Elizabeth Gibson and Richard Aldridge

Continuing with my exploration of the lives of the children of my 5 x great uncle Bowes John Gibson (1744 – 1817), in this post I’m returning to his daughter Elizabeth, whose story I first discussed two years ago.

Elizabeth Gibson was the fifth of eight children from Bowes John Gibson’s second marriage, to Mary Catherine Bretman. Born in Mile End Old Town on Christmas Day 1803, Elizabeth was christened in May of the following year, at the parish church of St Dunstan and All Saints, Stepney. She might have been named in memory of Bowes John’s first wife, who had died in 1793, or in honour of his sister, my 5 x great grandmother.

Clay Hill Farm, Devonshire Hill, Tottenham (Copyright Bruce Castle Museum)

Clay Hill Farm, Devonshire Hill, Tottenham (Copyright Bruce Castle Museum)

When her father Bowes John died in 1817, Elizabeth was thirteen years old, and she was twenty-two when her mother Mary Catherine died in 1826. As I noted in the last post, Elizabeth’s younger sister Emily was appointed as executrix of their mother’s will, together with a certain Mr Richard Aldridge of Clay Hill, Tottenham, as executor. Clay Hill was a country estate in the Devonshire Hill area of Tottenham: then a rural retreat to the north of London, now absorbed into the sprawl of the modern city.

Mary Catherine Gibson signed and sealed her will on 3rd June 1826. One year later, a daughter named Emily was born to Richard and Elizabeth Aldridge. She was baptised at the church of All Saints or All Hallows, Tottenham on 4th July, her father being described in the parish register as a gentleman.

All Hallows Church, Tottenham by John Bonny (1890), via bbc.co.uk

All Hallows Church, Tottenham by John Bonny (1890), via bbc.co.uk

One might be tempted, then, to suppose that the reason Richard Aldridge was chosen as executor of Mary Gibson’s will, is that he was engaged to be married to her daughter Elizabeth, that the wedding took place soon after Mary’s death, and that the couple named their first child after Elizabeth’s younger sister. However, not only have I failed to find a record for a marriage to Elizabeth Gibson at this date, but the couple would in fact be married some fifteen years later, in 1842.

The picture is complicated by the 1841 census record, which finds 60-year-old lighterman Richard Aldridge and 40-year-old Elizabeth Gibson living at Dalston Place, Hackney, with another Richard Aldridge, aged 25, also a lighterman, Emily Aldridge, 15, Esther Holliday, 30 and Elizabeth Holliday, 4.

Dalston in Greenwood's 1827 map

Dalston in Greenwood’s 1827 map

If we trace these names back through the records, we find that on 10th November 1820, Richard and Mary Aldridge had three children baptised at the church of St George the Martyr in Southwark. Esther Aldridge had been born on 4th September 1813, Richard on 14th December 1814, and Thomas on 24th February 1817. Richard Aldridge senior was described in the parish register as a mariner. On 20th February 1803, a couple with the same names had had a daughter named Mary baptised at St Andrew, Holborn. Their address was given as Fetter Lane.

If all of these children were born to the same couple, then Richard and Mary must have been married by 1802, which places Richard Aldridge senior’s birth some time around 1780. This would match the age given in the 1841 census (remembering that in that census officials tended to round ages up or down).

The reason for Esther’s changed surname in the 1841 census is that she had married John Holliday at the church of St John at Hackney on 2nd July 1836. Richard Aldridge (either her father or her brother) and her sister Emily were witnesses. The 4-year-old Elizabeth Holliday in the census record was the daughter of this marriage – baptized on 25th August 1837 at the same church. The parish register describes John Holliday as a ship owner, the same description that would be given to his father-in-law Richard Aldridge in other records.

Victorian ship owners, with captain and first mate (via owanet.blogspot.com)

Victorian ship owners, with captain and first mate (via owanet.blogspot.com)

Mary Aldridge, daughter of Richard senior, seems to have been the person who married Jonathan Reynolds, described in later records as a gentleman,  at St James Clerkenwell on 13th October 1823. They had a son, also named Jonathan, baptised at All Hallows Tottenham on 18th February 1825 and a daughter Esther christened on 4th April 1827 at St John Wapping.

In 1830, Richard Aldridge junior was apprenticed by his father to Thomas Freeman, citizen and merchant tailor, for a period of seven years. If the 1841 census record is correct, then he must have reverted to his father’s profession at a later date. On 6th August 1837 his younger brother Thomas, a lighterman like his father, married Elizabeth Mary Chew at St Dunstan’s, Stepney. Born in Wapping in 1821, Elizabeth was the daughter of Robert Ford Chew and Caroline May. Thomas and Elizabeth Aldridge would have four children: Emily (born in 1838), Richard (1842), Ruth (1842) and Thomas (1844).

From all of this we can conclude that Richard Aldridge senior had been married at least once before he married Elizabeth Gibson, that his first wife was called Mary, and that he had four children with her: Mary, Esther, Richard and Thomas. We also know that Richard’s first wife Mary must have died by about 1826, since in 1827, when his daughter Emily was born, Richard was married to a woman named Elizabeth.

There are two possible explanations. Either Richard Aldridge was married three times, and both his second and third wives (the third being Elizabeth Gibson) were named Elizabeth. Or he contracted some kind of marriage to Elizabeth Gibson in about 1826, and this was confirmed in an Anglican ceremony in 1842. But in the latter case, the question arises as to why they had no more children after Emily in 1827? On the other hand, is it really possible that the first Elizabeth died between the 1841 census being taken, and the marriage of Richard and Elizabeth Gibson in the following year?

Interior of St Dunstan's, Stepney

Richard Aldridge and Elizabeth Gibson were married at the parish church of St Dunstan and All Saints, Stepney, on 24th March 1842. Richard was described as a widower and a ship owner, and Elizabeth as a spinster. Richard was said to be the son of another Richard Aldridge, a smith, while (as we know) Elizabeth was the daughter of Bowes John Gibson, a gentleman. Both Richard and Elizabeth were said to be living in Charles Street at the time, the former at No. 46, which adds a further layer of confusion, since Richard at least had been resident in Hackney in the previous year. One of the witnesses to the marriage was Emily Grove née Gibson, Elizabeth’s sister.

Richard Aldridge senior died at 20 Dalston Place, Hackney, in 1848, six years after his marriage to Elizabeth Gibson. In his will, which I’ll discuss in another post, Richard describes himself as a lighterman and custom house agent of Old Trinity House, Water Lane, Tower Street in the City of London.

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. Emily appears to have died within a year of her marriage to William, perhaps in childbirth.

The 1851 census finds Elizabeth Aldridge, née 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.

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. I’ve written before 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.

House in Barnsbury Square (via savills.co.uk)

House in Barnsbury Square (via savills.co.uk)

Next door to Elizabeth, at No. 5 Barnsbury Square, we find a certain 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, and probably the son of one of her brother William Henry. I plan to return to the intriguing story of the Gibsons and the Slarks in another post.

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. These were the children of Frederick Charles Cope and Elizabeth Jane Slark, whose precise relationship to William Slark Gibson I’ve yet to discover.

Frederick Cope (1819 – 1885) was an architect; he had married Elizabeth Jane Slark on 31 January 1843. Frederick and Elizabeth Cope seem to have delighted 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.

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