Some time ago I posted a transcription of the will of Mary Catherine Gibson, née Bretman (died 1826), the widow of East India Company broker Bowes John Gibson (1744 – 1817). Bowes John was the younger brother of my 5 x great grandmother, Elizabeth Holdsworth, née Gibson (1733 – 1809).

Mary Catherine Gibson names as executors her daughter Emily Gibson and ‘Mr Richard Aldridge of Clay Hill Tottenham’, to whom she also bequeaths her amethyst brooch. In my post I wondered why a non-family member had been given such prominence in Mary’s will and speculated that he might have been engaged to be married to Emily, or perhaps another of the Gibson sisters. I had discovered that an Emily Aldridge was born in 1827 in Tottenham to Richard Aldridge, ‘gent’: however, it turned out his wife’s name was Elizabeth.

Victorian ship owners, with captain and first mate (via

I then found the record of a marriage at St Dunstan’s, Stepney, on 22 March 1842, between Richard Aldridge, a widower and ship owner, and Elizabeth Gibson, another of Bowes John Gibson’s daughters. One of the witnesses was Emily Grove: this was Elizabeth’s sister, who had married John Godfrey Grove, a clerk in the docks, at St Helen’s, Bishopsgate, in 1835. They had one daughter, Emily Elizabeth, born in 1837, but John Grove died in the following year. Interestingly, the child was baptised at St Dunstan’s on the same day – and perhaps in the same ceremony? – as her aunt Elizabeth’s marriage to Richard Aldridge. I’ve yet to find the widowed Emily Grove in the 1841 census, but ten years later she was working as a governess at a National or Charity School in Keston, Kent: her 14-year-old daughter was with her and working as a ‘monitor’.

Elizabeth Gibson would have been 38 years old when she married Richard Aldridge, while he was certainly somewhat older, possibly in his early sixties. I’ve come to the conclusion that Richard had been married twice before, first to Mary Johnson and then (confusingly) to another Elizabeth. On 20 February 1803 Mary Ann Aldridge, daughter of Richard and Mary Aldridge of Leather Lane, was christened at St Andrew, Holborn. In 1813, another daughter, Esther, was born, followed by two sons, Richard in 1814 and Thomas in 1817. It’s likely that they are the three children of Richard and Mary Aldridge, christened together on 10 November 1820 at the church of St George the Martyr, Southwark. The family’s address is given as Cross Street, Mason Street, Kent Road, and Richard Aldridge senior is described as a mariner.

By the time that his daughter Emily was born in June 1827, Richard Aldridge was living in Tottenham, described as a ‘gentleman’, and married to someone by the name of Elizabeth. Emily was christened in the parish church on 4 July. (This would have been a year after Mary Catherine Gibson wrote her will naming Richard as an executor.)

On 13 October 1823, Richard Aldridge’s eldest daughter Mary Jane had married Jonathan Reynolds, a ‘gentleman’, at St John’s church, Clerkenwell. They had two children that I know of: Jonathan junior was baptised in Tottenham on 18 February 1825 (making him two years older than his aunt Emily) and Esther at St John of Wapping on 4 April 1827. On 2 July 1836 Richard Aldridge’s daughter Esther married ship owner John Holliday at St John’s, Hackney. Their daughter Elizabeth was born in Dalston in the following year.

Thames shipping, 19th century

In 1830 Richard Aldridge junior was apprenticed by his father to Thomas Freeman, citizen and merchant tailor, for a period of seven years. On 6 August 1837 his younger brother Thomas, a lighterman like his father, married Elizabeth Mary Chew at St Dunstan’s, Stepney. (As was the case with the Bonner and Drew families described in an earlier post, ‘lighterman’ might be misleading: Richard Aldridge was obviously a man of some property.) Born in Wapping in 1821, Elizabeth was the daughter of Robert Ford Chew and Caroline May. Thomas and Elizabeth Aldridge had four children: Emily (born in 1838), Richard (1842), Ruth (1842) and Thomas (1844).

The 1841 census record for Richard Aldridge senior and his family is puzzling. It finds Richard, 60, a lighterman, living in Dalston Place, Hackney, with Elizabeth Aldridge, 40, Richard Aldridge, 25, also a lighterman, Emily, 15, Esther Holliday and her daughter Elizabeth, and a female servant. I assume this means that Esther was now a widow (unless her husband John Holliday was away from home). It also suggests that Richard junior’s apprenticeship came to nothing, as he has reverted to his father’s occupation. Most confusing is the presence of Elizabeth: presumably this is Richard senior’s second wife, but if so, then the time between her death – which must have been after the census was taken in June 1841 – and his marriage in March of the following year to his third wife, Elizabeth Gibson, was extremely brief.

Richard Aldridge senior died at 20 Dalston Place, Hackney, in 1848, six years after his marriage to Elizabeth Gibson. Needless to say, there were no children from the marriage. In his will, Richard describes himself as a lighterman and custom house agent of Old Trinity House, Water Lane, Tower Street in the City of London (see this post for the connections between another of my ancestors, Captain William Greene, and Trinity House).

Trinity House

Richard Aldridge junior must have married his wife, Hannah Armstrong, some time between 1841 and the birth of their daughter, also Hannah, in 1845, though I’ve yet to find a record confirming this. At the time of Hannah’s baptism at St Leonard’s, Shoreditch, the couple were living at North Place and Richard was working as a commercial clerk. By the time of the 1851 census, they were living in nearby Kingsland and Richard was once again described as a lighterman.

On 13 April 1845, Richard Aldridge senior’s youngest daughter, Emily, married William Price Inglis, a ‘gentleman’, at St Mary’s church, Finchley. William, born in Chelsea in 1819, was the son of Thomas Inglis, a physician and (army?) staff surgeon and his wife Maria. Thomas Inglis’ profession obviously involved overseas travel, since his wife was from Portugal and another son, Thomas, was born in Spain. Sadly, Emily appears to have died within a year of her marriage to William – possibly in childbirth?

The 1851 census finds Elizabeth Aldridge, nee Gibson, a 45-year-old widow and annuitant, still living at 20 Dalston Place, Hackney. As well as a general servant, Priscilla Maria Ward, Elizabeth has three visitors: Maria Inglis, 50, described as a ‘lady’, born in Portugal but a British subject; Thomas Inglis, 32, a clerk in Her Majesty’s Customs, born in Spain but similarly a British subject; and William Price Inglis, 36, a widower and a clerk in the Post Office, born in Chelsea. William was the husband of Elizabeth’s late stepdaughter, Emily; Thomas was his brother; and Maria was their mother.

Dalston in Greenwood's 1827 map (Dalston Place is at top centre of image)

By 1861, when she was about 58 years old, Elizabeth Aldridge had moved to Vernon House at No 6 Barnsbury Square, Islington. Elizabeth’s household includes both a servant and an attendant, suggesting both that she had ample means to support herself and also (perhaps) that she was growing infirm with age. A few months ago, I wrote about Elizabeth’s brother Bowes Charles Gibson and sister Matilda Henrietta Gibson, who died in 1837 and 1845 respectively, both of whom lived in Barnsbury Square. It seems likely, then, that the Gibson family had retained ownership of at least one property in this fashionable square.

Next door to Elizabeth, at No. 5 Barnsbury Square, we find William S. Gibson, a mercantile clerk, his wife Mary Ann, their daughter Clara Elizabeth, who is one year old, and son William, only a month old, both of them born in Barnsbury. This is William Slark Gibson, who I deduce from other sources to have been Elizabeth’s nephew, the son of one of her brothers, possibly William Henry.

19th century house in Barnsbury Square (via

William Slark Gibson was born in Northumberland in about 1836, though I’ve yet to find a record of his birth or confirmation of his parentage. On 25 July 1858 he married Mary Ann Higgs of Dalston, at St Mary’s, Islington. Clara Elizabeth was their first child, born in Barnsbury Square and baptised at St Mary’s, Islington, on 22 June 1860. William junior was born in 1861 at the same address. William Slark and Mary Gibson would have four more children after Clara –Mary (1862), Annie (1864), Mildred (1866) and George (1867) – before William’s death in 1868 at the age of 32. He died at 28 Lansdown Road, Dalston, leaving effects valued at under £300: the probate record describes him as an insurance clerk.

The 1871 census finds 11-year-old Clara Gibson with her great aunt Elizabeth Aldridge, now 67 and described as an annuitant, at 6 Barnsbury Square. There are also five visitors present, all members of the Cope family: Ida, 21, and Constance, 18, both born in Prussia; Carl, 16, born in Islington; Mabel, 14, born in Austria; and Cecil, 9, born in Australia. According to another family tree at Ancestry, these were the children of Frederick Charles Cope and Elizabeth Jane Slark. I assume the latter was related to Clara’s late father, William Slark Gibson, though I’ve yet to work out precisely how.

Frederick Cope (1819 – 1885) was an architect; he married Elizabeth Jane Slark on 31 January 1843. Born in 1822, she was the daughter of William Slark, a ‘gentleman’ (born in 1799) and Anna Maria Hancock (1800 – 1871). Frederick and Elizabeth Cope appeared to delight in giving their children multiple Christian names: the full names and initials of the children visiting Elizabeth Aldridge and Clara Gibson in 1871 were Ida Philippina C.A.E. Cope, Constance Catherine C C Y Cope, Carl Edward Hubert Maria Cope, Mabel Agnes Blanche Ella Louise Cope, and Cecil Ernest T. Cope.

I can’t find Elizabeth Aldridge in the 1881 census, so I assume she must have died before then. However, I’ve yet to find a record of her death.

Freetown, Sierra Leone, in 1803 (via

Some time before 1881, Elizabeth’s grand-niece Clara Gibson married Sierra Leone-born surgeon Michael Lewis Jarrett, a pioneer of African medicine, and one of only a handful of African men who married white English women in the Victorian period. Their daughter Clara Louisa was baptised at St John’s, Hackney, on 17 April 1881. I assume they returned to Africa shortly afterwards, since I can’t find the family in any later records.