Yesterday, I took delivery of a copy of the marriage certificate for Samuel Hurst Seager and Jane Wild, and it has drawn me back into the world of stationers, printers and law clerks in late Georgian and early Victorian London, a milieu that would have been familiar to the young Charles Dickens, who lived and worked in some of the same streets as my ancestors. It has also provided further insight into my Seager ancestors’ Nonconformist affiliations.

Samuel Hurst Seager (1819 – 1874), a carpenter and builder, was the younger brother of my great-great-grandmother Fanny Sarah Seager (1814 -1851), the wife of my great-great-grandfather William Robb (1813 – 1888). Like his brothers Edward and Henry, Samuel emigrated to New Zealand and one of his sons, also named Samuel Hurst, became a renowned architect there:

Samuel Hurst Seager (1855 - 1933), son of S.H.Seager and Jane Wild

Samuel married Jane Wild on 13 August 1851. It was an eventful year for the Seager family. In January, Samuel’s sister Fanny had given birth to my great-grandfather, Charles Edward Robb, in Old Compton Street, Soho, and had died a few days later. In May, Samuel’s widowed mother Fanny died at the age of 70. At the time, she and her surviving children had been living at 49 Gerrard Street, Soho. On the day before Samuel’s wedding, his brother Edward embarked for New Zealand on the ‘Cornwall’, the first of the three Seager brothers to emigrate there. As I reported in an earlier post, Edward’s biographer Madeleine Seager includes this touching anecdote:

His farewell was most sentimental, as all his relations, and most of his friends, were attending his brother’s wedding. As the Cornwall lay at Gravesend the wedding party passed by on their way to Margate. There was a waving of handkerchiefs as the couple went by, then they were gone, leaving Seager dejected and melancholy.

His marriage certificate informs us that Samuel, 31, was living at 39 Drury Lane, so he must have moved from Gerrard Street since the census in March. Jane, 23, was living nearby at 25 Brydges Street, Covent Garden. They were married at the Whitefield Chapel ‘according to the Rites and Ceremonies of the Dissenters’.  Whitefield Chapel or Tabernacle in Tottenham Court Road was built in 1765 for the preacher George Whitefield, one of the founding figures of the Methodist revival. It had been the location for the less happy event of Fanny Robb’s burial earlier that year.

Whitefield Tabernacle in 1820

The certificate informs us that Jane was the daughter of Lancelot Wild, a ‘news paper agent’. After some research using a variety of online sources, I’ve been able to piece together a fair amount of the Wild family’s history. Jane’s father Lancelot was born in 1797, the youngest child of another Lancelot Wild – a tailor, born in about 1749 – and his wife Mary Clark. Lancelot senior and Mary were married on 7 November 1780 at St. Benet Gracechurch in the City of London. They had four children who survived: Mary Ann (1788), Robert (1790) and Elizabeth (1792) were all baptised at All Hallows, Bread Street, while Lancelot junior was baptised at St. Clement Danes in the Strand. We know from other records that the Wilds lived in White Horse Yard, off Drury Lane.

Lancelot Wild senior died in January 1817 and was buried at Spa Fields. I don’t know when his wife Mary died. Nor have I  been able to find out what became of their daughter Mary Ann or son Robert, though the latter turns up as a witness at a number of family weddings.

Elizabeth Wild married Richard Cartwright on 24 March 1819 at St Pancras Parish church. Her brother Robert was a witness. Richard, who had been born in Eagle Street, just to the south of Red Lion Square, Holborn, in 1794, worked as a law stationer and printer.  In 1841, Richard, Elizabeth and their children were living in Cloudesley Square, Islington. Ten years later, they were at 143 Windmill Street, Gravesend, where Richard, now a ‘master’, employed ten men. (Perhaps their home was a convenient stopping-off point for Elizabeth’s niece Jane on her wedding progress to Margate in that same year?)

Elizabeth and Richard had three children, all three of whose births were recorded in the Protestant Dissenters’ Registry, suggesting that Elizabeth maintained her parents’ religious affiliation, and/or that the Cartwrights were also Nonconformists.

Elizabeth Cartwright was born on 1 January 1820 in Clarendon Street, St. Pancras. Mary Ann was born on 19 June 1830 at Warwick Place, Bedford Row, Holborn (very near Richard’s birthplace). Edward was born on 25 June 1833 at the same address.

Given Richard’s profession and his Holborn origins, I find it inconceivable that he did not know law stationer and clerk William Seager of Little James Street, whom I wrote about in a recent post, and who I suspect might be connected in some way to my Seager ancestors. It’s also possible that either or both of them were known to my great-great-grandfather William Robb, husband of Fanny Seager, who worked for most of his life as a law stationer’s clerk.

Elizabeth Cartwright nee Wild must have died before the 1861 census, which finds the widowed and retired Richard, 67, living at 54 Camden Villas, Kentish Town, with a housekeeper and servant.

As for Elizabeth’s brother, Lancelot Wild junior, he got married on Christmas Day 1822 at St. Andrew’s, Holborn. The witnesses were his siblings Elizabeth and Robert. Lancelot’s wife rejoiced in the name of Rose Maldon Ray (or Wray) Wright. According to some records, she was born in Maldon Essex (which would account for one of her names), but she was certainly baptised at St Leonard’s, Shoreditch, on 27 March 1791. She was the daughter of William and Mary Wright.

Lancelot and Rose had four children. According to census records, Jane, who would marry Samuel Seager, was born in about 1828 in the parish of St. George, Bloomsbury, but I’ve been unable to find any record of her birth or baptism. Maria was born in 1830 and baptised on 15 August at Crown Street Independent Chapel in Soho. William was born in about 1832 in the parish of St. Mary-le-Strand, but again we have no record of this. Finally, Rose was born in December 1835 and baptised in January 1837 at Crown Street Chapel. I understand that this was a Calvinist congregation and that Crown Street was later absorbed into the new Charing Cross Road.

Covent Garden and St. Clement Danes, from Greenwood's map of 1827

Pigot’s Directory of 1839 lists Lancelot Wild as a news vendor at 13 Catherine Street, Strand. This street, which connected to the Strand opposite Somerset House, ran into Brydges Street: indeed, the two are now combined into one street. The Wild family are at the same address at the time of the 1841 census: Lancelot is 40, Rose 45, Jane, 14, and young Rose, 5. They have one female servant. I have found no further records for Maria, and I’m unsure where William was at this date. However, by 1851 he is back with the family, at the same address: Jane is 23, William 19, and Rose, 15; they still have one servant.

Samuel Seager and Jane Wild had four children: Rose Elizabeth (1852), Samuel Hurst (1855), Jane (1857) and Ada (1859). Although I’ve yet to find baptismal records for any of these, we know that the first three were born in the Strand district and Ada in St Martin-in-the-Fields. Their mother, Jane, died shortly after Ada’s birth in the first quarter of 1859.  As I noted in an earlier post, Samuel Hurst Seager senior remarried, to Mary Ann Yeates, in June 1860. They emigrated to New Zealand ten years later, and Samuel died in Christchurch in 1874, at the age of 55.

As for Jane’s family, they remained in Catherine Street, where the 1856 Street Directory upgraded Lancelot to the status of ‘publisher’. He died in 1860 at the age of 63. In the census of the following year, his widow Rose, 71, and her 14-year-old daughter, Rose junior, can be found, with a house servant, at 28 Stratheden Terrace, Shepherds Bush. They both have the same occupation or status, but it’s difficult to make it out in the original record – something to do with a ‘Repository’ of some kind?

Rose Wild senior died three years later, in 1864,  in Islington. In the previous year her son William, who was working as a fishmonger and who gave his address as Stratheden Terrace, married farmer’s daughter Emma Durrant at St Stephen’s church in that district. In 1865, Rose Wild junior married Horace Samuel Collins, a clerk, at Holy Trinity, Brompton Road, Kensington.

As a footnote: I discovered almost by accident that Lancelot Wild the younger is buried in Abney Park, the main Nonconformist cemetery in north London. While ‘googling’ his name, I came across a Facebook page by folk band The Mariner’s Children, which included a photograph of the cemetery with this note:

In other news I took this photo in Abney Park Cemetery the other day and thought I’d share. I took it near the grave of someone called Lancelot Wild which is the best name I’ve ever heard.