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Marmaduke Stephenson and Others: some notes for a family history

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Map of Middlesex by John Speed (1552-1629)

To begin …


“HILLINGDON, a village, a parish, and a sub-district, in Uxbridge district, Middlesex. The village stands near the Uxbridge railway, the Grand Junction canal, the river Colne, and the boundary with Bucks, 1 mile SE of Uxbridge; was known, at Domesday, as Hillendone; and has a post office under Uxbridge, and a police station.

The parish contains also the town and township of Uxbridge, the villages of Yiewsley and Colham, and the hamlets of Gould-Green, Peel-Hatch, Colham Green, Long Atter, and Hockley Hole; and a detached part of it is encompassed by Ickenham parish. Acres, 4, 720. Real property, £32, 230; of which £200 are in the canal, and £250 in gas works. Pop. in 1851, 9, 588; in 1861, 10, 758. Houses, 2, 052. Pop., exclusive of Uxbridge, in 1851, 6, 352; in 1861, 7, 522. Houses, 1, 424. The increase of pop. arose partly from the erection of barracks.

The Uxbridge workhouse is in Colham Green; and, at the census of 1861, had 211 inmates. Moorcroft lunatic asylum is in Gould-Green; and, at the census, had 61 inmates. The manor belonged to Roger de Montgomery; passed to the Salisburys, the Lacies, the Stranges, and the Stanleys; and belongs now to the De Burghs. The old manor house has been demolished. An old rectory-house, now extinct, was used by the Bishops of Worcester, who had the rectorial titles. Hillingdon Park, or Little London, belonged to Count de Salis. Cedar House was the seat of Reynardson, the naturalist; and took its name from a cedar tree which, in 1779, measured from 12½ to nearly 16 feet in the girth of its stem, and from 89 to 96 feet in the diameter of its head.

Other chief residences are Hillingdon House, H. Court, H. Place, H. Grove, Little H. and Dawley Court. Charles I. halted here, in 1646, on his way to the Scottish army. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of London. Value, £489.* Patron, the Bishop of London. The church is later English, in good condition; stands on a commanding eminence at the village; figures conspicuously over many miles; and contains a few brasses and two fine monuments. A chapel of ease, built in 1859, is in Yiewsley. A section of the parish, with a pop. of about 2, 500, was constituted a separate charge in 1865, a vicarage, with income of £230, * in the patronage of the Bishop of London. The church for it bears the name of St. Andrew’s; was built, in 1865, at a cost o £7, 700; is of yellow brick, with red brick in patterns; and consists of nave, aisles, and chancel, with tower and lofty shingle spire. The perpetual curacies of Uxbridge and Uxbridge-Moor also are separate benefices. There are national and British schools, and charities £878.-The sub-district includes also Cowley and West Drayton parishes, but excludes Uxbridge township. Acres, 5, 870. Pop., 8, 844. Houses, 1, 681.”

(From John Marius Wilson, Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales (1870-72))

* * *

My great-great-great-grandfather Robert Wright (1777-1863) was born and baptised in Chalfont St. Giles, Buckinghamshire.  He was ‘The son of ‘William and Ann Wright’. By about 1800, he had settled in Colham Green, near Hillingdon, Middlesex, with his wife Mary. They raised the usual large family for the period. Mary was born in about the same year. According to the 1841 census, she was ‘from Hayes’, Middlesex, though I have not as yet been able to find a definite record of either her baptism or her marriage. There was a strong Wright presence in north Buckinghamshire from the early 18th century, and familiar family names occur quite early on. A move southwards began in the middle years of the century. Robert’s parents, “William and Ann”, possibly married in 1759 in Wooburn (though these two may actually have been his grandparents.) There is also a marriage recorded between a ‘William and Ann Wright’ in Finchley, Middlesex, on the 8th August, 1774. This could be the union of Robert’s parents, given the fairly close proximity of Finchley to Chalfont.


12th May:  At the church of St John the Baptist, Hillingdon – a burial: “Mary, daughter of Tho: Wright from London”.  Is there a connection ? The search continues …



Buckinghamshire by John Speed


5th July:  The marriage of a WILLIAM and ANN WRIGHT. Possibly Robert’s parents. (There are several Wrights to be found in Buckinghamshire throughout the available records.)




8th August: WILLIAM WRIGHT marries ANN BROWN. (Possible parents of Robert, of course, as discussed above.)




The Parish Church of Chalfont-St-Giles

5th June:  “ROBERT, son of WILLIAM and ANN WRIGHT”, is baptised in the parish church. (Chalfont St Giles is within easy striking distance of the Hertfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Middlesex borders. It is the village in which the blind John Milton completed his epic poem ‘Paradise Lost’ a century earlier as the Plague raged in London.)




18th June:  THOMAS WRIGHT is baptised in the parish church of St John the Baptist. His father ROBERT is ‘a labourer’ and his mother is recorded simply as MARY. Robert and Mary’s other children have been baptised in the same church:

JAMES (24th July, 1803);
WILLIAM (2nd June, 1805);
FRANCES (18th January, 1807);
MARY (29th January, 1809);
JOHN (11th March, 1811);
ANN (18th December, 1812; buried 17th February, 1814, aged 15 months);
SARAH (18th December, 1814);
GEORGE (28th June, 1818);
THOMAS (18th June, 1820);
HARRIET (5th May, 1822).

All the children are baptised by the vicar, The Reverend T.Mills.

2nd July:  ESTHER WEATHERLY is baptised in the same church. She will marry THOMAS WRIGHT in 1843.  Her name appears two entries below that of her future husband in the parish register. Her parents are GEORGE (b.1786) AND ELIZABETH (nee PAGE.) The Rev. Thomas Dawson Allen, curate, has misspelled their surname, ‘Weatherley’.


11th October:  MARY WRIGHT (b.1809) daughter of Robert and Mary, marries HENRY BAYLIS (b.1800) in the parish church of Hanwell, Middlesex. HENRY is the son of WILLIAM and MARY BAYLIS.


7th May:  Burial of ESTHER’s father, GEORGE WEATHERLY in the churchyard of St John the Baptist, Hillingdon. He is 51 years of age. The Reverend G.C.Hale, curate, officiates.


Census Records:

The Census was taken on the night of 6th June, 1841.


The surviving fragment of Colham Green.
The surviving fragment of Colham Green.

ROBERT WRIGHT is 65. He is a Hay Dealer. His wife MARY is the same age. In the household are their son THOMAS (b.1820) aged 21, daughters SARAH (aged 25) and HARRIET (aged 19), and a small boy, GEORGE, aged 2.

The census of 1841 doesn’t state family relationships. Little GEORGE is most likely a grandson to ROBERT and MARY – but whose child ?  The baptism of a GEORGE SEATON WRIGHT on December 8th, 1839, gives a hint. The child is ‘illegitimate’, the mother’s name is SARAH – but there is no father. The child’s middle name may provide a clue.

The place they live in is changing. This part of Middlesex was mainly agricultural and market garden.  Now there are brickfields for the building of London’s increasing urban sprawl.

In Hayes, ESTHER WEATHERLY is 21. She is a FEMALE SERVANT at the RECTORY HOUSE BOARDING SCHOOL for girls, which is presided over by The Rev. George Hale (see below). Her brother WILLIAM, aged 15, is recorded as a Male Servant. (There is also the VICARAGE HOUSE BOARDING SCHOOL which caters for boys. It is next door, and is presided over by the Rev. Billy Hodges, clergyman.) Esther’s widowed mother ELIZABETH is a laundress, aged 45.


The Parish Church of St Mary, Hayes

September 11th: THOMAS WRIGHT (b.1820) marries ESTHER WEATHERLY (b.1820). They are married in St Mary’s, the Parish Church, Hayes, Middlesex, by the Rev. G.C. Hale, Curate. ROBERT WRIGHT, Thomas’s father, is described as a ‘Farmer’, and GEORGE WEATHERLY as a ‘Labourer’ (dead). THOMAS is also described as a ‘Farmer’. The register is witnessed by William J. Weatherly (Esther’s brother ?) and Mary Ann Weatherly. Their relationship to Esther is not specified.

ESTHER bears eight children:

THOMAS  (baptised 21st June 1844),
MARY  (baptised 19th April 1846),
ROBERT  (baptised 2nd April 1848),
CHARLES  (baptised 31st March 1850),
ESTHER  (baptised 27th June 1852),
FREDERICK  (baptised 8th October 1854),
HANNAH  (baptised 20th February 1859), and
ARTHUR (baptised 24th March 1861).


21st June:  THOMAS WRIGHT, firstborn child of THOMAS and ESTHER WRIGHT is christened in the church of St. John the Baptist, Hillingdon.


19th April:  MARY WRIGHT, the fourth child of THOMAS and ESTHER, is baptised in the church of St John the Baptist, Hillingdon. She is named after her paternal grandmother.

1848 2nd April:  ROBERT WRIGHT, another child for THOMAS and ESTHER WRIGHT is christened in the church of St. Mary, Hayes, Middlesex. He is named after his paternal grandfather.


31st March:  CHARLES WRIGHT, third son of THOMAS and ESTHER, is christened in the church of St John the Baptist, Hillingdon.

1851 Census Records:

The Census was taken on the night of 30th March, 1851.



THOMAS WRIGHT is a ‘labourer’ aged 30, married to ESTHER. To date, they have four children: THOMAS, a scholar (b.1844), MARY, a scholar (b. 1846), ROBERT (b.1848), CHARLES (b. 1850).

ROBERT & MARY WRIGHT are now – according to the census enumerator – 74 and 72, respectively. He is described as a ‘Hay & Straw Dealer’. In their household are also EMMA WRIGHT (b.1836), a granddaughter, aged 15, who is a dressmaker, born in the parish of St. Marylebone, and GEORGE WRIGHT (b.1840), a grandson, now aged 11.


27th June:  ESTHER WRIGHT, named after her mother, is christened in the church of St John the Baptist, Hillingdon.


15th December:  MARY WRIGHT (b.1777) “wife of Robert Wright, a chaff cutter” dies at home in Colham Green, Hillingdon. The cause of death is certified as ‘Old Age’.   According to the death certificate, she is 78, which puts her year of birth at 1777, the same as her husband.

21st December:  Ann Broadway makes her mark and registers MARY WRIGHT’s death with the Registrar, Francis Stockwell. 

23rd December:  MARY WRIGHT is buried in Hillingdon. The vicar, William Hodgson, officiates.


8th October:  FREDERICK WRIGHT, another son for THOMAS and ESTHER, is christened in the church of St John the Baptist, Hillingdon.


11th January:  THOMAS and ESTHER’s fifth son WALTER WRIGHT, is christened in the church of St John the Baptist, Hillingdon.


20th February:  HANNAH WRIGHT is christened in the church of St John the Baptist, Hillingdon. The ceremony is performed by the Rev. C.T. Weatherley, curate. A relative of ESTHER (nee Weatherly) ?


20th February:  ARTHUR WRIGHT is born in Colham Green, Hillingdon. A sixth son for THOMAS and ESTHER.  The birth is registered on the 26th March, 1861, by the child’s father. The registrar is a Mr Francis Stockwell.)

24th March:  The christening of ARTHUR WRIGHT in the church of St John the Baptist, Hillingdon. The Rev. C.T. Weatherley, curate, performs the ceremony.

1861 Census Records:

The Census was taken on the night of 7th April, 1861.

In Colham Green, Middlesex (Parish of Hillingdon), THOMAS and ESTHER are both 41. Thomas is described as a ‘Farmer – 5 acres – 2 boys’.  The two boys are:  THOMAS, now aged 17 (b.1844), and ROBERT, now aged 13 (b.1848). The family has grown.

In the household are the children: THOMAS (b.1844) aged 17, ROBERT (b.1848) aged 13, CHARLES (b.1850) aged 11, ESTHER (b.1852) aged 9, FREDERICK (b.1854) aged 7, WALTER (b.1857) aged 5, HANNAH (b.1859) aged 3, ARTHUR (b.1861), who is aged 2 months (see details above).

ROBERT WRIGHT, now 84, and ‘a retired farmer’, is living in the household of MARY BAYLIS  – his daughter, born c.1809. She is the widow of farmer Henry Baylis. Robert Wright’s birthplace is recorded as ‘Chalfont, Buckinghamshire’. In the same household are Mary’s children, Elizabeth and George. George is a blacksmith.


2nd December: ROBERT WRIGHT, born in 1777, dies at Colham Green, Hillingdon. He is 87 years old, and the cause of death given as ‘natural decay’. His occupation is given as a ‘chaff cutter’.

Present at his death is near neighbour Elizabeth Fisher, who signs the register when reporting his death on 4th December, 1863. Unable to write, she ‘makes her mark’ for the registrar, Francis Stockwell.

6th December:   ROBERT WRIGHT is buried in Hillingdon. The vicar, Richard Croft, officiates.


Census Records: 

The Census was taken on the night of 2nd April, 1871.

Hillingdon. New Road, Hillingdon Heath. THOMAS and ESTHER are now 50.  In their household are: THOMAS (b.1844) aged 27, CHARLES (b.1850) aged 21, WALTER (b.1857) aged 14, HANNAH (b.1859) aged 12, and ARTHUR (b.1861) aged 10. Young ESTHER is 19, and is employed as a nursemaid by The Rev. Arthur Hilton, vicar of Uxbridge Moor. She lives at the Vicarage, 12 St John’s Road, Hillingdon, Middlesex.  CHARLES is a Carpenter.


At 25 Market Hill, Market End, Bicester, Oxfordshire: FREDERICK WRIGHT (b.1854) is now 17, from London, Middlesex, and to be found as an assistant to the head of the household: John Baker, 40, is a draper and clothier, born and bred in Bicester. (Frederick’s name has been copied as Fredk W. Right (sic.) and his age is recorded incorrectly as 15.) 

At the same address are: Anna Baker (John’s wife) 43, originally from Weymouth in Dorset; Elizabeth Thomas (from Bicester) 25, niece to John Baker; Louisa Lett (assistant) 22, from Brackley, Northamptonshire; Eleanor George, (milliner) 23, from Farnham in Berkshire; S.E.Sinclair (assistant) 16, from Howden, Yorkshire; Charles Blackley (assistant) 23, from Grantham, Lincolnshire, and Ann Barratt, 21, a general servant from nearby Deddington, Oxfordshire. See Frederick Wright & Company, Shirt Manufacturers, below.


19th June: At the age of 54, ESTHER is committed to MIDDLESEX LUNATIC ASYLUM, (also known as Hanwell Hospital, or St Bernard’s Hospital, Norwood) suffering from ‘Mania’. Her notes – signed by W. Rayner, Sgn – describe her as being ‘In fair health. Body well nourished. On admission there was a small bruise on right arm.’ She is probably menopausal, and/or suffering from some form of depression. She spends the rest of her life in an institution.


21st November:  MARY BAYLIS (a daughter of ROBERT WRIGHT) is buried in Hillingdon. She is 66 years of age.

1881 Census Records:

The Census was taken on the night of 3rd April, 1881.

THOMAS and ESTHER are both 60.  THOMAS is working as a gardener, and living in lodgings in Uxbridge. WALTER WRIGHT (b.1857) is aged 24, and he and his brother FREDERICK WRIGHT (b.1855) are commercial travellers dealing in shirts. They have lodgings at 6 Smith Street, Clerkenwell, with their uncle Frederick Weatherley (sic.) and his wife Harriet.

Frederick is ESTHER’s younger brother (b.1829). Frederick Weatherley is a Carpet Manufacturer, aged 52, from Hillingdon. His wife is 50, and hails from Mildenhall in Suffolk. Also in the same house are Charles Perry, 23, a plumber, His wife Sarah, 27, and infant son Charles; John Meadows, 29, a cook, his wife Frances, 27, a waistcoat maker, and their son John, aged six – a scholar.

ARTHUR WRIGHT (b.1861) is now aged 20, and is an Outfitter’s Assistant. He is lodging at 99 Clerk Street, Mile End Old Town. The head of the household is Rosina Bailey, aged 45, the widow of Charles Richard Bailey, a hat maker. Her two children Catherine Elizabeth, 22, also a dressmaker, and Henry Samuel, 20, a clerk, are living with her.

(Given how comparatively close this address is to where the Hebbs were living, it is easy to see how Arthur and Edith could have met.)

ESTHER WRIGHT is listed as a ‘Lunatic’ at Middlesex County Asylum.


15th September:  FREDERICK WRIGHT and his wife EMILY LOUISA celebrate the birth of a boy. MARTIN EDWARD WRIGHT is born at 6, Ivy Terrace, Etherly Road, Tottenham. FREDERICK, who registers the birth on the 4th October, is listed as a ‘Commercial Traveller’.


31st July:  ARTHUR WRIGHT (b.1861) marries EDITH HEBB (b.1865), of Ratcliff. The ceremony takes place in the Parish Church of St Paul, Shadwell, Middlesex. The Assistant Curate, H.W.L. Robinson, officiates, and the wedding is witnessed by the bride’s father, Marmaduke Stephenson Hebb, her sister Ellen Mary Hebb, Walter Wright, the groom’s brother, and Harriet R.D. May. In the register, the address of the happy couple is given as 43, High Street, Shadwell. Arthur is a ‘Wholesale Clothier’.

There are two corrected errors: The groom’s father, Thomas, is a ‘Gentleman’ (an incorrect description ‘Chief Engineer’ has been crossed out) and Marmaduke Stephenson Hebb has also been elevated to the rank of a ‘Gentleman’ –  the word ‘Carpenter’ having been neatly struck through.

(Harriet R.D. May is – like the bride and groom – in the rag trade. A mantle maker, she is probably a friend of Edith’s. Born in Mile End in 1864, Harriet Rebecca Dodson May remains a spinster throughout her life, dying in 1944.)




8th June:  ARTHUR STEPHENSON WRIGHT is born at 144 Winston Road.


8th January:  ARTHUR STEPHENSON WRIGHT is baptised in the Church of All Saints, Stoke Newington, Middlesex. His father is described as a ‘Clothier’. The curate, F.A. Carter, officiates.


18th February:  ESTHER WRIGHT is transferred to Surrey County Asylum, Wandsworth. On admission, her malady is described as ‘Mania, chronic. Cause unknown. Duration of attack: 14 years, 9 months’. She is ‘in fair health’.


Census Records:

The Census was taken on the night of 5th April, 1891.

ARTHUR WRIGHT (b.1861) is described as “a commercial traveller”, aged 30, and his wife EDITH, (b.1864) aged 26, nowlive at 22 Lothair Road, Stoke Newington (Hornsey/Stroud Green). THOMAS WRIGHT (b.1820) is with them, ‘living on his own means’.  He does not live to see the new century.

ARTHUR STEPHENSON WRIGHT (b.1887) is 3 years old. There is no servant. (WALTER WRIGHT is a ‘linen draper’s agent’. He is 34, single, and living in lodgings at 41 Stroud Green Road, London N4 (Finsbury Park).

ESTHER WRIGHT is among the inmates at Surrey County Asylum (later known as Springfield Hospital). She is now 70. As with her fellow patients, her name is not given – she is listed simply as E.W.


14th January:  EDITH MAVIS WRIGHT is born at home in Lothair Road, a sister for ARTHUR STEPHENSON WRIGHT. Her father registers the birth on the 24th February with the Registrar, James G. Randall.

24th April:  EDITH MAVIS WRIGHT is baptised by the Reverend J.H. Greaves in the Parish Church of St. Paul, Haringey.


FREDERICK WRIGHT & Co., Shirt Manufacturers. 11, Aldermanbury Avenue, London EC2

The family firm, which made shirts for the wholesale trade, is mentioned for the first time in Kelly’s Directory for London. The ancient area around Aldermanbury – near St Paul’s Cathedral and London Wall – was a centre for clothing in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The Avenue itself came into being in the mid-1880s, and ran from 47 Aldermanbury, to Philip Lane. It was full of small factories and workshops, making mainly soft goods: clothing, accessories, umbrellas, and the like.

Sir John James Baddeley, Lord Mayor of London from 1921-22 described the area, thus: ALDERMANBURY AVENUE Running from Aldermanbury (forty-four yards from London Wall) to Philip Lane, this avenue was made in 1880, through property belonging to Sion College. It contains fourteen houses, seven on each side of the avenue, which is seventy yards in length and twenty-five feet in width. It first appears in the rate books in 1881, when the total assessment was £1,857. In 1890 the assessment had risen to nearly £4,000; six houses each being assessed just under £200, and the remainder between £200 and £300; in the directory of this year we find thirty-two firms carrying on business, all except three or four being engaged in the soft-goods trade. Two foreign names appear. In 1914 the number of the firms and the character of their businesses were much the same as in 1890, the rateable value being £4,500. (From ‘Cripplegate Ward’ by Sir John James Baddeley, Hodder & Stoughton, 1922.)

On the South Side were to be found:

1a Farmer & Co. Ltd., Australian merchants
1a Cole, Charles & Son mfrs’ agents
1a Maas, Charles & Co. pipe mfrs
3 Wright, Bindley & Geil Lim, umbrella furniture manufactrs
3 Russell Brothers, hosiery agents
3 Wild, Lionel, manufactrs’ agents
3 Wills, Lewis & Co. mantle mfrs
5 Davies, Stevens & Co. tailors’ trimming warehousemen
7 Braham, Harry Chard, feather mfr
9 Schindler & Co. Ltd. Fancy good importers
11 Rose, Hewitt & Co. cotton goods manufacturers
11 Harrison E. & Co. cotton manfrs
11 Wright Fredk & Co. shirt mfrs
11 Panter C.M. & Co. ladies’ blouse manufacturers
13 Salkeld & Muir, lace merchants
13 Blichtold & Co. embroiderers

On the North Side:

2 Wilson J.J. & W.Ltd. woollen mfrs
2 Stackhouse Thomas P. & Son, manufacturers’ agents
2 Gray Wm. Alexander, mfrs’ agt
2 Hill C.G. & Co. frilling manfrs
2 Lambert & Hanson manufacturers’ agents
4 Webster H. Rutland & Son, manufacturers’ agents
4 Gladding Robt. infants’ milliner
4 Lecky F.B. & Co. Lim. linen mnfs
6 Young Hugh & Co. umbrella materials

No.11 Aldermanbury Avenue was the sixth on the left, if going towards Philip Lane from Aldermanbury. Philip Lane opened onto London Wall, opposite the churchyard of St Alphage.

* * *

June 15th:  THOMAS FREDERICK WRIGHT is born, a younger brother for EDITH MAVIS and ARTHUR STEPHENSON WRIGHT. He is born at home, at 22 Lothair Road, Hornsey. His father (a ‘manufacturing clothier’) registers the birth on the 23rd July, with James (Jas) G. Randall, the Registrar. 22nd August:  THOMAS FREDERICK WRIGHT is baptised by the Rev. B.S. Lloyd in the Parish Church of St. Paul, Haringey. In the register, the child’s father is now, as above, a  ‘Manufacturing Clothier’.


4th May:  ESTHER WRIGHT (b.1820) dies in Middlesex County Asylum, Wandsworth. The cause of death is ‘Senile decay, Bronchitis’ certified by H.G. Hill MRCS. She is 79 years of age, and her occupation: ‘Widow of Thomas Wright a Gardener of New Road, Hillingdon Heath, Hillingdon’.

Her death is registered on the 17th May by Reginald Worth (Acting Superintendent of Middlesex County Asylum, Wandsworth). The registrar is F. Howick, Deputy Registrar. The records for 1900-1905 were destroyed in a fire.


Census Records: The Census was taken on the night of 31st March, 1901.

ARTHUR and EDITH WRIGHT are now living at 159 Nelson Road, Hornsey (Stoke Newington). ARTHUR is now 40, a ‘Wholesale Clothier’ – and an employer, part of his brother’s business FREDERICK WRIGHT & Co., Shirt Manufacturers. EDITH is 38, and ARTHUR STEPHENSON WRIGHT (b.1887) is 13.

His sister, EDITH MAVIS (b.1892) is aged 9, and his brother, THOMAS FREDERICK,  (b.1897) is now aged 3. A 14-year-old servant, Daisy Agnes Hill, looks after them. EDITH MAVIS WRIGHT is mentioned in the will of her uncle, Marmaduke Arthur Hebb, Edith Hebb’s brother, who died in 1936. He leaves her the sum of £10.00. (She remains a spinster throughout her long life, dying at the age of 93 on the 3rd February, 1985, in Southend-on-Sea, Essex.)

ARTHUR STEPHENSON WRIGHT (b.1887) worked for the family firm, as did  Frederick Wright’s son, Martin Edward Wright, a warehouse manager. (At some stage before 1911, the Wrights move to 46, Crouch Hall Road, Crouch End.)

WALTER WRIGHT is 46 and ‘a cotton goods agent’. He is still unmarried and still living in lodgings, this time at 209 Isledon Road, Highbury, Islington, London. He is probably working for his brother Frederick.


Census Records: The Census was taken on the night of Sunday, April 2nd, 1911.

46, Crouch Hall Road, Hornsey, N.

ARTHUR WRIGHT is 50. He is ‘a clothing manufacturer’ (see above). His wife, EDITH is 46. Their eldest son, ARTHUR STEPHENSON WRIGHT is 23, ‘a clothing agent’, his sister, EDITH MAVIS, ‘a spinster’, is 19, and his brother THOMAS FREDERICK, is a schoolboy, aged 13. The family has a ‘Domestic and general servant’, FLORENCE DOROTHY BETTERIDGE, aged 15.

14th October:  ARTHUR STEPHENSON WRIGHT marries ISABEL ADA GISBORNE (of 56 Berkeley Road, Crouch End) in Christ Church, Hornsey.

The marriage certificate of Arthur Stephenson Wright and Isabel Ada Gisborne

The wedding is witnessed by Isabel’s parents, Henry Beaumont Gisborne (a solicitor’s managing clerk) and Jessie (Janet) Weir Gisborne;  Edith Wright (the groom’s mother, nee Hebb), and Arthur B. Hogben, probably best man and a friend of the groom.

The Vicar, the Rev.C.J. Sharp, officiates. He is a renowned collector of English porcelain teapots.

Arthur Bertram Hogben (1887-1915)  I believe lived at 256 Ferme Park Road, Crouch End. In the First World War he served as a Lance Corporal in the 14th London Regiment, and died in France on 14th October, 1915.

The new Mr & Mrs Arthur Stephenson Wright live at 56 Stapleton Hall Road, Muswell Hill.

1st December:  The London Gazette announces that EDITH MAVIS WRIGHT is employed as a typist by the General Register Office (England).


28th July:  THE FIRST WORLD WAR BEGINS – exactly a month after Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria’s assassination in Sarajevo.

4th August:  Great Britain declares war on Germany.

14th December:  MARJORIE ISABEL JOAN WRIGHT (known always as Joan Wright) is born. She is the only child of ARTHUR STEPHENSON WRIGHT and ISABEL ADA WRIGHT (nee GISBORNE.)


THOMAS FREDERICK WRIGHT enlists in the army. He serves as a private soldier with A Company, 2nd/5th Battalion, London Regiment (London Rifle Brigade). His Regimental Number is 301491.


ARTHUR and EDITH WRIGHT are now living at 140, Stroud Green Road, Finsbury Park, London.

In January, THOMAS FREDERICK WRIGHT is sent to France.

17th May:  At the age of nineteen, THOMAS FREDERICK WRIGHT is awarded the Military Medal ‘for saving life at Bullecourt.’

13th July:  THOMAS FREDERICK WRIGHT,  younger brother of ARTHUR STEPHENSON and EDITH MAVIS, is killed in action in France. He is 20 years old. The number of his grave is  III.A.10   in the Fifteen Ravine British Cemetery, Villers-Plouich, France.

Thomas Frederick Wright (1897-1917)
Thomas Frederick death certificate

The inscription on his grave reads: 301491 RIFLEMAN T.F.WRIGHT MM LONDON RIFLE BRIGADE 13TH JULY 1917 AGE 20. At the base of the stone are the words: HIS COMRADES SAID HE WAS A GALLANT GENTLEMAN.

“Fifteen Ravine” was the name given by the Army to the shallow ravine, once bordered by fifteen trees, which ran at right angles to the railway about 800 metres south of the village of Villers-Plouich, but the cemetery is in fact in “Farm Ravine,” on the east side of the railway line, nearer to the village. The cemetery, sometimes called Farm Ravine Cemetery, was begun by the 17th Welsh Regiment in April 1917, a few days after the capture of the ravine by the 12th South Wales Borderers. It continued in use during the Battle of Cambrai (November 1917) and until March 1918, when the ravine formed the boundary between the Third and Fifth Armies.

(Description: The Commonwealth War Graves Commission.) Recommended background reading: Chris McNab’s excellent and manageable book ‘CAMBRAI 1917’ – part of the Battle Story series published by The History Press.  (ISBN 978-0-7524-7977-4)


11th November:  The First World War ends.


20th November:  In memory of THOMAS FREDERICK WRIGHT, his father ARTHUR WRIGHT presents this simple tribute to his son. It is addressed to the Secretary of the Imperial War Museum:



19th June


71 Burdett Avenue, Westcliff-On-Sea, Essex, England

ARTHUR STEPHENSON WRIGHT with wife and daughter are in lodgings as boarders. 

Their landlord is a Yorkshireman, Herbert Mercer Wildon, aged 47. He is an ironworker.
I do not know what made the Wrights leave London, but ARTHUR is no longer part of Frederick Wright & Co.  Aged 34, he has a new job:

‘Silk Headwear Warehouseman’ employed by clothiers Sambrook Witting Ltd., at 16 Jewin Crescent EC. Sambrook Witting still exists (2021). I believe he commuted daily into London to work.


Frederick Wright & Co., Shirt Manufacturers, has now expanded to premises at 80, Woodstock Street, Canning Town, E.16.

The company is listed with both addresses in the Post Office Street Directory.

26th November:  MARTIN EDWARD WRIGHT dies at 8 Alexandra Road, Hackney. He is 37. His father, FREDERICK, registers the death on 27th November with M. Coleman, the registrar.


Frederick Wright & Co. is now listed in the London telephone directory: Frederick Wright & Co. (Frederick Wright, E.J.Hedges, & H.G.Collie) shirt manufacturers. The telephone number for Aldermanbury Avenue is METROPOLITAN 6271, and for Canning Town it is ALBERT DOCK 1361.



25th November:  88 Mayfair Avenue, Ilford.

ARTHUR WRIGHT (b.1861) dies at the age of 73. 

The death certificate gives the cause of death as ‘Primary Carcinoma of Liver’. EDITH WRIGHT registers the death the following day with registrar W.J.Howard. The duration of Arthur’s illness is unknown.


The family firm name changes. It becomes Frederick Wright & Co. (Shirt Manufacturers) Ltd. Business appears to be booming.


16th March: ARTHUR STEPHENSON WRIGHT dies in St Bartholomew’s Hospital, London.

He is 49 years of age, and a ‘Shipping export manager’. The cause of death is ‘malnutrition’ and ‘carcinoma of the stomach’. This is certified by K.Brown MRCS.

Joan Wright registers the death the following day. By this time, the family home is 128, Clive Road, West Dulwich, London SE21.

Arthur Stephenson Wright (1887-1937)
Arthur Stephenson Wright’s death, as recorded on 17th March 1937, for the General Register Office


At the outbreak of World War II, JOAN WRIGHT and her mother ISABEL ADA GISBORNE are sharing the house with a married couple:

REGINALD JOHN HURSON is a ‘shipping manager, tea and cocoa’. Born in the area in 1896, he married LUCY ANNIE GARDINER on the 27th August, 1921. They were both 24. In the 1911 census, she can be found living a few doors away in Clive Road.

JOAN WRIGHT is described in the 1939 Register as a ‘newspaper editorial secretary’ (working for ‘The Bicycle’.) Her mother is ‘widowed’ – employed doing ‘unpaid domestic duties’.



29th December: The Blitz. Aldermanbury Avenue and the surrounding streets are virtually destroyed, as this account by a wartime firewatcher makes clear:

The End of Aldermanbury Avenue, 1941, photographed by Arthur Cross and Fred Tibbs. The surviving church tower in the top left-hand corner is that of St Giles, Cripplegate.

“The block bounded by Brassishaw Hall, Fore Street, Aldermanbury, and Basinghall Street appeared to be one solid mass of flame. St Stephen’s, Coleman Street, was soon enveloped in flames, and we could see the steeple and weathercock fall. Fires were everywhere in the City area. From time to time, heavy high explosive bombs or land mines were dropped … There would be the sound of something rushing  through the air – then a brilliant flash would light up the entire sky and horizon followed within two or three seconds by the most resounding explosion …”

(R.C.M.Fitzhugh, quoted in ‘The City Ablaze’ by David Johnson.) A way of life and living has changed for ever.


Only the Canning Town address now remains in the directory, and Frederick Wright & Co. (shirt manufacturers) Ltd. ceases trading in 1943.



13th March:  EDITH WRIGHT dies at home at the age of 78.  (Home is 88 Mayfair Avenue, Ilford, Essex). 

The cause of death is a) cerebral haemorrhage, and b) arterio sclerosis, certified by A. Romanes. EDITH is described as Widow of Arthur Wright a Wholesale Clothier (Retired).

15th March:  Capt. Marmaduke Arthur Hebb (Edith’s nephew) registers his aunt’s death with W.J. Howard, the registrar. Probate is granted on 3rd May, at Llandudno.

In her will EDITH leaves the sum of  £ 80.2s.2d  to her nephew, Capt. Marmaduke Arthur Hebb.




18th July:  ISABEL ADA WRIGHT (nee GISBORNE) of 2 Brecon Court, Selborne Place, Hove, Sussex, dies. She is 86. 

She ends her days in a nursing home at 74, Old Shoreham Road, Brighton, described as ’Widow of Arthur Stevenson (sic.) Wright, Export Manager’. The cause of death is given as Carcinoma Ventriculi and Bronchopneumonia, certified by Margaret E. Rowe M.B.

JOAN WRIGHT registers the death on the same day.




3rd February:  EDITH MAVIS WRIGHT dies at the age of 93, in hospital. I was unaware of her existence until c.2010. I never heard her name mentioned at home, and I am not sure my mother ever knew she had an aunt among the Wrights.

* * *

There is no family album – no well-thumbed book of sepia photographs, no starchy portraits of Hebbs or Grays or Stephensons – or of Arthur Wright with his shirts. There are a very few small snapshots found in a dark blue suitcase: Arthur Stephenson Wright smiling out with his briar pipe and plus fours, and Isabel Ada his wife looking coyly, almost coquettishly, at the camera, her arm linked with her husband’s. They look happy enough. They were not.

Although he remained devoted to her, she was convinced that she had ‘married beneath her’ – and never let her husband forget it.

* * *

Joan Wright married my father Dr. Bedrich Belohlavek (1902–1991)  in 1973. They met in 1956. I was born in 1958. Dr. Bedrich Belohlavek died on May 3rd, 1991. Joan Wright died on August 28th, 1997.

* * *


Yoxall Lodge (demolished 1928) the family home of the Gisbornes
The magnificent five-gabled house owned by the Gisbornes in the 17th century.
Augustus Oakley Deacon’s watercolour, c.1850, shows the Gisborne house in its original form in The Wardwick, Derby. Compare it with the photograph from c.1970.
The Jacobean House, in about 1970
The Jacobean House, built c.1611, in The Wardwick, Derby. This photograph shows it as it is now, after its drastic alteration in c.1855, to create Becket Street, which removed three of the original five gables.


THOMAS PACKER is born and baptised at Ham, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. He will end his days in Twickenham, Middlesex, in 1631.




12th November:  JOHN PACKER is born. He is baptised on the 20th November.



13th July:  In the church of St Catherine Cree, JOHN PACKER marries PHILIPPA MILLS.


16th November:  In the church of St Michael, Cornhill, ROBERT PACKER marries TEMPERANCE STEVENS.



JOHN GISBORNE is born in Repton.



15th February:  JOHN PACKER dies. He is buried on the same day in the cloister of St Margaret’s, Westminster.


JOHN GISBORNE marries CATHERINE FOWLER in Repton, Derbyshire. Her dowry is said to have been ‘her weight in gold …’ She bears several children:

John (baptised on the 30th June, 1675, in the church of St Werburgh, Derby. His name is recorded as John Gisbourne (sic.);
James (3rd December, 1678);
THOMAS (10th February, 1679);
Sarah (27th April, 1681);
Marjery (29th March, 1682);
Rebecca (4th April, 1683);
Ann (9th April, 1684);
? James (3rd January, 1688);
William (13th December, 1692).



7th December:  In the church of St Sepulchre, Holborn, JOHN PACKER marries ELIZABETH STEPHENS.

(JOHN PACKER was born in Shellingford, Berkshire. in 1656. Child of Robert and Temperance ? He was baptised on 30th May, 1658.)



10th February:  THOMAS GISBORNE is baptised in the church of St Werburgh, Derby.



29th October:  TEMPERANCE PACKER is born in Shellingford. She is baptised on the following day. In 1715 she will marry THOMAS GISBORNE.



25th September: JOHN PACKER dies. He is buried two days later on the 27th.




JOHN GISBORNE (b.1644) dies.

17th February:  In St Peter’s church, Derby, THOMAS GISBORNE marries SARAH BEARDSLEY. There are no children, and the date of Sarah’s death is unknown.



24th December:  THOMAS GISBORNE marries for the second time. His bride is TEMPERANCE PACKER, and the wedding takes place in the church of St. Michael, Cornhill, London.

Thomas Gisborne late of the Parish of St Olave Old Jury London and Temperance Packer of the Parish of St Andrew Holborn London were married this 24th day of December 1715 by Mr Samuell Baker the Rector by Lycence. The couple have two sons:  JOHN (1716 – 1779) and ZACHARIAH (1720 – ?).


JOHN GISBORNE – son of THOMAS GISBORNE and TEMPERANCE (PACKER) – is born in Shellingford, Berkshire. There is a significant Packer connection with Shellingford.






THOMAS GISBORNE (son of the Rev. JAMES GISBORNE and ANNE (JACKSON) is born at Stavely. He dies in 1806.


27th January:  WILLIAM BATEMAN marries ANNE ORTON in the church of St Martin, Leicester. (Their daughter ANNE BATEMAN is born two years later.)


ANNE BATEMAN is born. She will marry JOHN GISBORNE.


ZACHARIAH GISBORNE (b.1720) marries ANN WHITE. They have a son, also ZACHARIAH GISBORNE (1747 – 1786).

Anne Bateman, by Joseph Wright of Derby. See the later portrait by Thomas Gainsborough, below.

This is ANN BATEMAN (1732-1800) at the age of 23, as painted in 1755 by Joseph Wright of Derby. Wright’s account book has her listed as the first of ‘Sitters at Derby’. He charged three guineas (£3/3s/0d) for his work. The portrait ended up with the Fooks family of Woodbridge in Suffolk, where it remained until it was sold at Phillips in 1985.The picture is handsomely illustrated and accounted for in the Tate Gallery’s exhibition catalogue ‘Wright of Derby’ (1990) by Judy Egerton. 


4th February:  JOHN GISBORNE (b.1716) marries ANN BATEMAN (b.1732), in the Church of St Werburgh, Derby. The Register reads as follows: “John Gisborne Esq., of the Parish of St Alkmund in Derbyshire, Batchelor and Anne Bateman of the Parish Spinster Married in this church by Licence this fourth Day of February in the Year One Thousand Seven Hundred and fifty eight by me John Edwards, Minister of Repton. This Marriage was solemnized between us John Gisborne, Junior, Ann Bateman In the Presence of Jn Gisborne and Mary Bateman”

John Gisborne by Thomas Gainsborough. (The picture is a pendant to the artist's portrait of Anne, and was probably painted at Bath, c.1760.)
John Gisborne (1716-1779) by Thomas Gainsborough.
(The picture is a pendant to the artist’s portrait of Anne, and was probably painted at Bath, c.1760. Reproduction courtesy of the Courtauld Gallery, London.)

Ann Bateman is the daughter of William Bateman, a Derby lawyer. After the marriage, the couple live at the family seat, Yoxall Lodge, Needwood Forest, Staffordshire.

31st October:  THOMAS GISBORNE is born to JOHN and ANN at Derby. He will become The Reverend Thomas Gisborne, a well-known anti-slavery campaigner, and close friend of William Wilberforce. He will inherit Yoxall Lodge on his father’s death in 1779.


THOMAS GISBORNE, husband of TEMPERANCE (PACKER) dies in December, aged 80.


The architect Joseph Pickford builds St Helen’s House for Alderman John Gisborne of Derby.

St Helen’s House, Derby, built by Joseph Pickford for Alderman John Gisborne


26th August:  JOHN GISBORNE is born to John and Ann at St Helen’s, Derbyshire. He will be educated at Harrow, and then at St John’s College, Cambridge from 1788, graduating as a B.A., in 1792.


27th September:  ZACHARIAH GISBORNE (1747 – 1786) marries ESTHER ROGERS. The ceremony takes place in the church of St Benet, Paul’s Wharf, London. (The couple have three daughters – see below – and a son, another JOHN GISBORNE (? – 1836), whose birth date appears unrecorded.

This JOHN GISBORNE marries Maria James in May, 1800, and after extensive travels around the world, returns to England and settles in Plymouth, where he dies in 1836. His burial takes place on 23rd April.) His wife was a friend of the poet, Percy Bysshe Shelley. His lovely ‘Letter to Maria Gisborne’ was composed in 1820, and published in ‘Posthumous Poems’ in 1824.


20th August:  MILLICENT SACHEVERELL CHANDOS POLE is baptised in Radborne, Derbyshire. She will marry JOHN GISBORNE (1770 – 1851) the son of JOHN GISBORNE and ANN (BATEMAN).

“RADBORNE or RADBURNE, in the hundred of Appletree and deanery of Derby, lies about four miles west from Derby.

Radborne was one of the manors of Henry de Ferrars, at the time of the Domesday Survey; but it appears that Ralph Fitz-Hubert claimed a third.

Radbourne Hall, the seat of the Pole family

The coheiresses of Robert Fitz-Walkelin, who lived in the twelfth century, and was possessed of Egginton, Radborne, and other estates in this county, married Chandos and Stafford as already stated in the account of Egginton; the whole of this manor (in consequence, probably, of the purchase of Stafford’s moiety) became vested in Chandos. After the death of Sir John Chandos, the celebrated warrior, without male issue, in 1370, the Radborne estate passed to his representatives in the female line, and eventually to Sir Peter de la Pole, who married his niece, Elizabeth, daughter of Sir John Lawton. Sir Peter, who was one of the knights of the shire in 1400, is described as having been of Newborough in Staffordshire; but it appears that his ancestors had been, at an early period, of Hartington in this county. Ralph Pole, son of Peter before-mentioned, was one of the Justices of the King’s-Bench, in the reign of Henry VI. Radborne is now the property, and Radborne-hall the seat of his immediate descendant,Edward Sacheverell Chandos Pole, Esq. (See below, 1817.) The parish of Radborne contains 2,125 acres of land, of which more than 2000 belong to Mr. Pole, who is patron also of the rectory.

In the parish church are some monuments of the family of Pole, two ancient monuments already more particularly described ; a large marble monument, with a sarcophagus, for Sir German Pole, who was knighted for his good services in Ireland, under Lord Mountjoy in 1599, he died in 1634; German Pole, Esq., his son, who died in 1683, married Ann, daughter of Sir Richard Newdigate, but having no issue, bequeathed his estate to Samuel Pole, Esq., of Lees, descended from German, a younger son of Francis Pole, Esq., which German settled at Lees in the reign of Queen Elizabeth. There is a monument also for Mary, widow of George Parker, Esq., of Ratton in Sussex, and daughter of Sir Richard Newdigate, ob. 1708.

German Pole, Esq., who died in 1683, founded a charity school at Radborne: the present value of its endowment is 15l. 10s. per annum, besides a moiety of the profits of a lime-kiln.”

(From ‘Magna Britannia, Volume 5: Derbyshire’, by Daniel and Samuel Lysons, published 1817.)


13th February:  JOHN GISBORNE (b.1716, son of THOMAS and TEMPERANCE, father of JOHN (b.1770) and the Reverend Thomas, dies at Yoxall Lodge, aged 63. ESTHER GISBORNE, eldest daughter of ZACHARIAH and ESTHER, is born. The REVEREND THOMAS GISBORNE inherits Yoxall Lodge.


SUSANNAH GISBORNE, second daughter of ZACHARIAH and ESTHER, is born.


THOMAS GISBORNE (John’s elder brother) is ordained, and presented to the perpetual curacy of the parish of St James, Barton-Under-Needwood.

The Rev. Thomas Gisborne


25th January:  EMMA GISBORNE, youngest daughter of ZACHARIAH and ESTHER, is baptised.

1st March:  In Ampthill, Bedfordshire, The Rev. THOMAS GISBORNE marries MARY BABINGTON, daughter of Thomas Babington of Rothley Temple, Leicestershire.


JOSEPH WRIGHT of Derby paints the double portrait of The Reverend Thomas Gisborne (b.1758) and his wife Mary (Babington). The setting is probably Needwood Forest.

Joseph Wright’s portrait of
The Rev. Thomas Gisborne
with his wife, Mary Babington

13th October:  JOHN GISBORNE(b. 26th August, 1770) marries MILLICENT SACHEVERELL CHANDOS POLE (b. 20thAugust, 1774) in the church of All Saints, Derby. She is the daughter of EDWARD SACHEVERELL POLE (1718-1780) and ELIZABETH COLYEAR (1747-1832).

The marriage register records: “John Gisborne and Millicent Pole, a minor with the consent of her guardian.” Millicent appears to be 17 years of age. The couple take up residence at Wootton Hall, Derbyshire.


JOHN GISBORNE (1770-1851) publishes his poem, ‘The Vales of Wever’. He is 26 years of age.

The 1920/21 edition of the Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press) describes him thus: ” … Gisborne had a keen eye for nature, and was complimented by Wordsworth upon his descriptions of scenery, but his modesty induced him to destroy this and all other letters of congratulation on the publication of his works. His piety caused him to be called ‘The Man of Prayer’ …”

Ann Gisborne, nee Bateman (1735-1800), as painted by Thomas Gainsborough (1727-1788)
Ann Gisborne (b.1732), nee Bateman, widow of John Gisborne (1716-1779), dies.

In May, JOHN GISBORNE (son of ZACHARIAH and ESTHER) marries MARIA JAMES (1770-1836). She is the widow of architect Willey Reveley (1760-1799) with whom she had two children.

11th February: HARTLEY PACKER GISBORNE, son of JOHN and MILLICENT (above) is baptised at Newborough, Staffordshire.
“Newborough, a village, township, and chapelry (to Hanbury parish), containing 742 souls and 2970 acres, is situated on the north west side of Needwood Forest, three miles SW of Hanbury, and eight miles W of Burton-upon-Trent. The village stands in a narrow dale, through which a small rivulet flows southward to the Trent. Holly Bush, a neat mansion, upon a fine eminence, is the seat of Thomas Kirkpatrick Hall, Esq, the principal owner of Newborough, which, in the 11th century, belonged to Robert, son of Henry de Ferrers. In the chapelry is HCM Ingram, Esq’s manor of Agardsley, but Agardsley Park farm belongs to the Crown, and is leased to HK Hall, Esq. SC Pole, Esq, and several smaller owners, have estates here. Several of the inhabitants are employed in weaving linen and checks. Thorney Lane is an ancient hamlet, one mile NW of Newborough, and about two and a half miles S of Newborough is Hoarcross, a hamlet partly in Hamstall Ridware and Newborough, but mostly in Yoxall parish.”
[From History, Gazetteer and Directory of Staffordshire, William White, Sheffield, 1851]
Holly Bush Hall, Newborough, Staffordshire – a residence of John and Millicent Gisborne


6th July:  In the church of St John, Hackney, EMMA GISBORNE (youngest daughter of ZACHARIAH and ESTHER) marries the Italian musician and composer MUZIO CLEMENTI (1752 – 1832).

EMMA GISBORNE (Mrs Clementi) by Thomas Hardy
Emma Gisborne


JOHN GISBORNE and MILLICENT move to Blackpool, on account of MILLICENT’S fragile health. Their financial situation is unstable, and they change addresses several times in the ensuing years.


JOHN GISBORNE raises money by public subscription to FOUND ST. JOHN’S SCHOOL. The buildings are bought for £ 50.00, and the first free school in the area is born.

Commemorative plaque. The school continues to thrive today as St John's C of E School, in Church Street, Blackpool
Blackpool Civic Trust commemorative plaque. The school continues to thrive today as St John’s C of E School, in Church Street, Blackpool
St John's School, Blackpool, founded in 1817
St John’s School, Blackpool, founded in 1817

Millicent’s brother Sacheverell petitions successfully to have his family’s last name changed officially to Chandos-Pole in memory of Sir John Chandos ‎(c.1310-1370)‎, one of the original Knights of the Garter.


11th December:  HARTLEY PACKER GISBORNE marries for the first time. His bride is ANNE PRATT of Cheetham in Lancashire.


8th March:  FREDERICK NEWTON GISBORNE is baptised in Broughton, Lancashire. (The first-born son of Hartley Packer Gisborne and Anne will become a farmer, telegraph agent, civil servant, engineer, and inventor, specialising in the development of undersea telegraphy.

He marries twice: on 31st Oct. 1850, Alida Ellen Starr (she dies in 1854); and Henrietta Hernaman of Newton Abbot, England. They marry in April 1857 and have four children. He dies on 30th Aug. 1892 in Ottawa.)


28th December:  HARTLEY JOHN GISBORNE, son of HARTLEY PACKER GISBORNE and Anne is baptised in Darley, Derbyshire.


27th December:  published in ‘The Spectator’, The London Gazette carries the following notice of bankruptcy: Hartley Packer Gisborne, Manchester, merchant, Jan. 5, 7, Feb. 3, at the Star Inn, Manchester : solicitors, Messrs. Hurd and Johnson, King’s Bench-walk, Temple.


16th August: In Manchester Cathedral, CHARLES ADOLPH GISBORNE (another son to HARTLEY PACKER GISBORNE and ANNE) is baptised.


18th February:  ANNE GISBORNE (nee PRATT) dies.


2nd January:  HARTLEY PACKER GISBORNE marries BERTHA WHITTENBURY in St John’s Church, Manchester. (St John, Deansgate.)

“Hartley Packer Gisborne of the Parish and Township of Cheetam Hill, Merchant, and Bertha Whittenbury of this Parish and township of Levenshulme, Spinster, were married in this Church by License this second day of January in the Year One thousand eight hundred and thirty two …” The Reverend Wiliam Huntington officiates.

The wedding is witnessed by Bertha’s father,  JEREMIAH WHITTENBURY, and  one of her sisters, Lucy. BERTHA bears several children, including JOHN SACHEVERELL GISBORNE. John Sacheverell Gisborne is the father of HENRY BEAUMONT GISBORNE, who is the father of ISABEL ADA GISBORNE, who in 1911 will marry ARTHUR STEPHENSON WRIGHT.


JOHN GISBORNE’s  poem, ‘Reflections: a Poem Descriptive of Events and Scenery Connected with the Different Months of the Year’ is published. He is now 62 years old.




31st May:  JOHN SACHEVERELL GISBORNE, is baptised.  He is the eldest son of HARTLEY PACKER GISBORNE, Merchant, and BERTHA GISBORNE, both of Manchester.

The Rector of Darley performs the ceremony, and in the register, the following note appears: “Received into the Church at this date having been previously baptized in Manchester.” It is possible that the baby may have been sickly at birth, and been christened as an emergency measure – either by his mother or by a nurse; or it is also possible that as his mother came from non-conformist stock, the child was baptised in a chapel.



ESTELLE BEAUMONT is born. (See note on the Beaumonts, below.)

29th October:  MILLICENT EMMA GISBORNE and her sister JULIA GISBORNE (daughters of HARTLEY PACKER GISBORNE and BERTHA) are baptised in the church of St James, Didsbury, Lancashire.


14th August:  SUSAN VIOLETTA GISBORNE is baptised – a sister for MILLICENT EMMA and JULIA.


Census Records:


JOHN and MILLICENT GISBORNE are landowners,  living in Wyaston, a hamlet near Ashbourne in Derbyshire.

12th November:  HENRY POLE GISBORNE (another son for HARTLEY PACKER GISBORNE and BERTHA) is baptised in the church of St James, Didsbury.




18th November:  REGINALD DARWIN GISBORNE, yet another son for HARTLEY PACKER GISBORNE and BERTHA, is born.

22nd December:  REGINALD DARWIN GISBORNE is baptised in the church of St James, Didsbury.


15th May:  HARTLEY PACKER GISBORNE’S father-in-law, JEREMIAH WHITTENBURY, dies in Chorlton on Medlock, Manchester.

JEREMIAH WHITTENBURY, Gentleman, is 71, and dies of “Translation of gout to the heart, Certified”. Christiana Roberts, of 14 Eagle Street, is present at the death and makes her mark for the registrar Edward Worsley on 19th May. (See note on the Whittenburys, below.)


Census Records:



HARTLEY PACKER GISBORNE (‘a merchant’) aged 51, and BERTHA GISBORNE, 45, are living with their family: JOHN SACHEVERELL is 17, MILLICENT is 16, JULIA is 15, FRANCES B., is 13, HENRY P., is 9,  REGINALD DARWIN GISBORNE is aged 8. (He was baptised on the 22nd of December 1842 in the church of St James, Disbury, Lancashire.)

There are three servants: Jane Lowe, 35, Jane Stone, 24, and Elizabeth Brill, 22. The servants are all from Derbyshire.

17th June:  JOHN GISBORNE (b. 1770) dies at Pentrich in Derbyshire.




April 24th:  JOHN SACHEVERELL GISBORNE marries ESTELLE BEAUMONT in the parish church.

Estelle Beaumont (1837-1914)

Estelle’s father, GUILLAUME BEAUMONT, born c.1790, is a British subject, born in France. A couple of romantic family legends suggest that his family may have fled the French Revolution, but it is more likely that he is part of the old Beaumont family of Barrow Hall, Barrow-Upon-Trent, Derbyshire. He signs the marriage register as William Beaumont, Gent. John Sacheverell’s father, Hartley Packer Gisborne, is described as a ‘Merchant’ – as is the groom.

ESTELLE is listed as a ‘minor’, although she is 19. The witnesses are her father, and a friend, Sophy Elizabeth Maunders. The Rector, Talbot Greaves, officiates. (The Maunders are a well-to-do local family.)



Millicent Gisborne appears on page 127 of Francis White’s ‘History, Gazetter and Directory of the County of Derby’ . Her address is as given, below.

17th December:  MILLICENT GISBORNE (Hartley Packer Gisborne’s mother) dies aged 83.  Her occupation: “Widow of John Gisborne, Gentleman”; the cause: “(Old age) natural death certified”. Present at her death is a neighbour, Margaret Yeomans, of 4 Grove Bank, Duffield Road, Derby. She registers the death on the 23rd December, 1857, with the Registrar, John Oliver.



10th May:  In the church of St Margaret, Dunham-Maney, Chester, JULIA GISBORNE marries CHARLES BRITTAN.


22nd September:  To JOHN SACHEVERELL and ESTELLE GISBORNE, a son.  HENRY BEAUMONT GISBORNE first sees the light of day at 95 Claughton Road, Birkenhead.  His birth is registered on the 25th October.

Henry Beaumont Gisborne, aged five


Census Records:


At 11, Bedford Row  GUILLAUME BEAUMONT and his wife SARAH are in lodgings.  The Lodging House Keeper, Isabella Harvey, is 48.

4th September:  GUILLAUME BEAUMONT, father of ESTELLE GISBORNE, dies. (See note on the Beaumonts, below.)


15th January: FREDERICK HARTLEY GISBORNE, another son for JOHN SACHEVERELL and ESTELLE GISBORNE is baptised in the Church of the Holy Trinity, Birkenhead, Cheshire.


23rd November:  At the Great Seal Patent Office, Eyre & Spottiswood publish the following, by  JOHN SACHEVERELL GISBORNE: “Mechanical apparatus by which motion can be communicated or transmitted from one place to another, and between different parts of a ship or other structure, to exhibit orders, messages or signals. Being Patent Number 2926 …”



6th January:  BERTHA GISBORNE dies at No.1, Kedlestone Street. The wife of Hartley Packer GisborneMerchant, is 70 years of age, and dies ofDisease of Heart, Natural Decay, Certified by Henry Goode M.B. The death is registered on the 8th January by Emma Nixon, sister-at-law in attendance, of Bernow Street, Derby. The certificate is signed by John Oliver, Registrar.


Census Records:

HARTLEY PACKER GISBORNE is now a widower living at 17 North Street, Derby St Alkmund, Derbyshire. He is 80 years old. JOHN SACHEVERELL GISBORNE is now living at 23, The Grove, Barton- Upon-Irwell, in Lancashire. He is 47, and his domestic circumstances have changed: ESTELLE is no longer with him, but MARGARET GISBORNE, aged 32, occupies her place as ‘wife’. (See below for the truth of the matter.)

HENRY BEAUMONT GISBORNE and JOHN C. GISBORNE aged 20 and 10 respectively, are with their father on census night. HENRY is studying law. JOHN is at school. Barton-Upon-Irwell is the site of James Brindley’s stone aqueduct that carried the Bridgewater Canal across the River Irwell. Between 1890 and 1894, the aqueduct will be replaced by Barton Swing Aqueduct, a feat of engineering which John Sacheverell Gisborne would have relished.

ESTELLE GISBORNE is in lodgings at Glin Villa, Clewer, Near Windsor, Berkshire. She is a few doors away from her son FREDERICK HARTLEY GISBORNE, aged 19, and his wife ADELAIDE, aged 24, They live at 2 St. Stephen Villas.


19th May:  At 17 North Street, Derby, HARTLEY PACKER GISBORNE, Gentleman, dies of ‘Serious effusion on Brain, Exhaustion’. He is 81 years of age. With him is his daughter FRANCES BERTHA GISBORNE, who registers the death on the following day. The Cause of Death is certified by C.H. Hough MRCS, and the Registrar is one, Caleb Birt Cuppleditch.

4th July:  ESTELLE GISBORNE files for divorce from her husband JOHN SACHEVERELL GISBORNE. The grounds are adultery with MARGARET BAILEY, and eventual desertion. See above. The divorce papers are sent to her son FREDERICK HARTLEY GISBORNE’s address in Clewer, Near Windsor, Berkshire.

24th November:  The Decree Nisi is issued.


6th November:  The Final Decree is issued in the divorce of JOHN SACHEVERELL GISBORNE and ESTELLE.

10th December:  JOHN SACHEVERELL GISBORNE marries again. His bride is of course MARGARET BAILEY, as above, daughter of John Bailey. The groom’s status is given as ‘widower’. The couple marry in the Parish Church of St Andrew, Toxteth Park, Liverpool. Although the groom’s status is given as ‘widower’ his ex-wife ESTELLE is alive and well, living in Essex.

On the marriage certificate, the groom’s residence is Queens Square, Liverpool, and that of the bride is 17 Sefton Road, Walton, Liverpool.

The bride’s father is – like the groom – a civil engineer. (This is probably how the couple met.) The wedding is witnessed by William Probert, William Knapp, and Ada Maude Knapp. The Rev. Gerald C. Wicker officiates.


2nd February:  HENRY BEAUMONT GISBORNE marries JANET WEIR PATERSON. He is 23 years of age, she is 21. She is the daughter of GEORGE PATERSON, a wine merchant from Glasgow. (See note, below.)

The wedding takes place in the St. Pancras Register Office, Middlesex, in the presence of ADA FLORENCE GISBORNE, one of Henry’s sisters, and P. Wakeham (?). It is signed by the Registrar, Martineau F. Lance, and A.J. Davis, the Superintendent Registrar.


12th April:  JOHN SACHEVERELL GISBORNE sells his share of the business and patent rights to ‘The Improvements in Electric Telegraph Apparatus for transmitting and receiving signals on board ships and other places’ (see above, 23rd November, 1864.) This is presumably to help fund his divorce.

June 26th:  ISABEL ADA GISBORNE (1886-1972) is born to HENRY BEAUMONT GISBORNE and his wife JANET.

September 2nd:  CAROLINE SARAH GISBORNE marries her brother-in-law, GEORGE BOSWELL PATERSON.  The wedding takes place at the Register Office, Islington, London. the groom is ‘A Commercial Clerk’. His father is described as a ‘Tea and Wine Merchant (deceased)’.

The happy couple have given the same address: 311 River Road, and the wedding is witnessed by members of the Registrar’s family (Mary and Florence M. Townley.)

5th April: GLASGOW (Sandyford – civil parish of Barony.) ISABEL ADA GISBORNE is aged 4. Her mother, unable to cope with the stresses and strains of child-rearing on a large scale, has sent the child away from London to stay with friends or relatives, apparently in Rothesay – but on the night of the census ISABEL ADA GISBORNE (transcribed as Isabella Gisburn) is to be found in Glasgow as a ‘visitor’ in the household of shipwright David Wood, aged 58,  and his wife Janet, 56. They live at 162 Dumbarton Road, Glasgow.

JANET WOOD is ISABEL ADA GISBORNE‘s great-aunt, sister to ISABELLA PATERSON (nee GALLOWAY, 1832 – ?) and aunt to JANET WEIR PATERSON. DAVID WOOD married JANET GALLOWAY in Glasgow on the 28th April, 1862. Also in the household are boarders William Raiker and his wife Amy, 53 and 52. William Raiker is also a shipwright.

A note on the Galloways:
The family is from Fifeshire in Scotaland, mainly from the small fishing village of Limekilns. WILLIAM GALLOWAY (1799-1862) was a Master Mariner, who in 1828 married JANET WEIR (1905-1867). She bore him nine children, the eldest of whom, ISABELLA, married GEORGE PATERSON.



16th October:  ISABEL ADA GISBORNE, returned from her exile in Scotland, is admitted to Camden Street School. Her home address is given as 84 College Place, Camden. Earlier in the year, her sister Janet (Jessie) is admitted to the same school.


27th December:  ISABEL ADA GISBORNE is baptised with her younger brother GEORGE in the church of St Peter, Hornsey. 



15th July:  JOHN SACHEVERELL GISBORNE, Electrician and Inventor, dies at 42 New Fillebrook Road, Leytonstone. He is 65 years of age, and has suffered from heart disease for a year.  

His son, John Byron Gisborne of Hope House, Primrose Road, South Woodford, is present at his father’s death, and registers it three days later on the 18th July.


Census Records:


22, Regina Road, Islington. HENRY BEAUMONT GISBORNE is 40, a ‘Solicitor’s Law Clerk’. With him in his household are his wife, JANET WEIR GISBORNE, 37; JANET (JESSIE) WEIR GISBORNE, 16; ISABEL ADA GISBORNE, 14 ; ESTELLE CAROLINE GISBORNE, 13, HENRY PATERSON GISBORNE, 12, and GEORGE BEAUMONT GISBORNE, the baby of the family, aged 4.

ESTELLE GISBORNE, ex-wife of JOHN SACHEVERELL GISBORNE, is living with her son FREDERICK HARTLEY GISBORNE and his family at 6 Elm Road, Mortlake, Surrey (now London S.W.14).


Census Records:

The Household of HENRY BEAUMONT GISBORNE: 56 Berkeley Road, Crouch End, London N.

HENRY BEAUMONT GISBORNE is a solicitor’s clerk, born in Birkenhead, Cheshire. He is 50 years of age. His wife, JANET WEIR GISBORNE (nee PATERSON) was born in Glasgow. She is 47. They have been married for 27 years. Their children: JANET WEIR GISBORNE (Jessie) is 26. ISABEL ADA GISBORNE (1886 – 1972) is 24, and has a job as a typist with a law stationer; ESTELLE CAROLINE GISBORNE is 23, and is also a typist with a law stationer. HENRY PATERSON GISBORNE is 22, an articled clerk with a solicitor, and GEORGE BEAUMONT GISBORNE is still at school, aged 14.

Staying with them is DOROTHY BERTHA LAMBERT, aged 9, a niece. Born in Staffordshire in 1902, she is the eldest daughter of BERTHA GISBORNE and her husband THOMAS HENRY LAMBERT. All the Gisborne children except ESTELLE CAROLINE and GEORGE BEAUMONT were born in Kentish Town. Estelle Caroline was born in Bloomsbury. George was born in Hornsey. There is also a servant girl from Northamptonshire, CAROLINE RUGBY, aged 15.

(Note – HENRY PATERSON GISBORNE, “Harry”, became a very successful lawyer, and was solicitor to Winston Churchill. He married twice: the first time on 27th November, 1915, to KATHLEEN HELEN NOBLE (1895 – 1925). They had a daughter, MARION ETHEL WEIR GISBORNE, born in St Mary’s Mansions, Little Venice, Paddington, London, on 14th July, 1921. She was known always as WENDY. The child suffered from epilepsy, thought to have been caused by ‘an accident at birth’. Her mother died in 1925, at the age of thirty. In 1928, HENRY PATERSON GISBORNE married again. His bride was DOROTHY MARY PRATT (1908-1966). Daughter WENDY was a bridesmaid. The couple had two daughters, PAULA FRANCES GISBORNE (born in 1935) and ZARA PENELOPE GISBORNE (1937-2002). On 27th January, 1932, WENDY died at the age of ten while undergoing brain surgery in Edinburgh.)

ESTELLE GISBORNE is in lodgings at 1 Arthur Road, Kingston-Upon-Thames, Surrey. She is now 74 –  ‘A Widow’ and ‘A Boarder’ in the household of William David Ballan, a ‘Sergeant Park Keeper, Royal Parks’ from Yorkshire, his Scottish wife Mary, and their three children, Ellen Ritchie Ballan, aged 14, born in Valetta, Malta, Edward Arthur Ballan, 7, and William Horatio Nelson Ballan, aged 5.

April 15th:  JESSIE WEIR GISBORNE, of 56 Berkeley Road, Crouch End, marries PERCIVAL ALDER SMITH, a commercial traveller, of 252 Ferne Park Road, Hornsey. At the age of 26, she is older than her groom, who is 23. The wedding takes place in Christ Church Hornsey. It is witnessed by the bride’s father and mother, her sisters ISABEL ADA and ESTELLE CAROLINE, and the groom’s father, THOMAS RICHARD SMITH, a General Merchant. The Rev. C.J.Sharp, officiates (see note, above.)

14th October:  ISABEL ADA GISBORNE marries ARTHUR STEPHENSON WRIGHT  in Christ Church, Hornsey.



7th April:  ESTELLE GISBORNE, ex-wife of the late JOHN SACHEVERELL GISBORNE dies at the age of 77.  She is resident at 18 Haringey Road, Hornsey, in the household of Stella Ellen Holmes, who is present at the death, and registers it two days later on the 9th April.

ESTELLE is described on the death certificate as “Widow of John Sacheverell Gisborne, a Patentee.” She dies of “Senile decay, cardiac failure, certified by J.A.R.Anderson Bruce M.B.”

14th December:  JOAN MARJORIE ISABEL WRIGHT is born to ARTHUR STEPHENSON WRIGHT and his wife ISABEL ADA  (nee GISBORNE.) See above.




11th June:  Thomas Gainsborough’s portrait of ANN GISBORNE is sold at Christie’s (Lot No.95). She goes to an old-established London firm of picture-dealers: Arthur Tooth and Sons, Ltd., who own her until 1924 when she is purchased by C.W. Fiennes of Burton-on-Trent, Staffordshire. From thence, the portrait passes into the collection of Harold W. Stack of Short Hills, New Jersey; on the 2nd December 1938, his pictures are sold by Parke-Bernet of New York, and Anne Gisborne (Lot No.35) becomes the property of Maurice Goldblatt, who pays 550 dollars for her. She then passes to Curtis Ireland in Chicago, E.Raymond Field in Detroit, and by descent ends up with the Cranbrook Academy of Art, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, who resell her at Sotheby’s New York (Lot No.62) on 4th June, 2009.  She fetches 65,500 dollars. (As a pendant to the picture of Ann, Thomas Gainsborough also painted a portrait of her husband JOHN GISBORNE (see below. At the 1920 sale they both passed to different owners, and remain separated in private collections in the USA.)

John Gisborne by Thomas Gainsborough. (The picture is a pendant to the artist's portrait of Anne, and was probably painted at Bath, c.1760.)
John Gisborne by Thomas Gainsborough.
(The picture is a pendant to the artist’s portrait of Anne, and was probably painted at Bath, c.1760.)

Note:  A Catalogue Raisonne of Gainsborough’s portraits (by Gainsborough expert Hugh Belsey) is published by Yale Univesity Press in two volumes. It appeared on 26th February 2019.  John and Anne Gisborne are of course included. The full title is Thomas Gainsborough: The Portraits, Fancy Pictures and Copies after Old Masters. (ISBN No. 9780300232097).


GEORGE BEAUMONT GISBORNE marries MAY BEATRICE KING. (Islington Register: v.1b p783.) They have two children: COLIN (b.1927) and VALERIE (b.1929).



17th November:  JANET (JESSIE) WEIR GISBORNE (nee PATERSON) dies. She is 61 years of age, and has diabetes. Her death occurs at ‘Ivy Bank’, Queen’s Road, Sydenham; her usual address is given as Tyrrell Cottage, Tyrrell Road, East Dulwich, London S.E. Her husband, HENRY BEAUMONT GISBORNE is present, and registers her death on the 18th November.



March:  MARGARET GISBORNE (nee BAILEY), widow of JOHN SACHEVERELL GISBORNE, dies at the age of 78.



21st January:  HENRY BEAUMONT GISBORNE dies at home. He is 68 years of age. Described as a ‘Managing Solicitor’s Clerk’, his address is given as Tyrrell Cottage, Tyrrell Road, East Dulwich, London. His eldest daughter, JESSIE WEIR SMITH (wife of Percival Alder Smith) registers the death on the same day.


ESTELLE CAROLINE GISBORNE is to be found in the General Register. She is a ‘Bank Clerk’ (working for Barclays, I believe) living at 63 Cuckoo Hill Road, Pinner, Middlesex, in the household of Charles G. Dawkins and his wife, Violet.

* * *

SO HERE’S TO YOU, MRS ROBINSON  (A Gisborne footnote) In the early 1840s, Anne Bronte and her mainly unhappy brother Branwell were employed by the Rev. Edmund Robinson of Thorp Green Hall, Little Ouseburn (near York). They were tutors to the five Robinson children. A scandal was only narrowly averted after Branwell (tutor to the Robinsons’ son, Edmund) became enfatuated with Mrs Robinson (nee Lydia Gisborne, daughter of the Rev. Thomas Gisborne.)

The mature and beautiful Lydia Gisborne (Mrs Robinson) at the time of her affair with Branwell Bronte
The mature and beautiful Lydia Gisborne (Mrs Robinson) at the time of her affair with Branwell Bronte

She was 43, he 25. Their affair lasted two and a half years. A huge scandal was averted in the nick of time when plans for elopement were scuppered, and Branwell was dismissed from the Robinson household. The story is well recounted in Juliet Barker’s magisterial work ‘The Brontes,’ but Gisborne relatives are not usually so aware of how clearly portrayed they are in the pages of Anne’s novel ‘Agnes Grey’. The Robinsons are the Murrays of Horton Lodge. (To be continued …)

* * *

STEPHENSONS, HEBBS and GRAYS The scene now shifts northwards …


The East Riding of Yorkshire, by Christopher Saxton (c.1540-c.1610)

“The tract of country so called (formerly York Wold), is situated in the East Riding of the County, and consists of ranges of chalk hills with intervening depressions, extending from Flambrough Head towards Pocklington and Market Weighton and sloping down hence to the Humber near Welton; and from the north of Beverley to Malton, whence commences the rise of the more elevated hills of Cleveland. Many of the higher points command magnificent prospects – eastward of the German ocean, Flambrough Head and Lighthouse and the Priory Church of Bridlington; north-westward of the vale of York and York Minster; southward, of the flat expanse of Holderness, the majestic Humber, Beverley Minster and the churches of Hull and Hedon. The climate of the Wolds is severe; the winds, as they sweep over the plain and unbroken surface, being extremely violent and penetrating … Still the Wolds are healthy and the most grass is produced in the driest summers; but when the crops are exposed to the sea fogs they are usually small and the grass thick-skinned and coarse. The houses of this county (East Riding) are generally good, except upon the Wolds, where the materials are indifferent. The old buildings are composed of chalk stone, with mud instead of lime mortar, and covered with thatch … Many farms are found of £20 and £50 per annum, and a farm of £200 per annum is of a respectable size … The old-fashioned foot plough has continued too much in use, being a clumsy, heavy, ill-formed implement …” (From ‘CELEBRITIES OF THE YORKSHIRE WOLDS, by Frederick Ross,  London Trubner & Co, 57 & 59 Ludgate Hill; Driffield: T. Holderness, “Observer” Office – 1878.)




Wadworth, near Doncaster: RICHARD MAXFIELD is born.


RICHARD MAXFIELD, son of Richard Maxfield, above, is born – also in Wadworth.




Baptism of Marmeduke Stevenson (sic.) child of Marmeduke Stevenson (sic.)and ‘Rebecca’. (Relationship unconfirmed, but likely.)


7th June:  RICHARD MAXFIELD (b.1625) marries SARAH LAWTON (b.1625). They marry in Braithwell, Yorkshire.


23rd February: RICHARD MAXFIELD (1656-1729) marries SARAH SHAW (b.1660) in Wadworth.


10th January: THOMAS MAXFIELD is born in Wadworth.


23rd April: A Marmaduke Stephenson marries Elizabeth Smith in Nunburnholme in the East Riding of Yorkshire. (Relationship unconfirmed, but likely.) “Marmaduke Stephenson of Bishop Wilton and Elizabeth Smith of this parish were married the 23 of Aprill 1691”.

7th July: John Hebb marries Anne Hall in Wykeham, in the North Riding of Yorkshire. (Wykeham is close to the North Riding/East Riding border.) The Hebbs can be traced back to the 1600s in the North Riding of Yorkshire.



9th October:  ISABEL ACKLAM is baptised. (In the register, her parents’ names are illegible.) She will marry MARMADUKE STEPHENSON in 1736.


4th September: THOMAS MAXFIELD (b.1688), son of Richard and Sarah, marries ANN MARWOOD (b.1688). They marry in Owston, Yorkshire. Their daughter, ANN MAXFIELD will marry CHRISTOPHER HEBB (see below.)


CHRISTOPHER HEBB is born in Kilham, in the East Riding of Yorkshire.


26th December: ANN MAXFIELD is born in Wadworth, Yorkshire. She is the daughter of THOMAS MAXFIELD and ANN MARWOOD.


9th February:  THOMAS MAXFIELD dies at the age of 46.


4th January: MARMADUKE STEPHENSON marries ISABEL ACKLAM in Ruston Parva. “Marmaduke Stephenson of Nafferton & Isabel Acklam of Thornholme in ye Parish of Agnes Burton (sic.) Lawfully Published were then Marry’d.”


4th November: MARMADUKE STEPHENSON is baptised in Rudston. Parish register entry:  “Marmaduke Stevenson son of Marmaduke Stevenson (sic.) 4 Nov 1740”.

ANN JEFFERSON is born in Nafferton, probably in the same year.


25th April:  CHRISTOPHER HEBB marries ANN MAXFIELD in Catwick.

They have 11 children:

John (b.12.12.1751 – d.03.03.1752);
Elizabeth (b.03.01.1754 – d.16.02.1771);
Mary (bpt.28.12.1755 – m. Thomas Arksey, 17.03.1773; brd.15.11.1816);
Ann (b.27.01.1758 – d.17.09.1785);
Thomas (b.15.03.1762 – m. (1) 19.04.1792: Frances Richardson; (2) 25.10.1800: Ellen Robinson;
Frances ( – m.10.12.1789: Matthew Webster – d.1832); Sarah (b.16.12.1764 – m.15.05.1790: Isaac Atkinson;
Christopher (twin – b.11.03.1768 – m. (1) 20.01.1801: Margaret Blakestone (d.21.11.1817); (2) 09.05.1823: Mary Keld – d.16.05.1828);
Edward (twin – b.11.03.1768, mentioned in will in 1795, date of death unknown);
Elizabeth (b.28.07.1771 – m.09.09.1793: William Clifton);
Jane “Jenny” (b.25.05.1777 – m.25.11.1801: Alexander Grainger – d.14.02.1858, brd. St Laurence, Sigglesthorne, East Riding of Yorkshire.


11th March:  CHRISTOPHER HEBB is born to CHRISTOPHER and ANN. He is the 8th child of the 11. (Twin brother of EDWARD.)

29th of June:  MARMADUKE STEPHENSON, a sheepherd (sic) marries ANN JEFFERSON in Nafferton. Ann Jefferson is illiterate, and ‘makes her mark’ in the register. Of the witnesses, Richard Hodgson is the vicar of Nafferton.



24th March:  Abraham STEPHENSON is baptised. He is the Eldest son of Marmaduke Stephenson and Ann Jefferson.


7th March:  JOSEPH MARFLEET is baptised in Silk Willoughby, Lincolnshire. MARGARET BLAKESTON is born.

29th July:  MARY LEAK is baptised in Silk Willoughby, Lincolnshire.


5th January:  MARMADUKE STEPHENSON (son of Marmaduke and Ann, younger brother of Abraham, above) is baptised in or near Rudston. He will marry ELIZABETH HUDSON in 1810. His death certificate records his age as 69, so his birth would probably have been at the latter end of 1776.


8th February: THOMAS HUDSON marries MARTHA BRADLEY (Bradeley ?) in Rise, East Yorkshire. Thomas was born c.1754. They married by banns; both signed (rather than made their mark); witnesses: Christopher Hudson, E (or poss C) Marshall. The witness: Christopher Hudson – possibly Thomas’ father or brother? Martha is the daughter of GEORGE BRADLEY of Molton in the North Riding of Yorkshire.

Their children are born and baptised in Rise:
William in 1786, Jane in 1787, Elizabeth in 1789, Christopher in 1791, George in 1792.

17th October:  GEORGE GRAY marries ANN LYNN in Grantham, Lincolnshire.


10th April:  Ann Stephenson (nee JEFFERSON, is buried in Nafferton, East Riding of Yorkshire.)


9th March:  ELIZABETH HUDSON is born. (She will marry MARMADUKE STEPHENSON in 1810.)


23rd March: “Marmaduke Stephenson, son of Marmaduke Stephenson”– is this the one married in 1736 –  is buried in Nafferton.

4th December: Marmaduke Stephenson  –  (Ann Jefferson’s widower ?) – marries Sarah Ingraham in Nafferton.


Christopher Hebb’s will is dated 20th August, 1795. His wife Ann and his son Christopher are joint executors.


16th November:  CHRISTOPHER HEBB senior dies aged 74, in North Frodingham.




21st December:  THOMAS GRAY (son of George Gray and Ann Lynn) is baptised.


20th January: CHRISTOPHER HEBB, bricklayer, marries MARGARET BLAKESTON  (b.1773) in Great Driffield.



4th August:  JOSEPH MARFLEET and MARY LEAK are married.


13th November:  Joseph Marfleet, son of Joseph and Mary, above,  is baptised in Silk Willoughby, Lincolnshire.


16th January:  John Leak Marfleet, second son of Joseph and Mary Marfleet, is baptised in New Sleaford, Lincolnshire.

1st September:  THOMAS HEBB is born.


13th March:  William Marfleet, third son of Joseph and Mary Marfleet, is baptised in New Sleaford, Lincolnshire.


26 March:  MARMADUKE STEPHENSON (b.1776) marries ELIZABETH HUDSON in St Mary’s Church, Rise.

The building was renamed All Saints in 1845 after being rebuilt. The bride and groom are both described as being of the parish of Rise at the time of their marriage, and Marmaduke is a shepherd. Their wedding is witnessed by George Smithson, Francis Jackson, and Mary ? (Francis Jackson – presumably the same one, or a son – is listed in the 1829 Pigot’s Directory of Trades & Professions for Great Driffield. He is a surgeon.)

19th August:  MARY MARFLEET, daughter of JOSEPH and MARY MARFLEET, is baptised in New Sleaford, Lincolnshire. (In 1827, she will marry THOMAS GRAY in Horncastle, Lincolnshire.)


6th January:  ISABELLA STEPHENSON is baptised in North Frodingham.


5th April:  MARTHA STEPHENSON is baptised.


11th July:  ELIZABETH STEPHENSON is baptised.


21st November:  MARGARET HEBB (nee BLAKESTON) dies.


20th July:  SUSANNAH STEPHENSON is baptised. She dies on the 30thAugust.


5th January:  ABRAHAM STEPHENSON (Marmaduke’s elder brother) is buried.


11th June:  MARY STEPHENSON is baptised.

27th September: THOMAS HEBB’S grandmother, ANN HEBB (nee MAXFIELD) dies aged 94, in North Frodingham.


18th July:  CHRISTIAN STEPHENSON (another daughter for Marmaduke and Elizabeth) is baptised in Rise. The Reverend C.P.Worsley performs the ceremony.


16th August:  JOSEPH MARFLEET is buried at Silk Willoughby, Lincolnshire.


2nd May:  THOMAS GRAY marries MARY MARFLEET in Horncastle, Lincolnshire. They have nine children:

John Lynn (baptised 29th January 1828);
Edmund (baptised 24th January 1829);
Arthur (baptised 5th May 1830, buried 16th May 1830);
Joseph (baptised 20th July 1831, buried 11th February 1832);
Thomas (baptised 3rd March 1833);
Arthur (baptised 4th May 1834);
Marianne (baptised 27th October 1835, buried 29th January 1836, aged 3 months);
ELLEN (baptised 4th January, 1837);
Ann Cook (born 29th March, 1839).


24th April:  ISABELLA STEPHENSON marries bricklayer THOMAS HEBB. The Rev., William Drake, vicar, performs the ceremony in the parish church. It is witnessed by Thomas Witty, Martha Stephenson, and “Ann Heb”(sic.)

12th June:  MARMADUKE STEPHENSON HEBB, son of Thomas and Isabella, is baptised by the vicar.


19th July:  in North Frodingham MARTHA STEPHENSON (b.1811 or 1812) marries THOMAS WITTY (baptised 23rd February, 1812, dies 9th December 1884) – a Grocer and Draper.

Thomas Witty is the son of William Witty (c.1788 – c.1843) and Jennet Baron (baptised 9th September 1792, dies 14th September, 1849.)

William, who was born in Beeford, is the son of Thomas Witty (b.1743 in Lund), who is the son of Robert Witty (b. c1704 in Hutton Cranswick.) The Wittys go back to Roger Witty (b.c1445, in Middleton-on-the-Wolds).

On the Electoral Roll: MARMADUKE STEPHENSON is a farmer, farming land at North Frodingham, worth upwards of £50.00 per year.




4th January: ELLEN GRAY is baptised in the parish church of St Denys, which is located in the Market Place, and dates from the 1180s.


3rd June:  In North Frodingham CHRISTOPHER HEBB, bricklayer (b.28thSeptember, 1807) – Thomas’s brother – marries MARY STEPHENSON, Isabella’s sister.


22nd April:  Mary Marfleet (nee Leak) dies aged 68, and is buried in the parish churchyard of St Denys, Sleaford, Lincolnshire.She lies with 16 month old Frederick Marfleet, who died on 16th June, 1836. He was the son of John Leak Marfleet and Elizabeth (Leak).

The churchyard was closed in 1856, with the opening of the Eastgate cemetery. A section of the churchyard has been allowed to go wild and is covered with nettles and ivy. All gravestones are laid horizontally. Moss and grass have encroached over many of them, making them unreadable. A lot of the stones have worn away.


20th September:  Isabella HEBB, daughter of THOMAS HEBB and ISABELLA is born in North Frodingham. Her birth is registered on 30th September. The Registrar is her father, THOMAS HEBB.


THOMAS HEBB death 1839

30th May:  THOMAS HEBB dies in North Frodingham.
He is 36. The cause of death is consumption (TB). His brother John is present at the death, and registers it on 1st June. As Deputy Registrar, he signs the entry.

6th June:



With MARMADUKE STEPHENSON (60), are ELIZABETH STEPHENSON (50); John Stephenson (18); Ann Stephenson (15); MARMADUKE STEPHENSON HEBB, (B.1833) aged 8; Margaret Hebb, aged 6. (These last are the children of ISABELLA – nee STEPHENSON – and THOMAS HEBB.) Also in the household are FANNY PRESTON (20) a servant, and JAMES MARSHALL (27), another servant. (A dressmaker, Elizabeth Marshall can be found in Pigot’s directory of professions & trades, 1834.)

MAIN STREET, NORTH FRODINGHAM: ISABELLA HEBB, widowed five days earlier, is 30 years old, and described as a Grocer and Draper. She has her three other children living with her: Elizabeth Hebb, aged 5 (born c.1836); John Hebb, aged 3, and Isabella Hebb, aged 8 months. ANN WILLSON, aged 15, is probably a domestic servant.


Census Records:


THOMAS GRAY (b.1801) who was born in Grantham is married to MARY GRAY (b.1811). He is a tailor, and they live in West Street, Sleaford. In their household are John Gray (aged 13), Edmund Gray (aged 12), Thomas Gray (aged 8), ARTHUR GRAY (aged 7), ELLEN GRAY (b.1837) aged 4, and Ann Cook Gray (b. 29th March, 1839.)



March quarter:  ISABELLA HEBB marries again. Her new husband is GEORGE WILLIAMSON (b.1803) an agricultural labourer.


26th May:  CHRISTOPHER HEBB, THOMAS’s father, dies aged 77.

2nd November:  MARMADUKE STEPHENSON dies at North Frodingham. The cause of death is “Cancer on the Stomach Not Certified”; John Frankish is ‘present at the death’ and registers it on the 4th November. Francis Mosey, the registrar, signs the certificate. MARMADUKE STEPHENSON’S age is recorded as 69.

5th November:  MARMADUKE STEPHENSON is buried in North Frodingham.



16th September:  CAROLINE GRAY is born to THOMAS and MARY.


Census Records


ISABELLA is now 42,and she and her second husband GEORGE WILLIAMSON,48, live with ISABELLA HEBB (b.1841), GEORGE WILLIAMSON (b.1844), JENNETT WILLIAMSON (b.1846), and WILLIAM JOHN WILLIAMSON (b.1850), aged 4 months.


MARMADUKE STEPHENSON HEBB is now aged 18, and is apprenticed to a DRAPER & SILK MERCER, one EDWARD SHAW, of 28 Whitefriars Gate.


Grocer and draper THOMAS WITTY, aged 38, and his wife MARTHA, (nee Stephenson – Isabella Williamson’s sister) also aged 38, have a servant to look after their household: CHARLOTTE DANSON is 14, and comes from Scarborough. The Witty children are at home with their parents: WILLIAM (14, b. 1837, in Bridlington) is ‘employed at home’. His sisters, MARY, 9, and JENNETT, 7, are ‘scholars at home’ – while the youngest, SUSAN (5) is just ‘at home’.


The GRAYS are now in EAST STREET, next to The Waggon and Horses public house. They live ‘over the shop’ – and have no servants. THOMAS is 51, MARY is 40, THOMAS M. is 18 and ‘unemployed’, ARTHUR is 16, ELLEN GRAY is 14, Ann is 12. There are newcomers: George, aged 9, Caroline, aged 2, and Emma M, aged 1.

(1853: Construction begins on a railway from Boston to Swineshead to join the Great Northern Line at Barkstone. The line between Grantham and Sleaford opens in 1857.)


19th April:  MARMADUKE STEPHENSON HEBBb.1833, marries ELLEN GRAY (b. 1837) of Sleaford in Lincolnshire. The ceremony is performed in the parish church of St. Denys, New Sleaford, by the vicar, the Rev. Richard Yerburgh (1817-1886). The witnesses are Ellen’s father, and Elizabeth Hebb.

The Happy Couple move to London.


22nd January:  THOMAS STEPHENSON HEBB is born to MARMADUKE and ELLEN. He is baptised in the Parish Church of St James, Ratcliff, on the 9th June. The Rev. Harry Sadler, curate, officiates. ELLEN’s sister, CAROLINE GRAY – aged twelve – is baptised just before her little nephew. (See census, below.)


Census Records:


FREE TRADE WHARF (McFee, 20th century)
Free Trade Wharf (20th century photograph from the McFee Collection, National Maritime Museum, London.)

MARMADUKE STEPHENSON HEBB and his wife ELLEN are living at 21 Broad Street, Stepney, ‘of the Tower Hamlets’. Their home is probably part of Free Trade Wharf. MARMADUKE is 29, and listed as a ‘Glass Manufacturer’s Clerk’.

ELLEN is 24, and THOMAS STEPHENSON HEBB is 3 months old. Looking after him is Ellen’s sister, CAROLINE GRAY, aged 12. She is described as a ‘Nursemaid’ (in the ‘Whether blind or deaf-and-dumb’ column is scrawled ‘UK’ probably ‘UnKnown’).
Aged 2, she appears in the Sleaford census for 1851, when Ellen was 14.  There is also a servant, 15-year-old Mary A. Neal.



In Main Street, bricklayer CHRISTOPHER HEBB, 53, and his wife MARY, 42, have the scholars WILLIAM CHRISTOPHER HEBB, 12, MARTHA HEBB, 10, and TOM HEBB, 6, to contend with. ELIZABETH HEBB aged 4, and little FRANCIS HEBB, aged 2, are not at school yet.


THOMAS (61)  & MARY GRAY (50) are still in East Street, Sleaford. With them are their children: Maria (15), Emma Mary (11), Cook (9), Amy (5), and Lucy (7). (Lucy has been scribbled in as an afterthought.)



29th July:  HARRY HEBB is born to MARMADUKE and ELLEN at Free Trade Wharf, Ratcliff.

James Abbott McNeill Whistler’s superb 1877 drypoint etching of Free Trade Wharf


March Quarter, Stepney district: THOMAS STEPHENSON HEBB (1861-1864), son of MARMADUKE and ELLEN dies.


16th January:  EDITH HEBB, daughter of MARMADUKE STEPHENSON HEBB and ELLEN, is born at Free Trade Wharf, Broad Street, Ratcliff, of the Tower Hamlets. She is a true Cockney. Her father is described as a Mercantile Clerk, and the birth is registered in Stepney District on the 4th February, 1865; the Registrar is George Wells. HARRY HEBB is baptised in the Parish Church of St. Mary in St. George’s in the East. The Rev. Henry Sinden officiates.


3rd January:  Carry Mary Gray is born to Maria (19), daughter of THOMAS and MARY GRAY. The birth is registered on the 7th February; the father is unnamed.


March quarter:  GEORGE WILLIAMSON HEBB marries ANN MITCHELL. They have three children.



18th February:  Isabella HEBB (daughter of THOMAS and ISABELLA) marries JAMES BURNETT HOPWOOD, a boiler maker living in Sewar Lane. He is 25, the son of a bricklayer, also James; she is 28. They are married in the parish church of Holy Trinity in Hull. The wedding is witnessed by John Frankish and Charlotte Ann Hought. The celebrant is the Rev. John Pitkin, curate.


Census Records:


Nethergate Cottage, Court Hill Road, Lewisham: MARMADUKE STEPHENSON HEBB and ELLEN have moved to the present address, south of the river.

In the HEBB household are: MARMADUKE STEPHENSON HEBB, a ‘Commercial Clerk’ aged 38; ELLEN, his wife, now aged 34; MARMADUKE ARTHUR HEBB, aged 8, born in Stoke Newington and a ’scholar’; HARRY HEBB, aged 7, born in Sleaford, his mother’s home town; EDITH, aged 6, born in Ratcliff, and ELLEN MARY, aged 1.They are taken care of by one Eliza Clackworthy, of Devonport – a ‘servant’ aged 42.


WILLIAM WITTY (34) son of MARTHA and THOMAS, lives in Barley Gate, Leven, and has a grocer’s shop. He is married to SARAH (31) a Geordie lass from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, daughter of EDWARD and SARAH ARMITAGE. Edward was a licensed victualler. He married again before 1851, his new wife being Isabella. WILLIAM and SARAH have a daughter ELIZA (b.1861) born in Leven, and a General Servant from Beverley – SARAH A. WINDAS, aged 15.


THOMAS & MARY GRAY are now 71 and 60 respectively. Thomas is a Master Tailor, employing 10 men – and he is deaf; Maria is 25, a dressmaker; her daughter, Carry Mary (b.1865) is aged 6; Amy is 15,  ‘a scholar’.


16th June:  ELIZABETH STEPHENSON (nee HUDSON) widow of MARMADUKE STEPHENSON (b.1777) is buried in Leven. She is 85 years of age.


Census Records:


MARMADUKE STEPHENSON HEBB and family are living at 456 Commercial Road, Ratcliffe (of The Tower Hamlets), East London. Marmaduke, 48, is described as a ‘china and glass merchant’. Ellen (Gray) is 44, Marmaduke Arthur is 18, and ‘a commercial clerk; Harry is 17, a ‘china and glass shopman’, and Edith, 16, is described as a ‘shopwoman’. Ellen M. Hebb is 11, and ‘a scholar’.


WILLIAM WITTY (b.1837) is 44, and SARAH is 41. He still has his grocer’s shop in Leven. With them on Census Night are daughters ELIZA, now aged 20, and ELEANOR, aged 18. There is also a visitor from back home in North Frodingham, MARGARET SEDLEY, 46, and JOHN ARMITAGE, Sarah’s brother, a retired brush maker aged 47. He is blind.


MARY GRAY is 70, and a widow, and a ‘carpet maker’. She lives at 1 Repton Court, New Sleaford, with her son-in-law LUKE HOLDERNESS ( 36, a coal porter from Ewerby), her daughter AMY HOLDERNESS, now 25, and her granddaughter EMILY HOLDERNESS, aged 10 months.



A family tragedy: at the age of 22, HARRY HEBB, an apprentice waterman,  is ‘drowned in the Thames’.

31st August:  HARRY HEBB is buried in Tower Hamlets Cemetery.



31st July:  EDITH HEBB marries ARTHUR WRIGHT. They are married in St Paul’s Church, Shadwell, by The Rev. H.W.L.Robinson BA, Assistant Curate.  The ceremony is witnessed by Edith’s father, Marmaduke Stephenson Hebb, her sister, Ellen Mary Hebb, Arthur’s brother Walter Wright, and Harriet R.D. May.  (St Paul’s Church was opened in 1820, having been built to replace the 17th Century St. James’s, demolished in 1817. )

ARTHUR WRIGHT is a ‘wholesale clothier’ (b. 1861,  Colham Green, Hillingdon, Uxbridge, Middlesex). The new Mr and Mrs Wright live at 144 Winston Road, Stoke Newington.


8th June:  ARTHUR STEPHENSON WRIGHT (1887-1936) is born at 144 Winston Road, Stoke Newington.


Census Records:

MARMADUKE STEPHENSON HEBB is now 58, and ELLEN is 54. He is a Retired Clerk. She is described as a ‘Forewoman’ with the words ‘Costumes’ and ‘Dress’ added alongside. Their daughter ELLEN MARY, who is a draper’s assistant, aged 21, and a son, MARMADUKE ARTHUR HEBB, aged 28, who is a ‘commercial clerk’. Both appear to be living with their parents.

With them is a young visitor, Ellen’s nephew Ernest Stilwell. Ernest is aged 11, a ‘scholar’ from Barrow-in-Furness.

The Hebbs live in lodgings at 40 Coborn Road, Bow. (‘Bow and Bromley of the Tower Hamlets’.) Their landlord is an electrical engineer, John E. Rudd, aged 33. Also in the house are Rudd’s wife Lizzie A., 24, and their daughter Ellen A., aged 1. The house was probably divided into two.

Marmaduke Arthur Hebb (b.1863) is 38, a Commercial Clothier; he was born in Mildmay Park.



In South Street, WILLIAM WITTY is dead, and SARAH WITTY is 51, ‘a widow living on her own means’. Next door (or the next record) are her daughter ELIZABETH (ELIZA) aged 30, and her husband, FRANCIS (see 1861) or FRANK HEBB now aged 32, son of MARY and CHRISTOPHER HEBB of North Frodingham. He is a Grocer and Draper, and they have a daughter, LILLIE BEATRICE, aged 3 months.


At 29, Eastgate, New Sleaford, LUKE and AMY HOLDERNESS are 46 and 35 respectively. Their children are Ellen Mary, a scholar aged 4, Eva, aged 1, Herbert, also a scholar, aged 9, and Maria, who is aged 3.



ELLEN MARY HEBB marries FRANCIS EDWARD OSTIME,a commercial clerk,the son of a German bootmaker. Their son, FRANCIS H. OSTIME is born in 1898 in Poplar.


Census Records:


MARMADUKE STEPHENSON HEBB is now 68, still retired. ELLEN is 64, and a ‘blouse/dress maker’. They live at 7 Malmesbury Road, Stratford, Bow.

In their household are their daughter ELLEN MARY OSTIME, now aged 31, her husband, FRANCIS EDWARD OSTIME, also 31, FRANCIS H. OSTIME, aged 2, and a boarder, Harry R. Clark, aged 27. He is a ‘card box/paper bag cutter’. (See note, below, on the Ostimes.)


4th August: 1 Brenda Road, Upper Tooting in SW London. In the home of his cousin Carrie Musson (nee Gray) young Ernest Stilwell dies of ‘pulmonary tuberculosis’. He is 24, and has been working as ‘a commercial clerk’. Carrie, who was present at the time registers the death the following day.


33 West Banks, New Sleaford. LUKE HOLDERNESS is 56, a coal merchant. His wife AMY (Gray) is 45. Their son Herbert is 19, and a blacksmith’s apprentice; Eva is now 11, and there are two new additions to the family: ARTHUR MARMADUKE, who is aged 8, and LUKE EDMUND (b.1891) who is 9. See note, below.


31st January:  MARMADUKE STEPHENSON HEBB dies at home, aged 75. With him is his wife, ELLEN, who registers her husband’s death the following day. He is described as a ‘Commercial Clerk’, and the cause of death is ‘Chronic Nephritis, Exhaustion’ certified by J.C. Summers R.C.S. H.Wilkins, Registrar, concludes the proceedings.


Census Records:

ELLEN HEBB is 74, and in lodgings at 273 (possibly 253) Thorold Road, Ilford, Essex. The householder is Arthur Thomas Webb, employed by the Urban District Council as a ‘Motorman’ on the Tramway. His wife Florence was originally from Lincolnshire, so maybe there is a connection between her and Ellen.

14th October:  ARTHUR STEPHENSON WRIGHT marries ISABEL ADA GISBORNE. They live at 56 Stapleton Hall Road, Muswell Hill.


14th December:  Their only child, MARJORIE ISABEL JOAN WRIGHT is born.




17th November:  ELLEN HEBB dies at 273 Thorold Road, Ilford, U.D.  She is 78. The cause of death: “1) Cardiac dilation; 2) Hypostatic pneumonia Certified by C. Smyth L.R.C.P.” She has no occupation, and is the“widow of Marmaduke Stephenson Hebb, a Wharfinger’s Clerk.”

Her sister, LUCY TROTTER, a nurse, of 74 Mandrake Road, Upper Tooting, S.W. registers the death on the same day with J.W. Farrow, the registrar.

* * *

MARMADUKE ARTHUR HEBB, (b.1863, d.9.01.1936) uncle of ARTHUR STEPHENSON WRIGHT, above, was a warehouse manager at Brook’s Wharf (possibly Hay’s Wharf) in the Pool of London. The census describes him as a ‘public wharfinger’, though does not specify where. His will  is witnessed by two directors of Brook’s Wharf, Upper Thames Street, on the north side of the Thames, so it’s a safe assumption that this is where he worked. His son, also MARMADUKE ARTHUR HEBB, was born in Lambeth in 1899, and lived until 1980. In 1923, he married Rosie Woodfield in Wandsworth.

* * *


GUILLAUME BEAUMONT (c.1785 – 1861) was born in France, a British subject, though where and precisely when remains a mystery for the present. According to a story handed down from his daughter Clara, he was the surviving son of the de Beaumont family: aristocrats sent to the guillotine during the French Revolution. Rescued from prison at the age of five by loyal servants, he was hauled through the bars of his cell window – injuring a finger which remained crooked all his life. He was then placed with a family on the Isle of Wight where his true identity remained a secret until more stable times.

(This story comes courtesy of  Charlene Davies, a descendant of Clara Beaumont. Ms Davies maintains that the family was also known as ‘de Beaumont’, although ESTELLE does not appear to have used the prefix.)

It is more likely that Guillaume Beaumont was a member of the Beaumont family of Barrow Hall, Barrow-Upon-Trent in Staffordshire. Their connections and lineage – including the Babingtons – would have suited the Gisbornes admirably.




22nd August:   GUILLAUME BEAUMONT marries SARAH TURNBULL in the Temple Church. The original parish registers were destroyed by enemy action in World War Two, and only the bishops’ transcripts survive, so details are unfortunately minimal.



25th October:  WILLIAM BEAUMONT, eldest son of GUILLAUME and SARAH BEAUMONT, is baptised. PIGOT’S DIRECTORY OF GLOUCESTERSHIRE, 1830, finds William (Guillaume) Beaumont as a schoolmaster at the Free School, Pile Street, Bristol. (The school was founded at the beginning of the 18th century, for the clothing and educating of 40 boys.) Later in the century it took in girls as well, and became known as the Pile Street Mixed School.


25th November:  ESTELLE BEAUMONT is born in Queen’s Square, Bristol, Gloucestershire. She will marry JOHN SACHEVERELL GISBORNE.


7th July:  ESTELLE BEAUMONT is baptised in the church of St Stephen, Bristol, Gloucestershire. Her parents are ‘William Beaumont, a Schoolmaster, and Sarah’. The baby is baptised by the Rev. Charles Buck.


Census Records:

LIVERPOOL The BEAUMONT family is living in Upper Beau Street, Everton. GUILLAUME BEAUMONT is 45, a linguist; his wife SARAH is 40; their eldest son HENRY is 15, ‘a librarian’. He will go into the church. Eldest daughter SARAH is 13, WILLIAM 11, CLARA 9, FLORENCE 8, ALFRED 6, and ESTELLE, 4. Not much of Upper Beau Street remains. (GUILLAUME BEAUMONT’s death certificate of 1861 records his age as 73. This places his date of birth at c.1788, rather earlier than the 1795 implied by the 1841 census.)


“… The Boarding Schools for young gentlemen in the town and neighbourhood are those of Mr Tryer (the late Mr Walker’s), Row-lane Academy; Mr Beaumont, Heaton Mount, Mr Gurney, West Hill; and Mr Bamford, Highton-street.” From ‘A Descriptive History of the Popular Watering-place of Southport, in the Parish of North Meols, on the Western Coast of Lancashire’ by Frank Robinson, published by Arthur Hall & Co., Paternoster-Row. 1848. Heaton Mount School stood in Manchester Road, North Meols. An advertisement appeared in the Leeds Mercury of 27th March, 1852:

Guillaume (William) Beaumont in later life

“HEALTH AND EDUCATION. The Principal of Heaton Mount Select School, Southport, Lancashire begs to direct the attention of parents to the singular purity and salubrity of the sea air of Southport, which is almost invariably the means of restoring health and strength to the delicate and weakly. His establishment offers unusual advantages for the education of young gentlemen in every way; it is conducted upon Christian principles; the modern languages are taught, without extra charge; and the treatment ensures the comforts of home. The number of pupils received is limited to twelve. The highest references can be given. Principal – MR. G. BEAUMONT; Vice-Principal – The Rev. H. BEAUMONT B.A.; Assistant Tutor – (Resident); Visiting Masters – (From Liverpool).” (The Rev. H. Beaumont was the Principal’s eldest son, Henry.)


Census Records:

HEATON MOUNT SCHOOL – Manchester Road, North Meols, Southport.

Guillaume Beaumont, Head,  55, Principal of Heaton Mount School (Born in France, British subject);
Sarah Beaumont
, Wife,  50,  School Master’s Wife  (Born in Middlesex. London);
Henry Beaumont, Son,  24,  BA Curate of Trinity Church, Tutor  (Born in Gloucestershire. Clifton);
Sarah Beaumont, Daughter,  22,  Schoolmaster’s daughter  (Born in Gloucestershire. Clifton);
Clara Beaumont, Daughter,  20,  Schoolmaster’s daughter  (Born in Gloucestershire. Clifton);
Florence Beaumont, Daughter, 18,   Schoolmaster’s daughter  (Born in Gloucestershire. Clifton);
ESTELLE BEAUMONT, Daughter, 14, Schoolmaster’s daughter  (Born in Gloucestershire. Clifton.)

With the Beaumonts are the staff:
William Bristow Eminson, 19,  Tutor.  (Born in Lincolnshire. Barrowby);
Jane Miller, 32, Cook.  (Born in Lancashire. North Meols);
Eliza A. Taylor,  21,  a Housemaid.  (Born in Lancashire. Liverpool);
Ellen Hobson,  17,  a House Servant.  (Born in Lancashire. North Meols.)

There are eleven pupils:
Thomas Lomax, 14, from Bury, Lancashire;
George F. Jordan, 14, from Salford,
Lancashire; Henry Baynes, 15, from Staffordshire;
William G. MacLean, 13, from Lancashire;
Thomas Wardell, 10, from St. Helen’s, Lancashire;
Iver MacIver, 12, origin not known;
James Schofield, 12, from Rochdale, Lancashire;
James Hardcastle, 11, from Bolton, Lancashire;
John Lomax, 10, from Bury, Lancashire;
James St. Pier, 11, from Manchester,  Lancashire;
Thomas F. Watkinson, 10, also from Manchester, Lancashire.

Sarah Beaumont, photographed in the 1850s

4th September: Estelle’s brother, The Rev. HENRY BEAUMONT, of full age Clerk Bachelor of Southport, marries Anne Holford – of full age Spinster of Southport, in Holy Trinity Church. She is the daughter of the late John Holford Esq., of Holford House, Regent’s Park. (Holford House was built by Decimus Burton in 1832, and was the largest of the villas in Regent’s Park. Its owner was a very wealthy wine merchant. After his death it was occupied by Regent’s Park College until the house suffered severe bomb damage during the Second World War, and was demolished in 1948.) Groom’s Father: Guillaume Beaumont, School Master; Bride’s Father: John Holford, Merchant; Witness: E. Bolster Chalmer, Jun.; Sarah Beaumont. Married by Licence by: Jonathan Jackson Incumbant (sic.)


From The Visitor 1854 (births):  “Jan 20th at 5 Vane St, Bath, Rev Henry Beaumont, a son”.


4th September:  GUILLAUME BEAUMONT dies, aged 73. A gentleman, the cause of death is ‘Paralysis 3 Years Certified’. His address at the time is recorded as 11 Bedford Row, Worthing. One, (?) C. Noies, of 3 Chapel Street, Worthing,  is ‘present at the death’ and registers it on the same day with W. Pateling, Registrar.

* * *




St Bride’s Church, Fleet Street

11th February:  John Whittenbury of ye parish of St John the Evangelist, London, Bachelor, and Alice Robinson of this parish, Spinster were married in this church by licence the eleventh day of February 1773 in ye presence of G Robinson and Giles Dare by me Geo: Applebee, Curate; this marriage was solemniz’d between us John Whittenbury and Alice Robinson.



6th October: In Bunhill Fields non-conformist burial ground: MISS ALICE WHITTENBURY from Friday Street in a grave. The cost of her interment:  13 shillings and sixpence. What relation is she to John and Jeremiah ? First-born child of John and Alice ?


JOHN and ALICE WHITTENBURY have five children: EBENEZER (b.1773); JOHN (b.1775); JEREMIAH (b.1776); SARAH (b.1778); MATILDA (b.1791).

6th June:  JEREMIAH WHITTENBURY is born in London.

19th June: He is baptised in the Aldermanbury Postern Chapel, a non-conformist place of worship near the Guildhall in the city of London. His two brothers are baptised in the chapel in the same year.

(About the Aldermanbury Postern Chapel: The Reverend Edward West had been the rector of Little Whittenham in Berkshire, but by 1662 had been expelled from his living by the Church of England. In London, he formed his own church which met at his home near Moorfields, and was eventually licensed under the King’s Declaration of Indulgence in 1672, which allowed dissenters to construct their own places of worship. West and his followers built a small wooden meeting house in Ropemaker’s Alley, which was in use until 1765, when they moved to a new chapel at the Aldemanbury Postern, where the congregation remained until 1850.)

See note on Frederick Wright & Co., Shirt Manufacturers, 11 Aldermanbury Avenue. The factory and the chapel would have been very near each other, though the chapel would have been demolished by the time Aldermanbury Avenue was built.




19th August: In the Collegiate Church of St Mary, St Denys and St George, JEREMIAH WHITTENBURY marries for the first time. His bride is MARY POTTER of Ardwick, Spinster. The Rev. Mr. J.H. Hindley performs the ceremony. (The Collegiate Church was the Parish Church for the parish of Manchester. It became a cathedral in 1847.)


5th December: MARY WHITTENBURY is baptised in the Independent Chapel, Mosley Street. She was born on 17th November, the daughter of JEREMIAH WHITTENBURY and MARY, his first wife. JEREMIAH is a cotton merchant. On the same day, the child’s mother is buried at the church of St Thomas, Ardwick.




1st February:  JEREMIAH WHITTENBURY marries ELIZABETH WRIGHT in the Church of All Saints. The parish register Reads: Jeremiah Whittenbury of the parish of Manchester in the County of Lancashire and Miss Elizabeth Wright of Long Eaton were married in this Chapel by Licence this first day of February in the Year One Thousand eight Hundred and two by me Richard Chapman Vicar. This Marriage was solemnized between us Jeremiah Whittenbury/Elizabeth Wright in the Presence of Maria Whittenbury/Dorothy Wright.

February 17th:  The Morning Chronicle carries the following announcement: MARRIAGES At Bakewell, Jeremiah Whittenbury, Esq., of Manchester to Miss Wright, daughter of R Wright, Esq., of Great Longston, Derbyshire.

ELIZABETH WRIGHT is of the Derbyshire family resident at Eyam Hall – a beautiful Jacobean house built as a wedding present in 1671. The village of Eyam remains justly famous for its self-sacrifice at the time of the Great Plague in 1665.




27th December: The baptism of GEORGINA WHITTENBURY, daughter of JEREMIAH and ELIZABETH WHITTENBURY, takes place in the parish church. Dobcross is situated in Saddleworth, on the border of Lancashire and Yorkshire. It is now in Lancashire. In 1807, it was part of the West Riding of Yorkshire.



The Church of St Thomas, Ardwick

27th May: EGBERT WHITTENBURY follows his sister into an early grave. Both children were interred at the church of St Thomas, Ardwick.


19th December: A JOHN WHITTENBURY (Jeremiah’s father ?)  is buried in the Parish of St Olave, Southwark, in the County of Surrey. No age is recorded. Has he abandoned non-conformity ?



19th September: The baptism of ALFRED WHITTENBURY, another son for JEREMIAH and ELIZABETH, takes place in the Church of St John the Baptist with St Anne, Buxton.


Census Records:


Lloyd Street:  JEREMIAH WHITTENBURY is ‘an agent’ – 65 years of age. With him are his wife, ELIZABETH, 60, and unmarried daughter LUCY, who is 30. Their servant ELIZABETH SUNDERLAND, is 20.


15th May:  At 49 Lloyd Street, Manchester, JEREMIAH WHITTENBURY, gentleman, dies at the age of 71. The cause: ‘Translation of gout to the heart. Certified.’ Christiana Roberts was in attendance, and made her mark for the registrar on the 19th May, 1847.

June 12th: THE entire of the HOUSEHOLD FURNITURE and EFFECTS of the late Mr Jeremiah Whittenbury, consisting of a set of twelve black and gold armed chairs, with cane seats and loose cushions, in brown moreen; a sofa with loose seat cushions, upholstered to match; inlaid mahogany work table, with drawers and silk bag; six single and one armed antique mahogany chairs, with hair seats; octagon Pembroke table; drab ground chintz Brussels and Kidderminster carpets, mahogany draught board with men; rosewood tea caddy; Indian table, on painted legs; satinwood card box, with pearl counters, set mahogany dining tables, with loose leaf; neat mahogany chiffonniere with raised back, gallery, drawer, and cupboard; mahogany Pembroke table; two pair buffets, with embroidered tops, neat bronzed fenders, fire irons, moreen curtains for two windows, adorned with lace and fringe, and hung on lacquered bands; cotton sun blinds, &c. &c. Rope and green heald yarn and cocoa nut mats, 3-4 and 4-4 oil cloths, japanned umbrella stand, Venetian carpet, brass rods, and eight-day timepiece, in mahogany case, on bracket; Neat four post and tent bedsteads, hung with printed cambric, window draperies to match; woollen flock mattresses, feather beds, bolsters and pillows, blankets, white Marseilles quilts, Kidderminster carpeting, fenders, fire irons, toilet glasses, in mahogany frames; painted washstands, dressing tables, chairs and chests of drawers, mahogany wardrobe, with tray shelves within folding doors, and drawers under; chests of drawers and night commode, chamber services, and many other articles in ordinary use. There is a chintz china tea and coffee and an earthenware dinner service, a little cut glass, and a variety of culinary and washing utensils. The whole may be seen on the day prior to the sale, and any information required had from the auctioneers, 14, Princess-street. (Advertisement in ‘The Manchester Guardian’.)

* * *

THE ORIGINS OF MILLICENT POLE (1774-1851). The surname is pronounced ‘Pool’ as in water. Millicent was the wife of JOHN GISBORNE (1770-1851), mother of HARTLEY PACKER GISBORNE: Her parents were Col. Edward Sacheveral Pole (1718 – 26.11.1780) and Elizabeth Colyear (1747 – 1832).

They married on 10th April, 1769; Colonel Edward’s parents were:  General Edward Pole (1690 – 1762) and Elizabeth Sacheveral ( ? – 1717); Elizabeth Colyear’s parents were:  Sir Charles Colyear, 2nd Earl of Portmore KT MP (27.08.1700 – 5.07.1785) and Elizabeth Collier (sic.) Her dates are unknown. They married in 1747.

Sir Charles’s parents were:  General Sir David Colyear, 1st Earl of Portmore KT PC (b. 1.04.1657, Brabant – 2.01.1730, Weybridge, Surrey) and Catherine Sedley suo jure Countess of Dorchester (21.12.1657 – 26.10.1717). Catherine was born in Great Queen Street, London.

General Sir David Colyear’s parents were:  Sir Alexander Colyear (d. 1680, Netherlands) and Jean Murray. They married in 1657. Catherine Sedley’s parents were:  Sir Charles Sedley (1639 – 1701) and Lady Catherine Savage ( ? – 1707).

* * *




9th July:  JANET WEIR PATERSON is born at 86 North Street, Glasgow. The birth is registered on July 27th, 1863.

JANET (always known as JESSIE) is born to GEORGE PATERSON (b.1823) and his wife ISABELLA (nee GALLOWAY), who married on the 18th November, 1862.

GEORGE PATERSON is a ‘wine merchant’s porter’. By the census of 1871, he is 46, and ‘a Grocer’, at the same address. His wife is 8 years younger than he is. There are three children: PETER, aged 11, JANET, aged 8, and GEORGE, aged 6. the children have all been born in Glasgow. (Is ISABELLA also PETER’s mother, or is he the child of an earlier marriage ?)

* * *

A note on the OSTIME family:

In the Census of 1861:

FRANCIS OSTIME is aged 30. He is a tobacconist, originally from Frankfurt in Germany. His wife SARAH (1836-1887) is 24. She was born in London. Their daughter JULIA is a year old, and there is another child of 15 days – the name and sex are unrecorded.

In the census of 1871:

FRANCIS ANDREW OSTIME (1831-1900) is 40, and described as a Bootmaker. His wife is 34. They live at 40 Turner Street, Mile End Old Town.).  The family has grown: Julia is 11, Lydia is 10, William is 8, Emily is 6, George is 4 and little FRANCIS is 1.

In the Census of 1881:

FRANCIS ANDREW OSTIME is 50, SARAH 44, Lydia, a dressmaker, is 20, WILLIAM, and ‘oilman assistant’ is 18 (he dies in 1929 in Bristol), EMILY is 16, and is the Family Help; GEORGE is 14, a Butcher’s Assistant, and FRANCIS is 10, a ‘scholar’. MINNIE, the youngest, is 8 – also a scholar.

In the Census of 1891:

FRANCIS OSTIME (1829 sic) is now 62, SARAH is 55, FRANCIS EDWARD (b.1829 sic) is 26, and a ‘Commercial Clerk’, GEORGE is 24, a butcher, and MINNIE, now aged 18, is a schoolteacher.

* * *

LUKE EDMUND HOLDERNESS (b.1891) son of LUKE and AMY, served in the Great War as a private (No.15283) with the Suffolk Regiment. He died in action on the 30th September, 1915. His name appears on the Sleaford War Memorial and  is also commemorated on panel 21 of the Menin Gate at Ypres.

* * *

Updated 2018. A much fuller family tree (also a work in progress) is on
Obviously it keeps on growing!

To be continued …

* * *

Copyright © Francis Wright, 2020



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The first episode of Series Three, from the year 2000.
The bugs open a cafe.
Performed by Joe Greco, Rebecca Nagan and
Francis Wright, produced and directed by Peter Eyre.
A Two-Sides TV production for Channel 4.

Written by Francis Wright

June 17, 2020 at 6:55 pm

Posted in Uncategorised

Dr. Bedřich Bělohlávek (1902 – 1991)

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Passport photograph of
Dr. Bedrich Belohlavek (c.1948)

My father was born in Czechoslovakia, in 1902.

His parents, Bedrich and Ruzena, were innkeepers from Pisek in southern Bohemia.

Pribram’s town square: wood-engraving;
artist unknown

When my father was two years old, the family moved to Pribram, about fifty miles away from Prague. Pribram was then a prosperous mining town, its fortune built on silver.

His parents ran a small hotel, and also the café and restaurant attached to the town’s railway station.

In 1905, they produced a daughter, Ruzena, who died in 1907 and is buried in Pribram. My father never mentioned her existence, and I was greatly surprised to find out that he had not been an only child, after all.

POVODEN HLOUPOSTI (Flood of Stupidity) Cover

The title translates as ‘The Flood of Stupidity’.

From an early age, my father showed a rather precocious talent for music, and learnt to play the piano, entertaining the café and restaurant customers with popular tunes at mealtimes. He later studied the piano and composition at Prague Conservatoire, but instead of taking up music as a career became the music critic of Rude Pravo – the leading Czech Socialist newspaper, based in Prague.

It must be stressed that at no time in his life was my father a communist, or a member of the communist party. He had a social conscience, and like most of his generation regarded himself as a socialist, but he never subscribed to the political dogmas that emerged in the inter-war years. In fact, they frightened him and caused him great sorrow.

By 1924 he was supplanted at Rude Pravo by the Communist historian Zdenek Nejedly (1878-1962), and went instead to the Social Democratic newspaper Pravo Lidu as film critic.

In the same year, he set up Dobra Edice, a small publishing house, specialising in poetry, essays, and belles lettres. The books were produced with superb attention to detail, and were classic examples of European graphic design of the period. The example shown to the left Povoden Hlouposti was the result of my father being thrown out of Prague’s National Theatre. As a music critic, he had written a blistering attack  on the entrenched attitude of the orchestra to rehearsals of a new work (Alban Berg’s ‘Wojcek’) and the musicians took offence. They refused to begin the evening’s performance while he remained in his critic’s seat, and several players pursued him out of the building, fists shaking. Alban Berg wrote a heartfelt letter of thanks for the stand my father had taken. The last publication appeared in 1934.

From the published edition of the libretto, 1925

From the published edition of the opera libretto, ‘Pred Vychodem Slunce’ (Dobra Edice, 1925)

His opera libretto, Pred slunce východem (‘Before Sunrise’) was premiered as part of a double-bill at Prague’s National Theatre on 24th October, 1925. Composed by Emil F. Burian, it was directed by Ferdinand Pujman, with settings by Vlastislav Hofman. Conducted by Otokar Ostrcil, the opera was performed several times. It is set outside the Garden of Eden, with Eve about to give birth to the child of man.

The Libretto of ‘The Brothers Karamazov’
published by Dobra Edice

In 1937, my father married. His bride was Frantiska Ungerova, a native of Prague, who had been brought up inVienna. Their wedding took place in Bulgaria, in Sofia Cathedral.

With the coming of the Nazis, my father fled to England. His journey was made possible by an influential acquaintance, who enabled him to make contact with the exiled Czech government based in London.

A concert given by the Inter-Allied String Quartet with Dr. Bedrich Belohlavek at the piano.

A concert given by the Inter-Allied String Quartet with Dr. Bedrich Belohlavek at the piano. (The ‘cellist is Terence Weil (1921-1995) then aged only 20. He later co-founded the renowned Melos Ensemble.)

While there, he planned what was to be the first festival of British Film to take place outside the UK.  It opened in Prague in 1946, with a galaxy of leading actors and production personnel from both Britain and Czechoslovakia as guests.

BB 1946

Benjamin Britten’s letter to my father, regretfully declining the invitation to Prague.

The composer Benjamin Britten (1913-1976) was otherwise engaged, and sent an elegant letter of apology. The film ‘The Night Mail’ for which W.H. Auden had written the text, and Britten had composed the score, featured among the many documentaries shown.

My father returned briefly to Czechoslovakia in 1947 but the advent of the communist government in 1948 meant a second and permanent departure. He settled with his wife in London, and bought an ill-fated restaurant, Le Tabarin, 46 Gloucester Terrace, London W.2.

Le Tabarin Restaurant
at 46, Gloucester Terrace, London W.2

It served simple continental dishes, and was much-loved by its customers. Unfortunately, changing times, and my father’s over-generous nature meant that it didn’t stand a chance.

Le Tabarin Restaurant is auctioned on the 18th April, 1950

The narrow exterior of L.Simmonds, bookseller.

He became bankrupt, and c.1951 took a job with a London bookseller at No.16 Fleet Street, where he remained on the staff for thirty years. The shop stood next to Prince Henry’s Room, a timbered survivor of the Great Fire of London, 1666.


L. Simmonds – the shop signs

The firm of L. Simmonds was well-known to the legal profession, being in the centre of that world. It stood a few doors away from Middle Temple, and supplied vast quantities of law books, as well as serving local libraries, schools and colleges with more general stock.

My father’s boss, Louis Simmonds, was a remarkable man: diminutive in stature (like his wife, Rose) but big in heart, he commanded a loyalty from his staff that is now virtually unknown.

The narrow interior of the shop after its sale. The stairs led to the rooms where books were sorted for libraries.

The narrow interior of the shop after its sale.

It seemed rare for anyone to leave, under any pretext, and this continuity contributed more than a little to the shop’s faintly Dickensian air. Dating from the early eighteenth century, the building had once been a coffee house. It was narrow and rather dusty, but an institution, and much loved by all who knew it. The creaking stairs led to the upstairs stockrooms where books were sorted for local and City libraries.

The front cover of
‘Who’s Next ?’ by
‘John Brown’
(Dr. Bedrich Belohlavek)

1951 saw the publication of Who’s Next ? The Lesson of Czechoslovakia. My father wrote the book under the pseudonym ‘John Brown’, and dedicated it to the memory of Jan Masaryk, whose murder he had always deplored. 

Dr. Bedrich Belohlavekat the beloved Bechstein piano. The photograph was taken in Deal, c.1985. (Photographer: Basil Kidd for the East Kent Mercury)

Dr. Bedrich Belohlavek at his beloved Bechstein piano. The photograph was taken in Deal, c.1985. (Photographer: Basil Kidd for the East Kent Mercury)


(Note: The British Library in London now has an almost complete run of Dobra Edice publications, and various other works associated with my father. They can be found through the Slavonic Department, and in the general catalogue.) 

Copyright © Francis Wright, 2012

Joan Wright (1914 – 1997)

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Joan Wright with HRH Prince Philip, 1966

Joan Wright welcomes HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, to the BBC stand in Oslo, 1966.

My mother had an eventful career. On leaving school, she fulfilled her childhood ambition of becoming a journalist, and went to Fleet Street. There, she worked on papers such as ‘The News Chronicle’, ‘The Daily Express’, and ‘The Daily Herald’. She was one of the founders of a sporting paper, ‘The Bicycle’, which was in production until the advent of World War Two.

(She was, I believe, the first person to employ a young photographer by the name of Bert Hardy (1913-1995) whose high-speed Leica camera was so fundamental to his  work in sports and also – during and after the War – on ‘Picture Post’. He remains among the greats of 20th century photography.)

With the outbreak of War she was invited to become a press officer for the Norwegian Government in Exile,  then based in London. In order to be able to produce press releases in English, she found herself having to learn Norwegian from scratch, and deal with the wealth of information that arrived from the underground resistance movement in Norway.

In May of 1945, at the end of the War, she was transferred from London to Oslo, where she had to cope with the world’s Press as they covered the liberation of Norway. This was followed by the trial of the infamous Vidkun Quisling, the transcriptions of which were translated into English by my mother, usually working overnight, in order to have a press release ready by the morning.

The following year, she was asked to join the British Embassy in Oslo, where she spent the next five years as an assistant information officer. The job involved the organisation of Press conferences for the large number of dignitaries and personalities who visited: Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears, with the English Opera Group, Sir Malcolm Sargent, Margot Fonteyn and the Royal Ballet, Viscount Montgomery and the philosopher Bertrand Russell, to name a very few.

She also had the job of looking after Winston Churchill when he visited Oslo. His demands were considerable, but she obviously met with his approval, and received a very warm personal letter of thanks. Unfortunately, the letter was stolen some time afterwards, and was of course never seen again.

On her return to England, she joined the Foreign Office, and looked after hoards of American journalists who were in London for the Festival of Britain. She would take parties of them around the newly built Festival Hall, where the chief interest for most of them was in using what they called ‘The Queen’s John’ – the private toilet that adjoined the Royal Box.

JOAN WRIGHT in canteen

Joan Wright in Oslo, May 1966. She was representing the BBC at ‘Britain ’66’. (Photograph courtesy of ‘Aftenposten’, 16th May, 1966)

My mother joined the BBC in 1952, becoming Assistant Publicity Officer for Europe, based at Queen’s House in Kingsway, London.

Joan Wright on the BBC stand at Expo ’66 in Oslo. She is being greeted by King Olav V of Norway

Joan Wright on the BBC stand at Britain ’66 in Oslo. She is being greeted by King Olav V of Norway.

She provided information for the world’s press on BBC radio and television, which at that time was very much the envy of the world. In the 1960s and ’70s, her guided tours of Television Centre at White City in London were very popular with visiting journalists from all over the world.

After twenty years, she took early retirement in 1972, and set up a successful boating holiday business. Rather unimaginatively named Riteways, it was based on the Grand Union Canal at Uxbridge in Middlesex.

She also produced a guidebook to Norway (her second) this one published by Collins.

NORWAY Collins Guide

‘Norway’ by Joan Wright – a Collins Holiday Guide, published in 1970, and priced at six shillings – or 30 pence.

She also continued to work as a freelance journalist, writing illustrated features mainly about British television programmes for European publications. She was a very good photographer, and had the comparatively rare ability to make even the most nervous of personalities appear relaxed and informal. The Mary Evans Picture Library now looks after her archive of  photographs.

She often found herself on the receiving end of some surprising confidences, and had to assure her subjects that their secrets were safe with her!

JOAN WRIGHT with 'Bet Lynch' (actress Julie Goodyear) 1976

Joan Wright with Julie Goodyear, the ebullient actress famous for her role as barmaid Bet Lynch in ITV’s ‘Coronation Street’.

A move from London in the mid-1980s found her relocating to Deal in Kent where she ran a small but thriving business selling antique prints, maps, and vintage postcards.

Her shop, The Print Room,  was at 95a Beach Street, opposite the Royal Hotel on the seafront. It was conveniently just round the corner from where she lived, and she became a regular port of call for many of the town’s visitors and residents, who would spend time (and quite often some money) enjoying my mother’s excellent stock, and her continued ability to listen to whatever they had to say.

To be continued …

Written by Francis Wright

August 15, 2014 at 7:35 am

W & A Houben (Houben’s Bookshop – a Richmond Institution)

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I first encountered W & A Houben in Church Court when I was in my teens.

Dr Wilm Houben and his wife Anne seemed to be a rather fierce couple: he with his strong accent and very aromatic pipe, the smoke of which filled the shop in the days before a ban had even been dreamed of – and she with a cigarette holder and a businesslike tweed skirt.

Church Court in Richmond, as viewed from the Parish Church. The bookshop is 2nd and 3rd on the left, in the days when they sported a children's section as well.

Church Court in Richmond, as viewed from the Parish Church. The bookshop is 2nd and 3rd on the left, in the days when they sported a children’s section as well.

They gave every appearance of not taking prisoners, and of not putting up with timewasters. The brave got to know them, and to value their expertise, their dry humour, and their generosity. They were a highly intelligent pair – he an art historian, a refugee from Nazi Germany, whose speciality was Renaissance painting; she a formidable and very English bluestocking – a type that has all but vanished nowadays.
They knew their books and their stock and their customers, and were unfailingly helpful to those who were serious readers and book lovers. They supplied local schools, colleges and libraries, passers-by, and a legion of devoted regulars, like me. Their basement held an inexhaustible wealth of secondhand treasures, readily plundered by the keen, usually on a Saturday morning, especially if it was raining.


The shop was host to a variety of visitors, not always there to buy books. I recall an aristocratic and elderly Richmond resident with mottled skin and white hair. Engaged in earnest discussion about life, art, politics and things of the universe in general, she turned out to be Tchaikovsky’s great-niece.

She had written a book of memoirs (As I Remember Them by Galina von Meck, published by Dobson in 1973.) It’s a fascinating read about the last days of Imperial Russia as seen by a small child.

After the retirement of Dr and Mrs Houben, the shop was sold to two of its staff, Chris and Denise Dunlop. They continued to run it with much the same flare and inventiveness until Chris’s untimely death led to its closing down. They had always made sure that this small and friendly island of culture and  professionalism maintained a very special place in the lives of those who knew it.

We will not see the like of Houben’s Bookshop again, more’s the pity. Fifty-one years in a community is a long time, and its customers owe it their heartfelt thanks.
A wood-engraving by Hilary Paynter. It shows the premises of W & A Houben, Booksellers, in Church Court, Richmond, Surrey.

‘Church Court, Richmond’ by Hilary Paynter. This charming wood engraving shows the premises of  W & A Houben, Booksellers. Neighbours are The Cafe Mozart, and the Angel & Crown pub. On the right is the department store Owen Owen, before its redevelopment as a Tesco Metro.

Written by Francis Wright

August 14, 2014 at 7:00 pm

Posted in Uncategorised

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18 North Parade: Southwold Holidays in the ’60s and ’70s

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In the early 1960s, my mother bought a handsome red-brick terraced house in Southwold. Its name was Avondale, and it overlooked the sea from North Parade. At some stage it had been converted into three flats suitable for holiday letting, and very little had been done to it since.

North Parade, Southwold as viewed probably from the end of the pier. This view dates from c.1900.

North Parade, Southwold as viewed probably from the end of the pier. This view dates from c.1900.

The previous owner was a Mr Arthur Gordon Brander. He was a jobbing actor, with a stage and screen career that spanned the ’30s to the ’60s. My mother didn’t like him, though I have no idea why.

The flats were managed by Tom Jellicoe and his brother Paul from their quaintly Dickensian premises at No.8 Queen Street. A Southwold holiday would begin with a visit to the Jellicoes to collect the key to whichever flat was available for us, and to exchange the kind of smalltalk that I remember as being virtually monosyllabic.

Men of very few words, the Jellicoe brothers were Southwold institutions. In their quiet way, they were always friendly and welcoming, and although they must have aged slightly over the time we knew them, they never seemed to. Certainly the office – with its rows of labelled keys on hooks – never changed.

AVONDALE with BB & Teta

‘Avondale’ 18 North Parade, Southwold, in the days before it was painted white. My father and his first wife are going for a walk.

The most practical flat at No.18 was on the ground floor. It was easily the biggest. There were nearly always some invited guests, usually school chums of mine, to keep me company. Secretly, I was never really keen on this arrangement, much preferring to spend the day in the sea, or on the beach, or reading a book.

The Market Place as seen sometime in the 1960s. The daily coach from London would roar down the High Street.

The Market Place as seen sometime in the 1960s. The daily coach from London would roar down the High Street.

Grown-up guests were carefully chosen, and if they had a car, so much the better. Although I was frequently carsick, and hated being cooped up inside the Austin A40 or whatever it was, a car had distinct advantages in and around Southwold. As nobody in my family could drive, a car meant daytrips to places otherwise unreachable, and a car also meant that we probably wouldn’t have to worry about the bother of getting back to London on the train – even though Mrs Jackson’s taxi service to and from Halesworth was always reliable, and she a very pleasant companion.

The ground floor flat sported a kitchen that seemed enormous, virtually untouched since its Victorian heyday. A solid deal table stood in the middle of the flagstoned floor, and round the walls were shelves with rough drawers below them, drawers that were filled with an odd assortment of ancient cutlery and kitchen implements. A hand-operated mincer was clamped to one of the shelves, and a large mangle stood in the shadows, in what would probably have been the scullery. There was always a sharp warning not to play with it in case fingers should get caught in the rollers.

The kitchen had an intriguing smell of damp, though it was always bone-dry. It was never warm, no matter how hard the ancient Belling cooker had been working to provide breakfast or supper.

In the passageway outside stood a hefty oak settle, carved with grinning faces and lots of leaves. The seat was filled with buckets and spades and all the necessary bits and pieces for the beach. I think it was kept locked when we weren’t there.

I have no idea if I ever went into the back garden. There was no need to, with the beach and the common, and the whole of Southwold to explore. The back garden was merely where the dustbins were kept.

I always hoped that the first floor flat would be available as it was easily my favourite. The front room had a glorious view of Sole Bay, and when the weather was bad the crashing waves of the North Sea salted the windows. It was here that we listened to Cliff Richard just failing to win the Eurovision Song Contest with ‘Congratulations’. (My mother worked for the BBC’s publicity department, and Sandie Shaw’s winning ‘Puppet on a String’ the previous year had upset everything as London now had to play host to the Contest. This gave everyone a huge amount of extra work, and my mother sighed with unpatriotic relief when Spain carried off the trophy in the Albert Hall.)

The top flat was the one I liked least, despite its balcony and the superb prospect of just about everything from Sizewell B up to and beyond the pier, with its solidly square pale pink pavilion. From up there the expanse of water could be a little depressing if the weather wasn’t nice, and anyway the flat was the most ‘modern,’ which didn’t appeal to a small child with a liking for nooks and crannies and shadows. The kitchen smelt of plastic and Vim, and there were too many cheerful fabrics everywhere – the kind of things created in the 1950s as an antidote to the horrors of a World War whose after-effects were still visible in too many places.

An unexploded mine, retrieved from the sea, and painted in red and white stripes, stood harmlessly opposite the house. It was a collecting box for – I think – the R.N.L.I.  It was a great pleasure to feed it with coppers, and an occasional threepenny-bit as a treat. A sixpence was less easily parted with as it was probably being kept for a trip to the pier’s amusement arcade. I was supposed to be ‘lucky’ at the slot-machines, but I certainly wasn’t, any more than anyone else. I think I won a shilling once – and my reputation was founded on that.

My sixpence was kept for ‘The Haunted Graveyard’ – an old-fashioned delight of a mechanical peep-show. Skeletons and ghosts emerged jerkily from behind miniature tombstones, haunting a drunk who lifted a bottle to his lips a few times before sinking back into slumber as the last spooks disappeared. Perhaps the machine is still there – though the tarted-up pier has changed out of all recognition.

Watercolour by Marion Broom, dated 1914

Watercolour of nearby Walberswick, by Marion Broom, painted in 1914.

In the Summer, part of the beach was taken over by the Children’s Special Service Mission – an evangelical Christian group who built a big stage made entirely of sand, and decorated with pebbles and shells, the letters CSSM picked out in purple clover. They were young and enthusiastic and strummed guitars and sang modern hymns. I think they were quite popular as somewhere to put the children before breakfast on a Sunday morning. I never attended a service, but liked their platform because it reminded me of a stage, and I would clamber up there when nobody else was around, imagining I was in a big theatre.

What we got up to during the long summer days depended largely on which bit of my family was staying at No.18. If I was there with my mother, it was likely that friends would be there too. Certainly our housekeeper in London (yes, we really did have one) would be with us to keep an eye on things. She was very fond of Southwold, having been born and bred in Lowestoft, the daughter of a school inspector. According to the 1911 census, he was also a meteorologist, and recorded local weather conditions.  It took me years to realise why Dorothy – or Dolfie (as she was known) could readily tell me the proper names of every cloud in the sky.

My father, who for various reasons preferred mostly to be left behind in London, paid infrequent visits, rarely joining us for a whole holiday. When he did appear, always in great state on the Grey-Green coach which hurtled down the High Street before swinging round to reach its stop, he loved the common and the sea. He also loved a Southwold institution: Sutherland House – a restaurant and tea shop ruled with good-humoured firmness and no frills by the wonderful Mrs Jones, who seemed always to run everywhere with a great sense of urgency.

‘If you’ll take a seat with the others,’ she would say, indicating the queue of waiting hopefuls, ‘I serve everyone who comes.’ And she always did. Excellent meals of honest unfussy food – and plenty of it.  It was a testament to her quality that Mr Philpott, the manager of Lloyd’s Bank, ate there virtually every day. And never put on weight.

(David Philpott was one of those remarkable bank managers of the old school who actually understood what made people tick, and how they might benefit from sensible advice. I opened my first ever bank account with him, and still remember the account number. I stayed – as did my mother – until his retirement, and though I must have tried his patience on many occasions he was unfailingly patient and polite, and I shall always be grateful to him. I even received a personal letter of thanks when I managed to clear a persistent overdraft!)


The familiar shape of Southwold’s lighthouse – always seen with great excitement when nearing the town by road.

Two other benign presences in the town also remain firmly imprinted on my childhood: St Edmund’s Church, and the Lighthouse.

The cannons on Gun Hill were always superb for climbing on.

The cannons on Gun Hill were always superb for climbing on.

The first sight of the lighthouse, dazzling white in the sunlight as we neared the town, gave us a feeling of security, of coming home, and of magical days ahead. The unchanging pulse of its beams, year in, year out, made it as familiar as an old friend, and we would often stand on the seafront in the evening, waiting for the cycle to begin as daylight dimmed. We were not the only ones.

The parish church was special mainly because of Southwold Jack, who I adored. I used to visit him whenever I could, staring up at him, wanting to know what his bell sounded like. I don’t think I have ever heard it, and I never dared try it out for myself as I feared it might be unlucky to do so. A bit later on, I discovered the wonders of the choir stalls, and the painted rood screen, and the lovely roof with its angels and stars, and I have enjoyed churches ever since. For me, St Edmund’s seemed always one of the finest, and one of the richest in atmosphere and history.

Southwold Jack, who stands at the west end of the parish church.

Southwold Jack, who stands at the west end of the parish church.

Apart from Southwold’s delightful museum, now so much more sophisticated than it ever imagined it would become, The Sailors’ Reading Room also fascinated me with its model ships in glass cases, and its glimpses of a way of life completely unknown to me except in books.

The perfect place to escape sudden showers or icy winds, it was filled with pipe and cigarette smoke, elderly fishermen, old newspapers, dominoes and cribbage boards, and  I am not sure I liked it as much when I saw it last. It had been tidied up and cleaned up, and some vital ingredient was missing. It seemed to have become rather middle class – a fate that I’m certain was never intended for it; but perhaps that’s why it still exists at all.

At the end of the 1970s, after much hesitation, we parted company with 18 North Parade, and the regular holidays ended. My mother sold the house to Rex Fisher, who opened Avondale Guest House, giving this lovely building a new lease of life. I stayed there during his first season, and it was very pleasant and welcoming. The huge oak settle, still in its place on the ground floor, was now filled with fresh dining room laundry, and the kitchen had been brought up to date, as was only right and proper for a hotel. The mangle had disappeared, along with the mincing machine, and the family pet – an elderly beagle called Barry – wandered contentedly about, barred from the kitchen and dining room with cries of ‘Out you go!’ from Dolly, the motherly breakfast waitress.


The Bailey bridge across the River Blythe. Now part of everyday walks across the common, it used to carry the railway from Southwold to Halesworth.

Rather like Proust and his ‘scent of madaleines dipped in tea’ I remember the Southwold smells: the kippers being smoked in their tarred huts, the beer from Adnams Brewery wafting over the town, and the ever-present tang of the North Sea. I also remember a curious incident on one of our last family visits. My mother took our dog for a customary late-night stroll across North Parade to the edge of the cliff. There was nobody around and everything was calm and bright with moonlight. Near the mine-collecting-box the dog stopped dead, growling intently – something that this most complacent of animals had never been heard to do. She was also watching something: something straight in front of her, something certainly not visible to the human eye.

A second later, she gave a yelp and bolted back across the road to the front of the house, scrabbling frantically at the door. She was shaking with fear.

Part of me would love to know what she saw. Another part of me wouldn’t. It’s probably best kept a secret.

The seafront at Southwold. North Parade runs to the right of the lighthouse.

The seafront at Southwold. North Parade runs to the right of the lighthouse.

Written by Francis Wright

October 28, 2013 at 6:18 pm

Posted in Uncategorised

Professor Josef Skupa’s Hurvinek and Spejbl: puppets from Prague

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In 1947, my father Dr Bedrich Belohlavek organised the first visit to the UK of Prof. Josef Skupa’s marionette troupe, featuring the popular Czech characters, Hurvinek and Spejbl. Waiting to go on: the cast backstage.

Josef and Jirina Skupa, with Hurvinek & Spejbl, photographed in Bath, 1947.

Josef and Jirina Skupa, with Hurvinek & Spejbl, photographed in Bath, 1947. (Thanks to Pavel Skupa for sending me this wonderful image.)

Written by Francis Wright

August 8, 2012 at 8:27 pm

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YOU AND ME: The Story of Cosmo and Dibs

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Cosmo and Dibs first appeared on the screen in 1981. Over thirty years ago. You and me, me and you, Lots and lots for you to do, Lots and lots for you to see, Me and you, you and me … The music fades as the camera moves through the cluttered stalls of a street market. Behind one of the stalls are Cosmo and Dibs.

Dibs and Cosmo in the Market

The puppet characters Cosmo and Dibs were created by producer Richard Callanan for the popular BBC Schools’ TV programme YOU AND ME. They were on the screen for pre-school kids from 1981 until 1992. Inspired by the direct and down-to-earth approach of ‘Sesame Street’, each programme featured a four-minute sketch on just about anything that a child might identify with: sharing, eating,  arguing, bullying, sleeping, dressing up, being silly, having a row, make-believe, making poetry – the sky was the limit, as long as the sketch was relevant and useful to the target audience.

The scripts didn’t patronise: they informed, educated, and entertained – and the high quality of the writing deliberately saw the world from a child’s point of view. A successful group of sketches dealing with ‘Safety’ included the tricky subject of child abuse – making YOU AND ME something of a trail-blazer. It was welcomed by the charity, Kidscape, and featured on the national news. Songs and stories were always included, with an emphasis on cultural diversity – YOU AND ME was one of the few programmes of the time to do this.

Cosmo and Dibs and Harry Towb singing ‘When the red red robin comes bob bob bobbin’ along.’

The enthusiastic production team was committed to the ethos of the programme in its new form. In previous years, YOU AND ME had been fronted by characters such as Crow and Alice, Mr Bits-and-Pieces, Duncan the Dragon, and Herbert the Handyman. The advent of Cosmo and Dibs took away the safely middle-class element of the show, introducing a rougher edge – an edge reflecting the world that a modern child might experience every day.

Documentary features brought along a wealth of subjects ranging from the colour and exuberance of the Notting Hill Carnival to the mud and hard graft of farming. Henry the Kangaroo – with his catchphrase ‘I’m looking for the words in my book again’ – introduced simple social sight words (Stop, Go, Bus, Train, Station, etc.) to Ellie and her Dad and the audience. Cartoon Henry was animated by Mike Hibbert, and voiced by Nigel Lambert.

The theme music was also given a facelift. Gone was the jangling that had always accompanied an array of animated building blocks. Instead, viewers were treated to a line of children (again animated by Mike Hibbert) dancing to a reggae version of the title song, re-imagined and recorded by UB40.

Dibs and Cosmo with Bill Owen, Jeni Barnett, Gary Wilmot and Indira Joshi

Now, the programme featured human presenters that were a cross-section of ethnic backgrounds. Among them were Jeni Barnett, Charubala Chokshi, Harry Towb, Larrington Walker, Liz Smith, Gary Wilmot, Annette Badland, Sheila Chitnis, Mike Grady, Isabelle Lucas, Michael Balfour, Michael Snelders, Maggie Ollerenshaw, Bharti Patel, Indira Joshi, Yasmin Pettigrew and Bill Owen. Clive Mason also joined the cast for programmes relevant to the deaf community.

Cosmo and Dibs themselves were puppeteered and voiced throughout by Frances Kay and Francis Wright. The puppets were made by Muppet maker and performer Tim Rose, and the scripts were written by members of the production team and cast. Over the years, producers and directors came and went. Richard Callanan remained with the show for its first three series, leaving to join ITV schools. His place was taken by Nicci Crowther, who later developed a successful career as an independent producer and film maker, working until her early death in 2008.

The Production Team, L – R: Christine Crow (assistant floor manager); Hilary Hardaker (production assistant); Nicci Crowther (producer/director); Francis Wright (with Dibs); Sue Aron (producer/director); Robert Checksfield (floor manager); Frances Kay (with Cosmo); Noreen Hunter (production assistant); Richard Callanan (series producer); Rory Mitchell (production designer).

Producer/directors Sue Aron, Adrian Mills, Diane Morgan, Pat Farrington, Claire Elstow, Julie Callanan, and Cas Lester were among the regular names to feature on the credits, while behind the scenes Jill Wilson, Noreen Hunter and Hilary Hardaker were the production assistants most often to be found either in the studio’s control gallery or office, armed with stopwatch or  typewriter as occasion demanded. The set, based on a street market in London’s Shepherd’s Bush, evolved steadily over the years under different designers: Mark Savant, Rosemary Hester, David Bevin and Rory Mitchell were among those who brought the market stalls to life.

Dibs with his teddy bear

Robert Checksfield was the studio Floor Manager most often to be heard relaying the director’s instructions to cast and crew. Assistant Floor Managers numbered Wendy Pedley, Gary Boon, Simone Dawson, Terry Pettigrew, Sally Bates, Christine Crow and Donna Rolfe among their ranks. The first series of twenty programmes was begun at the BBC’s Lime Grove Studios, part of which overlooked Shepherd’s Bush Market. It was completed at BBC Television Centre in Wood Lane, which became the show’s regular home for all but the last series.

Harry Towb, Bharti Patel, Clive Mason, Gary Wilmot, Larrington Walker and Jeni Barnett with Dibs and Cosmo

Changing times and changing trends dictated that YOU AND ME too would change. A sour letter from a school intimated that ‘our kids need therapy to turn on the telly’ – and suddenly everything had to be more ‘fun!’ Two additional puppet characters joined Cosmo and Dibs for the last two seasons, and the street market disappeared in favour of a brightly-coloured domestic setting. In 1992, an independent production company took the helm, and at the dawning of the Age of Teletubbies an element of middle-class cosiness was brought back to the programme for its final airing.

Cosmo & Dibs on Child Safety: from the Times Educational Supplement

Cosmo & Dibs on Child Safety: from the Times Educational Supplement in 1987

© Francis Wright, 2011

The pictures are courtesy of BBC TV.  Note – Frances Kay’s debut novel ‘Micka’ was published by Picador in July 2010. The central character is, like Cosmo, a Geordie. Her second novel ‘Dollywagglers’ appeared in June, 2014. Published by Tenebris Books it is a bleakly funny futuristic work about puppeteers in a world devastated by disease and other nasty things.

Richard Callanan, creator of Cosmo & Dibs, and producer of their first three series, died on 13th May, 2015, aged 70. His was a remarkable talent. R.I.P.

At Number 29: A Memory of Crescent Grove, London S.W.4

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The battered and peeling gateposts near Mr Bowes the dentist led to a dusty rubble track, which in turn led to my first home.

The Gateposts of Crescent Grove, c.1964

In the spring of 1958, I was born in St John’s Wood, north London. The setting was ‘a nursing home’. 29 Crescent Grove was where I then spent the first few years of my life.

Like most of the houses nearby it was a dilapidated mixture of flats and bedsits. My mother had moved in to the first-floor flat the year before, having met my father, who was Czech, over an ice cream at the BBC’s Bush House in the Aldwych. At the time, she was in search of somewhere to live, and his mixture of continental charm and extraordinary English had worked its usual spell.

Next door down (No.31 ?) was owned by a lady known to us as ‘The Old Pious Goat’. I have no idea what her name was. Like Vesta Tilley, she had been a male impersonator in music hall, and had now retired to run her home as a lodging house. She was religious, and the rules of her house were extensive, and strict, prompting my father once to enquire if her tenants were allowed to breathe. He meant it, and was relieved when she said that they were.

Whether or not my father wholly owned No.29 is not clear to me without further homework, but I remember that he took an almost patriarchal interest in the occupants. To a very small child it seemed that every available corner of the house was inhabited by rather weird and wonderful characters.

Cresecent Grove, in about 1910. No.29 is somewhere on the left

Michael lived in the basement. Michael had a beard, and was bohemian. He came from a well-to-do background, and seemed to be very well off. He certainly didn’t need to work. He was also a little unbalanced – a combination of genius and insanity – something that ultimately got the better of him, and he died very young. I think it was a brain tumour, but this was something that was only ever whispered about in my hearing.

The ground floor was where my father lived with his first wife. They had escaped from what was Czechoslovakia to London just in time for the Blitz in 1940. Their part of the house was a fascinating mixture of too many books, odd furniture, and cats. At Christmas, the bath had live carp swimming in it.

The furniture was odd because it was antique, and mainly of very good quality, and we weren’t used to it. It often suffered at the hands of my father’s first wife, who would seek to improve any item that had untidy things like intricate brass ornaments and decorations on it. She would ruthlessly attack with a pair of pliers until it was reduced to almost Calvinistic plainness. A fine regency card table still in my possession was thus denuded, and a pair of unfortunate Georgian long-case clocks also subjected to the same fate – their finials and decorations torn off and unceremoniously dumped.

Spotlessly clean net curtains hung in the windows at the front and back of the house. They did not look English. Nor did the large baroque cherubs that clung to the wall in the entrance hall. They were almost black with the grime of centuries and soot, until my father’s first wife attacked them as well – with white gloss paint, carefully colouring their loincloths an attractive powder blue.

The cats were acquired over several years – every one of them a stray in some kind of disrepair. Most of them smelt, and had colonies of fleas. They spent warm days outside in cardboard boxes, and at night occupied the very warm kitchen – or went prowling in the wilderness that had once been the carefully tended gardens at the centre of Crescent Grove. Carefully tended they were not any more – with no railings anywhere, and huge untamed bushes of privet and rhododendron swinging over the cracked paving. Noisy and grubby children (who were probably very ordinary and middle-class) played rough games there: Cowboys and Indians, Soldiers, and Robin Hood. There was no reason to go anywhere near, so we didn’t, and I don’t think I ever saw The Crescent on the other side of the gardens. We kept mainly to our part of The Grove.

The Crescent, showing the carefully tended gardens in the middle

Uncle Rudolph was not a relative, but a retired Polish airman who had flown with the RAF. He now lived in a single room off the main stairs, and his passion was fishing. Every weekend he disappeared, returning on Sunday evening, laden with freshly-caught fish which he would distribute to anyone who might appreciate it. My mother once opened her front door to find a very large pike hanging from the doorknob, its tail curled decoratively into its mouth.

Mr Parker, who was rather stout, and rather elderly, lived opposite Uncle Rudolf. My only memory of him is of a black gaberdene raincoat and a black hat, glimpsed as he passed on the stairs. He was always very polite. Shortly before he died, he gave my father a pretty walnut chair that had belonged to his mother. I have it still. It is small, useful, and comfortable. The gentlemen must have shared a bathroom, which was probably further along their passageway.

At the top of the house were the rooms occupied by the au pair employed mainly to look after me. I think the accommodation consisted of something like a bedsit and a small kitchen and bathroom – but by the early 1960s my mother had applied to run a playgroup there, and what I had always regarded as my home and my territory was invaded by a mixture of children who I mostly did not like, and certainly wanted nothing to do with.

There was Mark, the youngest, a toddler who was a bully: no chair was safe from him if he decided it was his – the occupant was pushed out of the way onto the floor, too surprised to retaliate; there was the strange and exotic Indian girl with a steel plate in her head, covering the place where her skull had failed to grow properly; there was me, very shy, and rather plump, and there was my best friend, Peter.

Me and my friend Peter Martin on the sofa at Crescent Grove

Me (with curly hair) and my best friend Peter Martin sharing an armchair at Crescent Grove. I was very fond of the embroidered kitten on my chest. From what little I can see of the illustration, I believe the book was called ‘How the Mole Got his Car’.

Peter lived nearby at Parson’s Corner and was collected by his father at the end of the day. There were three or four others, who I cannot recall, and the group seems to have been considered a success.

Peter and I were occasionally taken out for treats by Lisbeth, a splendid Norwegian friend of my mother’s who had wanted a year’s sabbatical from her job in Oslo, and who had been seconded to run the playgroup.  She took us to places like Arding & Hobbs (opposite Clapham Junction Station) for afternoon tea, where we embarrassed or amused customers and waitresses alike by playing hide-and-seek under the stiff white table-cloths in the otherwise silent dining room. We were also photographed together, sitting on a threadbare armchair in my mother’s sitting room, both glued to a large picture book about a fire engine. Peter was shortsighted, and wore round metal-rimmed glasses. He was clumsy on occasion, and once managed to fall down the stairs from the top of the house, literally turning cartwheels past me, until he landed against the wall and burst into floods of tears. His only injuries were shock and a bump on the head. He and I stayed friends until school intervened and we went our inevitably separate ways at the age of five.

Our last meeting was at Chessington Zoo. He had been invited to my birthday party, but I don’t remember which one.

There is a coach-house next door to No.29. It was part of our house in those days, but I always thought of it as a garage, and could never understand how Uncle Henry and Adele, his schoolteacher girlfriend, managed to live in the same room with his Morris Minor.

Uncle Henry was Czech, his proper name Jindrich (or Jindra) Bertl, and I’ve always thought Adele was English, but perhaps she wasn’t. They were a young and friendly, rather stylish couple who would soon be part of the Swinging Sixties – an era that came into being with some very hard winters. Crescent Grove disappeared under snow that was higher than the edge of my pram, and as a small child, the visit to the Market to buy a Christmas tree with my mother was a perilous undertaking through the bustling crowds, thick fog, and ice.

‘Just push,’ was my mother’s instruction as we negotiated a very tall Christmas tree through a press of other people’s shopping and heavy winter coats.

Before I was five years old, my mother took the plunge and bought a house of her own. It was in Barnes, facing the Green, and we lived there for twenty years. I do not know what became of Uncle Rudolf or Uncle Henry and Adele, but it might have surprised some people to know that my father and his first wife moved with us, along with their many cats.

Although perhaps unconventional for the time, it was an arrangement that worked, and to me it seemed completely normal, as part of a childhood that was – on the whole – a very happy one.

* * *

(The booklet by Hermione Hobhouse, ‘A Regency Survival in Clapham’, published by the Crescent Grove Trust, was an immense help in writing the above. The pictures were kindly provided by Alyson Wilson of The Clapham Society.)

Copyright © Francis Wright, 2011

Written by Francis Wright

December 31, 2011 at 8:30 am

Glengyle School (Glengyle Preparatory School for Boys)

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Glengyle Preparatory School for Boys was in Putney, south-west London. It was founded in 1907 by Leonard Augustine Chope, and was originally in Cambalt Road before moving to 4, Carlton Drive in 1914.

Glengyle Preparatory School for Boys photographed in the Summer Term of 1965

Walter Vivian Wallace was appointed as Assistant School Master in 1938 before purchasing the lease from Mr Chope and becoming the proprietor and headmaster of the school.

He bought the freehold of the property in Carlton Drive in 1960. His wife Winifred taught at the school and took over its running following the death of her husband in 1981. Mrs Wallace retired in 1986 and the school was sold. It is now the Merlin School.

The building was one of those huge Victorian villas, probably built in the 1860s for a large and prosperous family with many servants.   The ceilings were high, the rooms spacious. The large garden had been turned into a gravelled playground, complete with climbing frame. A skeletal medlar tree stood in one corner near the conservatory, which was now Form Two.

In the 1965 photograph, the whole school is shown: it had about 60 pupils.
From L – R the staff are:  Mrs Helen Jordan (music); Mrs Joan Mensing (Form Two); Mrs Winifred Wallace (Form One); Mr Vivian Wallace (Headmaster); Major Peter Williams (Form Four); Mr Smith, and Mr Davies.

Mrs Mensing had started out by being Mrs (or Miss) Walker, but intrigued us all by remarrying and changing her name in 1964. She was a good amateur watercolourist.

The Wallaces, with their three children, Peter, Juliet, and Adrian, lived upstairs. The school occupied the ground floor and the basement, which also housed the kitchens and the dining room.

Mrs Wallace ruled Form One, teaching just about everything to little boys mostly new to school. Basic arithmetic was introduced and I have a clear recollection of large sheets of dark yellow paper with red spots drawn on them to show the way numbers increased. Five (two spots at top and bottom, with a central one making up a pleasing pattern) and then the favourite of all ‘Lonely Six’ – a repeat of Five, but with poor old Six stuck out to one side.

Easter and Christmas were significant in that we beautified the classroom a couple of weeks before the end of term with specially made decorations. Paperchains and cotton wool snow at Christmas, and bunnies at Easter. The paperchains were made from strips of coloured paper, gummed together into loops, and the bunnies were carefully cut out by Mrs Wallace, who then gave them to us to exercise our artistic skills with brown powder paint. A small lump of cotton wool was then added for the tail. The rabbits were arranged round the walls along with cut-out Easter eggs and bright flowers. I don’t think the Easter message was mentioned. That would come later, in Scripture lessons with Major Williams.

The School Concert
Mrs Wallace overseeing some of the cast of the School Concert, c.1964

For me, Christmas was immediately exciting because of the promise of the ‘School Concert’ – an end-of-term entertainment in which our histrionic talents were put on show. From a classic nativity play with angels and shepherds and three wise men, to a number of songs in French and English, short dramatic interludes – again, some in French, some in English, and some even in Latin. I once scored a great hit as Mrs Noah in a French version of the Bible story. I had a blue and white striped frock, which I think had originally belonged to a neighbour of ours, and a neat apron. I had to bully the animals. In French.

Mr Noah – played, I think, by a swarthy Portuguese lad whose name I can’t recall – eventually lost patience and ordered me into ‘l’arche’ with the warning that if I didn’t obey at once, I would drown. Our audience tittered politely on cue. I like to think we were better than the extract from ‘Macbeth’ which followed, but I coveted Peter Wallace’s magnificent blue gown and wimple, and wished I could have been Lady Macduff. I can still hear Guy Whitehead groaning ‘He has killed me, mother’. He had a naturally gruff voice, and was lying on the floor, dressed in a sack. His plastic dagger and shaggy red hair lent a certain authenticity to the scene.

The Christmas Nativity Play, c.1963 (The angels' costumes are made of white sheets, the wings of muslin strips, with elastic bands to loop over our fingers. Joseph and Mary of course wore tea-towel headdresses, as did the shepherds, who aren't in this photograph.)
The Christmas Nativity Play, c.1963 (The angels’ costumes are made of white sheets,the wings of muslin strips, with elastic bands to loop over our fingers. Joseph and Mary of course wore tea-towel headdresses, as did the shepherds, who aren’t in this photograph.)

Music was provided by Mrs Jordan, who one year composed ‘The Glengyle March’ which involved a lot of stomping about, all of us pretending to play musical instruments.

School Concert 4
Rehearsing the Glengyle March
School Concert 1
Angels waiting in the wings …

The stage, which wasn’t a stage at all, but just the space in front of the longest wall of the room used for assembly, always seemed enormous to me. It was made spectacular by a huge gold curtain – provided by the generosity of Michael Bogod’s parents. Three very large floodlights illuminated it and us, courtesy of Jimmy Koenig’s father who ran a photographic studio. It wasn’t subtle, but it was bright, and I loved it.

School Concert
The School Concert. The article is from Wandsworth Borough News, Christmas Eve, 1964. I am standing between the soldiers and the cowboy. The Bogod gold curtain is behind us, concealing a wall of blackboards.

Willing volunteers were roped in to help get us ready and to make sure we didn’t miss our cues or get involved in squabbles. Our housekeeper, Dorothy Buck (always known as ‘Dolfie’) was very good at looking after those of us in her charge.

Fortunately she didn’t mind when I insisted that she join the staff for Morning Prayers, and also be put at the head of one table for lunch.

Glengyle’s cook was a South African by the name of Frank Jermy. He had a permanently grubby white apron, and greasy trousers. He produced endless quantities of chips, every day. Ham and peas and chips, fish and peas and chips, stewing steak and chips, a slice of spam and (probably) peas – and chips, pie and peas – or sometimes carrots or cabbage – and chips, the menu didn’t vary very much. Except at Christmas.

The morning playtime discovery of a headless grey squirrel lying on the gravel outside the kitchen doors caused endless speculation as to how it had met its fate. The verdict was unanimous: Mr Jermy had beheaded it, and the squirrel would no doubt be on the menu the next day, complete with chips.

Every lunchtime, between the main course and sweet, Mr Wallace would take his dessert spoon and hammer the formica-topped table in front of him. This brought a pin-drop silence to the room so that the daily register could be taken. As there were only about sixty pupils in the school, it didn’t take very long, and lunch then continued with jelly and custard or apple pie and custard.

Next to the kitchen and dining room was the place where we hung our coats and caps on hooks until going-home time.

This area was also the place where small bottles of milk (one third of a pint) were dished out from a crate every morning. It was a perk to be appointed a milk monitor. I never was. In winter, the bottles were stood in plastic bowls of hot water to take some of the chill off. Winters in the 1960s seem to have been spectacularly cold.

Next to the dining room was the Maths Room, which was the domain of Mrs Hawkins. It smelt of blackboard chalk and the paraffin heater that steamed the windows up. The walls were an acidic yellow, covered with educational posters and bits and pieces to do with mathematics. The room also carried a faint smell of its incumbent: a smell of perspiration in an age when deodorants were far from common.

Mrs Hawkins in docile mood with some of us on the annual School Outing. This summer daytrip took us to Ightham Mote in Kent.

Mollie Hawkins – who arrived in around 1964 – ruled the Maths Room by fear. She was a bully, given to outbursts of temper with occasional violence thrown in. Had she behaved in a similar manner nowadays, she would not only have ceased to be a teacher within a very short time, but would probably have been arrested into the bargain. She remained on the staff for twenty years, and died in 1993 at the age of 76.

(I remember my best friend being the victim of one of her more brutal attacks, in which she grabbed him by the hair and shook him backwards and forwards to punctuate a tirade levelled at him.  Of course we never said anything. At home, complaining about a teacher was virtually useless, the usual response being something along the lines of ‘Well, I expect you asked for it.’)

My dislike of Maths has remained undimmed to this day.

The playground was at the back of the school, and its rear wall overlooked the playground of Putney High School. At break-times, the vigorous shouts of amazonian young girls at play could be heard, providing – for some – a tantalising hint of desires and pleasures as yet unknown and undeveloped, but frequently spoken of with much hilarity and absolute disbelief.

In 1967, the school held a Diamond Jubilee celebration, marked by a fete in the school grounds, and also the production of pennants made of felt, printed with the school’s name and dates – in the characteristic grey and white of the uniform.

I was there from 1963 – 1967, leaving just before the celebrations, and returning as a visitor for the day. It all looked very strange. And very small. For many years the prospectus continued to declare that the school provided a fitting background for those wishing to enter “the colonial or diplomatic services”.

Sports Day at Glengyle – the end of the Summer Term, c.1966. Mr Wallace awarding prizes at the Harrodian Club grounds.
The School Photograph, July 1967. My last term at Glengyle

The following photos belong to the time after I left Glengyle. They are the property and copyright of their respective owners. I reckon the subject matter speaks for itself, and I will add photos here as and when I receive them.

Mr Bains & Co., Courtesy of Keith Walker

This is a carbon-copied typescript. Click on the link to read the pdf file.
Many thanks to Adrian Wallace for sending it in.

Written by Francis Wright

December 15, 2011 at 9:45 am

Posted in Uncategorised

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