6. Robert Wilks 1797 – 1808
When Donald Cameron died in 1797 the Valentines estate was split up and it was said that the main portion, including Valentine House, was sold to Robert Wilkes. However original documentation at the Essex Record Office shows his name as Wilks.
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.
The documentation gives no further clues to the man’s identity but is likely that ‘our’ 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.
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.
Sources: Victoria County History of Essex Vol V p.212 & 214; Essex Record Office D/DU 539/1
For more information see the article “The elusive Robert Wilkes in the Friends of Valentines Mansion Newsletter January 2009 pages 6-7 and April 2009 pages 8-9.
@Georgina Green 2009 Updated 2021