Important update: 21 April 2011

Following recent research by my distant relative Robin Blanch, it now seems unlikely that James Blanch, the father of my ancestor John Blanch, was the son of William Blanch. However, I will leave  this post in place until further information becomes available.

In the last post I wrote about the family of Ann Blanch and James Groom, noting that of their seven children, only two – Francis Henry and James Foster – seem to have survived to adulthood. In this post and the next I’ll be writing about the families of these two men. It may seem odd to be expending so much effort on such distant relatives (Francis and James were my first cousins, five times removed). But their histories offer fascinating examples of how Victorian families moved between social classes in the course of one or two generations.

In this post, I want to write about the family of Francis Henry Groom, who began life in the alleys of Aldersgate, became a schoolmaster, had sons who worked as mercantile clerks and daughters who married merchants, and had a grandson who was a lieutenant-colonel in the British army and a granddaughter who married a wealthy manufacturer.

As mentioned in the last post, the 1841 census finds Francis Henry Groom, aged 55, his second wife Susan or Susannah, 40, and their children Robert, 17, Jemima, 9, Letitia, 7, Seymour, 4, George, 2, together with Elizabeth Reynolds, 50, described as ‘independent’ and almost certainly a sister of Susannah’s, and Scottish-born Margaret Fraser, 21, a family servant, at St. John’s Villa, Dalston Rise, Hackney. Francis Groom’s occupation is given as ‘scholastic’, and we know from other records that he was a schoolteacher.

Hackney in 1840

From his two marriages (to Elizabeth Horne and Susannah Reynolds), Francis Henry Groom had a total of 13 children, of whom only five are mentioned in this census record. Of Francis’ children by his first marriage, I’ve been unable to find any definite records of Alfred Joseph Groom or Edward Pittman Groom. Julia Groom, who was born in 1821, died in infancy.

The eldest son of Francis and Elizabeth, also Francis Henry, who was 33 at the time of the 1841 census, appears to have been living in Great Castle Street, off Oxford Street, and working as a private tutor. (There is a coincidental link here with the other side of my family. As I mentioned in a recent post, dentist Joseph Boden gave Great Castle Street as his address at the time of his possibly bigamous 1841 marriage to my 3 x great aunt Elizabeth Robb.) There is a record of a Francis Henry Groom marrying in the same parish later that year, but as yet I’ve been unable to discover the name of his bride, or any later records for them.

I haven’t found any trace of Frederick Butler Groom in 1841, but in September 1850 he married Anne Robertson at St. Paul Canonbury. The following year’s census finds the couple living in Cross Street, west Hackney, and Frederick working as a mercantile clerk. Ten years later they are in Tavistock Terrace, Islington, and Frederick is now employed as a salesman of manufactured goods. At this date they have seven children: Frederick (born 1852), James (1853), Henry (1854), Charles (1856), Annie Eliza (1857), Mary Belinda (1859) and Arthur (1860). Living with them are Frederick’s brother James Edward Groom, 50, a commercial clerk in a lace depot, visitor Maria Robertson, 42, a governess and presumably a relation of Anne’s, and general servant Jane Williams.

A Victorian office

By the time of the 1871 census, the family is at 5 Hazelhills Road, Upper Holloway, and Frederick is now described as a lace and dress manufacturer’s agent. His sons Frederick, James and Henry are all working as clerks, while son Charles is described as an assistant to his father. Annie, Mary and Arthur are still scholars, and there is now an additional daughter, Ellen, 9. Frederick’s brother James, now 61 and a retired mercantile clerk, is still living with them, as is Frederick’s governess sister-in-law (her name is given as Anna, but presumably this is a mistake from Maria). Jane Williams is still the family’s servant.

Ten years later, in 1881, Frederick and Anne, now 65 and 60 respectively, have moved again to 78 Ruskin Road, Tottenham. With them are their son James, 28, who works as a tea taster, Charles, 25, who is a clerk to a stockbroker, Mary Belinda, 22, an ‘art student (painting)’, and Arthur (21) a tea trader. Frederick’s brother James Edward is no longer living with the family, but he may be the 72 year old ‘gentleman’ of that name lodging in Argyle Square in Marylebone at this date (he appears to have died in 1884).

Frederick Butler Groom died in West Ham in 1889 at the age of 74. His wife Anne may have died in 1898.

Francis Henry Groom’s daughter Eliza Frances married engraver Charles James Timbury on 2 March 1836 at St Bride Fleet Street. When their first child Charles John was baptised at St. Dunstan in the West a year later, they were living in Racquet Court, Fleet Street. A second son, William James, was born in 1838. By the time their daughter Emma Eliza was baptised at St. Paul Canonbury in December 1840, the family was living at 15 Brunswick Place (near Old Street and City Road). Mary Susannah was born in 1841.  For the birth of their son Francis Henry, they were back in Racquet Court, Fleet Street.

I’ve been unable to find the Timburys in the 1841 or 1851 census records. They later emigrated to Australia, landing in Sydney on the Windsor in October 1852 and settling in Victoria, where they had three further children: Herbert Arthur (1856), Percy Ivo (1860) and Charles James (1864). Sadly, the Timburys’ time in Australia was marked by a series of deaths at an early age. Mary Susannah died in 1856 at the age of 15, Percy in 1861 at the age of one, Charles John in 1862 aged 25, William in 1871 aged 33, Charles James in 1873 aged 11 and Herbert in 1877 aged 21.

Melbourne, Australia, in the 19th century

Eliza Frances Tinbury nee Groom died in 1867 aged 51. Charles Timbury senior died in 1875 at the age of 65. The National Probate Calendar states that Charles resided at 8 Rotherwood Street, Richmond, near Melbourne, and that he worked as a broker. Administration of his effects was granted to a lawyer in Bishopsgate, London, acting as attorney for Charles’ son Francis Henry, who was resident at 34 Collins Street, West Melbourne.

Francis Henry Groom’s son Robert Smith Groom married Emma Alice Cope in December 1849. In 1851 they were living in Albert Terrace, Southwark, with Emma’s mother and sister, both named Martha. Robert was working as a lithographic artist and the household also included 16 year old Bristol-born apprentice lithographic artist Charles Bromham. The London Gazette of 7 December 1858 includes a record of proceedings three days earlier at the Court for Relief of Insolvent Debtors. It notes that ‘Orders have been made, vesting in the Provisional Assignee the estate and effects of the following persons’, beginning with those ‘on their own petitions’. First in the list is ‘Robert Smith Groom, late of No 78, Upper Stamford-street, Blackfriars road, Surrey, Lithographer and Printer – in the Queen’s Prison’.

Kings Bench Prison, later the Queens Prison

Robert died seven years later, at the age of 40, at 20 Albert Terrace, Southwark, and was buried at Norwood Cemetery, Lambeth. According to the National Probate Calendar he left effects to the value of less than £200. His wife Emma married again, to William Hildreth, in 1867. There appear to have been no children from either marriage.

The 1851 census finds two of Francis’ daughters from his second marriage to Susannah Reynolds, Jemima Hannah and Letitia Elizabeth, aged 19 and 17 respectively, as pupils at a school in Claremont Road, Kingston upon Thames. Interestingly, one of the ‘house proprietors’ is Elizabeth Reynolds, aged 66: could this be Susannah’s sister?

Four years later, when she was 22, Letitia married Thomas Shann Derham at St. George’s church, Bloomsbury. At the time Letitia was said to be living at 28 Bedford Square. Thomas, the son of ‘gentleman’ Robert Derham, is given the rank of ‘esquire’ in the record and said to be living in Park Square, Leeds (he had been born in Leeds in about 1820). Thomas and Letitia had at least seven children, all born in Leeds: Ernest William (born in 1856), Frank (1959), Letitia (1862), Sidney (1864) Mabel (1867) Robert (1868) and Nora Mary (1874).

I’ve been unable to find the family in the 1861 census, but in 1871 they were at 15 Blenheim Terrace, Leeds, where Thomas’ occupation is given as ‘flax spinner’. Besides the children mentioned above, they have a one month old infant, as yet unnamed, who is presumably in the care of Agnes Curry, the nursemaid resident at the same address.  On the night of the census the household also includes a housemaid, cook and a monthly nurse.

15 Blenheim Terrace (now the University of Leeds Skills Library)

Letitia died in 1878 at the age of 45. At the time of the 1881 census Thomas, now 59 and working as a general merchant, is still at Blenheim Terrace with Ernest, Letitia, Sidney, Mabel and Robert, together with a cook, housemaid and two visitors.  Thomas’ youngest daughter Nora, age 6 was absent from home at the time of the census, and was in fact visitng her aunt Jemima Groom in London at the time.

Jemima seems never to have married. I’ve been unable to find any trace of her in the census records for 1861, but in 1871, at the age of 37,  she was living with her aunts Elizabeth and Jemima Reynolds, aged 86 and 74 respectively, at Cambridge House in Abbey Road, Hampstead. All three women are said to be living on ‘income from rents and dividends’. Ten years later, Elizabeth Reynolds appears to have died, but the two Jemimas are still living together at 62 Belsize Road, Hampstead. This is the record that shows Jemima’s niece Nora Mary Derham as a visitor.

By 1891, when she was 59 years old, Jemima had joined the household of her brother George Groom and his wife Cecilia in Fountayne Road, Stamford Hill. Niece Nora Derham, now 16, is also present, suggesting that she might have moved to London permanently. George, who also employs a general servant, is described as a ‘manufacturer of leather cloth goods’. This one of only two definite records I’ve been able to find for George after 1851, when (aged 11) he was a pupil at a school in Kensington. It’s possible he married Cecilia in Hackney in 1861, but I’ve found no record for their marriage or any census records for them in 1871 or 1881. The only other mention of George is in the probate record for his younger brother Charles, mentioned below .

In 1899, when she was 25, Nora Mary Derham married manufacturer William Derham Wilford, 29, at St. Mary’s Stoke Newington. The record shows that Nora’s father Thomas, flax merchant of Leeds, had died by this date. As his name suggests, William was a cousin of Nora’s. His grandfather William James Milford, originally from Northallerton, Yorkshire, had emigrated to Temse in Belgium where he founded a linen manufacturing business, and where both his son and grandson were born. William Derham Wilford’s father, another William, married Mary Derham, daughter of Robert Derham and Thomas Shann, and (I think) brother of Nora’s father Thomas Shann Derham.

The 1901 census shows Nora and her baby daughter Letitia living at 68 The Avenue, in Hale End, Chingford. Husband William appears to be absent, but aunt Jemima, now 69 and still ‘living on own means’, is living with them, as is a young domestic servant.

An old photograph of cottages at Hale End, Chingford

Jemima Groom died on 15 December 1905 at the same address. The entry in the National Probate Calendar reads: ‘Probate London 3 January to Nora May Derham-Wilford (wife of William Derham-Wilford) and Frank Seymour Derham lieutenant-colonel in H.M.Army. Effects £2865 1s. 5d.’  Frank was Nora’s older brother: he would serve as a general in command of an infantry brigade during the First World War.

As for Nora and William, they had at least one more child, Eric Algernon, born in 1902. At the time of the 1911 census they were still living at The Avenue in Hale End, but at some point in the next ten years the Derham-Wilfords appear to have emigrated to Canada.

In 1851, when he was 13, Seymour Richard Groom was a pupil at the same Kensington school as his brother George. At some point in the next seven years he must have emigrated to Australia, which is where he married Mary Andrews Little in 1858 (in Hawthorne, Victoria). They had at least one child, Amy Gertrude, born in Melbourne in 1865. The Australian electoral roll for 1903 finds Seymour Richard Groom, who would have been 66 by this time, living at 6 Walker Street, Northcote, and working as a timber agent. He died two years later at the same address. His wife Mary died in 1914.

The youngest of the children of Francis Henry Groom and Susannah Letitia Reynolds was Charles D’Oyley Groom, who at the time of the 1851 census, when he was 8 years old, was a visitor in the home of wholesale coffee dealer Colpitts Harrison, his wife Emma, their two nieces and a nephew, at 6 Marine Parade, Worthing. The census record doesn’t mention that Charles was a cousin of Emma, who was the daughter of his father’s brother, James Foster Groom.

I’m not absolutely sure where Charles was in 1861, when he was 18, but the census mentions someone of that name and age serving as a private in the Royal Navy, at sea in the Grecian archipelago. I’ve been unable to find any mention of Charles in the 1871 census, but he too must have emigrated to Australia by 1880, when he married Emily Clarkson Groom in Geelong, Victoria, Australia.  As her name indicates, Emily was also a cousin of Charles. She was the daughter of Matilda Emma Minitt and Francis Charles Groom, who was another of the children of James Foster Groom.

Charles and Emily had two children: Charles Gresham D’Oyley and Rupert Esmond D’Oyley. Charles D’Oyley Groom died in Harefield, Cullenswood, Tasmania in 1883, at the age of 39, only a few years after his marriage. The entry in the National Probate Calendar describes Charles as a mining agent of Fingal, Tasmania. Administration of his estate was granted to George Groom (presumably his brother: see above) of 61 Goldhurst Road, South Hampstead, Middlesex, lawful attorney of Charles’ widow Emily.

Fingal, Tasmania

Emily married again, to Alfred Edward Harrison, and they had two children: Geoffrey Edward Wallace and Rose Jeanette. Emily died at Ilfracombe, Devon, in 1915.


I’m grateful to Robin Blanch for emailing to point out that the Ann Blanch who married James Groom may not be ‘our’ Ann after all. It seems there’s a record of an Ann Blanch, daughter of William and Ann Blanch of Seacole Lane, dying in infancy in 1758. Of course, William and Ann could have had another daughter of the same name, but once you start to doubt the connection, everything else unravels.

I’ll leave these posts in place, in the hope that a more tangible link to the Grooms might one day appear – and anyway, they’ll be of interest to readers who do definitely have these people in their family trees.

I shan’t now be writing up my research on James Foster Groom, the other surviving son of Ann Blanch and James Groom. If anyone is interested in finding out more about him and his family, then I recommend this website: