Daniel Brooks was born in Chichester in 1782, baptized in the Church of St Peter the Less on 29 December. He later moved to Southampton, being a ratepayer in the town from c.1802. He married Susannah Taylor on 3 May 1815 in St Mary's Church. She was the widow of Joseph Slater (1762-1813), architect and builder of Orchard Place, most noted as the designer in 1803 of the theatre in French Street. A previous connection is suggested by the fact that Daniel was a witness to both the will and codicil of Joseph, dated 1809 and 1811 respectively. The daughter of Susannah by her first marriage -also Susannah, born 1812 - married the painter William Joseph Shayer.
Daniel Brooks was an architect, builder and surveyor, originally of Orchard Place before moving to Richmond Lodge in Threefield Lane in 1831. He was surveyor from c.1820 to the Southampton estates of Queen's College, Oxford (on whose land Richmond Lodge was built). He succeeded another member of the Slater family - George -, appointed surveyor c.1802. Daniel was responsible for repairs to God's House - owned by the college - in 1827/8. He was an active politician in the Liberal cause, representing St Mary's ward from the first election after the Municipal Reform Act in 1835 until his death in 1854. He was then regarded as “the Father of the Reformed Corporation of Southampton”. He was elected an alderman on the accession of the Liberal party to municipal power in Southampton in November 1847, and became the first Liberal mayor of the Reformed Corporation in the same year. He became a borough magistrate in 1848.
He died at his residence on 7 May 1854 in his 72nd year. He was a wealthy man. He owned (as freeholder or leaseholder) four significant properties in the town - 9 Cumberland Place; 6 Prospect Place; 69 Marland Place (Marland House) and Richmond Lodge - together with a timber yard in Lower Canal Walk and a plot of land at the corner of Marsh Lane. His personal effects were valued at about £6,000. The whole was left to his only child, John Terry Brooks. A heart-felt line in his will - “I trust with God's assistance he may be enabled to keep himself from poverty and want” - hides a family trauma. At the Hampshire Assizes of July 1840 Terry Brooks had faced an action brought by Captain James Goodridge - commander of the Lady De Saumarez steam packet which plied between Southampton, Guernsey and Jersey - for the seduction of his youngest daughter Eudosia. The publicity could not have been worse. Not only was the case undefended, but counsel for the plaintiff was Alexander Cockburn, recorder of Southampton and perhaps the leading barrister on the western circuit. Daniel himself was cast in a most unfavourable light. It was alleged that he had refused his consent to the marriage after the girl had become pregnant unless Captain Goodridge paid a dowry of £2,000. Cockburn condemned this as “an act of cold blooded selfishness”. The fact that the jury awarded damages of £300 - less than would be expected - suggests that there were significant mitigating circumstances. The case dragged on as Terry Brooks failed to pay the damages, appearing before Southampton Insolvent Debtors' Court in Southampton in December 1840 and spending over a year in Southampton debtors' prison. Cockburn was to become Liberal Member of Parliament for Southampton in 1847. Relations with the Liberal mayor can only have been frosty.
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