What’s in a name? Tracing the origins of Isabella Schneider Gibson

Thomas Wheatley Gibson continued the Gibson family tradition of giving his children multiple forenames. A few of these names derive from the Gibson family – for example, the name of their son Frank Montague Hillyard Gibson is obviously in part a tribute to Henry Temple Hillyard who married Thomas’ sister Henrietta. However, it turns out that most of the Gibson children owe their names’ origins to their mother’s family, and they have provided me with useful clues in tracing Isabella’s hitherto obscure background.

Until recently, all I knew about Isabella Gibson was that she was born Isabella Schneider in Milan, Italy, in the early 1820s (the census records disagree about the precise year of her birth). After considerable searching, I’ve discovered that she was the daughter of John William Schneider and his wife Caroline Wilkins. John was the son of John Henry Powell Schneider (1773 – 1851) and his wife Anne Catherine Penelope Congreve (1773 – 1814), the daughter of Colonel Sir William Congreve (1742 – 1814) of the Royal Artillery. Apparently the Schneiders were merchants who came to England from Switzerland in the early 18th century.

Sir William Congreve (via Wikipedia)

Sir William Congreve (via Wikipedia)

John William Schneider was the eldest of about ten Schneider children; he was born in 1798, a year after his parents’ marriage. On 1st April 1820 he married Caroline Wilkins, daughter of John Wilkins of Chigwell, Essex. John’s work took him to Italy, where a number of his and Caroline’s children were born. Catherine Mary Harriet Schneider was born in Cremona in 1821 and Frederick Schneider in Lombardy in 1826. There was also a John William Schneider junior, born in about 1824.

None of the accounts of the Schneider family that I’ve come across mentions Isabella. However, we know that Catherine Schneider married Edward Montague Suart at Chigwell in 1845. Edward worked for the East India Company in Bombay, and he and Catherine spent much of their married life in India, their two children Edward and Constance being born there. When Edward made his will in 1855, he described Isabella Gibson as his sister-in-law, thus confirming that she was another of the daughters of John William and Caroline Schneider.

Chigwell and Woodford on Cary's map of 1786

Chigwell and Woodford on Cary’s map of 1786

As we know, Isabella’s husband Thomas Wheatley Gibson was an officer in the British army in India. So Isabella would have been living in that country at the same time as her sister and brother-in-law, who presumably was the source for another of the names of Frank Montague Hillyard Gibson, as well as the third forename of Alice Matilda Suart Gibson. Another of Thomas and Isabella’s sons was named Frederick, presumably after Isabella’s brother, who was a colonel in the army in Bombay. Finally, John William Schneider junior also lived in Bombay.

Perhaps the most intriguing names given to their children by Thomas and Isabella Gibson were those of Claude Aislabie Vigne Gibson. I’ve managed to trace their source, but unfortunately I’ve yet to establish a connection with Isabella. When Claude was born in 1858, the only other living person bearing the same two middle names was a certain Thomas Aislabie Vigne. Two years later he would marry Julia Maria Vigne, presumably a cousin, who was the daughter of Rev. George Vigne of Tillingham, Essex. Their son Percy Aislabie Vigne would be born in 1870.

Benjamin Aislabie (via www.lords.org)

Thomas Aislabie Vigne was born in 1837 in Woodford, Essex – only a few miles from Chigwell, with which Isabella’s family was associated – the son of Augustus Vigne and Caroline Aislabie. Both of Thomas’ parents had strong associations with the world of cricket. Born in 1811, Caroline was the daughter of Benjamin Aislabie (1774 – 1842), a wine merchant, amateur cricketer, and president of the M.C.C. Augustus Vigne was the son of Thomas Vigne (1771 – 1845), who was both a merchant (he was director of the South Sea Company) and a famous cricketer; another of his sons, Godfrey Vigne (1801 – 1863) was another well-known gentleman cricketer, as well as being a traveller and explorer.

I suspect that Isabella’s family – either the Schneiders, or her mother’s family the Wilkinses – were linked to the Aislabie Vignes by marriage. However, I’ve yet to discover the precise connection.

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Thomas Wheatley Gibson (1823 – 1884)

In the last post I wrote about Rev. Charles Dockley Gibson, one of the two surviving sons of Major-General John Thomas Gibson. The other son was Thomas Wheatley Gibson who followed in his father’s footsteps and served in the British army in India. In 1847 Thomas married Isabella Schneider, who was born in Milan in about 1822, at Chigwell in Essex.

Thomas and Isabella Gibson had nine children: Frederick Thomas Downdsell Gibson (born 1849); Caroline Isabel Geraldine Gibson (1850); Frank Montague Hillyard Gibson (1852); Henry Adolphus Gibson (1856); Alice Matilda Stuart Gibson (1858); Claude Aislabie Vigne Gibson (1858); Constance Laura Harriette Gibson (1861); Mabel Bertha Evelyn Gibson (1862); and Gabrielle H C Gibson (1866).

British Law Courts, Madras, 1850 (via https://www.mtholyoke.edu)

British Law Courts, Madras, 1850 (via https://www.mtholyoke.edu)

Frederick, Caroline and Frank were all born in Madras, but some time in the early 1850s the family moved to Jersey in the Channel Islands, where the remaining children were born, except for Mabel, who was born in Somerset. Thomas Wheatley Gibson seems to have retired from the army in his thirties, and it’s possible that this decision coincided with the death of his father and inheriting sufficient funds to set himself up as a farmer. The 1861 census finds the Gibsons living at Le Coin Road (or Rue du Coin) in St Ouen, Jersey. Thomas, 37, is described as ‘Military retired Madras Army’ and the family is able to afford two house servants, a wet nurse and two outdoor servants.

I can’t find the family in the 1871 census, but in 1881 we find Isabel Gibson, described as a ‘wife’, but without her husband present, living at East End Villas, St Helier, Jersey. She is described as a retired farmer, while her son son Claude, 23, is said to be an ostrich farmer. Her daughter Mabel, 18, and a visitor named Annie Huapath (or possibly Herepath), 25, are also present.

According to some reports, Thomas Wheatley Gibson died in 1884 in South Africa. In 1891, his widow Isabel, now 66, was still in St Helier with Mabel, now 27, and a housemaid and a cook. Isabella Gibson died in Jersey in 1900, leaving effects of £220 5s 3d, probate being granted to Raymond Murray Richardson, an East India agent.

St Helier harbour, mid 19th century (via http://www.theislandwiki.org/)

St Helier harbour, mid 19th century (via http://www.theislandwiki.org/)

What became of the children of Thomas and Isabella Gibson? I can find no further records for Frederick and Gabrielle Gibson, the first and last-born of their children. Caroline Gibson died in 1873 in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, apparently never having married. For some reason, there was a delay in processing her estate, and it wasn’t until 1901 that her effects passed to her sister Constance. I can find no records for Mabel Gibson after her mother’s death.

Frank Montague Hillyard Gibson married Louisa Letitia Crole in Cape Town in 1873, South Africa, and later migrated to Australia, where he worked as a journalist. He died in 1929 in Grenfell, New South Wales.

According to one source, Henry Adolphus Gibson emigrated to Canada in 1883 with his wife Fannie Augusta Croll (was she a relation of the Lousia Crole who married his brother Frank?)  and lived in Winnipeg, where Henry worked as a farmer and land agent, for more than forty years, Henry and Fannie had seven children: Millicent Caroline Gibson (b. 1882; she became Mrs. Daniel J. Ferguson), Evelyn Bertie Gibson (b. 1887; Mrs. Matthew C. Ryan), Gladys Una Gibson (b. 1889), Cuthbert Montague Gibson (1890-1934), Aubrey Ritherdon Gibson (b. 1894), and Cyril Leslie Gibson (b 1896). Henry Gibson retired to Los Angeles, California in about 1929 and died there on 13 September 1934.

Claude Aislabie Vigne Gibson married Edith Marian Clayton in London in 1881. Apparently he was still alive in 1935 when administration of the will of his sister Constance was granted to Maria Horatia Hoxhead, wife of John Codsrington Charles Coxhead, ‘attorney of Claude Vigne Gibson’.

Constance Laura Harriette Gibson married Walter West Pierce, an officer in the merchant marine, who had also been born in India. They had a daughter Edith and a son named Ernest. In 1891 they were living in St Saviour, Jersey. Walter Pierce died in 1900 and in the following year his widow Constance could be found living in Oxford Row, Bath, where she was the matron of some kind of establishment, employing an attendant, a cook, a parlourmaid and a housemaid. Constance Pierce died in West Kensington, London, in 1934.

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The children of John Thomas Gibson: Rev. Charles Dockley Gibson (1818 – 1869)

The previous post explored the lives of George Milsom Gibson (1782 -1814) and John Thomas Gibson (1785 – 1852), two of the sons of my 5 x great uncle Bowes John Gibson (1744 – 1817), both of whom served in the British army in India in the first half of the nineteenth century. I noted that George died in his early 30s, leaving a wife and young son, for whom I have been unable to find any further records. John died in India in 1852 at the age of 67, having fathered nine children by his wife Henrietta. Of these children, four seem to have died at a young age, while one son, John James, followed his father into the military but predeceased him, leaving an unknown number of children.

That leaves two sons – Charles Dockley and Thomas Wheatley – and two daughters – Louisa Grace and Henrietta Elizabeth – for whom we have more information. In the next few posts, I’ll set out what we know about their lives, thus taking the story of the Gibson family to the end of the nineteenth century and into the twentieth.

St John's College, Cambridge, in 1842 (via victorianweb.org)

St John’s College, Cambridge, in 1842 (via victorianweb.org)

In the remainder of this post, I’ll summarise what we know about Charles Dockley Gibson, who was born in 1818. In the previous post I noted that Charles graduated from St John’s College, Cambridge in 1841 and worked for a while as a teacher in London. However, he took holy orders some time before his marriage, in 1843, to Louisa Laing, the daughter of one of his father’s schoolfriends, and seems to have served for a short time in Suffolk, perhaps as a curate.

Charles Dockley Gibson proceeded to the degree of M.A. in 1847 and in 1848 took up an appointment as an army chaplain, returning to India, the country of his birth and still the home of his parents and a number of his siblings. Apparently Charles held a number of posts, serving at St George’s Cathedral in Madras from 1849-57, and at Fort St George from 1862-65 and 1866-68. At one stage he was the chaplain of St John’s church in Vellore. According to one source his father built a small church near his home at Kotagherry, perhaps intending that his son would serve as its incumbent.

Church at Kotagherry, India: was this the church built by John Thomas Gibson? (via http://digitallibrary.usc.edu)

Church at Kotagherry, India: was this the church built by John Thomas Gibson? (via http://digitallibrary.usc.edu)

According to another account, Charles Dockley Gibson was ‘very popular in society on account of his pleasant manners and various accomplishments, and probably on account of his relationship to many Madras officers, civil and military.’ The document continues:

His brother was in the Madras Army, and two of his sisters were married to officers in the same. He had sufficient influence to serve most of his time in Madras. He was on the committee of the Additional Clergy Society during nearly the whole time he was in the Presidency town.

However, his influence was not enough to prevent Charles being removed from Fort St George in 1868, ‘for a neglect of duty’, following a complaint from the General Office Commanding. He died in the following year at Calicut. He was 51 years old. I’m not sure what became of his wife Louisa, or whether they had any surviving children.

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Brothers in arms: George Milsom Gibson and John Thomas Gibson

I’ve been exploring the lives of the children of Bowes John Gibson (1744 – 1817), the East India Company broker who was the younger brother of my 5 x great grandmother Elizabeth Gibson (1733 – 1809). In recent posts I’ve written about the surviving children from Bowes John’s second marriage to Mary Catherine Bretman. In this post, I’m returning to the children who survived from his first marriage to Elizabeth Hendly.

In an earlier post, I noted that only three children appear to have survived from Bowes John’s first marriage. These were his daughter Esther, who married mariner and shipbuilder Thomas Lay, with whom she had two sons, but who disappears from the records after 1797 – and his two sons, George Milsom Gibson and John Thomas Gibson. I’ve written about the latter two before, but I now want to provide a fuller account of their lives, which seem to have followed similar paths. 

Birth and childhood 

George Milsom Gibson was born at Long Walk, Bermondsey, on 18th December 1781 and baptised on 7th January in the following year at the parish church of St Mary Magdalene. As I’ve noted before, he appears to have been named after Captain George Milsom, who died in 1834, and who is described in some sources as serving in the 9th Regiment of the Madras Native Infantry, and in others as being in the service of the East India Company: the two were seemingly not incompatible. Since Bowes John Gibson was in the habit of naming sons after people he knew personally, it seems likely that the two men were friends and associates. Certainly, it seems no coincidence that George Milsom Gibson would end up serving in the Madras Native Infantry like his namesake – who may well have been his godfather. By the time his younger brother John Thomas was born three years later, the Gibson family had moved across the Thames to a house in Mile End Old Town. John was christened on 18th August 1785 at St Dunstan’s, Stepney.

George and John were the seventh and eighth children born to their mother Elizabeth, though it’s unclear how many of their older siblings had survived infancy. Esther, the eldest Gibson child, was already fourteen when George was born. The only other older sibling whose survival we can be sure of was another brother, Grey Dockley Gibson, who was eight years older than George. A younger sister, Matilda Ann, and a younger brother, Carleton, would follow George and John, but neither would survive early childhood.

In 1793, when George was ten and John was eight, their mother Elizabeth died. In the following year their older brother Grey Dockley died at the age of twenty. It was another few years before their father Bowes John married for a second time, though it’s possible that his relationship with Mary Catherine Bretman preceded their formal marriage in 1799. This second marriage would produce eight more (half) siblings for George and John.

An 18th century gentleman's house on Mile End Road: remains of Malplaquet House, built in 1741

An 18th century gentleman’s house on Mile End Road: remains of Malplaquet House, built in 1741

The two boys would have spent most of their childhood in then-fashionable Mile End Old Town, though we know that they were sent to school in Lambeth in south London, possibly as weekly boarders and perhaps (given their motherless state) from an early age. Our main source for this information is the memoir written by John Thomas Gibson’s schoolfriend and future brother-in-law, the composer, singer and actor Charles Edward Horn. Horn writes that ‘the Gibsons and the Laings were our constant visitors as boys from school on Sundays, and this was continued till their departure from school for good and to become cadets for the Indian Service’. Elsewhere he notes that one of the Laing brothers, Henry Laing ‘became the instructor and master of my sister’s children upon her first visit to England after being with her husband in India 10 years, and her second son, Dockley Gibson, being educated for a clergyman, married the daughter of John Laing. Thus we all schoolfellows became afterward related by the marriages of my sister’s and the Laings’ children’.


We know that John Thomas Gibson became an officer cadet in the Indian Army in 1800, when he was fifteen years old and, given his superior age, I imagine that George might have joined the service before this (British Library, Oriental and India Office, Cadet Papers, L/MIL/9/111 f 625).

On 20th February 1811, when he was twenty-three years old, John Thomas Gibson married Henrietta Eliza Horn, his old school friend’s sister, at the church of St George the Martyr, Queen Square. John’s father Bowes John Gibson was one of the witnesses, and the other was Henrietta’s father, Charles Frederick Horn – the German-born musician and composer who became a music teacher in the Royal Household.

Memoir of Charles Edward Horn

Memoir of Charles Edward Horn

Charles Edward Horn writes in his memoir of how he ‘left my apartments in Rathbone Place and again joined my father at 25 Queen Square, in consequence of my sister’s marriage with my old schoolfellow J[ohn Thomas] Gibson, then a lieutenant only in the Indian Army, and then leaving with Major Gibson for Madras for they had residence at my father’s house.’

As for George Milsom Gibson, he was married two years after his younger brother. On 22nd September 1813 he married Eliza Harriet Wilson at Fort St George, Madras. I’m grateful to Barbara Haines in Kentucky, who is researching the life of the original George Milsom, for this information. I recently discovered that Eliza Wilson was almost certainly the (illegitimate?) daughter of Welsh-born merchant Thomas Parry.

According to one source:

Parry came to Madras in 1788 and by 1794 he was married to Mary Pearce, widow of a civil servant of the city. Parry’s marriage was not a success, for Mrs. Parry disliked Madras. In 1806 she took her two children and left for England where she lived for the remainder of a rather long life. Parry consoled himself with the local delights. He almost certainly fathered a Miss Eliza Harriett Wilson at whose marriage to Major George Gibson he and his business partner Dare officiated as witnesses. Her son was named George Parry Gibson.

Another source relates that in 1823 ‘Parry and 10 year old George Parry Gibson (his son?) went to South Arcot to visit his indigo factory in Porto Novo and was smitten by Cholera and died soon after.’ George Parry Gibson was, of course, Thomas Parry’s grandson, not his son. By this time, the boy’s father was dead, since George Milsom Gibson passed away less than a year after his marriage to Eliza Wilson. The inscription on his tomb in the Old Cemetery at Visakhapatnam, India, reads as follows:

Sacred to the memory of Major George Milsom Gibson Commandant 1st batt[alion]. 2nd Reg. N[ative] I[nfantry] who departed this life 5 May 1814 Aged 33 years.

It’s unclear whether George died of natural causes or on active service. Nor do we know what became of his widow or his son.

Tombs in the Old Cemetery at Visakhapatnam (via schickrobert.blogspot.com)

Tombs in the Old Cemetery at Visakhapatnam (via schickrobert.blogspot.com)

The children of John Thomas Gibson 

Information about the military career of John Thomas Gibson is harder to come by, though we know that most of it was spent in Madras, in the service of the East India Company, and that he rose to the rank of Major General. Certainly, all of John and Henrietta Gibson’s nine children appear to have been born in India. They were: Louise Grace (born 1811); Mary Emma (1815); John James (1816); Charles Dockley (1818); Edmund (1819); Thomas Wheatley (1823); Henrietta Elizabeth (1824); Matilda (1827); and Edward Samuel (1829). Of these, we know that Mary Emma and Emma both died at the age of two and Matilda at the age of one. I can find no further records for Edmund or Edward Samuel, nor are they mentioned in his father’s will, so I assume that they did not survive either.

John Thomas and Henrietta Gibson’s eldest daughter Louise Grace married George Briggs, a captain in the Madras Artillery, probably sometime in the 1830s.

John and Henrietta’s eldest son John James Gibson served as a captain in the 20th Regiment of the Native Infantry. He was married with children, though I can find no record of his wife or offspring. He predeceased his father, date unknown.

Charles Dockley Gibson graduated from St John’s College, Cambridge in 1841. The census taken that year finds him living in Fulham High Street and working as a teacher. However, by the time of his marriage, on 3rd June 1843, at the church of St John, Hampstead, Charles had taken holy orders and was described in the parish register as a clergyman, living at Corton in Suffolk. His father John Thomas was described as a general in the army. Charles’ bride was Louisa Laing, daughter of John Laing, a gentleman of Hampstead. As we have already noted, John was also an old school friend of Charles’ father.

On 7th December 1847 Thomas Wheatley Gibson married Italian-born Isabella Schneider at Chigwell, Essex. From later census records, we can gather that Thomas followed in his father’s footsteps and served as a captain in the Indian army.

Henrietta Elizabeth Gibson married another Indian army officer, Henry Temple Hillyard, probably some time in the 1840s, possibly in India. Henry would rise to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel in the 14th Madras Native Infantry.

Nilgiri Hills, India (via onthegotours.com)

Nilgiri Hills, India (via onthegotours.com)

John Thomas Gibson died in 1852 at Kolergherry in the Neilgherry or Nilgiri Hills, India, leaving his house there to his daughter Louise and her husband Captain George Briggs, who was also appointed as one of the executors of his will. From John’s failure to mention his wife Henrietta in his will, we can assume that he predeceased her. Interestingly, we discover that John Thomas Gibson’s life insurance was with ‘Messrs. Parry and Company’.

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The Gibson-Slark connection

In the previous post about Elizabeth Aldridge née Gibson, daughter of my 5 x great uncle Bowes John Gibson (1744 – 1817) and widow of Richard Aldridge (died 1848), I noted that in 1861 she was living at No. 6 Barnsbury Square, Islington. I also observed that Elizabeth’s neighbours at No. 5 were a certain William S. Gibson, his wife Mary Ann, and their infant children Clara Elizabeth and William. We know that they were relatives of Elizabeth’s because, ten years later, Clara would be living with Elizabeth at No.6, the 1871 census record describing her as the latter’s great niece. According to the 1861 record, William S. Gibson was born in 1836 in Northumberland and his wife Mary Ann, who was about the same age, was born in Kingsland, London. Their two children were born in Barnsbury, Islington.

St. John at Hackney in the late 18th century

St. John at Hackney in the late 18th century

William Slark Gibson had married Mary Ann Higgs on 31st July 1858 at the parish church of St John Hackney. William, a mercantile clerk, was said to be resident in the parish of St Mary, Islington (perhaps in Barnsbury Square), while Mary Ann was from Dalston, which was also the home of the Aldridge family. Mary was the daughter of James Higgs, a stockbroker, while William was said to be the son of another William Slark Gibson, a gentleman.

Mary Ann Higgs had been baptised at St John’s, Hackney, on 29th June 1834. At that time her father was working as a linen draper and the family lived on Kingland High Street. By 1841 James and Mary Higgs were living in nearby Kingsland Green. Mary Ann was now seven years old; she had an older brother James, 9, and a younger brother Thomas, 5.

Even if William Slark Gibson had not been living in Barnsbury Square before his marriage, then he and Mary Ann must have moved there shortly afterwards. It was certainly their address when Clara Elizabeth was baptised at St Mary, Islington, on 22nd June 1860, having been born almost exactly a year earlier. Their son William was born in 1861, presumably at the same address.

If, as the 1871 census claims, Clara was Elizabeth Aldridge’s great niece, then her father, William Slark Gibson, must have been Elizabeth’s nephew. This means that William’s father was Elizabeth’s brother. His marriage record claims that William Slark Gibson’s father shared his names, but I wonder if this is an error on the part of the parish clerk? We know that Elizabeth had a brother William Henry, born in 1802. In an earlier post, I speculated that he might be the person of that name buried at the Wesleyan cemetery in Stepney in 1830. But what if I was wrong and William married – presumably somebody with the surname Slark – and they gave their son her surname as a middle name?

It’s irritating that I can’t find a birth record for William Slark Gibson, or any trace of a marriage between William Henry Gibson and a woman with the surname Slark. However, we know that there must to have been some connection to the Slark family since, as I mentioned in the last post, the 1871 census not only finds Clara Gibson sharing a house with Elizabeth Aldridge, but they are also joined by five visitors, all members of the Cope family. These were Ida Philippina C.A.E. Cope, 21 and Constance Catherine C. C. Y. Cope, 18, both said to have been born in Prussia; Carl Edward Hubert Maria Cope, 16, born in Islington; Mabel Agnes Blanche Ella Louise Cope, 14, born in Austria; and Cecil Ernest T. Cope, 9, born in Australia.

Old St Pancras church

Old St Pancras church

These elaborately-named children were the offspring of architect Frederick Charles Cope (1819 – 1885) and his wife Elizabeth Jane Slark. They had been married on 31st January 1843 at the parish church of St Pancras. Frederick’s father Thomas was yet another employee of Her Majesty’s Customs (see previous posts on the Aldridge family), while Elizabeth Jane was the daughter of William Slark, an ironmonger, and his wife Anna Maria, both of whom were witnesses to the marriage.

Elizabeth or Eliza Jane Slark was christened on 8th November 1821 at the church of St James, Clerkenwell. Her parents were William and Anna Maria Slark, her father was described as a gentleman, and the family’s address was Northampton Square. Eliza Jane was the second of the Slarks’ six children.

The records for William Slark and his wife Anna Maria Hancock are curious and contradictory. According to the parish register of St Luke’s, Finsbury, they were married there on 29th December 1818. But the register of St Botolph, Aldersgate claims they were married there on 20th May 1819, and then there is the entry in the parish of register St Pancras stating that their marriage took place in the Parish Chapel on 11th August 1819. Was it really possible for a couple to contract their marriage three times, in three different London churches?

One reason for this disregard for the protocol of the Established Church might have been that the Slarks were Nonconformists. William had been baptised on 22nd November 1797 at the Independent Chapel in the Barbican. His parents were another William Slark and his wife Elizabeth who lived at Old Change, Cheapside.

Clapton Road, from Weller's 1868 map of London

Clapton Road, from Weller’s 1868 map of London

Presumably it’s the same William and Elizabeth Slark, aged 76 and 75 respectively, who can be found living in Clapton Road, Hackney, at the time of the 1851 census. With them are their daughter-in-law, Anna M. Slark, and their grandson William, 19, an articled auctioneer, together with a number of servants. William had been born in 1831, the last of the Slark children: in addition to Eliza Jane, there had also been at least three other daughters born to William and Anna Maria Slark.

Since he was born in 1803, it’s possible that William Henry Gibson, son of Bowes John Gibson and brother of Elizabeth Aldridge née Gibson, married a daughter of William Slark senior and his wife Elizabeth. This would mean that Eliza Jane Slark, who married Frederick Cope, was a cousin of his son William Slark Gibson, thus helping to explain why the Cope children were staying with Elizabeth Aldridge in Barnsbury Square in 1871.

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Elizabeth Aldridge after 1848

In the last post I shared my transcription of the will of Richard Aldridge, the lighterman and Custom House agent who died in 1848, and in the post before that I wrote about his marriage to Elizabeth Gibson, daughter of my 5 x great uncle Bowes John Gibson.

Early Victorian fashions from Graham's Magazine, 1848

Early Victorian fashions from Graham’s Magazine, 1848

In this post I’m exploring what became of Elizabeth Aldridge née Gibson after the death of her husband. In 1848, the year of Richard Aldridge’s death, of Chartist rallies in England and revolutions across Europe, Elizabeth would have been 45 years old. In his will, Richard had bequeathed her their home at 20 Dalston Place, on the semi-rural outskirts of north-east London.

In 1841, 60-year-old Richard Aldridge had been living in Dalston Place with Elizabeth (either ‘our’ Elizabeth, or possibly an earlier wife with the same name: see this post), his adult son Richard junior, teenaged daughter Emily, and married daughter Esther Holliday, with her young daughter Elizabeth, and a female servant. In the following year Richard junior had married Hannah Armstrong and in 1845 Emily had married William Price Inglis. Emily died just a year after her marriage, at the age of 19, probably in childbirth.

When the next census was taken in 1851, three years after the death of Richard Aldridge senior, his widow Elizabeth, a 45-year-old ‘annuitant’, was still living at 20 Dalston Place. With her were William Price Inglis, 36, a clerk with the Post Office; Thomas Inglis, 32, a clerk in Her Majesty’s Customs (did Richard Aldridge have anything to do with his appointment?); and a visitor named Maria Inglis, a ‘Lady’ aged 50. Thomas was said to have been born in Spain and Maria in Portugal, but both were described as British subjects. William was, of course, the widower of Elizabeth’s late stepdaughter Emily Aldridge. Thomas was his brother and Maria their mother, the widow of Thomas Inglis senior, a physician and army staff surgeon.

Barnsbury Square is near the top right of this section from Weller's London map of 1868

Barnsbury Square is near the middle right of this section from Weller’s London map of 1868

It’s not clear whether the Inglis family had taken up permanent residence at Dalston Place, and I can’t find any trace of them after 1851. Certainly by 1861 Elizabeth Aldridge had moved house. The next census finds her, aged 58 (or 60, if you believe the census record), living at Vernon House, at No. 6 Barnsbury Square in Islington. This was the fashionable square where Elizabeth’s brother and sister, Bowes Charles and Matilda Henrietta, lived until their deaths, in 1837 and 1845 respectively. I suspect that at least one house in the square had been left to her children by Mary Catherine Gibson, when she died in 1826, or perhaps by her husband Bowes John Gibson, who had died in 1817.

Elizabeth’s new household included both a servant and an attendant, suggesting that she had ample means to support herself and perhaps that she was growing infirm with age. 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 – we can deduce from other sources – must have been Elizabeth Aldridge’s nephew.

I want to discuss the Slark Gibsons fully in another post, but for now we should note that their relationship with Elizabeth must have been close, since ten years later in 1871 we find their daughter Clara Elizabeth Gibson, now 11, actually living with her 67-year-old great aunt at No.6 Barnsbury Square. Not only that, but they have five visitors staying with them, in addition to a general servant. The visitors are 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. It turns out that these were the children of Frederick Charles Cope, an architect, and Elizabeth Jane Slark. The latter was obviously related in some way to William Slark Gibson, and therefore to Clara and by extension Elizabeth, though it will take some more research – and another post – to unravel the precise connections between them.

To date, I’ve been unable to find Elizabeth Aldridge in any records after 1871, so I assume she must have died before the 1881 census was taken.

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The last will and testament of Richard Aldridge (died 1848)

In the last post I wrote about Elizabeth Gibson (born 1803), daughter of my 5 x great uncle Bowes John Gibson (1744 – 1817) and his second wife Mary Catherine Bretman. Elizabeth married ship owner and widower Richard Aldridge in 1842. He died six years later. In this post, I’m reproducing my transcription of Richard Aldridge’s will. Much of it is legalistic detail, but it also provides useful confirmation of some of the facts of Richard’s life, and the lives of his children. For example, the will confirms the married names of his daughters Mary Jane Reynolds and Esther Holliday. It’s also touching that Richard Aldridge describes William Price Inglis, his son-in-law and the husband of his recently-deceased daughter Emily, as a ‘friend’.

Custom House, London, in about 1840

Custom House, London, in about 1840

It’s interesting to note that Richard Aldridge describes himself as a lighterman, the same occupation that I believe was followed by my 6 x great grandfather John Gibson, father of Bowes John. Richard’s association with Trinity House recalls that of my 8 x great grandfather Captain William Greene (grandfather of John Gibson’s wife Mary Greene), who was an Elder Brother and at one time Warden of that institution. And Aldridge is not the only person in my family tree to have served as a Custom House Agent: my 4 x great grandfather James Blanch was described as such at the time of his death, and his son, another James, was a customs officer until his transportation to Australia, having been convicted of stealing from one of the ships he was inspecting.

John Dalston Jones, named in the codicil to the will as a new executor after the death of Captain Joseph Short, was a Welsh-born surgeon and neighbour of the Aldridge family in Dalston.

In the transcription that follows, (?) indicates doubt about a transcribed word, while (???) stands for words that were illegible or otherwise impossible to understand.

This is the last Will and Testament of me Richard Aldridge the elder of Old Trinity House Water Lane Tower Street in the City of London and of No. 20 Dalston place Dalston in the County of Middlesex Lighterman and Custom House Agent as follows (that is to say) I direct my executors as soon as conveniently may be after my death to carry into effect the provisions in the deed of partnership executed by me and my sons Richard Aldridge the younger and Thomas Aldridge and bearing date on or about the nineteenth day of October one thousand eight hundred and forty six contained in the event of my departing this life before the expiration of the partnership term of twenty one years And in particular I direct my executors to do what may be proper of expedient to enforce the execution and delivery to my beloved wife Elizabeth Aldridge of a proper Bond or covenant for securing to her the payment of an annuity of one hundred pounds during her life as stipulated in the seventeenth clause of the said deed of partnership. I give to my executors hereinafter named the sum of three thousand four hundred and fifty three pounds four shillings and nine pence three per cent consolidated Annuities now standing in my name in the Books of the Governor and Company of the Bank of England Upon the Trusts following (that is to say) Upon trust to pay the dividends interest and annual proceeds of the said consolidated bank annuities into the proper hands of my said dear wife during her natural life for her sole and separate use free from the control debts or engagements of any husband she may hereafter marry and so as not to be anticipated or allowed by her and from and after the decease of my said wife then as to and concerning the said consolidated bank annuities and the dividends interest and annual proceeds thenceforth to arise therefrom Upon trust for the equal benefit of my four children hereinafter mentioned as tenants in common (that is to say) my daughter Mary Jane (now the wife of Jonathan Reynolds) my daughter Esther now the wife of John Holliday the younger my son Richard Aldridge the younger and my son Thomas Aldridge And I declare that the respective shares in the said trust fund of my said daughters shall be held upon trust for their respective sole and separate use free from the control and engagement of their respective present or any after taken husbands provided always and I so further declare that in case either of my said daughters shall die in my life time or in the lifetime of my said wife leaving a husband her my said daughter surviving then from and after the decease of my said wife the share of each of my said daughters so living shall go to and be held in trust for all or any one or more of the children Grandchildren or other issue of such daughter (such Grandchildren or other issue to be born in her lifetime) for such interest or interests and in such proportions and subject to such conditions restrictions and limitations over in favor of any other or others of their said children Grandchildren or other issue and with such regulations for a maintenance duration and advancement and to be paid or transferred at such age or ages either absolutely or upon such contingencies as such daughter of mine as aforesaid notwithstanding coverture shall at any time or from time to time by any deed will or other Testament in writing with or without power of Revocation direct or appoint And in default of such direction or appointment and subject to any appointment or appointments which shall not be a complete disposition of the whole of the said trust funds constituting the share of such daughter of mine as aforesaid then as to the said stocks funds and securities and the dividends interest and annual produce to arise therefrom In trust for all and every the child and children of such respective daughter of mine who being a son or sons shall attain the age of twenty one years or being a daughter or daughters shall attain that age or marry if more than one in equal shares as tenants in common for the absolute use and benefit of such child or children respectively and if there shall be no child of my said daughter who shall live to acquire a vested interest in such daughters share of the said trust provided In Trust for such person or persons in such manner in all respects as such daughter as aforesaid shall not withstanding coverture by any deed will or other testament in writing with or without power of revocation direct or appoint and for want of such direction of appointment and subject to any appointment which shall not be a complete disposition of my said daughters share of the said trust provided then in trust for the person or persons who would by virtue of the Statutes of distribution be entitled to the personal estate of my said daughter at the time of her decease if she has died intestate and without leaving a husband or child and if more than one in the like shares. I give and bequeath the several Legacies next hereinafter mentioned (that is to say) To my foreman William Thomas Fyfe the Legacy or sum of one hundred pounds To my said daughter Mary Jane Reynolds the sum of nineteen Guineas for mourning To my said daughter Esther Holliday the sum of nineteen Guineas for mourning To my said son Richard Aldridge the younger the sum of nineteen Guineas for mourning To my said son Thomas Aldridge the sum of nineteen Guineas for mourning and To my said friend Mr William Prince Inglis of the General Post Office the sum of nineteen Guineas for mourning and to my friends Captain Joseph Short of Rosalind Cottage Deptford Road and Thomas Hastings of Clements Lane Lombard Street Shipping Cheesemonger (?) the sum of ten pounds a piece for mourning provided also and I further declare that it shall be lawful for the trustees or trustee for the time being of this my will at any time and from time to time with the consent in (???) of my said wife (notwithstanding any future coverture) during her life And after her decease then in the discretion of the said trustees or trustee to sell and dispose of all or any part of the said Consolidated Bank Annuities hereinafter settled as aforesaid and to invest the money to arise from such sale in any other of the stocks or funds or other Government Securities of the United Kingdom or on mortgage of freehold copyhold or leasehold estates in England or Wales but not in Ireland and to vary of transfer the same as occasion shall require or as shall be thought fit provided also and I do hereby declare that in case the said trustees hereby named or either of them shall die in my life time or shall renounce the execution of the trusts hereby created or in case the said trustees or either of them shall die or shall be absent from the United Kingdom for the space of 6 calendar months at one time or shall otherwise become unwilling or unable to act in the aforesaid trusts then and so often as the same shall happen it shall be lawful for my said wife during her life notwithstanding any future coverture and after her decease for the surviving or continuing trustees or trustee or if there shall be no such trustee them for the retiring or remaining (?) trustees or trustee for the time being or if there shall be no such last mentioned trustee then for the executors or administrators of the last deceased trustee to nominate any fit person or persons to supply the place or places of the trustee or trustees respectively so dying residing abroad or becoming unwilling or unable to act as aforesaid and that immediately after such appointment the said trust estates monies and effects stocks funds and securities shall be converted or transferred in such manner that the same may (???) in such new trustee or trustees jointly with the surviving or continuing trustee or trustees or in such new trustees or trustees solely as the case may require And such new Trustee or Trustees shall have and be capable of exercising all the powers and authorities whatsoever hereinbefore contained in the same manner to all intents and purposes as if he or they had been appointed as a trustee or trustees by this my will provided also that the trustees for the time being of this my will shall be charged and chargeable only with such sums as they respectively shall actually receive by virtue of the trusts hereby reposed in them notwithstanding their joining in any receipt of receipts or doing (?) any other act for the sake of conformity and that they or any of them shall not be answerable or accountable for involuntary misfortune loss or damage which may happen in the execution of the aforesaid trusts or in relation thereto provided also and I hereby further declare that it shall be lawful for the said trustees or trustee for the time being by and out of the money which shall come to their or his hands by virtue of the trusts aforesaid to deduct retain and reimburse for themselves respectively or himself and also to allow to each other all costs charges damages and expenses and fees to counsel for advice which they or any of them may sustain disburse or incur in or about the execution of the aforesaid trusts or in relation thereto I give to my said wife my leasehold dwelling house No. 20 Dalston place Dalston aforesaid together with all my household furniture plate pictures prints glass china and other household effects and also all the housekeeping provisions wine spirits linen and consumable stores and also any bank notes and other ready money which shall be in my said dwelling house at the time of my decease and I bequeath to my said wife all the balance of cash which shall be standing to the credit of my private account with my bankers at the time of my decease subject nevertheless and charged with the payment out of the said Balance of cash of the several pecuniary legacies hereinbefore by me bequeathed and also with the payment of any housekeeping debts I may be owing at the time of my decease and of my funeral expenses and of the expenses of proving this my will and I declare that all the provisions hereby made for my said wife shall be held by her for her sole and separate use free from the control of any husband she may hereafter marry And that the same shall be accepted by her in full satisfaction of all dower (???). or free (???) to which she would otherwise be entitled in or out of any freehold or copyhold hereditaments now or heretofore belonging to me And as to All the Residue and Remainder of my estate and of effects real and personal not hereinbefore bequeathed I give and devise the same to my said sons Richard Aldridge the younger and Thomas Aldridge their heir executors administrators and assigns in equal shares as tenants in common And I give to my said two sons and their heirs and equals in right as tenants in common all real estates which may be vested in me at the time of my death upon any trust or by way or mortgage Upon the trusts and subject to the several rights or equities of redemption affecting the same real estates respectively And I appoint my said wife Elizabeth Aldridge and my friends the said Joseph Short and Thomas Hastings to be Executors and Trustees of this my will and I revoke all other wills by me at any time heretofore made In witness whereof I have to this my will contained in this and the four preceding pages or sheets of paper set my hand this nineteenth day of July one thousand eight hundred and forty seven – Rd. Aldridge – Signed published and declared by the said Testator Richard Aldridge the elder as and for his last will and Testament in the presence of us being present at the same time who in the presence of each other and of the said testator have hereunto subscribed our names as witnesses – Hugh Shield Sol. 26 Queen Street Cheapside. Richd. Snelling Junr. his Clerk

This is a Codicil to the last Will and Testament of me Richard Aldridge the elder of Old Trinity House Water Lane Tower Street in the City of London and of No. 20 Dalston place Dalston in the County of Middlesex Lighterman and Custom House Agent Whereas since the date and publication of my said will Joseph Short one of the Executors and Trustees therein named hath departed this life Now I do hereby nominate my friend John Dalston Jones of Queens Road Dalston aforesaid Surgeon to be an Executor and Trustee of my said will in the room of the said Joseph Short and I declare that the said John Dalston Jones shall have and exercise all power trusts rights and interests whatsoever which he would have had and been entitled to exercise respectively in case the name of the said John Dalston Jones had been used throughout my will instead of the name of the said Joseph Short And I give to the said John Dalston Jones a Legacy of ten pounds for mourning and I declare the Legacy of ten pounds in my said will bequeathed to the said Joseph Short to be lapsed and no longer payable In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand this fifth day of September one thousand eight hundred and forty eight – Rd. Aldridge – Signed published and declared by the said testator Richard Aldridge the elder as and for a codicil to this last will and testament in the joint presence of us present at the same time who in the presence of each other and of the said testator have hereunto subscribed our names as witnesses –Hugh Shield – Rich. Snelling Jnr. 

Proved at London with a codicil 7th November 1848 before the Worshipful Frederick Thomas Pratt doctor of Laws and Surrogate by the oaths of Elizabeth Aldridge widow the relict and Thomas Hastings the executors named in the will and John Dalston Jones the executor named in the codicil to whom admon was granted having been first sworn duly to administer.

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