top of page
  • laurawb4

The Life of Lionel Guy Gisborne

Whilst researching and fact checking for our new Brailsford Project, I went down a fascinating little rabbit hole into the life of Lionel Guy Gisborne. We were attempting to find records of his activities around 1921to see if he had a connection with the construction of Field Head House in Brailsford. I ended up following his life through wars, marriage, tragic accidents and philanthropic acts.

Lionel Guy Gisborne was born in 1866 in New Zealand (likely in Wellington). His father was William Gisborne, a powerful politician who was first New Zealand Cabinet Secretary from 1864 to 1869, Colonial Secretary of New Zealand from 1869 to 1872, and Minister of Public Works between 1870 and 1871. He even had the city of Gisborne named for him!

Allestree Cricket Club 1892, possible photograph of Lionel Guy Gisborne in centre front.

Lionel Guy Gisborne was absent from many censuses throughout his life. His father returned to the UK in 1881, so it is possible that Lionel spent some of his youth in New Zealand. Lionel later studied at Sandhurst and Cambridge, where he is recorded in the university Alumni list.

Lionel Guy Gisborne married Jessie Mackintosh Gow of Edinburgh in Allestree in 1892. Other records from the 1890's include his initiation into the freemasons (Tyrian Lodge, Derby) in 1894 and a tragic article from1895. Lionel was involved in an unfortunate accident in which he shot and blinded a gamekeeper. It seems Lionel had not seen beater Leonard Fearn behind a hedge and had shot too close and low.

On the death of his father in 1898, Lionel Guy Gisborne inherited Allestree Hall Derby. During their time at Allestree, the family are described as ‘taking an active part in the social life of the district.’

Jesse Gisborne was recorded as family head in 1901 census, likely because Lionel was serving in South Africa with the Derbyshire Yeomanry in 1901. In 1902, Lionel rented Allestree Hall to Sir Herbert Raphael, who lived there until 1913, when Lionel decided to sell the hall to Colonel Herbert Johnson.

After the Great War (where Lionel served in France with the Royal Field Artillery), Lionel Guy Gisborne presented the parish with Allestree Recreational Ground as a memorial to the men from the village who lost their lives during the Great War. By this time, he had been promoted to Colonel Lionel G Gisborne. There is also reference on the plaque to a Captain Lionel Gisborne, his only son.

By 1917, Captain Lionel Guy Gisborne was living in Lingen Hall, Brampton Bryan, Herefordshire. It seems that Lingen Hall had been built in the mid-1800s for the Gisborne family and was still in the family along with another home in Ros Vean, Mullion, Cornwall.

Here there was a large gap in information (no Lionel on the 1921 census) until the story took a sadder turn. A cricketer throughout his life, Lionel took a trip to Sydney in 1928 to watch Test matches. On October 26th, Lionel Guy Gisborne committed suicide, falling from a third storey window in the Union Club, Bligh-street, Sydney. He was due to return to England the following Saturday. The death was widely covered by Australian newspapers.

Following his death, Jessie and their daughter moved to Ros Vean, Mullion, Cornwall where they lived until their deaths.

Most of this research was conducted through online birth and marriage records, census archives, and digitised newspaper reports. So when Laura and I visited Derbyshire Record Office last week to check some local maps, it was incredibly exciting to see the physical account book of Lionel Guy Gisborne. Seeing the actual handwriting and details of Lionel's daily life made me feel so connected to the human history of our heritage research.

8 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page