2. Home of the first mayor of Leeds

The Danby family supported King Charles I throughout the English Civil War. Farnley Hall was ransacked by the Parliamentarians and many of the important family papers were destroyed. In 1646 Sir Thomas (1610-1660) was fined £4780 16s by the Commonwealth for being a colonel in the Royalist Army. He found it difficult to pay such a huge fine and died shortly afterwards heavily in debt.

The Farnley estate now passed to his eldest son, Captain Thomas Danby. When King Charles II returned to the throne in 1660 he rewarded those families who had remained loyal to his father. In 1661 the King granted Leeds a new Charter of Incorporation and Thomas was made its first mayor. In 1667 he was killed in a bar brawl in London. As a mark of respect the three mullets (stars) of the Danby family coat of arms were added to those of Leeds Corporation.

Danby Coat of Arms
The Danby coat of arms as they appeared in Robert Glover’s Visitation of Yorkshire’ (1584). Leeds Library and Information Service

Leeds coat of arms




Leeds City Council’s coat of arms which still includes the three mullets from the Danby family coat of arms.





His widow presented Leeds Corporation with a scarlet robe for use of the mayor and generously offered to pay a substantial sum towards the cost of ‘building a new Guildhall upon Pillars and Arches’.

The Corporation declined her kind offer but later added a new frontage to the Moot Hall which was located in the centre of Briggate, Leeds.

The Moot Hall

The Moot Hall, Briggate, (by Joseph Rhodes) on the eve of its demolition in 1825. The original building of 1615, which would have been familiar to Captain Thomas, had a new frontage added in 1710-11. Leeds Museums and Galleries

The property passed to Captain Thomas’s brother, Christopher, who owned it until 1689 when his son, Abstrupus, inherited the estate. He found Farnley Hall old-fashioned and so lavished a fortune creating a stunning new home near Masham, North Yorkshire, called Swinton Park. The family found the cost of maintaining the ageing Tudor mansion at Farnley burdensome and in 1756 decided to take the radical step of remodelling the old house and replacing it with a modern, more modest mansion. On 18 January 1757 all the building materials, except for the stone, were advertised for sale in the Leeds Intelligencer. This new building still forms the rear part of Farnley Hall today.

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