Tuesday 28 April 2015

Finding Uncle Will in 1881

For some time, I could not locate the whereabouts of my Great-granduncle William John SHEPHEARD in 1881. He did not appear to be on any census list for that period, at least in the areas he grew up. He did surface in August of that year when he married Jane PAWLEY in London. It was just a small hole in my family history but one that proved to be quite illuminating when I finally filled it.

Why was he important? Well, he and his wife basically raised my grandfather, James Pearson SHEPHEARD, after his mother died seven months after his birth. Grandpa SHEPHEARD’s father, James SHEPHEARD, spent much of his time away, as a ship’s steward and was not around to take care of his son. It kind of fell, I think, to “Uncle Will”, as Grandpa called him, to step in and help out. He and Jane had no children and they had a stable life owning and operating a dairy business in Torquay, Devon where my grandfather had been born. So I wanted to learn a bit more about this man.
Left to right: brothers, John, William John and James SHEPHEARD’ photo taken in Taunton, Somerset about 1900
In 1871, at age 15, he was still living at home with his parents, on New Road, Ivybridge, Devon.  On Plymouth Road nearby lived Jane PAWLEY, a servant to Agness LIDDELL. By 1891, Will and Jane were married and living at 8a Cromwell Mews, Kensington in London. That address was the one he gave when he married. Jane lived at 14 Wyndham Place, Marylebone, London, some 2.3 miles away, across Kensington Gardens. It is not likely they were able to visit each other very often, so they must have kept in contact in other ways from the time they both left Devon – sometime in the 1870s.
1871 England Census – Family of John and Mary SHEPHEARD, living at New Road in Ivybridge, Devon
1891 England Census – William J. & Jane SHEPHEARD, living at 8a Cromwell Mews in Kensington, London
1881 marriage record for William John SHEPHEARD, of 8a Cromwell Mews, Kensington, & Jane PAWLEY, of 14 Wyndham Place, Marylebone (certificate obtained from General Record Office)

I searched for Uncle Will on both Ancestry and FamilySearch, under several different spellings. A William SHEPHARD, age 25, was shown on the 1881 census index, apparently living with an Eli CROSS at Brook House in Westbury in Wiltshire with a number of other people. When I opened that particular census page image, however, it showed only Eli and four other people by the name of BENNETT. The household list, though, had a number of other people including many members of a LOPES family. That did not make any sense and every link to a Lopes family member, or separate search on the Ancestry website ended up at the same Eli CROSS page. (That was five years ago. The links and searches still take you to that page now in 2015!)
So I did what was logical and went directly to the 1881 Wiltshire District 9 census and began browsing through the census pages. On the very first page I found the Lopes' family, with their servants, including one William SHEPHEARD, a groom. On the Ancestry transcription, William's surname was spelled SHEPHARD, an obvious error from what was actually recorded by the enumerator. On this page, only the LOPES children were recorded at the top of the page, with no parents listed. I thought, with the mix-up in sources that there might also be a missing preceding page with the parents’ names, but everything seemed to be in order when I went backward in browsing. I decided to try to find the family in other census records of 1891, 1871 and 1861.

I did find them all at last.To my surprise, in 1881 the parents, Henry and Cordelia LOPES, appeared to be living at their London city home in Cromwell Place while the children were at home in Wiltshire. Henry was at that time “One of HM’s Judges”. The family was also split in 1871, with the mother (shown as Lucy LOPES) and children at Cromwell Place, and the father staying in a hotel in Bristol with several other lawyers. Henry must have been on business at the time. In 1891 they were all back in Wiltshire and he was by then a "Lord Justice of Appeal". Henry Charles LOPES, later the first Baron Ludlow, was quite an interesting and influential individual. I’ll have more to say about him and his family is a subsequent blog post.
1881 England Census – William Shepheard living at Heywood House in Westbury, Wiltshire with LOPES family members
It appears that William John SHEPHEARD moved to Wiltshire prior to 1881 to be the LOPES' groom and then likely was assigned to the London House in 1881 as a coachman. He may well have been working for the family when he and Jane got married as they continued to live at Cromwell Mews. If you go to a Google Map and look at the aerial photos you will see that the Mews is in back of (stables area?) of the large homes on Cromwell Place. The Street View gives you a great look at the actual buildings, now converted, of course, to private residences.
1881 England Census – Henry and Cordelia LOPES living in at 8 Cromwell Place in Kensington, London
By 1901, of course, William John and Jane were back in Torquay, running the Shepheard family dairy for Uncle Will’s ailing father, John SHEPHEARD.
1901 England Census – William J. & Jane SHEPHEARD living at 42 Princes Road in Torquay, Devon
Judge Henry C. LOPES was actually born in Devonport and his wife, Cordelia in Egg Buckland parish, both in Devon. I am now curious about whether they had any connection with the SHEPHEARDs in Devon and will check that out if I can.
Did Uncle Will drive Judge LOPES around London in a carriage such as this one, a Town Coach, or closed carriage (photo downloaded from La Deetda Reads)

All census images downloaded from Ancestry; copyright held by The Nationals Archives. Wayne Shepheard is a volunteer with the Online Parish Clerk program in England, handling four parishes in Devon, England. He has published a number of articles about various aspects of genealogy and is a past Editor of Chinook, the quarterly journal of the Alberta Family Histories Society. Wayne also provides genealogical consulting services through his business, Family History Facilitated