Thursday, 8 January 2015

An Unusual Name

Many years ago, when I first discovered my ancestors Ethelbert John Buss and his daughter Elfrida Mary Buss, I was very surprised by their unusual names.
Ethelbert John Buss was born in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, the son of James Buss and Anne Hill, on 15 January 1802.  Unlike most of his siblings, Ethelbert John was baptised as an infant, in August 1802, in Bury.
When he was about 10 years old, Ethelbert John’s family returned to London.  His parents had moved from London to Suffolk around 1800.
While Ethelbert John Buss should be quite a unique name to research, it seems that Ethelbert used his middle name and he appears in some records as John Buss.  Ethelbert had a brother John (John Gowing Buss), so I wonder if this caused any confusion in the family?  Another layer of confusion is that Buss is often miss-transcribed, often appearing in indexes as Bass, but also with other misspellings.
By trade, Ethelbert John was a bookbinder. I have not found him in lists of bookbinders from the 19th Century so I assume he worked for someone else.  The 1841 census says J bookbinder (I think), so my guess is that he was a journeyman rather than a master.  One possibility that needs further investigation is whether he worked for George Buss, who was a bookbinder in London at the right time.  I don’t know of a connection but the shared surname is intriguing and Buss is not a common surname.
At the age of twenty, Ethelbert married a young widow, Elizabeth Austin Hart nee Bell (aged about 22).  They were married on 3 July 1822, in Christ Church, Southwark, which was destroyed in the Blitz in 1941.
Elizabeth had a son from her first marriage.  Ethelbert John and Elizabeth had at least seven more children.  Like his father, Ethelbert was somewhat slack when it came to baptising his children.  Ethelbert also followed his father’s approach to naming children and went for the unusual, including another Ethelbert John, Letitia, Charlotte Mathilda and Clara Julia.
The family lived in the East End of London around Bishopsgate.  In 1851, they lived at 27 Skinner Street, just across a park from the London Metropolitan Archives; convenient for a family history visit.
Ethelbert John did not live to an advanced age, dying in July 1857.  He was buried in Victoria Park Cemetery, which is now Meath Gardens, a park in Tower Hamlets, London; another place to add to my family history visit list.

Note on Lineage: Me > Dad > John Edward Blake > Alice Mary Elliston > George Elliston > Elfrida Mary Buss > Ethelbert John Buss