Mary Ann Bonner and John Godfrey Schwartz

In the last post I wrote about John Harker Bonner (born 1782), son of John William Bonner (1762 – 1817) and Sarah Ford (1759 – 1833). In this post, I want to summarise what we know about his sister, Mary Ann, who was born in Mile End Old Town in 1793. Some of this information I’ve shared before, but I wanted to set it down in chronological order, and (as will become clear) I’ve revised my earlier theory about Mary Ann’s marriage.

St George the Martyr, Southwark

Recently I speculated that it was this Mary Ann Bonner who married John Godfrey Schwartz at the church of St George the Martyr, Southwark, on 26 September 1813. If this is ‘our’ Mary Ann, then she would have been twenty years old at the time. The presence of Edward Ford as one of the two witnesses to the marriage provides some confirmation that this is indeed the daughter of John William and Sarah Bonner. My theory is that Edward was Mary Ann’s uncle, her mother’s older brother, who would have been about 56 years old.

Revisiting the marriage record has made me reconsider my earlier theory that this was John Godfrey Schwartz’s second marriage, since the register describes him, in the banns and in the record of the actual marriage, as a bachelor. If this is correct, then he can’t be the same person who married Frances Collins (daughter of my 5 x great grandmother Elizabeth Collins, nee Gibson, later Holdsworth) at St Botolph, Bishopsgate in 1780. However, given the fact that the two names are identical, my latest theory is that this John Godfrey was the son of the first John Godfrey Schwartz and Frances Collins. This makes more sense in terms of dates and ages, meaning that Mary Ann Bonner’s husband was probably closer to her own age than I had previously imagined. It also means that, if my hunch about the links between the Bonner, Schwartz, Collins and Gibson families is correct, then bride and bridegroom were second cousins. Mary Ann’s father was the cousin of both of John Godfrey Schwartz junior’s parents: John William Bonner was the son of Frances Gibson, whose sisters Ann and Elizabeth were the parents of John Godfrey Schwartz senior and Frances Collins respectively (if you follow!).

St Mary, Whitechapel

The first of John and Mary Ann Schwartz’s children for whom we have a definite record is Marianne Frances, who was christened at St Mary, Whitechapel, on 5 August 1814. I’m assuming she was named after her mother and her paternal grandmother. In the parish register John Schwartz is described as a clerk and the family is said to be living at ‘Roadside’, which I believe was a term used for (part of?) Whitechapel Road.

By the time their daughter Sarah was born two years later, John and Mary Ann Schwartz had moved to Limehouse: she was christened in St Anne’s church on 17 May 1816. The parish register has now upgraded John Schwartz’ status to ‘gentleman’. Another move, to Graham Street in Walworth, preceded the birth of a son, John Edward, in 1818: he was baptised at St Mary, Newington, on 14 June of that year. By the time their daughter Emma was born in 1820, John and Mary Ann had moved back across the river, to Patriot Square, Bethnal Green: the christening took place at the parish church of St Matthew’s. Their youngest child, as far as I can tell, was Francis Daniel, born in Mile End Old Town in 1822 and baptised at St Dunstan’s, Stepney, on 15 September. Emma Schwartz died two years later, aged 4, and was buried at St Dunstan’s.

St Mary Newington

Mary Ann Schwartz, nee Bonner, died in Mile End Old Town in 1829, aged 36, and was buried at St Dunstan’s church on 5 October. I’ve been unable to discover when her husband John Godfrey Schwartz died.

According to other family trees on the Ancestry site, John and Mary Ann Schwartz’s daughter Sarah married Mitchell Rothwell Ramsden, a Lancashire power loom weaver, in Manchester in 1836. In 1851 they were living in Breightmet, Lancashire, with their two teenage sons, John and Peter. In 1871 they were in Pendleton, but at some point they must have emigrated to America, since it would appear that Sarah died in Utah in 1885.

It’s possible that the Mary Ann Schwartz working as a governess and living in Wells Yard, Whitechapel, at the time of 1841 census, is Marianne Frances, daughter of John and Mary Ann. Her age is given as 30, when in fact she would have been 27, but the 1841 census officials were in the habit of rounding ages up and down. I’ve been unable to find any definite records for Marianne after this date. Neither do I know what became of her younger brother John Edward Schwartz.

Whitechapel in the 19th century

In 1851 Francis Daniel Schwartz, now 28, was working as a painter and lodging at 80 Wentworth Street, Whitechapel. This was also the address he gave when he got married five years later, on 1 September 1856, at the church of St Philip, Bethnal Green, to Sarah Eliza Boice. Sarah was the daughter of carpenter William Boice, and we know from later census records that she was born in Bath. Francis’ occupation, and the fact that he signed the marriage register with his mark rather than his name, seem out of keeping with his father John’s status as a gentleman, and with what we know of the family’s history. John Godfrey Schwartz is described in the record as an ‘interpreter of languages’: does this indicate a decline in his fortunes and a need to turn his clerical skills to account?  Were those constant changes of address a sign of a search for work and money, or even of a flight from unpaid landlords? Whatever the truth behind this mystery, it seems odd that the son of an obviously educated ‘gentleman’ was unable to sign his own name.

Francis and Sarah Schwartz had five, or possibly six children. George Boice Francis Schwartz was born in 1858 in Whitechapel, but not baptised until ten years later, when his parents were living in Brick Lane. Mary Ann Sarah was born in 1859, though the only evidence we have for this is from census records: in 1861 she was living with her parents and brother George at 15 Green Dragon Yard in Whitechapel. According to the 1871 census, Miriam Frances Schwartz was born in 1862 and her brother Daniel John William in 1867, both in Mile End New Town. By the time of the census, the Schwartz family had moved to Little Guildford Street in Bloomsbury. In that same year, Emily Adelaide Schwartz was born.

Whitehapel, from Greenwood's 1827 map (click on image to enlarge). Finch Street and Church Street, where the Schwartz family lived, are visible to the north of Whitechapel High Street .

By 1881, however, the family was back in Whitechapel, in Finch Street, perhaps because Francis, now 58, had a new job as a cellarman: had his painting business collapsed? Son George was working as a porter, Miriam as a milliner and Daniel as a machine boy.

One child whose name does not show up on the census records – because he was born and died between 1861 and 1871 – is William John Godfrey Schwartz, who (given his Christian names and place of birth) was almost certainly the son of Francis and Sarah. He was born in Whitechapel in 1865 and died at 37 Church Street, Mile End New Town, in the following year. The child was buried in Victoria Park Cemetery, Hackney.

Francis Daniel Schwartz died in Whitechapel in 1894 at the age of 73.

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2 Responses to Mary Ann Bonner and John Godfrey Schwartz

  1. Jenny says:

    Hi Martin, thanks for all this, it’s fascinating, though I did already know some of it. Francis Daniel was my great grandfather – it amazes me that so few generations go back so far! My father changed his name in 1928 from Schwartz to Watts & the rest of the family appeared to follow suit. As my parents divorced when I was three, I never knew much about his side of the family & it’s only in recent years I’ve been able to find anything out. My mother thought the family were Jewish(migrants from Eastern Europe?) but seeing that they were all baptised, they must have dropped that faith fairly fast! Do you know anything of their origins at all?

    • Martin says:

      Hi Jenny
      Thanks for your comment. If you have any information about later generations of the Schwartz family (i.e. from Francis Daniel onwards), I’d love to know about it. It’s a shame about the name change, really: it disguises as fascinating heritage. I suppose there’s a possibility that the Schwartz family were Jewish – a lot of migrants with that name who came here in the later 19th century certainly were. However, I think it more likely that your ancestors were German merchants (possibly sugar merchants) who came to England in the 18th century (there were a lot of them, apparently) – and the absence of records online may be due to their belonging to one of the German churches in London. If you follow the ‘Schwartz’ links on this site, you’ll see some things about the merchant connection, etc.

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