The Leeds connection...

Prince William and his girlfriend Kate Middleton have been an item for two years now and increasingly there is talk of an engagement. Kate is becoming more high profile all the time – but it is little known that her roots are firmly in Leeds where her family has lived for generations. Richard Hainsworth explores the family links between Kate and one of the city's most civic-minded families, the Luptons.

When Francis Martineau Lupton died in 1921 the minister at Mill Hill chapel, Leeds said he was "a member of a family which for generations had been associated with the commercial, municipal, educational and religious life of Leeds".

Francis was Kate Middleton's grandfather's grandfather. He was one of four brothers who in the nineteenth century simultaneously held some of the most important offices in the city.

Although Kate, who met Prince William at St Andrews University, has never lived in Leeds, her father's ties to the city go back many generations.

Her father Michael was born in Leeds as were her Middleton grandfather, great grandfather and four great-great grandparents – and before that the Middletons lived in Wakefield.

Kate – Catherine Elizabeth Middleton – was born in the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading in 1982 but her father is a Leeds man, born on June 23 1949 at Chapel Allerton Nursing Home.

He became an airline officer and he and his wife Carole, nee Goldsmith, then a stewardess, were married in 1980. Nowadays he is a director of Party Pieces, a mail order business selling children's party toys.

Michael's father Peter Francis Middleton has born in 1920 and when his son was born, he was also in the aviation business working as a pilot instructor. He married Valerie, nee Glassborow, at the oldest church in Leeds, the Norman parish church at Adel on December 9 1946.

But it is with Kate's great grandparents that the links with well-known Leeds family the Luptons began.

Her grandfather's father was Noel Middleton, a Leeds solicitor who married Olive Lupton, the daughter of Francis Martineau Lupton, a former member of Leeds city council and one of a number of Lupton family who were a major part of Leeds life at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century. In fact a book, The Lupton Family of Leeds by C A Lupton (1965), has been written about them.

Noel Middleton, a solicitor, had joined the Lupton family business after the First World War where he had been chief administrator of the Special Constabulary. A keen music lover, he was later chairman of the Northern Philharmonia and organiser of many musical soirees in Leeds. He died in 1951.

His father and grandfather, John William and William Middleton, were both solicitors in Leeds. John William, who lived at Fairfield in Far Headingley, was president of the Leeds Law Society in 1882/3. He is buried at Chapel Allerton cemetery.

Olive was one of two daughters of Francis Martineau Lupton, a man whose family life was blighted by the early death of his wife and of his three sons in the First World War.

Francis M Lupton was one of the four sons of Francis Lupton who lived at Beechwood, the Victorian mansion which still stands on Elmete Lane, Roundhay. He ran a wool textile business and it was his four sons who all rose to prominence in the city.

Francis was an alderman – an appointed member of Leeds council; Arthur G Lupton was pro-vice chancellor of Leeds University from its foundation, Charles Lupton was treasurer and chairman of the General Infirmary and Hugh Lupton was chairman of the Board of Guardians. Hugh was a member of Leeds Council for 22 years and Lord Mayor of the city in 1926.

Charles Lupton was Lord Mayor of Leeds in 1915 and left his art collection to the city. He was instrumental in the expansion of the Leeds General Infirmary and the development of the Headrow as one of Leeds's major thoroughfares.

Francis M Lupton, Kate's grandfather's grandfather, entered local politics as a Liberal Unionist – Liberals who opposed the Home Rule for Ireland proposed by Gladstone and became part of the Conservative party.

Clearing away the slums

He was appointed to the aldermanic bench and became the first chairman of the Leeds Unhealthy Areas Committee, and was responsible for clearing away the slums of Quarry Hill and York Street. He brought "sunshine to the foetid slum and it was largely due to him that men women and children can now all live in surroundings essential to health and decency," said the minister at Mill Hill Unitarian chapel at his memorial service.

But his family life was tragic. His wife died at the aged of 42 and all his three sons – Kate's great great uncles – Francis, Maurice and Lionel died in the First World War. Maurice died first in 1915 and is buried at Rue Petillon Military cemetery in Fleurbaix, France and then Lionel died in the battle of the Somme where so many Leeds soldiers died in July 1916. He is buried at Bouzincourt Communal Cemetery. The third son Francis died in February 1917 and is buried at Queens Cemetery, Bucquoy in France. He was married and left a young daughter who married a Norwegian.

In 1917 Francis generously gave him his home, Rockland in Potternewton, as a home for the children of soldiers and sailors for a nominal rent of 1 a year, moving to Low Gables in Chapel Allerton.

The Lupton family has been involved in many aspects of Leeds life: the name of the well-known law firm Dibb Lupton now DLA Piper, came from Charles Lupton; the family's textile mills were in Whitehall Road, Leeds, and the engineering business Hathorn Davey of Jack Lane, Hunslet, later became part of Sulzer UK the pump maker in Leeds.

The two sisters who fought the attempted 'land grab' of an open space at Asket Hill off Wetherby Road, Roundhay, Leeds, by the government in the late 1970s were daughters of Arthur Lupton, the University pro-vice chancellor.

The Lupton family homes included Beechwood on Elmete Lane and Carr head on West Avenue, Roundhay; Mount Pleasant in Harehills; Newton Hall, Chapeltown; North Town End, Potternewton Hall; Rockland Chapeltown; Springwood Oakwood Lane and The Acacia on Oakwood Garden, Leeds.

An earlier ancestor, Darnton Lupton, who lived at Newton Hall and Headingley Castle, was Mayor of Leeds in 1844 and a magistrate. It was his grandchildren, brother and sister Norman and Agnes Lupton, who left their art collection of watercolours, including some by JMW Turner, Thomas Girtin and John Sell Cotman, to Leeds City Gallery in the early 1950s, giving the city one of the best collections in the country.