When Mary Catherine Gibson, widow of Bowes John Gibson, died in 1826, her youngest two children, Matilda Henrietta and Bowes Charles, were 17 and 13 years old respectively (see footnote * below). I don’t know what happened to the Gibson children after their mother’s death, but one imagines that his older siblings now became the most important figures in the young Bowes Charles Gibson’s life. Since his other brothers and sisters were in their twenties and may have left home, it’s likely that Matilda was a particularly significant figure for him.

Barnsbury Square, Islington

Certainly, when Bowes Charles Gibson drew up his will eleven years later, he bequeathed everything he owned to his older sister. Bowes Charles Gibson was only 24 years old when he died. He was buried on 11 July 1837 at the church of St Mary, Islington. His address was given as Barnsbury Square, and we know from his will that he lived at No. 1. The fact that Bowes Charles wrote his last will and testament about six weeks before his death suggests that he was aware of his likely demise. The will is extremely brief, indicative perhaps of the testator’s youth and possibly of his state of health. Here is my transcription of the will:

This is the last Will and Testament of Bowes Charles Gibson of number 1 Barnsbury Square in the parish of Saint Mary Islington in the County of Middlesex Gentleman  I give devise and bequeath unto Matilda Henrietta Gibson All real and personal Estate whatsoever and wheresoever and of what nature xxx or quality the same way be or consist of the same to hold the same unto Matilda Gibson her heirs and assigns for ever And I do hereby nominate and appoint Matilda Henrietta Gibson sole Executrix of this my will In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal this twenty fifth day of May on thousand eight hundred and thirty seven – Bowes Chs. Gibson – (S) signed sealed published and xxx by the said testator Bowes Charles Gibson as and for his last Will and Testament in the presence of us who in his presence at his request and in the presence of each other have subscribed our names as witnesses hereto – Thomas Dawes M. ? – J S Welch – Sophia Clubb

Proved at London the 1st of March 1838 before the Worshipful John Daubrey (?) Doctor of Laws and Surrogate by the oath of Matilda Henriett (in the will written Henrietta) Gibson Spinster the sister the sole Executrix to whom xxx was granted having been xxx duly to adminr.

It’s likely that Sophia Clubb was a family servant. In the 1851 census, someone of that name was a general domestic servant in the home of annuitant Alfred Price and his wife and daughter at No 18 Trinidad Place, Islington. According to the census, she was born in about 1814 but she may have lied about her age: a child of that name was christened at St Mary Islington in 1810. In 1841, Sophia was a servant in the family home of coal merchant Daniel Starge in Goswell Street, Clerkenwell.

Thomas Dawes was probably the family solicitor. Edwin and Weldon Dawes, probably from the same family firm, were witnesses to the will of Bowes Charles Gibson’s grandmother Mary in 1788. I’ve been unable to establish the identity of J.S.Welch.

It seems likely that Bowes Charles Gibson lived at 1 Barnsbury Square with his sister Matilda Henrietta, and perhaps one or more of his other siblings, though we have no way of knowing when they moved there. Since the area was only laid out in the 1820s, it’s possible that the Gibsons were among the first residents. Frustratingly, the 1841 census record for the area is missing, but we know that Matilda was there in 1845. She died in that year, aged 36, and was buried on 7 May at the church of St James, St Pancras (I believe this church was in Hampstead Road and was built as the cemetery chapel for St James, Piccadilly).


In my last post, I said that Bowes Charles Gibson was nine years old when his mother died. I based this on the date of his christening, but if the age given in his burial record is accurate, then he must have been baptised some four years after his birth. I’ve noted before that Bowes Charles was christened just a month before his father’s burial, which took place on 28 August 1817. However, checking Bowes John’s will, I see that it was ‘proved’ on 7 July, three weeks or so before his youngest son’s christening. Did her husband’s death prompt Mary Catherine Gibson to organise their last child’s overdue baptism?