Finding my great grandfather’s christening in the London Non-Conformist records set me off looking for other ancestors in the same records. In my last post, I mentioned that Great Queen Street Wesleyan Chapel, where Charles Edward Robb was baptised in May 1851, was not far from the streets where Marianne Mansfield Palmer and her family lived, before she became my great great grandfather William Robb’s second husband. I’ve now managed to find one other baptismal record from Great Queen Street, which suggests a connection between the Palmers and the Wesleyan chapel. (Although I can’t be sure, I’d guess that William met Marianne through attendance at the chapel.) This also provides me with an opportunity to fill in some details about the Palmer family.

Fanny Sarah Seager, William Robb’s first wife, died in February 1851, shortly after giving birth to my great grandfather, Charles Edward Robb. Three years later, William married Marianne (or Mary Anne) Mansfield Palmer at the church of St. Clement Danes in the Strand. William was 40 at the time, but Marianne was only 23. She was born on 4th December 183o in Longton, Staffordshire, the daughter of Enoch Palmer and Lydia Tunstall, and baptised on 6th March 1831 in the Longton Circuit of the Methodist New Connexion. Longton, to the south-east of Stoke-on-Trent, is one of the six towns that make up the Potteries.

Longton, Staffordshire

Marianne’s father Enoch was a bookbinder by trade, from Burslem, another of the Pottery towns of Staffordshire. He was the son of woolcomber John Catto Palmer and Ann Mansfield of Newcastle-under-Lyme. John and Ann also had a daughter, Alice Mansfield Palmer, and possibly a son Walter (see below).

Marianne had three older siblings. Her eldest brother Enoch was born in Tean, Staffordshire in 1823 and christened at the Bethesda Methodist New Connexion Chapel in Shelton. Another brother, Levi, was born in 1825 and a sister, Martha Tunstall, in 1828, both in Tean. After Marianne, the Palmers had another daughter, Maria Young, born in Burslem in December 1833 and christened in the Wesleyan chapel there on New Year’s day 1834.

Some time between 1834 and 1841, Enoch and Lydia Palmer moved to London, taking some of their offspring with them. At the time of the 1841 census, we find Enoch and Lydia, together with Levi, 15, an office boy, and Marianne, 1o, living in Little Wild Street, in the parish of St. Giles in the Fields. The street was not far from Lincoln’s Inn: it was a tributary of Great Wild Street, which itself ran to the south of Great Queen Street. They shared a building with one Walter Palmer, a coach painter, his wife Elizabeth and their children. As mentioned above, I’m almost certain that Walter was Enoch’s brother. Some of his children (confusingly) even had the same names as Enoch’s. With him and Elizabeth at the time of the census were Walter Richard, 21, and Enoch, about 18 (both apparently working with their father), and also John, 8, Maria, 5 and Hannah, 2. Walter Palmer, born and baptised in 1798 in Newcastle-under-Lyme, had married Elizabeth Morton at St. Martin in the Fields in 1819; their children were all born and baptised in London.

Wych Street

The coincidence of their ages, and the absence of a Maria from Enoch Palmer’s household, makes me wonder if the enumerator muddled up the parentage of at least one Palmer child. On the other hand, we know that there were two Enochs of about the same age, since the other one – the son of Enoch senior and Lydia – was at this time still in Staffordshire, working as a book printer’s apprentice in Lane End, Stoke-on-Trent. I’m not sure where Marianne’s sister Martha was living at this date.

In 1845 Marianne’s brother Enoch married Elizabeth Lightfoot at St. Peter’s church in Stoke-on-Trent. They were either living in London, or staying there briefly when their first child, Sarah Maria, was baptised at Great Queen Street Chapel on 28th November 1847. They gave their address at the time as Wych Street (see illustration above), which connected Drury Lane to the Strand at St. Clement Danes. Certainly by the time of the 1851 they would be back in Staffordshire. Perhaps there were sentimental reasons for having their first daughter christened at Great Queen Street – Enoch’s parents’ church? And perhaps by 1848 Wych Street was the Palmer family’s address?

Marianne’s other brother Levi, who followed his father into the bookbinding trade, also moved between addresses in Staffordshire and London. In 1850 he married Elizabeth Finney in Longton, but at the time of the census a year later they were living at 48 St. Martin’s Lane, Westminster, with their daughter Sarah, born in Bloomsbury 4 months earlier, as well as Elizabeth’s stepmother Sarah Finney.

The same census finds Lydia Palmer visiting her son Enoch and his wife Elizabeth in High Street, Longton, where Enoch is now working as a grocery provisions dealer. They now have a second daughter, Lucy Jane, and can afford to employ a servant.

Meanwhile Enoch senior, now described as a bookbinder master, is living at 4 Duke Street, which ran parallel to Little Wild Street. With him are daughters Martha, 23 and Marianne 20, both of whom are working as book folders.

A section of Greenwood's 1827 map of London

(Streets mentioned in this post can be seen at top right of the map: click on it to open in new window, then click again to zoom in)

Martha would be one of the witnesses at Marianne’s wedding to William Robb three years later. The other was Enoch, but it’s not clear if this was Marianne’s father or her brother. Marianne returned the favour (signing herself ‘Marianne M. Robb’) seven years later, in 1861, when Martha married painter James Millsom at the church of St. George the Martyr, Bloomsbury (the couple were living at 33 Little Russell Street). It appears that James had been sharing a house with Martha and her father Enoch, at 13 Theobalds Road, Bloomsbury, at the time of the census earlier that year.

I believe that Lydia Palmer had died by 1861. Certainly there’s no trace of her in the census records for her son Enoch, who was now living in Trentham, Staffordshire with his expanding family, and working as an accountant, or in those for Levi, who was still in Longton and now described as a ‘grocer bookbinder etc’.

By this date Marianne was living with her new husband William, her stepchildren Matilda Fanny and Charles Edward, and her own children Lydia, Alice, Marion and Rose (4 children in 4 years!) at 15 St. Ann’s Road, Mile End Old Town. Lodging with them is one Edward Palmer, 27, a widower born in Limehouse whose occupation is illegible, but might be something to do with the docks. Is the surname a coincidence, or is this a relative of Marianne’s that we don’t know about?

It appears that Marianne’s sister Martha died in 1863, at the age of only 35, in Kingston, Surrey. Their father Enoch died in 1867 in Mile End Old Town. I don’t have a copy of his death certificate, but I’d hazard a guess he was staying with Marianne at the time. I can’t find any records for Levi Palmer junior after 1861. In 1871 Enoch junior was still in Trentham, where he’s added ‘estate agent’ to ‘accountant’ in the description of his occupation. Ten years later, the census finds him, with his wife Elizabeth and daughter Constance, visiting Stoke-born china dealer Geoffrey Robinson at his home in Ryde, Isle of Wight. It’s possible that Enoch died two years after this, in 1883 – the same year as his sister Marianne, who breathed her last in July at the age of 52, having given her husband William Robb a total of ten children.