Glanville St as was

Sophia Kewney, another of the first pupils starting at the School in 1789, hailed from Marylebone although part of the street in which she lived was originally St. Pancras, ‘the boundary passing between the east and west sides of the street in an oblique line.’ [1] ‘The crossroads at the corner of Oxford Street and Tottenham Court Road is an historic junction, where four parishes met.’ [2]

In fact the address of 44 Glanville St, Rathbone Place is a kind of anomaly in itself as Rathbone Place was originally known as Glanville Street rather than being a separate street and perhaps it was at the point of changing in 1789 when Sophia’s address was given. Rather like a belt-and-braces approach, both names for the street were used so that there could be no doubting which street it was.

The surname Kewney is often difficult to trace through records, as the w may be written so that it blends into the n and could easily be read Kenney. In the Rough Minute Book, Sophia is described as being ‘approved a proper Object’, her parents being William and Ann. Her application was supported by H Spicer (Henry Spicer a portrait & enamel painter of Great Newport Street), someone who had been involved in the School since the beginning. There are some fleeting references in public records to a William Kewney. He appears in tax records in 1782 and 1792, both times given in Glanville St. However an electoral roll in 1774 gives him as a mason living in Noel St, Westminster. Presumably, this same William is the one who applied for financial assistance in the List of petitioners[3] where it is recorded

‘William Kewney, mason, requests assistance after severe illness has left him unable to support his family. Recommended by Lodge of Operative Masons, No. 185 [SN 613], London’

Whether these two are the same William Kewney is impossible to say but, given the rarity of the surname, it seems likely.


The newspaper gives that Sophia was baptised in St Pancras on 6th March 1780 having been born on 29th January of that year. However, the records actually give a baptism on 6th March 1779 at Percy Chapel, St Pancras so, like Mary Ann Ruscoe, Sophia appears to be a year older than the School thought she was! If this were a deliberate fraud (as Mary Ann Ruscoe’s was) it is one which has only been uncovered two centuries later …

Of her time at the School, we know only that she was retained as a servant at the School when she was old enough to leave. This might imply that family circumstances had deteriorated even further than in 1788 or it may simply be a case that there was a vacancy for a house servant and Sophia was available. She clearly worked hard as she earned a guinea’s gratuity after a year. So we can place her until at least 1796 and then, in 1799, there is a marriage.

London Metropolitan Archives; London, England; Reference Number: p85/mry1/393

This marriage took place at St Mary’s, Lambeth and indicates that both lived there. This is not an area previously associated with the Kewneys but possibly Sophia had moved on from being a house servant with the School to a domestic role in Lambeth. John and Sophia had five children and their only daughter later married Mr Crichton and there are Crichton descendants today who can claim Sophia as an ancestor.

But it is Rathbone Place, Glanville St that is the star of this show (post) as around the time the Kewneys were there, it was a little hotspot for artists and art suppliers.

The houses [in Rathbone Place] were regular three and four-storey brick terraces … Houses with 20–22ft widths generally had three-bay fronts, standard rear-stair layouts, corner fireplaces and closet wings. Some had marble chimneypieces … The street was a good private address, with a number of wealthy residents ‘

Where there are artists and architects and ‘Nearly every house in Rathbone Place had an artist as tenant at some point’ (ibid), then almost inevitably there will be art suppliers. George Jackson & Co, Samuel and Joseph Fuller, Winsor & Newton and George Rowney & Co were all in this area. The Fullers were at No. 34 from 1809 until 1862 in what came to be called Fuller’s Temple of Fancy.

A leaflet, apparently from the Lady’s Magazine, August 1823, depicted Fuller’s shop interior, and gives a good idea of the product range; the business was advertised as ‘Publishers of the greatest variety of Sporting Prints …Wholesale Manufacturers of Bristol Boards, Ivory Paper & Cards./ Engravers, Publishers, Printsellers, & Fancy Stationers.’

Left: Fuller’s Temple of Fancy Right: Jackson’s logo today from

George Jackson & Sons Ltd was established in 1780 producing decorative plaster ornament. Their premises were at No. 50 by 1817, expanded into No. 49 c.1832 and then to Nos 47–48. Behind the showrooms was a large workshop. The firm continued to operate from Rathbone Place until 1934.





Next door at No 51 was George Rowney & Co., artists’ colour manufacturers, from 1817 to 1862 and at No. 52 from 1854 to 1884. This is a company that has had almost as many names as the colours of paint they produce! It started as T & R Rowney (Thomas and Richard Rowney), then Thomas’s son took on the business with his brother in law, trading as Rowney & Forster. After 1837, another son took over and it became George Rowney & Company, later George Rowney & Co Ltd. It relocated many times, finally leaving London completely. It retained its connection with the Rowney family but eventually it ran out of Rowneys and in 1969 was sold. In its bicentenary year (1983), it became Daler-Rowney, under which name it still trades very successfully today.



The other art suppliers from Rathbone Place, still very much trading today, is Winsor & Newton. William Winsor, chemist and artist, and Henry Charles Newton, artist, set up business at No. 38 in 1833 in what was then ‘part of an artists’ quarter in which a number of eminent painters had studios, and other colourmen were already established’ (Wikipedia). Together they combined the knowledge of science and the creativity of art to provide

‘a regular source of reliable colours and brushes.’  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     38 Rathbone Place may well have been Newton’s home before it became business premises and within a short time, No 39 was also part of the business.

To Dickens they were ‘Rathbone-place magicians … Has anyone ever seen anything like Winsor and Newton’s cups of chromes and carnations … and crimsons, loud and fierce as a war-cry, and pinks, tender and loving as a young girl?All the year round, vol.7. 1862, p.563


Having sourced our paints, let us go and find the artists who used them. Of the Rathbone Place ones, at least two of them had a connection with the School’s history. Humphry, Hardwick & Hone were there at the time that we know the Kewneys were living there; Burrell, Constable, Lewis and Pugin may have coincided with the Kewneys’ residence but after Sophia had started at the School; Linnell, Hawkins, Bielfield & Moore were there slightly later but still in the early part of the C19th.

Joseph Francis Burrell, was a miniaturist who exhibited at the Royal Academy between 1801 and 1807. He lived at No 7. John Constable, of course, is known to all of us. He lodged at No 50 when he was a student at the Royal Academy. Frederick Christian Lewis was an etcher, aquatint and stipple engraver, and also a landscape and portrait painter. He lived at No 5.

Left: miniature by Burrell. Centre: self-portrait Constable. Right: etching and aquatint by Lewis

Augustus Charles Pugin at No 38 was a French-born artist and draughtsman and a skilful watercolourist. He was in Rathbone Place 1804–6. Perhaps he is somewhat eclipsed in fame by his son Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin. John Linnell, who lived close by at No. 35 (1817–18) was a painter and engraver. Like Constable – but just a couple of years later – he became a student at the Royal Academy where he won medals for drawing, modelling and sculpture. It is known that Nathaniel Hone, portrait and miniature painter, died at No. 30 in 1784. He was an Irish-born painter and one of the founder members of the Royal Academy.

Left: portrait of Pugin by John Nash. Centre: self=portrait by Linnell. Right: self-portrait by Hone

Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins, living at No. 11 in the 1830s, was the son of an artist (Thomas Hawkins) and is particularly renowned for his work on the life-size models of dinosaurs in the Crystal Palace Park in south London. However he also produced very fine natural history paintings. Henry Bielfield, painter, lived at No. 13 (1837–54) but he also lived at No 18 and No 21. Presumably not at the same time. George Belton Moore, landscape painter, lived at No. 1 Rathbone Place in 1830. Moore was a pupil of Pugin so he only had to walk down the street for that.

Left: Porcine Deer (Axis porcinus) from Knowsley Park by Hawkins. Centre: Meeting of day and light by Bielfield. Right: Fish Street Hill looking towards London Bridge, 1830 by Moore

That leaves the two who have tangential connections to the School’s history.

Ozias Humphry, who lived at No. 29 in 1777, was a miniaturist of some renown who was later appointed Portrait Painter in Crayons to the King (1792). Lest this sound somewhat childish to modern ears, crayons was the term used for what today we call pastels. Sadly, his deteriorating sight (he eventually became blind) meant that he had to turn from miniatures to larger portraits. Amongst his work was a portrait of one Bartholomew Ruspini, the instigator of the School of which Sophia Kewney became a pupil.


Left: Extract from “The Royal Freemason’s School for Girls”. The Builder. 9: 722. 1851..Right: photograph of Philip Hardwick, c 1850 from The Patrick Montgomery Collection

Philip Hardwick, an architect and son of an architect was born at No. 9 in 1792. He trained as an architect under his father, Thomas Hardwick, who was in turn the son of another architect Thomas Hardwick (1725–1798). The Hardwick family name spans over 150 years in the history of British architecture. When the School desired to move to its third site (Somers Place East and St George’s Fields, Southwark were the first two), Philip Hardwick was appointed the architect.

Whilst working on Lincoln’s Inn Great Hall (1843-4), Philip Hardwick fell ill and poor health dogged the rest of his life. His son Philip Charles Hardwick assisted his father and they worked as a team. In 1851, the 3rd school site was opened, its style very much reflecting the zeitgeist for Gothic revivalist style.

The School at Clapham

So the School in Somers Place East connects to the site in Clapham via Rathbone Place, or Glanville St that was, in a very curious and unexpected way.


[1] Survey of London: Volume 21, the Parish of St Pancras Part 3: Tottenham Court Road and Neighbourhood ed. J R Howard Roberts and Walter H Godfrey (London, 1949), p. 12. British History Online [accessed 7 March 2019].

[2] ‘

[3] Moderns Grand Lodge Committee of Charity, GBR 1991 HC 12/C/110

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.

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 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

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.


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.

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

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

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 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).

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 …


  1. From “The Copartnership Herald”, Vol. V, no. 57 (November 1935) cited by
  2. Derek Morris & Kenneth Cozens (2013) The Shadwell Waterfront in the Eighteenth Century, The Mariner’s Mirror
  3. (Allen, Thomas The History and Antiquities of London, Westminster, Southwark, and parts adjacent pp.709–712 (George Virtue, 1839), as cited by Wikipedia)