In the last post I speculated that William Seager, the Holborn law stationer whom I discovered in the archives some time ago, might have been the cousin of my great great grandmother Fanny Sarah Seager, wife of law stationer’s clerk William Robb, and that his father Thomas might have been the Birmingham-born brother of Fanny’s father Samuel Hurst Seager. Since then, I’ve discovered some new records relating to William and his family, so I’ve decided to assemble everything we now know about them in a new post.

William’s father Thomas Seager was born in the 1770s, and may have been the son of Samuel Hurst Seager and Elizabeth Cash of Birmingham, and thus the brother of my 3rd great grandfather Samuel Hurst Seager.

Part of Holborn, from Greenwood’s Map of London, 1827 (via

At some point in either the late 1790s or early 1800s, Thomas married his first wife Elizabeth, though I’ve yet to find a record of their marriage or any information about Elizabeth’s origins. It’s not clear if Thomas moved to London before or after marrying Elizabeth, but certainly by the time their son William was christened in 1809, the Seagers were living in Portpool Lane, just off Grays Inn Road in Holborn, London. There is a note in the parish register of St Andrew’s Holborn, beneath the entry recording William’s baptism, that suggests he may actually have been born on 17th November 1805.

Thomas and Elizabeth had another son, Thomas, also born in Portpool Lane. He was christened at St. Andrew’s on 18th August 1811 but died less than a year later and was buried on 5th April 1812.

Thomas’ wife Elizabeth must have died before 1822, when he married for a second time, though I’ve yet to find a record of her death. Thomas Seager’s second wife was Sarah Redell who, according to later census records, was born in Birmingham. She may be the Sarah Riddell who was christened on 4th June 1784 at St Philip’s church in Birmingham (where the children of Samuel Hurst Seager senior were also baptised),  in which case she was the daughter of Thomas and Elizabeth Redell. A Thomas Redell and Elizabeth Stinton had been married at Harborne, Birmingham, in the previous year.

Thomas Seager and Sarah Redell were married at the church of St. George the Martyr, Queen Square, on 4th August 1822. This was the church where my great great grandparents, William Robb and Fanny Sarah Seager would be married fourteen years later.

Little James Street (author’s photograph, 2011)

As I noted in the previous post, Thomas Seager died on 1st September 1839 after sustaining an injury to the head when falling from a chaise cart in New Road (now Euston Road). He was buried at the parish church of St Andrew’s, Holborn, seven days later.  Thomas’ address at the time of his death was said to be James Street. It’s almost certain that this was Little rather than Great James Street, since that’s where his widow Sarah and son William can be found in the census record two years later. This was to the west of Grays Inn Road, off Theobalds Road, and less than half a mile from the Seagers’ former home in Portpool Lane.

Since Sarah is described in the census record as an ironmonger, it’s probable that this was also Thomas’ occupation (though his death certificate describes him as a ‘general dealer’) and that the Seagers’ home in Little James Street also served as their shop. (The Post Office Directory for 1848 lists a Mrs. Sarah Seager, ironmonger, at 2 Little James Street, Bedford Row, London.) William, still unmarried at the age of thirty, was now working as a law stationer. At the same address were Sarah Cole, fifty-five, a servant, Charles Cordery, eighteen, and Eliza Austin, twenty, both porters (in the shop?) and Louis Hastings, seventy, described as ‘independent’ (there is a record of him paying tax on a property in Little James Street – perhaps the same house – as far back as 1798). The novelist Charles Dickens lived in neighbouring Doughty Street from 1837 to 1839 (his house, at No. 48, is now a museum).

Victorian law clerks at work

In the 1851 census, William Seager, now forty-one, and his stepmother Sarah, sixty-eight, are still at the same address, which is said to be next door to a chandler’s shop at No. 1. The Seagers appear to share the building with writing clerk James Dolman and his wife Mary, both from Derbyshire, and widower John Thomas, an Exeter-born tailor. The Seager household also includes a servant, Martha Gambol, fifty-five, and an errand boy, sixteen-year-old Samuel Clarke. If the numbering of properties in Little James Street was similar to today, then the Seagers’ house was at the lower end of the street, near the junction with Grays Inn Road.

If the records are to be believed, then William Seager must have got married at some point between the 1851 census, which describes him as unmarried, and 1858, when the record of his marriage to Emily Adelaide Ashley describes him as a widower. However, despite there being a number of possibilities in the records, I’ve yet to find definite evidence of William’s first marriage. Emily, the daughter of Thomas Ashley (described in the register, like William’s father, as a ‘gentleman’), was actually a neighbour of the Seagers, and at least twenty years younger than William. The 1851 census finds her living at 3 James Street, with Liverpool-born tailor James Lake Langley and his Suffolk-born second wife Harriet Tetsell Currey. Emily is said to be their niece, but I’ve yet to determine which of the two was her blood relative. We know that Emily was born in either Bow or Stepney, but I haven’t managed to find a record of her birth or baptism. Interestingly, among the others living at No. 3 were one William Coppinger, 52, described as ‘Assistant to Ex(ecutive) Committee of Gt. Exhibition of 1851’: the census was taken in March and the exhibition ran from May to October. As we shall see, this is the first of a number of indirect connections between Emily and the artistic and cultural worlds of Victorian London.

William and Emily were married on 22nd August 1858 at the church of St Philip, Clerkenwell. At the time, the couple gave their address as 39 Baker Street, but by the time of the 1861 census three years later, they had moved back to the family property in Little James Street, and William’s stepmother Sarah had moved into an almshouse off Grays Inn Road, where she would still be living in 1871. Had Sarah become unwell and in need of care, or was she made to leave the family home by her stepson and daughter-in-law?

I had great difficulty finding William and Emily Seager in the 1861 and 1871 census records, and only succeeded in doing so by browsing through all the records for their likely enumeration district. The problem was caused by transcription errors at the Ancestry site. In the 1861 records, ‘Seager’ is transcribed as ‘Leager’, and in the 1871 records as ‘Teager’.

In 1861, William, fifty-one, now described as a general law clerk, and Emily, twenty-seven, were at 2 Little James Street with one servant. They shared the house with a meat salesman, a goldsmith and a mariner. Emily’s uncle and aunt, James and Harriet Langley, were still next door at No. 3, with another niece, Elizabeth Fulcher. (In another example of sloppy transcription, James’ surname is given as Langley and his wife’s as Longley).

‘The Pool of London’ by Matthew White Ridley (1862), via

William and Emily had one daughter, Harriet Adelaide Sarah, born in 1869. By 1871, the Seagers had moved to the next street, into what were probably grander premises at 3 John Street. William seems to have achieved some status locally: he was the census enumerator for his district. In this record, his wife used her middle name, Adelaide. They had a servant, twenty-one-year-old Sarah Jackson, and a boarder, a Strasburg-born hairdresser whose name is difficult to read in the record. In addition, the Seagers shared the house with two clerks, one a widow and one unmarried, and also with an artist. This was Newcastle-born Matthew White Ridley, who would establish a reputation as a painter and engraver, particularly of landscapes and sporting subjects.

House in John Street (author’s photograph, 2011)

William Seager died on 7th November 1874 at the age of sixty-six. The probate register describes him as being formerly of Little James Street, Bedford Row, but late of 3 John Street, which is where his widow and executrix Emily was said to be living. His effects were under £300. William’s stepmother Sarah Seager died either shortly before or after him.

Two years later, on 2nd November 1876, William’s widow Emily married oil merchant Samuel John Fowler of 54 Leather Lane, at St. Andrew’s, Holborn. He was said to be a bachelor and the son of another Samuel Fowler, described (like Emily’s father Thomas Ashley) as a gentleman. In the 1881 census Emily, forty-four, can be found at the house in John Street, where she is described as the householder. Athough she is said to be married, Samuel is not present. Instead, the house is also home to a number of boarders: William Schutke and Franz Uscher, commercial clerks from Germany, and Edward Depnall, another commercial clerk, from Leytonstone. There was a fourth boarder: thirty-one-year-old Francis Fowler, an architect, and perhaps a relation of Samuel’s.

‘Neptune’ by Charles Napier Kennedy (1889), Walker Art Gallery, via

Emily also had another artist as a lodger in 1881. This was Charles Napier Kennedy, then twenty-nine, who would soon achieve distinction as a painter of portraits and mythological scenes. Meanwhile, Emily’s daughter Harriet, now eleven, was a boarder at Grove House School in Hammersmith High Road, run by another artist, Alfred Davis, and his family. One wonders whether Emily’s connections with the art world were merely coincidental. Perhaps one lodger, who happened to be an artist, mentioned the address in John Street to a fellow artist who was looking for somewhere to live? But does that explain sending her daughter to an artist’s school?

By the time the 1891 census was taken, Emily, fifty-three, had become a widow for the second time, but was still living in John Street with two servants and a number of boarders. Her daughter Harriet had married wine merchant Hugh Maltby in the previous year, and they were now living at 10 Beaufort Gardens, Loampit Vale, Lewisham, with one servant. In that same year, they had a son, Hugh Owen Maltby.

Ten years later, Emily (who was now calling herself Adelaide again) had retired to 51 Moor End Lane, Thame, Oxfordshire, where she was said to be living on her own means. By this time Harriet, thirty-one, Hugh, forty-seven, and their second child, Irene Adelaide, five, were living, with a cook, at 110 Tressilian Road, Brockley. Meanwhile son Hugh Owen, nine, was at a school in nearby Breakspear Road.

In 1911, the Maltbys were still at the same address. Hugh senior was now an oil rather than wine merchant and Hugh junior, nineteen, was ‘assisting in the same business’, while Irene, fifteen, was still at school. They had one servant. Meanwhile, Harriet’s mother Emily, now seventy-three, had moved from Thame to Myrtle Villa, Woodfield Lane, Ashtead, near Epsom in Surrey, where she lived with a servant.

Harrriet died at the age of fifty-two on 7 May 1922, at Park Lodge Nursing Home, Tressilian Road. Administration of her estate was granted to her husband and son, both described as storekeepers, and to her daughter Irene.  Her effects were valued at £9514 20s 2d.

Harriet’s mother Emily died a year later on 21st May 1923 at the age of eighty-six, at her son-in-law’s home at 110 Tressilian Road, Brockley. Administration of her estate was granted to her grandson, Hugh Owen Maltby. Her effects were valued at £1015 5s 8d.

Harriet’s husband Hugh died in 1937 at Balmaine Park Gate, Blackheath, and his executors were his son Hugh, now described as a drysalter, and daughter Irene. Hugh Owen Maltby married Gwendoline Mary Baker in Greenwich in 1925. Telephone directories show him living in Brockley in the 1930s. I suspect that Hugh Richard Owen Maltby, who according to records available online was born in 1951, submitted a PhD thesis on ‘Crime and the local community in France’ at Magdalen College, Oxford, in 1980, and is now a retired schoolmaster in Canterbury, is their son. Hugh Owen Maltby died in Blackheath in 1981 at the age of ninety.

Irene Adelaide Maltby seems to have remained unmarried. She died, aged fifty-nine in 1955, at Bexhill-on-Sea, Sussex, and the executors of the will were her brother Hugh, described as a company director, and his wife Gwendoline.