Robert Wilks


When Donald Cameron died in 1797 the Valentines estate was split up and the main portion, including Valentine House, was sold to Robert Wilks.[1] In the past the surname has been listed as Wilkes, which caused some confusion, but there is nothing in the documentation at the Essex Record Office to give any further clues to the man’s identity.


It is likely that Robert Wilks lived at Wanstead, died on 20 March 1818 in his 65th year and was buried at Bunhill Fields in the City of London. “His loss was deeply felt by his family, and a numerous circle of friends.”  He had no surviving children and his will mentions his brother Matthias Wilks of Easton Neston Park, Northants, and his good friends the wealthy Cazenove brothers of Walthamstow.[2]


Robert Wilks had become the purchaser of “All that Capital Messuage or Mansion House called or known by the name of Valentines.... with various fields totalling 168a. 3r. 9p” by Auction at Garraways Coffee House for the sum of £9,500. He also purchased a further 80 acres which had been part of Wyfields but was added to the Valentines holding by Sir Charles Raymond.[3]


At this time there was an economic crisis due the Napoleonic War and it seems likely that Wilks purchased the property as an investment, and that it was left unoccupied. If so, Wilks had made a shrewd investment as he sold the property in 1808 for £13,100.[4]


[1]   VCH Vol.V p.212; Essex Record Office  D/DU 539/1

[2]   C:\Users\user\Documents\Valentines\History\Wilks - the elusive Robert Wilkes.doc

[3]  Essex Record Office  D/DU 539/1  p.49-50; VCH Vol.V p.214

[4]  Essex Record Office  D/DU 539/1  p.59, 60