Friday, 2 March 2012

The case of the missing butler: Richard Ferdinand Glanville, 1820-1886

I dabble in genealogy in my spare time: mostly, so far, my own family. Last year, however, I spent several months on the trail of someone else's family, and I uncovered a (to me) shocking, but it seems not unusual, story.

My elderly cousin had found a crumpled old copy of his father's birth certificate, and realised that he knew nothing about his father's antecedents: his father's father had died very young, and the mother changed the child's name to that of her second husband. As an adult he reverted to his birth name, but other than the name nothing was known. As it wasn't my own family I didn't go down the path of buying certificates and verifying things, but went along to my local public library and made use of the databases such as and Findmypast which can be searched there free using the CyMAL-funded subscription. I found a lot of information which my cousin's family can build on if they wish, in particular the story of their direct ancestor, Richard Glanville. Finding the website of Jay Glanville who has made a one-name study of the Glanvilles was a help, too (he is prepared to give Richard the benefit of the doubt a little more than I am, but essentially we have come to the same conclusions about his life).

Richard’s history is a complicated one, but thanks to modern technology it is a now little easier to trace someone’s progress than it must have been at the time! Even so it took quite a while to work out.

Richard was one of the younger children of John Glanville, carpenter, of Ewelme, Oxon., and his wife Mary. The middle name Ferdinand is unusual (and a help in identifying him, although he seems to have dropped it in mid-life). It occurs again later in the family.

Richard Ferdinand Glanville was born on 31st Jan. 1820 and baptised at Ewelme on 16th. April. I have not found him on the 1841 census, but he was in London by the mid 1840s. In 1844 and 1845 he seems to have been very busy indeed: on 16th October 1844 a child, also Richard Glanville, "illegitimate", was born in the workhouse at St. George's, Southwark. The mother was Margaret Nott and the father Richard Glanville, porter, of Wellclose Square. The baby was baptised on 8th November. Given the subsequent history, I am inclined to think that the father is Richard from Ewelme. Wellclose Square is in the East End, near Cable Street. This could be someone else: no other records place Richard Ferdinand there (but we do know that he made his way a bit further north to Hackney). I include it as a possibility.

A few months later, on 12th February 1845, a child, Wilfred, was born to Elizabeth Pier; on 11th May, the banns of marriage between Richard Ferdinand Glanville, servant, “of this parish”, and Elizabeth Pier of the parish of Hackney St. John are recorded at St. Mary’s, Lambeth, Surrey. On 27th July, the following baptism took place at Hackney St. John: Baptismal names: Wilfred Glanville; Parents: Richard Ferdinand and Elizabeth; Surname: Peir. Richard's address is given as Margaret Street, occupation servant; the child was "reported born 12th Feb. 1845". (This baptism is of course indexed as Peir). One week later, the marriage took place on 4th August 1845 at St. Mary’s Lambeth, Surrey, between Richard Ferdinand Glanville, servant, Mount Street, “of this parish”, and Elizabeth Pier, of Hackney St. John. Richard's father is named as John Glanville, carpenter. I am not convinced that Richard actually lived in the parish at all. I am not sure whether Margaret Street is the one in Hackney or the one in the West End, and the only Mount Street I am aware of is the one in Mayfair.

Richard certainly did work in the West End as well as his appearances further south and east. In fact, three weeks after the wedding, on 26th August 1845 at St. Marylebone workhouse, another child called Richard Glanville was born. His mother was Lydia Fagg, father Richard Glanville, butler (no address given). This child was baptised on 15th September. I am sure that this is the same Richard the butler fathering another child:  his occupation is subsequently given as “butler” on a number of occasions and he is the only one found so far in the one-name study of the Glanvilles.

Possibly, therefore, Richard was the father of three children by three different women born over a ten-month period, two of them in the workhouse, and even if the first was not his, he had at least two women expecting his children at the same time.

Richard and Elizabeth went on to have two more children, the last in 1850, but by the time of the 1851 census Richard was not at home. Elizabeth is found alone, "married", in Arthur Street, Hackney, with her three small children; Richard appears in his place of employment instead:

6 Ulster Terrace, Marylebone (The household of Catherine Parkman):
Richard Glanville, m, unm, 31, house servant. Place of birth: Ewelme, Oxon.

When I found this I originally thought that perhaps he had simply told his employer that he was unmarried because it might be politic to keep the existence of a wife and three children in the East End to oneself (in order to get a living-in job). However, on the 1851 census there is also:
Richard Glanville, m., widower, 31, carpenter. Place of birth: Oxford (at 4, Tarling Street, Tower Hamlets).

This could be a different person, but I'm inclined to think not. The Marylebone census was filled in by the householder, his employer: she may have listed all the servants whether or not they were under her roof on census night. He would not be the only person to have been listed twice (I've found others). The Tower Hamlets address is not far from Hackney, his father and brother were carpenters, and no other Richard from Oxfordshire aged 31 has turned up so far. He may even, as a carpenter's son, have started out working as one. "Widower" is obviously not accurate, but then neither is "unmarried". It seems that Richard had already left home.

His next appearance in the records is in 1854:
16th August 1854, St. Paul’s, Lisson Grove
Baptism of Richard Edward Glanville; Parents, Richard Ferdinand Glanville, servant, of 40, Milton Street, and Susan Louis, “born July 27th 1854”.

This one is indexed as Glanville, and the entry is a bit ambiguous. When I first found it (the first extra-marital infant I came across), I thought that Richard had made a bigamous marriage, but I cannot trace a marriage with Susan or find her afterwards. There is a death in the indexes for Richard Edward Glanville, Marylebone, in 1855, which is probably this child.

While searching for him and Susan, there was one more set of surprises:
1871 census
29, Boad Street, Manchester
Richard Glanville           head     mar.     51        hotel waiter       b. Ewelme, Oxfordshire
Jane Glanville                wife      mar.     48        tayloress employing 4 hands     b. Essex, Epping
George Glanville           son       unm.     14        pupil teacher     b. Liverpool
Kate Glanville               dau       unm.     12        school girl         b. Manchester
James Glanville  son       unm      6          school boy        b. Manchester
I am quite sure that this is him – the age and place of birth are spot on, and “hotel waiter” is not really such a big step from being a butler or house servant. I had however found a later entry first, which is a bit more ambiguous:

1881: census, at the same address in Manchester:
Richard Glanville           head     mar.     56        tailor employing 5 women b. Oxford
Jane Glanville                wife      mar.     50        tailoress    b. Epping
George Glanville           son       unm.     24        clerk          b. Liverpool
Kate Glanville               dau       unm      21        tailoress     b. Manchester
James Glanville son       unm.     16        clerk                     b. Manchester.
The ages of the adults are inconsistent, and the occupation of tailor is odd, but I think that it is her occupation, not his. (I did spend some time pursuing another Richard Glanville who was a tailor and who lived in London in 1851, but he is fully accounted for - he came from Devon and returned there). For me the information on the 1871 census clinches it despite the anomalies. Extraordinarily, one of the children has the same name as one of the children from the family with his wife!

I have not found any marriage between Richard and Jane, although they clearly lived as man and wife. I have found baptisms for two of the children (one has the occupation "butler" for the father); I've also identified who Jane was originally (I think). So it seems that after sowing many wild oats in London Richard finally settled down in Manchester and stayed with one woman for around thirty years! Although there are still many mysteries we do know where Richard ended up: he is buried in the Church of England section of the Southern Cemetery, Manchester. He died in December 1886 and was buried on 3rd January 1887. 

Poor Elizabeth, left behind taking in washing in the East End, seems to have had a miserable time. She appears on the censuses alone with her children, did not (presumably could not easily) remarry but describes herself as a widow after 20 years. She probably never knew where Richard had gone or whether he was still alive. Sadly she went blind in the 1870s, and had to go into the Hackney Union Workhouse, where she remained for the rest of her long life, dying there in 1911 aged nearly 90. What a life! Abandoned by a philanderer, struggling in poverty and then going blind and spending nearly 40 years in the workhouse! The only mitigating fact in her life was that she did not spend as much time in childbirth as a wife who had not been left would have done, and she succeeded in bringing up all her children and not losing any to the diseases which were rife in the overcrowded conditions in that part of London.

Desertion, bigamy and cohabitation were surprisingly common among the working classes in the 19th century. Richard could have been prosecuted and imprisoned for deserting Elizabeth and the children (the authorities' main concern was that an abandoned family might become a charge on the parish). He could also have been prosecuted had he committed bigamy, although it seems that he did not actually go through a marriage ceremony with Jane. Divorce was not an option for most people. By the time Elizabeth was old, one son was dead, one had emigrated, and one is so far unaccounted for but, like his father, absent from home. She had, in the end, outlived both her missing husband and his second "wife".

I have been unable to trace what happened to the two babies born in the workhouse.

Victorian values? No thanks!

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