The Holt Family

Sarah Holt was b. 6 Oct 1794 in Lexden, Essex, just west of Colchester, and d. 10 May 1889 at Brimscombe Court, Thrupp (Stroud), Glos., at the home of her eldest daughter, Anne.

Mrs Clist recounts that "Sarah Holt of Lexton [sic], Colchester, was engaged as governess to James Thurtell-Murray's cousins. Her grandfather, Rev. John Gordon, Rector of Assington, Suffolk, is recorded in an old gazetteer as having bequeathed £100 to be used in the education of poor children in the parish in which he ministered."

Sarah was almost certainly employed by another James Thurtell (1770-1831), "our" James's uncle (see table of Thurtell siblings of that generation).
Sukie Hunter comments: The only family of Thurtells who lived close enough to Hobland Hall for James to be able to visit for lunch (see Clist account) is the Loddon Thurtells, who lived somewhere in Hopton at the relevant time (they moved to Loddon in 1817-1818). They also had seven daughters (aged about 9, 8, 7, 5, 4, 3 and 1 in the spring of 1818), and thus were very likely to have employed a governess, as they would have needed one for another 15 years or so. The only other female cousin that James had in the area was Phoebe Thurtell (aged about 8), daughter of his uncle George (who lived in Flixton). Sarah might have been Phoebe's governess, but she doesn't really fit the description of 'cousins', although she did have a 3-year-old half-sister. From her letters, we also know that Sarah kept in touch with Helen Joyce, daughter of the Loddon Thurtells, which of course she might have done anyway.

Genuki records show that in 1768 a John Gurdon [sic] was patron of the living of Assington, not the Rector. [The patron of the living was the one who appointed the incumbent. It usually went with being the Squire, but not always; Alexander Thurtell's parish was in the gift of Caius College Cambridge, which was how he came to have it.] In any case, the living of Assington was a vicarage, not a rectory. Ernie Spinks has noted that the surname Gurdon is oft repeated on memorial stones in and around the church. One Brampton Gurdon was rector in 1732.
Other than the matter of her employment as a governess, we know little about Sarah's young days, but before agreeing to marry James Thurtell, she had a "sweetheart", one William Tills of Bow who, though described by James (see letter of 6 Sep 1867) as an "honourable man", refused to compromise his position as "a Gentleman" by marrying beneath him. This must have been a pretty serious business, since even 50 years later, Sarah and James went on a pilgimage to the man's grave in Edmonton Church Yard. The breakup with Tills may have had something to do with the suddenness of Sarah's decision (as described by Mrs Clist) to marry James.

The Holt family consisted of at least the following:

1. Sarah (1794-1899), the author's great-great-great-grandmother. See Thurtell-Murray.

2. The eldest brother, Daniel b. approx. 1796, who was married 7 Nov 1820 "in the Parish of Putney in the County of Surry" and lived in Springfield near Chelmsford.
Daniel's wife was Charlotte Elizabeth Peacock (letter of 18 Nov 1864), b. in Springfield, Essex c. 1798. (Her mother was Hannah Peacock, mentioned as the "maternal grandmother" at the baptisms of her children; there is no mention of the maternal grandfather.) Daniel and Charlotte are the "Uncle and Aunt Holt" of the Murray letters) - see letter of 10 Dec 1865: "Uncle and Aunt Holt are living without business at Springfield near Chelmsford. They are on the decline indeed; our generation is going fast." Daniel's death of apoplexy is announced in a letter of 5 June 1867.

Daniel and Charlotte Elizabeth had several daughters, Sarah Caroline (b. c. 1821 in Lexden, Essex and d. Dec 1885 in Chelmsford at age 64), Emily b. 1824, and Anna Elizabeth b. 1826. Julia Holt born 6 June 1834 appears to have been christened at St Giles, Colchester and baptised 8 July 1834 at the (Independent) Lion Walk Meeting House, Colchester! We have no other news of this youngest daughter.

In the 1841 census, Daniel Holt, 45, Merchant's Clerk, is in Springfield with Emily, 15 (though this age is unlikely to be accurate - she was probably nearly 20, a quirk of census-taking in Britain at the time). His wife and older daughter Sarah were away from home.

Sarah Caroline married Frederick Edward Lestourgeon in St Leonard's Church, Colchester, 24 Oct 1844. They had three children: the middle one, Percy Frederick, was born in 1846 and died in 1847. Frederick Edward himself died in 1848. His mother was Elizabeth Burbidge (the "Uncle Burbridge of Stamford Hill" - see letter of 8 May 1868) was probably her brother, William Smith Burbidge). His father was Charles Lestourgeon, a noted surgeon from Cambridge, who was descended from a Huguenot family of clock and watch makers and silversmiths.

Emily (b. 9 May 1824), married Henry Robinson Wadmore in Hackney 23 Nov 1848. Anna Elizabeth (b. 14 Apr 1826), married James Foster Wadmore, brother of Henry Robinson W., in Paddington on 20 Oct 1849.

In the 1851 census, the Daniel Holt family is in the Parish of St. Botolph, London at 74A Aldersgate Street. (This is the address from which Sarah Caroline's uncles by marriage, William and Frederick Burbidge, operated as Distillers in the 1850s and is also given in directories as the premises of James Vickers & Co, Distillers.) Daniel, still a Merchant's Clerk, is 55. His wife is 53. Emily and Anna by now were married, but Sarah Lestourgeon, already a widow at age 29, is staying with her parents along with her two small daughters, Ellen, 5, and Ada Jane, 3. Or rather, since both children were born in St. Botolph Parish, it looks as though Daniel and his wife moved to London to live with their widowed daughter. He is identified as "Head" of the household, so they were not just visiting. There are also two servants.

By the time we find Daniel Holt, in the 1861 census, visiting his daughter Emily in London, she has five children: Alban (9), Alice (7), Ida (5), Henry (4), and Mary (1).

We know that Daniel died of apoplexy in mid-1867. In the 1871 census, Charlotte Elizth Holt (head, widow, 73), House Owner and Fund holder, born Springfield, Essex, is living in Springfield Street, Springfield (no house number) with Sarah C. Lestourgeon (daur, widowed, 49), Fund holder, born Lexden, Essex; Ellen Lestourgeon (gd daur, unm, 25) born London and Ada Jane Lestourgeon (gd daur, unm, 23) born London, and an 18-year-old General Servant.

At the 1881 census, the 59-year-old widow Lestourgeon, Fundholder, is living in Lime Cottage, Springfield, Essex, with her unmarried daughters Ellen, 35, born in London, and Ada J., 33, also born in London; as well as a 19-year-old servant.

In the 1891 census, Ellen and Ada Jane are living "on their own means" at Holly House, in the hamlet of Moulsham, Chelmsford, with two servants.

In the 1901 census, Ellen (55) and Ada (53), both unmarried and born in Chelmsford [sic], are living in Aldersgate, London.

Returning to Emily: her husband, Henry Robinson Wadmore, son of James Wadmore, Gentleman, was a "clerk" at the time of his marriage but became a clergyman, because by 1871 he was the vicar of All Souls, Hampstead, where he seems to have remained until he died in 1896. He is in the Clergy List of 1896: this tells us that he was ordained in 1848 (the year of his marriage) and lived in 1896 at 15 Fairfax Road, St John's Wood, London. Emily died sometime in the 1860s: it is unclear why Sarah Murray never mentions her or her sister Anna Elizabeth.

As to Emily's children: Alban became a solicitor, latterly apparently in practice with his father-in-law in Devon; he married Edith Susan Stuart and had a son, John Mello Wadmore, in Kensington in 3Q 1880. We don't know what happened to Henry. Alice and Ida were unmarried and living with their father in 1891, but they are not to be found in the 1901 census, and Mary vanishes after 1881. None of them seems to have married.
3. A sister, Harriett, born approx. 1801, married Edward Auston and died between the censuses of 1841 and 1851, probably 1Q 1845.
The 1841 census shows Edward Auston, 44, Farmer, living in Land Lane, Colchester, in the Parish of St. James, with his wife Harriett, 40, daughter Emily, 12, daughter Hellen[?], 9, Henry, 5, Susannah, 4, and three servants. In subsequent records, Hellen disappears: a Helen Auston is recorded as having died in Colchester in the first quarter of 1850, according to FreeBMD, so presumably this was the one and she died aged about 18.

At the 1851 census, the family is in the same location. Edward, 55, is a widower and is a Farmer of 150 acres, employing 6 men. The family consists of Emily, 22, Henry Felix, 15, Susannah, 13, Jane, 9, and George Edward, 6. There are also two female servants.

The 1871 census shows an Edward Austin [sic], 75, widower, Retired Farmer, living in Land Lane, Colchester, with his unmarried 40-year-old [sic] daughter Emily, and his 26-year-old son George E., a Farmer (of 50 acres). They were all born in Colchester. There is also a 20-year-old servant called Emma W. Austin, born in Colchester. This may be a mistake by the enumerator, or perhaps she was an impoverished relative.

So the Edward Auston family consisted of:
  • Emily, born in about 1829, who when last heard of in the letters was unmarried and caring for her dying father (letter of 9 July 1869), though as seen above, he was still alive in 1871. In the 1881 census there is an Emily Austin (unmarried 50), Annuitant, born Colchester, to be found visiting in Wellington, Shropshire. Her age would be consistent both with the previous census and with the story of Edward Parkes (see sister Jane below). In the 1891 census, Emily is 60 years old, still unmarried, and is boarding with the widow Harriett Auston, 83, at The Cottage in the Parish of Great Bentley, east of Colchester. The two ladies are "living on their means" and have two servants. [One presumes Harriett Auston to be the widow of an unnamed uncle of Emily's - odd that she should have the same name as Emily's late mother.] In the 1901 census, there is an unmarried Emily Auston (72) born Colchester, living in Colchester. (For most of her life she seems to have shaved at least a couple of years off her age!)
  • Hellen, or Helen, b. approx. 1832 d. probably 1850.
  • Henry Felix Austen [sic] who, in the 1871 census, (head, unmarried, 34), Farmer of 110 acres employing 4 men and 2 boys, was living alone in Old Heath, just south of Colchester, at an address described as 'Donyland Road known as Austen's Farm'. [There is no Austen's Farm on the Old Maps map of Old Heath, which dates from the 1880s, but Battleswick Farm, where HFA was in 1881, does appear to be on (or just off) Donyland Road, so it's probably the same place.]
    Henry F. Auston, 44, is again found in the 1881 census with a new spelling, being a Farmer with 120 acres employing 5 labourers and a boy, born (ca. 1836/7) Colchester, Essex, living alone at Battleswick Farm, Old Heath, Colchester St Giles, Essex. He is still there (but now "Austin"!) in the 1891 census, at the age of 53, still unmarried and living with a family of servants.
  • Susannah, who married a first cousin called Hollyday and migrated to Australia where he worked in a chemist shop in Sydney. The last news we have of them is that they had five sons and one daughter (letter of 9 July 1869).
  • Jane (b. ca. 1842 in Colchester), the "youngest daughter", who in March 1866 married Edward Parkes (b. ca. 1825 in Colchester), a successful "Merchant". In the 1871 census, 46-year-old Edward Parkes, Retired Grocer, and his 29-year-old wife Jane are living with one servant in East St., Colchester St. James, Essex. The 17-year age difference is the reason Jane's eldest sister was expecting Edward to propose to her instead (letter of 10 Dec 1865). They do not seem to have any children, unless they were away at school.
    In the 1881 census, the couple (now 56 and 39 years old) are still living in East St. They have a servant and a visitor - who appears to be Edward's 62-year-old sister Emma Parkes, born in Bishops Stortford, Hertford. There is still no sign of any children.
  • George Edward, b. ca. 1845 in Colchester, who had been in ship insurance and had then turned to farming, according to Sarah Murray. After his father's death, he hoped to join his sister in Australia, but instead married a certain Emily Balls (b. Bradfield, Essex, 1852) in Hackney Rd (3Q 1876) and produced numbers of children. The 1881 census shows him at 124 Park Rd. W, Brighton, as a "retired farmer" of 36, with wife Emily, 29; Susanna, 4, b. Colchester; Edward, 2, b. Colchester; George, 1, b. Boreham, Essex; John, 3 months, b. Broadwater, Sussex; plus a servant. In the 1891 census, 45-year-old George E. Auston, again a Farmer, resides at the Farm House, (Harwich Rd.?), in the Parish of St. James, Colchester, with his wife Emily, 39, daughter Susanna (14), and sons Edward (12), George (11, b. Boreham, Essex), John (10, b. Broadwater, Sussex), Charles (7) and Arthur (6). The family appears in the 1901 census in Colchester. George is a farmer; George Jr. is a "farmer's son"; Arthur, 16, is a Chemist's apprentice and Charles, 16, is a Builder's Apprentice - they were both born in Colchester. Susanna is at home, but Edward and John are missing.
4. One younger sister, Jane (b. in Lexden 1803/4), married Owen Hopwood (the "Uncle Hopwood" of all the letters) at St Luke's, Chelsea on 13 May 1827. He was originally a hosier of Exeter St., then became an umbrella manufacturer. The family lived for many years at 195 Sloane St., Chelsea.
They had four daughters in addition to two children who died in infancy: Harriet H. (b. 23 Feb 1833); Emma J. (b. 1834/5) whom Anne Evans judged consumptive (letter of Sep 1867); Mary (b. 1838/9); and Ellen (b. 1841/2). All four daughters worked with their father in an umbrella-making business and, so far as we know, none of them ever married.

In the 1851 census, the family is already at 195 Sloane Street, Chelsea: Owen Hopgood (head, 46), born Ickleton, Cambridgeshire, is a "dealer in umbrellas etc.", employing one boy. His wife Jane Hopwood (wife, 47) was born Lexden, Essex. Daughters Harriet H. Hopwood (18, scholar), Emma J. (16), Mary (12) and Ellen (9) were all born in Chelsea, Middlesex. There is one female servant and an 18-year-old "Light Porter", who must be the employed "boy". (Presumably, he delivered "umbrellas etc.")

The 1871 census (which is consistent with the 1851 and 1861 censuses) shows the family still at 195 Sloane Street, Chelsea, with a 38-year-old widow as servant. The neighbours are a ladies' outfitter on one side and a silversmith and pawnbroker on the other.

All the daughters were unmarried as late as the 1881 census, when they are all to be found living in Chelsea with their widowed mother.

In the 1891 census, Harriett H., 58, Umbrella Maker and Boot Retailer, is still living in Chelsea with her sisters, Emma J., 56, and Mary, 52, who are described as "working partners". Sister Ellen, 49, is described as a "sleeping partner" and housekeper. There is also a servant.

In the 1901 census Mary and Ellen, both retired, are still living in Chelsea. Harriet and Emma may have died.
5. From a letter of Sarah's of 18 June 1868, it appears that a brother John had gone to America, as an uncle John Holt (or probably Edward Holt: see letter of 8 May 1868) had done soon after the marriage of Sarah's parents. (In a letter of 19 May 1889 to a niece, Anne Evans declares that "Great-Grandfather Holt's brother went to America & was never heard of again. There was money wanting an heir advertised some years ago, but we had no means of proving title to it.")

The following table summarizes this information.

Born Married Died Notes
Sarah 6 Oct 1794
Lexden, Essex
James Thurtell[-Murray] 10 May 1889
Stroud, Glos.
The author's great-great-great-grandparents. See link on James Thurtell.
Daniel c. 1796 in Colchester, Essex Charlotte Elizabeth Peacock c. 1798-1845 in Putney 7 Nov 1820
3 surviving daughters:
Sarah Caroline m. F.E. Lestourgeon: 2 daughters, Ellen and Ada Jane.
Emily b. 1824 m. 1848 H.R. Wadmore: five children.
Anna Elizabeth b. 1826 m. 1849 J.F. Wadmore (brother of above)
1867 of apoplexy Another daughter of Daniel and Charlotte's, Julia, b. 1834, disappears from view.
Harriett Colchester, c. 1801 Edward Auston, Farmer of Colchester
Children included:
Emily b. 1829, unmarried
Henry Felix b. 1836, farmer, unmarried
Susannah b. 1838 m. Hollyday, migrated to Sydney
Jane b. 1842 m. Parkes
George Edward b. 1845, farmer, m. Emily Balls; 6 children
Between 1841 and 1851 -
Jane 1803/4 in Lexden 13 May 1827 in Chelsea
Owen Hopwood, Umbrella manufacturer
d. 1Q 1880, aged 75;
4 daughters reached adulthood:
Victoria Susanna Jane, b. 28 June 1829 - d. of whooping cough aged 10 mths, bur. 4 Apr 1830
Harriet Hales b. 23 Feb 1833
Francis Owen d. of convulsions aged 5 mths, bur. 18 Mar 1836
Emma Jane bap. 28 May 1854
Mary bap. 28 May 1854
Ellen bap. 28 May 1854
1Q 1887, aged 83 Family lived for many years at 195 Sloane St., Chelsea. Harriet, Emma, Mary and Ellen carried on the umbrella business.
John - - - Went to America

The Essex Records Office has the 1790 will of a Sarah Holt, widow, who appears to be our Sarah Holt's grandmother. In it, Sarah left £150 to each of her sons John and Edward and £250 to her daughter Elizabeth, all to be paid when they reached the age of 25, and everything else to her son Daniel, who was one of her executors. She was a widow of Lexden and the will is dated 27 February 1790, shortly before Sarah's death, as the will was proved on 27 May of that same year.

On the basis of what we know at present, Sarah's parents were probably the Daniel Holt of the 1790 will and X (Fanny perhaps?), daughter of John Gurden of Assington (who was not a clergyman), and the Sarah who made the will was "our" Sarah's grandmother. Edward Holt was the man who went to America, and John was the one they thought might have gone to America (but apparently didn't).

The Lion Walk Meeting House, Colchester also records the baptisms of:
  • Jane Holt born 8 April 1822, baptised 4 August 1823, daughter of George P. and Charlotte E. Holt
  • Mary Holt born 13 May 1823, baptised 4 August 1823, daughter of George P. and Charlotte E. Holt.
Jane & Mary were the daughters of Dr George Palmer Holt and Charlotte Elizabeth Warton (sister of Charles Warton).

Their grandfather, Dr William Holt, surgeon, of Tottenham, was born c. 1761 and died Oct 1835, having made a Will 30 Dec 1833. He married Sarah Rose (b. 18 Mar 1763 d. 15 Apr 1811) on 21 May 1779 in Walthamstowe, Essex. William was married a second time to a Jane Cock.

Their son, Dr George Palmer Holt (b. c. 1788 d. 20 Nov 1831 in Kingsland, Hackney, Mddx), also a surgeon (and father of Jane and Mary above) m. Charlotte Elizabeth Warton (daughter of Matthew Warton and Ann Maria Gardner, chr. 25 Dec 1794 in St Dunstan, Stepney) on 3 Feb 1814 in All Hallows, Tottenham, London. His Will with 2 Codicils, which was proved in London 11 Jan 1832, mentions not only Jane and Mary but their older siblings Charlotte and George as well. Charlotte Elizabeth Warton was married a second time, to a certain John Simpson. She d. in Dec 1865 in Lambeth.

How these Holts may be linked to the Daniel Holt family remains to be determined.

Another event involving the family in some undetermined manner was a case of murder:
The Ipswich Journal of Saturday 22 March 1823 records as follows -
Mysterious Charge of Murder.- On Friday, Charles Williams, about 53 years of age, was indicted for the wilful murder of Daniel Holt, of Colchester, in the year 1787, by striking him on the head with an iron crow-bar. This case excited considerable interest, involving as it did an inquiry into the mysterious death of a respectable miller, after a lapse of 35 years.
This cannot be Sarah's father, as she was born in 1794, some seven years after the murder. It must however have been a relative of some sort. The accused was acquitted.