James Thurtell, Schoolmaster and Farmer (according to Mrs Clist), auctioneer and registrar (according to the Post Office Directory for 1851), the author's great-great-great-grandfather, was born 17 Nov 1790 in Hopton, Suffolk, and was baptised there on 28 November 1790. He was the second child of a family of twelve: see further details of earlier Thurtell generations.
Mrs Clist recounts that James was the son of a Norfolk squire. The old home (from April 1804), she says, was at Hobland Hall in the Parish of Bradwell, Suffolk (52°33'18.63"N 1°42'43.22"E). (The family previously lived for a time at Hopton Hall Farm (52°32'41.82"N 1°42'26.61"E), Hopton parish, where most of the children were born; this was only about a mile away from Hobland Hall and then also in Suffolk, though now in Norfolk; this may explain Mrs Clist's mistaken placement of Hobland Hall in Hopton.) In a letter to his son Alexander, of 27 Apr 1866, James recalls planting trees at Hobland.
On 25 Oct 1818, James Thurtell married Sarah Holt of Colchester (b. 6 Oct 1794 in Lexden, Essex) in the Parish of St Leonard Shoreditch in the County of Middlesex, both being "of this Parish". To this end, James had borrowed £500 from his father who went broke some five years later (the debt is mentioned in the bankruptcy proceedings). The Ipswich Journal says, in its issue of Saturday 19 June 1819, that the marriage of James and Sarah took place at Lexden on 10 June 1819. This was presumably an additional ceremony. The couple had eight children, some of whom died young.
At the time their daughters Anne and Frances Jane ("Fanny") were baptised in the Church of St. John the Baptist, Parish of Danbury (on 20 July 1820 and 31 March 1822 respectively), James Thurtell gave his "abode" as Danbury and his profession as Farmer. James, says Mrs Clist, was "a student, a dreamer, a lover of books and learning. He was a schoolmaster, and wrote a book on his own methods of teaching English." [We have no other evidence of James's having been a teacher; could Mrs Clist have been confusing him with his son-in-law JLK?] Later in life, James was Secretary of the Hackney Building Society and lived at 430 Hackney Road, London, for many years (51°31'54.75"N, 0°03'38.94"W).
Some time in the 1820s, consequent upon some 'family troubles', the surname was changed to Thurtell-Murray. Some members of the family (e.g. Fanny on the birth certificate of her son John) continued to use Thurtell; some (such as the brothers who emigrated to California) used Murray, as did James and Sarah in their correspondence with their sons, and indeed in the 1851 census. Other branches of the family used names such as Turner and Manfred. (Peter Murray believes James was the first in the Thurtell family to take the name Murray, in 1824, five years before his brother Alfred; though where the name came from is a moot point. Sukie Hunter thinks James's father John Thurtell Senior changed his name to Murray at about the same time as James, i.e. immediately after his bankruptcy and return to Norwich.)
James [Thurtell-]Murray died on 1 December 1867, aged 77, a month after a serious fall from an omnibus, and was buried in Abney Park cemetery along with daughter Josephine. He left effects of "under £600".
James's widow Sarah lived another 21 years, dying at age 94 on 15 Mar 1889 at her daughter Anne's home at Brimscombe Court, Stroud, Glos., leaving effects valued at £701/14/6. She also was buried in Abney Park in the same grave as her husband and daughter.
Susan T. Miller has published much information about the Thurtell family on her website: http://www.thurtellfamily.net/geotf/index.html. Margaret Elaine Shearing (née Murray) wrote a family history, My Ain Folk, which has been published by her grand-daughter Margot Collett.
A number of members of the family emigrated to the New World before James's sons settled in California. In 1853, at the then advanced age of 62, "Aunt Everitt" (Anne Thurtell, sister of James and widow of George Everitt) travelled to New York and Guelph, Ontario, where she had a reunion with her brother, Benjamin Thurtell, and his family; her nephew, Edward Brookes Thurtell, came from his home in Jamestown, Wisconsin, for the reunion. (Susan Miller has published an 1847 letter from Benjamin to Edward.) The diary Anne kept of her trip shows her as an observant, and remarkably enterprising woman. She died in England in 1866, leaving a legacy to brother James (see correspondence).
The children of the James Thurtell-Murray family were as follows:
|Anne||2 Mar 1820
|(1) Elijah Knox Davies
Bristol, 1Q 1846
1 child; EKD d. 5 Dec 1849
(2) Philip Charles Evans
6 Dec 1851
3 sons 3 daughters, plus 1 son and 2 daughters from Evans's previous marriage
|28 Aug 1905
|-||See details and correspondence below|
|Frances Jane ("Fanny")||Baptised 31 Mar 1822
b. "Danbury Farm", Essex
|John Leche Kraushaar
27 Mar 1846 at St Giles, Cripplegate
Had 7 children of whom 2 died in childhood and one as a young man. There was also a stillbirth.
|21 Apr 1902
Daughter G. B. Sumption present
|Chelmsine||The author's great-great-grandparents
|Ellen||ca. 1823||-||Died young||-||-|
|James||ca. 1825||-||Died young||-||-|
|Walter||9 Dec 1826
(b. Chile c. 1822)
prob. in 1853;
had 6 children + Mercedes' daughter by previous marriage.
Also brought up 2 orphaned girls.
|5 Oct 1875
San Luis Obispo, California
|-||See details and correspondence below|
|Emma||ca. 1828||-||Died young||-||-|
|Sarah Josephine ("Josephine")||Prob. 1830/31
Bethnal Green Mddx
|-||29 May 1853||Abney Park Cemetery||-|
|Alexander||1 Oct 1832||Andrea Laing Baratie (b. Chile ca. 1838)
One child - stillborn or died soon after birth.
16 May 1870
San Miguel CA
|-||See details and correspondence below|
A black-and-white photograph of the portraits of James and Sarah at the top of this page, now in the possession of Lew Warden in California, bears on the back a note describing the colours in the originals (painted on ivory); the note was handwritten by D.A. Dowglass in Fairford, Glos. in 1949. Sukie Hunter speculates that Maggie retrieved the originals from Brimscombe Court when her mother died, along with Walter Murray's letters to his sister Anne. According to this reconstruction, after Maggie Evans's death in 1918, her effects in the house in Llandudno would heve been cleared up by Dorothy Dowglass and the letters sent to someone in California (Anita or Frances). Some of the originals of the likenesses are now held in a "scrapbook" in the San Luis Obispo Museum.
Further details follow. Much of the information on the English branches of the family is derived from the 1881 and 1901 censuses, through the detective work of Sukie Hunter.
Anne Evans"Strong-minded and practical" according to Mrs Clist; a ready writer and public speaker. Before her first marriage, she was living in Bristol (see exchange of letters with her brother Walter in America). She was a deeply religious woman and it has been suggested she was a voluntary worker in George Muller's Christian orphanages there.
By her first husband, Elijah Knox Davies, chemist and druggist, whom she married on 26 Mar 1845, Anne had one son, Elijah (b. 24 Dec 1848), who became a doctor/dentist but developed lung trouble and migrated to South Africa; there he married Emily Ellen Probart and practised in Hanover, Cape Province. Mrs Clist states that he returned to his mother's home in England to die, but he actually died on 11 Jan 1885, probably of tuberculosis, at 6 Citadel Terrace, Plymouth. (Perhaps this was a sanatorium?)
In a letter of 29 July 1863, Anne seems to be saying that she had lost her firstborn child when it was only a week old.
Anne's first husband died on 5 Dec 1849. On his deathbed, he is said to have asked Anne to hyphenate the surname of his infant son, so that the following generations were called Knox-Davies.
On 6 Dec 1851, Anne married Philip Charles Evans, a widower of Brimscombe Court near Stroud, Gloucestershire (51°43'29.75"N, 2°11'47.89"W). His first wife was Elizabeth Clutterbuck.
Evans was a wealthy woollen cloth manufacturer, born approx. 1810 in Avening, Gloucestershire, whose family (originally from South Wales) ran three mills with up to 400 employees. Brimscombe was strategically located on the Thames-Severn Canal and the Great Western Railway, and in the middle of a wool-growing area. The mill straddled the River Frome. Philip Evans also had a farm of 17 acres, employing 2 men and 1 boy.
Anne's marriage with Philip Evans produced six children (see details below).
The sons who went into the family business (Philip Evans & Sons, Ltd) ultimately appear to have been Philip, Arthur and Ted. The firm was said to specialise in scarlet cloth for army uniforms. Walter started in the family business but sold out to Philip in the late 1870s and emigrated to South Africa for the sake of his health. Ted had left the firm by 1911 and moved to Great Malvern, and his family had no further involvement with the business. In 1920, Philip and Arthur also having apparently retired, the firm was merged with the even older firm of Marling & Co. Ltd, of Stroud, to form Marling & Evans. The firm continued in business until 1968, when it changed its name to Marling Industries, although they apparently sold the Brimscombe mill in the 1950s.
- Walter (b. 1852, married Frances ["Fanny"] Apperly 2Q 1876, died in S.Africa 1922.)Born Minchinhampton, Gloucestershire, Walter appears in the 1871 census as an 18-year-old "assistant cloth worker". Went to South Africa with his half-brother Elijah Knox-Davies. They went to Graaff Reinet to some Murray cousins (originally Thurtells) who had gone to live in South Africa. After their holiday they returned to England but Elijah went back to South Africa and married a Miss Probart (see above). Walter became a partner with his father Philip Charles and his half-brother Philip in their woollen mills in Brimscombe and in order to learn the business from the bottom up, he worked alongside the millhands.
In 1876 he married Fanny Apperly, daughter of a mill-owning family in the district (Apperly, Curtis & Co, who made the special suiting for King Edward VII called 'Hydea' cloth) but soon after it was found that Walter had developed "a spot on the lung" (tuberculosis), so he sold his share of the mill to his half-brother Philip, and in 1877 went to South Africa with his wife and baby boy. They settled in Hanover, Cape Province, where Walter bought a house, a shop and two farms, one of which he named "Brimscombe" after his old home Brimscombe Court. Had a large family and in 1894 moved to Johannesburg and started a real estate business. Spent the Boer War days in East London, at Cambridge, where Walter was the commandant of the Cambridge Village Guard. The family returned to Johannesburg at the end of the war. Frances died in 1920; Walter remarried but died soon after.
- Annie (b. 1854 m. Frank Butler Bomford)
In the 1901 census, the 47-year-old Annie (b. at Stonehouse, Glos.) is living in "Penarth", Ashfield Avenue, King's Heath (Parish of King's Norton), Worcestershire, with her husband Frank B. Bomford, 54, "retired land surveyor". There are also: son Evans H., 19, mechanical engineer; daughters Honor S., 16, and Eleanor M, 14; son Roger S., 12; and one "general servant". All Annie's children were born in Evesham, Worcs. In 1901, Edward Bomford (17, also born Evesham, Worcestershire), son of Annie and Frank, was a banker's clerk in Much Wenlock, Shropshire. At boarding school in Alcester, Warwickshire, in 1881, along with Theodora, 13, daughter of Henry Bomford (see below), was Letitia Bomford (aged 12), born in Church Lench, Worcestershire, which is where Frank Bomford was born (could it have been his parents' place?); so how Letitia fits in is not clear.
In the 1911 census, Annie Bomford, a 57-year-old Widow of "Private Means", is living at 95 Alcester Road, Kings Heath, with two single daughters, Honor Stacey, 26, and Elinor Mary, 24, Typist.
- Arthur (b. 1855, "Cloth manufacturer" in the family business, m. Anne Iles; at least 4 children)
In the 1901 census, the 45-year-old Arthur (b. Stonehouse Glos., "woollen cloth manufacturer - employer") appears with his 48-year-old wife Anne (b. Hawkesbury Upton, Gloucestershire), living at Hillsley Grange in the Parish of Thrupp (Stroud), very close to Brimscombe (see map). Present were also his sons Gerald, 20, apprentice cloth manufacturer, Percy, 19, undergraduate at Cambridge, William, 17, apprentice cloth manufacturer, and 6-year-old daughter Margaret. (All the children were born at Brimscombe.) There were also three female servants: nurse, housemaid and cook.
- Edward Ebenezer ("Teddy" b. 1857, who went into the family business at Brimscombe; m. Dorothy Iles [said to be the sister of Arthur's wife, Anne] and subsequently Harriet Emily Davis)
In the 1901 census, the 44-year-old Ebenezer ("woollen cloth manufacturer - employer") appears with his 44-year-old wife Harriett [sic] (b. Cardiff), living at Inglewood House in the Parish of Thrupp (Stroud). Present were also: his daughter Dorothy, 18; his sons (by his second wife) John, 5, and Lionel, 3; and daughter Lettice, 4 months. Dorothy was born at Brimscombe, the others at Thrupp. There were also three female servants: cook, housemaid and nurse (the first two from Glamorgan, like their mistress). Dorothy spent most of her childhood at Brimscombe Court with her grandmother and Aunt Maggie, as her mother died in childbirth and her father didn't remarry until Dorothy was 12½. She m. Arthur Pollock Dowglass in 1916. See under Margaret below.
- Bessie Frances (b. 1858 m. Ernest Edgar Bone)
In the 1901 census, the 42-year-old Bessie (b. at Stroud Glos.) is living in "Bryn Maelgwyn", Llanrhos, Carnarvon, with her 45-year-old husband Ernest E. Bone (b. Fenstanton, Hunts.), bilingual Solicitor. (The rest of the family, except for the cook and nurse, only speak English.) There are also: daughter Margery, 16; sons Philip, 11, Cedric, 9, Victor, 4; daughter Cicely, 2. A 41-year-old schoolteacher visitor, Ada Grist, the 25-year-old cook and 26-year-old nurse make up the total. Margery was born in Stroud, the other children in Wales. In "Bryn Maelgwyn Cottage" are a gardener, his wife and two children. These are all Welsh.
In the 1911 census, Ernest Edgar Bone, 55, Solicitor, b. St. Ives Hunts., and Bessie Frances, 52, are living at Ivanhoe Fferm Bach Road, Llandudno, with: single daughter Margery Frances, 26, b. Brimscombe; son Ernest Edgar, 22, Solicitor b. Llandudno, Carnarvonshire; son Philip Charles Llewelyn, 21, Shipping Merchant's Clerk, b. Llandudno; son Victor Arnold, 14, Scholar, b. Llandudno; daughter Cicely Bessie, 12, Scholar b. Llandudno; and two female Domestic Servants.
- Margaret Lucy (b. 1860). Unmarried, at least as late as 1901, when she is recorded in the census at Brimscombe Court with her widowed mother (see below). Known as "Maggie" or "Mag", she is found in later life dwelling at 'Fircombe', 17 Roumania Crescent, Llandudno. In 1911 her niece Dorothy (daughter of Edward) was living with her (Dorothy was married in the Llandudno area in 1916). Maggie seems to have died in 1918 (at least a Margaret L. Evans died in Conway RD in that year, although she was said to be 56 and actually Maggie would have been 58).