Phoebe Holdsworth and the Hackney connection

In the last post I remarked on the fact that Phoebe Holdsworth, and a number of her children, were married at St. John’s church in Hackney, despite the fact that they and their spouses seemed to live most of their lives in Bethnal Green. In the post, I may have muddled the original church of St. John at Hackney with the newer church of St. John of Jerusalem, South Hackney. Phoebe, her son Thomas and daughter Frances, were all married at the former, while her daughter Ann was married at the latter.

St. John at Hackney in the late 18th century

In September 1820, Phoebe Holdsworth married Thomas Chamberlin at the church of St. John at Hackney. At this date, addresses were not given in the marriage record, but both Phoebe and Thomas were said to be ‘of this parish’.

In October 1847, Phoebe’s son Thomas married Elizabeth Clark at the same church. They gave their address as ‘Jerusalem Square’.

In February 1848, Phoebe’s daughter Frances gave the same address when she married Joseph Hilditch at St. John’s.

At first, I wondered if there was a sentimental Chamberlin family attachment to the parish, and speculated that ‘Jerusalem Square’ might have been an address of convenience. However, I now believe the connection was on Phoebe’s side of the family and that Phoebe, her son Thomas and daughter Frances were staying with Holdsworth relatives when they married.

On the map below, the ancient church of St. John at Hackney is clearly marked – it’s the ‘Hackney Church’ in the top left-hand corner, to the east of Church Street (now Mare Street).  I can’t find Jerusalem Square marked on any old maps, but according to one source it was to the south of Morning Lane and east of Church Street, close to Pleasant Row and Paradise Row. Along with a number of other squares and courts, Jerusalem Square was demolished in the early 1900s and replaced by Valette Street.

Hackney in 1827: from Greenwood's map

(Click on the map to open in a new window, then click again to zoom in)

In my search for possible Holdsworth or Chamberlin relatives in Hackney, I recalled that John Henry Holdsworth, a plumber, and his wife Phoebe (nee Buthead) were to be found in Morning Lane at the time of the 1851 census. I noticed that Jerusalem Square was in the same registration sub-district, so I looked it up in the 1841 census. Sure enough, there were John Henry, Phoebe, their sons William and Henry, and their daughter Harriet, living at 22 Jerusalem Square.

So it seems likely that when Thomas Chamberlin junior got married in 1846, and his sister Frances in 1848, the Jerusalem Square address they gave was John Holdsworth’s.

John Henry Holdsworth, born in 1799 in Whitechapel, was the son of Godfrey Holdsworth and Diana Cam. Godfrey was the younger brother of Phoebe Holdsworth’s father William, which means that John Henry was Phoebe’s cousin. It’s not difficult to imagine Phoebe visiting her Hackney cousins often as a child, and then keeping up the connection after she married and had children of her own.

However, it’s important to note that when Phoebe herself got married, in 1820, John Henry Holdsworth may not actually have been living in Hackney. When his three children were born, between 1821 and 1824, the family was living in Bow. John may have moved (back?) to Hackney to be near his ailing parents. His mother Diana died in 1842 and his father Godfrey in 1850, both in Hackney. I’ve yet to find any trace of either Godfrey or Diana in the relevant census records: it might be helpful to get hold of the records of their deaths, to find out where in Hackney they were living when they died.

It’s possible that when Phoebe Holdsworth married Thomas Chamberlin in 1820, she was in fact staying with her aunt and uncle, Diana and Godfrey Holdsworth, which made it possible to say she was ‘of this parish’. Perhaps she went to live with them while she was working in Hackney, and that’s how she met Thomas?

Interior of St. John's church, Hackney, in 1827

Of course, as well as being Phoebe’s cousin, John Henry Holdsworth was also a cousin to Eliza Holdsworth and Keziah Holdsworth. Is there a clue here to another mystery that continues to intrigue me: the mystery of why Daniel and Mary Ann Roe’s first child Kezia Eliza came to be born, in 1850, in St. Thomas’ Square, Hackney, which (as the above map shows) was only a stone’s throw from Jerusalem Square and Morning Lane?

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One Response to Phoebe Holdsworth and the Hackney connection

  1. Pingback: More relatives in Green Street, Bethnal Green « Martin Robb’s Family History Blog

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