What about Harriet?

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June 15, 2013 by auntkatefirmin

City Basin of the Regent's Canal about 1828 by Shepherd.

City Basin of the Regent’s Canal about 1828
after Thomas Hosmer Shepherd.
John’s Row is past the bridge (City Road). The spire of St. Luke’s can be seen in the background.
© The Trustees of the British Museum

Recently I mentioned Thomas Hall briefly in connection with the Boyes family.  Thomas and his wife Harriet were the great-grandparents of the American Kate Maud Firmin.  Thomas’ daughter Emily Hall married George Firmin, the son of John Firmin the carman.  George and Emily were the English grandparents who died before Aunt Kate was born.

But who is Harriet?  Where did she come from, and how and where did she meet Thomas Hall?

Facts:

1817:  Thomas and Harriet were in London by 1817 when Dorothy Sylvester Hall was baptized on 28 Dec 1817 at St Marylebone.

1817-1837:  The couple named their children Dorothy, Ann, Emily, Harriet & William.  The four youngest were baptized in July 1837 and the family was living in John’s Row (see below) at the time.  The children were baptised at St. Luke’s Shoreditch but the family resided in the parish of St. Luke.

John's Row on 1828 map.

John’s Row, St Luke’s and City Basin from the Greenwood map of 1828, showing the viewpoint of the engraving above.
Map from mapco.com

1837-1841:  Harriet & Thomas appear together in the 1841 census.  They are living in the City Road district in John’s Row.  This is modern Lever Street.  Thomas & Harriet are both “45” but the ages in this census are rounded to the closest 5 year mark.  Either Thomas “fibbed,” or someone else gave an incorrect age as he was at least 51.  Neither was born in Middlesex (assuming this is accurate); all the children Ann (20), “Emmily” (15), and Harriet (7), were born in Middlesex.  Dorothy is married and on her own and William is missing. Thomas is a Cow Keeper.  Dorothy Hall was living at #8 John’s Row in 1839 when she married so it’s reasonable to suppose the family is still at #8 in 1841 as the number of dwellings suitable for a cow keeper would be limited.

1851:  Thomas (age 61) is a widower, living with his unmarried daughter Harriet (18).  He is a carman, born in Barby, Northamptonshire, living at 5 Orchard in St. John Wapping.  Despite the age discrepancy, we know this is Thomas.  Not only is the information about Harriet correct, but in 1861 Thomas Hall of Barby will be found in the household of his daughter, Emily Firmin. While there are many Thomas Halls, we have enough details to be certain we’re on the right track.

In an interesting side-note –  Emily’s brother-in-law, John Firmin, lived in Orchard Street (a very short street) ten years earlier, in 1841, and worked as a carman.

Conclusions:

Harriet died between 1841 and 1851.  She was born no later than 1799 (if she was at least age 18 when Dorothy was born).  Assuming that she was not much older than Thomas she was probably not born before 1790; if she was born in 1790, she was 45 when William was born so closer to 1795 is more likely.  Therefore, she was between 42 and 61 when she died.  Until other evidence turns up, I’ll assume she died in the greater London area.

Harriet could have been a Londoner who married Thomas in London (if the 1841 census is incorrect) or from a village near Barby.  Harriet & Thomas probably married between 1808 and 1817, and more likely after 1813.

Dorothy is an unusual name and may provide a clue at some point.  The surname Sylvester may be another clue.

Harriet’s death:

If we search for Harriet’s death, we have a pretty good set of records so that there’s a reasonable chance of finding a good match.  The most likely Harriet Hall (based on age at death) in the London, England, Deaths and Burials, 1813-1980 index at ancestry is Harriet Hall, age 51, who was buried 4 Aug 1847, at St. Giles without Cripplegate.  This is less than a mile south of John’s Row and she would have been 21 when Dorothy was born.  This woman was living in Paul’s Alley and was well-to-do as a total of -/15/4 was spent on her burial, including money for the bells to be rung.  Surprisingly (to me) cow keepers as a group are quite affluent for tradesmen and Thomas may well have been able to afford this.  There is no easy way to locate Paul’s Alley on a contemporary map, it was quite close to St. Giles, to the north.  (This is not Harriet Hall, wife of Thomas Hall the barrister, as she was alive in 1851.)

The next most probable Harriet is Mary Ann Harriet Hall who was buried 29 September 1850 from Castle Street at age 62.  If her age was over-estimated by the person who reported it, then she is a good possibility.  Otherwise, she was 47 when William was born which is possible but seems unlikely.  The parish of Finsbury, St Luke, is the parish for John’s Row; I have not yet located Castle Street.

There are perhaps a dozen other women listed in the civil registration (FreeBMD) index.  However, since the ages aren’t included it’s harder to narrow down the possibilities and I haven’t tried to identify all these women.

Marriage possibilities for Harriet and Thomas:

The only London match in the1808-1818 period is Harriet Bezley, married in Hounslow in 1813.  Unfortunately, the church of New Brentford, St Lawrence, is eleven miles west of St Marylebone where Harriet & Thomas are found four years later in 1817.  It’s a possibility but not a strong match for other locations for the family, and it assumes that Thomas was in London by age 23.  Perhaps a little more digging will turn up enough traces of other couples named Thomas and Harriet to clear this up.

The Northamptonshire marriage transcriptions have less online search availability so there’s more work to be done offline.

Bottom Line:

There’s a good chance that “our” Harriet is the woman who died in Cripplegate in 1847.  Finding her baptism and marriage may take a bit more work.  I’m leaning towards the conclusion that she came to London with Thomas from Barby or nearby.

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