Bowyer Place in 1841

I’m slowly getting back into this research lark. Today I decided to dip back into the census for 1841 to take a look at Bowyer Place, where the Oldroyds and Buchanans lived, to see if I could get an idea of what sort of street it was. Who were the inhabitants? What did they do for money?

A little background to Camberwell. According to Old and New London: Volume 6, Camberwell was  mentioned in the Domesday book as a large village with its own church, populated mainly by lower class cottagers and farmers. The manor attached to Camberwell was passed around various minor royals and the Buckingham family until the Duke of Buckingham was beheaded in 1521. It was bought by Edmund Bowyer in 1583. There may have been a spa or well somewhere about, since St Giles, patron of the parish church, was also patron saint of cripples and mendicants. John Evelyn talks about Sir Edmund Bowyer’s “melancholie seate” in 1657. Bowyer House was pulled down to make way for the railway in 1861, but in 1841 it was  still in use, possibly as a home for the Camberwell Literary and Scientific Institution or as a school for young ladies.

Old and New London stats that Bowyer Lane was the “abode of questionable characters of all sorts”, and a family living in Bowyer Lane around 1836 were exhibiting the body of an executed horse thief for a shilling a head. Lovely.

Bowyer Place, on the other hand, appears to be a new development in 1841. I can’t find any reference to it on Cary’s New Plan of London (1837) or on a map of the parish of St Giles dating from around 1834-ish that I have knocking about.

It was built a few hundred yards south of the rather elegant Addington Square on what appears to be Southampton Street in Cary’s map. There are eleven houses in the row, from what I can tell from the census. Unfortunately the 1841 census just lists each household, with no house numbers or whether the dwelling was an apartment or a separate house. Whatever buildings were there in 1841 aren’t there any more, so I’m going to assume that they would have been townhouses rather like the slightly shabby ones in Walworth Road, only with no shops on the ground floor.

Question marks indicate that I couldn’t read the census-taker’s handwriting.

The households in Bowyer Place were:

The Parkes family

John (?) Parks (55), either a publisher and professor of music, along with his wife, Mary, adult daughter Emma, a teacher called Ellen Bentham (?) and a teenage maid, Charlotte Lawson (?)

The Cox family

Robert Cox (30), a builder,  his wife Elizabeth, and small son Robert, and Mary Ray (?) another teenage maid.

The Ball family

Hosiah (?) Ball (40) a professor of languages, his wife Maryann, and children Thomas and Louisa. There is also an Elizabeth Ball (30) and a two-year-old child called Henry Goodwin. The census indicates that Elizabeth is the mother (hmm). The servant is Elizabeth Tooley (30).

The Belliston (?) family

George Belliston (47) works as an upholsterer. His wife, Harriet, is 12 years younger than him. They have seven children; the youngest is seven months and the oldest (Sarah) is 16.

The Elliots

Sophia Elliot (60) is of independent means and has a 25-year-old daughter, Maria. Also resident are Edward Appleyard (60) and Mary Hurrell (20). These last two appear to be servants.

The Buchanans

Aha! Rellies! James Buchanan (70) is of independent means, though that could mean he’s retired. His son William Buchanan (30) is a nurseryman. Ellen (5) and Arthur (3) could be James’ grandchildren. It looks like their mother is no longer alive, but censuses aren’t too good on that sort of detail. Eliza Mayer (25) is the household servant.

The Fishers

Good name for a preacher, which is what Henry (38) does for a living. If he is a Methodist, then he would have been living in the middle of his parish with his wife, Ann (39) and daughters, Selina (12) and Mary (4). There are no resident servants.

The Oldroyds

More rellies! Henry Oldroyd (55) is a nurseryman, like young William. His wife Anna (40) is James Buchanan’s daughter. His son, Henry (20) is also a nurseryman. William Lord (30) is a mariner and Elizabeth Burgess (20) is the household servant.

 The Wests

Stephen West (50) does something with furniture, but I can’t for the life of me work out what. His wife Hannah (35) has eight children; the youngest of which, Henry (20) seems to have been born when she was 15, but she may be his stepmother. I’m not sure if they have a maid. There is a young man called Edward also living her, but I can’t figure out his profession.

The Laum (?) family

Cornelius (40) is an appraiser. Doesn’t say of what. His wife Sarah (35) has  six children between the ages of 15 months and 14 years. They have no servants, but the eldest child, Emily probably has to help run the house.

The Barnes family

Edward (38) is a bricklayer. His wife Elizabeth is 35 and they have seven children between the ages of five months and 16 years.

So, the Oldroyds are living in a newish development with the middling sort. Nobody is utterly poverty-stricken, but with so many mouths to feed, life must be a struggle for the West, Laum and Barnes families. Yet we also have some more middle-class residents. Mrs Elliot and her daughter living in relative space and comfort. In the middle of that the Oldroyds and Buchanans; inlaws living a few doors apart, suggesting a close-knit family, possibly in and out of each others’ homes all day and night.




Charlotte Smith’s story

More family history stuff. Dad recently helped my uncle move most of his worldly goods up from Texas to Toronto. While packing something like 20 years’ worth of stuff, they found this document from their cousin, Vivian Dawson.

Uncle Vivian was the son of my grandfather’s sister, Queenie. He several years older than Dad and Uncle Clive and worked as a teacher and head teacher at schools in South Africa and Australia. He and his family moved to Australia in the 1960s and have been living there ever since.

This is his account of his grandparents (my great grandparents), Wong Fi Yen and Charlotte Smith. It differs a little from my grandmother’s oral history, but I’ve no reason to believe that it isn’t true.

I’ve left out the preamble where Vivian talks about his home in Emmanuel Street, Port Elizabeth, and we’ll start with Charlotte.

Continue reading “Charlotte Smith’s story”

Henry Oldroyd and the Camberwell Connection

Map of 18th century Walworth

I’ve been playing around with the family tree for a few months. It started as part of my MA course, when I wanted to investigate how hard/easy it was to  reconstruct a family network using only public records. I had a supplementary question about  the way family networks could reflect migration patterns in London. So, this section of the blog is a collection of stories and speculations arising from my research.

Continue reading “Henry Oldroyd and the Camberwell Connection”

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