The Brewer’s Drayman

McEwan draymen 1929This photograph, found in a junk shop many miles from where it was taken, apparently portrays the draymen of McEwan’s Fountain Brewery, which was founded in 1856 by the brewer-politician William McEwan,  donor of Edinburgh University’s magnificently grandiose McEwan Hall.

The photograph is dated 1929: depression was biting, and the following year McEwan’s would merge with its rival William Youngers in order to survive.

As a vital link between brewery and drinker, the drayman holds an honoured place in popular culture.  The Oxford English Dictionary defines him as ‘a man who drives a dray (in England, usually a brewer’s dray)’ and, if case you were wondering what a dray might be, cites a French-English dictionary from the reign of James I:

Haquet, a Dray; a low and open Cart, such as London Brewers use’

Literary allusions

At about the same date, the drayman found his way into Shakespeare, albeit in unflattering guise: Pandarus, in Troilus and Cressida (1609) describes Achilles dismissively as:

‘A dray-man, a porter, a very Cammell’

Charles Dickens sketched a more benign portrait of the London drayman in The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit (1843): the enamoured John Westlock helps Ruth Pinch over a rope which two ‘good-tempered burly draymen’ are using to lower beer barrels into a cellar:

‘… and when John helped her – almost lifted her – the lightest, easiest, neatest thing you ever saw – across the rope, they said he owed them a good turn for giving him the chance. Celestial draymen!’

The grotesque broadside ballad ‘Barclay and Perkins’ Drayman’, which crudely expresses even cruder racist sentiments, portrays the drayman as the thuggish but majestic object of a Thames-side widow’s love:

This drayman was more than six foot high,
a proper broad great back man
She thought him best the reason why
he was twice as big as the black man
His face was like the moon just rose
More like a priest than a lay man
The eyes they did sparkle and so did the nose
Of Barclay and Perkins Dray man

A heavyweight occupation

Physical strength was obviously a prerequisite for the job, and in 19th century popular culture the drayman became something of a champion.  He was not however known for his radical politics. Punch magazine noted that draymen were among the first to enrol as Special Constables in April 1848 to protect the City against a Chartist demonstration.

The draymen of Barclay and Perkins’ brewery, which was on Bankside, stepped into the limelight in 1850 when General Haynau of Austria, who had notoriously ordered the flogging of Mme Madersbach, a Hungarian aristocrat, visited the brewery. He was met by a hostile crowed of draymen and labourers and was forced to flee and take refuge in a dustbin, from which he was eventually rescued by police.

A few figures

That fount of Victorian wisdom, Haydn’s Dictionary of Dates, tells us that in 1858 there were 205 great brewers in England and 40,418 licensed brewers.  According to the Findmypast indexes, the census of England, Scotland and Wales of 1851 identified 604 men as draymen (or brewer’s draymen or brewer’s carters), of which 119 were in Scotland. (The total population at this date was around 20.9 million.)  In 1881, a handful of draymen’s wives were also described as draymen: in most cases, the description has been struck through by the enumerator but against one the word ‘milkseller’ has been added, an indication that some of the draymen were probably milkmen, not brewery carriers.

Heavy lifting

The heavy loads carried by the draymen took their toll.  The pioneering bone surgeon Sir William Arbuthnot Lane (1856–1943), whose father was an army surgeon, studied the skeletons of brewers’ draymen and other manual lifters and noted that:

‘In the case of the brewers’ drayman who carried a heavy barrel on his right shoulder, the spine had become adapted to meet its burden’.

The industry had yet to embrace the culture of health and safety, in which it is now classed (in the US) in the category of ‘Material Moving Workers, All Other’.  In the UK, while the horse has been replaced by the engine, the old word is still used, resonating down the centuries in honour of this essential British occupation.

 

Drayman

Sources

The Oxford English Dictionary (online)

Bodleian Library, Broadside Ballads Online

William Shakespeare, Troilus and Cressida (1609), Act 1 Scene 2, line 24

A. James Hammerton, Cruelty and Companionship: Conflict in 19th century Married Life (Routledge: London, 1992)

Charles Dickens, The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit liii. 609 (1843)

Haydn’s Dictionary of Dates (1858)

Who’s Who in Orthopaedics (London, 2005, page 184)

DNA and the descent of hereditary titles

Later this month the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council will make an important judgement as to whether DNA evidence can be used to decide how hereditary titles should descend. The case in point relates to the baronetcy that was granted to the Pringle family of Stichill in Scotland in 1683.

DNA evidence appears to show conclusively that since 1919 the wrong branch of the family has used the title. In this year the 8th Baronet, Sir Norman Robert Pringle, died, apparently leaving three sons. The eldest son, Norman Hamilton Pringle, inherited the title in the normal way after his mother made a Statutory Declaration that he was her eldest son by the 8th baronet. Then in 1961 Sir Norman Hamilton Pringle died and his eldest son, Steuart Robert Pringle, inherited the title. Sir Steuart, who was a distinguished General in the British Army, died recently, and his son, Simon Robert Pringle, expected to inherit the title.

In fact, the DNA tests showed that Sir Norman Hamilton Pringle’s father was not the 8th baronet, and technically he was illegitimate. Norman Hamilton was, so to speak, ‘the ‘cuckoo in the nest’. Further tests showed that the 8th baronet’s eldest son was actually Ronald Steuart Pringle, and Ronald’s son, Norman Murray Pringle, now claims that he is the true heir to the baronetcy.

Will the seven judges decide in favour of Simon Robert Pringle, or his cousin Norman Robert Pringle? The decision could go either way, but if the DNA evidence is recognised as good decisive evidence, it may open up a great many claims to titles and inheritances which can be disputed on the grounds of the results of DNA tests.

Roll of the Baronets 2011

Roll of the Baronets 2011

A few years ago at Debrett Ancestry Research we encountered a rather similar situation where genealogical research showed that the title in another family of baronets, Smith of Eardiston, had been used by the wrong branch of the family since 1893. In this case, it was a bigamous marriage which caused the problem. As a young man, Christopher Sydney Winwood Smith (died 1887), who was the eldest son and heir of the 3rd baronet, went to Australia, where he worked as a labourer.  Without telling his folks back home, he married a poor Irish girl, and had a son by her. The son and his descendants knew nothing of their titled Smith relations in England and were unaware that they were rightfully baronets.

Gervase Belfield, genealogist at Debrett Ancestry Research, fought a long and at times frustrating campaign to have the mistake corrected. Eventually, in 2008, the Attorney General agreed that a written ‘Caveat’ should be entered on the Official Roll of the Baronetage, revealing the true identities of the baronets of Smith of Eardiston since 1893.

If the Privy Council judges decide to allow DNA evidence in establishing the identities of the rightful inheritors of titles, then there may be many other claimants waiting in the wings. Debrett Ancestry Research has the necessary experience to take up the challenge of proving the true heirs to these disputed titles.

An eighteenth century choir loft

In 1729 eighteen singing men of the parish clubbed together to build a choir gallery in the parish church of St Lawrence, Gnosall, Staffordshire. The gallery or loft was situated next to the pulpit, rather than at the rear of the church.

Tucked away in the parish registers of Gnosall is the following Memorandum, dated 17 March 1729:

That the Loft in the Church of Gnosall by the Pulpit was by the Minister and church-wardens appointed for the use of certain Persons to sing Psalms there.

That it was fitted for that use at the expence of Thomas Fowke, John Stevenson, John Hicken, John Collier, William Collier, Thomas Ward, William Adderley, John Chilton, Humphrey Bayley, Thomas Sutton, Nathaniel Sutton, William Bromley, William Venables, John Parkes, John Lees, Adden Ashton, Richard Bernard, and William Reynolds, and that they are to enjoy the said Loft during their continuance to sing Psalms to demean themselves well.

That the expence in fitting the said Loft for that purpose did amount to the sum of one pound and sixteen shillings.

That four pence a year shall be allowed by every one of the above-named Persons for his sitting in the said Loft till the said sum of one pound and sixteen shillings shall be discharged.

That if any one of those Persons who are appointed to sit there shall leave his place, another Person, who can Sing Psalms shall be nominated by the Minister and Church-wardens of Gnosall to succeed him and that he who is nominated to succeed him shall pay to him, that resigns his place or Sitting, the eighteenth part of that which shall then be unpaid of the one pound and sixteen shillings.

This was approv’d by the Bishop and Mr Rider
Abrah. Peacock

Robert Reynolds and John Alderley were elected into the places of William Reynolds and John Lees by the minister and church-wardens.

Daniel Dean was elected into the place of [blank] Collier by the minister and church-wardens
June 23 1734

Elsewhere, galleries were provided by wealthier donors, such as John Ford at Offwell in Devon (who was patron of the living). The choirs in both parishes would have been singing metrical psalms, perhaps using Nahum Tate and Nicholas Brady’s New Version of the Psalms of David (1696), which drew on Thomas Sternhold and John Hopkins’ Whole Book of Psalms in English Metre, published in 1562 and still in use over a century later.

Psalms of David

Tate & Brady’s New Version

Like most Georgian galleries, the one at Gnosall would have been destroyed by the Victorians. The gallery at Offwell, which was at the west end of the church, was built in 1754 and removed exactly a century later. The loft at Gnosall, if it survived until 1820, would then have been swept away in the major rebuilding of the church which took place in that year.

Further Reading

Debrett Ancestry Research, A History of Offwell Church and Parish (2008: available for £18.75 with all proceeds to the church from Debrett Ancestry Research)

‘West Gallery Music’, Wikipedia

Gnosall Parish Registers, Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent Archive Service (published online by Findmypast)

Old Photos: an Intriguing Trio

From a box of old photos in a junk shop: a photo of three young nurses in the 1940s.

Nurses

 

On the back of an off duty photo of the three young women is inscribed:

Three Musketeers Front

18 March 1948
Porthos: L. A. Everett

Aramis: Rikki [?] Hughes

Athos: B. Darbyshire

‘Rikki’ might have been Veronica, a popular name in the Merseyside area at the time.

The photographer was A A Newall of Northenden Road, Sale (Cheshire).

Was this then Aramis’s marriage, with Porthos and Athos as bridesmaids?  Does anybody know who these Three Musketeers were?


Wedding

Letter from the Crimean War

One of the great fascinations of genealogy is the way that personal stories sometimes leap off the page of what might –  were it not for microfilm and digitisation – have been a dry and dusty pile of official documents. Wills – particularly the older ones – can vibrate with personal feeling, centuries after they were written. Occasionally, a less formal document finds its way into the probate registries. Among the records of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, the letter of an officer to his brother, written during the Crimean War as he awaited orders to join the Siege of Sebastopol, is preserved. The letter replaced the will that Major Edward Rooper, at the age of 36, had not got round to making, and so what happened next is all too painfully obvious. Hindsight adds poignancy to Rooper’s anticipation of ‘a few casualties’ at Sebastopol and to his wistful pleasure to think that at home ‘the quail are just coming in’:

Letter of Edward Rooper to George Rooper of Lincoln’s Inn

Camp nr Beicos, Aug 29 [1854]

Dear George
There is no doubt of the melancholy fact that we have got to go and take Sebastobol [sic] and considering they have 90,000 and we 50,000 I fear the operation will not be over easy.  I much fear the Authorities are driven in to the attempt by the attacks made on them by the Press, in fact the ravages of the Cholera have been fearful not so much in loss of life, though there has been enough of that, as in the weak state the slightest attacks of it reduce the men to. The Duke of Cambridge says the Army at Varna is almost annihilated for the present and that we look healthier and better than any Regt there. At the same time we had about 12 per Cent sick. Our loss to now is twenty two. Our doctors have not shone in the matter much only now adopting the measures found efficacious by now experienced men. We expect to go every day as they say the Expedition is to sail on the 2nd from Varna.

‘Buyukdere Valley, and Beicos Bay'. wood engraved print 1856. Unsigned;sketched by Capt. Montagu O'Reilly.

‘Buyukdere Valley, and Beicos Bay’. wood engraved print 1856. Unsigned;sketched by Capt. Montagu O’Reilly.

Even for a pleasanter place than the Crimea is likely to be at present I should be sorry to leave this beautiful view of the Bospheros which we command up and down from our lofty Camp. I have laid on a fresh Servant too and speak Romain to any amount. I was just beginning to inquire about the shooting of which I think we should get some good if we remained here. It is pleasant to know the quail are just coming in. I have not been very often to Stamboul but enjoy the place the more the better I know it.

Of course you will go to the Turkish Bazaar Show in London – as they are not loquacious or energetic it must be almost as good as the real live article – I rather singularly met the other day Hussey Pasha whose acquaintance I made at Yannina years ago. He was very civil to me but I did not remember him until we parted when I heard his name. I have written to B. to say they must not expect to hear regularly now but repeat the warning when you write If any accident happens to me and I expect there will be a few casualties I wish you and John to divide anything I may have I owe nothing to anyone hoping to date my next however safely from Sebastobol …

Yours ever E.R.

Appeared personally George Rooper of 68 Lincolns Inn Fields, Alfred Malins and Henry William Birch…

George Rooper is a brother of the above named Edward Rooper late a Major in HM Rifle Brigade at the Crimea in the Empire of Russia deceased that on or about the thirteenth day of July 1854 the said deceased sailed from England with his Regiment for the Crimea where they arrived 20 September 1854… On 10 September he received a letter from his brother … his brother was wounded in action at Inkerman in Russia on 5 November 1854 and died on 15 November in consequence of his wounds on board the Tranport ship Golden Fleece at sea on his passage to the hospital at Scutari.
Probate granted 17 May 1855 to George Rooper Esq.

The Crimean War

The Siege of Sebastopol, which gave a horrific foretaste of the trench warfare of the First World War, began on 25 September 1854 and ended on 8 September 1855. The Allies lost nearly 10,000 men and the Russians, nearly 13,000, on the last day of the siege alone.

The Battle of Inkerman, in which Edward Rooper lost his life, took place on 5 November 1854 when the Russian Imperial Army took the offensive against the besieging British and French troops, whom they greatly outnumbered. Rooper was one of 6 officers and 144 men from his regiment who died; in total, the British suffered 2,357 casualties, the French 929 and the Russians, 12,000. There was no decisive victory, but the Russians ultimately withdrew.

Map of the Crimean War, from Wikimedia

Map of the Crimean War, from Wikimedia

 

The Rooper family

Edward Rooper was the youngest son of the Reverend Thomas Richard Rooper and Persis, née Standly, who married in 1806 at Little Paxton in Huntingdonshire. Edward was baptised in Abbots Ripton, Huntingdonshire, on 27 January 1818 and Hart’s Army List shows that he was already serving in the Rifle Brigade in 1840. From 1841 until at least 1861, the family lived at Wick House in Hove, Sussex, where his father was a ‘clergyman without care of souls’ and commanded a large establishment of servants. Another older brother, John, was also an army officer.

Edward’s father survived him; his brother George lived to a great age, and the 1901 census found him living in Paddington ‘on means’, a widower of 89.

Notes

George, 2nd Duke of Cambridge (1819–1904), commanded the first division of the army to serve in the Crimea.  Aged 35 and inexperienced, he joined the battle of the Alma on 20 September 1854 at which 622 men out of 1361 were lost.  He was invalided home on 27 December 1854 (Edward M. Spiers, ‘George, Prince, second duke of Cambridge (1819–1904)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, May 2009).

For a detailed, fully illustrated account of the Battle of Inkerman and the Siege of Sevastopol visit British Battles.com.

 

George Dean-Pitt: from plumber to Major-General

The latest volume of the Journal of the Society for Army Historical Research includes as its opening article an account of the meteoric career of Major-General George Dean-Pitt by genealogist Gervase Belfield of Debrett Ancestry Research. The research, and the preparation of the article, were kindly sponsored and assisted by our client Mr Geoffrey Todd, who descends from George Dean-Pitt.

journal cover for Oct 14 blog
The story is a remarkable one: not quite rags to riches but an example of how ability and determination – with, admittedly, a little help from one’s friends – could elevate a humble tradesman to high rank.

George Dean-Pitt was illegitimate: no record of his baptism or birth has been found, but he was probably born in about 1780, in Berkshire or Hampshire. His father George Pitt (d. 1828) never married; he succeeded his father in 1803 as Baron Rivers of Stratfield Saye, Hampshire. We know nothing of his mother except that her name was Dean; she was possibly ‘Mrs Deane’ who by 1803 owned property in Stratfield Saye.

Prior to his succession to the peerage, Pitt had enjoyed a long and undistinguished political career as Tory MP for Dorset from 1774 to 1790: he never spoke once in the House of Commons and in his last seven years as MP he never voted. He was however a drinking companion of the Prince of Wales, the future George IV, and is recalled as such in contemporary diaries: Lady Charlotte Bury described him as

a pleasant and elegant man… one of the last of that race of persons who were dandies of a former century.

Other accounts were not so complimentary. Lord Rivers, while acknowledging his natural son, seemingly made no attempt to educate him and made no provision for him in his will.

George Dean, as he was then known, joined the Marines in 1797 as a private, claiming to be 19 years old. His eyes were grey, his hair was light brown and he was six foot tall; his trade was that of plumber and glazier. After eight years and a promotion to Sergeant, he joined the 96th Regiment of Foot as an Ensign. His Captain described him as ‘a young man and very active’ and, more significantly, ‘a protégée of Lord Rivers’. In 1805 he was promoted to Lieutenant in the newly created Royal African Corps; when this divided into two he became part of the Royal West India Rangers, noted for their recruitment of convicted criminals and pardoned deserters. In the unfamiliar climate of the West Indies, this was not an easy apprenticeship but one in which the young officer flourished: by 1809 he was a Captain.

In 1811 George became Aide-de-Camp to General Robert Ballard Long (an appointment in which patronage certainly played a part) and set sail for Lisbon. He was wounded at the Battle of Albuera, and saw much further action; he was rewarded by promotion to the rank of Major in 1814 but retired on half-pay at the end of that year, thereby missing the Battle of Waterloo.

GuelphenOrden_HoferAntikschmuckBerlin for Oct 14
Back in England, George married Susan Baillie in 1818, and in 1819 he adopted the surname Dean-Pitt by Royal Licence. He returned to active service in 1819, in a relatively quiet Europe, and continued to move up the ranks: by the time he had his portrait painted in 1836 (private collection) he was Lieutenant-Colonel of the 80th Foot and a Military Knight of the Guelphic Order of Hanover. The artist (unknown) presents us with a handsome face and a pleasantly confident expression.

Another glimpse of Dean-Pitt’s character is provided by his will, which left everything to his ‘beloved wife Susan …, having full confidence in her judgment and goodness of heart that every justice will be done in the disposal of it towards the education and advantage of our dear children’ (there were eight in all).

In 1847 Dean-Pitt embarked upon the final phase of his career, as Commander of British troops in New Zealand, then a new and unstable colony, and his family went with him. He died in 1851 as Major-General George Dean-Pitt, Knight of Hanover, while commanding British troops in New Zealand and holding the post of Lieutenant-Governor of the North Island; not a bad achievement for one who started his working life as a plumber and glazier.

For a fuller account of George Dean-Pitt’s career, and a fine reproduction of his portrait, see the Journal of the Society for Army Historical Research (Autumn 2014: vol 92 no 371: visit the Society’s website at www.sahr.co.uk).

Some Do’s and Don’ts in Genealogy

We have been researching British ancestry since the 1970s.  Our starting point is often the research already carried out by the family.  From the thousands of cases we have worked on, here are a few hints for those just starting out…

DO Talk to your relatives

Your own family members are your most precious resource, so if you can, ask them as much as possible.   Our Recollections book is designed to help in this process.

Recollections: A Personal Record

DO Plan your system of recording

You are probably going to amass a large volume of detail.  Before you begin, think how you are going to record what you find.  In a database, online, by hand, or in a  format of your own devising?  All of these options are valid, but make sure that they will last, and that they will be understood not only by yourself but by anyone else you might want to share them with.

DO Record your sources

Be meticulous.  Every time you record a fact, or a theory, make a note of where you found it.

DO Record full details

To avoid having to revisit records, make sure that you capture everything the record says, the first time, by saving an image or transcribing it in full, with its source.

DO Label family photographs

Using full names and dates if possible: not just ‘Mum and Dad’!

Uncle Sam & A. Gladwys (Morris)DO Consider the context

Find out about places and occupations; as well as making the research more interesting, it might explain where an ancestor might have come from or where they worshipped.

DO Work back from the known to the unknown

Avoid the temptation to leap to a more interesting family of the same name.   If anyone tells you they have a family tree with a gap in it, consider whether you have ever seen a real tree with a gap…

DON’T Trust family trees or entries submitted to websites

… unless they are supported at each stage with clear evidence, such as an image, citation or link to a primary historical record.

DON’T Jump to conclusions

It may not always be possible to establish clear-cut evidence of a link, particularly in a period or location where records are sparse, but avoid gung-ho or wishful thinking genealogy.

DON’T Assume printed sources are always correct

To err is human.  Transcriptions and indexes are never completely accurate.  Early genealogical works such as Burke’s Landed Gentry relied on family information that was often wildly inaccurate.

DON’T Restrict your search to what is easily available

If you hit a problem: be logical.  Don’t be tempted to just search what is online, on the shelf in front of you, or indexed.  The answer may be quietly sitting in an unindexed record from the  parish next door.

And finally, keep an open mind.  Your ancestors may have some surprises to spring on you…

 

Samuel Lewis’s Topographical Dictionaries

In a previous blog (June 2013) we wrote of our affection for the Victorian encyclopedia Haydn’s Dictionary of Dates Another well-worn favourite on the Debrett bookshelves (although it is now available online) is Lewis’s Topographical Dictionary of England (5th edition, 4 vols, 1842), to which family historians turn for descriptions of the parishes, towns and hamlets of the nation in the early days of Victoria’s reign: for population figures and administrative identities; and for an account of their soil, their industries, their places of worship and their schools.  Lewis’s style is elegantly succinct, and while smaller parishes and villages have modest and business-like entries, there are little dashes of colour.  We learn for example of the parish of Betley, Staffordshire, that:

the village is remarkably cheerful and pleasant, and contains several respectable houses.

Large towns and significant parishes are given much more space: the entry for Carlisle, for example, runs to three and a half pages.

Lewis

The first edition was published in four volumes in May 1831 and included county maps, a national map, and a plan of the London area.  The scale of the project was daunting: there had been no topographical work on this scale since Camden’s Vision of Britain Through Time, which was first published (in Latin) in 1586, and the availability of local histories was patchy.  Lewis explains in his Preface that he first engaged ‘several gentlemen’:

to procure, by personal examination and enquiry, the fullest information upon the various subjects contemplated in the plan of the work.

He had originally conceived the dictionary as purely topographical, but then decided to include historical information, and so ‘other gentlemen’ were employed to sift out ‘notices of the most important occurrences connected with each spot’.

Nineteenth century data collection was a cumbersome business.  The project began in 1825 and the initial survey, using a printed questionnaire, took place over three years.  The raw material also included some 3,000 documents donated by ‘a clergyman residing in the neighbourhood of Ashby de la Zouch’ who had attempted a similar project by sending questionnaires to every parish priest in the kingdom.  Not all had complied; not all the questionnaires had been fully completed, and it may be imagined that the unnamed clergyman relinquished his mountain of paperwork with some relief to the publishers. Scholars from the British Museum, the London Institution and elsewhere provided additional information.  Members of the local nobility and gentry also contributed, some donating material that had not previously been published.  The maps were engraved on steel plates from drawings made ‘from the best authorities’.  In the copies circulating today, these maps have too often been plucked from the books and resold.

The work of compilation and editing took a further three years and Lewis estimated the entire cost of producing the first edition at nearly £48,000.  Inevitably, the work attracted plagiarists, and Lewis successfully took Archibald Fullarton to the Court of Chancery in 1839 for his New and Comprehensive Gazetteer of England and Wales, which was published in Glasgow hard on the heels of Lewis’s work, and which was judged by the court to be ‘to a very considerable extent a piracy of the plaintiff’s copyright’.

In the early stages of the project Lewis had a business partner, George Pringle, who was still involved in 1836 when Pringle and Lewis were named as principal creditors of a bankrupt printer of Andover, Benjamin Bensley.  By 1846, Pringle was referred to as his ‘late partner’.  His only son, Samuel Lewis the younger (1821–1862), joined in the enterprise as a draughtsman, and also published two works on the history and topography of Islington, but died, of pneumonia, at the age of only 42.

In response to the early editions, Lewis received thousands of letters with corrections and additions with which he revised the text, and so the later editions are more reliable.  By 1849 there had been seven editions, and similar volumes for Scotland, Wales and Ireland had also been published.  Presumably in gratitude to the many clergymen who supported and contributed the work, in 1848 Lewis donated 100 guineas to the Society for the Sons of the Clergy of the Church of Scotland.

Lewis front (2)

Subscribers

Purchase was by subscription and by 1846 Lewis calculated that the various editions had sold to 20,000 subscribers in all.  The names of the subscribers to each volume were published as a preface, and included members of the royal family and the aristocracy as well as numerous clergymen and ‘esquires’. There was a sales team of agents, and fulfilment was a slow process: several years could pass between the signing of a prospectus and the delivery of the product.  Female subscribers were few: this was a work undertaken by gentlemen, for gentlemen; and for any who defaulted upon their undertaking, the law had an answer.  In 1846 Lewis took Walker Smith Esq of Brotherton, Ferrybridge, Yorkshire, to the Court of Exchequer for the non-payment of his £13 13s subscription.  The court decided in Lewis’s favour, the tart verdict being that:

 ‘Gentlemen should not put down their names to such a work unless they intended to pay’.[1]

Family of Samuel Lewis

Samuel Lewis married, on 18 November 1816 at St George the Martyr, Southwark, Charlotte, the daughter of Thomas and Ann Tuchin, who had moved from Warwickshire to London.  Samuel’s own parentage has not yet been established but he appears to have been baptised in an Independent Chapel in Abingdon, Berkshire, on 2 June 1782: Abingdon was certainly his place of birth.  His son Samuel was born in Worcester and baptised there on 29 April 1821 (at St Martin’s); he was followed by a daughter Jane, baptised at St James, Clerkenwell, Middlesex, on 22 January 1826; and by Eliza, baptised on 20 February 1828 at St Stephen, Colman Street, London.  Eliza never married and lived at home until her father’s death.

Lewis & Co had business premises at 87 Aldersgate Street (1831); at 87 Hatton Garden (1842); and at 13 Finsbury Place South (1845).  Samuel lived with his family in Myddleton Street, Clerkenwell, in 1826 and at 13 Coleman Street, London, in 1828, but by 1841 he had settled in Islington, where he died, at 19 Compton Terrace, on 28 February 1865.  His estate was valued at under £7,000.  In the census return of 1861 he was described not as a publisher but as a landed proprietor and fund holder; whatever his origins, Lewis at the end of his life had established himself as one of the English gentlemen for whom his great work was created.

 

Published Sources: Samuel Lewis, A Topographical Dictionary of England, 1st edn, 4 vols (London, 1831); Samuel Lewis, A Topographical Dictionary of England, 5th edn, 4 vols (London, 1842); Laurence Worms, ‘Lewis, Samuel (1782/3–1865)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; Birmingham Journal, 25 Jul 1836; The Times, 22 Feb 1838; Cork Examiner, 12 Aug 1844; Lloyd’s Weekly Newspaper, 22 Nov 1846; Caledonian Mercury, 29 May 1848.

 

Unpublished Sources: National Archives: Census 1841, 1851, 1861; Principal Probate Registry: National Probate Calendar 1865; Parish Registers of St James, Clerkenwell; St George the Martyr, Southwark; St Stephen, Coleman Street, London (London Metropolitan Archives/Ancestry.co.uk).

 

 

 

 

 

[1] Lloyd’s Weekly Newspaper, 22 Nov 1846.

 

Telling the family story

Recollections: A Personal Record

How would you like to be remembered? 

‘I remember, I remember…’ A very frequent lament we hear from our clients is that they never asked their older relatives what they do remember, or the unique story of their lives. Everyone has a story to tell, but many such stories go untold; and even with today’s enhanced means of discovering information, many of them never will be. However, simply asking a relative to write down their memories is sometimes asking too much.

Those of us lucky enough to have a Family Bible in which were recorded events in the family history know how precious the smallest fragments of information can be.

With this in mind, we have designed a new book, which after much deliberation we have entitled Recollections: A Personal Record, as a means of gently teasing out unique family memories and recording them in an enjoyable and satisfying way.

Although aimed at those who have long lives to share, Recollections can be used by anyone who wishes to make a record of their own life.

The book, which is hardbound and designed to be easy to handle (22 x 22 cm) and to write in, contains 46 pages – many of them illustrated – with prompts for memories and information. It includes two blank family trees, one for ‘Father’s Family History’ and one for ‘Mother’s. On the other pages the prompts range from the obvious questions about family names, dates and places, to ‘Historical Facts in my lifetime’ (with suggestions), to less matter-of-fact subjects such as ‘Significant Places’, ‘Work Stories’ and a phrase borrowed from seventeenth century inventories: ‘Things Lost and Forgotten’. There are spaces to paste in photographs, if wished, and a final page asks ‘How would you like to be remembered’?

The book can be ordered from our website for £20 in the UK including postage and packing; for overseas orders please email us for a price.

Family tree page

Family tree pages

Childhood Memories pages

Childhood Memories pages

Sir William Betham, ‘great Irish genealogist’

The adjective ‘great’ is not one frequently applied to genealogists, but a notable exception is Sir William Betham (1779–1853), often described as a ‘great Irish genealogist’.  Sir William was not however Irish by birth, and probably would not have described himself as a genealogist: his entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography defines him as an antiquary and his abiding interest was in ancient Irish history.

Arms of the Ulster King of Arms

Arms of the Ulster King of Arms

Sir William inherited his antiquarian interests from his father, William Betham senior (1749–1839), a clergyman and schoolmaster from Westmorland.  After his marriage in 1775 to Mary Planque, a widow of Suffolk, Betham settled in that county and had fifteen children.   He served as headmaster at Stonham Aspal, Suffolk, for nearly half a century; by 1829, by which time he was 80 years old, the church commissioners declared that the school had declined from its earlier ‘considerable repute’.  Betham nevertheless remained in post until 1833 when he became Rector of Stoke Lacy in Herefordshire.

Betham senior published two genealogical works, neither of which was greeted with much acclaim: Genealogical Tables of the Sovereigns of the World came out in 1795 and a Baronetage followed, in five volumes, from 1801 to 1805.  The title page of the first volume quotes the 18th century orientalist John Richardson:

It is hardly necessary to observe, that Genealogy is so intimately connected with Historical Knowledge, that it is impossible to arrive at any proficiency in the one, without being minutely versed in the other.

True to this observation, Betham senior was also a local historian; like many such projects, his intended county history never came to full fruition, but a single volume of a History of Suffolk was published in 1814, based on his findings, and his papers now form part of the Fitch collection in the Suffolk Record Office.

William Betham junior’s education was presumably provided by his father; neither appears to have  attended university.  His connection with Ireland was accidental; as a young man in 1805, he visited the Record Tower at Dublin Castle (then the repository of state records) to search for some documents for a law case on which he was employed.  The disarray in which these records were kept so struck him that he asked to be appointed deputy keeper of the records.  This application was successful, and Betham moved to Dublin and set about restoring order to archival chaos, becoming also deputy Ulster King of Arms.  A knighthood followed in 1812 and eventually, in 1820, Sir William Betham was appointed Ulster King of Arms, a post he held until his death (he was succeeded by another publisher-antiquarian, Sir John Bernard Burke).

In Dublin Betham acquired a passion for ancient Irish manuscripts and history, and also a large collection of early Irish manuscripts, which he sold to the Irish Academy at the end of his life.  He published his first slim volume, Irish Antiquarian Researches, in 1827, shortly after his admission to the Royal Irish Academy.   Further publications on English and Irish history followed, and at the end of his life Betham acquired an interest in Etruscan literature and language and its relevance to ancient Irish.  In the introduction to Irish Antiquarian Researches Betham wrote:

In the course of those investigations and arrangements, which my official duties have from time to time rendered necessary, I could not fail to observe, how little is known of the true history of Ireland. Notwithstanding the irreparable losses, by fire and other destructive casualties, of many ancient, valuable, and important documents, there still remain many consecutive series of rolls and other evidences sufficient to preserve the chain of history unbroken…

Ashfield_Gales_Betham_Pedigree

Sketch pedigree from one of Betham’s notebooks (1800)

Betham was not to know of the still greater ‘irreparable losses’ which were to come, when the Public Record Office was set alight in 1922 and so many documents  –  wills, parish registers and early census returns  –  were lost for ever.  He was thus unaware that the greatest of his legacies to the historian and genealogist would be, not his published works, but his private notebooks, for while supervising the indexing of the Prerogative Wills[1]  in his keeping, he had made genealogical abstracts of them (up to 1800 for wills, up to 1802 for administrations), from which he created sketch pedigrees which contain later additions and amendments.  The notebooks ran to 34 folio volumes and were accompanied by a meticulous ‘index of alliances and aliases’.  These abstracts, known as Betham’s Abstracts,  are now in the National Archives, Dublin and go some way to mitigating the enormous loss of the original wills and administrations.

Betham died in his adopted city of Dublin in 1853 and was buried at Monkstown, County Dublin.

J. T. Gilbert, ‘Betham, Sir William (1779–1853)’, rev. Michael Erben, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Jan 2008.

J. T. Gilbert, ‘Betham, William (1749–1839)’, rev. Colin Lee, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Oct 2005.

Sir Arthur Vicars, Index to the Prerogative Wills of Ireland, 1536–1810 (Dublin, 1897).



[1] The Prerogative Court dealt with estates in more than one diocese; before 1816 its records were fragmented since hearings were usually in the judge’s residence.