John Whittaker Ellis

For other people named John Ellis, see John Ellis (disambiguation).
Caricature by Spy published in Vanity Fair in 1882.
Funerary monument, St Peter's Church, Petersham

Sir John Whittaker Ellis, 1st Baronet (25 January 1829 20 September 1912) was a Conservative Party politician in the United Kingdom and Lord Mayor of London 1881.


Born on 25 January 1829, Ellis was the fifth son of Joseph Ellis, owner of the Star and Garter Hotel in Richmond, Surrey, from 1830–1847 and lived in Byfleet for some years at Petersham House (built in High Road c. 1859 and now a Lloyds Bank). After a fire at Petersham House, Ellis organised Byfleet's first fire brigade by equipping three of his gardeners with three lengths of hose and an ancient manual pump which was put on wheels and kept in a potting shed. In 1885, he funded the construction of the nearby Byfleet Fire Station to house a volunteer fire brigade. Initially the Parish Council managed this brigade and rented the building and a fire engine from Ellis. The fire brigade was stationed there until 1963, latterly as part of the Surrey Fire Brigade. The building survives relatively unaltered today and became a Grade 2 Listed building in 2008.

Ellis was an Alderman of Broad Street Ward, London from 1872, Sheriff of London and Middlesex for 1874-75 and Lord Mayor of London for 1881-2.[1] He was elected as Member of Parliament for Mid Surrey at a by-election in 1884, and when that constituency was abolished for the 1885 general election, he was returned for the new Kingston constituency.

On 6 June 1882 he was made a baronet, of Byfleet in the County of Surrey, and of Hertford Street, Mayfair, in the County of Middlesex,[2] a title which became extinct on his death. He later became the Borough of Richmond's first Mayor, and purchased the site for Richmond’s first town hall.[3] In 1895 a bust of Ellis was unveiled in the town hall by Mary Adelaide, Duchess of Teck[3] and this is still displayed on the staircase there. In 1899 he was appointed High Sheriff of Surrey for the year.[4]

Ellis died on 20 September 1912 and is buried in St Peter's churchyard, Petersham,[5] sharing the same gravestone with his late wife. He is also commemorated by a plaque[5] in St Peter’s North Chancel, the bust in Richmond Town Hall and nearby Whittaker Avenue in Richmond.

Lady Ellis

John Whittaker Ellis married, in 1859, Mary Anne Staples, daughter of John Staples. Lady Ellis was a prominent Mayoress both in London and in Richmond, and was identified with many charities in Surrey. She was president of the Ladies´ Committee of the Royal Cambridge Asylum, and on the death of Princess Mary Adelaide, Duchess of Teck in 1897 was appointed to succeed her as county president of the Surrey Needlework Guild. She was also one of the presidents of the Soldiers' and Sailors' Families Association in Surrey, and took a prominent part in the establishment of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. She died at Buccleuch House, Richmond, Surrey, on 18 December 1901.[6]


  1. "ELLIS, Sir John Whittaker (1829-1912)". AIM25. Retrieved 2012-08-10.
  2. The London Gazette: no. 25114. p. 2589. 2 June 1882.
  3. 1 2 "Old Town Hall timeline". Local History Timelines. London Borough of Richmond upon Thames. Retrieved 18 December 2012.
  4. The London Gazette: no. 27061. p. 1660. 10 March 1899. Retrieved 21 February 2009.
  5. 1 2 "St Peter's Church, Petersham" (PDF). Local History Notes. London Borough of Richmond upon Thames. Retrieved 18 December 2012.
  6. "Obituaries - Lady Ellis". The Times (36642). London. 19 December 1901. p. 6.
Civic offices
Preceded by
William McArthur
Lord Mayor of the City of London
Succeeded by
Henry Knight
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Sir Henry Peek, Bt
Sir Trevor Lawrence, Bt
Member of Parliament for Mid Surrey
1884 1885
With: Sir Trevor Lawrence, Bt
Constituency abolished
New constituency Member of Parliament for Kingston
1885 1892
Succeeded by
Sir Richard Temple, Bt
Baronetage of the United Kingdom
New creation Baronet
(of Byfleet and Hertford Street)
1882 1912
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