Caleb Roe was the brother of my great great grandfather, Daniel Roe. Like Daniel, he made his way as a young man from Bedfordshire to east London, where he married, raised a family, and spent the rest of his life. In the next couple of posts, I want to trace Caleb’s life, and that of his family, as part of my continuing effort to understand the context of my ancestors’ lives. In this post, I’ll be charting Caleb’s early life and the background of the family into which he married – the Collinsons.

Caleb Roe was born in Biggleswade in 1833 and christened there on 19th January 1834. He was the youngest of the five children of shoemaker Daniel Roe (died 1836) and Eliza Holdsworth (1801 – 1885). His older siblings were Hannah (or Anna ) Maria  (1826 – 1844), Daniel (born 1829), Richard (1829?) and Eliza (1831– 1902).

After his christening, the first record we have for Caleb is the 1841 census, which finds the 8 year old still living with his widowed mother Eliza and his four older siblings in Biggleswade. As I noted in an earlier post, Eliza must have been in London at the latest by 1845,when she married again, to John Sharp, at St. George’s in the East. However, we also know that her daughter Hannah Maria died in Biggleswade in 1844, so perhaps her move took place in that year. Caleb’s brother Daniel would have been there before 1848, when he married Mary Ann Blanch at St Anne’s, Limehouse. I’m not sure when their sister Eliza came to London, as I’ve yet to find any trace of her in the 1851 census or a record of her marriage to Thomas Parker. However, the latter event certainly took place before 1853, when their first daughter Hannah (perhaps named after Eliza’s sister who had died nine years earlier?) was born. It’s almost certain that Caleb’s brother Richard did not travel to London, but instead moved to the Buntingford area of Hertfordshire, where he would meet his future wife Fanny Debney.

It’s possible that the Roe family moved to Stepney together in the mid 1840s, except for Richard – and Caleb, for in the 1851 census we find a Caleb Rowe (sic), age 17. working as a general servant in the house of solicitor Edward Argles in Stratton Street, Biggleswade. It’s entirely possible that there was more than one Caleb Roe living in the town at the time, but given that the age and place of birth match, and that the address is not far from where Daniel Roe senior had his shoemaker’s shop, it seems highly likely that this is ‘our’ Caleb.

The next we hear of Caleb is five years later, on 27th Jul 1856, when he married Sabina Collinson at St Jude’s church, Bethnal Green. By now Caleb, 23, is working as a carpenter (like his brother Richard), and he and Sabina give their address as 10 Albion Buildings, the home of the Collinson family. Sabina gives her occupation as dressmaker, while her father was carver and gilder Enoch Collinson, one of the witnesses to the marriage. Apparently carving and gilding were key skills in the frame-making industry.

Carving and gilding

I don’t know when Caleb moved from Biggleswade to Stepney. We know that in 1845 (at the time of her marriage to John Sharp) his mother Eliza was living in Chapel Street, just north of Cable Street and not far from Marmaduke Street, where her family (the Holdsworths) had lived forty years before. However, by 1851 she was no longer in London and was working as a nurse to a family in Nuthampstead, Hertfordshire, not far from the home of her son Richard, who had been married since about 1850. By 1861, she would be working for the Merry family in Guilden Morden. By the time of Caleb’s marriage, his sister Eliza was living in Southwark with her husband Thomas Parker and young family.

As for Caleb’s brother Daniel, he was living in Limehouse when he got married  in 1848, but at the time of his daughter Kezia Eliza’s christening in 1850 he was in Green Street, Bethnal Green, with his Blanch in-laws, and in the following year living in nearby Patriot Row. Both addresses were very close to Albion Buildings, and it’s likely that Daniel’s and Caleb’s lives intertwined at this time. However, by the time of Caleb’s marriage in 1856, Daniel and Mary Ann had moved to the West End, first to Crown Court, Soho, and then to Herbert’s Passage, off the Strand.

Part of Bethnal Green: from Cross' map of 1851 (click on image to open in new window then click again for enlarged view)

(In the map above, Patriot Row – unmarked – is to the east of Cambridge Heath Road, close to Patriot Square and the North-East Cemetery, while Albion Buildings – also unmarked – is to the west of the main road, between Hackney Road and Old Bethnal Green Road, near Felix and Clare Streets.)

The Collinson family into which Caleb Roe married in 1856 were from the Shoreditch area. Sabina’s father Enoch Collinson (one record gives his name as William Enoch) was born in Shoreditch in about 1792. He married Ann Wingrove at Christ Church, Newgate, in 1819, when he was about 27. Their first child, William Enoch, was born in 1820 at Little Leonard Street, Shoreditch. The baptismal record describes Enoch as a builder, so perhaps he had yet to master his trade as a carver and gilder (unless the clerk misheard ‘gilder’ as ‘builder’?). A second child, Richard, was born in 1821 in Whitechapel, but died a year later. Their next son, born in Bethnal Green in  1823, was given the same name. When their next child, Joseph, was baptised at St. Leonard’s, Shoreditch in November 1823, the Collinsons were again at Little Leonard Street, whereas their first daugher, Ann, was baptised at St. Botolph’s, Bishopsgate in 1826, and their address was now 3 Newnham Place.

The family was back in Shoreditch, living at Curtain Road, in March 1829, when another daughter, Sophia, was christened, and they were still there for the births of sons Charles in 1830 and Frederick in 1831. By the time Sabina was baptised in February 1833, however, they had moved to Norfolk Street, Bethnal Green: the ceremony took place at St. Matthew’s, as did her sister Emma’s christening in 1836. Another daughter was baptised at St. Mary, Whitechapel, in 1838, when the family was living in New Road: she was given the name Victoria, probably one of the first children to be named after the new queen, who had been crowned in the previous year. Sadly, Victoria died when she was three years old. The Collinsons were still at New Road when their last child, Jane Eliza, was baptised in 1840.

The 1841 census also finds Enoch, 49, and Ann, 46, at New Road, Whitechapel. Ten years later, they were living at 74 Boston Street, Haggerston (see map below). We know that they were at 10 Albion Buildings by 1856 at the latest, and this was also their address in 1861, when all of their children had left home and Ann gives her occupation as ‘working by myself – char’. In 1871 Enoch and his wife (whose name is given incorrectly as Mary) were living in Elizabeth Row, George Street, not far from Albion Buildings. Ann died  in 1872, at the age of 76, and Enoch in 1874, when he was about 78.

Part of Bethnal Green and Whitechapel from Greenwood's 1827 map (click on image to open in new window then click again for enlarged view)

(In the above map, New Road can be seen in the bottom right-hand corner, running south from Whitechapel Road, not far from the London Hospital. Boston Street is just visible at top centre, running north from Hackney Road, just west of Goldsmiths Place and south of the Tile Kilns. Felix Street – close to Albion Buildings – is at the extreme right of the map, south of Suffolk Place/Hackney Road.)

This is what I know about the children of Enoch and Ann Collinson:

William Enoch Collinson (b. 1820) died in 1840 at the age of 20.

Richard Collinson (b. 1823), a carver and gilder like his father, married Hephzibah (Elizabeth) Quinton, daughter of butcher John Quinton, in 1848 at the church of St John the Baptist, Hoxton.  They had eight children: Richard, John, Hephzibah, Thomas, Maria, Anna, Emma and Joseph.  To begin with they lived with Hephzibah’s father in Church Street, Bethnal Green; then in Nelson Street, where John Quinton lived with them; then Fountain Court; and finally Goldsmith Square, Haggerston.  Richard and Hephzibah both died in 1892, at the age of 59.

Joseph Collinson (b. 1823), another carver and gilder (though one later record describes him as a retired grocer) never married. He spent most of his life in Kentish Town, dying there in 1900 at the age of 76.

Ann Collinson (b. 1825) married Thomas John Berg, a box / packing case maker, at St. John the Baptist, Hoxton, in 1850, when she was 25. Thomas and Ann had six children: Thomas, Charles, Emma Sophia, Alice, William, Charles John and Minnie Sabina. They lived initially in Allerton Street, Shoreditch; then Royely Street in Finsbury; then Maidenhead Court, St Giles without Cripplegate. Thomas died in 1885 at the age of 58. In 1901 Ann was living in Defoe Road, Stoke Newingon. She died in 1915, aged 90.

Sophia Collinson (b. 1827) died in 1841, at the age of 14.

Charles Collinson (b. 1830) also followed the family trade of carving and gilding. He married Emma Martin, daughter of carpenter Jesse Martin, in Hoxton in 1854. They had six children: Emma, Ellen, Charles, Caroline, Jessie and George. In 1861 they were living in Minerva Street, Bethnal Green, just a few streets away from Albion Buildings. The only other record I have for them is the 1881 census, which finds Emma at home in Mansford Street, while Charles is visiting a coffee house in Hare Street, Bethnal Green.

Frederick Collinson (b. 1831), yet another carver and gilder, married Emily Clark, daughter of dyer John Clark, at St. Thomas, Bethnal Green, in 1857. They had two sons, Frederick and William. The family lived with relatives of Emily’s in Devonshire Place, Bethnal Green; also in George Street, where most of their neighbours were silk weavers. I don’t have complete records for Frederick, but I know that in 1901, when he was 70, he was living in the Bethnal Green workhouse.

Emma Collinson (b. 1835) married copperplate printer Alfred Cockram at St. Jude’s church, Bethnal Green, on Christmas Day 1856, but died after giving birth to their son Alfred in 1857 (Alfred senior would marry again, to Ellen Bennett, in 1860).

Old weavers' houses, Bethnal Green, c. 1897

Jane Eliza Collinson (b. 1839) married silk weaver / trimmer (and later telegraph line man) George Royffe in 1857 at St. Jude’s church, Bethnal Green. They had nine children: George, William, Jane, Rose, Sophia, Alfred, Elizabeth, Albert and Louisa. They lived in Felix Street; then in George Street, initially next door to Jane’s parents. The records for them are incomplete, but it would appear that George died in 1898. The 1901 census finds Jane living in Chalgrove Road, Hackney with daughters Elizabeth and Louisa: all three are working at home in various aspects of the boot trade. Jane would die in the following year in Hackney, aged 63.