Saturday, 29 November 2014

Lady Byron at the Clock House Beckenham

As I have worked through the fragmentary medical accounts of Thomas Ilott surgeon of Bromley to produce transcripts I have examined the various Byron material which is in the loose accounts folder at Bromley Archives.
Although now conserved the medical account on a fragment of paper for Lady Byron's househould under reference 617/7b is on the reverse side of an account for a Mister Vidler of Beckenham.
In 1824 Ilott treated members of her household:
Sir R in the account refers to lady Byron's father Sir Ralph Noel 6th Baronet who was to die in 1825.
Miss in the account refers to the 8 year old  Augusta Ada Byron daughter of the Poet Lord Byron and Lady Byron or Anne Isabella Noel.
A seperate account for 1824 called Lord Byron reference 617/8 refers not to the poet but to George Anson Byron who was treated by Ilott on 16 May 1824. George Anson Byron (8 March 1879-1 March 1868) was cousin to the poet who succeeded to the title after the poets death on 19 April 1824. He was a career naval officer see biography
The visit to Beckenham by George Anson Byron within a month of the poet's death is captured in the Ilott account.
Also in the Bromley Archive is the letter written by Lady Byron on 12 December 1825 from Hastings which is accompanied by a draft for £40 for "attendances and medicines to my father and myself". In this letter she replies to Ilotts concern for the health of Augusta Ada Byron. In reply Lady Byron describes her daughter's health "appears so completely re established that I hope we shall not have any reason to regret her removal from the sea-side". She goes on to describe that she herself had benefited from the stay at Hastings. She signs the letter A Noel Byron.
Ada her daughter is known to have suffered a number of childhood illnesses after the care provided by Ilott which it seems reasonable to infer included removal from Beckenham to the sea side. At this time Ada had received much of her day to day care from Judith Lady Milibanke Lady Byron's own mother. Ada was later to become a mathematician and writer who is known for her work on Charles Babbages Analytical Engine. She wrote about the first algorithm to be carried out on a machine and is nowadays regarded as the world's first computer programmer. More of her childhood can be found here
The Bromley Archive material has been paper conserved but both Lady Byron's fragmentary account and her letter have lost part of the original page and characters. The account number is damaged and the right hand side of her letter is irregular and lose part of the word re established but the whole letter has been transcribed.
Lady Byron is referred to in other sources at Bromley in connection with her residence at Clock House.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Reverend J.R.Brown Rector of Lyons County Durham

As transcription of the Bromley Kent parish registers works through early twentieth century records it is worth noting the presence in the Ancient Parish of Bromley Saint Peter and Saint Paul of the rector of Bowes (or Easington Lane) County Durham apparently on a regular annual basis.
In the marriage register for Bromley from 1895-1904 Reverend Arthur Gresley Hellicar is Vicar and John M Tamplin is curate. Other clergy from Bromley parishes conduct marriages also on an occasional basis but a regular signature of Brown appears each summer.
Both Tamplin and Brown are prone to mistakes in the register which are corrected by their initials;whether as a result of Hellicar's vigilance or the intervention of the Bromley Superintendent Registrar is seldom clear.
Brown's signature appears each August/early September from 1897 and it is intriguing why he should visit Bromley annually. He clearly is challenged by some local street names and names of people!

Thursday, 13 November 2014

The Freelands Bromley dog

In 1810 the Freelands Widmore Bromley mansion was occupied under a lease by Charles Boone Esquire.
He was a patient of Doctor Thomas Ilott and the various members of the household which had a dairy maid, gardeners and domestic servants. In the Folio C prescription ledger of Doctor Ilott both in 1809 and September 1810 Ilott provides a prescription for a dog clearly billed in the account ledger.
It was not unusual for a surgeon who was also a skilled apothecary to use lotions or creams which could treat both humans and animals and vetinary science had not at that time developed distinct from medical practice.
In 1809 Charles Boone paid a total of £29 to Ilott for household medical care and prescriptions;in 1810 £41 5shillings of which one shilling was for care of the dog.
In addition to the dog treatment the account is significant in identifying Charles Boone as resident from 1809-1811 in a period when several occupiers leased the mansion. Some years later Freelands was sold.
Th incident of the dog has provided Bromley Archives with additional material for November 2014 explore archives Twitter week. The transcripts for Ilott are a work in progress for online publication in 2015.

Monday, 3 November 2014

The occupation of Upholder: Dunn and Company Funeral accounts

The Bromley parish registers contain many ancient crafts or trades and it becomes clear to the transcriber of the complete series of registers that some trades found in the early history of the town persist to the twentieth century.
As I transcribe marriages in 1895-1905 marriage register I am reminded of one of these by the entry of Upholder.
In each century I have transcribed entries relating to this ancient trade. The Worshipful Company of Upholders of the City of London can trace its origins back to earlier days of Craft Guilds which concentrated on the high quality of  workmanship and of English manufactured goods. The Worshipful Company elected wardens from 1360 onwards who had a duty to inspect the quality of goods and from 1474 had power to seize goods in the City of London which were of inferior quality.
The Bromley references in early records to Uphouldesterr and Uphelderr and later as Upholder are applied to Upholstery in the town and one of the most influential businesses Dunn and Company (later H G Dunn and Sons Limited) of Market Square was founded on such trade. It later expanded from drapery and Furniture sales and delivery to removals and storage as well as Funeral Directors in the nineteenth century. The craft of Funeral upholstery was well established within the Guild memberhip and Dunn'sis  a good example of both crafts maintained side by side.The business included cabinet making,funeral directors,drapery soft furnishing auctioneer and valuers; all part and parcel of the Upholder.
The Worshipful Company of Upholders website includes much of the craft history.
Kent Online Parish Clerks have an agreement with Bromley Archive to transcribe the Dunn and Company Funeral Directors Account ledgers in 2015. These records from the nineteenth century until the Second World War are detailed accounts of funeral arrangements and include details of who paid the funeral account. The first account book dates from 1803-1807; the final surviving ledger is for 1934. The accounts include many funeral societies from the City of London to benefit a wide variety of occupations. The first 11 books will cover the period to 1918. It was only in 1914 that Herbert George Dunn registered the company as H G Dunn and Sons Limited.
The pilot transcription sampled the card index compiled by Jean Rawlings for the period 1803-1839. The arrangement of cards and references to account pages was found to be problematic and the aim is therefore to compile a complete index for each volume of accounts. This will avoid the problems of one card containing seperate burial accounts and account names which lead the searcher to incorrect volume and pages.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Downe memorial to those who died in World War 1

In rememberance this month of the 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War 1 or as the Brass memorial plaque in the parish church of Saint Mary the Virgin puts it the "Great War" I visited the Tower of London to see the installation entitled Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red with 888,246 hand made ceramic poppies covering the moat.
The war dead of Downe are commerated in the parish church and are listed. Helpfully the Imperial War Museum web site Lives of the First World War is being developed for Downe and has the oppurtunity for anyone to develop biographies of each man  and remember individuals Downe War dead
I am happy to have purchased one of the ceramic poppies which will be removed from the installation after 11 November 2014 on behalf of Kent Online Parish Clerks and hope that in future it can form part of the village remberance.