The Tennysons in Market Rasen

"You can tell how important the family were in the town because they had their own, large covered pew in the parish church"

Most people have heard of Alfred Lord Tennyson the famous poet who wrote ‘Charge of the Light Brigade’ and who was Poet Laureate from 1850 until he died in 1892. But did you know that his grandfather George Tennyson was a prominent member of Market Rasen society and had a law practice here from 1774?

George Tennyson was born in 1750 and came from a wealthy family. Soon after setting up his law practice he married Mary Turner, who also came from a rich landed family. We know that in 1779 George and Mary lived in King Street. They had four children, but they were an unusual family. Their first child Elizabeth, born soon after they married, went on to marry and live in Market Rasen. But their second daughter Mary was sent to live with her grandmother. And their third child George Clayton, born in 1778, was also sent away to live with relatives in Holderness. We think this may be because George Clayton was epileptic, which at the time was seen to be a form of mental illness. Then there was a fourth child and second son, Charles, and he was to be the lucky one…

George Tennyson did move his family around but stayed within a few miles of Market Rasen so that he could continue his business here. You can tell how important the family were in the town because they had their own, large covered pew in the parish church and when George died in 1835 his funeral procession came through Market Rasen so that people could pay their respects.

But what of his sons George Clayton and Charles? Well, because George Clayton was deemed to be mentally ill, it was the second son Charles who inherited the family’s fortune when George Tennyson died. He went on to become an MP and built Bayons Manor in Tealby, just a few miles away. George Clayton meanwhile married Elizabeth Fytche and they had twelve children…one of whom was Alfred, who grew up to become the famous poet. So, having been shunned by his parents and then ignored in his father’s will, isn’t it funny that it was George Clayton who became father to one of our country’s most respected poets?

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Where Next?

Walk back into town towards the Market Place and up to the Advocate Arms to find our more about Market Rasen’s pubs and connections with the racecourse.

References for The Tennysons in Market Rasen

  • Notes from D Boyce - Rase Heritage Society collection.
  • Lincolnshire Archives - land enclosures act
  • Rasen Mail
  • Stamford Mercury