In the last post I wrote about the likely origins of my 3 x great grandfather Samuel Hurst Seager (1780 – 1837) in Birmingham, and his family’s probable roots in Kingswinford, Staffordshire. I also mentioned the possibility of a first marriage between Samuel and Jane Boyes in Rotherhithe in 1804. There is no shortage of Seagers in the London records, but this record stood out because of Samuel’s unusual middle name.
Another set of records that caught my attention, for different reasons, relates to a Sarah Seager and her son William who can be found living in Holborn in the 1840s and 1850s. In the 1841 census we find Sarah Seager, 60, an ironmonger born outside the county, and William Seager, 30, a law stationer born in the county, living in Little James Street, in the parish of St. Andrew, Holborn. Ten years later they appear to be at the same address, confirmed now as No.2 Little James Street, pursuing the same occupations. Their ages are now given, probably more accurately, as 68 and 41. Sarah is described as a widow and William, who is unmarried, as her son. We now learn that Sarah was born in Birmingham, while William was born in London. In the same household are an unmarried general servant, Martha Gambol, 50, and 16 year old errand boy Samuel Clark.
I’ve been unable to find any later census records for either Sarah or William, nor any confirmed birth or marriage records for them. Now, there may be no connection at all between this pair and ‘our’ Seagers: but three facts intrigue me. Firstly, Sarah was born in Birmingham, like Samuel Hurst Seager, and at about the same time (1783). As she was a widow, it was obviously her husband who was a Seager by birth: could he have been a relative of Samuel’s, perhaps even his brother (he had two that we know of – William and Thomas)? Secondly, William is a law stationer. My great great grandfather, William Robb, who married Samuel Seager’s daughter Fanny, was a law stationer’s clerk. Did he know William Seager? Might he even have worked for him, and was this how he came to be introduced to ‘our’ Seager family? Then, of course, there is the fact that Samuel Hurst Seager himself worked at the Inns of Court, albeit as a humble porter: did he know William Seager?
Thirdly, there is Sarah’s and William’s address. The fact that it’s in the parish of St. Andrews could divert us from the fact that Little James Street was very close to a number of addresses associated with ‘our’ Seagers. In the map below, Little James Street is visible just above Grays Inn Gardens, running east to west parallel to Kings Road and crossing John Street. Just to the west of Little James Street, on the other side of Lambs Conduit Street, is East Street. This is where Samuel Hurst Seager junior was living (at No. 33) when he registered his father’s death in 1837. To the south of East Street, and continuing west from Kings Road, is Theobalds Road, where Samuel junior would be living in 1860 at the time of his marriage to Mary Ann Yeates.
(Click on map to open in new window, then click again to enlarge)
Samuel’s marriage took place at the nearby church of St. George the Martyr, which was also the location for the marriage of William Robb and Fanny Sarah Seager in 1836. At the time, both William and Fanny were said to be ‘of this parish’. Fanny’s father Samuel died in the following year at 7 Crown Court, which was in the parish of St. Clement Danes. So was Fanny, like her brother Samuel, living in this part of Holborn before her marriage?
Given their physical proximity and their shared association with the law, is it fanciful to imagine that ‘our’ Seagers were connected in some way with William and Sarah Seager?
One of the difficulties in tracing the lives of the Seager family in the early decades of the 19th century is the number of missing records. We know the date of Samuel senior’s death (1837) but we have no idea when or where he married Fanny Fowle (except that it was probably shortly before their first child was born in 1813). When Samuel died, his unmarried children would have been between the ages of 9 (Edward) and 20 (Elizabeth). And yet I’ve been unable to find any of them in the 1841 census record.
We can be fairly sure that the Fanny Seager, 55, and Fanny Rob (sic), 25, living together in Hemlock Court, St. Clement Danes (not far from Crown Court) in 1841 are Samuel’s widow and his married daughter (though it’s still a mystery why Fanny and her husband William were at their parents’ homes on the night of the census: except that they had recently lost their two year old daughter Fanny Margaret Monteith Robb, and Fanny had recently given birth to their son William – but where on earth was he?). And there’s a possibility that the Elizabeth Seager, 20, working as a family servant in the Anderson household at Grove End Place, in the parish of St. Marylebone, is another of ‘ours’.
But where were the remaining Seager children – Samuel, Henry, Julia and Edward – in 1841? Given that they were all living together in 1851 (apart from Julia, who had married by then), there’s a fair chance that this was also the case ten years earlier. And the fact that I can find none of them must increase the chances that they were living at the same address. It’s most likely that their surname has been transcribed wrongly, making them difficult to trace, and it’s unlikely that this would happen more than once. I’ve looked at the records for Crown Court and there are no Seagers there; nor are Samuel junior or any of his siblings still living in East Street in 1841. Finally, I’ve also looked at the 1841 records for Gerrard Street, Soho, which would be their home in 1851, and there’s no sign of them there either.
The search goes on. In the meantime, I’m going to set down in the next few posts what we know of the lives of the various Seager children, in the years before most of them emigrated to begin a new life in New Zealand.