Torrens Families: Sir Robert Richard Torrens and Annie Torrens

This page was written by Carol Winfield, who would be pleased to hear from anyone who can add to this story. Use the contact button, above.


Robert Richard Torrens (born about 1816 Cork Ireland) married Barbara Anson in 1839. She was born Barbara Park about 1805 in Scotland and married George Augustus Anson. He died without issue in 1829 and his widow Barbara remarried in 1839 - she would have been 34 and some 10 years older than Robert Torrens.

George Augustus Anson was the eldest of 11 children born to Gen Sir George Anson and his wife Frances, the daughter of John William Hamilton Esq. Their ninth child was ordained as the Rev Thomas Anchitel Anson and he married Anna Jane Packe, the eldest child of Col Henry Packe, in Twyford, Norfolk in 1846.

Col Henry Packe served with the 1st Battalion, Grenadier Guards and had a distinguished Army career. He married Eliza Isham in 1821 and they had 13 children 9 sons and 4 daughters. He bought Twyford Hall in Norfolk (see note below) in 1830 and was Lord of the Manor of Twyford until his death in 1859. His third daughter Frances Catherine was born in Twyford in 1832 and is of interest later on. His youngest child and fourth daughter Emilie was born in France in 1841 and married Sir Edward Henry Scott, 5th Baronet of Lychett Minster, Dorset, in Twyford, in 1865. See Tasglann nan Eilean Siar (Hebridean Archives) for more on Sir Edward.

The Rev Thomas Anson became the Rector of Longford, Derbyshire in 1850 and was Rector there until his death in 1899. He and Anna Jane had 11 children and it is their second child Emily Mary born in Billingford in 1848 who provides the link to Annie Torrens.

Frances Catherine Packe never married and died in London in 1919 aged 87. Little is known about her except for a school in Guist, Norfolk which was known as Miss Packe‘s school. Guist is the neighbouring parish to Twyford where she grew up but the family moved away on her father‘s death in 1859. The school was built in 1871 by which time she was living in London. It was built with money donated by her brother-in-law Sir Edward Scott.

Sir Edward Scott was a banker and his bank had financed the purchase and extension of a castle in the Hebrides Amhuinnsuidhe (pronounced aven-suey) for its then owner. The extension bankrupted the owner and the bank repossessed it and Sir Edward Scott bought it and turned it into a real country retreat for non paying friends and family employing a permanent staff of more than 30 with seasonal employees as well. He and Emilie holidayed up there for lengthy periods inviting friends and family to join them.

Tragedy struck during one of their stays in August 1874 when Emily Mary Anson (known as Milly), daughter of Emilie Scott‘s sister Anna Jane Anson, drowned whilst swimming in the loch at the Castle. The Scotts had three young ladies staying with them for this ill fated holiday — the unfortunate Milly, who was their niece, Laura Lennard and Annie Torrens.

Laura Lennard was the daughter of Col Sir John Farnaby Lennard of Wickham Court and she married William Packe and then William Hoare of Staplehurst in Kent. On the day of the accident Sir Edward Scott wrote to Col Lennard:

27. Aug.

My dear Colonel

Our hearts are sad enough here. Thank God that I have no cause to make you so otherwise than sympathise with the sorrow of your friends.

This morning Annie Torrens, Laura and Milly Anson went to bathe in a little bay near the castle. The boat that took them lay just round the point, waiting out of sight. Annie and Milly had the first dip, hand in hand. Whether Laura was also with her hand in either Annie‘s or Milly‘s I have not discovered. Annie raised her hands to clear her eyes from the water when to her horror she saw the two girls struggling in the water, evidently out of their depth — carried off their legs by a wash. She tried to reach them and Milly grasped her bathing dress, tearing it in catching hold. Annie then rushed to shore and seized a towel throwing it to one of the girls, but it was too short. Laura with utter presence of mind called to Milly to throw herself on her back and float, doing the same herself and Annie rushed up the little hill, which brought her in sight of the castle to call for help. The bathing boat saw her running up the hill and gave way immediately, arriving in time to pick up Laura who was sensible and with presence of mind enough to say ”Look for the other one who is drowned•. They then saw a short distance off the bit of bathing gown above water and, on rowing there, found poor Milly, being just in time to grasp her hair before she sank altogether.

We were fishing in a burn just close to the Castle and the first idea of danger was the appearance of Annie in her bathing gown on the hill. Our boat was sent off immediately and I tore down to the harbour, hailed the Yacht gig and within four minutes was on my way. The bathing boat had however long before picked up the two dear girls. On reaching the Castle steps, where the pier is, I saw dear Laura sitting up in the bows of the boat and I jumped into the water and took her in my arms to carry her off. She said ”Poor Milly, where is she?• ”Good God, you do not say there is another one• I said to the men, but alas, there was poor Milly in the stern totally insensible. I carried dear Laura in and our poor Milly was also brought home and we sent for the doctor. All remedies were applied but the poor girl was dead before she reached the Castle, though we could not help persevering in our efforts till the arrival of the doctor pronounced that life had been extinct for sometime. Crazy as we almost are with sorrow I hardly know what we should have been if my letter had had to give you the bitter news of dear Laura‘s death. A merciful providence has spared her and she is going on thoroughly well. Had it not been for her wonderful presence of mind there could have been no hope for her. Can you even trust a daughter to us again? You will, I am sure, feel that sooner than anything would have happened to her I would have risked life and everything. Every precaution had been taken. A rope was at the bathing place but the low tide made it too short and the bathing boat was only just out of sight. Forgive an incoherent letter but we are almost distracted with the terrible day. That Laura will be watched over most carefully and truly you may well feel sure of. She will come down with us when the yacht returns from her sad journey with poor Milly. She is quite another child to us in our affection, so was dear Milly. It would have been too awful to have lost both, heartrending as it is to loose one.

Always most sincerely yours,

E H Scott

The original of this letter is lodged in a Record Office. We do not know how they broke the news to Milly‘s parents. Sir Edward had her body transported back by sea in his yacht, according to this letter. It is presumed that the Scott‘s own four young children were in Scotland with them. Milly was buried in the churchyard of her father‘s church in Longford and Sir Edward and Emilie Scott donated a much needed church organ in her memory.

So who was Annie Torrens? Given the link between Milly‘s father the Rev Thomas Anson and Barbara Torrens — could Annie have been Barbara and Sir Robert Torrens daughter. Both Milly and Laura were in their mid 20‘s in 1875 — Milly was 26. If Annie had been of similar age she would have been born about 1850 when Barbara was 45 so maybe she was a little older than the other two girls.

Carol Winfield


Twyford Hall

In August 2016 I received the following note from Paul Savory

Previous owners of Twyford Hall

The hall was in my families possession from 1780 until it was sold to Colonel Packe by my ancester, Coulsey Savory in 1830. His son Samuel Henry Savory was the rector of St Michael's church in the grounds of Twyford Hall until his death in 1839.


Interestingly, at that same date (2016) the hall was again up for sale, apparently having been so since July 2014. I quote from the estate agent's particulars:
A fine Grade II listed 17th century country house with Georgian additions set in extensive grounds and parkland with land in all extending to about 70 acres

Location

Twyford Hall is situated to the south of the village of Guist about 19 miles to the north of Norwich, the cathedral city and regional centre of East Anglia.

Further Information

Twyford Hall is a fine Grade II listed country house, mainly dating from 1675 with an important late 18th century addition. The house is traditionally constructed of mellow red brick with black pantile and slate roofs. Twyford Hall retains good period features with fine fireplaces including a particularly fine marble chimney piece in the main drawing room as well as panelled doors and shuttered sash windows, especially in the Georgian part of the house which contains the magnificent entrance and staircase hall together with the drawing room. There is fine carved oak linenfold panelling with wide oak floorboards which have been created in the family/billiard room which leads onto the garden room with French windows leading onto the terrace. The main rooms in the house face south over the garden with views to meadowland and parkland beyond and the property is approached via a drive through parkland in all extending to 69.46 acres (est).

The house was acquired by the current owners in 2003 and although significant works have been carried out to the property over a number of years, in recent years the general maintenance of the property has been neglected and the gardens and grounds in particular have become somewhat overgrown.

Twyford Hall represents an increasingly rare opportunity to acquire a substantial yet manageable country house, set in its own land together with extensive outbuildings in a popular part of North Norfolk.

Outside

The house is approached by a long drive through pasture and parkland with some magnificent trees including beech and oak. The drive terminates at the west front of the house where there is an ample gravelled parking area. There is also a further gravelled parking area to the north of the house.

The main garden lies to the south of the house with a Yorkstone paved terrace adjoining the house to the south. there are fine views over pasture and parkland to the southeast. There is a large walled garden situated to the east of the house with some of the original glasshouses where renovation work has been undertaken. A door in the east wall of the walled garden leads to an area of open woodland beyond and this is underplanted with a variety of spring bulbs and contains some fine trees interspersed with open grassed areas. Situated in the northeast corner of the woodland, beyond the walled garden, is the former ice house.

The Land

The house stands well in its own land, the majority of which lies to the north of the house and is all down to pasture/parkland with some magnificent mature trees, in particular oak and beech, well hedged along the boundaries. Two small streams run through the land. There are areas of woodland put down to mixed deciduous plantings including Lodge plantation, Hill plantation and the Round, predominantly oak with some fine beech and ash. At the northern extremity of the land there is access onto Guist Road and some fine old brick and flint walling. The land in all extends to 69.46 acres (est).

The Outbuildings

To the northeast of the house there is a substantial range of traditional outbuildings and a stable yard and coach house grouped around a central courtyard of brick and cobbled flint. These are traditionally constructed of red brick under slate roofs and comprise the former coach house with two pairs of timber doors now used as garaging, an adjoining workshop and a further garage with toffee slate flooring, cow byre with mangers suitable for conversion to stabling and a further single garage with brick flooring. On the east side of the stable yard are the original stables divided into three stalls with toffee slate flooring and on the south side, a further workshop/store.

The former Coachman's Lodge has been renovated (situated above the stabling) and an arch from the stable yard leads to the farmyard with a further range of outbuildings. The lodge can be used as a self-contained flat with sitting room, fitted kitchen with its own boiler, bedroom and bathroom. During the renovation, new wooden floorboards were laid. The lodge is in good order throughout.

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