In my last post, I was trying to find a more exact address for Thomas Palmer, bookseller of Gosport. I had narrowed him down to ‘Upper South Street’ but not being a local, still had no idea where exactly upon the street he lived. The breakthrough came when I found a newspaper article reporting a robbery at his premises:
John Daly, a Royal Artilleryman, was charged with attempting to break into the dwelling house of Thomas Palmer, almost opposite the Police Station, on the previous night. The prisoner was heard at the shutter by a policeman who was going to bed, and he gave information to a brother constable on duty, upon which he went outside the station gate and there saw the prisoner, without a jacket, standing by the window of the house, the shutters being open and partially broken. On seeing the policeman he ran away and was afterwards taken by P.C. Gibbs in a passage in North-street. Mr. Palmer, the occupier of the house, proved fastening up the house about 9 o’clock the previous night. Prisoner was committed for trial.
So now I knew that he lived “…almost opposite the Police Station…”.
Unfortunately, the police station no longer exists on South Street after being destroyed by enemy action in 1941. I found a photograph of the building in 1949 on the Gosport Heritage site but it gave me no other details. Luckily however I found a c.1896 map which marked the location of the police station which made the description, ‘almost opposite’ make sense.
Interestingly, there is also a photo on the Gosport Heritage site captioned; ‘Portland Place; south side of South Street, running north-south almost opposite to the OLD police station.’ I’m pretty sure Palmer’s old book shop is just out of shot on the far left of this image (behind the first building).
That’s probably as close as I’m going to get but since the buildings on that block are long gone now, I still feel strangely accomplished.
Thomas PALMER was a book seller and book binder. I know this because of census entries, parish records and marriage certificates.
The first indication of his profession was his son George Wright PALMER’s marriage certificate, where Thomas’ profession was listed as ‘Bookseller’. George had given his place of birth as Portsea, Hampshire on the 1861 census which allowed me to locate his father Thomas in Hampshire on the 1851 and 1861 censuses despite George not being in the home (more about the 1841 later). Like any keen family historian, I wanted to know exactly where this family lived.
Thomas didn’t appear on the 1871 census but he DID appear in the 1867 ‘Kelly’s Directory of Hampshire’ as a secondhand bookseller in Upper South street, Gosport. This would’ve narrowed it down a bit except I had no idea which end of the street was upper?
The 1855 ‘Post Office Directory of Hampshire, Wiltshire & Dorsetshire’ specified number 53 Upper South Street (as did the 1861 census) but I recall the street numbers of the past may not necessarily be in the same location as street numbers today.
However, the 1859 ‘Directory of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight’ listed Thomas at 61 South street.
There were no other appropriate directories on the Historical Directories site for me to search. Thomas does not appear in the 1828 or 1844 Pigot’s directories of Hampshire, nor have I found him yet in the 1841 census.
So, the address list compiled so far is as follows:
If you lived in the West End of Derby in the 19th century, you were considered to live in the slums. It is here that the families I’ve researched lived mainly in what was known as court housing (see Discover Liverpool for a good explanation of this type of housing).
An article on the Derby Telegraph site mentions that this area was part of an 1849 report to the General Board of Health on “The Sewerage, Drainage and Supply of Water and the Sanitary Conditions of the Inhabitants of Derby”;
In Willow Row, Court 1, 103 inhabitants shared two privies and residents reported that milk would turn to curd when mixed with water from the communal pump…
Observations of Walker Lane, where 75 cases of typhus fever were reported between June 15 and September 14, 1847, were: “The houses are of the most inferior description and the inhabitants of a piece with their houses; to crown all, there are lodging houses, which are the principal headquarters of vagrants, and of those comers and goers who, for reasons best known to themselves, prefer darkness to light.”
It is in these conditions that Hannah Bates, William Lamb (& their families) lived most of their lives. The slum clearances of the 1930s mean that the court housing is now long gone but it’s important to keep these living conditions in mind when researching the people of the area and trying to understand their lives.
Hannah was born Hannah Bates in 1856. Her father was James Bates, a general labourer, and her mother was most likely, Ann Tilbury, a millhand. Little is known so far about her childhood, but it seems her father died when she was around 2 years of age. In 1872, she became Hannah ROLLETT when when she, an 18 year old Silk mill hand married Alexander ROLLETT, a 19 year old ‘Labourer at [the] Colour Works’. This seemed to begin a lifelong association for Hannah with the West End area of Derby, also known as the slums.
Searching the newspapers for Alexander brought up an assault on a police constable he had been involved in 1876, as well as an assault on his wife (Hannah) the previous year, and a charge of drunkenness. “Poor Hannah,” I thought. “Another woeful tale of an abusive alcoholic husband – this must be what made her leave Rollett and take up with William”. But I thought too soon; my next search for ‘Hannah Rollett’ brought up many more mentions than there had been for Alexander and she certainly seemed to be quite the character! With the help of the newspaper articles and some maps, I started piecing Hannah’s story together.
After a couple years of marriage, Hannah and Alexander had their first child, William in 1874. The very next year, Alexander was charged with assaulting Hannah, but because it happened ‘at Rose Hill’, she was directed to ‘apply’ to the County Bench. This was recorded in Friday’s edition of the Derby Mercury, 25 August, 1875.
2 days later, Hannah was convicted of assaulting Alexander’s sister, Sarah Ann. The article notes this occurred on the Saturday; apparently the day after Hannah appeared in the Derby Borough Police Court.
ASSAULT CASE.-Hannah Rollett was summoned for assaulting her sister-in-law, Sarah Ann Rollett, at about three o’clock on the Saturday afternoon previous. -The evidence was of a disgraceful character, and defendant was fined 5s, and costs; in default, seven days’ imprisonment. -On leaving the dock defendant threatened what she would do to the complainant when she came out of gaol; whereupon the Bench ordered her back into the dock and called upon her to find sureties for her good behaviour for three months – herself in the sum of 20l., and two sureties in 5l. each, or one at 10l. – Prisoner said that she might as well be in gaol as anywhere else, and they would have to keep her there.
There was clearly no love lost between the two and although it is not stated what the argument was about, I presume Hannah’s recent charges against Alexander must have had something to do with it.
Their second son, John William was born the next year in September 1876, which means Hannah was heavily pregnant when Alexander assaulted a police constable on the night of August 13, 1876.
MURDEROUS ASSAULT ON A POLICEMAN. -Three men, named Alexander Rollett, William Gell, and William Murphy, were charged with violently assaulting Police-constable Simeon Webster when in the execution of his duty. -The policeman was unable to attend the Court in consequence of the injuries he had sustained. -It appeared that at midnight on Sunday he went to a disturbance in Willow-row, and had no sooner arrived on the scene than he was hit on the back with a brick. He took hold of the man he believed to have thrown it, and was then felled to the ground bleeding and senseless by a brick which was thrown from another quarter, and which struck him on the temple. While on the ground a mob gathered round him and pelted him with bricks and stones, besides kicking him brutally on the body, and they left him apparently dead. He was shortly afterwards taken home, and medical assistance obtained, but he now lies in a precarious state. The three prisoners, when arrested on the charge, emphatically denied it, but a hat found near the scene of the assault is supposed to belong to Gill [sic]. -The men were remanded for a week.
Despite Alexander’s claim he was home by half past 10 that night, he was sentenced (on 29th August) to six months imprisonment for his role in the attack . Less than two weeks later, on the 9th September, Hannah gave birth to their second son and life was certainly not going to get any easier…
I have done a LOAD more research on the Lamb/Rollett family and found what I believe are answers to some of the questions I posed in my previous post (which I will write about later, I promise) but I’ve just come back from a quick trip to Derby and inputting the information into my online tree has thrown up ANOTHER question.
While at the Derby Local Histories & Family History Library, I found the baptism entries for William Henry LAMB & Rebecca TAYLOR’s children on a parish register microfilm. Their 5 oldest children were baptised at All Saints, Derby (which is now known as Derby Cathedral) all on the same day – 11th March 1849. Beside the first column, the children’s actual birth dates were also recorded – the eldest, John, being born nearly 10 years previous.
This is not that unusual and I have come across this before in my research over the years. However, these children had already been baptised as infants in St Alkmund’s Church!
Now, I have heard of some children being re-baptised after changing religions or denominations; I’ve even heard of some being re-baptised after moving to a new area. But St Alkmund’s & All Saints are both Church of England AND within a stone’s throw of each other so those explanations don’t fit.
Researching the church of St Alkmund’s shows that it was rebuilt 1844-46 (during the time some of the children were originally baptised); perhaps there was some issue surrounding this? The only other thought that has come to mind is some kind of scandal where there were concerns the children were not legitimately baptised.
If anyone can shed some light on this, or pose an alternative explanation, please contact me.