Giles Stibbert was born in 1743 and went to sea at a young age as a captain’s servant. By 1756 he was serving in India under the patronage of Robert Clive where he took part in the campaign to relieve Fort William (after the infamous ‘Black Hole of Calcutta’ incident) and the battle of Plassey, both in 1757. Realising that he was better suited to being a soldier than a sailor, he joined the army of the East India Company. He served with distinction and rose to the rank of brigadier-general in 1776 and later became commander-in –chief of the Company’s Bengal Army. In 1796 he was granted the rank of lieutenant-colonel in the British Army.
When in England he lived with his wife and three children in a house in Hereford Street, London, built by the architect John Crunden. In c.1776 Stibbert engaged Crunden to build a country house in Portswood, having earlier purchased the manor of Portswood and the manorial title that went with it. The house, named Portswood House, was built at the southern end of the estate to the east of Portswood Road and just to the north of modern Lawn Road. The house was demolished in 1852 but a neo-Gothic lodge further to the north which was used as a gate house to the estate still stands on Portswood Road.
Stibbert died in 1809 and was buried in St Mary’s Church, South Stoneham, where a memorial plaque erected by his eldest son, Thomas, can still be seen.

Portswood House

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A view of Portswood House from across the Itchen in Northam, 1800

see also

Further reading:
‘A Tale of Three Cities. Calcutta, Southampton and Florence: the Stibbert Family and Museum’, by Christine Clearkin, in The British Art Journal, Volume IX, Number 3, p43-54. (copy in Local Studies Library)


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