Relatives and others in Southampton
This story is largely based on an article originally written for the Malvern Family History Society. The story is chiefly about the occupations of two families the Horns and Dyers, and some of the people they knew in the city of Southampton, England; the story mostly covers the period from about 1850 to 1900.
We have also written about a neighbour, Joseph Gordon, the manager of a theatre, his wife Juliet Ann Power, the daughter of a comedian, and a possible connection to music hall singer and actress Nelly Power.
At the end, mention is made of butcher Cornelius James Goater who lived in Bugle Street near the quay.
One of our great grandmothers, Louisa Mary Horn (see photo right), was born in Southampton in 1864. Her father was John Horn, the son of a coachman or farrier born in Marlborough, Wiltshire. John's parents, Gabriel Wear and Harriett Horn, moved to Southampton, where John gained employment as a Ship Broker's Clerk, later becoming a Shipping Agent.
John Horn (1831 - 1910) married Sarah Ann Dyer, the daughter of Customs Officer Charles Dyer, and the couple latterly lived at 27 Ordnance Road, around the corner from the Ordnance Survey Barracks in London Road.
Originally built as a Cavalry Barracks about 1800, the site was used as a refuge for military orphans, before the Ordnance Survey arrived in 1841 following a fire at the Tower of London.
John and Sarah Horn had three children: Louisa Mary, Henry John and Edith Harriett.
In 1889 Louisa Mary, the eldest, married music teacher, Henry Evans Robinson, and in 1891 the couple were living at 22 Ordnance Road a few doors down from her parents and Joseph William Gordon, who was, or had been, manager of the Theatre Royal.
Henry Evans Robinson was a grandson of Henry Evans who founded the business of Luke Evans Bakery in Greenhill Lane, near Alfreton in Derbyshire - a bakery which still trades there today. Descendants of Henry Evans Robinson's youngest brother Arthur Edgar Evans Robinson and youngest sister Martha Lydia Evans Robinson live in the USA (refs 4, 5).
The photo opposite is of Louisa with her husband, and their son Arthur Evans Robinson, circa 1900.
Louisa's husband, Henry Evans Robinson, born in 1854, was the eldest son of shopkeepers Joseph and Mary Robinson who for many years ran a grocery business in Clay Cross. The Robinsons' were also tea dealers and had a warehouse in the town.
See reconstruction of faded advertisement for their tea (left), courtesy of great grandson Andy Robinson.
It would seem Henry did not want to work in the family business as the 1871 census recorded him as a Solicitor's Gentleman Clerk, boarding at the home of Solicitor's Managing Clerk, John Radford, in the nearby town of Mansfield, but by 1881 he was an organist, and teacher of music, residing at Symington in Ayrshire, Scotland. He married Louisa Mary Horn at Southampton in 1889, and the couple lived for many years at 22 Ordnance Road, near the Ordnance Survey; until her death from a stroke in 1917.
In 1928 Henry married, second, Elizabeth Richards; forced out of Southampton by the bombing in WWII they retired to Brockenhurst in the New Forest where he died in 1942, aged 88 years.
Henry's death was reported in a Southampton newspaper, which paid this tribute:
Here we take a diversion to look at the background of music teacher and organist Sydney Franz Somers, who first appears in Southampton trade directories in 1902.
In the Dictionary of Organs and Organists, 1912 he is listed:
Another source lists him having Diploma Leipzig, Hon Rep RAM.
In 1903, at Southampton, he had married Edith Mary Pope, the daughter of a coachman, or cab driver, and they had two daughters. His early life is somewhat of a mystery as he is not recorded under that name in either the census, before 1911, or the index of births.
We initially wondered if Franz may have been born Frank Summers at Southampton in 1868, youngest son of prominent civil and marine engineer Thomas Summers of Beverley House and the Northam Iron Works, Southampton, who had died in 1889.
The engineering company Day, Summers and Co at the Northam Iron Works, built machinery, railway engines, and ships, and was a major employer in the town.
Frank Summers' brothers Thomas junior and William purchased the business William Savory and Son, at the High Orchard Iron Works, at Gloucester. William later became a yacht builder in Southampton following Thomas juniors death, who died only a few months after his father.
Later research suggests Sydney Franz Somers was more likely the son of draper Tom Summers and Bessie Andrews.
If we have it right, Franz was born Sydney Summers in Romsey, Hampshire, in 1864. In 1871 'Sidney Summers' was living with his family in Bell Street, Romsey, when his father Tom is described as a draper employing 3 women and 4 men. In 1881 'Sydney Summers', aged 16, is a draper's apprentice living in St Georges Street, Canterbury in Kent, in the employment of Edward Knight.
The 1891 census records 'Sidney F Summers', now a professor of music, living in Kings Street Odiham, a small village to the west of Aldershot.
A little later the Sussex Advertiser, 29th Sep 1896 contained the advertisement:
George Benjamin Arnold was organist at Winchester Cathedral from 1865 to 1902.
Franz's mother died in 1898, and the 1901 census records him living with his father Tom and youngest sister Nora in Denzil Avenue, Southampton. In fact the Ancestry transcription recorded him as Sydney T Somers and his father, now described as a political agent, as John Somers.
The index of marriages recorded that 'Sydney Franz Summers' married Edith Mary Pope at Southampton in 1903. In 1911 he recorded himself on the census form as 'Sydney Franz Somers', a professor of music and organist at St Michael's. In the household, besides his wife and two daughters, are his mother in law, widow Anne Pope, and brother in law, Frederick Pope, a Ladies Taylor. They were then living at 7 Cranbury Terrace described in the census as having 14 rooms.
Franz was regularly recorded in trade directories as a teacher of music and there are newspaper reports in the Times referring to pupils of the 'Franz Somers School of Music' in Southampton,
Sydney Franz Somers, music teacher and church organist, late of Brookvale Road, Southampton died on 4th September 1942 at Bourne End, West Maidenhead, aged 74 years. His executor was his married youngest daughter, Joan Edith Elwes Aulas. His father Tom had died at Reading in 1908.
We now return to the family of Louisa Mary Horn.
Louisa Mary's brother, Henry John Horn, became a ship broker, married, but had no children. He named his house 'Savernake' which supports that the family moved from the Marlborough area.
Louisa Mary's sister, Edith Harriett Horn, lived with her parents, never married and was the last of her family to die. We had read that spinsters' wills often mentioned nephews, nieces and cousins, so we went to the library and searched the National Probate Calendar on Ancestry. Yes, there she was, so we sent a cheque for £5 to the Probate Registry in York, and about a month later back came her will.
We had hoped to find a clue to the whereabouts of Louisa and Henry's son Arthur Evans Robinson who was Edith's nephew, but no such luck. However we found bequests to Edith's female cousins which enabled us to trace daughters who had 'disappeared' from the census, their husbands, and her uncle Charles Albert Dyer who, we found, had emigrated with his family to Schenectady in the USA.
So here is a bit more about the members of Edith, Henry John and Louisa Mary's family, who they married and what they did.
Louisa Mary's maternal great grandfather Richard Dyer was born about 1787 in Oxfordshire. He lived to the age of 95, spending his final years with his son Charles the Customs Officer. (Of course there was no state pension in those days.) The 1871 census listed Richard as a retired "sailor", 'How wonderful we thought to have an ancestor who lived to 95 and might have sailed with Nelson.' However, earlier census records list him as a "tailor" employing three men, so we are inclined to think he was never a sailor.
Richard's daughter, an elder Louisa, married saddle and harness maker John Weston, and they lived in Millbrook, Southampton.
Richard's son, Charles Dyer the Customs Officer, married Sarah Ann Knott daughter of tailor Joseph Knott from Carisbrooke on the Isle of Wight. Charles is recorded in one census as a 'Customs Locker', and one source suggests this was a person who guarded a bonded warehouse.
Charles and Sarah had one son, Charles Albert Dyer, who in the 1871 and 1881 census was recorded as a timber merchant's clerk. His family did not appear in the 1891 census, but from Edith's will we now know the family emigrated from England to Schenectady in the USA about 1886. The 1930 US census lists his daughters Louisa Dyer and Harriett Alice Veeder, a widow, living in Schenectady; one is a book-keeper and the other a stenographer (shorthand typist).
In the 19th century after the construction of the Erie Canal, Schenectady became an important transportation and trade centre connecting the Hudson River to the Mohawk Valley and the Great Lakes. In 1887, Thomas Edison moved his Edison Machine Works to Schenectady, and in 1892 Schenectady became the headquarters of the General Electric Company.
Perhaps it was no coincidence that Louisa Mary Robinson nee Horn's sister-in-law Martha Lydia Evans Robinson known as Lilly travelled to NY by sea in 1888 to marry John Ferguson, (see photo opposite, source Andy Robinson), who it is thought may have gone to work for the engineer Birdsill Holly in nearby Lockport. The couple later returned to the UK.
Charles Dyer's daughter, Louisa Amelia Dyer, married Robert Oakes, who turned out to be quite an interesting person. The 1861 census records him age 17, occupation Postillion at Osborne Garden Mews on the Isle of White, where his Uncle John George Wagland was Chief Coachman. It seems Robert must have been either one of those footmen dressed in livery who walked beside Queen Victoria's coach or rode astride one of the leading coach horses. Then in the subsequent censuses Robert is listed as an Outrider to HM Queen, at Windsor.
In 1885 Robert's son Harry Arthur Oakes joined the Great Western Railway as a clerk aged 15, recommended by his schoolmaster. About 1904 Harry married his cousin Ada Florence Dyer who had returned to the UK from America. Harry moved about the country with his job and died at Portsmouth.
Louisa Mary Horn's cousin, Lucy Helen Horn, married boot maker Albert Edward Bullimore whose business was recorded in a Southampton Trade Directory. Later they lived in Cobham, Surrey.
In 1898, Lucy's sister Amy Horn married Herbert Vincent Cantelo, a draughtsman at the Ordnance Survey. Herbert was the son of artist John Cantelo, and the 1851 census lists John Cantelo as a portrait painter living at "The Eight Bells" in Carisbrooke, Isle of Wight, where his father William is listed as a 'brush-maker and publican', an interesting combination! (William's daughter Ellen Cantelo (1825 - 1898) was a landscape and portrait painter and an example of her work is said to hang in the Carisbrooke Castle Museum. Ellen, a spinster, signed the first petition for Women's Suffrage in 1866).
Louisa Mary Horn's son Arthur Evans Robinson born 1890 described himself as a theatrical manager in the 1911 census, and we wondered whether he was influenced in his career, in some way, by his father having lived near the manager of the Theatre Royal, Southampton, Joseph William Gordon.
Arthur's death is not recorded, but he is believed to have perished during the bombing of London in 1941 when he was playing the piano in East End pubs (ref 6).
Joseph Gordon was a neighbour, and we were interested to find out more about him and his involvement with the Theatre Royal which had been rebuilt in 1803.
Matthew Lloyd's excellent Music Hall and Theatre History website dedicated to his grandfather Arthur Lloyd, 1839 - 1904 contains some interesting facts about past theatres in Southampton and about the business activities of Joseph William Gordon.
Trade directories indicate that J W Gordon and J J Plowman were joint lessees of the Prince of Wales theatre. Joseph John Plowman (1837 - 1898) was recorded as a loan commission agent in the 1881 census so perhaps he dealt with the financial aspects of the business. (One of Joseph Plowman's executors was John Danby Hunter born Ramsgate in 1853; the 1881 census listed him as a comedian and Kelly's trade directory of 1899 as Entertainments Manager, Pavilion, Hastings Pier.)
Joseph Gordon married Juliet Ann Power at London in 1848. In 1851 the couple are in Newcastle; he is then a comedian and she is an actress. In 1861 the couple are living in French Street, Southampton and his occupation is recorded as a Licenced Victualler (or publican) as it was again in 1871.
The 1881 census recorded Joseph living with his wife Juliet Ann and his nephew Albert Gordon age 21 at 48 - 54 French Street, Southampton. Joseph was then described as Theatre Service Lessee and Theatre Royal Manager, & Proprietor of the Theatre Royal Tavern. His nephew Andrew Gordon was listed as Acting Manager.
By that time all cannot have been well with the business, and perhaps Joseph had overstretched his finances, for an announcement in the July 1881 issue of the London Gazette gave notice of a meeting concerning the bankruptcy of Joseph William Gordon, theatre manager and actor, formerly of Gordon House. Worse was to come, as in 1884 the Theatre Royal burnt down and Joseph's wife Juliet Ann, who had been a dancer and singer, died shortly after aged only 53 years.
According to the Hampshire Advertiser Juliet died on 20 November 1884. In a short obituary the paper mentions the destruction of the Theatre Royal in Southampton, "destroyed by fire only a few hours before her death" (ref 7).
Two years later in 1886 Joseph married a much younger woman, Helena Arabella Read Davis who may have been the youngest daughter of hotel manager Robert Davis. Kelly's directory of 1889 records J W Gordon living at Gordon Villa, Dalziel Avenue. By the 1891 census Joseph was living at Helena in Ordnance Road, next door but one to Louisa Mary and Henry Evans Robinson.
Joseph Gordon died in 1893 and Helena in 1937. In 1911 Helena was living in Golders Green with her sister Annie Maud Alexandra Davis and a nephew Clive Harper who was then a 17 year old clerk working for a tea dealer.
Well, what of Joseph's nephew Albert Gordon? We had difficulty tracing the family until coming across the death of Joseph William Geach Gordon in the National Probate Calendar. That provided the key, for it seems their surname had originally been 'Geach' and Joseph seems to have adopted the stage name Gordon. Following the bankruptcy of his uncle, Albert Gordon Geach married operatic vocalist Rose Ella Florey, the daughter of a London greengrocer. Their children were given good names for the family historian to trace, for example one daughter was called Rosetta Juliet Gordon Geach, who married a jeweller and died in Kingston.
The Theatre Royal was rebuilt as the Gaiety Theatre which later became known as The Empire; it closed down in 1925 and was demolished soon after.
Theatre manager Joseph William Gordon Geach possibly met Juliet Ann Power while they were both performing in the north of England. They married on 16th May 1848 at St Mary Lambeth. He was then described as a comedian.
Recently we were contacted through the Ancestry Message Service by a person contributing to the hunt by the Music Hall and Theatre Guild for the wider family of Nelly Power (1854 – 1887) who in her day was a well known music hall singer and actress. It is said that she was the first singer of that favourite song 'The Boy I Love Is Up in the Gallery' - and in the theatre column of the Times newspaper we found Nelly was often listed on theatre bills.
Juliet Ann Power came from a family of Music Hall comedians, and an article in The Era weekly newspaper, which came to specialise in theatre matters, suggested Juliet was Nelly Power's aunt. This may have been true, but it has proved difficult for anyone in recent times to confirm.
Nelly's birth was registered Ellen Maria Lingham, and she was the daughter of Agnes Power and railway clerk Arthur Lingham who died soon after her birth. The next year Agnes went on to have another child (who was named Dennis Arthur Bingham Lingham) by an un-named father; the registration of Dennis's baptism gives his mother Agnes's profession as an actress.
To date it seems the Theatre Guild has been unable to establish for certain who Agnes Power's mother was, so if you have a clue, do please let us know.
Both Nelly and her half brother Dennis seem to have made unfortunate marriages. In 1874, aged 20 years, Nelly married Roland Gideon Israel Barnett who, if we have it right, was a rogue. He was a bankrupt commission agent who was thought to have been involved in a number of shady dealings both in England and the USA. In 1875 Nelly petitioned for a judicial separation on grounds of his bankruptcy, his spending her theatrical earnings and his foul language towards her. Later he was thought possibly to have been one of a group of men who defrauded the Central Bank of Toronto, causing that institution to collapse.
Nelly died of Pleurisy in 1887 aged only 32 years; thousands are said to have been spectators at her funeral. Nelly Power, music hall singer and actress, is buried in Abney Park cemetery in the London borough of Hackney where her grave has been restored by the Theatre Guild.
Nelly's brother Dennis married Emily Rose Hannah Bullen, also recorded as Rosannah, in 1884. Emily was the daughter of 'Type Founder' George Bullen, and her sister Clara was a vocalist as was their cousin Julia. On their marriage certificate Dennis gave his age as 29 and Emily gave hers as 36 though in fact she was 44. In 1887 Emily filed for divorce on grounds of his violence and cruelty, plus the fact he had gone to live with another woman! We have found no trace of Dennis after that.
Returning to Southampton, another resident was butcher Cornelius James Goater (1863 - 1938) who latterly lived at Bugle Cottages, Bugle Street near the quay. Cornelius, who was known as James, married Elizabeth Jane Edwards, daughter of seaman William Carver Edwards. Their son William James Goater born 1897 left Southampton in 1914 to join the Royal Marine Light Infantry. He served aboard the light cruiser HMS Caroline between 1914 and 1918 and took part in the Battle of Jutland.
During the Second World War one of his sons, Bill, served aboard the light cruiser HMS Manchester which joined the famous convoy escorting the tanker SS Ohio to Malta. HMS Manchester was hit by torpedos and abandoned on the 13th August 1942. Bill, who could not swim, survived by holding on to wreckage and was interned in North Africa at Laghouat. Much of the convoy was lost to enemy action but, despite being badly damaged, the SS Ohio reached Malta, delivering much needed fuel.
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Last updated 3rd November 2016