Edward Ellis, undertaker

The will of Thomas Ellis, builder and ‘gentleman’ of Richmond Street, Soho, reveals that Thomas and his wife Sarah had a number of children about whom we had not previously known. Since coming across the will, I’ve been trying to find out more about these children, and the one I’ve had most success with so far is Edward Ellis.

All Souls, Langham Place

I haven’t been able to find a birth or baptism record for Edward, but in my search for information about him I came across an intriguing marriage record. On 3 April 1842, Edward Ellis, an undertaker, was married at All Souls, Langham Place. His father was said to be Thomas Ellis, a carpenter – an occupation which is consistent with what we know of ‘our’ Thomas, who is described elsewhere as either a carpenter or a builder. Edward’s bride shared his surname: she was 34-year-old Mary Ellis, daughter of Richard Ellis, also a carpenter. We already know about one carpenter named Richard Ellis: Edward’s brother. But he didn’t marry until 1841, so Mary could not be his daughter. However, the recurrence of the name Richard, and the occupation of carpenter, hints at a connection to ‘our’ Ellis family. Then there is the fact that the witnesses to the marriage were R Ellis and Marianne Ellis.  The former is almost certainly the bride’s father, since the signature differs from the other examples we have for ‘our’ Richard, but Marianne’s signature exactly matches that of Richard’s wife – they were married the year before. The register gives Edward’s age as 28 and Mary’s as 34, meaning they would have been born in about 1814 and 1808 respectively.

I then searched for census records for Edward and Mary. In 1851, we find Edward and Mary Ellis living in Chigwell, Essex, with their five children. The location, and Edward’s occupation as a smith, might have deterred me, but I was intrigued by the fact that this Edward was born in St James, Westminster, the home parish of ‘our’ Ellis family, while his wife Mary was born in Wellington, Shropshire. In my recent post about the Ellis family, I noted that a Mary Ellis, born in the same place in about 1790, was visiting Edward’s sister Mary Ann and her husband John Blacklock at their Whitechapel home at the time of the 1871 census. I speculated that she might be the sister of Mary Ann’s father Thomas, suggesting that he too was born in Shropshire. Might it be that the Mary Ellis who married Edward Ellis was the daughter of another of Thomas’ siblings (Richard), and that therefore she and her husband Edward were cousins? Cousin marriage does seem to be a regular pattern in this family: in another recent post, I suggested that John Blacklock and his wife Mary Ann Ellis might also have been first cousins.

Ye Olde King's Head Inn, Chigwell

Edward and Mary Ellis appear to have had six children. Lucy was born in 1843 at 3 Bostock Street, Wapping. This address will be familiar from my earlier post about the Blacklock family: it’s where Edward’s sister Mary Ann was living when she married stationer John Blacklock in 1841, and it’s the same street, and perhaps the same house, where John’s parents, George and Hannah, lived. This reinforces the suspicion that Hannah, whose maiden name was Ellis, was a close relative of both Edward and Mary Ann, perhaps another aunt. At this date Edward was still working as an undertaker. Edward Richard was born at the same address in 1844; Henry in 1847; Fanny in 1849; Mary in Chigwell in 1850; and Elizabeth in Stepney in 1853. The last three were all christened together on 11 June 1856 at the church of St Dunstan, Stepney: by this time, the Ellis family were living in Alfred Street and Edward was working as a smith.

Edward Ellis must have died some time between 1853 and 1861. In 1861 his widow Mary, who now worked as a laundress, was living at 4 Smiths Place, Mile End Old Town, with her children Lucy, Edward, Henry, Fanny, Mary Ann and Elizabeth. Ten years later, Mary, now 64, would be living at 2 Union Row with Henry and Elizabeth. I haven’t managed to discover any information about the date or location of her death.

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