Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Names and Newspapers

James Buss and his wife Ann Hill are ancestors who have always intrigued me because of the names they gave their children:
Ann Sarah
James Joseph
Letitia Maria
Ethelbert John (also my ancestor)
Edmund Francis
John Gowing
Elfrida Mary
Charles Alexander
Henry Gustavus
Thomas Sargent
James and Anne were married 3 February 1793, St Botolphs Aldersgate, in London.  Their first child was born about a year later.  Their youngest child was born about 1820.  During this time period in England, middle names were not particularly common; nor were the Germanic names that became popular after Queen Victoria married Prince Albert.  As yet, I have no idea why James and Ann chose these names.
James Buss was born around 1770, possibly in London or Kent.  Buss, generally a rare name, seems to be more common in Kent.
Apart from his marriage, the earliest record of James I have comes from the Sun Fire Office Insurance Company.  On 23 Mar 1794 James Buss, 28 Shoemaker Row, Blackfriars, Gent is listed as insured and William Hill, possibly a relative of Ann’s, was also listed as an occupant.
12 Jul 1794, the Sun Fire Office lists James Buss, of 20 Cock Hill Ratcliffe [in London], chemist and druggist.  On 23 July 1794, a devastating fire swept through this area after apparently blowing up a barge laden with saltpetre.  Over 450 houses were destroyed in a couple of hours.  It was the worst fire in London since the Great Fire of 1666.
By 8 August 1794, the Sun Fire Office records list James Buss 90 Upper Shadwell, Chemist & Druggist, so James had managed to keep in business.
James appears to have moved back to Cock Hill once it the area once was rebuilt.  The London Gazette records that a partnership between James Buss and Joseph Crawshaw of Cock Hill, Ratcliffe, Chemist and Druggist, was dissolved 13 June 1796.
In 1797, James Buss appeared in the Old Bailey as a witness after some sal-ammonic was allegedly stolen from his shop.  The accused were found not guilty.
Sometime before 1799, James Buss and his family moved to Bury-St-Edmunds, Suffolk.  The London Gazette records a partnership between James Watt and James Buss of Bury, Chemist and Druggist, Buss & Co, was dissolved by mutual consent, 30 Mar 1799.
Over the time to around 1806, numerous advertisements appear in local Suffolk newspapers for various products sold by James Buss, Chemist and Druggist.  Over this period, various Buss children were baptised in Bury-St-Edmunds.  Most of them were, unusually, baptised a few years after they were born and they weren’t baptised in birth order either.
An 1811 Directory lists James Buss, Chemist & Druggist in Newmarket.
By 1814, James Buss and his family were back in London, where Henry Gustavus Buss was baptised, living in Goswell Street.
The London Gazette sadly catches up with James again in 1826.  On 30 March that year, a list of Insolvencies declared at Maidstone Court House lists James Buss, formerly of Maiden-Lane Cheapside London, afterwards of Wateringbury, since of West Malling and later of Wrotham, Kent, Chemist and Druggist.
Ann Buss nee Hill died in September 1827 and was buried in Wrotham.
The 1841 census lists James Buss, labourer, as living in the Malling Union Workhouse, suggesting he was ill or had fallen on hard times.
James Buss died in December 1845 and was also buried in Wrotham, Kent.
I have found other records of James Buss living in London, but they don’t add anything of note to the information above.  It is nice to find an ancestor who is this well documented even if the news is not always happy.
I hope to find about his origins and perhaps, one day, some clue as to why some of his children were given somewhat exotic names.

NOTE on lineage (added 30 Aug 2014): Me > Dad > John Edward Blake > Alice Mary Elliston > George Elliston > Elfrida Mary Buss > Ethelbert John Buss > James Buss

Friday, 22 August 2014

A bird and a B

My plan is to write a short biography of one of my ancestors on a regular basis.  My first subject is a man by the name of Henry Sparrow Briggs.  He was one of the first ancestors I discovered when I started investigating my family history when I was in my teens.  I was intrigued by his avian middle name.

Henry Sparrow Briggs was born in London about 1798 and appears to have had a twin brother, Charles Mumford Briggs.  They were both baptised in the parish church of St Sepulchre on 1st February 1798.  As Charles was listed first, my guess is that he was older.  They were the younger sons of Jehu Briggs, who merits his own story, and Susan (or Susanna) Mumford.

As you can see, Charles was named for his mother.  So where did Henry’s “Sparrow” come from?  Susan Mumford was the daughter of Robert Mumford and Ann Sparrow.

The Briggs family lived in St John Street where the Smithfield Markets are now located.  Jehu Briggs had a Pawnbroker’s shop there.

I don’t know anything about Henry’s early life, yet.

Henry may have arrived in Sydney, Australia, in May 1823 on the “Andromeda”, although that could have been a different Mr Briggs.

I next have a definite record of Henry Sparrow Briggs writing a letter in 1824, describing himself to the Governor of New South Wales as having been some years an officer in the East India Company Naval Service.  Later reports say he was a Captain.  Henry was asking permission to settle in Australia to be given a land grant, as the severity of the climate in India had impaired his health.  He was given a grant on 800 acres on 15 December 1824.

I haven’t yet found any records of Henry’s time in India.

Henry Sparrow Briggs married Eliza Rowley on 28 August 1826, at St John’s Church, Paramatta.  Eliza was born in Australia and her parents deserve their own stories.  Henry and Eliza had ten children.

Henry had land at Wollombi on the Hunter River, NSW, and some of his children were born there, including my ancestor Frederick Henderson Briggs.  Life doesn’t appear to have been easy, as Henry was involved in insolvency proceedings during the 1840’s, documented in multiple editions of the Sydney Morning Herald.

At some point, Henry and his family moved to his wife’s family property at Newtown in Sydney, where there is still a Rowley Street.  He died there in 1866.  Henry Sparrow Briggs is now buried in the Rowley & Briggs family tomb in Waverly Cemetery.

His name was passed down through the family, so he must have made quite an impression on his children and grandchildren.

I am still searching for more information about his early life and his time in India.

NOTE on lineage (added 30 Aug 2014): Me > Mum > Daphne Madge Smith > Esther Ilma Lees > Fanny Sarah Eliza Briggs > Frederick Henderson Briggs > Henry Sparrow Briggs