The talented Tallents of Newark

As part of the 250 Year Anniversary celebrations for Tallents Solicitors, Dr Richard A. Gaunt of the University of Nottingham has kindly written this short history of the firm.

Dr Richard A Gaunt writes about the history of Tallents Solicitors. Picture by Andrew Hallsworth, Marlow Photographic

Dr Richard Gaunt from the University of Nottingham

The talented Tallents of Newark

When Philip Tallents established himself as an attorney in Newark on Trent in 1774, he could scarcely have anticipated that the firm which bears his name would continue to operate in the town 250 years later.

Written by Dr Richard A. Gaunt, University of Nottingham, 2024

Newark Market Place 1776, painted by Edward Eyre.

Newark Market Place 1776, painted by Edward Eyre. Reproduced by kind permission of Newark Town Hall Museum and Art Gallery

Philip Tallents (1741 – 1789) was wise in choosing Newark on Trent as his place of business. The famous picture of the town’s Market Place, painted by Edward Eyre in 1776 during this period, shows Newark as it had become over the course of the previous half-century: a thriving, bustling town, dominated by its historic church and well-proportioned town hall, the perfect environment in which local manufacturers, tradesmen and industrialists could mix with the many visitors drawn to Newark by their travels along the Great North Road. This mixed community of residents and tourists found ready hospitality, and local amenities, in Newark’s numerous coaching inns, ale houses and hotels, generously supplied by the brewers and maltsters for which the town became famous.

Newark on Trent was one of the principal market towns in Nottinghamshire and an important site of politics, electioneering and the administration of justice. Tallents and his partners quickly found themselves in high demand, not only as solicitors, but as influential agents in the varied trusts, commissions and committees which administered the social and economic infrastructure of the town. Highways, workhouses, sewers, and the Newark navigation canal, all required close and careful management, and it was in securing the secretaryship or clerkship to a wide variety of local bodies, that Philip’s son – and successor in the practice – William Edward Tallents (1780 – 1837), ensured for himself and his descendants, a prominent place in the affairs of the town.

William Edward Tallents of Tallents Solicitors in Newark. 1780 - 1837

William Edward Tallents (1780 – 1837) of Tallents Solicitors

Nor was Tallents confined to Newark affairs – the local electoral influence exercised by the dukes of Newcastle of Clumber Park and the Sutton family of Kelham Hall, amongst other propertied interests, ensured Tallents a crucial role in the political affairs of Newark throughout the 19th Century, and a privileged place in the management of local aristocratic and gentry affairs. Tallents Solicitors were land agent for the Duke of NewcastleTallents worked with an equally wide range of Lincolnshire clients, including the earls of Yarborough, and the Herons of Stubton Hall. They were also heavily involved in the many legal issues arising from the management of the Foss Dyke within the county.

Successive generations of Tallents have continued to serve in the firm, culminating with Colonel Hugh Tallents (1885-1978), whose parents descended from the two families (Tallents and Beevor) who had come together as business partners at the turn of the 20th century.

Today, twenty years after resuming the name of Tallents Solicitors, in homage to its eponymous founder, let us join those contemporaries who cheered the ‘talented Mr Tallents’, and all those who have worked in succession to him, over the past 250 years, in serving the people of Newark and Nottinghamshire.


Tallents Solicitors celebrates 250 years as a law firm in 2024

Dr Richard A Gaunt is Associate Professor in British History at the University of Nottingham. He co-authored the entry on William Edward Tallents (1780-1837) in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford, 2004) and the editor of Politics, Law and Society in Nottinghamshire. The Diaries of Godfrey Tallents of Newark, 1829-1839 (Nottingham, 2010).

Copyright – Dr Richard A. Gaunt, 2024.