The Borough of Malton was purchased by the Hon. Thomas Watson Wentworth in 1713.
Twelve generations later much of Malton is still owned by his descendants, the Naylor-Leylands, who hold the Fitzwilliam Malton Estate.
From the outset the family invested heavily in Malton as they do to this day. Thomas’s son, the 1st Marquess of Rockingham, inherited in 1723. He funded extensive work to make the River Derwent navigable up to Malton.
In 1739 he acquired York House and, the following year, the building we now know as the Talbot, later opening it as a hotel for those attending the races here. In 1749, a year before his death, he commissioned the work on the building of the Town Hall which still stands in the Market Place.
Charles Watson-Wentworth, the 2nd Marquess of Rockingham (who was twice Prime Minster) made further investments to complete the Derwent navigation. He was also involved in the creation of the turnpike road between York and Scarborough which passed through Malton.
During his tenure many of the town’s streets were cobbled and the bridge to Norton was widened.
Charles died without an heir so the estate passed to his nephew, William Fitzwilliam, the 4th Earl Fitzwilliam in 1782. It was he who, in 1809, approved plans for the Talbot to undergo a major refurbishment.
This included adding a third floor and building new stables. The hotel was able to cater not only for the race-goers but also for those taking the waters at Malton Spa which was situated nearby.
Throughout the 19th Century and into the 20th, road and rail communications improved and Malton grew. Successive Earls Fitzwilliam invested in the construction of more homes, workshops, factories and shop premises as well as in public buildings like schools, hospitals and meeting halls.
Following the untimely death of Peter Wentworth Fitzwilliam, the 8th Earl, in 1948, and in the knowledge that the title would die out in the absence of a male heir, the Estate was divided to represent the interests of different parts of the family.
The Fitzwilliam Trust Corporation, which represents the family interests of Lady Juliet Tadgell, owns property in Old Malton and agricultural land to the north.
The Fitzwilliam Malton Estate is the freehold owner of much of the commercial heart of Malton and represents the family interests of Sir Philip Naylor-Leyland who, with his son Tom, is taking his family’s work for Malton into its fourth century.