Thomas Y. England was born in Wilmington, Delaware on May 28, 1837. His father, James England, pioneered a leather works factory in Wilmington. The family moved to New York until Thomas was twelve and then moved to Philadelphia. He graduated from Philadelphia High School and joined his father in the leather business becoming the James England and Son Leather Works.
When his father died, Thomas became a partner with Edward H. Bryan. Both moved to Redlands and continued their life long business association. Thomas was the senior member of the firm of England & Bryan of Philadelphia. The business held the greatest share of wholesale leather trade in the United States from the 1860’s to the 1890’s. He was the highest ranking official of the England and Walton Leather Works before the Civil War. The company played a significant part in the War and it was a major supplier of leather for the Northern Army for the production of saddles, bridles, boots, and many other items. The company also held contracts to supply meat for the solders.
England fought for the North Army during the Civil War. He enlisted with his native Delaware First Regiment and was assigned commissary duties under General George Meade. His enlistment was for three years, but he stayed for four years until the end of the war and left as a captain. During the War he became asthmatic which would make him seek dry climates during the winter months to escape the effects of his illness.
He married Clarissa Combs on Philadelphia and they had three children, James William of Redlands, Martha England Walton of Philadelphia, and Clarissa England Landell also of Philadelphia.
T.Y. England and his son, Will, were inspired to move to Redlands permanently through the advice of Isaac Ford, who was an engineering student in Philadelphia. Will and Isaac were classmates. Ford was unable to complete his engineering studies due to having tuberculosis. He recovered from this illness in the dry Redlands climate. The Englands came to Redlands every winter season from 1887 onward. The family stayed in the Terrace Villa Hotel in Lugonia until their home was completed in 1891.
The England family became the fourth owner of Prospect Hill. Mrs. Thomas Y. England purchased the Prospect Hill 16 acres from Anna Meade for the sum of $11,000 on April 4, 1896. Thomas was planting navel oranges on the hill as early as May. Enlarging the original 16 acres, Thomas purchased from James Graham another 10 acres bordered by Cajon, West Highland, and Eldorado Avenue in April 1897.
The England family built a large home located at 301 West Palm Avenue. Thomas died in Redlands on January 2, 1906 in Redlands.
[Source: Atchley, Tom biographic sketch of the England Family and 301 West Palm Avenue.]