Book ’em, Danno

Thomas PALMER was a book seller and book binder.  I know this because of census entries, parish records and marriage certificates.

Thomas was listed as a ‘Bookseller’ on his son’s marriage certificate (1848)

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 was listed as ‘Bookseller’ on South Street, Gosport (1851 census)
Thomas was listed as ‘Bookseller & Binder’ on South Street (1861 census)

The censuses gave me South Street (no.53) as an address but where on South Street?   House numbering has not been consistent over time and I knew from comparing historical and modern maps that South Street, Gosport is a lot longer today than in the 1800s.  I turned to trade directories to assist me.

Kelly’s Directory of Hampshire 1867, p538

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?

Post Office Directory of Hampshire, Wiltshire & Dorsetshire, 1855, p58

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.

Directory of Hampshire & the Isle of Wight, 1859, p351

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:

  • 1851 – South street
  • 1855 – 53 Upper South street
  • 1859 – 61 South street
  • 1861 – 53 South street
  • 1867 – Upper South street

Next Steps:

  • view parish marriage record for Thomas & Ruth
  • find Thomas on the 1841 census
  • order Thomas’ death certificate

Workhouse Call

Read 1st part here and 2nd part here.

It took some time (and a bit of money) for me to find the right George PALMER’s death certificate. I am now quite sure this is the correct one as the age, occupation and location fit.


George Palmer’s death certificate – 29th October 1896
After an eventful life, George died in Westminster Union Workhouse. How did he end up there?
Note that George died of ‘Senile Decay’. Does this mean I have another lunatic on my hands?
Ancestry UK now has London Poor Law records available to view online. I searched the Westminster Union ‘Register of Lunatics’, which thankfully has a surname index and found there were no PALMER lunatics between the years of 1890 and 1898.
Unfortunately the ‘Admission and Discharge Book’ does NOT have a surname index. Using George’s date of death, I found his ‘discharge’ (death).

October 1896 Westminster Union Workhouse ‘Admission and Discharge Book’
George died on Thursday, October 29th 1896. His last meal was breakfast and his diet was described as ‘class 2’ (The Workhouse site explains the class of diet from 1900 onwards but I have yet to find a key to the Westminster Union classes in 1896).
The 1891 census for Westminster Union Workhouse contains a George Palmer of the same age, occupation and county of birth as mine.
George PALMER on the 1891 census in Westminster Union Workhouse

Presuming the George on the 1891 census is mine (the town of birth is listed as Winchester, Hampshire whereas all the other information that I have, states that George was born in Portsea, Hampshire), I have a window of 10 years in which to search for his admission.
Considering there is no surname index, this is a bit of a tedious task as I have to trawl through each page in the book for his surname – wish me luck!