great-grandparents, Thomas and Mary (Smith) Pearson, moved to Leamington Spa,
Warwickshire, sometime before 1851. They are shown on the 1851 census living on
Leam Terrace East in Leamington, running the Railway Tavern. They likely
would have lived upstairs in the same building. In 1841 there were still in Tile
Cross, Sheldon parish, Warwickshire, running a pub there called the White
Thomas was a victualer for much of
his adult life. He is shown on government records from 1823 through 1828
leasing and operating the White Hart. That tavern was built in the 17th
century and is still going. The 1829 baptism entry for his son records his
occupation as a victualer in Tile Cross.
At the time of their move to
Leamington Spa, the town appears to have been going through a major
development. Thomas and Mary probably thought there was an opportunity for
improving their lives through relocation. As one follows the census records it
is apparent the residents of Leam Terrace, and presumably the whole of
Leamington Spa, grew in number from 1851 through 1911. They also aged.
Until recently, I thought I knew
the location of the home they occupied in Leamington for many decades, but I
was never entirely certain. A photo of their home in Leamington gave me a
strong clue but until now I had not fully confirmed where it was located.
I am not sure how long Thomas
operated the tavern in Leamington Spa. By 1861 he was working as a baker. One
may presume that business was at the location across the street from the pub,
now called the New Inn, however the census does not record building
numbers. In 1871, widow Mary Pearson was recorded as a baker as was her son,
Charles. While maintaining different residences, they may still have been
working together in the same shop.
In many documents produced during
the 1880s for both Thomas and Charles, their prime residence was at #58 Leam
Terrace East. So, what could be simpler than looking up the address? Well, lots
as it turns out. The early censuses did not record building numbers. The later
ones had entirely different numbers. And those of today are different again.
The exterior of many houses has also changed over time.
To sort out the neigbourhood, I had
to look through the lists noting street intersections, large versus small
residences, unique terrace names and backstreet enclaves. I matched up names of
neighbours, to get an idea of who lived where for long periods of time in the
I few landmarks, such as the New
Inn, which appears to be the name of the what was the Railway Tavern,
helped me identify building numbers over the latter part of the 19th
century and early part of the 20th. The old Pearson residence at #58
Leam Terrace East is now #166 Leam Terrace. There is no “East” designation
anymore. The last renumbering appears to have taken place between 1901 and 1911.
Eventually Charles took over the bakery
business. He had taken his wife and first child to Australia in 1853, at the
start of the gold rush in the State of Victoria. They had four children while
living down under and lost two, including the daughter that had accompanied
them. On board the ship on their way home in 1861 another child was born. Back
in Leamington they had four more, one them my great-grandmother, Mary
I believe Charles was actually
asked to come home by his mother after the death of his father, Thomas, who
died in August 1861. He was their only child and she would have needed his help
and support. Charles and his family were on their way back to England in
December. Upon their arrival they moved into one of the properties owned by
Thomas and Mary, called the Pearson Buildings or Cottages.
On the 1881 census, Mary Pearson,
by then a widow, was living at #60 Leam Terrace East (now #168) and shown as a
coal dealer. By the time of her death in 1884 she had moved back next door to
the familiar #58. The 1871 census records Mary at #12, indicating that the
houses were re-numbered prior to 1881. It was likely after 1876 as the Kelly’s
Directory for that year showed her operating out of #12. Curiously on the 1881
census, an Elizabeth Rowlands is shown living at #58 and indicated to be a
“baker’s wife.” Earlier censuses, however, showed her as a widow. It is
probably that she was running the bakery for Mary Pearson, by then aged 85.
Mary died on 6 November 1884, after
which Charles and Susannah, his wife, moved into #58. They resided there until
their deaths, his in 1892 and hers in 1895.
Luckily, for me at least, most of
the buildings that were there in the 1880s, are still standing so I was able to
compare an old photo with the modern Google Street View. Old ordnance maps of
the town proved very useful in illustrating the buildings present in the mid
1800s that could then be compared with current street plans.
So, why is this all important.
Well, my grandfather, James Pearson Shepheard, lived with his grandparents, Charles
and Susannah, after the death of his mother, Mary Elizabeth (Pearson)
Shepheard, in 1891, until he was about five years old. He was only six months
old when Mary died of phthisis. His grandmother was with him and his mother
when he was born and likely looked after both when Mary fell ill. Their
residence was above the bakery, then operated by George Boswell who lived in
#60. Boswell operated the bakery until his death in 1911. Grandpa Jimmy went to
live with an uncle in Torquay, Devon, after the death of Susannah in 1896.
The photo of how the building
looked was sent to my grandfather by his aunt, one of his mother’s sisters. On
the back she wrote “Our old home the house you lived at until you was 5
years old. I had made new shop double fronts.” The photo accompanied a
letter dated 1944 and the building pictured is numbered 166 and would therefore
have been taken some time in the decades prior.
With a combination of photos, census
records and other documents, I am confident I have been able to confirm the
location of the Pearson home and the other properties they owned nearby.
photo of bakery at #166 Leam Terrace East around 1940; right: the unit as it
looks today; anchors where the sign was attached can still be seen in the
ordnance map from 1885 showing Leam Terrace East; right: map from Google maps
showing buildings present today; buildings highlighted indicate properties
owned by Pearson family