Sunday, 20 December 2015

Constantia Maria Burgoyne Wren

In the transcription process of the Bromley Kent sexton's account of services and burials in the parish of Saints Peter and Paul Bromley there is a reference to the Bromley death of Constantia in July 1851. The sexton Edward Dunn Senior records that she was "formerly governess to Miss O'Beirne a descendant of Sir Christopher Wren Architect to Saint Paul's London buried under Saint Paul's Cathedral in the City of London".
Miss Jane Emily O'Beirne appears in the 1851 Census resident in Widmore Lane Bromley age 66 and is described as a Gentlewoman,Fundholder born in Doddington Berkshire. Together with 4 servants she resides with the 93 year old Constantia described as an unmarried Annuitant whose place of birth is Saint Anne's Soho Middlesex. (Census reference HO 107/1606/1).
Thanks to Edward Dunn we learn that she had been Governess to the O'Beirne family and that in common with other members of the Burgoyne Wren family she was interred in a family vault at Saint Paul's Cathedral.The Greater London Burial Index Transcription has her burial date as 17 July 1851 at Saint Pauls Cathedral.
It is clear that  Sir Christopher Wren's purchase of Wroxall following the death of Sir Roger Burgoyne was instrumental in the marriage of his son Christopher Wren (1674-1747) to Constance (Middleton) Burgoyne the widow of Sir Roger Burgoyne.
Constance had a daughter born in 1705 called Constantia Maria Burgoyne and this naming appears to have been repeated in the choice of Constantia Maria Burgoyne Wren's baptism at Saint Anne's Soho on 5 November 1757 the daughter of Stephen Wren and his wife Margaret. Stephen was great grandson of Sir Christopher and was born 17 May 1722 at Wroxall Warwickshire.
Sadly the lost volume of funeral accounts of Edward Dunn Undertaker of Market Square prior to 1858 do not permit us to know of funeral arrangements for the interment at Saint Pauls but it does appear likely that Dunn made the arrangements as there was no other established undertaker in the town in 1851 for this type of funeral arrangement.

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Bromley Kent Sexton's burial records

I have spent a pleasant month transcribing nearly 3,500 individual entries in the 1838-1866 parish burial records kept by two successive sextons of the parish. I look forward to 2016 when I will transcribe entries in the earlier sexton's book which form part of the parish records held at Bromley Archives when I have fulfilled the agreement with Bromley Archives to complete Bromley Poor Law Union Lunatics registers.
The volume has a curious treatment at Bromley Archives. The front cover of the bound volume has a biro addition (those of nervous disposition be warned of the image) "Dunn's" and the cover has been incorporated in the present binding with the erroneous title "Dunn's Record of burials 1838-1866".
An accompanying catalogue entry at the time of my transcription describes the volume as Dunns Unofficial register of burials.

The confusion about the parish sextons accounts of burials arose when these parish register volumes transferred to the London Borough of Bromley.

I have handled and transcribed sextons records in parishes in other counties since my work as transcriber in 1968. Sexton's record the date of burial and record which plot was used for each individual burial. In the Bromley parish the grave is chosen by measuring from a prominent existing grave and establishing when new ground is opened the distance to an existing grave. The entry indicates whether the burial is in the North,South, East or West part of the churchyard and refers to walls paths and trees as grave locators. Burial in the Catacomb or in vaults beneath the church floor are also recorded.
What caused the original confusion for the Bromley Catalogue entry? The two sextons who record entries in this volume are Edward Dunn Senior and his son Edward Dunn Junior who succeeds his father and has assisted him for some months prior to his death. This continuity of Dunn family members continues the lengthy service of John Dunn as Bromley Parish Clerk. My blog about the controversial apointment of Edward Dunn as sexton and his description of his duties is here.
The great bonus for the searcher of this sexton's record lie in the knowledge of the population of Bromley of Edward Dunn and his biographical detail of individuals recording cause of death and place of death or burial outside the parish. The Father and son literally knew the people of Bromley of all faithsand in their entries record detail of the population of Bromley. The entries for other faiths including sudden deaths in Methodist "Chappell" demonstrate the growth of the town. Also valuable are the burial details of those of other nationality . I am happy to bring this genealogical relationship detail to the Bromley page of Kent Online Parish Clerks website as a companion not only to the parish register burial transcripts but also the funeral accounts of Dunn as funeral directors for a significant proportion of burials.The gap in lost funeral account is filled by the sexton records for these years.
The cutting of railway lines and the temporary habitations of "excavators" and "navvies" and their families a large group of gypsy and traveller families and the year of transition from the parish poor House to the Bromley Poor Law Union at Locksbottom are all included; significant changes in the district will now be available online for the first time as well as assisting those in the Archives to make searches for individuals.
The causes of death and some significant relationships will form the remaining blogs this year.
© Henry Mantell Downe Online Parish Clerk 2015

Monday, 7 December 2015

Crime and punishment in Victorian Bromley

Lucy Allen Bromley Archivist gave an excellent presentation this week at Bromley Archives and Local Studies.
I suppose that those researching family history are hesitant to question the honesty of their ancestors but Lucy gave a clear concise  outline of what a wealth of record sources Bromley can offer in the different decades of the century.
She showed the history of police stations in Bromley and District in the Victorian reign moving from the parish constable of 1837-1840 to the Metropolitan Police from 1840-1901 but demonstrating in one case how parish constables remained in office under Metropolitan Police direction.
The coming of Police Stations meant that the parish cage situated in Cage Field to the north of the Market Place was discontinued as the lock up for those awaiting hearing.
By demonstrating the Bromley Petty Session registers and the reporting of criminal cases in the Bromley Record Lucy identified how cases could be brought before the Bromley Magistrates. In 1889 25 magistrates can be identified.
Lucy also showed one earlier case brought before Charles Darwin in his role as a local Magistrate. Common offences involved furious riding and neglect or mistreatment of horses, failure to licence or control dogs a nd a variety alcohol related offences. Non-attendance at school was dealt with by fine in the hope of discouraging children in employment; as Lucy demonstrated in some cases this was ineffective. The Magistrates also heard allegations of bastardy and costs could be sought for medical and midwifery care around birth.
The Magistrates also regularly attended the Union Workhouse to hear allegations against inmates who refused to work or were violent and  could be sentenced to hard labour in prison.
Hard labour would involve the treadwheel or treadmill. Although the number of offences for which the death penalty dropped between 1837 and 1862 when only murder and treason could attract the penalty in the intervening years it applied to many offences. Magistrates could refer cases to higher courts where such sentences early in the Victorian reign were being passed.
Bromley and district Quarter sessions before at least two Justices of the Peace records are held at Maidstone at the Kent Archives and Library.
Another matter which could be brought before magistrates was allegation of lunacy under the Lunacy Acts the magistrates had powers to order the Union workhouse to detain for up to fourteen days those brought before them by police, relatives or any member of the public.
From June 1858 criminal hearings are often reported in the Bromley Record which the Archives are in process of digitising for easier searching by the public.
Lucy's choice of cases included the Cudham theft of a live ferret which for a period had to be in the custody of the local constabulary and produced in court for its owner to identify.It and other stolen property recovered from the accused secured conviction against two miscreants. It would be interesting to know how the ferret was produced in court!
Lucy demonstrated the wealth of record material in the late Victorian period records held for Bromley. The presentation was part of the progamme of events throughout the year. Although there is some uncertainty surrounding council plans to move the Lubbock collection into a display in the Archives and Local Studies floor of the Central Library and the future of organisation and staffing of branch libraries it is intended that a programme of public events will be offered in 2016.

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Bromley Kent First World War postmen

In November Lucy Allen Bromley archivist gave an excellent presentation of the painstaking research by Suzanne North at Bromley Archives and Local Studies. The research has traced all but one of the 26 men of the Bromley Post Office commemorated on the memorial Board to those who lost their lives in World War 1.
The remaining post man is John Head who has eluded efforts to locate his origins or military service or place of burial if identifiable.
Suzanne's research is a large volume which is available at Bromley Archives and Local Studies and a touring exhibition has spent part of this year in branch libraries in the borough.
The story of the postal service in Bromley has interested me for some time and my blog about Bromley Postmasters preceded Suzanne's research into the later generation of postal workers.
By 1914 The Royal Mail was the largest employer in the world and was the biggest enterprise in the United Kingdom the local Bromley Postal District was geographically very large and included 17 sub post offices with many collection and deliveries each day. It was therefore perfectly feasible to write in the forenoon and arrange a meeting in the evening  with complete confidence the letter would be delivered.
Also of note was the inclusion of Swanley Junction in the Bromley Postal District; the railway junction had only three houses and eventually a sub Post Office but was a railway source of mail for the town and District.
The Postal Workers in 1914 enlisted in large numbers nationally and the Royal Mail staff provided a high relative proportion of the response to the call to enlist. In 1916 a roll of honour for Bromley Postal District recorded 84 names; at the end of hostilities 26 names were recorded on the two memorials to the fallen. The first memorial o was replaced by the 1920 memorial which hung in the Bromley Post Office in East Street until the building closed in 2007 and the memorial is nowadays displayed in the Sorting Office in Sherman Road.
Swanley Junction is mentioned as the home of Frederick Thomas Holmes who died on 7 November 1918 and is commemorated on the Cairo War memorial.
For anyone with postal worker family history the talk exhibition and volume held at Bromley Archives and Library service will be invaluable and Suzanne North's year and a half research has been invaluable.