Ryves, Thomas (1753 - 1797)

Ryves, Thomas

Ryves, Thomas


Father: Thomas Ryves
Mother: Elizabeth Abdy

Birth: 4 Feb 1753
Birth Source: City of Westminster Archives Centre

Death: 1797
Death Source: England Deaths & Burials 1538-1991

Spouse1: Therese-Louise Benoist
Mistress: Harriet Randall


Children of Thomas Ryves & Therese-Louise Benoist:
  1. Peter Thomas Ryves, b.c.1772
  2. Theresa Ryves, b. ‎11 December 1774

Children of Thomas Ryves & Harriet Randall:
  1. Anthony Thomas Ryves (Randall), b. 24 June 1798
  2. Harriett Sophia Ryves (Randall), b. 29 November 1794

Thomas Ryves was the eldest surviving son and heir apparent of Thomas Ryves (1721-1788) and Elizabeth Abdy (1726-1755). As things turned out he was effectively disinherited by his father and has become considered to be the ‘black sheep’ of the family.

Thomas served in the British army in America shortly before the American War of Independence. He was commissioned as Ensign in the 60th Foot (Royal American Regiment) on 21 December 1770 under Sir J. Amherft K.B., Colonel-in-Chief. He retired to England two years later in 1772 and there is a reference to him in the British Army List of that year. On 2nd May 1775 he became a Sub-Lieutenant in the 1st Horse Grenadier Guards before retiring again in 1777.

Family tradition is that Thomas accumulated enormous gambling debts which were paid off by his father. This is not altogether implausible as Blandford Forum had been for time something of a 'hot-bed' of gambling where the stakes were often very high and entire estates could be won or lost. This gambling activity had been referred to in a letter from Anne Chafin to her husband Thomas as early as 1688 where she describes large amounts of money being won and lost and said that her brother-in-law, George Ryves was wary of going to the 'Ornary' because it was not 'for business but for play'. As a result of this, together with the probable expense incurred by his father in re-building Ranston, the property was sold and Thomas was partially dis-inherited, with the bulk of the residue of his father's estate passing to his half-brother George Frederick Ryves.

It may be that Thomas resided for a time at 17 Great Titchfield Street in London in Sep/Oct 1778. He appears at least to have attempted to purchase the next door property, a slaughterhouse, with the view of converting this to a residence. He may also been the victim of the theft of three silver teaspoons and three silver tablespoons, stolen by one John Lestrucci who pawned the offending articles to Thomas Parker and Robert Wilson. Lestrucci claimed in his defence that he had been given the spoons in lieu of wages by Thomas' sister-in-law. Nevertheless, the Court found Lestrucci guilty and he was sentenced to branding and one year's imprisonment.

Thomas was admitted to the Inner Temple on 20th February 1782, but did not pursue a career in the legal profession, being instead appointed a Captain in the Surrey Militia in 1793.

Following his wife's death, Thomas had a relationship with Harriett Randall, by whom he had two illegitimate children. However
, although it would seem Thomas and Harriet never married it is noted that in her probate record she is name as 'Ryves or Randall' so it is probable that she styled herself as Thomas's wife.

Shortly before his death, Thomas made a claim against his step-mother Anna-Maria Ryves (Graham) and his half-brother Henry Pleydle Ryves. In his bill he claimed that he had been wrongfully defrauded from the benefit of estates and/or the proceeds arising from estates (particularly Barnardiston) that had been settled on his mother Elizabeth by her father Sir William Abdey at the time of her marriage to his father, Thomas. He was unable at the time to produce adequate documentary evidence or specific details of the manner in which this alleged fraud had been executed. He argued that the defendants (Anna-Maria and Henry) should deliver up any such documentation in their possession. The defendants entered a general demurrer that the claim was 'one of those vexatious fishing bills, which had always received the disapprobation of the Court'. They said that the bill was so vague they could not plead it on the basis that 'being applicable to everything, it was applicable to nothing'. Their demurrer was allowed. This Ryves v. Ryves (1797) case became used as a reference as a point of Law in the Law of Discovery.

In 1794 Thomas rented lodgings in Folkestone, Kent. However, it appears that he only resided there for a matter of weeks before leaving without giving notice and without paying rent. In August 1796, those of his possessions left at these lodgings were appraised and sold to recover at least some of his unpaid rent.

Thomas died in 1797 and was buried at St Marylebone, London on 26 Nov 1797.

Research Notes


City of Westminster Archives Centre
British Army List 1772
University of Sheffield, HRI Online Publications.
Bank Of England Wills Extracts 1717-1845
Points in the Law of Discovery, Sir James Wigram, C.C. Little, 1844
Kentish Gazette - 16th August 1796
Index To Death Duty Registers 1796-1903