Thursday, 3 April 2014

James Ivall (1867-1922) : Bookmaker and Racehorse Owner

As the Grand National is this weekend, I am posting an expanded version of my item on James Ivall, who owned a horse that ran in the 1921 race.

James Ivall was a grandson of David Ivall (1795-1850, a successful coachmaker) who was the younger brother of Thomas Ivall (1781-1835), my great, great, great grandfather.

James was born on 25 May 1867 in Marylebone, the fifth of nine children, the first four of which died in infancy. His father was James Ivall (1832-1896) who was a coach maker (1861), later became a dairyman (1871), then a coach maker again (1881 and 91) and finally a tobacconist (1896). His mother was Sarah Ivall nee Benn (1839-1904). James was baptized on 22 Aug 1867 at St Mary Magdalene, Paddington, which was near 11 Cellbridge Place, Paddington where the family were living.

The 1871 census shows James Ivall senior (aged 39) his wife Sarah (31) and their children James (4), William (2) and Edith (1) living at 120 Talbot Road, Kensington. I can’t find James Ivall junior in the 1881 census – he is not listed with his family. Perhaps he was at a boarding school.

James became an engineer. In 1891, he was an engine maker fitter, aged 23, lodging at 13 Paradise Terrace, Hunslet, Yorkshire. On 7 December 1892, James married Rose Amelia Idle (b 1872 in Twickenham, her father was a boot maker) at St Mary’s Church Hampton. He was aged 25, an engine fitter and she was 20. James’s brother William and sister Edith were witnesses.

Electoral registers show James Ivall living at 56 Eccles Rd, Wandsworth in 1898 and 1899. The 1901 census shows James Ivall aged 33 living at 2A Schubert Road, Wandsworth, London with his wife Rose (28), brother-in-law Frank Idle (18, a barman), his wife’s niece Edith Lyford (9) and a domestic servant. The occupation given for James is “commission agent” ie bookmaker. James and Rose had no children.

James became one of the largest bookmakers of his time. He would have taken bets at race meetings - bookmaking shops were not legal when he was operating. He also owned several racehorses. For example, he owned a 5 year old horse called All Round, which came second in the Novices Steeplechase at Gatwick on 1 February 1900 (the results were given in The Times the following day).

National Hunt racing colours (blue and white stripes), registered in 1901 by James Ivall (drawing by Dennis Ivall)

The bookmaking business run by James Ivall was placed into receivership in 1906. The London Gazette of 12 February 1907 records that creditors of James Ivall (sued as Isaac White) of 172 Falcon Road, Clapham, lately carrying on a business at 75 High Street Balham, were to be paid 10s in the pound.

In 1909, James inherited approximately £500 (equivalent to about £180,000 now) from his uncle David James Ivall, whose will instructed his residual estate to be divided after his wife’s death amongst his nephews and nieces alive at the time of his death (which was in 1873). There were 22 of them and the National Archives has a Chancery Court document listing their names. David’s widow (Lea Mathilde Ivall) died in 1907, which meant that the money could then be allocated.

The address of James in 1909 was Lynwood, Foxley Lane, Purley. It was also his address at the time of the 1911 census which shows James (43, a commission agent), his wife Rose (38), her niece Edith Lyford (19) a housemaid and a cook living there. The census return shows the house to have 11 rooms, so it must have been substantial. The 1915 and 1919 electoral registers show that the house was 121 Foxley Lane.

121 Foxley Lane (now called Oakwood) in 2015

In 1915, the government banned horse racing at all venues except Newmarket, to avoid disrupting the war effort. The Evening Telegraph dated 27 May 1915 reported that the National Sporting League held a meeting in London about this, at which “Mr James Ivall presided.” Resolutions opposing the ban were agreed and passed.

The London Telephone Directory for 1916 lists “James Ivall, agent” at Lynwood, Foxley Lane, Purley. Presumably “agent” means commission agent. The following horses were shown as owned by him on the racing pages of The Daily Mirror in 1919 : Santfreda, Prevoyant, Julian, Lady Raja. James had a runner – Rock Ahoy – in the 1921 Grand National.

James also became a nurseryman. The 1913 London Telephone Directory has an entry for Ivall and Brighton, Nurserymen, Shirley. The London Gazette dated 30 December 1919 contained the following item :

“Notice is hereby given that the Partnership lately subsisting between us, the undersigned James Ivall and Fred Brighton, carrying on business as Wholesale Nurseryman at The Nurseries, Shirley, Croydon, in the county of Surrey, under the style or firm of IVALL & BRIGHTON has this day been dissolved by mutual consent. All debts due to or owing by the said late firm will be received and paid by the said James Ivall, who will continue the said business. As witness our hands this tenth day of December, one thousand nine hundred and nineteen.”
James died on 20 January 1922 (the day my mother was born!) at the Trinity Nursing Home, Falkland Road, Torquay. He was aged 54. An obituary was printed in the Yorkshire Post:



The death took place yesterday morning of Mr James Ivall, better known as “Ike White”, one of the leading bookmakers in Tattersall’s Ring. Genial and hearty, he was popular with all classes of racegoers, and he gave freely to deserving charities. He was fond of making “freak” bets and on one occasion laid and lost a wager of £100 to a cigar during the running of a race.
Mr Ivall had horses in training with Cecil Young and Bennett. Rock Ahoy was to have carried his colours at Plumpton yesterday. Prevoyant won many races for Mr Ivall, both before and after the war. A goat used to accompany this peculiar-tempered horse to the race meetings.

(Tattershall’s Ring is the enclosure at racecourses where established bookmakers are located.)

Probate on the estate of James Ivall was granted on 25 May 1922 to Rose Ivall (his widow), Percy Ivall (his brother) and George Idle (his brother-in-law ?). Percy and George were commission agents. The Times printed the following item in its Estates section on 31 May 1922

“Mr JAMES IVALL (better known as Ike White) of Weybourne, Foxley Lane, Purley, bookmaker, for many years prominent in Tattershall’s Ring and owner of several racehorses, who died at Torquay on 20 January 1922, left estate of the gross value of £10,866 with net personalty £8,112.” (equivalent to about £1,450,000 now).

James had made a will in 1911 and amended it with a codicil in 1914. Under the amended will, his estate was invested to provide an income for his wife Rose. On her death his residuary estate was divided into 16 shares, one each going to his 11 nephews and nieces (the 5 children of his brother Henry namely Marjorie, Patricia, Henry, Percy and Dorothy and the 6 surviving children of his brother Percy that is Edith, Alice, Percy, May, Albert, Doris), one each going to his wife’s nieces Winnie Idle and Maude Lyford. Three shares went to his wife’s niece Edith Lyford.

Rose Ivall died in 1923 in Purley aged 51. James and Rose Ivall are buried in grave L144 in Bandon Hill Cemetery, Wallington, Sutton. The cemetery is full and so grants new burial rights in graves which have not been used in the previous 75 years. John Clemson (who was not related to James and Rose) was buried in grave L144 in 2001 and the plot now has a headstone with his name on it. The cemetery office tell me that the memorial to James and Rose was a rustic granite cross inscribed "In loving memory of James Ivall, who died January 20th 1922 aged 54 years. Also of Rose Amelia, dearly beloved wife of the above, who died August 8th 1923 aged 51 years." It was removed in 2000 and broken up.

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