This evening I happened to be in central London and found myself, quite fortuitously, passing by the end of Greville Street, Holborn, where my distant ancestor John Dickson had a baker’s shop; then a few minutes later walking past the Temple church, in whose grounds my great-great-great-grandfather Samuel Hurst Seager is buried, close to the Inns of Court where he worked as a porter; before turning past the church of St Clement Danes, where Samuel’s daughter Fanny was christened in 1814, and up Kingsway, noticing the church of St George the Martyr where she married my great-great-grandfather, law stationer William Robb, in 1836; and finally stopping for a meal at Strada in Great Queen Street, opposite the site of the Wesleyan Methodist chapel where their son, my great grandfather Charles Edward Robb, was christened in 1851.
Coincidentally, I recently received two comments on two successive days, mentioning lockets that once belonged to people mentioned in this blog. The first comment was from Patricia Earl, and related to Elizabeth Merry, daughter of Rev William Merry, whom I wrote about last year. Elizabeth was the niece of Robert Merry, the vicar of Guilden Morden in Cambridgeshire, for whom my great-great-great-grandmother Eliza Roe nee Holdsworth worked as a domestic servant in the 1860s and early 1870s. Elizabeth was staying with her widowed aunt Mary Ann Merry in Tor Moham, Devon, at the time of the 1871 census, when Eliza Roe was the family’s housekeeper. Patricia writes:
I read this part of your story with interest. I am at the moment wearing a locket belonging to Elizabeth Merry, commemorating the death in 1859 of her father, William Merry! I am researching the Phipps family and was left the locket by a cousin of my husband, Elizabeth Diana Earl who was a granddaughter of Rev John Merry and Anna Maria his wife. Elizabeth Merry was her great aunt.
The second comment, from Jan Beets in New Zealand, relates to Jane Wild, who married Samuel Hurst Seager, brother of my great-great-grandmother Fanny Sarah Robb nee Seager, and whom I wrote about a few weeks ago. This was Jan’s response to that post:
I am staggered. For the last 30 odd years I have had this locket with Jane inscribed on the outside and on the inside a photo with the word Jane Seager died 1859 aged 33. She is at last real. I don’t know how my family line got the locket but it is something I love and cherish. I got it because my name was closest to Jane.
Jan has kindly sent me some scanned images of the locket, including this photograph of Jane:
In my recent post about law stationer William Seager, I noted that his father Thomas died in 1839 and was buried on 8 September at St. Andrew’s, Holborn. The burial record gives Thomas’ age as 69.
I’ve now obtained a copy of what I believe to be Thomas’ death certificate, according to which he died on 1 September 1839 in the sub-district of Somers Town in the St. Pancras registration district. The actual location of Thomas’ death is said to be ‘New Road’ and the cause of death as follows: ‘Mortal injury to the head by an accidental fall from a chaise cart’. The informant was the coroner, Thomas Hakley (?) of Bedford Square, suggesting that an inquest was held.
The New Road, which we now know as Euston Road, was a turnpike road built in 1756 across fields around the northern boundaries of London. By the 1830s, it was lined by fashionable houses. A chaise cart was a light carriage, sometimes used for transporting lightweight goods. Dickens’ Mr. Pumblechook, in Great Expectations, was ‘a well-to-do cornchandler’ who ‘drove his own chaise-cart’.
The death certificate describes Thomas as a ‘general dealer’ and this is certainly compatible with the occupation of ironmonger, which his widow Sarah can be found pursuing in the 1841 census.
If this is indeed the same Thomas Seager, then it appears that he died as the result of an accident, perhaps in the course of his daily business, about a mile or so from his home in Little James Street, Holborn.
Both this record and the burial record confirm that Thomas was born in about 1770. However, neither of them provide any further information about his place of birth or possible connections with my Seager ancestors.
Yesterday, I took delivery of a copy of the marriage certificate for Samuel Hurst Seager and Jane Wild, and it has drawn me back into the world of stationers, printers and law clerks in late Georgian and early Victorian London, a milieu that would have been familiar to the young Charles Dickens, who lived and worked in some of the same streets as my ancestors. It has also provided further insight into my Seager ancestors’ Nonconformist affiliations.
Samuel Hurst Seager (1819 – 1874), a carpenter and builder, was the younger brother of my great-great-grandmother Fanny Sarah Seager (1814 -1851), the wife of my great-great-grandfather William Robb (1813 – 1888). Like his brothers Edward and Henry, Samuel emigrated to New Zealand and one of his sons, also named Samuel Hurst, became a renowned architect there:
Samuel married Jane Wild on 13 August 1851. It was an eventful year for the Seager family. In January, Samuel’s sister Fanny had given birth to my great-grandfather, Charles Edward Robb, in Old Compton Street, Soho, and had died a few days later. In May, Samuel’s widowed mother Fanny died at the age of 70. At the time, she and her surviving children had been living at 49 Gerrard Street, Soho. On the day before Samuel’s wedding, his brother Edward embarked for New Zealand on the ‘Cornwall’, the first of the three Seager brothers to emigrate there. As I reported in an earlier post, Edward’s biographer Madeleine Seager includes this touching anecdote:
His farewell was most sentimental, as all his relations, and most of his friends, were attending his brother’s wedding. As the Cornwall lay at Gravesend the wedding party passed by on their way to Margate. There was a waving of handkerchiefs as the couple went by, then they were gone, leaving Seager dejected and melancholy.
His marriage certificate informs us that Samuel, 31, was living at 39 Drury Lane, so he must have moved from Gerrard Street since the census in March. Jane, 23, was living nearby at 25 Brydges Street, Covent Garden. They were married at the Whitefield Chapel ‘according to the Rites and Ceremonies of the Dissenters’. Whitefield Chapel or Tabernacle in Tottenham Court Road was built in 1765 for the preacher George Whitefield, one of the founding figures of the Methodist revival. It had been the location for the less happy event of Fanny Robb’s burial earlier that year.
The certificate informs us that Jane was the daughter of Lancelot Wild, a ‘news paper agent’. After some research using a variety of online sources, I’ve been able to piece together a fair amount of the Wild family’s history. Jane’s father Lancelot was born in 1797, the youngest child of another Lancelot Wild – a tailor, born in about 1749 – and his wife Mary Clark. Lancelot senior and Mary were married on 7 November 1780 at St. Benet Gracechurch in the City of London. They had four children who survived: Mary Ann (1788), Robert (1790) and Elizabeth (1792) were all baptised at All Hallows, Bread Street, while Lancelot junior was baptised at St. Clement Danes in the Strand. We know from other records that the Wilds lived in White Horse Yard, off Drury Lane.
Lancelot Wild senior died in January 1817 and was buried at Spa Fields. I don’t know when his wife Mary died. Nor have I been able to find out what became of their daughter Mary Ann or son Robert, though the latter turns up as a witness at a number of family weddings.
Elizabeth Wild married Richard Cartwright on 24 March 1819 at St Pancras Parish church. Her brother Robert was a witness. Richard, who had been born in Eagle Street, just to the south of Red Lion Square, Holborn, in 1794, worked as a law stationer and printer. In 1841, Richard, Elizabeth and their children were living in Cloudesley Square, Islington. Ten years later, they were at 143 Windmill Street, Gravesend, where Richard, now a ‘master’, employed ten men. (Perhaps their home was a convenient stopping-off point for Elizabeth’s niece Jane on her wedding progress to Margate in that same year?)
Elizabeth and Richard had three children, all three of whose births were recorded in the Protestant Dissenters’ Registry, suggesting that Elizabeth maintained her parents’ religious affiliation, and/or that the Cartwrights were also Nonconformists.
Elizabeth Cartwright was born on 1 January 1820 in Clarendon Street, St. Pancras. Mary Ann was born on 19 June 1830 at Warwick Place, Bedford Row, Holborn (very near Richard’s birthplace). Edward was born on 25 June 1833 at the same address.
Given Richard’s profession and his Holborn origins, I find it inconceivable that he did not know law stationer and clerk William Seager of Little James Street, whom I wrote about in a recent post, and who I suspect might be connected in some way to my Seager ancestors. It’s also possible that either or both of them were known to my great-great-grandfather William Robb, husband of Fanny Seager, who worked for most of his life as a law stationer’s clerk.
Elizabeth Cartwright nee Wild must have died before the 1861 census, which finds the widowed and retired Richard, 67, living at 54 Camden Villas, Kentish Town, with a housekeeper and servant.
As for Elizabeth’s brother, Lancelot Wild junior, he got married on Christmas Day 1822 at St. Andrew’s, Holborn. The witnesses were his siblings Elizabeth and Robert. Lancelot’s wife rejoiced in the name of Rose Maldon Ray (or Wray) Wright. According to some records, she was born in Maldon Essex (which would account for one of her names), but she was certainly baptised at St Leonard’s, Shoreditch, on 27 March 1791. She was the daughter of William and Mary Wright.
Lancelot and Rose had four children. According to census records, Jane, who would marry Samuel Seager, was born in about 1828 in the parish of St. George, Bloomsbury, but I’ve been unable to find any record of her birth or baptism. Maria was born in 1830 and baptised on 15 August at Crown Street Independent Chapel in Soho. William was born in about 1832 in the parish of St. Mary-le-Strand, but again we have no record of this. Finally, Rose was born in December 1835 and baptised in January 1837 at Crown Street Chapel. I understand that this was a Calvinist congregation and that Crown Street was later absorbed into the new Charing Cross Road.
Pigot’s Directory of 1839 lists Lancelot Wild as a news vendor at 13 Catherine Street, Strand. This street, which connected to the Strand opposite Somerset House, ran into Brydges Street: indeed, the two are now combined into one street. The Wild family are at the same address at the time of the 1841 census: Lancelot is 40, Rose 45, Jane, 14, and young Rose, 5. They have one female servant. I have found no further records for Maria, and I’m unsure where William was at this date. However, by 1851 he is back with the family, at the same address: Jane is 23, William 19, and Rose, 15; they still have one servant.
Samuel Seager and Jane Wild had four children: Rose Elizabeth (1852), Samuel Hurst (1855), Jane (1857) and Ada (1859). Although I’ve yet to find baptismal records for any of these, we know that the first three were born in the Strand district and Ada in St Martin-in-the-Fields. Their mother, Jane, died shortly after Ada’s birth in the first quarter of 1859. As I noted in an earlier post, Samuel Hurst Seager senior remarried, to Mary Ann Yeates, in June 1860. They emigrated to New Zealand ten years later, and Samuel died in Christchurch in 1874, at the age of 55.
As for Jane’s family, they remained in Catherine Street, where the 1856 Street Directory upgraded Lancelot to the status of ‘publisher’. He died in 1860 at the age of 63. In the census of the following year, his widow Rose, 71, and her 14-year-old daughter, Rose junior, can be found, with a house servant, at 28 Stratheden Terrace, Shepherds Bush. They both have the same occupation or status, but it’s difficult to make it out in the original record – something to do with a ‘Repository’ of some kind?
Rose Wild senior died three years later, in 1864, in Islington. In the previous year her son William, who was working as a fishmonger and who gave his address as Stratheden Terrace, married farmer’s daughter Emma Durrant at St Stephen’s church in that district. In 1865, Rose Wild junior married Horace Samuel Collins, a clerk, at Holy Trinity, Brompton Road, Kensington.
As a footnote: I discovered almost by accident that Lancelot Wild the younger is buried in Abney Park, the main Nonconformist cemetery in north London. While ‘googling’ his name, I came across a Facebook page by folk band The Mariner’s Children, which included a photograph of the cemetery with this note:
In other news I took this photo in Abney Park Cemetery the other day and thought I’d share. I took it near the grave of someone called Lancelot Wild which is the best name I’ve ever heard.
In my last post I wrote about law stationer and clerk William Seager, who I believe may have been related to my own Seager ancestors.
One of my reasons for thinking this is that William’s homes in Little James Street and John Street, Holborn, were very close to addresses associated with ‘my’ Seagers. For example, Samuel Hurst Seager, older brother of my great-great-grandmother Fanny Sarah Seager, was living at 33 East Street (near the top of the above image; now renamed as Dombey Street) when he registered the death of his father, another Samuel Hurst Seager, in 1837. Samuel junior was 18 at the time and working as a carpenter. However, he was no longer at this address when the 1841 census was taken (the location of all the Seager children at this date remainds a mystery: I suspect my search is being hampered, once again, by a misleading transcription of their surname at Ancestry).
In 1851 Samuel was living with his mother and siblings at 46 Gerrard Street, Soho, and in the same year he married Jane Wild at the church of St Martin-in-the-Fields. The 1856 Post Office Directory finds Samuel, now described as a builder, still at the same address in Gerrard Street.
Jane died some time before June 1860, when Samuel married Sussex-born tailor’s daughter Mary Ann Yeates at the church of St. George the Martyr, Queen Square (see photograph in last post). Samuel and Mary both gave their address as 6 Theobalds Road (just to the north of Red Lion Square), and the witnesses were Samuel’s sister Elizabeth, and John Thomson. It seems likely that the latter was the couple’s landlord. Although they were no longer in Theobalds Road when the census was taken in the following year, a John Thomson is still living there with his wife and children.
John was born in Cromarty, Scotland in 1811 and his wife Mary in Ryde, Isle of Wight, in 1817. They had three children: Henry Alexander, Catherine and Mary. An earlier census, when the family was living in Pimlico, desribes John as a pianoforte maker, but later records give his occupation as cheesemonger, and it’s likely this was his job when Samuel and Mary Ann Seager were living with him. The premises on either side were occupied by a greengrocer and a hairdresser, so it’s probable that No. 6 was one of a row of shops with accommodation above, very much as this part of Theobalds Road is today:
Incidentally, I had forgotten that another person in my family tree was living in Theobalds Road in the 1860s. Staffordshire-born bookbinder Enoch Palmer, the widowed father of Marianne Mansfield Palmer, second wife of my great-great-grandfather William Robb, lived at No. 13 with his daughter Martha, a dressmaker.
It’s possible that Samuel Seager and Enoch Palmer were acquaintances as well as neighbours. They were certainly connected by their association with William Robb, who had married the former’s sister and then the latter’s daughter. And if my theory about the religious affiliations of the Seagers and the Palmers is correct, they may also have been fellow-worshippers at Great Queen Street Methodist Chapel, just a few streets from Theobalds Road (bottom left of map).
About a year ago I wrote briefly about William Seager, whom I had discovered living in Holborn, London, in the 1840s and 1850s. My interest in William, and my suspicion that he might be a relative of my Seager ancestors, was prompted by three factors. Firstly, he worked as a law stationer, and my great-great-grandfather William Robb, who married Fanny Sarah Seager, was a law stationer’s clerk in the same part of London. Fanny was the daughter of Samuel Hurst Seager, who was a porter at the Inns of Court. Secondly, William’s mother Sarah, (who turns out to have been his stepmother) was said to have been born in Birmingham, the birthplace of Samuel Hurst Seager. Thirdly, William and Sarah lived in Little James Street, only a few streets away from addresses associated with my Seager ancestors.
I’ve now discovered more information about William Seager. Unfortunately, I haven’t managed to determine yet whether he’s a relative, but having visited the Holborn area last week (see the photographs below) I find it hard to believe that, living so close, he was unaware of the other Seagers living in the area. The account of William’s life that follows is accurate, to the best of my knowledge.
William Seager was born in 1809 in Portpool Lane, Holborn (to the east of Grays Inn Gardens), and baptised on 23 July 1809 at St. Andrew’s church. He was the son of Thomas and Elizabeth Seager. I haven’t yet found any definitive record of his parents’ marriage or of their births, though we know from Thomas’ burial record that he was born in about 1770. Thomas and Elizabeth had another son, Thomas, also born in Portpool Lane. He was christened at St. Andrew’s on 18 August 1811 but died less than a year later and was buried on 5 April 1812.
Thomas’ wife Elizabeth must have died before 1822, when he married for a second time. It was his second wife, Sarah Reddell, who was born in Birmingham: there were a number of people of that name baptised at St. Philip’s church (where Samuel Hurst Seager was also christened) between 1781 and 1784. At this stage, I’m unsure whether Thomas Seager was also originally from Birmingham. If so, there’s a chance he might have been a relative of Samuel Hurst Seager.
Thomas and Sarah were married at the church of St. George the Martyr, Queen Square, on 4 August 1822. (This was the church where my great-great-grandparents, William Robb and Fanny Seager, would be married fourteen years later).
Thomas Seager died in 1839 and was buried at St Andrew’s, Holborn, on 8 September. He was 69 years old and his address 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. Since Sarah is described as an ironmonger, it’s probable that this was also Thomas’ occupation, 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.) At the same address were Sarah Cole, 55, a servant, Charles Cordery, 18, and Eliza Austin 20, both porters (in the shop?) and Louis Hastings, 70, described as ‘independent’. The novelist Charles Dickens lived in neighbouring Doughty Street from 1837 to 1839 (his house, at No. 48, is now a museum).
In the 1851 census, William, now 41, and Sarah, 68, 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 premises with writing clerk James Dolman and his wife Mary, and widower John Thomas, a tailor. The Seager household also includes a servant, Martha Gambol, 55, and an errand boy, 16-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.
Views of Little James Street, near Grays Inn Road: 25 March 2011
William Seager must have got married some time 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 neice, 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.
William and Emily were married on 22 August 1858 at the church of St Philip, Clerkenwell. At the time, the couple were living at 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.
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, as is often the case, by avoidable 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, 51, now described as a law clerk, and Emily, 27, 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).
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. They shared the premises with a number of clerks, and had a servant and a boarder of their own. 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.
William died on 7 November 1874 at the age of 66. The probate register describes him as being formerly of Little James Street, Bedford Row, but late of 3 John Street, Bedford Row, which is where his widow and executrix Emily was living. His effects were under £300. William’s stepmother Sarah Seager died in the same year.
Two years later, on 2 November 1876, Emily married oil merchant Samuel John Fowler of 54 Leather Lane, at St. Andrew’s, Holborn. In the 1881 census Emily, 44, can be found at the house in John Street, where she is described as a ‘householder’. Athough she is said to be married, Samuel is not present. Instead, the house is also home to a number of boarders: Francis Fowler, 31, an architect, and presumably a relation of Samuel’s; William Schutke and Franz Uscher, commercial clerks from Germany; and Edward Depnall, another commercial clerk, from Leytonstone. Emily also had a young lodger, the artist Charles Napier Kennedy, who would soon achieve distinction as a painter of portraits and mythological scenes. Meanwhile, Emily’s daughter Harriet, now 11, was a boarder at Grove House School in Hammersmith High Road, run by another artist, Alfred Davis, and his family.
By the time the 1891 census was taken, Emily, 53, was a widow for a second time, but was still living in John Street with two servants and a number of boarders. Daughter Harriet had married wine merchant Hugh Maltby in the previous year, and they were 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, 31, Hugh, 47 and their second child, Irene Adelaide, 5, were living, with a cook, at 110 Tressilian Road, Brockley. Meanwhile son Hugh Owen, 9, 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, 19, was ‘assisting in the same business’, while Irene, 15, was still at school. They had one servant. Meanwhile, Harriet’s’ mother Emily, now 73, 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 52 on 7 May 1922, at Park Lodge Nursing Home, Tressilian Road. Adminstration 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 a year later on 21 May 1923 at the age of 86, 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. I’m not sure whether Hugh or Irene ever married; telephone directories find the former living in Brockley and the latter in Bromley in the 1930s. Irene might be the Irene A. Maltby who died, aged 59, at Battle in Sussex in 1955. Hugh died in Greenwich in 1981; he was 90.
Today I found two new records for my great grandfather, Charles Edward Robb. I’ve finally discovered the date of his death – it was in the last quarter of 1934, in West Ham. The record states that he was 83 years old, which fits with his being born in 1851.
A photograph found in my late grandfather’s wallet, assumed to be of his father, Charles Edward Robb (image reversed)
More interestingly, I’ve also found the record of his baptism. Ancestry recently added London Non-Conformist Registers to its online collection, and it was there that I found a record of the baptism of Charles Edward Robb, son of William and Fanny Sarah Robb, at Great Queen Street Chapel in the borough of Camden, on 25th May 1851. The family’s address is given as 16 Queen Street Soho.
Great Queen Street Chapel was a Wesleyan Methodist chapel, demolished in 1910, in the area between Drury Lane and Lincoln’s Inn Fields (William Robb’s second wife, Marianne Mansfield Palmer, and her family were living in nearby Wild Street in 1841 and in neighbouring Duke Street in 1851).
This record is significant in two ways. Firstly, it establishes that the Robb family’s association with Methodism began before William’s second marriage to Marianne Palmer (which would take place in 1854). I’d hazard a guess that William, who had been baptised and brought up an Anglican by his Scottish (Episcopalian?) parents, derived his Methodist connection from his first wife, Fanny Seager. I’ve yet to find any Seager baptisms in the Non-Conformist Register, though we know from other sources that they were indeed Nonconformists, and Fanny herself was buried at the Tabernacle in Tottenham Court Road. My great grandfather’s devotion to Wesleyan Methodism would be lifelong: he worked for a time for the East End Mission and was a sworn teetotaller who raised his children along similar lines.
The other point of interest is that this record places Charles Edward with his father in Queen Street, Soho, in 1851. Charles was born on 22nd January at 33 Old Compton Street, and his mother Fanny died on 26th February at the same address. The 1851 England census was held on 30th March, at which time William and his older son William Henry were living at 16 Queen Street, but the infant Charles Edward must have been elsewhere at the time (I’m still looking for the record). His christening took place two months later, in May, by which time Charles had returned to his father’s home.
Julia Seager, daughter of Samuel Hurst Seager (1780 -1837) and Fanny Fowle (1781 – 1851), was christened at St Clement Danes on 6th April 1823. She was the younger sister of my great great grandmother, Fanny Sarah Seager. As with her siblings, I’ve been unable to find any trace of Julia in the 1841 census.
Julia was only 14 when her father died. Ten years later, in December 1847, she married Charles Christopher Lambert in the Strand district: possibly at St. Clement Danes? Charles was also born in 1823, in St. Marylebone.
(Click on map to open in new window, then click again to enlarge)
Their first child, also named Charles, was born in 1849 in the parish of St. Giles, while their second son, Frederick William, was born in 1850 in the St. Pancras area, probably at 27 Harrison Street, where the family would be living at the time of the following year’s census. This road ran (and still runs today) off Grays Inn Road, close to Regent Square and a little way south of Euston Road (see map above). Charles, Julia and their two children shared the building with three other families. Charles, 28, was a civil servant, working as a clerk to the Commissioners of Lunacy, an occupation he would pursue for the remainder of his working life. Julia was also 28, while their sons were aged 2 (Charles) and 6 months (Frederick).
In 1855 their daughter Julia was born and in 1860 another son, Edward Henry, arrived. The 1861 census finds the family still at the same address in Harrison Street. Charles and Julia are now 38, while Charles junior is 12, Frederick 10, Julia 6, and Edward 10 months.
So far, I’ve been unable to find the Lamberts in the 1871 census. However, by 1881 they had moved to Chetwynd Road, Kentish Town. Julia and Charles were now 57. Their son Frederick, 30, was working as a clerk: I think the entry says in a trading clearing house. Daughter Julia, 26, was also still living at home. Edward Henry was now 20 and working as a clerk to the Inland Revenue.
The Lamberts had a visitor at the time of this census: Julia’s younger brother, Edward William Seager, age 52, described as the superintendent of a lunatic asylum in New Zealand, on a visit to England. Edward’s trip is described in Madeleine Seager’s biography of him as a year’s leave of absence, commencing some time towards the end of 1880, the purpose being to visit and report on various asylums in England. One imagines he would have found plenty to discuss with his brother-in-law Charles. The book says very little about the visit – except to quote a report that Edward collected ‘considerable information on the domestic economy existing in the numerous asylums he had the means of visiting’ – so we don’t know if he remained with the Lamberts for the whole of his stay. Edward returned to his duties at Sunnyside Asylum in Christchurch, New Zealand, on 1st November 1881.
Charles Lambert junior is the only member of the family not present at the time of the 1881 census. I haven’t been able to find him elsewhere, nor is there any obvious record of a marriage, though there’s a suggestion that he might have emigrated to New Zealand at some point.
In 1886 Frederick William Lambert, 36, now described as a mercantile clerk, married Kate Theodosia Sloper, 22, who was born in Wokingham, Berkshire, the daughter of solicitor John William Sloper. The ceremony took place at St. Anthony’s, Nunhead. Their daughter Eleanor was born in 1879 in Clapham and in 1891 they were living in Tottenham, with Kate’s unmarried sister, Mary, a governess. A second daughter, Kate Theodisia, was born at the same address in 1894 and baptised at St Michael’s, Wood Green.
I don’t know what became of Eleanor, but in 1916 Kate Theodosia married someone who looks like he might have been a relative: rifleman Arthur James Sloper, son of stained glass artist Charles Johnson Sloper. Kate’s father Frederick William had died in the previous year.
At the time of the 1891 census, Charles and Julia Lambert, 67, were still living in Chetwynd Road, but Charles had now retired. Still living with them are son Edward, 30, a civil service clerk, and daughter Julia, 36, a music teacher.
Charles Lambert died in 1899 at the age of 75. In 1901 Julia was still at the house in Chetwynd Road with son Edward and daughter Julia, neither of whom seems to have married. She died in 1908, at the age of 78. It’s possible that her daughter Julia died in 1932, at the age of 78, but I’m not sure what became of Edward Henry.
Following on from my last post, I’ll now set out what I know about the lives of the three sons of Samuel Hurst Seager (1780 – 1837): Samuel Hurst, Henry Fowle and Edward William – before they emigrated to New Zealand. A reminder of the link to my family: these were the brothers of Fanny Sarah Seager (1814 – 1851) who married William Robb (1813- 1888) and gave birth to my great grandfather, Charles Edward Robb (born 1851).
Samuel Hurst Seager was christened at the church of St. Clement Danes in the Strand on 11th July 1819. In November 1837, when he was 18 years old, Samuel registered the death of his father, also Samuel Hurst Seager. At this time the younger Samuel was already working as a carpenter at living at 33 East Street, near Red Lion Square.
We don’t get our next ‘official’ glimpse of Samuel until March 1851, when the census of that date places him at 46 Gerrard Street, Soho, with his widowed mother Fanny, older sister Elizabeth (incorrectly entered as ‘Edith’), younger brothers Henry and Edward, and nieces Elizabeth and Fanny Robb (daughters of his recently deceased sister Fanny Sarah), as well as general servant Elizabeth Blake, 12. Samuel, now 31, is still working as a carpenter and is described as the head of the household.
Samuel married Jane Wild at the church of St Martin in the Fields later that year, though I haven’t seen any record of the event and am relying entirely on information from other family trees. Apparently Samuel and Jane had four children. Rose Elizabeth was born in 1852, Samuel Hurst in 1855 and Jane in 1857, all in the Strand district, while Ada was born in 1859 in the parish of St. Martin in the Fields. Only by accessing the official records of these births will we be able to confirm where Samuel and his family were living during these years.
Jane Wild Seager must have died shortly after giving birth to Ada, since on 5th June 1860 Samuel married again, this time to Mary Ann Yeates. We are fortunate in having access to the parish record for this event, which informs us that Samuel was 41, a widower, and working as a builder, when he married Mary Ann, 45, the daughter of tailor George Yeates, at the church of St. George the Martyr, Queen Square. It’s interesting that Samuel describes the status of his late father as ‘gentleman’. The couple gave their address as 6 Theobalds Road, which was not far from the church where they married (see the map and discussion in my last post). The witnesses to the event were John Thomson and Elizabeth Seager, the latter presumably being Samuel’s sister, who would have been about 43 at this time.
A interesting insight into Samuel’s life during these years is provided by Madeleine Seager’s biography of his brother, Edward William. She cites the programme for the Annual Patients’ Ball of 1872 at Sunnyside Asylum in Christchurch, New Zealand, where Edward was Steward. The programme praises the musical contribution of Edward and Samuel, describing the latter as ‘recently a member of Mr. Bamby’s well-known choir in London’. ‘Bamby’ is a mis-transcription of ‘Barnby’ and refers to Sir Joseph Barnby, a noted Victorian composer and conductor who, among other distinguished posts, was director of music at St. Anne’s church, Soho, and who formed his choir in 1864.
I’ve been unable to find any trace of Samuel, Mary Ann, or Samuel’s children from his first marriage, in the 1861 census. However, we know that on 23rd September 1870, they set sail on the ‘Zealandia’ and arrived in New Zealand three months later. The ship’s records describe Samuel as a carpenter, his daughter Rose as a domestic servant and his son Samuel as a labourer (though of course, he would later become a renowned architect). According to Madeleine Seager’s account, Samuel senior brought with him the parts for a pipe organ, which he and his brother Edward would instal at Sunnyside.
Henry Fowle Seager was christened at St. Clement Danes on 23rd April 1821. There is then a long gap before we find him again, age 30, in the 1851 census, living with his mother and siblings in Gerrard Street (see above). At this stage Henry’s occupation is given as printer.
Henry married Charlotte (Quelch?) towards the end of 1852 at St Martin in the Fields. They had four children before emigrating to New Zealand seven years later. Henry Fowle was born in 1853, Charlotte Elizabeth in 1855, Amy Eliza in 1857 and Annie in 1859. All were born in the Pancras district, except for Annie whose birth was registered in Holborn. Again, the family’s precise movements can only be established once we have the official documents for these births.
Henry and his family set sail for New Zealand in the ‘Clontarf’ on 25h November 1859. According to Madeleine Seager, Henry was described in the ship’s records as a compositor. Sadly, young Charlotte, then aged 5, died en route. The family arrived in Lyttleton on 1st March 1860.
Edward William Seager was born on 8th May 1828 and christened at St. Clement Danes on 1st June. As with Henry, there is then a gap until the 1851 census that finds them all living at Gerrard Street, where Edward, then 23, is said to be employed as a carpenter. Some additional information is supplied by Madeleine Seager’s biography of Edward, but I’m not sure what evidence exists to support her account. According to the book:
We understand Edward William Seager went to the choir school [at the Temple church], and owed to it his education and musical training. We do know he worked as a clerk for a Barrister-at-law at the Temple.
Although this is at variance with other information that we have about Edward’s occupation (such as the 1851 census), it does open up another possible route by which my great great grandfather, William Robb, a law stationer’s clerk, might have met his wife, Edward’s sister Fanny.
The biography also offers an account of how Edward came to emigrate to New Zealand:
In 1849, Edward Seager, strong, healthy and adventurous, met James Edward Fitzgerald, the emigration agent for the Canterbury Assocaiton, who suggested Seager should emigrate to New Zealand. He liked the idea ‘exceedingly’ in spite of his vivid mental pictures of ‘hordes of ferocious cannibals revelling in horrible repasts’.
It was James Edward Fitzgerald who would found the (Christchurch) Press, for which Edward’s brother Henry would work after he emigrated to New Zealand. After the death of his mother Fanny in 1851, reports Madeleine Seager:
Seager, then 23, felt no ties bound him to the old home. About that time, in a building near Leicester Square, he saw many panoramic views of New Zealand. The proprietor, a Mr Brees, displayed magnificent views of Auckland, Wellington, Lyttleton and Christchurch.
Having made up his mind to emigrate, Edward managed to obtain a certificate guaranteeing his moral character from the vicar of St. Anne’s, Soho, despite the fact that he and his family were Nonconformists.
Edward William Seager sailed for New Zealand on the ‘Cornwall’ on 12th August 1851. He was described in the ship’s records as a ‘blindmaker’. His biography (presumably drawing on Edward’s own reminiscences) paints this vivid picture of his departure:
His farewell was most sentimental, as all his relations, and most of his friends, were attending his brother’s wedding. As the Cornwall lay at Gravesend the wedding party passed by on their way to Margate. There was a waving of handkerchiefs as the couple went by, then they were gone, leaving Seager dejected and melancholy.
If this story is true, then it must refer to Samuel Hurst Seager’s marriage to Jane Wild. Within less than ten years, Jane would be dead, Samuel would have remarried, and both he and Henry would have joined their brother Edward in New Zealand.
Christchurch City Libraries: File Reference: CCL PhotoCD 2, IMG0013
In the last post I wrote about the likely origins of my 3 x great grandfather Samuel Hurst Seager (1780 – 1837) in Birmingham, and his family’s probable roots in Kingswinford, Staffordshire. I also mentioned the possibility of a first marriage between Samuel and Jane Boyes in Rotherhithe in 1804. There is no shortage of Seagers in the London records, but this record stood out because of Samuel’s unusual middle name.
Another set of records that caught my attention, for different reasons, relates to a Sarah Seager and her son William who can be found living in Holborn in the 1840s and 1850s. In the 1841 census we find Sarah Seager, 60, an ironmonger born outside the county, and William Seager, 30, a law stationer born in the county, living in Little James Street, in the parish of St. Andrew, Holborn. Ten years later they appear to be at the same address, confirmed now as No.2 Little James Street, pursuing the same occupations. Their ages are now given, probably more accurately, as 68 and 41. Sarah is described as a widow and William, who is unmarried, as her son. We now learn that Sarah was born in Birmingham, while William was born in London. In the same household are an unmarried general servant, Martha Gambol, 50, and 16 year old errand boy Samuel Clark.
I’ve been unable to find any later census records for either Sarah or William, nor any confirmed birth or marriage records for them. Now, there may be no connection at all between this pair and ‘our’ Seagers: but three facts intrigue me. Firstly, Sarah was born in Birmingham, like Samuel Hurst Seager, and at about the same time (1783). As she was a widow, it was obviously her husband who was a Seager by birth: could he have been a relative of Samuel’s, perhaps even his brother (he had two that we know of – William and Thomas)? Secondly, William is a law stationer. My great great grandfather, William Robb, who married Samuel Seager’s daughter Fanny, was a law stationer’s clerk. Did he know William Seager? Might he even have worked for him, and was this how he came to be introduced to ‘our’ Seager family? Then, of course, there is the fact that Samuel Hurst Seager himself worked at the Inns of Court, albeit as a humble porter: did he know William Seager?
Thirdly, there is Sarah’s and William’s address. The fact that it’s in the parish of St. Andrews could divert us from the fact that Little James Street was very close to a number of addresses associated with ‘our’ Seagers. In the map below, Little James Street is visible just above Grays Inn Gardens, running east to west parallel to Kings Road and crossing John Street. Just to the west of Little James Street, on the other side of Lambs Conduit Street, is East Street. This is where Samuel Hurst Seager junior was living (at No. 33) when he registered his father’s death in 1837. To the south of East Street, and continuing west from Kings Road, is Theobalds Road, where Samuel junior would be living in 1860 at the time of his marriage to Mary Ann Yeates.
(Click on map to open in new window, then click again to enlarge)
Samuel’s marriage took place at the nearby church of St. George the Martyr, which was also the location for the marriage of William Robb and Fanny Sarah Seager in 1836. At the time, both William and Fanny were said to be ‘of this parish’. Fanny’s father Samuel died in the following year at 7 Crown Court, which was in the parish of St. Clement Danes. So was Fanny, like her brother Samuel, living in this part of Holborn before her marriage?
Given their physical proximity and their shared association with the law, is it fanciful to imagine that ‘our’ Seagers were connected in some way with William and Sarah Seager?
One of the difficulties in tracing the lives of the Seager family in the early decades of the 19th century is the number of missing records. We know the date of Samuel senior’s death (1837) but we have no idea when or where he married Fanny Fowle (except that it was probably shortly before their first child was born in 1813). When Samuel died, his unmarried children would have been between the ages of 9 (Edward) and 20 (Elizabeth). And yet I’ve been unable to find any of them in the 1841 census record.
We can be fairly sure that the Fanny Seager, 55, and Fanny Rob (sic), 25, living together in Hemlock Court, St. Clement Danes (not far from Crown Court) in 1841 are Samuel’s widow and his married daughter (though it’s still a mystery why Fanny and her husband William were at their parents’ homes on the night of the census: except that they had recently lost their two year old daughter Fanny Margaret Monteith Robb, and Fanny had recently given birth to their son William – but where on earth was he?). And there’s a possibility that the Elizabeth Seager, 20, working as a family servant in the Anderson household at Grove End Place, in the parish of St. Marylebone, is another of ‘ours’.
But where were the remaining Seager children – Samuel, Henry, Julia and Edward – in 1841? Given that they were all living together in 1851 (apart from Julia, who had married by then), there’s a fair chance that this was also the case ten years earlier. And the fact that I can find none of them must increase the chances that they were living at the same address. It’s most likely that their surname has been transcribed wrongly, making them difficult to trace, and it’s unlikely that this would happen more than once. I’ve looked at the records for Crown Court and there are no Seagers there; nor are Samuel junior or any of his siblings still living in East Street in 1841. Finally, I’ve also looked at the 1841 records for Gerrard Street, Soho, which would be their home in 1851, and there’s no sign of them there either.
The search goes on. In the meantime, I’m going to set down in the next few posts what we know of the lives of the various Seager children, in the years before most of them emigrated to begin a new life in New Zealand.