In the 1841 census ‘Fanny Rob’, 25, an embroideress and ‘Fanny Seager’, 55, a laundress, can be found living in Hemlock Court, St. Clement Danes. Hemlock Court was a narrow street that ran off Carey Street, just north of the Strand at Temple Bar, and not far from Lincoln’s Inn. It was also close to Crown Court, the original home of the Seager family.

horwood lincolns inn

It’s almost certain that this is my great great grandmother Fanny Sarah Seager, wife of William Robb, and her mother, also Fanny, widow of Samuel Hurst Seager who had died four years earlier. As mentioned in previous posts, the fact that William is to be found at a different address in the census (he was with his parents in Charing Cross) is not necessarily a sign of marital problems. William might have been visiting his parents on that day.

However, it’s quite hard to keep up with William and Fanny’s different addresses in these early years of their married life. When they married in 1836, they were both said to be living in the parish of St George the Martyr, Bloomsbury. In February 1838 their daughter Margaret Fanny (also known as Fanny Margaret) was born at 6 Tavistock Street, Covent Garden. She died two years later, in February 1840, at 7 Crown Court. In April 1841 their son William Henry was born at 12 Old Compton Street, Soho.  The census was taken in June. Does this mean that William and Fanny had moved once again by this date, or were they both just absent from home on the night of the census?

It could be that Hemlock Court was simply the elder Fanny Seager’s address, and her daughter was staying with her. Or it could be William and Fanny’s own address. Some support is given to this by a closer look at their neighbours. William worked as a law stationer’s clerk, and there are no fewer than three law stationers listed on their page of the census alone, perhaps reflecting the proximity of the Inns of Court.

Law stationer William Clarke, 45, lived close by on one side, while on the other side the two women’s immediate neighbours were James H (R?) Hale, 31, and Edward Dennett, 43, also law stationers. It’s worth remembering, too, that since the 1841 census does not always give house numbers, and delineates separate households, not necessarily separate buildings, it’s possible that the two Fannys were living over Hale’s stationery shop, reinforcing the suggestion that this might have been William’s place of work. Of these three law stationers, I’ve only been able to find independent records of one. Apparently a James R Hale, was a law stationer at 6 Covent Garden in the 1860s. Here’s a seal from 1864:


At the time of the 1841 census, 33 Old Compton Street  (where William and Fanny would be two years later) was home to a long list of residents, among them shoemakers and tailors.

At the same date 12 Old Compton Street, where William and Fanny had been a few months before for the birth of William Henry, was home to the following:

Symanski Leon, 30

Jacob Mairis (Mains?) 40

Mrs Mairis, 35

(all three of the above were born in ‘foreign parts’)

Sara Mairis, 9

Samuel Mairis, 6

Hannah Mairis, 3

James Dodson, 50, shoemaker (?)

John Grey, 25, ditto

Robert Grey, 18 mths

Catherine Grey, 20

James Munning, 25, tailor

Charlotte ditto, 7 months

Charlotte Hancock (?), 55, shoebinder

George Haynes, 25, stationer

Eliza Haynes, 29,  dressmaker

Thomas Weeks, 23, tailor

Gemma Weeks, 36

Edward Chantry, 30, tailor

Ellen Dobbs, 12

Fred Rutherford, 40, painter

Elizabeth Rutherford, 38

Frederick Rutherford, 10, ditto apprentice

George Rutherford, 13, hairdresser

Harry Rutherford, 5

Is the fact that a stationer was living at this address significant, or just coincidence? At this stage, it’s impossible to say. The full list of addresses for William and Fanny is as follows:

February 1838            6 Tavistock Street

February 1840            7 Crown Court

April 1841                        12 Old Compton Street

June 1841                        (29?) Charing Cross (William)

Hemlock Court, St. Clement Danes (Fanny)

December 1843            33 Old Compton Street

December 1847            49 Parliament Street (William only?)


1851                                    33 Old Compton Street