Manuscripts and Special Collections

Denison Family of Ossington: A Brief History

The Denison family of Leeds were an extended family of successful wool merchants.

William Denison (1714-1782) purchased the Ossington estate near Newark, Nottinghamshire, from the Cartwright family in 1768. William and his brother Robert (1720-1782) made plans for improvements and alterations to Ossington Hall, particularly during the 1780s.

It was subsequently inherited by their nephew John Wilkinson (c.1759-1820), who changed his name to Denison and took over the running of the estate, continuing the improvements begun by his uncles. In addition to Ossington Hall, the Denison estates included lands in Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire, Durham and Yorkshire, as well as businesses in Leeds.

John Denison's heir was his eldest son, John Evelyn Denison (1800-1873), Speaker of the House of Commons, who held the estates from 1820 until his death in 1873, and was created Viscount Ossington in 1872. He was part of a close-knit and distinguished family of nine sons and daughters, plus two daughters from his father's previous marriage. His siblings included Edward Denison (1801-1854), Bishop of Salisbury, Sir William T. Denison (1804-1871), colonial governor, and George A. Denison (1805-1896), Archdeacon of Taunton.

The title of Viscount Ossington became extinct on the death of John Evelyn Denison. The Ossington Hall estate passed to his nephew William Evelyn Denison (1843-1916), and eventually to a cousin, William M.E. Denison (1904-1972), both of whom were resident at Ossington Hall and took many of the local offices appropriate to their rank. 

The descent of the Ossington estate was as follows:


Genealogical Sources

  • Burke's Landed Gentry
  • Oxford Dictionary of National Biography


Next page:  Denison Family Seats


Manuscripts and Special Collections

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