce confido


Nice to hear from you. I borrowed Thraliana from the library and found it fascinating with a lot of incidental references to the Lades. I shall look out for more books on Samuel Johnson as he knew the family so well.

The answer to the problem of Lady Ann/Mary is probably that Ann was her legal name used for her marriage and burial, but that her family called her Mary Anne.

I spent a morning in Southwark Library and although there were of course references to the Anchor Brewery I couldn't find a name for the first Sir John Lade's brewery which was said to be in Southwark. He died in 1740 but possibly retired earlier than that and the inventory of his property included much property in south London, but no brewery. Very puzzling.

Your web site gets better and better, congratulations.

Sue Atkinson

David Thrale's picture


I didn't know that Sir John Lade was a brewer. I'd love to know both about his brewery and also about his other properties. Any chance of you giving me some information on this?

I have also discovered that Sir John Lade (jnr) at the age of five was one of three godparents for his cousin Hester Maria Thrale (Queeney).

I hope you decide to go put your research on the net someday! owner: David Thrale | My blog | Family motto: In cruce confido

Thank you for the snippet about Sir John being Hester Maria Thrale's godfather at age five. How extraordinary, was it definitely the child and not his father, also called Sir John Lade?

The current edition of Sussex Family Historian magazine announces a forthcoming article on the Life and Times of Sir John & Lady Laetitia Lade, which should be fascinating. I wrote to the Editor and asked to be put in touch with the author, but no contact yet. I see that According to Queeney is now in paperback.

I still haven't solved the problem of which was Sir John Lade's brewery in Southwark, but am shortly going on a walking tour of Rotherhithe and Southwark with a local historian, so will maybe find some information. Presumably the Anchor is still there.

No, have decided the updating and care of a website is too much at the moment - I shall have to try and tempt one of the other Lade descendants, there's certainly plenty of material, and your excellent model to work from. I think I have gone as far back as possible with the Lades - 12th century mentions with 13th C wills. And I still only have one definite house - Boyke Manor - owned by them until the 17thC when they moved to Sussex.

Sue Atkinson

David Thrale's picture


The info about Sir John being Queeney's godfather is in a book I am currently working my way through. It is called Dr Johnson's Own Dear master. The life of Henry Thrale by Lee Morgan. I got it from Amazon, although it took many weeks to arrive. The reference is on page 29 and lists its source as a book called The Thrale's of Streatham Park by Mary Hyde, 17, 21-22.

Sir John the younger was Queeney's first cousin. His father died about five years before Queeney was born, so it couldn't have been the father, definitely the son.

Do let me know when you get the magazine article. It sounds great. I'm sure it will have some information that I could post on

Strange as it seems, I haven't been to the brewing area in Southwark yet - so much to do, so little time! I love those Historical walks, perhaps we could meet up on the walk? That would be great and I'm sure I'd enjoy the walk as well.

Alas the brewery was demolished in the 1980's and is now housing. But the old brewery tap house pub called the is still there (or so I've read). There is also a plaque on the site of the brewery. owner: David Thrale | My blog | Family motto: In cruce confido

David Thrale's picture

Sue I have found some more information on the Sir John Lades which you may find useful.

John Lade the elder died on 21 April 1759.

Thraliana saysPage 451, note 2. of Sir John Lade the younger …

The posthumous son of John Inskip, who married Mary Thrale, Henry Thrale's sister, in 1755, was made a baronet in March, 1758, under the name of John Lade, and died on April 21, 1759, from blood poisoning that resulted from the breaking of a leg in hunting. The son inherited the baronetcy at his birth on the following August 1 Gent. Mag. xxix. 194; lxxii. 376.. He fulfilled Dr. Johnson's worst predictions, becoming one of the notorious rakes of the Prince of Wales's circle, going through his own fortune and his mother's, which he inherited in 1802, and landing in King's Bench prison in 1813, whence Lady Keith tried to rescue him by appealing, in vain, to his former patron, the Prince Regent Bowood Papers.. Johnson sent the verses to Mrs. Thrale on August 8. Both the covering note and the verses are now in the Huntington Library. The verses were first published entire in Mrs. Piozzi's British Synonymy (1794) but the fourth stanza appeared in her Anecdotes Page 281..

Thus Lade the younger was born on 1 August 1759 and died in 1838. I still can't quite understand why Lade's father had a different surname! Thraliana (p454) also tells us that Lade the younger performed in Henry Thrale's absence - through illness - on the hustings for Thrale during the 1780 election in which Thrale was defeated.

The Piozzi Letters, by Bloom and Bloom Volume 2, page 527, note 2., says …

Letitia Derby - Sir John Lade's second wife - was once the mistress of the Duke of York. She and her husband were close friends of the Prince of Wales, receiving from him an annual pension of three hundred pounds.

Do you know who is first wife was?

Thraliana refers to Lade Lade by the name "Mary" and gives her as 1733-1802. Regarding the illegitimate child, Hester Thrale writes in Thraliana Page 373 …

Sir Philip Clerke has been consulted about the Alterations we have lately made in our Pleasure Ground—he is a famous Orator on the side of the Whigs in Parliament, so I call his Walk his Seat &c. The Phillipicks of Demosthenes. He was formerly a Gentleman well known by the name of Phil: Jennings; & being a Man of Family & Fortune, rose to the Rank of Colonel in the Army, when he was supposed a favourite with many a handsome Woman, & particularly with Mr Thrale's Widow Sister Lady Lade, by whom I have heard he had A Child—however in process of Time he had an Estate left him in Hampshire by an old Sir Something Clerke {I have since known that it was Sr Talbot Clerke his Mother's Father. Mrs. Thrale. According to the epitaph which she wrote for his parents. Sir Talbot Clerke of Launde Abbey in Leicestershire was his mother's brother. His father was Philip Jennings, Esq., of Dudlestone Hall, Salop. Sir Philip was one of a family of three sons and eight daughtersRy. Eng. MS. 629. whose Name he took, & a new Patent in order to succe[e]d him likewise. It was on this Occasion that Mr Thrale's other Sister Mrs Plumbe now Lady Mayoress, said Lord! how odd it is that Colonel Jennings should have thus changed both his Names; both says I Madam what do you mean?—why says She, was he not Colonel Jennings before, & now is not he Sir Philip Clerke ? I fancy she thought Colonel a Name.

Finally Mary Hyde in 'The Thrales of Streatham Park' reports that Lady Lade was six feet tall and that her first name was Ann. It also says that John Lade the younger suffered from consumption or tuberculosis aged 18.

I hope that at least some of this is helpful. owner: David Thrale | My blog | Family motto: In cruce confido