From the Archives: Naming Hatley Park

Jenny Seeman
The Original Hatley Park?

Royal Roads University is part of Hatley Park, a National Historic Site. I am often asked where the name Hatley Park comes from.

There is a Hatley Park in Hatley St. George, Cambridgeshire, England. Formally laid out as a park and estate in the early 1700s, the large country house has seen many alterations over its lifetime and still stands today as a two storey red brick mansion with a hipped slate roof. It is also a registered historic site and you can read more about it here. The area around the house today remains as gardens and farmland and the house is privately owned. The Dunsmuirs would likely have known the history of the original Hatley Park, and might even have visited. From 1898 until 1920, it was owned by Sir Charles Hamilton, a baron, businessman and Conservative politician.

Hatley Park, Cambridgeshire: north front, 2012. Image by John Hagger.

However, it wasn’t the Dunsmuirs who gave this property the name. It was already well known as Hatley Park when James Dunsmuir purchased it from Roland Stuart in 1907.

The newspaper cutting from the Victoria Daily Colonist of October 16, 1889 shows that the property formerly known as Belmont Farm was given the name Hatley Park by the owners. Described in the 1891 census as a 2 storey, nine bedroomed, wooden house, (pictured above) it was inhabited by Roland Stuart and it is often assumed that he had some connection to the Hatley St. George area of Cambridgeshire in England. However, as a Scottish man, this connection seems unlikely. As we can see from the newspaper clipping, the property was in fact co-owned at the time by Roland Stuart and a man called Charles St. Aubyn Pearse. Pearse served with the Royal Canadian Dragoons and although he is also listed in the 1891 census as a resident at Hatley Park, his role as a military man would have meant that he was rarely at home on the estate. In 1900, the Boer War was raging in South Africa and the Royal Canadian Dragoons played a key part in the action. Pearse was in Pretoria when he died on October 17, 1900 at the age of 36. Charles was the youngest son of Major Edward Octavius Pearse of Bryncelyn, Anglesey, North Wales.

Major E.O. Pearse was a Justice of the Peace for Anglesey as well as the county Deputy Lieutenant, a crown appointed role. Born in 1830 and educated at Marlborough College and the Royal Naval College, he was obviously a man of some means.  Further research into the Pearse family shows that it was his Great Grandfather, Best Pearse, who owned the Cambridgeshire Hatley Park Estate from 1743 until 1785 when he sold the property to a Thomas Quintin. Best Pearse had inherited Hatley Park from his father, Hon. Thomas Pearse, who was MP for Weymouth from 1722-1741.

Charles St. Aubyn Pearse was no doubt proud of his family history and chose the name Hatley Park because of his family connections to the grand old estate in England. Roland Stuart lived and worked on the estate for several years and established it as a popular social hub for Victorians, but it was Pearse who gave it its enduring name.

You can find out more about the Pearse family from the book ‘The County Families of the United Kingdom, Or Royal Manual of the Titled and Untitled Aristocracy of Great Britain and Ireland’ By Edward Walford, published in 1864, and if you want to read more about the Cambridgeshire Hatley Park estate history, the website 'Landed Families of Britain and Ireland' has some interesting information.

If you want to know more about the archives, or have a question about the site's history, or want to know the origin of the name 'Royal Roads' please contact Jenny Seeman, ext. 4122.