There’s Something about Mary(lebone)

No-one is in agreement with how the place Marylebone is pronounced – Marleybun, Marrylebun, Marylebone, Marrybone – and this indecision is echoed in the early newspaper reference to the first pupils. Mary Ann Fiske, it tells us, lived in ‘St. Mary-le-bone’ at the corner of ‘Marybone-lane’. In the space of six words, it is spelled in two different ways!

Morning Herald and Daily Advertiser, Jan 1789

Marylebone Lane, one of the original streets of the Marylebone district, runs from Oxford Street in the south to Marylebone High Street in the north. Its sinuous shape contrasts strongly with other streets laid out in a grid pattern, a legacy of their being developed together. The lane originally followed the course of the River Tyburn.

‘While most of Marylebone dresses rather formally, with grand streets laid out in a stiff grid, Marylebone Lane is the stubborn old man who turns up in grubby chords [sic] and comfortable shoes, far too hoary and set in his ways to care. While its neighbours are all about straight lines and right angles, this most ancient of highways is defined instead by its distinctive lazy wiggle.’

https://www.marylebonevillage.com/marylebone-journal/street-stories—marylebone-lane

http://www.openstreetmap.org/search?query=marylebone%20lane#map=17/51.51644/-0.14892

The modern street map shows the contrast particularly well and gives it today a charm missing from its neighbours.

Marylebone gets its name from a church dedicated to St Mary built on the bank of a small stream or bourne, called the Tybourne or Tyburn. The church then became known as St Mary at the bourn – or Marylebone. The Ty- prefix is derived from Anglo-Saxon teo a word meaning boundary. Watercourses were often used as boundaries between districts, just as gallows were often erected beside them. The name Tyburn is probably most often recalled as a place of execution near to where Marble Arch now stands. The village of Tyburn is recorded in the Domesday Book and stood at the end of what is now Oxford Street, formerly called Tyburn Road. What is now Park Lane was once Tyburn Lane. That should cause a lot of confusion in a Monopoly game.

The earliest written mention of the Tyburn dates back to around 785 AD. The brook that is the Tyburn is not be confused with Tyburn Brook which is a tributary of the Westbourne and not connected to the Tyburn River! (http://www.londonslostrivers.com/river-tyburn.html) It’s hardly surprising non-English people find the British way of life confusing. The R. Tyburn today mostly flows underground and is connected into Bazalgette’s great sewerage system. It runs along a pipe in Baker St station and through an open rill near Grey’s antiques (complete with goldfish!). It also flows underneath Buckingham Palace before it finally emerges in an outfall at the Thames.

http://www.londonslostrivers.com/river-tyburn.html

Like the ancient village of Tyburn, Marylebone originally ‘was a small village, nearly a mile distant from any part of the metropolis.’ Daniel Lysons, ‘Marylebone’, in The Environs of London: Volume 3, County of Middlesex (London, 1795), pp. 242-279. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/london-environs/vol3/pp242-279 [accessed 5 March 2019].

The earliest development was in the early to mid 1720s at the south end, along the east branch into Oxford Street, on the future Marshall & Snelgrove site. (https://www.ucl.ac.uk/bartlett/architecture/sites/bartlett/files/chapter05_marylebone_lane_area.pdf)

There is something rather deliciously cyclical that ‘the future Marshall & Snelgrove’ later became Debenhams after Marshall & Snelgrove ran into financial difficulty in 1819 and now, one hundred years later, Debenhams itself is in financial difficulty!

Image from Mary Evans picture library

Where exactly on Marylebone Lane Mary Ann Fiske lived is an unknown. We are told it is ‘Stationer, corner of Marylebone Lane’. In a roadway that curves and winds its way south, precisely which corner of many is unclear. There is a later reference to a stationer, Henry Somerfield, who had Nos 15-17 Marylebone Lane built for him. However, these buildings, demolished in 2010, were built in 1890-1 so long, long after the Fiskes were there.

One of four daughters of Jonathan and Prudence Fiske, Mary Ann – usually referred to as Ann – was born on 16th October 1782 and baptised on Dec 1st of that year.

London Metropolitan Archives; London, England; Reference Number: P89/MRY1/008

 

This first reference to her is the only one before her admission to the School. However in 1781, her father appeared at the Old Bailey in 1781, indicted for forgery

Session Papers of the Old Bailey OB/SP/1781 London Metropolitan Archives

He was found not guilty in May 1781. In July of the same year, he published an account of the trial in which he not only made clear his opinion of his accuser but cast aspersions about him which would have lawyers licking their lips today – and maybe then too.

Morning Herald and Daily Advertiser, London, England, 7 July 1781

Of course, the cunningly disguised name of the prosecutor and his alleged mistress might just have saved his bacon …

What is interesting is that this was printed for J Fiske but also for four other booksellers which implies that they were a mutually supportive group. Fiske’s address is given as Edward St, Portman Square at this time but by the time he was applying for Mary Ann to attend the School, the family was in Marylebone Lane. Had they moved because of indigence? In 1828, Prudence Fiske, Jonathan’s widow, is listed as a bookseller in Wigmore St (next to which Portman Square can be found), so it is unclear whether they kept moving or had several premises. Between 1784 and 1811 Jonathan paid rent in Marylebone Lane and if this were one of several ‘outlets’, one has to assume a lack of indigence, but the fact remains that during this period he applied for his daughter’s attendance at the School and was successful in that application. By 1799, Jonathan had again achieved respectability – if he had ever lost it – when he was appointed foreman of the jury, his name being cited in a coroner’s inquest of that year.

London Lives, Culture & Society 1680-1817 MJ/SP/C/W London Metropolitan Archives

Mary Ann had eight siblings although the last two of these were born after she was attending the School in Somers Place East, so perhaps it was the large size of the family that made her eligible. Unfortunately the Rough Minute Book, which lists details of ten of the candidates for the first admission, does not include any reference to Mary Ann Fiske so we are not party to the thinking behind her inclusion.

Unlike the last Mary Ann this blog focused on – who had a rather unladylike turn of phrase it would appear – Mary Ann Fiske seems to have passed her time at the School blamelessly. She did leave ‘before her time was due to expire’ however. In 1794, we are told that ‘In consideration of the peculiar circumstances of this child’ she was returned home with the sum of £10 and no further claims on the Charity. Her father was asked to collect her. This was a considerable sum of money for the time and is an indication that she was not leaving in any disgrace, for which she would have been dismissed summarily with no payment. A month later, her mother wrote to the Committee expressing gratitude and in this communication lies a hint of the reason the child left. Her mother wrote that ‘Ann’s health seemed very precarious for since she had been at home she had had frequent relapses of the disorder with which she was afflicted’.

We will never know what affliction she was suffering from in 1792. However, lest one might imagine that a burial record would be the next document found, it might come as a surprise to discover that Mary Ann Fiske actually died in 1862, some 70 years after she left with an affliction! In fact many of the family lived to ripe old ages. Prudence (the mother) was 96 when she died, Mary Ann 82 and Thomas Hammond Fiske, the brother whose home she shared at least between 1841 and 1861, was 83.

Jonathan (the father) died in 1823 in Marylebone and was buried on the 4th February (the ditto, ditto in the record).

London Metropolitan Archives; London, England; Reference Number: P89/mry1/326

Although, of course, we cannot be certain this is ‘our man’, it should be noted that the 1841 census does not find him with the rest of his family. Furthermore, Prudence is listed as a bookseller at Wigmore St in the 1828 Pigot’s directory which implies that it was a family business that Prudence took responsibility for after her husband’s death. The 1841 census did not record marital status so we do not know if Prudence was widowed but it seems likely. She is recorded, as are two of her daughters, as ‘Ind’. It might, however, explain why the Fiskes upped sticks and moved to Portsmouth if the head of the family had died. Mary Ann is sharing the household of her brother Thomas Hammond Fiske and it is in Portsmouth on 4th June 1862 that she dies and is buried, her address being given as the High St.

So from Marylebone Lane to High Street, Portsmouth, her life is mapped out albeit with tantalising gaps that one longs to fill!

Down by the riverside

Two of our first pupils hailed from East London within sight of the river. For one, her home in Shadwell was not just in sight but in sound and smell too! Mary Ann Ruscoe, daughter of Thomas and Mary, lived at 45 Bell Wharf.

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/00253359.2013.767001

Rocque’s map of 1746 shows Coal Stairs (on the left hand side of the shaded area) whilst the stairs on the right, Lower Stone Stairs, became Bell Wharf Stairs. But Bell Wharf itself does not appear on maps. One has to assume, however, that the eponymous stairs led to or from Bell Wharf.

The photo (from https://alondoninheritance.com/tag/shadwell) is Bell Wharf Stairs from the Thames foreshore.

Shadwell was often referred to as ‘Sailortown’ and represented as a poverty-stricken, run down area

 many of the houses had fallen into a very bad state caused by the occupiers of the tenements rather than by the wilful neglect of the owners of the property. (1)

It was an area redolent with the ‘specialist industries required in the eighteenth century to provide the supplies and services needed by the thousands of ships, schooners and colliers …’ (2) including ropeworks, cooperages, breweries and taverns. In the case of Mary Ann’s father, his trade of pipemaker, whilst not exclusive to sailors, no doubt gave him a business with the mariners arriving and departing.

Thomas Ruscoe applied for his daughter to attend the School and submitted her birth as 16 July 1780 and her baptism on 8 August 1780. The Rough Minute Book had this to say:

Mary Ann Ruscoe, b 16 Oct 1782, no certificate of Register Mr White G S to search for some – referred ‘till his answer is received, Mr White returns register’d, Mr Dennison

The ‘certificate of Register’ relates to Thomas’ registration as a Freemason rather than Mary Ann’s baptism. The reference to ‘Mr Dennison’ – P R Dennison, Governor of the School – is an indication of who supported the application.

Now the sharp-eyed amongst you will have spotted that we have a discrepancy in dates here. And there’s more to follow!

Mary Ann joined the other girls in the house at Somers Place East where everything presumably went swimmingly until 1793. On 27th December of that year, the Matron reported that conduct had been poor, with language ‘very obscene and improper’. The phrase to swear like a fishwife may be apt here. Quite possibly Mary Ann had been exposed to some fairly fruity language from her upbringing near the docks. We do not know what she said that the Matron thought ‘very obscene’ but we can guess that Mary Ann realised she had probably overstepped the mark linguistically and produced a defensive countermove. She announced that she was older than everyone thought as ‘her Friends had put her a year back’ to make her the proper age for admission. The baptismal register was sent for and compared with the documents produced by the parents, whereupon it was discovered that the presented documents had been forged. The girl’s baptism was shown to be 8 August 1779 when she was 24 days old and not 1780 as claimed (and then written as 1782 in error just to compound it).

From London Metropolitan Archives; London, England; Reference Number: P93/PAU3/004 via Ancestry.co.uk

The Committee therefore recommend to the General Court that from the extreme misconduct of Mary Ann Ruscoe and the dangerous tendency of her vicious and immoral conduct among the other girls together [great heavens – what had she done??] with the imposition practised on the charity by her parents that she be immediately dismissed and returned home to them.

Minute Book 1794

Despite this condemnation, it is later recorded that she was apprenticed to Mrs Andrews of Tichborne St [now Glasshouse St] and it seems strange that an apprenticeship – and the costs thereto – would be found by the School given the shadow under which she apparently left. She would have reached school-leaving age in July 1794 and so would have been apprenticed then but one has the impression that Mrs Andrews probably wasn’t informed of Mary Ann’s previous behaviour!

Of Mary Ann’s post-school, post-apprentice life, little can be ascertained. There are two possible marriages. Neither are in Shadwell which means one is interpreting generally and possibly wholly inaccurately. Even taking these into account, the 1841 census, the first in which individuals were named, doesn’t give any entries that one could say ‘Yes, that’s her’ so it all remains unsatisfactorily vague. We are left with a set of parents not above fact-massaging to get an advantage and the unholy impression of a child who had a few unsavoury turns of phrase in her armoury and wasn’t afraid to use them!

So let us turn aside from cussing and look at Frances Sansum, the other ‘Eastender’ who hailed from East Smithfield St. This, unlike Bell Wharf, does still exist but the modern version looks nothing like the one the Sansums would have known.

https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/side-by-side/#zoom=17&lat=51.5088&lon=-0.0695&layers=168&right=BingHyb

 

What is today East Smithfield leading into The Highway was previously Upper East Smithfield leading to St George St. The 1833 Schmollinger map shows the street skirting the edge of St Katherine’s docks.

Section of “Improved map of London for 1833, from Actual Survey. Engraved by W. Schmollinger, 27 Goswell Terrace” showing the location of the Royal Mint.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/5b/Royal_Mint_London_from_1833_Schmollinger_map.jpg

It is an ancient area, first recorded in Saxon times as an area for knightly combat. The name does not derive from ‘smith’, craft worker, but from ‘smooth field’, or open stretch of land. And if knights, possibly on horseback, were thundering up and down it, it must have been the equivalent of a sports arena today: ‘at a certain day in East Smithfield, they should run with spears against all comers’ (3)

The area was most notably used in the fourteenth century for two cemeteries in which London victims of the Black Death were interred: up to 200 people a day, in mass graves, stacked five deep.

The docks were constructed in 1828 and so would not have been there at the time Frances was resident. Presumably what she saw then in the area related to St Katherine’s Hospital.

East end of St Katharine’s Church, the chapel of the hospice https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7203392

https://www.theundergroundmap.com/map.html

This 1750 map shows the area pre-docks. To the right, is what looks like a market garden area. Between 1800 and 1810, this became part of London docks but today it has once again been reclaimed as land for housing. So clearly this is an area of much change. The modern East Smithfield would leave Frances Sansum completely bewildered! Today it is a busy but nondescript stretch of road between Ratcliff Highway and the Tower of London and the London Marathon runs down it.

Frances had been christened on 25 December 1780 at St Botolph’s, Aldgate Without, the name indicating that the church lay outside the City Walls.

Copy of her baptismal record at St Botolph’s; image of church from http://www.stbotolphs.org.uk/

Her parents – Isaac and Elizabeth – had married in 1774 when he was 27 and she was 18. Frances was one of three daughters born to the couple but, sadly, the only one who did not die as a baby.

By trade, Isaac was a hosier, someone who made, or distributed, foot and legwear. During the second half of the 18th century, changes in fashion and competition from the cotton industry meant that the hosiery industry began to decline. Perhaps because of this he moved into apparel generally. In January 1786 we find ‘The Petition and Appeal of Isaac Sansum of the Parish of Saint Botolph Aldgate’ to appeal against a £20 fine ‘for having sold a Pair of Gloves not having a Stamp Affixed there to’ (London Metropolitan Archives LL ref: LMSMPS508060005). In https://rmsghistoryextra.wordpress.com/2019/03/20/court-report/ we saw how Pitt’s tax on gloves may have caused hardship to the father of Ann Martin. Now we have another father caught out by political machinations. The hefty fine must have created a problem for the family finances.

Isaac’s name on the appeal.

However, in Frances’ case, her recommendation as a pupil, supported by Dr de Valangin and 11 more Governors, may be as much about her as her father. The Rough Minute Book records that she ‘has lost a leg’. At no point are we ever given any further information about how this had happened (e.g. accident, disease or congenital) or whether it created problems for her mobility. The subject is only mentioned one other time. When she was due to leave School, her mother expressed doubt that a suitable apprenticeship would be found because of the child’s missing leg.

In 1792, a problem arose concerning the child which appeared to have nothing to do with leglessness – at least it wasn’t mentioned so we presume not. In September, her Friends applied for Frances to have leave of absence. If ‘they’ (in reality likely to be her mother as she is the only parent later mentioned in School records) gave a reason for this application, it was not recorded. The reply from the Committee was decidedly frosty.

Leave of absence from the school ought not to be granted to any child on any pretence [my italics] whatever as the perseverance of good order in the school and the health and morals of the children especially depend on their never being suffered to go home to their Friends whilst under the protection of this Charity.

Furthermore, if her Friends applied again, Frances would be instantly dismissed. They didn’t.

Now the word ‘pretence’ above is interesting. Did the clerk mean to write ‘pretext’ which would fit the sense here? Or is the word ‘pretence’ a veiled indication of fraud? And if the reaction seems harsh, it should be remembered that a girl, once accepted, had everything she consumed paid for (food, clothing, education, living expenses) and received a good start in life along with gifts of clothing and money with which to depart the School. The Charity wanted to be very sure that no-one was taking advantage of them.

Three years after this episode, when Frances was of an age to leave, her mother thought that her daughter’s missing leg would be problematic. The rule, however, stated:

if a Child labours under any Infirmity which incapacitates her from Domestic Service, such Child shall be placed out, at the Discretion of the House Committee, to any Trade or Business which they shall think prudent, with a Premium not exceeding Ten Pounds

Half of this would be paid after 3 months and the remainder after half the term of years as long as the ‘Child has been and is properly taken care of.’

Frances eventually was found a position with Mrs Dorcas Grives of Fair St, Horsleydown, a schoolmistress. This street was so named as a fair used to be there (very literal our street namers).

http://www.exploringsouthwark.co.uk/horsleydown/4593119090
https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/side-by-side

Where Fair St joins Tooley St is a Grammar School where Dorcas Grives was listed as a Governor in 1825. By this point, it is likely that Frances had moved on. She remained south of the river apparently for the rest of her life and may have been trained as a teacher by Mrs Grives but we do not know that. In 1841, she is described as ‘independent’, a phrase indicating she had her own money. She was living in the gloriously named Baalzephon St, Bermondsey (later Weston St). By 1851, she was in Kynaston Row, Bermondsey, described as an annuitant which would clearly indicate that someone or some institution was providing a pension. She died in 1857.

 

And with her burial record we conclude the story of our two Eastenders.

Doof, doof, doof …

https://en-gb.facebook.com/eastenders/

 

  1. From “The Copartnership Herald”, Vol. V, no. 57 (November 1935) cited by http://www.mernick.org.uk/thhol/shad1935.html
  2. Derek Morris & Kenneth Cozens (2013) The Shadwell Waterfront in the Eighteenth Century, The Mariner’s Mirror https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/00253359.2013.767001
  3. (Allen, Thomas The History and Antiquities of London, Westminster, Southwark, and parts adjacent pp.709–712 (George Virtue, 1839), as cited by Wikipedia)

Court Report

Sibella Proctor, Ann Martin and Charlotte Richardson, three of the first pupils in January 1789, all lived in Courts. To wit: Black Swan Court, Wild Court and Flower de luce Court. Of these, only one still exists – Wild Court –immediately behind the Library and Museum of Freemasonry and United Grand Lodge.

https://www.streetlist.co.uk/wc/wc2b/wc2b-4/wild-court
Image from Google Earth street view

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A map of 1750 sort of shows Wild Court, on the edge of one map and the next, showing that the propensity for the places you want being right on the fold of gazetteers is not a new phenomenon!

https://www.theundergroundmap.com/map.html?id=33108&mapyear=1750&zoom=16&show=none&mode=fullscreen

Fifty years later and the court is a little clearer

ibid.

Wild Court ran off Great Wild St with Little Wild St (now renamed Keeley St) running parallel. In 1781, a sermon was preached in Little Wild St.

Image from Google books

Dr Samuel Stennett, a dissenting Baptist preacher, ministered to the Little Wild Street church. The map below, although somewhat later in date, shows the Baptist chapel.

https://www.theundergroundmap.com/map.html?id=33108&mapyear=1750&zoom=16&show=none&mode=fullscreen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

His sermon was made on a day which had been declared a public fast. Unfortunately ‘references to public fasts are relatively scarce in public records’ (Religion and the American Civil War: Miller, Stout & Wilson, 1998) and the same must apply to UK as not a trace can be found to explain why February 21 1781 was a public fast day. For those with plenty of food it perhaps had more impact. For the less well-off, for whom a fair few days might involve fasting, the impact was less great.

Whether Charlotte Richardson’s family witnessed the sermon or participated in the fasting is unknown. Charlotte herself was not yet born, arriving in the world in April 1781. She was baptised at St Sepulchre’s in June 1781 which is certainly not the nearest church to Wild Court. Perhaps the family did not at that time live there but we will never know.

The map of 1889 from Charles Booth, Life and Labour of the People in London marks Wild Court as being an area of ‘Intermittent or casual earnings’. Although this is a century later perhaps the beginnings of these are evidenced in the entry in a Minute Book of 1788 which states that Charlotte’s father ‘was … formerly in good Circumstances but now much distressed’.

The school records tell us that, having arrived at the School in January 1789, in February 1789 Charlotte’s name again appears in the Minute Book.

The Matron being then called in and examined reporting Charlotte Richardson (one of the Children) who had been taken away by her Parents when she informed the Committee that her Father had been very troublesome and had insulted and abused her and afterwards the Mother came had took her Daughter away and notwithstanding the Child declared she was perfectly satisfied.

Oh dear.

Charlotte’s place was taken by Charlotte Hatton. Curiously, despite Charlotte Richardson’s parents being instructed to remove their daughter, her benefits withdrawn, the Book of Governors, published in 1818, records that she had been returned to her parents ‘in consequence of an alteration in circumstances’. As this was almost 30 years later, the edges of memory may well have been softened.

Where Charlotte went after this has proved impossible to trace with confidence. Wild Court, however, continues to exist even if much changed. Some of that change may well have been courtesy of the Luftwaffe as a high explosive bomb fell in the area between Oct 7 1940 and June 6 1941 as shown by http://bombsight.org/#17/51.51454/-0.12005

But then Wild Court has fared better than either Black Swan Court or Flower de luce court neither of which exist any longer.

Black swans, native to Australia, were regarded as exotica in Britain and perhaps explains why a number of pubs and streets were named after them. [A piece of swan ephemera for you – on the ground, a group of swans is a ‘bank’. When undertaking group flight they are a ‘wedge’. ]

 

This image from https://haydensanimalfacts.com/2015/08/22/5-interesting-facts-about-black-swans/ has quite a high cute factor, don’t you think?

https://www.british-history.ac.uk/no-series/dictionary-of-london lists at least four Black Swan Courts, plus one Black Swan Alley which had formerly been a court. What is unclear is which of these is the Black Swan Court where Sibella Procter lived. This is largely because her address is given as Black Swan Court, Market St, a street that does not appear in earlier maps.

https://www.londonremembers.com/memorials/st-john-zachary

We have already seen from Charlotte Richardson that the place of baptism of these early pupils may not be an indication of where they were living. In Sibella’s case, it is even more confusing because she was baptised at St John Zachary, a church which did not exist after the Great Fire!

The parish was absorbed into St Ann and St Agnes and St John’s never rebuilt. Only its graveyard remains and its site is now a garden.

 

 

By Matt Eyre – Own work (Original text: self-made), Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7966662

Despite this, her baptismal record is clearly given as being at St John Zachary on Feb 14 1779.

Image from Ancestry.co. uk

This 1883 street map of the St John Zachary area shows it labelled as a parish but with the site of the church rather than a church building.

Using the http://www.british-history.ac.uk references, there are two courts that seem to be in the vague area that might be served by St John Zachary. Black Swan Alley (described as South out of St. Paul’s Churchyard at No. 21 to 7 Little Carter Lane, first mentioned in Horwood’s map of 1799 but given an earlier reference as being formerly Black Swan Court) and one called Black Swan Court which was south of Cannon Street and west of Lawrence Pountney Lane. Just to add confusion, this Court was previously (1720) known as an alley! www.british-history.ac.uk goes on to say that ‘The site has been rebuilt and is now occupied by warehouses and offices, etc.’

Maps taken from https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/side-by-side using 1892 map

Earlier maps, from https://www.theundergroundmap.com/map.html?id=70&mode=fullscreen show the same areas in 1750. In neither case can Black Swan Court or Alley be identified but they may simply have been too small or insignificant to be marked on the map.

When Sibella was admitted to the School, she was referred to as ’a very proper object’. This peculiar shorthand is inexact in meaning but as a rule of thumb a ‘proper object’ was a girl who had lost one parent and a ‘very proper object’ was a girl who had lost both parents. There is a reference to a Joseph Procter being buried Aug 20 1784 in St John Zachary which could be her father. There is also a marriage reference for 1767 at St Dunstan in the West, between Joseph Procter and Mary Wilkinson which might be her parents (or might not!) but further than this is difficult to trace. As for the girl herself, the School records state she was apprenticed to Mr Simons of Jermyn St, Soho Square. However, the 1818 Book of Governors lists her as apprenticed to Mrs Gonne, Champion Hill. Possibly she did both, moving from one to the other. Both could have been as domestic servants although there is a fleeting reference to Mrs Gonne running a school. In 1841, we find a Sibella Procter in Camberwell, aged 60, given as a schoolmistress. The 1841 census rounded ages up and down, so the computed birthdate of 1781 is within accepted parameters. It seems likely that this Sibella Procter (whether the one from School or not) died in 1845 and was buried at St Giles Camberwell.

Our last candidate for the Court Report is Ann Martin whose address was given as No 3 Flower-de-luce-court, Fleet St. The spelling of Flower de Luce varied enormously (Flower de lys, flower de lyz or fleur de lys) and all were corruptions of fleur de lis anyway, from the quartering of the French arms with the English.

The history of the fleur de lis armorially can be read at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fleur-de-lis from where the image is taken.

The likeliest candidate for the court that housed the Martins is Fleur de lis Court described as East out of Fetter Lane at No. 9, and north to Trinity Church Passage.

 

https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/side-by-side/#zoom=19&lat=51.5150&lon=-0.1094&layers=163&right=BingHyb

In the 17th and 18th centuries this was a long court extending south to Fleet Street, but when the southern end of Fetter Lane was widened, this southern portion was absorbed into Fetter Lane, as shown above.

https://londonist.com/2017/12/londonists_back_passage_53_crane_co

 

 

In Lockie, 1810, it is described as at 179 Fleet Street, behind the houses Nos. 1-16 on the east side of Fetter Lane. The name of the court may well have come from a house formerly in Fleet St called ‘flowerdeluce’. It does not seem to have been a particularly salubrious area as Strype describes it as ‘of some note for the Mousetrap House, a receptacle for lewd persons (ed. 1720, I. iii. 277)’. http://london.enacademic.com/2316/Fleur_de_lis_Court

 

 

by John Michael Wright, oil on canvas, circa 1668

However, let us restore its reputation a little by stating that John Dryden lived at No 16 Flower de luce court [no date given for this but as he died in 1700 we can assume it was well before the Martins were there]. Image in the National Portrait Gallery

Nearby Fleet St is still synonymous with newspapers even though many prominent national newspapers have moved away. At one point, it was also a place for tanning which declined once the River Fleet was re-routed underground in 1766. Ann Martin’s father, Reeve Martin, is described as a glover which would fit with this. Given that the presiding rule for a girl to become eligible for the School was that of indigence, we should note that in 1784, Prime Minister Pitt imposed a tax on gloves. His calculation of the number of gloves that would be sold each year (9 million pairs) gave rise to a tiered taxation.

“One penny duty should be added to all gloves up to the value of ten pence

Two pence to gloves costing between ten pence and fifteen pence

Three pence for all gloves costing over fifteen pence”

https://georgianera.wordpress.com/2016/05/24/18th-century-tax-on-gloves/

The tax was payable by the retailer and in July 1785, The Stamp Office declared that: “Anyone selling gloves without this tax would be liable for a fine of £20.” (ibid). To ensure that duty was paid, every retailer had to be licensed. Unfortunately for Pitt, his careful calculations were somewhat over optimistic. By 1785, it was realised that it was raising less than an eighth of the revenue anticipated.

Given the timing of this, it may well have been a contributory factor in Reeve Martin’s indigence and his daughter was elected nem. con. In 1788. The Minutes Book records that he was ‘Formerly in good Circumstances, now in great distress with a Wife and four Children’. It is possible that he is the person recorded in Newgate Prison, London: ‘Lists Of Felons (Prisoners) On The Common Side (Debtors)’ in 1786.

Perhaps our sympathy for the Martins’ plight is somewhat diluted by the fact that the Minutes Book records that in 1793 occurred an incident that should have resulted in Ann’s dismissal from the School. As is the way with this instrument, it fails to give further details, perhaps on the basis of ‘them that knows, knows …’ but it appears to have been the behaviour of the father rather than that of the child. The 1818 Book of Governors records that Ann was returned to her parents ‘for improper conduct on their part.’ Of her life story nothing more can be ascertained. Like Fleur de lis court, it gradually disappears. Even the date of that disappearance is uncertain. https://london19.com/streets1832/FleurdeLiscourtFleet.shtml states that it disappears about 1842 when Fetter St was widened but a map of 1895 still shows it so it can’t have done. It was still there in a 1914 map albeit not named. So perhaps, like this Court Report,

The Bloomsbury Group

The first pupils of the School all hailed from London (although later pupils came from all over the globe) but following their individual stories is hampered by an inconsistency in spelling of surnames and place names, seemingly entirely dependent on the clerk who wrote them at the time. For example, Sophia Kewney is written thus and also as Kenney and it is not certain which, if either, is correct. Catherine Charlotte Baes was actually baptised under the name Boyce – or possibly Bayce – and both might be intended to be Base or Bays anyway!

Mary Ann Wolveridge’s address was given as Melliore St, Maize, Southwark which doesn’t take much research to discover is Melior St, Maze. So trying to locate their addresses as given when they were admitted to the School in 1789 does have a degree of jeopardy attached.

This series of posts attempts to trace the addresses and has been divided into Bloomsbury, City, East End, Marylebone, Soho and Southwark based solely on what is written in the register at the time. Some of the addresses have disappeared since the eighteenth century and most have changed beyond recognition even if the original streets are still there. The School began in premises in Somers Town but the girls hailed from central, east, west and south London so arguably represent a microcosm of London life.

We will begin with Bloomsbury for no other reason than two of the first pupils lived in the same street. It would be most intriguing to know if they knew each other before they came to the School but it is unlikely that this will ever be discovered. Elizabeth Lowe and Sarah Jane Sitgraves both lived in King Street, Bloomsbury. (Sarah Jane is a case in point for clerical errors as her surname has been written variously as Sitgrave, Sitgraves and Sitgrace. As Sitgraves appears with greater frequency that is the version that will be used.) The Sitgraves’ residence is given as Upper King St if we are splitting hairs, but in any case King St isn’t King St any more so the distinction is academic.

‘King Street, which was presumably named in honour of Charles II, first appears in the ratebooks of the parish of St. Martin in 1673: it had previously been known as Charles Street like the street on the other side of the square’. In 1720 John Strype described King Street as ‘a good handsome Street’. https://www.british-history.ac.uk/survey-london/vols29-30/pt1/pp295-307

However, today it is known as Southampton Row although the jury is out about whether this is the whole of King St (as was) or just a part of it.

‘No street in London changes its name as often in as short a space as the one which starts at the BBC’s overseas broadcasting centre Bush House, just around the corner from the Strand. The street begins … as the characterless, traffic-despoiled Kingsway. A couple of hundred metres later, at the perma-jammed crossroads with Holborn, it is reborn as Southampton Row.’ https://www.theguardian.com/uk/2005/jul/12/july7.features11

On Rocque’s map of 1746, it is labelled as King St, although he also calls the whole street as far as Bloomsbury Place ‘King Street’ and does not distinguish between King St and Upper King St. It lay on the western edge of the Bedford estate whilst the first site of the School was described as ‘north of the Duke of Bedford’s’.

‘according to Cary’s map of 1795, the continuation of the road was King Street and on some maps, Upper King Street’ https://www.bedfordestates.com/bloomsbury/history/

The streets were named after the Earls of Southampton whose land this was until 1667 when Lady Rachel Vaughan, née Wriothesley, daughter of the Earl of Southampton, married William, son of the 5th Earl of Bedford and the Bloomsbury area became part of the Bedford estate.

Image of Lady Rachel from https://www.bedfordestates.com/bloomsbury/history/

By 1897, the whole street became known as Southampton Row and it is shown thus on a map of this time.

 

An earlier map (Horwood’s 1799) shows on the east side of the street, consecutive numbers from 1 to 33, running from south to north with no numbering on the west side. The numbers are irrelevant for Elizabeth Lowe’s address, which is given only as Taylor, King St. Her father is described in the School register as ‘Formerly a respectable Master Taylor now in great distress with a sick Wife and two Children’ so we have to assume that he is the tailor (as we would spell it today) of the address or, at the very least, worked for the tailor. Sarah Jane’s place of residence was Bedford Head, Upper King St. and we know her father was a victualler so it comes as no surprise to find that there was a PH called Bedford Head. The Bloomsbury Project lists 19 pubs in the area from the 1832 Robson’s directory of which the Bedford Head is one. https://www.ucl.ac.uk/bloomsbury-project/streets/tottenham_court_road.htm So plenty of watering holes for the working man to quench his thirst.

Pubshistory.com very kindly identifies the number as 5 Upper King St https://pubshistory.com/LondonPubs/StGeorgeBloomsbury/BedfordHead.shtml and gives the publican in 1805 as Richard Gascoigne (Holdens Directory). This is the earliest reference on this website to which we could now add Edmund Sitgraves in 1789. Edmund died possibly in 1802. There is a burial record but not really in the right place and, additionally, he was described as deceased in 1794 when his son Thomas was apprenticed.

The wonderful website https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/side-by-side/ shows Southampton Row both today (heavily encroached upon by Kingsway in 1905) and how it was in 1895.

https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/side-by-side/#zoom=17&lat=51.5211&lon=-0.1235&layers=171&right=BingHyb

Whilst there have clearly been many changes, the bones of the eighteenth century places can still be seen. The original 112 acres acquired by the Earl of Southampton after the Dissolution of the Monasteries has been reduced to twenty acres (Survey of London, vol. 5, 1914; Shirley Green, Who Owns London?, 1986), but it bears names that forever identify it with those origins.

 

 

 

 

It is probably safe to say that it is unlikely Elizabeth Lowe or Sarah Jane Sitgraves ever considered the name origins of where they lived before they became pupils at the School. After their time at the School, Sarah Jane returned home to her mother and may possibly (uncertain) have married John Robyns in 1820 and died in 1825. Elizabeth Lowe, on the other hand, who left in 1797, was apprenticed. She was originally due to be apprenticed to ‘Captain Thomas Meriton, of St Catherine Cloysters, nr the Tower’ but the School records that she was ‘Apprenticed, by her own wish, to Colonel Jackson, Titchfield St’. Why it was Elizabeth’s wish to be apprenticed to one and not the other (both probably in a domestic servant capacity) is unknown and neither is it recorded the reaction of the School authorities to her declared wishes. One can, however, imagine the row that ensued!

It is possible that Captain Thomas Meriton is not actually a person. In The eighteenth century: or, illustrations of the manners and customs of our grand-fathers is the following paragraph taken from ‘the Craftsman of May the 12th, 1787’:

“Thursday night, between the hours of twelve and one o’clock, the Calais Packet, Captain Thomas Meriton, lying in the Thames, at Lady Parsons’ Stairs, was boarded by eight men, armed with pistols and cutlasses, who … robbed the vessel of goods to the amount of one hundred pounds” https://archive.org/stream/eighteenthcentur00andruoft/eighteenthcentur00andruoft_djvu.txt

The way this is written would suggest that the Captain Thomas Meriton is a ship that undertook a regular return trip between London and Calais. On the other hand, there was definitely a sea captain called Thomas Meriton as identified in The London Magazine, Or, Gentleman’s Monthly Intelligencer although, as this reference was to his death in April 1766, this cannot be the same one.

St Catherine’s Cloisters is described in Lockie’s Topography of London (pub. 1810) as being in Tower Hill on the north side of the church. Now written as St Katherine, it is the site of St Katherine’s Dock, the original hospital founded in 1147 by Matilda subsumed. There is still a Cloister Walk however where a certain coffee house can be found.

Titchfield St (or Great Titchfield St) on the other hand is not at all far from Elizabeth’s family home in King St.

So perhaps her motivation was the very understandable one of being near home or family. There is a possibility that she married William Phillips in 1803 but, like the possible marriage for Sarah Jane, there is not enough certainty to state this is definitely the case. For both girls, until other information comes to light, their lives float off into the middle distance. From Bloomsbury to beyond!

A Ripping Essex* Yarn

*and quite a few other places

Starting from Rayleigh, we are taking the Kernot line (see previous post The only Way is Essex) into the wider family. It’s a tale involving a school, prisons and probates, and touches on some dastardly crimes to boot.

In 1841, George Noyce Kernot was a chemist in the High St, Rayleigh and the 1841 tithe map says exactly where: plot 250, which measured 14 perches. A perch is equal to 16½ feet, or 5½ yards, so his plot was about 73 metres. Currently occupied by an indoor market shop, it had been a chemist shop since at least 1841 and remained so until the 1960s. The information about the tithe map and the plots was supplied by Rayleigh Town Museum which just happens to stand next to what was George Kernot’s plot.

Rayleigh Tithe Map 1841, originating from Essex Record Office but kindly supplied by Rayleigh Town Museum; insert shows plot 250

After George died in 1848, three of his daughters attended the School as pupils but there was also another Kernot offshoot who came to the School as a pupil in the next generation.

As in all good stories, let us begin at the beginning.

George Noyce Kernot and his wife Mary Kernot nee Bowerman had 6 children. There was also a son from his first marriage who is therefore a Kernot but not a half Bowerman. As he is found at various times with the family, or parts of, such as being a witness at the marriage of his younger (half) sister. George Charles Kernot probably counts as the 7th child of the family. Jane, officially Sarah Jane but seemingly using Jane or Sarah or Sarah Jane during her lifetime, was the eldest daughter. Mary Ann Kernot comes next in 1833 and then Abraham Bowerman Kernot in 1835. Following Abraham is Emily Bowerman Kernot, b.1837, and then Louise/Louisa Catherine/Katharine born in 1840. The baby of the family was Kate Charlotte who arrived in 1845 and was only three when her father died.

Mary Ann, Louisa and Kate all become pupils of RMIG but Sarah Jane and Emily did not. Sarah was already 17 when her father died but why Emily did not become a pupil is unknown. She was of about the right age but in 1851, she and her widowed mother are listed at 23 Sherrard St, Westminster where Mary was keeping body and soul together as a tobacconist. In 1861 Emily was a milliner working for a draper in Carshalton. Presumably, her dexterity with a needle gave her the entrée into the higher echelons of domestic service. In 1881 and 1891 she is recorded as a lady’s maid.

 

Painting by Jean Baptiste Beranger

https://www.pbslearningmedia.org/resource/bal56388fre/combing-my-ladys-tresses-bal56388-fre/#.W2ifiihKgdU

A lady’s maid was an esteemed position amongst female domestic servants. For an outline of life as a lady’s maid, https://lifetakeslemons.wordpress.com/2012/01/17/a-day-in-the-life-a-ladys-maid/ is a good starting point. The next time we catch up with Emily, it is on her death in 1915. She left an estate of almost £3000, probate granted to George Charles Kernot, gentleman.

While we are on the subject of the oldest child, he was born in 1825 in Rayleigh. In 1841, he is at the home of a chemist in London described as a male servant. However, given his later occupation, he was probably more like a trainee. He was a GP in 1851, MD & General Practitioner in 1861, surgeon in 1871, and ‘Gen Practicioner Lic Soc Apoth London’ in 1881. He had an address in Hastings when he died in 1888 although his death, described as sudden, occurred at the Caledonian Hotel, Inverness. This hotel was described as the only first class hotel on the banks of the River Ness and attracted wealthy visitors so it is hardly a surprise to find that George’s estate was valued at £9000 in 1888 (over £400,000 in today’s money).

 

http://www.ambaile.org.uk/detail/en/21650/1/EN21650-the-old-caledonian-hotel.htm

For those of you counting, Sarah Jane has not been forgotten but there is a reason for leaving her until the end.

Louisa, as we saw in the last posting, died when she was 35 years old. There is an uncertain entry in 1861 census as a servant and possibly as a hospital patient in Bristol in 1871. In neither case is the birthplace Rayleigh but Southend (1861) and Maldon (1871).

Abraham Bowerman Kernot was in Poplar in 1851 living with older (half) brother George. By 1861, he is at Great Wakering, Essex, and a member of what looks like ‘RCLE Practising’. Given that he was later a surgeon, this may be MRCS written badly. So the second son of George N Kernot also took up medicine as an occupation. (The medical connection comes in again later.) In 1871, Abraham was farming 16 acres in Reeth, Yorkshire but also a surgeon. His mother had moved north to join him. Reeth is in Swaledale and the image below shows it sitting in a gentle valley, almost nestled into the surrounding hills.

http://www.reeth.org/Reeth-village-information.htm

In 1891, still in Reeth, he has a four year old son. He married Sarah Hillary in 1887 – an oops moment as she gave birth three months later – and then she died, leaving Abraham at 52 with a four year old to take care of. This son is the Abraham Bowerman Kernot later granted the probate for Mary Ann Kernot in 1909.

However, as promised, let us return to Sarah Jane Kernot. In Brighton in 1857, she married William Sanders who, in 1861, was the Deputy Governor of Sussex prison. Lewes prison is still in use today.

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Lewes_Prison_from_castle.JPG by Charlesdrakew [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons

Of their two sons born in Lewes, one (George) died as a toddler in 1863. In 1871, William Sanders is listed as Governor of Pembrokeshire prison and, as the two younger sons (born 1867 and 1869) were born in Haverfordwest, he had been in this position since at least 1867. Sarah Jane is away visiting a certain school in London – RMIG!

Image from https://artuk.org/visit/venues/haverfordwest-town-museum-6885 Now the town museum, this was originally the Governor’s House.

Haverfordwest Prison closed in 1878, which may explain why the family are in Trowbridge in 1881. By 1891, William is given as a retired prison governor. In 1901, the Sanders were living in Leytonstone where, on 28 Oct 1904, Sarah Jane died, her probate being granted to her widower and son Charles.

The three sons, John William Sanders, Charles Kernot Sanders and Frederic Kernot Sanders all have an impact on the life of the next person who brings us back to the School. John William (her father) is at school in Derbyshire in 1871 and Ripperana 1993 includes an article which states

“Educated at Guy’s Hospital, where he was House Surgeon, First Prizeman in Medicine, Surgery, etc (1879), and Prizeman in Anatomy, etc (1877). He was for a time Medical Officer of the Croydon Fever Hospital, and then became Resident Medical Officer of the Bethnal Green Infirmary. At the time of his early death he was Medical Superintendent of the St George-in-the East Infirmary, Princes Street, E, as well as Surgeon to the St John Ambulance Brigade. He was also a Fellow of the British Gynaecological Society and a Member of the British Medical Association.”

He qualified as MRCS Nov 17th 1879; MD Brussels 1880; FRCS June 12th 1884; LRCP Lond 1880; LSA 1879; DPH 1887. (from https://livesonline.rcseng.ac.uk/biogs/E003082b.htm ). In 1884, he married Emily Baker in Gravesend and their daughter, Bertha Lucia Elizabeth Sanders, was born in 1885. She was only four years old when her father died. The fleeting reference above to Ripperana may have alerted you to a connection to the horrific crimes of Jack the Ripper. John William Sanders has been considered as a suspect although there also appears to be a John William Smith Sanders so the notion is even more shrouded in mystery. Passions run very high over this subject so we will gloss over it, stick to those facts we know and leave others to draw conclusions.

Bertha Sanders is a fact, as is her being a pupil at the School. John William Sanders died in 1889 apparently from heart failure whilst under anaesthetic (https://www.casebook.org/ripper_media/book_reviews/non-fiction/cjmorley/158.html) and in 1891, Bertha is living at 18 Beauchamp Rd, Battersea with her widowed mother, practically within spitting distance of the School.

Picture of 18 Beauchamp Rd from Google Earth

Bertha’s mother re-married in 1893, had another daughter in 1894 but died just four months later. In 1901 Bertha is a 15 year old pupil at RMIG. She was due to leave in 1902 but was retained as a pupil teacher in the junior school and by 1907 was the 3rd assistant in Matron’s department, rising to 2nd assistant in 1912. As Mary Ann Kernot retired in 1895, there might have been a short time when Bertha as a pupil (and niece) coincided with Mary Ann, Matron (and aunt).

In 1914, Frederic Kernot Sanders (Bertha’s uncle), serving on RMS Balantia, died in Barbados. He left his estate of £9000 to his brother Charles and his niece Bertha. The following year, Bertha left the School and took a cookery course, but the two things may be coincidental. By 1917, she had finished the course and ‘was cooking for a hospital in Kensington’ according to Massonica 1917 (the earlier version of the Old Girls’ magazine) although also in that year she is given as superintendent at a hostel for Bedford College so there is some discrepancy. In 1928, she married Percy Simpson, the former secretary to RMIG but by 1939 was widowed and living in Ashdown Gardens, Kensington and ‘of private means’. Three years later those private means became substantially larger as her uncle Charles Kernot Sanders died and his estate of £33,000 (well over £600,000 today) came to Bertha. Was her life changed by this? Difficult to say. In 1972, when she herself died, her estate was valued as £32,000+ which might suggest that she didn’t do a Viv Nicholson and spend, spend, spend. The only hint we have to her character was the description of her in Masonica 1972 when her death was announced: “a dignified and kindly, if somewhat awe-inspiring, figure!” Perhaps the money enabled her to live comfortably if quietly. Her husband when he died left his estate to his mother rather than Bertha which possibly hints of an unsuccessful marriage. Or maybe he thought she was well provided for and didn’t need it.

This is a story covering 130 years, several counties, not to mention countries, surgeons and scholars, crimes and prisons – a ripping yarn indeed.

Additional research material supplied by SuBa and also Rayleigh Town Museum.

The only way is Essex

Approximately 6.5% of the historical school roll were Essex girls. The figure is a guesstimate because the birthplaces of some 10% of the historical roll are at present unknown. Additionally, Essex is one of the four counties abutting London so the boundaries are rather flexible. A degree of second guessing has to be done even when Essex is stated as a home county. The opposite boundary of Essex is fortunately pretty clear cut because the map turns blue where the land meets the sea. So we know where Essex stops on that side at least.

And we know that of those 6.5% Essex girls, five came from one small town near-ish to an edge that is wet: Rayleigh. Situated just off the A127, near to Southend, the market town of Rayleigh is 32 miles east of London.

Image from http://www.visionofbritain.org.uk/maps

The name Rayleigh means the clearing of the deer – rǣge (roe deer) and lēah (clearing). The land around Rayleigh was a royal hunting forest so, if the king comes a-riding and there is nary a deer to be found, he’s going to be a tad cross. It made sense to help nature along and ensure there was good hunting to be had.

There is a tenuous connection with a deer area and the school on its present site. An area in the school grounds known as the Dell may have been where deer were over-wintered. Certainly when Park House was purchased to build the School, it was advertised as being situate in a deer park although the deer were moved out when the School moved in.

Rayleigh is mentioned in the great tax document known as the Domesday Book and listed as having a castle, which appears to have been in ruins by the 13th century. Indeed some of the stones may have been used to build the church. All that remains is the medieval mound now in the care of the National Trust and which affords a good view of the surrounding countryside.

View from the Mount taken from http://littlemissedenrose.com/home/rayleigh-windmill-review/

The families of the School’s Rayleigh pupils at one point lived in the High Street. As they were born in the same period, and their fathers were both members of the Lodge of True Friendship, it is possible that they knew each other. However, that remains as speculation and the most we can do is place them, for a brief period, in the same place at the same time.

It is time to meet the families: Noone and Kernot.

Anne Linggood Noone and her older sister Betsy Ann were two of the 13 children of John Loten Noone and his wife Elizabeth Hunt Noone nee Linggood. Anne, b 1830, became a pupil in 1839 and left in 1845. In fact in 1845, she was “at home ‘ill’; a bible and prayer book and some clothing delivered to her father”. Nevertheless, she was of the right age to leave (15) so it does not appear to have been the illness that caused her departure. Betsy, six years older (b. 1824), arrived as a pupil in 1833 and left in 1839. In fact, the two Noone girls were not in the School together as Betsy left in February 1839 and Anne arrived in April. So, keeping strictly to the rule that sisters were not permitted – a rule that was frequently broken in any case – the Noone period of residency was 12 years: 1833-1845.

The Kernot Three did not overlap with the Noone Two as the Kernot girls were slightly younger but it was another large family with 7 children. Mary Ann Kernot was born in 1833 and she is listed at the School in the 1851 census (and in 1861, 1871, 1881 and 1891 too but we get ahead of ourselves); Louisa Catherine, b 1840, appears in the 1851 census at the school listed as Catherine which suggests that this was the name by which she was known. Sadly she did not make old bones as she died in 1875. It may be her listed in 1871 as being a patient in Bristol General Hospital although her place of birth is given as Maldon, Essex so the jury remains out on that one. The last Kernot girl to be a pupil was Kate Charlotte who was born in the year Anne Noone left the School.

The rule of no sisters was frequently broken but the rule of indigence was much more strictly adhered to. It was, after all, the raison d’etre for the Charity. In practice, most of the indigence was as a result of the death of the father but it was not a perquisite that the father must be deceased and John Loten Noone wasn’t. At least not whilst his daughters attended as pupils. We have to assume that his indigence was connected to his numerous progeny. A saddler and harness maker by trade, he died in 1846, by which time both his daughters had left the School.

The Noones were also connected to printing. Charles Clark Noone, paternal uncle to Anne & Betsy, was a printer and hairdresser [an interesting combination!] and it was he who printed the pamphlet in Rayleigh in 1821 in support of Queen Caroline.

Digression for a brief history lesson. The Prince Regent married Caroline of Brunswick. The marriage was a failure although they managed to produce an heir (Princess Charlotte) before going their separate ways. Both behaved scandalously but George held what he thought was a winning hand. He introduced a Bill of Pains and Penalties designed to rid himself of Caroline before his coronation as George IV. Unfortunately for him, the general populace was pretty much behind Caroline so the failure of the bill was accompanied by enthusiastic celebrations. It was to no avail as Caroline was locked out of Westminster Abbey whilst George was crowned. Shortly afterwards, she left the country and died abroad. Their daughter grew up to marry but died giving birth to a son who also died, thus creating the race for inheritance that resulted in the birth of Queen Victoria.

Rayleigh celebrated the defeat of the Bill with a bonfire and fireworks and ‘at 6.30 p.m. on the 16th November a cannon was fired to announce the start of the festivities and “the windows of all the inhabitants….were instantly lighted; the bells commenced ringing a merry peal; a large bonfire was made; the effect was truly grand” ‘(reprinted in Rayleigh parish magazine, April 2018, p6 http://btckstorage.blob.core.windows.net/site2742/Documents/Magazine/MagazineApril%202018r.pdf ). A band paraded through the streets and perhaps more to the point ‘fifty-four gallons of strong beer were distributed among the poor inhabitants, and the people in the poor-house were regaled with plenty of meat, bread and beer’ – so clearly everyone had a good time.

The Kernot father, George Noyce Kernot, was a chemist (chymist) and druggist and he, like John Noone, carried on his business in the High St, Rayleigh. In 1841, the Noone and Kernot families were both residing in the High St. Mary Ann & Louisa Kernot and Betsy Ann Noone were therefore all in the same place at the same time. Thereafter, their lives were divergent. Anne Linggood Noone is the only one of the pupils still in Rayleigh in 1851. Then she disappears from trace until a fleeting reference in the will of one of her brothers which places her as a spinster in Southend in 1864. We don’t know what happened to her after that. Her sister Betsy married in 1847 and, by 1851, had moved with her draper husband to Romford. They were doing well enough for there to be two servants in the household. After this, she too vanishes. As husband and children also fall off the research radar, it is possible that they went overseas. Brother Alfred went to Australia so it is quite feasible that Betsy and her husband also went and so they have not been traced.

The Kernots, on the other hand, apart from Louisa who died in 1875, are much more visible. Mary Ann, as hinted earlier, stayed on at the School, eventually becoming Matron. She retired in 1895 after 43 years’ service and received a pension of £60 pa. In 1901, she was in Shoreham as a retired Matron. On 25 July 1909, aged 72, she died, her probate giving her address as College Rd, Ripon and granted to Abraham Bowerman Kernot, her nephew. As her brother Abraham had also lived in Yorkshire, it may well be that Mary Ann moved north to be with him, particularly since he had married late in life and his wife died giving birth to their son so he had a young child to look after.

Kate Kernot, on the other hand, did marry (1873) – William Cooper, a draper by trade. In all the remaining available census returns, Kate is at different addresses but always in the South East: Hackney, Woodford, Streatham, Balham. In 1923, she died, her address given as 39 Trouville Rd, Clapham Park. Probate was granted to Kate’s son, Maurice. Her estate was worth a tidy sum – £3014 10s 4d with a further grant in 1925 [amount not given] which is the equivalent today of £66,000. Mary Ann too left a very respectable amount, the equivalent of £108,000. In fact all the Kernot girls who reached maturity were comfortably off if we judge by their probates.

Images of College Rd, Ripon and Trouville Rd, Clapham Park both from Google Earth and showing some of the substantial Victorian/Edwardian housing that would have been there in Kate and Mary Ann’s time.

The Kernots and the Noones feature in a variety of wills as testators and beneficiaries so it is quite possible much of their estates were inherited and then passed on to another of the clan in turn. Like so much about individual pupils we have tantalising glimpses into their lives which leave us wanting more!

A Winter’s Tale

Given the current white-out, courtesy of the so-called ‘Beast from the East’, it seemed appropriate to put together some winter elements connected to the School. The title is, of course, the name of the Shakespeare play. As Mamilius, son of Leontes & Hermione – no, not that one! –says, a ‘sad tale’s best for winter’. During the School’s history, before it achieved independent status, pupils attended under indigent circumstances. Mostly, but not exclusively, these were caused by the death of the father and breadwinner – a sad tale indeed. It was so often the case that the locals referred to the pupils as the orphans on the hill. Connecting this inherent sadness with Shakespeare’s A Winter’s Tale, the father of one of those pupils, and whose death caused her to attend the School, was a drama critic, author and Shakespearian scholar.

Raymond Crompton Rhodes, known as RCR, died in October 1935, following bronchitis and pneumonia. His funeral was attended by the managers of all the Birmingham theatres. As the article above says, he had been a drama critic for a long time and was well respected as such. He had authored many books on the theatre and had renown as an expert on Shakespeare and Sheridan. Presumably because of this, the Assistant Manager of the Theatre Royal, Birmingham, Philip Rodway, indicated in his will that his play texts collection was to go to Mr Rhodes.

Mr Rodway died in 1932. His will, incidentally, also expressed a desire that every effort was made to ensure he was dead before they buried him. This was something that the Victorians were very concerned about. To them, Mr Rodway’s request that

would not be deemed strange. The notion of being buried alive furnished many a ghost story of the period, all very suitable for a dark winter’s night.

But back to the theatre.

Theatre Royal, Birmingham soon after it opened in 1904 – Courtesy William Neale; photo from http://www.arthurlloyd.co.uk/Birmingham/TheatreRoyalNewStreetBirmingham.htm

‘The Birmingham Theatre Royal collection comprises play texts and prompt books dating from the mid to the late nineteenth century. Many are printed, about 300 are manuscripts. The majority of the manuscripts are copies made for prompting and for stage management.

The collection was formed by successive managers… [and] was saved by the young assistant manager, Philip Rodway, when the Theatre Royal was demolished for rebuilding 1902 to 1904.’

https://theironroom.wordpress.com/2011/10/17/351/

Quite possibly within them somewhere is A Winter’s Tale!

After RCR’s sudden demise, the collection went to Birmingham library where it is still held today. In school records, the Rhodes family address was Shakespeare Drive. No doubt the spirit of RCR would have approved!

As the wind howls outside, one is reminded that warm clothing is essential in winter. The School from its inception in 1788 had been funded by Freemasons. This extended not only to the provision of buildings, books and teachers etc. but also to food and clothing. And the latter was not just during any pupil’s time at school but to equip them on the journey into the world beyond schooling. What these outfits were varied throughout the years. In 1788 it was specified that, on leaving the School, each pupil was to be provided with ‘Gowns, petticoats, aprons, shoes, shifts, caps and Tuscan hats.’ Tuscan hats were straw hats, the straw originally coming from Tuscany so that the style came to be called Tuscan even when it no longer had any Italian roots. Later in the School’s history, the Tuscan hats gave way to hats (unspecified) but the provision of a coat was always included. During the war, when clothing was on ration, the provision for school leavers of a coat, dress and shoes became a real godsend.

To begin with, the girls would make their own clothes but by the twentieth century the provision of certainly outer garments, and often all of the outfits, came from shops. Arding & Hobbs in Clapham was used for many years, even after the School had moved to Hertfordshire. Then it was replaced by Trewins of Watford which was much closer and made the already arduous task for harassed housemistresses of outfitting leavers perhaps very slightly less fraught! As anyone who has experienced it will affirm, taking one teenager to be outfitted for winter, top to toe, in the off season and all accomplished within one hour, was a Battle Royal. To take a dozen ….

Winter clothing aside, the other noticeable thing about this season is that there are a greater number of darker hours. One girl (pupil 1959-1965) remembers them especially as

‘I was a keen musician and used to rise at about 6.00 in the mornings to go and practise on the Steinway in the hall (special privilege!) In the winter it was dark and scary at that time of day, walking up the cloisters and along the long classroom corridor with no lights on!’

The cloisters, the Garth and the long, long corridor are noticeable parts of the School on its current site. Traversing any of them at a time of day when no-one else is can be intimidating. Today the corridor is punctuated by fire doors which close automatically in the event of a fire. They also close automatically every evening and there is something rather eerie about being in the corridor when, with a sudden loud click, all the doors start to close without anyone near them!

Moving away from winter (the season) to Winter, a surname, there are 2 pupils who have had the name. They were two of the four daughters of Joseph & Caroline Winter. Ellen Lockwood Winter was born in 1853 in Chirk, Denbighshire where her father was the stationmaster. From there, he moved on to be innkeeper at Barr’s Railway Station in Hereford and Annie Gorton Winter was born there in 1856.

Above left: the bridge carrying the rail line into Chirk (from Wikipedia) and right: Hereford station today (from Google Earth) but probably, apart from cars, not looking much different than it was in 1861.

Joseph Winter died ‘after a lingering illness’ on 3rd May 1864. His two younger daughters subsequently became pupils. Ellen won the Vocal music prize in 1868 but had left the School by the 1871 census. In fact, there is no trace of her in 1871 but in 1875 we catch up with her. On May 5 1875, she married at South Kensington St Luke, the groom being Julius Christoph Richter, a merchant born in Königsberg, Prussia. After this very brief appearance in public records – which also includes a reference to her sister who was a witness at the wedding – Ellen disappears off the radar again. Given that her husband was a merchant, perhaps they travelled a great deal and thus the British records do not see her. In 1941, in GRO Consular Death Indices, we find her death on 9th May in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Her sister, Annie, was accepted as a pupil on 13th April 1865. In 1871, she is found with her mother and another of her sisters back in Hereford. Annie would have been due to leave in April 1871 so she had perhaps only just returned home when the enumerator came knocking at the door. Like her sister Ellen, she won prizes: one for general proficiency and one for French recitation, both in 1868.

Her brother in law was from Königsberg and that is where we next find Annie. We do not know why she was there but perhaps she had travelled there with the newly married couple. The two sisters would appear to have been close so this does not seem an unreasonable supposition. On the other hand, she may have been, as so many pupils were, a governess to a family there, such a place found via her in-laws.

‘For centuries, Königsberg was the metropolis of eastern Germany. The city … became a meeting point of diverse historical and cultural traditions, as well as the home for people of various nationalities and religious beliefs.’ https://canitz.org/

‘Königsberg was a beautiful, vibrant and a very prosperous city … and a vital shipping port … Grand merchant houses, banking offices, palaces and opera houses were erected in the city center.’ https://canitz.org/

Today, the city does not exist. Kaliningrad which stands where Königsberg used to be is actually a new city as Königsberg was completely destroyed in WWII.

For whatever reason Annie was there in 1876, we know this because it was where she died. She was just nineteen years old.

But so that we don’t end entirely on a sombre note, let us finish with a reference to one of Königsberg’s famous sons, Ernst Theodor Amadeus Hoffmann, author and composer. It is his stories that form the basis of Offenbach’s Tales of Hoffman opera. He also wrote the novella The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, on which Tchaikovsky’s ballet is based. And that is a ballet traditionally put on in winter, around Christmas, with every little girl wishing she could dance the part of Clara.

Images of Nutcracker from http://www.twincitiesballet.org/twin-cities-ballet-mn-performances/nutcracker.htm

If we have to have a ‘beast from the east’, the Mouse King is better than snow and ice. And it makes a good winter’s tale. Or should that be tail?