William Seager (1809 – 1874)

About a year ago I wrote briefly about William Seager, whom I had discovered living in Holborn, London, in the 1840s and 1850s. My interest in William, and my suspicion that he might be a relative of my Seager ancestors, was prompted by three factors. Firstly, he worked as a law stationer, and my great-great-grandfather William Robb, who married Fanny Sarah Seager, was a law stationer’s clerk in the same part of London. Fanny was the daughter of Samuel Hurst Seager, who was a porter at the Inns of Court. Secondly, William’s mother Sarah, (who turns out to have been his stepmother) was said to have been born in Birmingham, the birthplace of Samuel Hurst Seager. Thirdly, William and Sarah lived in Little James Street, only a few streets away from addresses associated with my Seager ancestors.

I’ve now discovered more information about William Seager. Unfortunately, I haven’t managed to determine yet whether he’s a relative, but having visited the Holborn area last week (see the photographs below) I find it hard to believe that, living so close, he was unaware of the other Seagers living in the area. The account of William’s life that follows is accurate, to the best of my knowledge.

Holborn in Greenwood's 1827 map (click on image to enlarge)

William Seager was born in 1809 in Portpool Lane, Holborn (to the east of Grays Inn Gardens), and baptised on 23 July 1809 at St. Andrew’s church. He was the son of Thomas and Elizabeth Seager. I haven’t yet found any definitive record of his parents’ marriage or of their births, though we know from Thomas’ burial record that he was born in about 1770. Thomas and Elizabeth had another son, Thomas, also born in Portpool Lane. He was christened at St. Andrew’s on 18 August 1811 but died less than a year later and was buried on 5 April 1812.

Thomas’ wife Elizabeth must have died before 1822, when he married for a second time. It was his second wife, Sarah Reddell, who was born in Birmingham: there were a number of people of that name baptised at St. Philip’s church (where Samuel Hurst Seager was also christened) between 1781 and 1784. At this stage, I’m unsure whether Thomas Seager was also originally from Birmingham. If so, there’s a chance he might have been a relative of Samuel Hurst Seager.

Thomas and Sarah were married at the church of St. George the Martyr, Queen Square, on 4 August 1822. (This was the church where my great-great-grandparents, William Robb and Fanny Seager, would be married fourteen years later).

St. George the Martyr, Queen Square: 25 March 2011

Thomas Seager died in 1839 and was buried at St Andrew’s, Holborn, on  8 September. He was 69 years old and his address was said to be James Street. It’s almost certain that this was Little rather than Great James Street, since that’s where his widow Sarah and son William can be found in the census record two years later. Since Sarah is described as an ironmonger, it’s probable that this was also Thomas’ occupation, and that the Seagers’ home in Little James Street also served as their shop. (The Post Office Directory for 1848 lists a Mrs. Sarah Seager, ironmonger, at 2 Little James Street, Bedford Row, London.) At the same address were Sarah Cole, 55, a servant, Charles Cordery, 18, and Eliza Austin 20, both porters (in the shop?) and Louis Hastings, 70, described as ‘independent’. The novelist Charles Dickens lived in neighbouring Doughty Street from 1837 to 1839 (his house, at No. 48, is now a museum).

In the 1851 census, William, now 41, and Sarah, 68, are still at the same address, which is said to be next door to a chandler’s shop at No. 1. The Seagers appear to share the premises with writing clerk James Dolman and his wife Mary, and widower John Thomas, a tailor. The Seager household also includes a servant, Martha Gambol, 55, and an errand boy, 16-year-old Samuel Clarke. If the numbering of properties in Little James Street was similar to today, then the Seagers’ house was at the lower end of the street, near the junction with Grays Inn Road.

Views of Little James Street, near Grays Inn Road: 25 March 2011

William Seager must have got married some time between the 1851 census, which describes him as unmarried, and 1858, when the record of his marriage to Emily Adelaide Ashley describes him as a widower. However, despite there being a number of possibilities in the records, I’ve yet to find definite evidence of William’s first marriage.

Emily, the daughter of Thomas Ashley  (described in the register, like William’s father, as a ‘gentleman’), was actually a neighbour of the Seagers, and at least twenty years younger than William. The 1851 census finds her living at 3 James Street, with Liverpool-born tailor James Lake Langley and his Suffolk-born second wife Harriet Tetsell Currey. Emily is said to be their neice, but I’ve yet to determine which of the two was her blood relative. We know that Emily was born in either Bow or Stepney, but I haven’t managed to find a record of her birth or baptism. Interestingly, among the others living at No. 3 were one William Coppinger, 52, described as ‘Assistant to Ex(ecutive?) Committee of Gt. Exhibition of 1851’: the census was taken in March and the exhibition ran from May to October.

William and Emily were married on 22 August 1858 at the church of St Philip, Clerkenwell. At the time, the couple were living at 39 Baker Street, but by the time of the 1861 census three years later, they had moved back to the family property in Little James Street, and William’s stepmother Sarah had moved into an almshouse off Grays Inn Road, where she would still be living in 1871.

I had great difficulty finding William and Emily Seager in the 1861 and 1871 census records, and only succeeded in doing so by browsing through all the records for their likely enumeration district. The problem was caused, as is often the case, by avoidable transcription errors at the Ancestry site. In the 1861 records, ‘Seager’ is transcribed ‘as ‘Leager’, and in the 1871 records as ‘Teager’.

In 1861, William, 51, now described as a law clerk, and Emily, 27, were at 2 Little James Street with one servant. They shared the house with a meat salesman, a goldsmith and a mariner. Emily’s uncle and aunt, James and Harriet Langley, were still next door at No. 3, with another niece, Elizabeth Fulcher. (In another example of sloppy transcription, James’ surname is given as Langley and his wife’s as Longley).

Houses in John Street: 25 March 2011

William and Emily had one daughter, Harriet Adelaide Sarah, born in 1869. By 1871, the Seagers  had moved to the next street, into what were probably grander premises at 3 John Street. They shared the premises with a number of clerks, and had a servant and a boarder of their own. William seems to have achieved some status locally: he was the census enumerator for his district. In this record, his wife used her middle name, Adelaide.

William died on 7 November 1874 at the age of 66. The probate register describes him as being formerly of Little James Street, Bedford Row, but late of 3 John Street, Bedford Row, which is where his widow and executrix Emily was living. His effects were under £300. William’s stepmother Sarah Seager died in the same year.

View from John Street, at junction with Little James Street, towards Doughty Street: 25 March 2011

Two years later, on 2 November 1876, Emily married oil merchant Samuel John Fowler of 54 Leather Lane, at St. Andrew’s, Holborn.  In the 1881 census Emily, 44, can be found at the house in John Street, where she is described as a ‘householder’. Athough she is said to be married, Samuel is not present. Instead, the house is also home to a number of boarders: Francis Fowler, 31, an architect, and presumably a relation of Samuel’s; William Schutke and Franz Uscher, commercial clerks from Germany; and Edward Depnall, another commercial clerk, from Leytonstone. Emily also had a young lodger, the artist Charles Napier Kennedy, who would soon achieve distinction as a painter of portraits and mythological scenes. Meanwhile, Emily’s daughter Harriet, now 11, was a boarder at Grove House School in Hammersmith High Road, run by another artist, Alfred Davis, and his family.

'The Artist's Studio' by Charles Napier Kennedy (1898)

By the time the 1891 census was taken, Emily, 53, was a widow for a second time, but was still living  in John Street with two servants and a number of boarders. Daughter Harriet had married wine merchant Hugh Maltby in the previous year, and they were living at 10 Beaufort Gardens, Loampit Vale, Lewisham, with one servant. In that same year, they had a son, Hugh Owen Maltby.

Ten years later, Emily (who was now calling herself Adelaide again) had retired to 51 Moor End Lane, Thame, Oxfordshire, where she was said to be living on her own means. By this time Harriet, 31, Hugh, 47 and their second child, Irene Adelaide, 5, were living, with a cook, at 110 Tressilian Road, Brockley. Meanwhile son Hugh Owen, 9, was at a school in nearby Breakspear Road.

Edwardian Brockley

In 1911, the Maltbys were still at the same address. Hugh senior was now an oil rather than wine merchant and Hugh junior, 19, was ‘assisting in the same business’, while Irene, 15, was still at school. They had one servant. Meanwhile, Harriet’s’ mother Emily, now 73, had moved from Thame to Myrtle Villa, Woodfield Lane, Ashtead, near Epsom in Surrey, where she lived with a servant.

Harrriet died at the age of 52 on 7 May 1922, at Park Lodge Nursing Home, Tressilian Road. Adminstration of her estate was granted to her husband and son, both described as storekeepers, and to her daughter Irene.  Her effects were valued at £9514 20s 2d.

Harriet’s mother Emily a year later on 21 May 1923 at the age of 86, at 110 Tressilian Road, Brockley. Administration of her estate was granted to her grandson, Hugh Owen Maltby. Her effects were valued at £1015 5s 8d.

Harriet’s husband Hugh died in 1937 at Balmaine Park Gate, Blackheath, and his executors were his son Hugh, now described as a drysalter, and daughter Irene. I’m not sure whether Hugh or Irene ever married; telephone directories find the former living in Brockley and the latter in Bromley in the 1930s. Irene might be the Irene A. Maltby who died, aged 59, at Battle in Sussex in 1955. Hugh died in Greenwich in 1981; he was 90.

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3 Responses to William Seager (1809 – 1874)

  1. phyllis says:

    Elizabeth and george smith were my great great grandparents, lizzy sarah was my great grand mother.
    I have a londers family bible which gives elizabeth eliza landery born 18 december 1792 i.e. the first wife of john. His second wife is not named but the children of the marriage are listed.
    I can confirm your findings back to your first couple.
    I knew some of e and g’s children in their old age and can let you have some information about them.

  2. Michael Seager says:

    My daughters name is Sarah Michelle Seager and we drove passed a street named Sarah Seager Close by West Midlands Safari Park I am most interested to find out more about the person who the close is named after

  3. John Harper says:

    Harriet Tetsell Currey, the second wife of James Lake Langley, was born at Brandon, Suffolk c1807, daughter of Thomas Currey (1776-1807) and his wife Sarah (or Harriet Sarah) Tetsell (or Tetsall). Thomas & Sarah Currey had one other child, a daughter Caroline Currey baptised at Brandon in 1804 who married at Hackney, London, William Smith. Harriet Sarah & James Lake Langley had no children. She died in 1862.

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