Highgate Cemetery – last resting place for some Backler ancestors

In which we view the rather wooded (understatement!) last resting place of some Backler/Abelin ancestors, and reflect on how moving it is to be there, despite the absence of any visible marker.

I see from my photographs that it was way back in 2010 that I ventured to north London to visit Highgate Cemetery.  New online records had shown this to be the last resting place for Samuel Backler and his wife Mary [nee Pellatt].  What was once a major privately-owned cemetery, run by the London Cemetery Company, is now under the care of the charitable Friends of Highgate Cemetery, a similar arrangement to those of the other great municipal cemeteries such as Nunhead in south London, where other Backlers are interred.  Nowadays the focus of the Friends is not only on burials, which continue to take place in quite small numbers, but also on conservation of both its memorials and of nature in line with its overall purpose to ‘promote the public benefit’.

On writing to the Friends, I received a letter revealing that more folk than Samuel (1870) and Mary (1857) shared the gravesite: their daughter Susannah (1883) (whose marriages to James Boulding and Edwin Cross will feature in future posts); Esther Maria (1918) (wife of Magnus Christian Abelin); and their daughter-in-law Edith Ann (nee Foster) Abelin (1928).

I had high hopes as I arrived at the Cemetery for my appointment to be escorted to the gravesite.  Immediately, however, I was warned by my guide that there was nothing to see.  Up the hill we marched, past the famous sites of the Egyptian Avenue and the Terrace Catacombs, curving around to the right along a roughly paved path.  My guide had searched out the area previously, so knew when to turn right off the path, into a treacherous wooded and overgrown section, with monuments in different states of repair, and unstable ground.

We reached a spot where he had laid out sticks to mark the spot – and that was it!  I was very moved, albeit a bit disappointed. Despite the presence of monuments nearby, my guide had explored the area, probing with his stick, and had not found a memorial at our site.  There was surely once one there, but no longer.

This was an area in the early West Cemetery on high ground, which at the time of the earliest Backler burials would have had a view over London.  It was a fashionable and beautiful site, allowed to become run down during the 20th century.

A very special place: Highgate Cemetery is a Grade 1 listed site, and is a very special place not only for those whose ancestors and more recent relatives are interred there, but also for anyone interested in its historical importance for London.  I feel privileged to have ancestors for whom it was their last resting place, and have become a life member of the Friends in order to support their ongoing work.  I am sorry I now live so far away!

More about the Cemetery, its history and present day events can be found at: https://highgatecemetery.org/

Esther Maria Backler (1830-1918) – my 3x great aunt – a tale of very mixed fortunes

In which we review the quiet and, I now discover, partly sad,  life of my 3x great aunt, Esther Maria Backler.  In previous posts I have mentioned Esther, very much the youngest child of Samuel Backler and Mary Pellatt and, I believe, carer and companion to her father in later years.  We trace the rather startling facts I have gleaned while preparing this post, about her life, husband and child. 

A late Backler arrival: Esther Maria Backler was born in West Kensington in 1830 just before her father’s traumatic bankruptcy proceedings in 1831, and ten years after the 1820 births of her sadly-deceased twin siblings Elizabeth and Samuel.  Her surviving siblings were her much older sister Mary, due to marry their cousin Henry Pellatt a year after Esther Maria’s birth; Susannah (my 2x great grandmother), aged about 13; and the mysterious (did he exist?) Apsley Backler, said to have lived from 1815-1835.

Esther Maria was baptised at Holland Independent Chapel, Brixton, on 26 March 1830, perhaps reflecting the residence in south London of some of her Pellatt relatives, as the family lived in Kensington at the time.  We next locate her with her parents, married sister Susannah Boulding and niece (Susannah Mary) and nephew (Apsley Samuel) in the 1851 Census, in Islington, where she is also recorded living with her ageing, widowed father in 1861.  During the 1860s, both Susannah Mary and Apsley Samuel emigrated to America, and in the late 1850s their mother Susannah [nee Backler] Boulding (Esther Maria’s sister) was to re-marry and have further children – the topic of a future post.

Bankruptcy:  How and where did Esther meet her future husband?  While preparing this post, I tried a general search on the name of Magnus Christian Abelin, and found startling new information which went some way to explaining how he and Esther Maria met.

London Gazette 18 July 1862. page 3623. Magnus Christian Abelin (sued and committed as Magnus Abelin), formerly of No. 33, Sidney-street, Brompton, in the county of Middlesex, and late of No. 14, Angel-terrace, Lower-road, Islington, in the said county, Commission  Agent, heretofore carrying on business in copartnership with John Litteyman [Lilleyman] Claypole, at No. 17, Gracechurchstreet, in the city of London, as Commission Agents, a Prisoner for Debt in the Debtors’ Prison for London and Middlesex, having been adjudged bankrupt under a Petition for adjudication of Bankruptcy (in forma pauperis), filed in Her Majesty’s Court of Bankruptcy, in London, on the 23rd of June, 1862, a public sitting, for the said bankrupt to pass his Last Examination, will be held before Edward Goulburn, Serjeant-at-Law, a Commissioner of the said Court, on the 11th day of August next, at the said Court, at Basinghall-street, in the city of London, at one of the clock in the afternoon precisely, the day last aforesaid being the day limited for the said bankrupt to surrender. Mr. George John Graham, of No 25, Coleman-street, London, is the Official Assignee, and Mr. W. W. Aldridge, of No. 46, Moorgate-street, London, is the Solicitor acting in the bankruptcy. 

Oh dear!  Note the address, just doors away from the residence at 22 Angell Terrace of Esther Maria and her father Samuel in the 1861 Census.  It seems very likely that the couple would have met in Islington. but one wanders if Esther Maria was aware of everything in Magnus’ past.  On 1 September 1862, the Evening Standard reported that Magnus Abelin had applied again for an order of release from prison.  But His Honour was reported as saying that ‘all attempts to make the bankrupt honest might be regarded as at an end’. He had obtained nearly £200 from Miss Mary Davis [of Earl’s Court, Brompton] under the pretence of ‘paying her his addresses’, and had failed to account for it, or to provide sureties for his release. ‘The bankrupt had acted most wickedly towards the opposing creditor [Miss Davis] and his application would be refused.’

By 25 September 1862, the Morning Post reported that sureties had been provided by Mr Joseph Myers of 47 Duke Street, Aldgate, boot and shoe maker; and Mr Bernard Keppel, 89 King’s Road, Chelsea.  Neither of these men knew Magnus Abelin – they were approached by a friend of Abelin.  Release was granted, and I can find no more about this.

Childbirth before marriage:  Harold Algernon Christian Abelin (aka Harold Christian Algernon Abelin) was born on 7 February 1865 (registered in Islington 1b 357 MAR 1865, though in later census records, said to have been born in Camberwell).  Although this was a few years before the marriage of his father Magnus and mother Esther Maria, the child’s surname of Abelin was recorded in the birth registration record, with the mother’s Backler surname also recorded.  I now find that this birth was also registered in Goteberg, Sweden in 1868, showing the birth date as 1865 in Islington.  Had the couple travelled to Sweden with their young son before they were married?

23 September 1870:  Four months after the death of her father Samuel Backler, Esther Maria Backler, 39, a spinster, married Magnus Christian Abelin, 42, a bachelor, at the Register Office, Camberwell.  He was a Metal Traveller, residing at 2 Meeting House Lane in Peckham.  His father was Hans Andrew Abelin (deceased), Post Office Inspector, Stockholm.  Esther Maria resided at 8 Victory Cottages, Bedford Street, Peckham.  Her father was Samuel Backler (deceased), Chemist.

Very young witnesses!  Witnesses were Mary Ann Bourne and Emily Jane Bourne, whom I believe I have identified in the 1871 Census as scholars aged 12 and 10 respectively, living on Walworth Road, Lambeth as Boarders with their mother Sarah E. Bourne, a 48 year old unmarried Boarder, formerly a dressmaker.  As far as I can ascertain, the requirement for witnesses to a marriage was that they be ‘credible’, with no minimum age.  The name Bourne does not appear in our family as far as I know, and I do not know why these two would have been witnesses.  Could they have been drafted in off the street to the Register Office marriage?  As an aside, Mary Ann Bourne, said to be age 12 in the 1871 Census, was married in September 1875, said to be 18, to Frederick Watts.  No father is shown on the marriage certificate, and her mother was a witness.

Prison again! A sad tale… In 1871, Esther Maria, her husband and son were living as lodgers at The Orchard, Camberwell.  But there is yet another startling, and sad discovery.  Records at The National Archives (PCOM 2/270) reveal that Magnus Christian Abelin was sentenced at Lambeth Magistrates Court to one month in Wandsworth prison for ‘neglecting to maintain his wife’!  This image, viewable on findmypast, shows that 44 year old Commercial Traveller Magnus Christian Abelin, 5′ 7″ tall with blue eyes, was committed on 18 September 1872, and released on 17 October.  The record notes he could read and write well, and that he was born in Sweden.  More information may be available in other prison or court records at The National Archives.

What happened next? I cannot find the family in the England 1881 Census, but I have found a record in Sweden which indicates that Magnus Christian Abelin lived there from 1881-1889, dying on 9 June 1890 and birth date shown as 26 March 1826.  (Sweden Household Examination Books, 1880-1920, seen during a free offer period on MyHeritage website.)   I can only assume that this is the right person (the ages are right), and I have no way of knowing if Esther Maria and her son were with Harold then.

A lengthy widowhood for Esther Maria:  Esther appears to have stayed in Peckham until her death in 1918, not very far (but in touch, or not?) from her affluent relatives, the Henry McLauchlan Backler family who lived in Denmark Hill. (See https://backlers.com/2015/06/18/legacy-of-a-gas-man-the-wills-of-henry-mclauchlan-backler-and-his-wife-eliza-nee-cole-backler/ ) She appears as a 50 year old widow, teacher of music,  with her son Algernon [sic] age 26, in the 1891 England Census.  They are at 39 Choumert Square, Peckham (picture on the left, below), just a few metres away from 23 Chadwick Road, Peckham (photo on the right), their address in 1901.  In 1911 they lived over the road in a similar property at number 28 Chadwick Road. These properties, in a conservation area in the Borough of Southwark, now sell for nearly £1m!

Choumert Square, built in the latter half of the 19th Century, presents to the visitor not a square but a laneway of 46 tiny cottages leading to a communal `walled’ garden. The gardens of this secret Southwark street are among the tiniest it’s possible to tend! (https://www.ngs.org.uk/find-a-garden/garden/14482/ )


 

 

 

 

 

 

A ‘teacher of music’: My great Uncle Bussy (Arthur Boulding Spence) suggested that his grandmother Susannah Backler Boulding Cross (more about her in a later post) was a ‘singer of note’.  I have never found any newspaper or other reports which would confirm this, and I wonder if the ‘singer’ was instead Esther Maria Backler, shown in 1891 as a ‘teacher of music’?  By 1911 we still find Esther Maria and her unmarried son living at 28 Chadwick Road in Peckham, the address which would be given at the time of her death on 11 February 1918, in Camberwell Infirmary.  Administration was granted in May to Harold Christian Algernon Abelin, Merchant.  Effect £10.  A modest life indeed.  Esther Maria was interred at Highgate Cemetery, about which more in my next post.

Algernon Abelin: It would seem that, as his mother had done before, Algernon Abelin lived with and perhaps cared for his mother very nearly until her death. He had married Edith Ann Foster on the 5th of September 1917, just 5 months before his mother’s death and when he was over 50 years old.  Had Esther Maria already entered the Camberwell Infirmary?  Alas, Edith died in 1928, and on 1 April 1934, Harold married widow Emma Flory Rudder Elliott. It seems likely they had known each other for very many years, as in 1891 Harold had lived in Choumert Square, Peckham, while 14 year old Emmy Rudder had lived round the corner on Choumert Road.  In 1901 Emma was to be found on nearby Bellenden Road with her then husband Louis Philip Elliott and their son,  Louis Jnr who later on was shown as a married Explosives Worker living in Woolwich in the 1939 Register.

H C A Abelin was referred to a number of times in the journal The Chemist and Druggist, and was shown in telephone directories in the 1920s as A. Abelin & Co., Chemical and General Merchants, at 155 Fenchurch Street in the City of London.  When he died on 21 November 1948, he lived at 10 Chantrey Road, Peckham, having been at 11 Chantrey Road with his wife Emma in the 1939 Register.  He left effects of £502 11s 4d.  Emma died in 1969 in Greenwich.

Farewell to an aunt: Alas, I acquire no cousins through this story, but I have found the tale of Esther Maria Backler to be quite moving.  Her sister Susannah had remarried in the 1850s after her husband disappeared, and had died in 1883 leaving one son from her second marriage – the mysterious ‘Uncle Fred’, of whom more later.  Was he ever in touch with Esther Maria? Her niece and nephew had gone to America.  She had wealthy relatives in nearby Camberwell, but I have no evidence that they were in contact.  She was not mentioned in any of their Wills.  And so we bid her farewell.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Henry Apsley Pellatt (1835-1905) A Registration of Convenience – using the new GRO ‘mother’s maiden name’ facility in tracing some birth registrations

CNV00036In which we explore another unusual marital relationship (or not) and the parentage of several children, this time of Henry Apsley Pellatt, son of Henry Pellatt and his wife Mary Backler. It all centres around one of the houses above, in Roupell Street, near Waterloo Station in London.

A distraction:  I was meant to be exploring the life and times of my 3x great grandfather, Samuel Backler (1784-1870).  Once before I was diverted from the chronological account of my Backler ancestors by the story of Thomas Meriton Pellatt – or Sargeant, at https://backlers.com/2014/11/06/thomas-meriton-pellatt-or-sargeant-who-is-the-father/   Thomas was the son of Samuel Backler’s oldest daughter, Mary Backler, and her husband Henry Pellatt – or was he?  I described my suspicions in the blog post.

Now, in thinking about Samuel’s bankruptcy in 1831, the topic of a recent post, I have come across some interesting stuff about another of Mary and Henry’s sons – Henry Apsley Pellatt (c. 1835-1905).  I cannot resist writing this all up while it is fresh in my mind.  It illustrates how powerful is the new General Register Office facility to search for births after 1837 by mother’s maiden name.

My curiosity was piqued by my inability to find any record of the birth of Henry Apsley Pellatt’s four children, who appeared as follows in the 1861 Census:

In the Borough of Marylebone, Parish of Old Pancras, 1 Tavistock Square:

  • Henry A Pellatt, Head, married, 26. Proprietor of Boarding Establishment.  Born Middx London
  • Mary Pellatt, Wife, Married, 32. Born Middx. London
  • Mary Ann Pellatt, Daur, Unmarried. 6.  Born Surrey N.K. [registration district not known]
  • Jessy Pellatt, daur, unmarried, 3. Born Surrey N.K.
  • Henry A Pellatt, son, unmarried, 1. Born Surrey N.K.
  • Willm M Pellatt, son, 5 days. Born Middx St Pancras

Additionally were a Nurse, a Waiter, and three other servants, as well as two other families.

In retrospect, I could have wondered why the birthplace of the three older children was ‘not known’, in the County of Surrey.  Why didn’t the parents have this information to hand?

The 1871 Census showed the family far from London, in Hanley, Stoke upon Trent, Staffordshire, at 10 Windmill Terrace:

  • Henry A Pellatt, Head, married, 37. Commercial Traveller. Born [inexplicably] in Richmond, Yorkshire.
  • Mary Pellatt, Wife, married, 43.  Born Middlesex, London.
  • Henry A Pellatt, Son, 11. Born Surrey, Kennington.
  • Mary A Pellatt, Daur, 16. Born Surrey, Camberwell.
  • Jessy Pellatt, Daur, 13. Born Surrey, Camberwell.
  • William H Phillips, Boarder, unmarried, 30, Banker’s Clerk. Born Staffs Leigh.
  • Ann Kelly, Servant, unmarried, 19. Born Staffs, Stone.

By 1881 the family were, at best, difficult to trace.

  • Young Henry Apsley Pellatt and Jessy Pellatt had died.
  • Father Henry Apsley Pellatt is next sighted in Australia, on the occasion of his marriage in 1885.
  • Mother Mary (nee Tull, see below) Pellatt is, I think, found as a Lodger, Music Teacher, married, age 52, born Middx St Georges in the East, in the home of Albert and Elizabeth Paul and their family, at 74 Daneville Road, Camberwell.
  • Young Mary Ann (born 1854) is not to be seen until her marriage on 21 July 1885 to 48 year old Widower, Frederick Martin Howard, Publican, of Camberwell New Road.  Mary Ann is shown as ‘27’ [this is a bit out…], spinster, father Henry Apsley Pellatt, Farmer [presumably, by this time, a farmer in Australia].  Witnesses were Mary Ann’s uncle William Cowper Pellatt and his wife Eliza Ann.  I cannot find anything more about this couple, anywhere!

No birth registrations surname Pellatt:  I could find no birth registrations for the children of Henry Apsley Pellatt and his wife Mary.  I tried FreeBMD, Ancestry, findmypast and the GRO newly-released digitised indexes, all to no avail.  But these children had to be somewhere.

I decided to search just on ‘Henry Apsley’ – no surname.  This search turned up a Henry Apsley Pellatt Middleton, birth registered in Sep quarter 1859, Newington 1d  203. A search for this person on the GRO birth search showed the mother’s maiden name as TULL.  The actual certificate shows that he was born on 8 July 1859, at 15 Allen’s Terrace, Lorrimore Road, Walworth.  The father was shown as John Middleton, the Mother as Mary Middleton, formerly TULL.  She registered the birth, as of the above address, on 19 August 1859.

Searches on the names ‘Mary Ann’, ‘Jessy’, and ‘William M’ revealed that all appeared under the surname ‘Middeton’, mother’s surname TULL.

‘Middleton/Tull’ births: I decided to go back to the beginning of the Middleton/Tull partnership and find all the births registered to those two names – starting with the marriage of Mary Tull to John Henry Middleton, and looking at Census records along the way.

Marriage:  On 25 June 1839 at the Parish Church of St Giles Camberwell in the County of Surrey, John Henry Middleton,  of full age, Bachelor, married Mary Tull, spinster, possibly also of full age (although this is written only once under the ‘age’ column).  He was of Orchard Row, a Slater, and his father Jno Middleton was also a Slater.  She was of Portland Row, her father Jno Tull also a Slater.  The couple both signed the register, as did their witnesses, John Middleton and Elizabeth Middleton [his parents?].

1841 Census:  The 1841 Census finds this couple in Mile End:

John (20) Slater and Mary (15).  Were they really of full age when they married two years previously?

Now for a search on Births registered, using the new GRO indexes:

  • John Charles Middleton (mother’s maiden surname: TULL) Mar 1843 Stepney 02 496
  • Henry William Middleton (TULL) Dec 1849 Lambeth 04 319
    • Death: Henry William Middleton Dec 1849 Lambeth 04 243
  • Harriet Hannah Middleton (TULL) Sep 1851 Lambeth 04 329
  • Mary Ann Middleton (TULL) Sep 1854 Camberwell 1D 438
  •  Eliza Middleton (TULL) Mar 1856 Lambeth 1D 244
    • I believe Eliza’s death may have been registered as Eliza Pellatt, ‘11’ (I am told the GRO register list sometimes lists the figure which should be months, as years…) in 1857 MAR qtr, Newington, 1D 153.  The Newington location would match with the registration of Jessy’ s birth, below.
  • Jessy Middleton (TULL) Sep 1857 Newington 1d 194
    • Death: Jessy Pellatt: SEP 1872. Lambeth 1D 291
  • Henry Apsley Pellatt Middleton (TULL) Sep 1859 Newington 1d 203
    • Death: Henry Apsley Pellatt MAR 1876 Hackney 1b 331
  • William Mill Pellatt Middleton (TULL) Jun 1861 Pancras 01B 43
    • Death: William Mill Pellatt:  Jun 1861 Pancras 01B 29
  • Florence Pellatt Middleton (TULL) Dec 1862 Kensington 01A 9
    • Death: Florence Pellatt Dec 1862 Kensington 1a 13

And finally – giving the game away, with the Pellatt surname …

  •  Frederick William Pellatt (TULL) Mar 1864 Brighton 02B 186
    • Death:  MAR 1867 Marylebone 1A 388

Eureka – the 1851 Census reveals all:  It was only latterly that I thought to check out the Middletons in the 1851 Census.  Lo and behold, there they were in the household of my many times great aunt Mary Backler and her husband Henry Pellatt, the very same couple whose relationship had troubled me when I was looking into the parentage of their [supposed, presumed, or actual] son Thomas Meriton Pellatt, later Sargeant.

The picture at the start of this post is of the houses on Roupell Street, which are in a conservation area and remain largely unchanged today.  They were built between about 1825 and 1835, and were intended as artisans’ conttages – an interesting choice for the fairly large family of lawyer Henry Pellatt AND the Middletons!

Residing at 66 Roupell Street, very near the later-built Waterloo Station, were:

  • Henry Pellatt, Head, married, 55. Solicitor.  Born Surrey Peckham
  • Mary Pellatt, Wife, married, 38. Born Middlesex Islington.
  • Henry [Apsley] Pellatt, Son, 16, unmarried, Clerk.  Born Middlesex Islington.
  • Victoria Pellatt, Daughter, unmarried, 14. Born Middlesex Holborn.
  • William Pellatt, Son, 8, unmarried, Born Middx Shepherd’s Bush.

At the same address, separate household:

  • John Middleton, Head, married, 32. Slater. Journeyman. Born Hartford [sic] Hertfordshire
  • Mary [nee TULL] Middleton, Wife, Married, 28. Born Middx. St George.
  • John Middleton, Son, 8, Scholar, Born Middx St George.

Well, well.  It looks as if Mary (Tull) Middleton was due to set up a liaison with Henry Apsley Pellatt, 12 years her junior, the first child of this union to be Mary Ann Middleton [mother surname Tull], born in 1854 and to appear from 1861 as Mary Ann Pellatt in the household of Henry Apsley Pellatt and his supposed wife Mary.

I cannot find anything other than the birth record for ‘Eliza Middleton’, born 1856, but I feel fairly sure her death was recorded as Eliza Pellatt in 1857 MAR quarter, as described above.

Further children clearly (well, presumably) attributable to Henry Apsley Pellatt though registered under the Middleton surname, are

  • Jessy (1857-1872);
  • Henry Apsley (1859-1876);
  • William Mill (1861-1861);
  • Florence (1862-1862); and, the only child registered as ‘Pellatt’:
  • Frederick William (1864-1867).

A marriage for Henry Apsley Pellatt and Mary Ann Tull?  This marriage cannot be found, but something changed to enable baptism of four of the children in 1867:

  • little Frederick William, on 18 February 1867, when he was three years old and just before his death;
  • Jessy and Henry Apsley on 16 November 1867, at St Marylebone.
  • Mary Ann on 30 November 1867 in St Marylebone

Henry Apsley Pellatt in Australia: The marriage of Henry Apsley Pellatt to Elizabeth Skinner was registered in Victoria, Australia, in 1885.  He died in September 1905, and is buried at St Kilda Cemetery, Victoria Australia.

What happened to Mary (nee Tull) Middleton Pellatt?  I believe, as stated above, that she appears in the 1881 census as a music teacher.  After that I can find no further census records anywhere, nor marriage, nor death.  Hmm….

What of the supposed half siblings, the children of John Henry Middleton and Mary Tull?

  • John Charles Middleton (Mother maiden surname TULL) Mar 1843 Stepney 02 496
    • He married Mary Ann Molland and died in 1936. He worked in the foreign office, after being recorded as a drummer boy in his youth (1861 Census), perhaps reflecting the fact that his mother was a music teacher.
  • Henry William Middleton (TULL) Dec 1849 Lambeth 04 319
    • Death: Henry William Middleton Dec 1849 Lambeth 04 243
  • Harriet Hannah Middleton (TULL) Sep 1851 Lambeth 04 329
    • Harriet Hannah appears to have had a relationship similar to that of her mother.  She took up at some point with George Hagley, Lighterman, with whom she had several children, whose births were registered under the surname of Middleton, with no Mother’s maiden name given, indicating that the births were illegitimate.
    • Like the children of Henry Apsley Pellatt and Mary Tull, some of these children were baptised long after they were born.  No marriage is in evidence for Harriet and George.  For the record, the children were (registered with no mother’s maiden name shown):
      • George Hagley Middleton Sep 1871 Lambeth 1d 292
        • Death: Sep 1871 Lambeth 1d 212
      • Kate Hagley Middleton. SEP 1872, Lambeth 1D 347.
      • [twin] Edith Hagley Middleton SEP 1874 Lambeth 1d 337
        • Death: SEP 1874 Lambeth 1D 200
      • [twin] George Hagley Middleton SEP 1874 Lambeth 1d 337
        • Death: JUN 1884 Woolwich 1d 694
      • Arthur Hagley Middleton JUN 1876 Lambeth 1D 358
        • Death: SEP 1876 Lambeth 1D 205

And then, something changed, perhaps the death of George Hagley’s first wife, to allow the final two births to be registered under the surname Hagley, with mother’s maiden name now shown as Middleton.

  • James John Hagley  DEC 1878  Lambeth 1d 349.  Mother’s surname Middleton
    • Bap. 24 April 1891, Birth shown as 28 August 1878.  Parents George (Lighterman) and Harriet, 48 York Road.
  • Harry Joseph Hagley DEC 1884 Lambeth 1d 361
    • Death: DEC 1884 Lambeth 1d 214

The 1881 Census shows at 48 York Road, Lambeth: George Hagley, 52, married, Lighterman living with Harriet, wife, 29 and three children, Kate, 9; George 7; and James, 3.

In 1891 the couple are at the same address, with children Kate and James, and George’s widowed sister Jane Sharpe, age 65.

George died early in 1901, so in the 1901 Census, Harriet Hagley was a 51 year old widow, a boarder at 4 Vidal Road, Tulse Hill, Reg district of Lambeth.  She died in 1909 at the Constance Road Workhouse in the parish of St Giles Camberwell.  She had many descendants, who can be seen on an Ancestry family tree.  I can pass on  the relevant information to anyone wanting more information.

Alas…no blood relations for me… As so often seems to happen with my family, some of my best record discoveries are of folk who are no blood relation to me!  These various Middleton/Hagley folk acquire some new Pellatt half-siblings and half aunts and uncles, some of whom will have some Backler and Pellatt ancestors.  But in fact, since all the Middleton/Pellatt children seem to have died in childhood or infancy, this may not make a lot of difference.

 

 

Samuel Backler (1784-1870): a quiet end

In which we follow as far as possible the final years of Samuel Backler.  We mention in passing two daughters Susannah Mary Backler (1817-1883) and Esther Maria Backler (1830-1918), of which more in future blogs. In a previous post we followed the fortunes of Samuel’s oldest daughter Mary Backler (1830-1882)  through her marriages to her cousin Henry Pellatt (of which more to come in the next blogpost), and Waldo Sargeant. 

Alas, the 1841 census for part of Middlesex is missing.  Presumably Samuel, Mary and their two unmarried daughters lived together, but their circumstances following the traumatic bankruptcy in 1831, when they lived in Kensington, are unknown.  Other than at the marriage of his daughter Susannah, the only confirmed sighting we have of Samuel before the 1851 Census is a design registration  of 1847, held at The National Archives as follows:

Reference: BT 45/6/1046
Description:

Useful Registered Design Number: 1046.

Proprietor: Samuel Backler.

Address: 4 Cambridge Terrace, Islington, London.

Subject: Spatula.

Category: Surgical and Medical Instruments etc.

Date: 1847 April 28
These are the designs submitted to the Patents, Designs and Trade Marks Office under the terms of the Non – ornamental (‘Useful’) Designs Act 1843.  The quote in italics below is from a presentation at the National Archives by Julie Halls, the Archives’ specialist for registered designs and the author of Inventions that didn’t change the world (Thames & Hudson, 2014).

‘These designs were registered for copyright under what was called the Utility Designs Act of 1843. This came about primarily as a result of the expense and difficulty inventors found in patenting their ideas during the first half of the nineteenth century. The system had become notoriously expensive and inefficient, and there were concerns that it was holding back innovation. An inventor would have to negotiate a labyrinthine system, taking his design to as many as 10 different offices, with a fee payable at each, and petitions, warrants and bills were prepared several times over, signed and countersigned, before a patent was approved. In his short story ‘A Poor Man’s Tale of A Patent’, Charles Dickens asked: ‘Is it reasonable to make a man feel as if in inventing an ingenious improvement meant to do good, he had done something wrong?’

‘A solution came about in the form of the 1843 Act, which was for ‘any new or original design for any article of manufacture having reference to some purpose of utility, so far as such design shall be for the shape or configuration of such article’. Under the Act, proprietors were given three years’ copyright protection at a cost of £10, as opposed to up to £400 for 14 years’ protection for a patent.

‘Although the Act was meant to apply to the appearance and not the function of useful objects, which was still supposed to be patented, in practice it was widely perceived as a cheaper and quicker form of protection than the convoluted patent system, and the law struggled to make a distinction between the two. Thousands of inventors chose to register their designs, resulting in the unique documents we hold at The National Archives.

‘To copyright a design the inventor had to take or send to the Designs Registry, originally based at Somerset House in London, ‘two exactly similar drawings or prints of the design made on a proper geometric scale’. He, or less often she, would also need to provide the title of the design – quite often deciding on a pseudo-scientific name for what could often be quite a mundane object. Explanatory text also had to be included, saying what the purpose of the design was and what was new about it.

( http://media.nationalarchives.gov.uk/index.php/inventions-didnt-change-world-history-victorian-curiosities-2/ )

I have a beautiful photo of the original design of this ‘heated spatula’, copyright by The National Archives, which I can forward for personal use, on request.  There is no sign that this design was ever put into production, but the design itself is a thing of beauty.  The photo, purchased from the National Archives online, is of the original document, which would have been handled by Samuel himself.  Awesome!

The address given on the design shows that the family lived in Islington, where Susannah Mary Backler had married James Boulding in 1844 at St Mary’s Parish Church.  On the marriage certificate, Samuel Backler was styled ‘Gentleman’, the first time we have seen him designated as such. Perhaps he felt the need to keep in step with James Boulding’s father Samuel Boulding, who all along, as we shall see in the future, was styled the same.

By the 1851 census, however, we find that Samuel is recorded as a ‘Clerk’.  (I wonder if this is an error by the census enumerator, as it seems likely that Samuel would have described himself as a Chemist.)  The family are living at 2 Old Paradise Row, Islington, and as we shall discover in a future blogpost, nothing would be seen now or in the future of James Boulding.  The family are listed as follows:

  • Samuel Backler, Head, married, 66. Clerk [sic]. Born Middlesex, Stoke Newington
  • Mary Backler, Wife, married, 60. Born Middlesex Holborn
  • Esther Maria Backler, daughter, unmarried, 21. Born Middlesex Bayswater
  • Susanna Boulding, daughter, 34, married.  Born Middlesex Oxford Street
  • Susanna Mary Boulding, grand daughter, 5, scholar at home. Born Middlesex, Islington
  • Apsley Samuel Boulding, grandson, 3. Born London, Fleet Street

Backler places of residence:  In these times, most folk rented, often on an annual basis, rather than owning their own properties.  While we know Samuel and Mary were in Kensington/Bayswater at the time of his bankruptcy in 1831, we do not know when they moved to Islington.  Once there, however, they seemed to stay quite local, although we have no way of knowing how many other addresses they had than those listed here:

1847: 4 Cambridge Terrace (registered design application)

1851: (census) 2 Old Paradise Row (facing Islington Green, on the north side)

1857: (wife Mary’s death certificate) Rheidol Terrace  (east of, and roughly parallel to Essex Road in Islington)

1861: (census) 14 Angell Terrace (in the block bounded by Rheidol Terrace, River Lane, Lower Road and Queens Head Lane in Islington).  Here, Samuel is found as a 77 year old Accountant [sic], a widower, with his daughter Esther M, 31, single, and one servant.

1870: (Samuel’s death certificate)  11 Maria Terrace  (since re-named Lambert Street, on the census enumerator’s route of Albion Grove (re-named Ripplevale Grove), and Thornhill Road in Barnsbury – can be seen on the map accompanying a historic walk around Barnsbury at: https://www.islington.gov.uk/~/media/sharepoint-lists/public-records/leisureandculture/information/factsheets/20112012/20120303localhistorytrailbarnsbury

The map below incorporates two old maps, and shows how local the various addresses were, over a period of decades.

Screenshot (145)Maps: http://london1868.com/weller19.htm#image and http://london1868.com/weller18.htm#image  Both maps from David Hale and the MAPCO : Map And Plan Collection Online website at http://mapco.net

An address in Bishopsgate? See: https://www.oldbaileyonline.org/browse.jsp?id=t18340703-106&div=t18340703-106&terms=Backler#highlight  3rd July 1834

It seems to me there is no way of knowing if the court case described in Old Bailey records in 1834 refers to ‘our’ Samuel Backler and his wife Mary.  Here, Samuel is described as a silversmith (not an unusual occupation for someone with an apothecary’s background), and Mary as a ‘staymaker’.  Was this the family’s next step after the bankruptcy of 1831?  An address in the City of London is not impossible, as both Samuel’s and Mary’s origins were related to City Livery Companies, and I am not aware of any other couple in the area known as Samuel and Mary Backler. (Please correct me if I am wrong!)

The gist of the case was that ‘HARRIET BATE was indicted for stealing, on the 9th of June , 2 spoons, value 9s.; 10 yards of crape, value 2l.; 1 printed book, value 6d.; and 1 handkerchief, value 6d., the goods of Samuel Backler , her master.’

MARY BACKLER deposed: ‘I am the wife of Samuel Backler, who is a silversmith , and lives in Bishopsgate-street without , and I myself keep a staymaker’s shop – the prisoner worked for me for about five years, and left – I lost some silver tea-spoons – I mentioned it to her – she said she thought it must have been the servant, who had just left – I said, “No; it is impossible, for I know her well” – she said, “Why did you not look into her box?” – I said, “Because I believed her strictly honest” – I said no more about it then – I gave the prisoner a china crape dress, containing ten yards, to get dyed, as she had said she knew where to get it dyed – I afterwards found it had not been taken to the place, and in consequence of suspicion I gave her into custody – I lost a little book from my work-room, and a handkerchief – (looking at the property) – I know the crape by a tear in it – the spoons have our initials on them.’

After the usual rather dubious evidence from witnesses about various items said to belong to the Backlers, Mary Butt was found guilty, and detained for three months after being recommended for mercy by Mary Backler.

Death of Mary [Pellatt] Backler and burial at Highgate Cemetery. As seen in the address list above, Mary Backler died in 1857, and was buried on 7 February in what would become a family plot at Highgate Cemetery.  I have visited the site, which is in a wooded area, with no stones visible.  Samuel would be buried there in 1870, along with their daughter (my 2x great grandmother Susanna [Backler] Boulding Cross – more of her in a later post) – and some others.

Interestingly, just a few weeks after Mary’s death, Samuel’s half-sister-in-law Susannah Maria [McLauchlan] Backler died in Peckham, Samuel’s half-brother the apothecary and Cupper John Backler having died nearly a decade earlier in Paris.  I have wondered how or if these half-sibling relatives were in touch with each other, suspecting that Samuel and his family might have been seen as rather a failed branch of the family.

Death of Samuel in 1870. As seen above, Samuel died on 24 May 1870, aged 85, ‘formerly dispensing chemist’, and was interred at Highgate Cemetery.  By this time his daughter Susannah, presumed widowed, had re-married; Esther Maria had a child but was not yet married to her soon-to-be Swedish husband; and the grandchildren Susannah Mary and Apsley Samuel Boulding had emigrated to the USA, or were about to do so.

Samuel seems to me the ‘not-quite’ successful apothecary son from a line of apothecaries.  Having never fully qualified as an apothecary, he seems to have moved through a range of occupations, perhaps not very successful with their business aspects, and almost certainly rocked by the trauma of his bankruptcy in 1831.  Marrying well into the highly prosperous Pellatt family, he seemed to manage to have a respectable but not very prosperous life.

And so, we bid goodbye to Samuel.  Future blogposts will look at another development in the always interesting family of Mary Backler and her cousin-husband Henry Pellatt, at an outline of Mary Pellatt’s lineage, and at the fortunes of Esther Maria Backler.  I will also do a short feature on my trip some years back to find the Backler grave at Highgate Cemetery (pretty unrewarding, just so you don’t have raised expectations).  After all that, we will at last cross the Atlantic to follow the fortunes of Susannah Mary and Apsley Samuel in New York City.

 

 

Samuel Backler, Bankrupt Tobacconist

In which we face the sad task of reporting the complicated affairs of Samuel Backler and his wife Mary (nee Pellatt), as they faced bankruptcy and the loss of money and possessions, while looking after daughters Mary and Susannah Mary, and newborn Esther Maria.  We glean most of the story from papers held at The National Archives in B/3/695: In the matter of Samuel Backler of St James Street, Piccadilly, Middlesex, tobacconist, bankrupt. Date of commission of bankruptcy: 1831 February 21

Our tale begins with a notice in The London Gazette dated 15 February 1831, to the effect that Samuel Backler, tobacconist of 81 St James’s Street, is unable to meet his financial obligations (https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/18776/page/302) Screenshot (116)

An insolvent debtor who was also a trader could declare himself bankrupt.  An individual who was not a trader could be kept in a debtor’s prison, a fate which Samuel seems to have avoided.

Here began a process which stretched across the entire year, in which a parade of creditors (including close family) laid out their claims on Samuel’s assets, his wife Mary had to forego part of her inheritance from her grandfather Stephen Maberly, and at least some of the family’s furniture was sold.  The date of 1831 was significant, as the process of administering bankruptcy was changing from Commissioners of Bankruptcy (which I believe was the process under which Samuel was treated) to a Court of Bankruptcy.  I do not claim to be expert!

Information copied at TNA 26 September 2009.  B/3/695.  The information is mainly extracted.  Where verbatim, it is in quotes.  I have poor quality photos of further lists of creditors than are reported in this account – they are not usable, and so I have left them out.  The total in debts was over £1,000, while money due to Samuel Backler was in the low £100s.  The outcome of it all was that creditors were to receive £2 and 5s in the pound.

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22 February 1831.  Samuel Backler Tobacconist.  Burwood Rooms   George Maberly, Welbeck Street, Cavendish Square Middx. Coachmaker.  Against Samuel Backler of St James’ Street Piccadilly in the County of Middx tobacconist.  £104 – 17 – 4d lent between 1 January 1830 and 1 February 1831: ‘no security or satisfaction whatsoever’ except promissory notes and Bill of exchange.

Note: George Maberly was some sort of cousin to Samuel’s wife Mary Pellatt, though given the number of Maberly families in London at the time, I am not exactly sure of his relationship.  George is probably the George Maberly who eventually became a partner in the famous firm of Thrupp and Maberly.
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23 February 1830 [sic –  is this 1831?].  George Cross of 3 Poole Street, Hoxton, Gentleman. Has known Samuel Backler four years, during which time he carried on trade, buying and selling tobacco, snuff, cigars and other commodities of a like nature.  He said Samuel Backler was in insolvent circumstances and unable to meet claims of debtors.  On Monday 14 February inst Samuel Backler came to Hoxton and asked for a bed because he was afraid of being arrested by his creditors for debt if he remained at his own house of residence.  Samuel Backler stayed there until the present, having not returned to ‘his own house or place of business’.
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22 February 1831.  Provisional Assignment of Estate to William Burwood of Southampton Buildings Chancery Lane Gentleman. John Beauclerk, Jefferies Spranger and John Dyneley Esquires, the major part of Commissioners named and authorised in and by a Commission of Bankrupt – awarded and issued and now in Prosecution against  Samuel Backler of St James’ Street Piccadilly in the County of Middlesex tobacconist.  S.B. declared bankrupt at Burwood Rooms, 22 February 1831.
________________________________________________________________________________

22 February 1831 p. 350. London Gazette   Giving notice of the following dates: 25 February, disclosure; 8 March – Assignees; 5 April – finish examination of creditors, agree certification.  On this day Samuel Backler was reported as not at present prepared to make full disclosure and discovery of his Estate and Effects, praying further time until the next day.  25 February:  Still not full disclosure.
______________________________________________________________________________

8 March 1831. List of Creditors:

  • Gilbert Selioke Edwards, Newman Street, Oxford Street, Coachmaker. Late of Pall Mall.  Executor Thomas Chamberlayne. Had loaned £25 10s
  • Samuel Ward, Piccadilly, tobacconist. £100 – 10 – 10 for goods sold and delivered to Samuel Backler
  •  Henry Pellatt of Ironmongers Hall, Gentleman.  £104 – 8 – 6 money lent and advanced on 25 May 1829, 25 January 1825, 7 May 1828.  [on 18 March 1831, while these proceedings were going on, Henry had married his cousin Mary Backler, Samuel and Mary’s oldest daughter!  They feature in several posts (and one forthcoming).]
  • George Maberly, Welbeck Street, Cavendish Square,  Coachmaker.  £104 – 17 – 4
    George Maberly and Henry Pellatt chosen as assignees

On this date, the solicitor’s bill of £40-8-2 to be paid from the first monies raised.  Also the Messenger’s Bill, $14-4-8d
________________________________________________________________________________

5 April 1831.  More creditors:

  • Richard Vandome, Leadenhall Street, City of London, Scalemaker.  £59 – 5s
  • John Bale [Bask?] Derby Place, Bayswater in the County of Middlesex, Coal Merchant.  Goods sold and delivered £14 – 16
    _____________________________________________________________________

8 July 1831.  London Gazette. P. 1382:  ‘The Commissioners in a Commission of Bankrupt, bearing date of 21st February 1831, awarded and issued forth against Samuel Backler … intend to meet on the 29th of July instant at Eleven in the Forenoon, at the Court of Commissioners of Bankrupts at Basinghall-Street in the City of London in order to Audit the Accounts of the Assignees of the estate and effects of the said Bankrupt under the said Commission, pursuant to an Act of Parliament, made and passed in the sixth year of the reign of his late Majesty King George Fourth intituled “An Act to amend the laws related to Bankrupts.”

An untimely death:  On 3 June 1831, Mary [Pellatt] Backler’s grandfather Stephen Maberly died in Reading.  The timing f this death was rather unfortunate for Mary, in light of her husband’s bankruptcy proceedings!  Stephen Maberly had made specific provision for his grandchildren in his Will, which was proved on 5 July 1831, with quite a few Codicils relevant to the Backler bankruptcy.  Having initially left £4000 in trust for the benefit of ‘all and every the child of my late daughter Mary Pellatt’ [Samuel’s  mother-in-law], this sum was reduced to £2500 in a codicil, which excepted Mrs Mary Backler.  In an earlier Codicil, dated 12 August 1826, there was to be deducted £250 from ‘Mrs Backler’s share of the property I have left to her, having lately advanced that sum for her husband’ but that Codicil was revoked on 26 April 1827 in favour of the following:

£400 on trust – interest, proceeds etc – to Mary Backler into her own hands for her sole and separate use exclusively of her present and any future husband and without being liable to his debts or arrangements.  On her death, proceeds to go to every her child and children when they become 21, or when the daughters marry.

This inheritance results in a notice on August 22:  The Law Advertiser, Vol. 9:  Special meeting of creditors of bankrupts:

‘Backler, Samuel, St. James’s-st., Piccadilly, Middlesex, tobacconist; Sept 21, at 12 precisely, C.C.B., as to assignees compromising their claim to a legacy of 200l, bequeathed by Stephen Maberley, deceased, to the bankrupt’s wife, by accepting half of such legacy, and permitting the remainder to be settled on bankrupt’s wife for her separate use; and on other special affairs.’

Some confusion?  I am not sure how the legacy of £200 was determined.  In his Will Stephen Maberly had declared the legacy of £400 to be free from any debt of her husband.  Was this £200 Mary’s share of the £2500 left to all the children of Mary [Maberly] and Apsley Pellatt?  I don’t fully understand, as I thought she had been exempted from this.  Apparently not (see below).  Perhaps the £400 would remain at the disposal of Mary.

At the Court of Commissioners of Bankrupts, Basinghall Street London 21st day of September 1831:  Memorandum – At a Meeting of the Creditors and Assignees of Samuel Backler of St James’s Street Piccadilly in the County of Middlesex Tobacconist Dealer and Chapman a Bankrupt held on the day and year and at the place above written pursuant to a notice in the London Gazette of the thirtieth day of August last in order to [sic] the said Creditors to assent to or dissent from the said Assignees compounding their claim to a Legacy of £200 bequeathed by the Will of Stephen Maberly late of Reading in the County of Berks Esquire deceased to the Bankrupt’s Wife by receiving one half of the said Legacy and allowing the other half to be retained by the Trustees or Executors under the said Will for the purpose of Settlement on the said Wife of the Bankrupt for her separate use according to the decisions in Equity in like Cases And further to assent to or dissent from the assignees paying to a party to be named at the meeting the amount of certain premiums paid by him on a policy of Insurance in the London Life Association effected on the life of the said Bankrupt for the sum of £500 with a view to the Assignees obtaining possession of the said Policy And also to assent to or dissent from the said assignees selling and disposing of the said Policy and of any other the Estate and effects of the said Bankrupt either by public auction or private contract and for such terms and prices as they shall think fit And also to assent to or dissent from whatsoever the said Assignees hitherto done or at the said Meeting shall propose to do in reference to the said Bankrupt’s Estate.

The following is a copy of a letter from Mr Apsley Pellatt [Mary Backler’s brother] to the assignees produced and read at the Meeting –

“Mr Apsley Pellatt presents respects to the Assignees of Samuel Backler and acquaints them that he is willing to surrender to the use of the Creditors the Policy of Insurance of His (Mr B’s) life of £500 in the London Life Assurance Office on payment of the premium (he has paid) amounting to £27.13.10  Mr Apsley Pellatt begs also to say that he has no doubt on the Creditors assenting to accept £100 in full satisfaction of the Legacy of 1/11th of £2500 left by Will by the late Stephen Maberly Esquire to Mrs Backler that the Executrix will forthwith pay the same into the hands of the Assignees”.  Falcon Glass Works.  17 Sept 1831

Present the undersigned Creditors

It was resolved and agreed that the said assignees be authorized to pay to Mr Apsley Pellatt the Sum of £27. 13. 10 the amount of the premiums paid by him on the above mentioned Policy   And that they be at liberty to dispose of the said Policy  either by Surrender to the London Assurance Office or by Public Sale or private contract and at such price and on such terms as to the said Assignees may seem meet

Secondly – It being stated at the meeting that the Legacy in question being to the Bankrupts Wife and that the Court of Chancery thro’ which alone such Legacy could be recovered always makes a provision for the Wife out of it, and generally to the extent of one half of the Legacy, It was resolved and agreed that the said Assignees be also authorized and empowered to receive the sum of £100 in full satisfaction of their claim of the Legacy of 1/11th of £2500 left by the Will of the late Stephen Maberly Esquire to Mrs Backler the Wife of the Bankrupt and that they also be authorized to give and sign full and sufficient receipts and discharges for the same

Thirdly – and resolved and agreed that the undersigned do approve of the sale of the Bankrupts Furniture as made by the assignees, and ratify the same accordingly.

Henry Pellatt.  Richard Vandome.  Sam Ward
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22 November 1831.  London Gazette. P. 2442.  Notice of the following event: The Commissioners ‘intend to meet on the 23rd day of December next, at Ten of the Clock in the Forenoon … in order to make a Dividend of the estate and effects of the said Bankrupt; when and where the Creditors, who have not already proved their debts, are to come prepared to prove the same, or they will be excluded the benefit of the Dividend. And all claims not then proved will be disallowed.

Account: Cash realised:

Sale of bankrupt’s furniture                                           £20/3
Cash in compromise of Stephen Maberly legacy        £100/ –
Deposit on sale of policy per Mr Shuttleworth           £24/-
Balance from the purchases [?]                                       £96/–

£240/3-

Paid:

30 Sep Solicitor’s bill re choice of assignees                £40 – 8 – 2
Mr Pellatt’s claim re life policy                                       £27-13-10
Mr Shuttleworth’s charge on sale of policy                  £6 – 0 – 0
Messenger bills                                                                   £20-14-8
Auctioneer charges sale of furniture                             £4 – 14 – 0
Solicitor dividend                                                               £49-13-10
Claim of shopman in full                                                     £5 – 10
Claim of maidservant in full                                              £3 – 0 – 0
Balance to be divided                                                           £82-8-6

£240 – 8 – 0

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23 December 1831: More debts!

  • Richard Cater, deceased.  17 September 1827                     £23-8-4
  • William Deighton 71 St James’s Street Tailor.  Goods
    sold and delivered. Work and labour done as a tailor       £22 – 1 – 6
  • Maria Palmer 8 Kensington Terrace, Kensington
    Gravel Pits late servant to the Bankrupt. Wages due.
    Her X.                                                                                            £3 – 0 – 0
  • John Martin, 82 St James’s Street, tailor.  Goods sold
    and delivered.                                                                             £6 – 19
  • William Cousins, 45 Duke Street, St James’s. Carpenter
    Carpentry work                                                                         £6 – 12 – 5
  • James Davies, 106 New Bond Street, late shopman to
    The Bankrupt.  For wages                                                       £5 – 10 – 0
  • John Collier, Carey Street, Lincolns Inn, Gent.
    By judgement HM Court Kings Bench, Easter term
    11th year King George IVth for £500 debt and 65
    shillings costs. Indenture re William Nokes [Noke?]           £203

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23 December 1831.  Creditors to get £2s 5d to the £

_______________________________________________________________________________

What to make of all this? Little more is heard of Samuel Backler before his death in 1870, other than his presence in the 1851 and 1861 Censuses and the marriage of his second daughter Susannah Mary Backler to James Boulding in 1844.  We do not know what happened to Samuel and Mary after the traumatic events of Samuel’s bankruptcy in 1831, other than to assume that it did little in terms of good family relationships!  Clearly Samuel was a poor businessman.  Was he reckless, or just unfortunate?    We may never know.

 

 

 

 

 

Samuel Backler (1784-1870): Family, Thefts and a Changing Career

In which we continue our perusal of the life and times of my 3x g. grandfather, Samuel Backler (1784-1870), tracing the birth and some deaths of his and Mary Pellatt’s children, and witnessing his metamorphosis from apothecary to tobacconist, along with a few brushes on the right side of the law at the Old Bailey.

screenshot-100

A growing – and sometimes diminishing – family.  As noted in my most recent post, Samuel Backler married Mary Pellatt on 30 November 1810 at St Andrew by the Wardrobe, the church which was amalgamated with St Ann Blackfriars after the Great Fire of 1666.  St Andrew by the Wardrobe exists today, rebuilt within its Christopher Wren walls after destruction by bombing in the Second World War.

As can be seen in the extract above, it clearly wasn’t sufficient for there to be two witnesses to this marriage!  To the left we see signatures of Apsley Pellatt, presumably Mary’s father, and S Backler (or could this be a ‘J’?) and M Backler, possibly Joseph, Samuels’ brother, and their sister Mary.  Next we see ‘S Backler’, almost certainly Sotherton Backler, Samuel’s father. Underneath is J Backler Jnr – or is this an ‘S’?  Could this be Samuel’s youngest sibling, 12 year old Sotherton?  To the right are Apsley Pellatt Jnr (1791-1863), Mary’s brother, and another brother, Stephen Pellatt (1792-1839).

screenshot-99The slightly fuzzy tree on the left shows the birth of six children.   Young Apsley Backler is something of a puzzle.  I can find no record of his christening, nor of his death.  Yet he appears in a family tree held at The National Archives (J66/10/43), linked to the case of Buxton v Pellatt, a dispute over inheritance and the Will of Susannah [Maberly] Langford.  These papers contain a number of family trees, and I will probably draft a separate blog post about them.  Meanwhile, it would have been logical for a child to be name Apsley, after Mary’s father.  Did he exist?  Any answers most welcome!

First born was Mary Backler (1813-1882), in 1813.  I have looked at her marriage to her cousin, Henry Pellatt, in a previous blog.  Her birth on 25 May 1813 was registered on 21 June 1816 at Dr. Williams’ Library, the repository for non-conformist births, where many Pellatt children’s births were registered.  Witnesses were John Cribb, a Pellatt ancestor, and Mary Pellatt, presumably Mary (nee) Maberly, Mary (Pellatt) Backler’s mother.  Lots of Mary’s!  I have recently discovered a real puzzle concerning the births of the children of Mary and Henry’s first-born, Henry Apsley Pellatt.  Another blog post is needed!

Next appears the mysterious Apsley Backler…mentioned in a series of family trees, all related to the Will of Susannah Langford, sister of Mary Pellatt, wife of Samuel.  I have no further information about him.

Susannah Mary Backler followed on 22 March 1817, born in ‘Oxford Street’, presumably at the 71 Berners Street address where records show Samuel Backler and his wife Mary lived for some years, not far from Samuel’s brother Joseph, the stained glass artist, in Newman Street.  Susannah was my 2x great grandmother and I will devote future blog posts to her and her marriage to the elusive James Boulding.  I have never found a christening record for her.

Samuel Backler and Elizabeth Backler, presumably twins, appeared in 1820, although there appears to be no christening record for them either.  Sadly, both were to die within 10 days of each other in 1822, to be interred in Bunhill Fields Cemetery.

Very much later, the youngest child of Samuel and Mary Backler was Esther Maria Backler, whose arrival on 3 February 1830 was very near the time when Samuel was to face bankruptcy, and his nephew Joseph to be transported to Australia.  Esther Maria was baptised at Holland Road Independent Chapel in the Brixton Road in March 1830, the family’s address given as Linden Grove, Kensington Gravel Pits. Samuel’s occupation was now a tobacconist.  This address, near what is now Notting Hill Gate, was in the early 19th century a favoured area, away from the city, and home to many artists.  The picture below ((c)Victoria & Albert Museum), is entitled The Mall, Kensington Gravel Pits. It is by the artist William Mulready, and dated around 1811-12.

Kensington Gravel Pits 2006BH7808_2500

Esther Maria lived with her parents after her sisters’ marriages, and was only to marry Magnus Christian Abelin in 1870, just months after the death of her father Samuel.  She appears to have been the dutiful younger daughter, living with and caring for her parents in their later years.

Crime and Punishment: Back at Berners Street, off Oxford Street, the early years of the family saw them feature as the victims of some cases at The Old Bailey.

As a first example, I make an assumption (in the absence of an address) that the report below of ‘Elizabeth Butt: simple grand larceny, 18th September, 1816’ refers to Samuel and Mary Backler.  Screenshot (107) It is downloaded from the following url, and is reproduced from the Old Bailey Online Project.  We have already seen examples of how helpful this project is, in stories about young Joseph Backler’s uttering of forged cheques.  1816https://www.oldbaileyonline.org/images.jsp?doc=181609180085

Hannah Barry – transportation for 14 years:  On safer ground, in terms of location and participants, we find the case of Hannah Barry and Mary Murphy, Theft and receiving stolen goods, trial proceedings on 1 November 1824.

Screenshot (108)As seen on the left, the case began with a summary of items alleged to have been stolen by Hannah Barry, servant to Samuel and Mary Backler in their rented home in Berners Street.  The evidence included statements by 12 year old Mary Backler’s cousin Henry, living with the family, and later to marry oldest daughter Mary, as described in a previous post. Following Mrs Backler’s statement that she had ‘missed property’, she said she had ‘sent for Craig, who searched her boxes and found a variety of property’.  The rest of the case was as follows (image and text downloaded from: https://www.oldbaileyonline.org/browse.jsp?id=t18241028-140-defend1298&div=t18241028-140#highlight):

WILLIAM CRAIG . I am an officer. On the 28th of September I searched three boxes, which Mrs. Backler pointed out to me; the prisoner was present; and before I searched them, I asked her if she knew anything of a diamond pin, and a locket which were lost; she denied it at first, and then said she had found the pin, but knew nothing of the locket; she went up stairs with us, one of her trunks was open, and another locked; the third was a small tea chest. I found two stiffners in her pocket; in the open trunk was the trimming, and several things, and in the other trunk several caps and articles of linen; and in her tea chest, I found the diamond pin – she said she knew it was in some of her boxes, but could not tell which. I forget whether the tea chest was locked. I went to Murphy’s house with a warrant, and found a waistcoat, a petticoat, and other things; she was not at home, but her husband was. I afterwards saw her, and she said she had bought them of different people in the street.

Cross-examined by MR. PHILLIPS. Q. You do not know that to be a diamond pin – A. I am told that it is.

MR.   HENRY PELLATT . I lived at the prosecutor’s house. This diamond pin and locket are mine, and the waistcoat. I missed the pin and locket on the 27th of September; I had seen them two or three days before, and had left them in a box unlocked.

Cross-examined. Q. Are there any children in the house – A. Yes, one of them is twelve years old. I had put the property among some fishing tackle.

COURT. Q. How long had you lived there – A. Three years. I wore the pin every day; the prisoner must have known it to be mine. I paid 13 l. for it about six months ago, to Mr. Fletcher, a lapidary, of Marlborough-street.

(Property produced and sworn to.)

BARRY’S Defence. The box which the things were found in is not mine – I had lent my mistress a trunk when she went into the country, and she gave me one of hers to put my things in. I never saw these things till they were found.

MRS. BACKLER. Two of the trunks belonged to her; some of the property was in them, and some in one which I had lent her, having had an accident with hers, and sent it to be repaired – the tea chest belonged to her, and was locked. and she produced the key of it after some hesitation.

MR. PELLATT re-examined. I have tried the pin, and know it to be a diamond.

BARRY-GUILTY. Aged 25.

Of stealing to the value 39 s. only .

Transported for Fourteen Years .

MURPHY – NOT GUILTY .

Hannah Barry was duly transported to Van Dieman’s Land (Tasmania) on The Providence, which left England in December 1825, arriving in Australia on 16 May 1826.  I cannot firmly identify what happened to her in later years.  Once again, the standard of proof in Old Bailey Trials might well raise eyebrows in more modern times!

And finally: there is another case about Harriet Bate, theft, on 3 July 1834.  This date is after the disastrous events for the Backlers of 1830-31, which I will recount in my next post.  The case involves theft by Harriet Bate of goods belonging to her master, Samuel Backler, Silversmith, of Bishopsgate Street.  His wife Mary gives evidence, stating she is a staymaker.  Is this ‘our’ Samuel and Mary, or another?  I am not sure.  The full report can be seen at:  https://www.oldbaileyonline.org/browse.jsp?id=t18340703-106-defend680&div=t18340703-106#highlight

There is a reference in this case to ‘the prosecutor’s son’.  If there really was an Apsley Backler, this reference could be to him; if it is not him, then this is probably not ‘our’ Samuel, as there was no other surviving son.  I haven’t, though, been able to trace an alternative ‘Samuel and Mary’. Samuel Backler (born in Haverhill) and his wife Elizabeth appear in St Luke’s Parish in the 1841 and 1851 censuses, but he is shown as a Labourer, and I don’t think he is the same as the one in the court case…perhaps!

Moving on: In this post I have tried to give a brief flavour of what might be called the middle years for Samuel and Mary Backler. Alas, their fortunes were not due to prosper, as we will see in my next post, in which I will consider Samuel’s bankruptcy and its apparent impact on family relationships.

 

Samuel Backler (1784-1870). A question of Bark

sam-backler-1784-baptismIn which we consider the life and early career of my 3x great grandfather, Samuel Backler, having reviewed the varied fortunes of his four half-siblings and nine siblings in previous posts.  We follow Samuel as he embarked on a career as an apothecary, like his father, grandfather and half brother John before him.  We see his fortuitous marriage to the eldest child of noted glassmaker Apsley Pellatt, and after what seems to have been an abortive apprenticeship, we witness Samuel setting up in business, perhaps armed with inside knowledge of the market for Peruvian Bark from his and his father’s association with the Society of Apothecaries.   

IMG_3340 (2)Early years: an apothecary apprentice and laboratory worker.  Samuel Backler was the second child and oldest son of Sotherton Backler (1746-1819) and his wife Hannah Osborne (approx 1763-1803).  He was born in Stoke Newington, and baptised at St Mary’s Church there. (The church, left, is ‘the old church’, no longer consecrated.)

No evidence as to Samuel’s education has come to light.  His older half brother John (c.1780 – 1846), and youngest sibling Sotherton (1798-1875), were educated at St Paul’s School, but there is no record of Samuel having been there, nor of him attending university. When he was just two years old the family faced sorrow.  Infant Thomas Backler, aged 8 months, was buried at St Andrew by the Wardrobe on 16 December 1786, followed just two weeks later on the 30th by Samuel’s 9 year old half brother Sotherton.  On 14 May 1791, Samuel’s 2 year old sister Elizabeth was also interred in the church, and to cap it all, his mother Hannah was buried in April 1803 at Bunhill Fields, aged about 40.

Samuel’s older brother John was apprenticed to their father, Sotherton Backler.  Samuel, however, was apprenticed in 1800 to Thomas Hall, but on Hall’s death in 1802, Samuel was released from his indentures and in 1805 gained the freedom of the Society by Patrimony.  The records show that he was in the service of the Laboratory Stock, established many years previously to oversee and control the quality of the manufacture of chemical and plant-based medicines. In 1843, he withdrew from the Society.  He had never fully qualified as an apothecary, though he was surely well trained in aspects of the art through his tenure in the laboratory. We will see that his subsequent career was to have many twists and turns.

Fortuitous marriage: Apothecaries’ Hall was located on Water Lane, very near to St Paul’s Cathedral, whose churchyard housed, among other residents and enterprises, the firm of Pellatt and Green, known as glassmakers to the King.  Here the names of Pellatt and Maberley enter my family tree, with the marriage in 1810 of our Samuel to Mary Pellatt, eldest child of Apsley Pellatt (1763-1826) (the third of six with that name) and his wife Mary Maberly.  The marriage linked two families prominent in their respective Livery Companies.  Apsley Pellatt had been Master of the Ironmongers Company.

screenshot-90Bedford Street Laboratory:  Following his marriage, Samuel set up his lab at Covent Garden’s Bedford Street.  Here he marketed a range of interesting lotions and potions, such as this one for Asthmatic Strontium Tobacco (The Morning Post, 10 October 1811).  Backler was in the forefront of the use of stramonium, derived from the common thorn-apple, in treating asthma.  The history of the use of smoking in treating asthma is fascinating, and can be explored through the following link: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2844275/

A matter of Bark:  I speculate that another of Samuel’s treatments, Peruvian Bark, might well have been linked to activities at the Society of Apothecaries’ labs, which I was able to learn more about through some sessions a few years back in the Society’s Archives.

By the early 19th century, Peruvian Bark (Jesuits’ Bark; cascarilla; le remede anglais) – or the various forms of cinchona – had become key elements in the maintenance of health in the far-flung British Empire.  First recorded as being used for fever in South America in the 17th century, and thought to have been brought to Europe by the Jesuits, it had become an important trade item.  Historians continue to debate the origins of the name cinchona, once said to have been because of a cure of a fever in the Countess of Chinchon.  Its use in England dates from as early as 1658, when the ague had become endemic in the south-east.  However, its first use at that time resulted in the death of the Alderman of the City of London – not a good start![1]   A decade or so later, however, Robert Talbor (or Tabor) began to use a remedy which included the Jesuits’ powder.  He went on to use this cure across Europe and in the Court of Charles II.  It took some time for understanding to develop that Peruvian Bark was not effective for all fevers – only those of an intermittent nature, like malaria. And it was not until 1820 that Pelletier and Cavenout isolated the alkaloids quinine and cinchonine.[2]

It stands to reason that with such an important product, the Society would be involved in its preparation and sale as part of its trading activities.  The Laboratory Stock and Navy Stock companies had been engaged in trade throughout the 18th century, and in 1810, during the Peninsular Wars, an approach from the Army Medical Board opened the prospect of providing the Army’s medical supplies.

Questions of quantity and quality: The Archives show that a special meeting of the Court of Assistants was convened on 8 October 1810, to consider a letter from the Army Medical Board of 26 September in which the Society was informed of the Army’s intent to obtain its supplies from the Society – subject to the answers to a series of questions.  These included whether the Society could at short notice ensure a sufficient quantity of medicines ready packed to be immediately available, and whether the Society would consider having Depots at Plymouth, Portsmouth, Falmouth and elsewhere. The Army also wanted to know if supplies could be returned to the Society if they were not wanted.

The Society indicated that they would certainly be able to supply medicines for an Army of 30,000 men – at ten days notice. and every medicine to be delivered in a ‘most perfect state’ – but not from Depots, which would be removed from the Society’s methods of quality control.  There would be no question of receiving returned unwanted goods!

By Spring 1811, a further letter from the Army Medical Board raised questions about the quality of drugs imported from abroad, suggesting that it was said to be the custom of the druggists ‘after purchasing them in their original state from the Merchants, to assort and mix the different qualities previously to offering them for sale, so that it is difficult, if not impossible, to procure any of the genuine.’  They asked how the Company could ‘obviate this nefarious and dangerous practice’ with respect to Bark: ‘It is understood that the only species of Peruvian Bark which of late years have been imported of distinct fine quality are the Crown Bark and grey silver coated Bark in small quills, but that these are afterwards mixed by the Dealers with others.’  They wanted ‘to be informed whether all the Drugs that are used in a state of Powder are bought by the Company in the gross, and powdered under their own inspection, such as Ipecaccuanha and Jalap, as well as Bark.’

On 13 March 1811 came the reply (no doubt drafted by the Clerk to the Society, Samuel Backler’s father Sotherton Backler):

‘…They [Master and Wardens of this Society] beg to observe that their mode of dealing does not expose them to any of these Inconveniences, as the Drugs sent to them for purchase are (in the language of the Druggists, garbled, that is picked, before they receive them) that they buy by competition, and by sample, without knowing of whom ‘till the purchase is made and without Reference to price or anything but the perfection of the Article to be bought; … On the subject of Bark … [there are] three sorts, corresponding with the directions given them by the College of Physicians’.  These were Yellow Bark (cinchona cordifolia Cortex), quilled or pale Bark (the Crown Bark – cinchona lancifolia cortex), and Red Bark (cinchona oblongifolia Cortex)…The Bark sent by them [Master and Wardens] when simply the Term Bark is employed, is the Cinchona lancifolia or Crown Bark, which is considered as the best Bark in the market…they never purchase any Article used in Medicine in powder…every article of the Materia Medica is bought in the Gross, and powdered at their Mill in the Premises under the Inspection of their very confidential Servants.’

A speedy reply (or rebuke?) on 14 March 1811 suggested that the Army didn’t want to know about the three types of bark – but wanted to know how the Society got the best quality of each type.  Furthermore, the Society had said that when ‘Bark’ is used, it referred only to Crown Bark. But, a sample was purchased  ‘at your Hall in which a proportion of 3 in 16 of the small quilled Bark, a sort considered inferior, was found mixed with the best Crown Bark, the whole being sold as an article of the best quality.’

On the 16th of March the Society replied that when any article was wanted, notice is posted so interested parties, druggists, merchants in the City, will want to produce proper samples.  Re the Bark bought at the Hall, ‘they think it proper to observe that the most eminent Druggists in London are not as yet perfectly decided on every identical piece of the Crown Bark, but at all events, the Committee can only purchase the best Article submitted to them’.  Pharmacists had to judge the quality of cinchona bark, as it arrived at London Docks, by colour and taste. The relationship between commercial barks and botanical species was unclear, and there was no assay to measure the active components.

This episode clearly hit at the heart of the Society’s reputation as provider of pure and high quality substances, and the doubts raised must have resonated throughout the Society and its laboratories.

One historian noted: ‘A further problem was that harvesting the bark of cinchona trees often led to their death. As the trees grew wild, regeneration was not sufficient to maintain supplies. By the beginning of the 19th century, as Spain’s American colonies gained independence, there was serious concern in Europe over the quality, quantity and price of exports of bark. Cinchona was taking on an increasingly important role in the occupation and safe administration of tropical colonies in Asia (India, Indonesia) and Africa.’[3]

At the same time as this spat with the Army Medical Board, Samuel Backler, Sotherton’s son, was trading on his links with the Society to market his own preparation of Peruvian Bark.  In a Times advert of 10 January 1811, we find S. Backler, ‘from Apothecaries’ Hall’, marketing a preparation of Peruvian Bark in the form of an oval tablet equal to one teaspoonful of powdered bark.  The advert modestly states that ‘S.B. confidently assures the faculty and the public that, having studied more than eight years in the chemical department at Apothecaries’ Hall, he is enabled to prepare all sorts of medicines agreeable to the plan pursued there…’

This, along with the advert for asthma preparations discussed above, and several others, such as the one below for whooping cough (BCWG, 16 May 1822 – alas my notes don’t say what ‘BCWG’ stands for, and I cannot find it online!), whooping-cough-bcwg-thu-16-may-1822-p1d1suggest that for a while, at least, Samuel, adept at trading on the name of Apothecaries’ Hall,  pursued a successful career marketing medicines from his laboratory in Covent Garden and later from his home in Berners Street.  To modern eyes, his claims of quality and efficacy make interesting reading indeed!

In the next post, I will follow his life and times as a parent, ‘tobacconist’ and ‘bankrupt’; ‘clerk’ in the 1851 Census; and ‘formerly dispensing chemist’ (his death certificate).  The records show that Samuel  ‘withdrew’ from the Society in 1843, and my feeling about him is that he was first, a poor businessman, and second, that he suffered by not having completed his apprenticeship, therefore not able to make claims to be an apothecary after the Apothecaries’ Act of 1815, which regularised and strengthened the role of apothecaries, forerunners to today’s general practitioners.

[1] ‘A cure for the ague: the contribution of Robert Talbor (1642-81)’. T.W. Keeble J R Soc Med 1997; 90:285-290.

[2] For a very interesting discussion of the uses of Peruvian Bark in the battle against malaria (or ‘fever’, or ‘ague’), see M.R.Lee, ‘Plants against Malaria. Part I: Cinchona or the Peruvian Bark’, J R Coll Physicians Edinb 2002: 32: 189-196

[3] A short history of Cinchona (Kew) http://www.kew.org/collections/ecbot/collections/topic/cinchona/a-short-history-of-cinchona/index.html