The will of John Dickson, Holborn baker

Following my discovery of the will of John Rodbard, I’ve now managed to track down the last will and testament of ‘John Dickson of Greville Street in the parish of St Andrew Holborn in the county of Middlesex, baker’, which was written in 1824 (he died in the following year).

John Dickson married Sarah Rodbard of Edgware, and their daughter Sarah Dickson married Soho coachbuilder David Blanch, brother of my great-great-great grandfather, Bethnal Green shoemaker John Blanch.  Sarah Rodbard’s brother John married David and John Blanch’s older sister Maria.

I haven’t transcribed all of John Dickson’s will: the script is difficult to read and much of the information is in early nineteenth century legalese. Suffice it to say that the list of John’s children matches the information we already have, confirming that this is the ‘right’ John Dickson.

The most interesting and useful thing about the will is the names of the two men to whom John Dickson entrusts his property after his death. These are ‘my brothers in law Alexander Cuthbert of New Street Square in the parish of St Bride in the City of London baker and John Rodbard of Edgware in the said county of Middlesex grocer’.  We already knew about John Rodbard, though this provides further confirmation that he was indeed the brother of the Sarah Rodbard who married John Dickson. However, this is the first indication of his occupation (I think it says ‘grocer’) – other documents describe him as a ‘gentleman’ – and it adds weight to my theory that he had business interests, and premises, in the City or in neighbouring Holborn.

19th century bakery

Alexander Cuthbert was a completely new name to me, and it has taken some digging around to discover exactly who he was, and his precise connection to John Dickson. If he was John Dickson’s brother-in-law, this could only be because he was married to John’s sister. Searching for records for Alexander, I came across a number of children born to Alexander and Euphemia Cuthbert, all of them at New Street Square in the parish of St Bride, Fleet Street – the address given for Alexander in John Dickson’s will. The name ‘Euphemia’ caught my eye, since this was also the name of one of John Dickson’s daughters: might she have been named after his sister?

I then came across a record for the marriage of Alexander Cuthbert and Eupheney Cassells at St Luke, Old Street on 10 March 1811. The bride’s surname, and the spelling of her Christian name, might have put me off, had it not been for the names of the two witnesses: John Dickson and Frances Rodbard. There seemed more than a good chance that the former was ‘our’ John, who was probably the brother of Eupheney or Euphemia (it seems likely that this unusual name tested the spelling abilities of parish clerks). John Dickson had married Sarah Rodbard six years earlier in 1804, while John Rodbard had married Maria Blanch just one month before, in February 1811.

As for Frances Rodbard, I’ve discovered that she was the younger sister of John Rodbard – another Rodbard sibling that I hadn’t come across before. Born in 1781 in Chigwell, Essex, Frances married Barnard Page in Chipping Barnet, Hertfordshire, on 5 July 1823, when she was already 42 years old. She must have died soon after the marriage, as on 12 August 1826 Barnard got married for a second time, at St Pancras parish church, to Elizabeth Freeman of the parish of Shenley, Hertfordshire. The fact that Barnard himself was said to be ‘of this parish’ suggests that he and Frances (like the latter’s brother John and sister Sarah) lived in London.

Eupheney/Euphemia Cassells is described in her marriage record as a ‘spinster’, but I think this must be a mistake. I’ve found the record of a marriage between Euphemia Dickson and Andrew Cassells at St James Piccadilly on 4 November 1804.  An Andrew Cassells died from consumption and was buried on 14 May 1809 at St Bride Fleet Street. He was 32 when he died, meaning he was born in about 1777. Andrew’s address is given as Great New Street, which adjoined New Street Square, thus explaining how Euphemia might have met her second husband, Alexander Cuthbert, assuming that she didn’t already know of him through her brother: both men were bakers, and Greville Street was also a short distance away.

Part of Fairburn's Plan of Westminster and London (1801), showing the City and Holborn. (Greville Street is in the top left-hand corner, while Great New Street and New Street Square are south of Holborn Hill, between Fetter Lane and Shoe Lane)

We know from her burial record that Euphemia was born in about 1775, though I’ve yet to find a record of her birth or baptism. From a similar source we know that Alexander Cuthbert was born in about 1784, but again it’s not clear where or to whom.  Alexander and Euphemia appear to have spent most of their married life in New Street Square, which is presumably where Alexander’s bakery was situated. They had six children, to my knowledge. Jane was born in 1812, Ann in 1813, Sarah 1815, Margaret 1817, Alexander 1819 and Joseph 1821. All of them were christened at St Bride, Fleet Street, though curiously Joseph appears to have been baptised twice: once at St Andrew Holborn on 28 August 1821 (he was born on 25 May) and then again at St Bride’s on 27 January 1822.

Euphemia Cuthbert, formerly Cassells, nee Dickson, died in 1831 in Kentish Town – perhaps the Cuthberts had retired there?  – but was buried at St Bride’s, in the parish where she had spent most of her life. Her husband Alexander died two years later, also in Kentish Town, and he was also buried at St Bride’s.

St Bride, Fleet Street

I haven’t been able to find out much about the later lives of the Cuthbert children – except for Ann. She married her cousin John Dickson, son of John and Sarah, at St Mark Kennington, on 16 August 1851. John worked as an accountant and ten years later the census finds the couple at 4 Charles Street, Finsbury, with their house servant Fanny Kettley.

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