ALL ABOUT
TUNBRIDGE WELLS

Page 2

 

GLADSTONE’S VISIT TO HASINGS IN 1891

Written By: Edward James Gilbert-Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada

Date: February 17,2019

INTRODUCTION

On March 13,1891  William Ewart Gladstone (1809-1898) departed from Charing Cross Station in London for an engagement in Hastings. During his departure from Charing Cross he was met by an enthusiastic crowd, some of whom broke through the barriers and climbed upon the train and when the train moved forward several men fell upon the tracks and platform and were injured.

Arriving in Tunbridge Wells later on the 13th Gladstone was once again met with a large crowd of Liberal supporters at the Central Station.  Gladstone replied to the addresses that were presented to him receiving a large ovation upon the closing remarks of his speech. The streets of Tunbridge Wells were decorated with bunting, even though Gladstone did not leave the train station, and was given a welcome in “Royal Style”. While at the train station local photographer George Glanville, who had a studio on the Broadway opposite the train station, arrived on the scene with his photographic equipment and took a series of photographs of Gladstone’s arrival. The Courier of March 27,1891 announced that photographs of Gladstone addressing the assembly and general views of proceedings at the SER station could be obtained at George Glanville’s studio on The Broadway. Unfortunately the researcher was unable to find any examples of these historic images. As was the case in Charing Cross , several of those in the crowd broke through the barriers in their enthusiasm to see Mr Gladstone, although no injuries were reported.

Having completed his short visit to the town the train left the SER station and arrived later that day in Hastings,where he was once again given an enthusiastic welcome. While in Hastings he was present at various events and spoke about Home Rule and other matters. On March 18th he completed his engagement there and got a horse drawn cab to take him to the train station. While in the cab the drunken cabbie lost control of his horse, but fortunately Gladstone was not injured, the cabbie being charged with drunkenness.

As the train moved north and neared Tunbridge Wells crowds once again assembled at the SER station. During a short stop a little girl presented Mrs Gladstone with a lovely bouquet of orchids on behalf of the Women’s Liberal Association. Mrs Gladstone showed her appreciation by lifting up the girl and kissing her. Mr Gladstone made a few remarks to the crowd and left amid cheers. His arrival at Charing Cross Station later that day was comparatively uneventful.

A great deal of concern was expressed in Parliament after the trip about events at the Charing Cross and Tunbridge Wells train stations , which concerns were recorded in the Hansard March 23.1891. Mr Kelly asked the President of the Board of Trade if he was aware of the occurrences that had taken place at Charing Cross upon his departure and on the same day at Tunbridge Wells where another crowd had broken down the barriers and gathered round the train. Sir M. Hicks Beach replied that he had no knowledge of the events referred to but stated “ I agree with the Hon. Friend in thinking that it is most undesirable that the safety and convenience of those whose business compels them to use railway platforms should be interfered with by political or other demonstrations, those who permit such demonstrations will incur a grave responsibility”.

Although the arrival of Mr Gladstone in the town was a short one it certainly was an eventful one.

In this article I present some photographs pertaining to Mr & Mrs Gladstone and their arrival in Tunbridge Wells. Also given are newspaper reports about the event from the Courier and other sources. Further information about George Glanville and his career can be found in my article ' Glanville, Skinner & Wyles-Photographers' dated March 21,2012.

WILLIAM EWART GLADSTONE 

William Ewart Gladstone (1809-1898) was a British Statesman of the Liberal Party. In a career lasting over 60 years he served at Prime Minister for 12 years spread over four terms from 1868 and 1894.

His residence was Hawarden Castle (image opposite). The residence was built 1752-1757 for Sir John Glynne, 6th Baronet to the design of Samuel Turner. When William Ewart Gladstone died in 1898 at Hawarden Castle it was left to his grandson William Glynne Charles Gladstone who was killed in active service in WW1. This castle and remains of the estate were still in the Gladstone family in 2018.

Shown below left is an image of Mr and Mrs Gladstone taken circa 1891. The couple had eight children and Catherine Gladstone survived her husband. For many years in the later part of Mr Gladstone’s life he was in ill health and although ill before and after his trip through Tunbridge Wells in 1891 to and from Hastings he continued to appear at a large number of engagements. Shown below right is a CDV by a London photographer of the Gladstone family and shown opposite from the same photographer is  a CDV showing Mr Gladstone dated 1891.

 

 










THE CHARING CROSS DEPARTURE 

Gladstone’s trip to Hastings began with the arrival  of he and his wife at the Charing Cross Station on March 13,1891. They were met at the station by a large crowd by supporters and onlookers. As the train prepared to set off from the station several hundred people surged forward as the train pulled up to meet his carriage and some officials fell on to the line and had to save themselves by clinging to the engine coupling. The men, shocked and covered in dust, clambered back on the platform and the special train of four first-class coaches set off late through the snow-covered route to Tunbridge Wells.

The Hansard of March 23, 1891 reported the following “ Mr Kelly-I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware of the occurrences which took place at the Charing Cross Railway Station upon the occasion of the departure , on Tuesday last, of the right honourable the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. Gladstone) for Hastings, when the crowd broke down the frail barriers which had been erected, and two persons were thrown down between the saloon carriages forming part of the moving train, and narrowly escaped being crushed to death….” Sir M. Hicks Beach’s reply in connection to this incident and the one that followed later that day at Tunbridge Wells is given in the Introduction above.

The Kingston Gleaner of March 30,1891 reported in part “ At Charing Cross on Gladstone’s departure several people got up on the train cheering until the train moved and several of them were thrown onto the tracks and platform. Two men, who were seriously injured, were taken to the Charing Cross Hospital and several more were badly cut and bruised…”

ARRIVAL IN TUNBRIDE WELLS

Mr and Mrs Gladstone made two appearances in Tunbridge Wells at the SER station on Mount Pleasant Road in 1891, the first was on the down trip on March 13th and the second on the up trip on March 20th. Although both visits were short they were nonetheless quite eventful.

Shown below is a photograph of the SER station dated 1891 and to the right of it is a postcard view of the station from a circa 1902 postcard.










[1] THE DOWN TRIP

On the down trip Gladstone’s train travelled over the large viduct after passing through Tonbridge and then headed west past the High Brooms train station.  Upon the appearance of the train at High Brooms the Gladstone’s arrival was welcomed by cheering supporters who were perched on gasometers and brickyard stacks of the High Brooms Brick and Tile Company and by those who had assembled at the train station.

The train then passed though the long tunnel beneath Tunbridge Wells and resurfaced at the tunnel exit at the Central Station on Mount Pleasant Road. In anticipation of Gladstone’s arrival a large crown of Liberal supporters, Conservative opponents and other onlookers assembled on the down platform of the train station and when the train appeared Gladstone was welcomed by the enthusiastic cheers of a large crowd of invited Liberal supporters, restive because of the delay and primed with beer. They had been infiltrated by equally well-fuelled Conservatives who made their presence known by their jeers and placards.

Thirst also afflicted the Professional Military Band seated on a truck parked on the platform where the great man would arrive and they had to be sustained with jugs of beer lowered from a restaurant on the embankment. So when a porter’s whistle signalled that the train had been sighted the scene was set for a lively reception.

As the engine lights appeared from the gloom of the tunnel and the band struck up ‘ A Fine Old English Gentleman’ the crowd surged forward, overwhelming the Liberal ticket holders and threatening to pitch them on to the rails. Gladstone emerged apprehensively from his carriage to cries of “Umbrellas down” from those at the back who could not see. By this time it was raining hard and officials anxious for the health of their 82 year old hero called to him to put on his hat.  But he remained bareheaded in the chaotic scene, seeing at least one welcoming scroll vanished with its bearer in the mob.

After making a speech he went back into his carriage and the train left the station with the cheers of his supporters fading away as the train headed for Hastings.

The Kingston Gleaner of March 30,1891 had the following to say “ When the train stopped at Tunbridge Wells a large crowd was found to have assembled there. Mr Gladstone replied to addresses which were presented to him on the platform of the train station saying among other things that he hoped to shake hands with a Liberal member from Tunbridge after the next Parliamentary Election. He continued his speech to the enthusiastic crowd and after concluding his remarks he received an ovation. The streets of the town were brilliantly decorated with bunting and Gladstone was welcomed in true ‘Royal Style’.  The article continues with information about Gladstone’s arrival and business in Hasting and his departure from there on March 18th on his return trip through Tunbridge Wells back to the Charing Cross Station.

As noted in the previous section The Hansard of March 23,1891 contained comments about the incidents at Charing Cross and Tunbridge Wells by Mr Kelly and Sir M. Hicks Beach.  Regarding Tunbridge Wells Mr Kelly said “ On the same day, at the Tunbridge Wells Station, another crowd broke down the barriers, and gathered round the train there…”

The Kent & Sussex Courier of March 13,1891 gave “ Mr Gladstone’s Hastings Visit-The Reception at Tunbridge Wells. In our last issue were given the details of arrangements made for Mr Gladstones forthcoming visit to Hastings to address a gathering…” It also reported that “Mr Gladstone was presented with an illuminated address in the name of the Liberal Association of the Tonbridge District and that Miss Powell will present Mrs Gladstone with a bouquet.

[2] THE UP TRIP 

Gladstone’s arrival in Hastings was a much anticipated event. The local press reported that the town was decorated with arches, flags and streamers and that he was met at the train station by a large and enthusiastic crowd. Details about the speeches made by Gladstone at Hastings are not given here but can be found on the internet and in other sources.

Upon completion of his business in Hastings, Gladstone and his wife took a carriage to the train station in Hastings (image opposite).  Cheering at the train station began as soon as Gladstone entered the building and continued until the train left.

The Kingston Gleaner of March 30,1891 reported “ On March 18 at Hastings, after his speeches, Gladstone had a narrow escape from a carriage accident when the carriage was taking him to the railway station. The coachman lost control of the horse but the runaway carriage was stopped by other men and brought under control. Although visibly shaken up nobody was injured. The coachman was fined for drunkenness.

A large crown assembled at the Central Station in Tunbridge Wells awaiting the arrival of Gladstone’s train.

The Kent & Sussex Courier of March 20,1891 reported “ Mr Gladstone, upon his arrival at the station bowed to those who had assembled on the station platform and cheers were raised as the train steamed away. The train was due in London at 7pm but arrived two minutes late”.

The Sevenoaks Chronicle of March 20,1891 reported that Miss Madge Powell, a little girl, presented Mrs Gladstone with a lovely bouquet of orchids on behalf of the local Women’s Liberal Association. Mrs Gladstone acknowledged the gift by lifting the child in her arms and kissing her”. Although Mr Gladstones health was failing it was reported that “ Gladstone looked well”.

Eighteen months after Tunbridge Wells had welcomed Gladstone on his Twenty Towns Tour of Kent and Sussex, he was returned to power.

 

THE TUNBRIDGE WELLS ART CLUB

 

Written By: Edward James Gilbert-Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada

Date: February 9,2019

A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE CLUB 

Given in this section is an article from 1952 entitled ‘Tunbridge Wells Art Club’ that appeared in ‘The Artist’. The club is still in existence and in 2015 my friend Mrs Susan Price and I had the pleasure of enjoying an art exhibit in the Pantiles at Sussex House (a view of which is given below) and also one held at the Assembly Hall. It is clear from the many wonderful examples of artwork on display that there is a very active and talented art community in the town.

“The Tunbridge Wells Art Club was founded in 1934 by the late Charles Tattershall Dodd, A.R.C.A., whose father was also a well-known local artist. He was ably supported by his wife who was for fifteen years the Secretary and mainstay of the Club. Both died in November 1949.”

“The objects of the club, as laid down in the Rules shall be exclusively to stimulate the Fine Arts and will this object in view the Club shall maintain premises in which artists, students, and others interested in these subjects may meet and be able to exhibit their work.”

“This object has been well attained and even the war years did not break its continuity, exhibitions, and lectures being given and well attended, in spite of all difficulties.”

“Mary, Marchioness of Abergavenny, has been President of the club since its earliest days and Bertram Priestman , R.A., was Vice President till his death in 1951. Claude Muncaster,R.B.A, R.W.S, R.O.I,S.M.A. succeeded him as Vice President. “

“From the beginning the Club has been domiciled in The Pantiles, though not continuously in the same building. At one time it was feared that it would have no move elsewhere, but in 1950 the Corporation leased the ground floor of Sussex House (image opposite), an old house in the Lower Walk, to the Club, and adapted it to suit the Club’s requirements.”

“The Club rooms consist of a large studio, lecture room, a pleasant sunny reading rooms, and a small connecting room, which is well lit. All these rooms are used for the two annual exhibitions. The Summer Exhibition is now selective, but every painting member of the Club has the right to show at least one work in the Autumn Exhibition. Since the Club moved into Sussex House, a series of one-man shows has been given by ten of its members. It has also been possible to extend its activities, and besides the fortnightly meeting for criticism and discussion of member’s current work and the weekly meeting of the Sketch Club, there are weekly meetings of the Sketch Portrait Group to draw from a costume model, and a meeting for more advanced portrait work. In the summer parties are formed for the purpose of outdoor sketching.”

“There are many accomplished artists in the Club, both professional and amateur, who are always willing to put their knowledge and experience at the service of their fellow members at these meetings. The results of this co-operation can be seen in the continued improvement in the standard of the Club’s Exhibitions.”

“Situated as Tunbridge Wells is on the boarders of Kent and Sussex, the Club draws its one hundred and eighty members from both counties and from an increasingly wide area. Not all its members are artists; many people join the Club for the love of art, for the interesting winter lectures, and to have a congenial port of call in the town. They are very welcome”.  

CHARLES TATTERSHALL DODD (1861-1949) 

Given below is an excerpt from my article ‘ The Dodd’s-A Tunbridge Wells Family of Artists’ dated October 4,2011.

Shown opposite is a photo of his home on Grosvenor Road and below is an image of Charles. Roger Farthing, in his 1990 book entitled ‘Royal Tunbridge Wells’ states “ Anyone walking up Grosvenor Road can see Grosvenor Lodge, just below the fishmonger’s. Part of the Grosvenor Estate bought by Richard Delves on George Weller’s death in 1785 and descending by inheritance to son-in-law James Hockett Fry and his son,Ref. James Fry,who sold up, it was the home of the artist C.T. Dodd junior, seen here with his family”. Shown below are a few examples of his paintings.

Charles was born July-September 1861 at Tunbridge Wells and was one of eight children born to Charles Tattershall Dodd(1815-1878) and Jane.He was the eldest son in the family and like his father he received a good education in art and made the creation of artwork and the teaching of art his lifelong career. Unlike his father he was also a sculptor and his paintings were more diverse in subject matter creating not only landscapes but also portraits and still lifes.There are many examples of his paintings to be found at the Tunbridge Wells Museum and Art Gallery as well as in private and public collections throughout Britain. One of his works is a painting entitled "The Cricket Match,Tunbridge School,lithograph by W.L.Walton and published by Charl which was sold at auction in 2010 for a good sum. Among the portraits he produced are paintings of Thomas Sims(circa 1900); Isabelle Rebecca Dodd and Henrietta Jane Sadd(1902)J.C.M.Given MD and Dr. George Abbott. Among his paintings are Tunbridge Wells subjects as well as paintings done in France and Switzerland.

Charles was an art master at the Tonbridge School for 23 years, continuing a family tradition begun by his father who had taught there for 40 years. Charles lived almost his entire life in Tunbridge Wells but travelled extensively. After his father’s death in 1878 Charles continued to live with his mother and siblings at 31 Grosvenor Road and was still living there in 1891.In 1891 he was recorded in the census as an artist and art master. On January 11,1897 his mother Jane passed away in Tunbridge Wells, her name and details being given on the family headstone in the Woodbury Park Cemetery. After her death Charles  remained at the same address living with his siblings Frederick,Sarah and Catherine.All four of them were still single. Charles executed and presented two copper panels which were installed in the vestibule of the Tunbridge Wells Technical Institute,the institute being constructed on Monson Road in 1902.

In the 2nd qtr of 1904, in Tunbridge Wells, Charles married Edith Hobbs (1870-1949) who’s birth was registered the 4th qtr of 1870 in Reigate,Surrey. Edith was one of at least four children born to Stephen B. Hobbs and Susan M. Hobbs. At the time of the 1871 census, taken at London Road in Reigate, Surrey Stephen B. Hobbs, born 1830 at Hornchurch, Essex was working as a “Bill Broker” .With him was his wife Susan M. Hobbs, born 1840 at Cheshunt, Hertfordshire and his children Florence M Hobbs born 1862 in Romford, Essex; Walter B. Hobbs, born 1863 in Romford, Anne C Hobbs, born 1865 in Romford and Edith Hobbs born 1870 in Reigate,Surrey. Also in the home were two domestic servants. Moving ahead in time to the 1901 census, taken at 16 Mount Sion, Christchurch, Kent was listed Edith Hobbs, age 30, a governess of a school. With her was her sister Jessie,age 22. The two spinster sisters were listed as sister-in-laws and were living with their married sister Florence M. Adeney and her husband Edwin L. Adeney, a physician/surgeon and their 8 year old daughter.

The 1911 census, taken at ‘Hillgarth’, Tunbridge Wells gave Charles as an artist and drawing master at the Tonbridge School. Living with him was his wife Edith; his nephew Charles Tattershall Dodd, age 13, and one domestic servant. The census recorded that Charles and Edith had been married 7 years; that they had no children, and that they were living in premises of 7 rooms.

Charles had begun to exhibit his work at an early age and continued to do so late in life.A record dated 1910 from an exhibition catalogue of the Royal Academy of Arts lists C.T. Dodd, Howard Lodge,Tunbridge Wells.

In 1913 he is recorded as Charles Tattershall Dodd; A.R.C.A. Hilllgarth,Powder Mill Lane,Tunbridge Wells and in 1922 at 50 Grosvenor Road.By 1930 he is found at Glengowan Station Road,Emberbrook,London but later returned to Tunbridge Wells.

The Tunbridge Wells Art Club was founded in 1934 by Charles Tattershall Dodd, A.R.C.A.. He was ably supported by his wife who was for fifteen years the Secretary and mainstay of the club. Shown opposite is a photograph of Charles and his wife from 1948. This club had leased premises in the Pantiles at various locations but in 1950 it occupied Sussex House in the Lower Walk. In the 1950’s the club had some 180 members from Kent and Sussex.

Probate records gave Charles Tattershall Dodd of The Studio Grosvenor Lodge Tunbridge Wells and that he died November 20,1949 at 1 Park Road,Tunbridge Wells. The executor of his 8,340 pound estate was the Public Trustee. Probate records for his wife Edith Dodd gave her otherwise as Edith Tattershall Dodd (the wife of Charles Tattershall Dodd) of The Studio Grosvenor Lodge Tunbridge Wells when she died November 3,1949. The executor of her 707 pound estate was the Public Trustee. Both Charles and his wife were cremated at the Kent & Sussex Crematorium. Charles left behind a large body of work, many examples of which can be found in the collection of the Tunbridge Wells Museum and Art Gallery.

 

 

THE LIFE AND TIMES OF EDITH TATTERSHALL DODD

Written By: Edward James Gilbert-Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada

Date: February 22,2019

OVERVIEW 

Mrs Edith Tattershall Dodd (1870-1949) was the wife of well-known Tunbridge Wells artist Charles Tattershall Dodd (1861-1949).

Edith was born as Edith Hobbs 1870 in Reigate, Surrey, one of eight children born to Stephen Brafield Hobbs (1829-1902) and Susan Mary Hobbs, nee Champness (1840-1885). Stephen Brafield Hobbs worked all of his life in Surrey as bill broker/discounter.

Edith lived with her parents and siblings in Reigate Surrey in the 1870’s and attended school there, receiving only a basis education. At the time of the 1881 census Edith was living as boarder with her brother Philip in Richmond Surrey at the residence of Anne Joy (a school mistress).

Edith’s mother passed away in Romford, Essex in 1885 when Edith was just age 15 and she never returned to live with her father and siblings.

The 1891 census, taken in Hammersmith, London gave Edith working as a governess at a school and living as the niece of Emma Mary Champness a 53 year old widow who was the proprietor of a hotel.

At the time of the 1901 census Edith and her 22 year old sister Jessie were both working as governesses of a school and living as sister in laws to Edwin L. Adeney (a physician) and his wife Florence Mary Adeney, nee Hobbs (1862-1942).

On October 19,1902 Edith’s father died in Tunbridge Wells while a resident of Little Grove House in Mount Sion. The executor of his 746 pound estate was his son Walter Brafield Hobbs, a discount broker.

In the 4th qtr of 1904, in Tunbridge Wells, Edith married Charles Tattershall Dodd (1861-1949) and she and her husband remained in Tunbridge Wells for the rest of their lives.

The 1911 census, taken at Hillgarth on Powder Mill Lane gave Edith with her husband Charles and Charles nephew Charles Tattershall Dodd who was born in Tunbridge Wells in 1898. The census noted that the couple had no children and there is no record of the couple ever having children.

Edith had an active life in Tunbridge Wells, due in part to the notoriety of her husband but in her own right became a champion and benefactor of many local and national causes, particularly those affecting women.

In 1908 a branch of The NUWSS was established in Tunbridge Wells with Mrs Edith Tattershall Dodd , of Grosvenor Lodge, being appointed the secretary. They held their meetings at their headquarters at 18 Crescent Road, opposite the stables of the Calverley Hotel and in this capacity Edith became actively involved in the Women’s Suffrage Movement.  While Edith served as the secretary of this society Madame Sarah Grand served as president and Amelia Scott as vice-president.  The National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies (NUWSS), also known as the was an organisation of women's suffrage societies around the United Kingdom. In a report by Edith Tattershall Dodd in 1935 she stated that the local society had 160 members.

On June 29,1908 a caravan of the Women’s Freedom League arrived in Tunbridge Wells and on that day a thousand people came to their first meeting and representatives who spoke were treated badly both verbally and physically. A second meeting took place on June 30th and on July 1st there was a ‘Drawing Room’ meeting at the house (Grosvenor Lodge) of Mr and Mrs Tattershall Dodd  where a resolution was passed urging the Government to grant women the vote. Further meetings were held that month before ladies and their caravan moved on to Cranbrook, arriving there July 6th.

Edith and her husband lived in a fine home called Grosvenor Lodge on Grosvenor Road at which premises her husband had an art studio and where Edith entertained her lady friends and supporters of the Suffrage Movement.  They were still living there in the 1920’s.

In 1922 Edith made a trip to France and while at Padigon near St Tropez she was wading in the ocean when attacked by an octopus. Her friends responded to her screams and got her free by killing the octopus with a walking stick. The story made national headlines being reported in the Courier and newspapers in London, Australia and elsewhere.

A review of local newspaper articles covering the period of 1904 to the time of Edith’s death in 1949 shows just how involved in local affairs and the suffrage movement she was.  Both she and her husband were involved, according to the Courier of 1939 in the Freedom League. In 1938 Edith wrote to the newspaper giving her opinions on the provision of public conveniences on the commons and she also wrote in 1939 complaining about the lack of a bylaw dealing with litter scattered about the town. A Courier report of 1929 about the Technical Institute  gave information about a tribute to Mrs Tattershall Dodd for  her work. A newspaper report of May 1943 about the Maternity Home annual meeting contained a comment by Mrs Dodd congratulating the home on its progress. A Courier article of March 28,1919 referred to a report submitted by Mrs Dodd about the Tunbridge Wells Women’s Citizen Association of which she was a member. The Courier of April 11,1913 contained comments by Mrs Dodd about objections raised about women being the right to vote. She was also referred to in the local press speaking out in support of the Women’s Tax Resistence League although no reference to her withholding taxes was found.

The Courier in January 1925 reported the annual meeting of the Tunbridge Wells branch of the League of Nations and that Mrs Tattershall Dodd and others were elected as members of the committee.

Edith and her husband were members of the local Natural History Society but the Courier of October 9,1931 reported that Mrs Tattershall Dodd had found it impossible to continue her work with the Society and Mr. C.H. Strange was appointed in her place.

In 1934 the Tunbridge Wells Art Club was formed by Edith and her husband Charles, both of whom became honorable secretaries of the club and a great deal of credit to its success was given to the work of Edith in promoting it and organizing art exhibits. She served in this capacity for some 13 years.

Edith Tattershall Dodd passed away in Tunbridge Wells November 3,1949 and her husband passed away later that same year.

Edith Tattershall Dodd was a remarkable woman. In this article I present information about her and her family and about her activities in Tunbridge Wells. Shown above is a photograph of her late in life.

THE EARLY LIFE OF EDITH HOBBS

Edith Hobbs was born in Reigate, Surrey in 1870 and was one of eight children born to Stephen Brafield Hobbs (1829-1902) and Susan Mary Hobbs, nee Champness (1840-1885).  Edith’s birth was registered in Reigate in the 4th qtr of 1870.

Stephen Brafield Hobbs was born 1829 in Hornchurch, Essex and was one of eight children born to William Hobbs (born 1792) and Susanna M. Hobb s (born 1793). Stephen lived with his parents and siblings in Hornchurch until at least the time of the 1841 census. By the time of the 1851 census he was living as a lodger in Stratford le Bow, Middlesex. In the 2nd qtr of 1861 he married Susan Mary Champness at Romford, Essex and with her had the following children (1) Florence Mary Hobbs (1840-1885) (2) Walter Brafield Hobbs (born 1863) (3) Annie Clare Hobbs (born 1865) (4) EDITH HOBBS (born 1870) (5) Harold Champness Hobbs (1873-1951) (6) Phillip Edgar Hobbs (born 1875) (7) Stephen Cuthbert Hobbs (1877-1882) (8) Jessie F. Hobbs (born 1878). The three eldest children were born in Romford, Essex with the rest of the children being born in Reigate.

The 1871 census, taken at London Road in Reigate Surrey (most likely at Antwerp Villas) gave Stephen as a bill broker. With him was his wife Susan given as born 1840 in Cheshunt, Hertfordshire and their children Florence, Walter, Anne and EDITH. Also there were two servants. This is the last census record in which Edith Hobbs was living with her parents. Edith received only a basis education at a Reigate girls school.

The 1881 census taken at Antwerp Villas on London Road in Reigate gave Stephen as the manager of a discount company (bill discounter). His wife was not with him at the time but his children Walter, Harold, Stephen,Jessie and two servants were.

In 1885 Edith’s mother Susan passed away in Romford Essex when Edith was just age 15. The birth of Susan Mary Hobbs, nee Champness was registered in the 1st qtr of 1840 at Edmonton, Middlesex and was born January 12,1840 at Cheshunt, Hertfordshire. She was baptised April 12,1840 at Cheshunt. Susan was one of four children born to James Champness (born 1815) and Mary Champness (born 1817). Susan’s name and that of her husband are given on the headstone of her son Stephen Cuthbert Hobbs (1877-1882) who died in Reigate at St Mary’s Church Burial Ground in Reigate. A photograph of the headstone can be found on the internet.

The 1891 census taken at 6 Edmonton Terrace in Camberwell London gave Stephen as a widow and unemployed. With him was his son Walter, a clerk; his son Harold, a clerk; and Philip who was unemployed.

The 1901 census, taken at the Swan Hotel on the High Street in Reigate gave Stephen as a widower and living there as a visitor and working as a bookkeeper for a wine merchant. 

Stephen moved to Tunbridge Wells in the latter part of 1901. Probate records gave him of Little Grove House in Mount Sion, Tunbridge Wells when he died October 18,1902. The executor of his 746 pound estate was his son Walter Brafield Hobbs, a discount broker.

Returning now to Edith Hobbs, from the above she last lived with her parents and siblings at the time of the 1871 census in Reigate but it is to be expected she continued to live with them throughout the 1870’s. She had left the family home sometime before the 1881 census.

Edith Hobbs and her brother Philip were found in the 1881 census living with Anne Joy (a school mistress) and her family at 5 Church Terrace in Richmond, Surrey.

The 1891 census, taken at the Brook Green Hotel in Hammersmith, London gave Edith working as a governess at a school.  She was living as the niece of Emma M. Champness, a 53 year old widow and the proprietor of the hotel.

The 1901 census., taken at 16 Mount Sion in Christchurch, Kent gave Edith and her sister Jessie both working as governesses of a school. They were living as the sister-in-laws of Edwin L. Adveney, a 42 year old physician and his wife Florence M. Advenery, nee Hobbs and their son.

Sometime after the 1901 census was taken Edith Hobbs moved to Tunbridge Wells and in the 2nd qtr of 1904 she married Charles Tattershall Dodd (1861-1949) a well-known local artist.

THE TUNBRIDGE WELLS YEARS 

I begin this section with some brief information about Charles Tattershall Dodd, Edith’s husband who she married in the 2nd qtr of 1904 in Tunbridge Wells. Which church they were married at was not established. Full details about Charles and the Dodd family were given in my articles (1) The Dodd’s-A Tunbridge Wells Family of Artists’ dated October 4,2011 (2) The Tunbridge Wells Art Club’ dated February 9,2019. Shown below is an image of  of one of his paintings.

The Dodd family  settled in Tunbridge Wells in the early 1800's.Two brothers Joseph Josiah Dodd(1809-1894) and Charles Tattershall Dodd(1815-1878) became accomplished artists as did Charle's son Charles Tattershall Dodd(1861-1949).

Charles was born July-September 1861 at Tunbridge Wells and was one of eight children born to Charles Tattershall Dodd(1815-1878) and Jane. He was the eldest son in the family and like his father he received a good education in art and made the creation of artwork and the teaching of art his lifelong career. Unlike his father he was also a sculptor and his paintings were more diverse in subject matter creating not only landscapes but also portraits and still lives. There are many examples of his paintings to be found at the Tunbridge Wells Museum and Art Gallery as well as in private and public collections throughout Britain.

Charles was an art master at the Tonbridge School for 23 years, continuing a family tradition begun by his father who had taught there for 40 years. Charles lived almost his entire life in Tunbridge Wells but travelled extensively. After his father’s death in 1878 Charles continued to live with his mother and siblings at 31 Grosvenor Road and was still living there in 1891. In 1891 he was recorded in the census as an artist and art master. On January 11,1897 his mother Jane passed away in Tunbridge Wells, her name and details being given on the family headstone in the Woodbury Park Cemetery. After her death Charles  remained at the same address living with his siblings Frederick,Sarah and Catherine.All four of them were still single.

On June 29,1908 a caravan of the Women’s Freedom League, which was making a tour of various towns, arrived in Tunbridge Wells intending to hold a meeting on the common each evening. At their first meeting on June 29th a thousand people showed up but the ladies travelling with the caravan were met with a mixed response. Occasionally a piece of turf or other missile  and insults were hurled at them and Miss Matters who was speaking was swept from her feet but caught by a gentleman. When interviewed Miss Matters stated that it was not her first encounter with hooligans. On June 30th another meeting was held, that one at the Town Hall. On the afternoon of July there was a ‘Drawing Room’ meeting at the house of Mrs and Mrs Tattershall Dodd (at Grosvenor Lodge) where Miss Matters passed a Resolution urging the Government to grant women the vote. At this meeting around 100 women and just 3 men met. Two more meetings in the town took place on July 1 and 2 and then the ladies and their caravan ended up at Cranbrook on July 6th. Shown opposite is a photo of the caravan in Tunbridge Wells and above it is a view of the van near Chichester.  Edith Dodd was an active supporter of the Women’s Freedom League. The Women's Freedom League, founded in 1907  was an organisation in the United Kingdom which campaigned for women's suffrage and sexual equality.  Several articles in the Courier were found making reference to the Women’s Freedom League and both Mr and Mrs Tattershall Dodd including that of February 24,1939.

In 1908 a NUWSS (National Union of Women’s Suffrage) society was established in Tunbridge Wells with Mrs Tattershall Dodd of Grosvenor Lodge acting as its secretary, with Madame Grand as president and Amelia Scott as vice-president. The Courier of November 19,1909 published a letter from Edith Tattershall Dodd, the local NUWSS secretary, in which she reminded readers that her organisation, the oldest and most numerous body campaigning for women’s suffrage, had consistently and constantly condemned violet methods. In a letter to the Advertiser in November 1909 Edith had pointed out that the NUWSS committee included some staunch Conservatives as well as Liberals. Mrs Dodd was still the secretary in 1913 and by then was working jointly with Gertrude Mosely. At the end of 1910 the NUWSS opened a permanent shop at 18 Crescent Road (image opposite) just opposite of the stables of the Calverley Hotel. The Courier of November 29,1912 reported the Mrs Tatterhall Dodd and Miss Mosely were at home to the members last Monday evening at their club at 18 Crescent Road. Mrs Dodd was still a hon secretary of this branch in 1933 as reported in the Courier of October 20,1933.

The 1911 census, taken at ‘Hillgarth’ (sometimes given as Hill Garth), Powder Mill Lane,Tunbridge Wells gave Charles as an artist and drawing master at the Tonbridge School. Living with him was his wife Edith; his nephew Charles Tattershall Dodd, age 13, and one domestic servant. The census recorded that Charles and Edith had been married 7 years; that they had no children, and that they were living in premises of 7 rooms. Hillgarth was built in 1910 on the corner of Powder Mill Lane and St Johns Road and was one of a number of imposing homes built in that part of town in the early 1900’s. Shown opposite is a postcard view of Powder Mill Lane circa 1930.

The Women’s Tax Resistance League (WTRL)was formed in 1909 as a result of the unfairness of women paying taxes but denied the vote, thus rendered unable to  have a say in how their taxes were spent. Their slogan was ‘No Vote-No Tax’, a slogan that appeared on pins and banners and displayed during their protest events. This organization had close links with the Women’s Freedom League of which Mrs Dodd was a member. The WTRL recruited women who were willing to campaign  for the vote by refusing to pay tax, advised them on their legal position and supported members in their protests. By 1910 they had over 100 members and although their objective was to reach 500 they only achieved a membership of 220 by 1914.  The women were subjected to all kinds of taxes from dog licenses, servant’s licenses, carriage licenses, property tax and an inhabited house license. The problem for women in not paying taxes is that if they refused to pay their tax the authorities could go after their husbands for any amount due. Married women found that although they wanted to withhold taxes they did not have the support of their husbands. As a result of not paying the taxes they were called upon to appear before a magistrate and if not payed a distraint warrant was issued and goods seized by bailiffs and sold at public auction. All kinds of cases were found where property had been sized and sold but none were found for any women who were residents of Tunbridge Wells. The NUWSS,  of which Mrs Dodds was secretary gave tax resistance some consideration on July 7,1911 when WTRL organizer Margaret Kineton Parkes spoke at a meeting held in their Crescent Road office. Members concluded however that breaking the law would be a step too far. The Courier of August 2,1912 contained a letter to the editor by Edith Tatterhall Dodd about Tax Resistance who supported the movement but no reports of her or any other members of the local branch were found in the Courier of them not paying their taxes. Lydia Le Lacheur was very active in the Tunbridge Wells branch of the NUWSS where she served as treasurer and hosted many meetings and ‘at homes’ both at the society’s shop at 18 Crescent Road and her home ‘Wilderness’. She was also a supporter of the Women’s Tax Resistance League and presided over a meeting in support of the League’s campaign of passive resistance held at 18 Crescent Road in 1911. Other members of the Le Lacheur family were supporters of the Women’s Suffrage Movement.

In 1913 Charles Tattershall Dodd; A.R.C.A. was listed with his wife Edith at Hillgarth,Powder Mill Lane,Tunbridge Wells and in 1922 at 50 Grosvenor Road. By 1930 he is found at Glengowan Station Road,Emberbrook,London but later returned to Tunbridge Wells.

The Courier of April 11,1913 gave “ Tunbridge Wells Society-Mrs T. Dodd then spoke briefly upon the two objections of granting the franchise (to vote) to women. The first which she referred was that if women were given the vote they would sit in Parliament”. Mrs Dodd went on in the article to address the issues raised in opposition to women getting the vote.

For many years Edith and her husband lived at Grosvenor Lodge (rear view opposie) on Grosvenor Road. In this view can be seen Edith and Charles Dodd. Roger Farthing, in his 1990 book entitled ‘Royal Tunbridge Wells’ states “ Anyone walking up Grosvenor Road can see Grosvenor Lodge, just below the fishmonger’s. Part of the Grosvenor Estate bought by Richard Delves on George Weller’s death in 1785 and descending by inheritance to son-in-law James Hockett Fry and his son,Ref. James Fry,who sold up, it was the home of the artist C.T. Dodd junior, seen here with his family”.

In 1914 the issue of providing assistance to Belgium refugees arose. Lydia Le Lecheur and Amelia Scott both played a key role in the town’s support for the refugees. At the beginning of October 1914 Lydia was responsible for receiving some of the earliest arrivals at Grosvenor Lodge after Edith Tattershall Dodd and her husband had moved out of their home so that it could be used to accommodate them.

The Courier of March 28,1919 reported on the Tunbridge Wells Women’s Citizen Association (WCA) and stated in part that “Mrs Tattershall Dodd Submitted a report which dealt with the work accomplished during the past year”.  From the end of November 1918 the WCA placed advertisments in the local newspapers encouraging women to check at the enquiry office that they were registered to vote and to use their vote when the time came. The NUWSS secretary Edith Tattershall Dodd was in charge of the office at 52 Grosvenor road, which was also opened as a ‘non-party’ information bureau, with volunteers available to answer questions women electors had in advance of the election. A letter to the Courier after the election had taken place thanked the volunteers for their help and ‘sympathetic attention’ and commented on the happy atmosphere at the bureau.

In 1922 Edith Dodd and her husband travelled to France and while there a most interesting event occurred when Edith was attacked by an octopus, and event which made headlines in the Kent & Sussex Courier of  March 31,1922, several newspapers in Australia , the USA and in London. Although the Courier article included a photograph of Edith taken at the time of this event it’s quality was too poor to present here. Instead, shown here is an article about the event dated January 21,1922 in which Edith is referred to as Mrs Tattershall Dodd of Grosvenor Lodge, Tunbridge Wells. She had been wading in the water at Pardigon near St Tropez in the Var Department, in the south of France when the octopus grabbed her leg. Edith and her husband travelled extensively and the Courier of August 17,1923 mentioned that Mr and Mrs Dodd were on a visit it Switzerland.

The Courier of January 23, 1925 reported in the League of Nations annual meeting at the Tunbridge Wells Branch and among the  members of its committee was listed Mrs Tattershall Dodd.

The Courier of October 18,1929 reported on the opening ceremony at the Technical Institute and that an excellent display of silver ware was shown. “Mr C.H. Strange seconded the vote of thanks and paid tribute to the work of Mrs Tattershall Dodd” for the event.

In the 1930’s a few articles were found in the Courier regarding amateur theatrical performances. One from December 19,1932 referred to Mr. C.t. Dodd playing the part of Tubal (a friend of Shylock) in the production of the Merchant of Venice. The Courier of October 15,1943 referred to a theatrical performance in which Mrs Tattershall Dodd played the part of a shepherd.

The town’s Natural History Society was reported on in the Courier of October 9,1931 and that among its members were Mr and Mrs Tattershall Dodd. In this issue it was reported “ Mrs Tattershall Dodd had found it impossible to continue this work and Mr C. H. Strange was appointed to take her place”.

The Tunbridge Wells Art Club was founded in 1934 by Charles Tattershall Dodd, A.R.C.A.. He was ably supported by his wife Edith who was for fifteen years was the Secretary and mainstay of the club. Shown opposite is a photograph of Charles and his wife from 1948. This club had leased premises in the Pantiles at various locations but in 1950 it occupied Sussex House in the Lower Walk. In the 1950’s the club had some 180 members from Kent and Sussex. A number of articles in the Courier about the Art Club making reference to Mr and Mrs Tattershall Dodd were found throughout the 1930’s and 1940’s noting that Mrs Dodd was the club secretary and that after their active involvement both she and her husband were made honorary secretaries. Several of these articles praised the work of Mr and Mrs Tattershall Dodd in the Art Club. Mrs Dodd and her husband had been actively involved in the local art community long before the club was formed in 1934. The Courier of October 18,1929 for example reported on an Art’s and Craft’s Exhibition held in the town and that it opened “due to Mr and Mrs Tattershall Dodd who’s work contributed so much towards the success of the event”.

Edith Dodd took an active interest in many matters of general public interest. In a letter to the editor of the Courier of January 27,1939 she complained about the litter nuisance in the town and asked the question if there was a bylaw in Kent and Sussex that dealt with it and if not there should be one. Another matter which drew her attention, as reported in the Courier of October 24.1938 was the public conveniences on the common. In a letter to the Editor was stated in part “ Sir-Most people agree with the opinion expressed in your last issue by Mrs Tattershall Dodd as to the proposed site for the public lavatories on the common. The temporary one now in the process of demolition was only bearable…”

The Courier of May 14,1943 reported on the local Maternity Home’s annual meeting at which meeting Mrs Edith Tatteshall Dodd remarked that “it was gratifying to see the progress made by the home” and she went on to give her recollections of the early days of the home. Edith was also a supporter of the General Hospital and was involved in fund raising events for it.

Probate records Edith Dodd gave her otherwise as Edith Tattershall Dodd (the wife of Charles Tattershall Dodd) of The Studio Grosvenor Lodge Tunbridge Wells when she died November 3,1949. The executor of her 707 pound estate was the Public Trustee.

Probate records gave Charles Tattershall Dodd of The Studio Grosvenor Lodge Tunbridge Wells and that he died November 20,1949 at 1 Park Road,Tunbridge Wells. The executor of his 8,340 pound estate was the Public Trustee.

Both Charles and his wife were cremated at the Kent & Sussex Crematorium. Charles left behind a large body of work, many examples of which can be found in the collection of the Tunbridge Wells Museum and Art Gallery. It was not established if Edith was artistic for no examples of artwork by her were found, but through her work with the Tunbridge Wells Art Club she certainly was a supporter of the art community and took an interest in not only her husband’s artwork but that of other local artists. Whether it was art or women’s causes, Edith was an active and most remarkable women.

 

 

THE 1866 WOMEN’S SUFFRAGE PETITION


Written By: Edward James Gilbert-Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada

Date: February 24,2019

INTRODUCTION 

John Stuart Mill MP presented the first mass women’s suffrage petition to the House of Commons on June 7,1866. The petition was brought to Parliament by Emily Davies and Elizabeth Garrett. The story was later told that to avoid attention on arrival in Westminster Hall, they concealed it under the stall of an apple seller, which is where Mill found it. The petition organisers recorded 1499 names, which were printed and circulated in a pamphlet. However as can be seen here, the House of Commons Select Committee on Public Petitions counted and logged 1521 signatures. Presumably the extra 22 were last minute additions.

Mill spoke on the petition on July 17,1866.  A year later, the petition led to the first debate on votes for women. On May 20,1867 Mill tried to amend the Second Reform Bill to replace the word ‘man’ with ‘person’. He later described this as ‘perhaps the only really important public service I performed in the capacity as a Member of Parliament.’ The division was lost by 73 votes to 196, but Mill was delighted by the level of support, which came from both sides of the House. Shown above is a painting by Bertha Newcombe showing Emily Davies and Elizabeth Garrett presenting the petition to John Stuart Mill.

Among the names on the petition were five residents of Tunbridge Wells namely Susan Sibella Rucker who lived at 4 Mount Ephraim Road; Jane Ashby who lived at 1 Neville Bank and Matilda Ashurst Biggs and her daughters Elizabeth Ashurst Biggs and Caroline Ashurst Biggs.

In this article I present information about the five women.

SUSAN SIBELLA RUCKER (1826-1883) 

Susan was born July 11,1826 in Clapham, Surrey, one of five children born to John Anthony Rucker (1778-1846) and Ann Rucker, nee Bencraft (1788-1872). She was baptised October 3,1826 at Holy Trinity Church, Clapham, Surrey.

Susan never married and lived her entire life as a lady of independent means, her parents both coming from wealthy families. Initially her financial requirements were met by her parents and when they died their eldest son Daniel Henry Rucker (1816-1890) was the executor of their estates and supported Susan. She no doubt also received a minor inheritance from her parents. Shown opposite is an image of the residence of D.H. Rucker esq. in West Hill,Surrey who was Susan’s uncle.

The Rucker clan were London West India merchants deriving much of their wealth from sugar and rubber plantations worked by slaves. The Rucker family, from which Susan is decended, originated in Hamburg, Germany. John Anthony Rucker (1719-1804) was the founder of the London brokers business, who was naturalized in 1745. In the late 1760’s the business operated under the name of Rucker, John Anthony and John Peter who were merchants at Suffolk Lane on Cannon Street. In 1774 John Peter Rucker left the business and emigrated to New York, USA and he was replaced by two of John Anthony Ruckers nephews. One of the nephews died soon after and the other returned to Hamburg where he became Mayor in 1788. A third brother, Daniel Henry Rucker moved to London from Hamburg in 1775 and was naturalized the same year. In 1783 he entered his brother’s business as a partner. In 1785 the business operated as Rucker, John Henry & Daniel Henry. In the early 1790’s the company founder John Anthony Rucker (1719-1804) retired from business and the next generation took over. In about 1796 the company relocated their business premises from No. 2 Suffolk Lane to 29 Mincing Lane. In 1794 Daniel Henry Rucker brought John Anthony Rucker (1778-1846), who was Susan Sibella Rucker’s father, to England from Hamburg along with John’s brother Henry John Rucker (born 1783). In 1802 John Anthony Rucker (1778-1846), referred to in records often as John Anthony Rucker junior, was brought into the business and the company operated under the name of D.H. & J.A. Rucker but John Anthony Rucker left the partnership and was replaced by his brother Henry John Rucker. In 1831 the partnership between Daniel Henry Rucker and Henry John Rucker  operating as D.H. Rucker & Co failed in bankruptcy.

On May 7,1810 John Anthony Rucker (1778-1846) married Ann Bencraft (1788-1872) at All Saints Church in Wandsworth, London and with her had the following children (1) Daniel Henry Rucker (1816-1890). He became a colonial or sugar broker who left an estate valued at 169,895 pounds on his death and worked in a firm that evolved from Rucker & Bencraft, the firm of his mother’s family and also of his father’s. Daniel was the father of Sir Arthur William Rucker, a physicist. (2) Louisa Dorothy Rucker (born 1819) (3) Eliza Rucker (born 1820) (4) Eleonora Ann Rucker (born 1823) (4) SUSAN SIBELLA RUCHER (1826-1883).

The marriage between John Anthony Rucker and Ann Bencraft was more than a merger of husband and wife for it also resulted in the business of Rucker & Bencraft which I referred to above. Before continuing with the life of Susan Sibella Rucker some information about the Bencraft clan is in order. Ann Bencraft (1788-1872) was born January 2,1788 in London and baptised February 10,1788 at Saint Leonard’s, Shoresitch, London and was one of seven children born to Stephen Bencraft (1750-1803) and Sarah Joy , a widow, nee Kendall (1762-1849). Ann’s parents were married February 10,1787 at Newington St Mary. Ann’s father was a London merchant and his son’s Stephen Bencraft (1789-1862) and William Bencraft (1787-1886) and other members of the Bencraft family joined the business. London directories of 1817 and 1818 listed a Samuel Benraft as a broker at 36 Mincing Lane in London. He was related in some way to Ann’s father.

Shown opposite is a photo of Ann’s brother Stephen Bencraft (1789-1862) who joined with Ann’s husband John Anthony Rucker to form Rucker & Bencraft. The firm of Rucker & Bencraft continued well into the 20th century and given in 1932 as I.A. Rucker & Bencraft with premises at 37 Mincing Lane, London. The London Gazette of September 28,1965 reported on the dissolution of a partnership between a member of the Rucker family and others operating as I.A. Rucker and Bencraft and as noted in a bill of sale from 1932 they were selling rubber from their rubber plantation. Going back to a bill of sale dated July 8,1896 the firm of Rucker & Bencraft  of 37 Mincing Lane, London were crown agents trading in Liberian rubber. When this business ended or was absorbed into another business was not established but obviously the financial fortunes of the partners in Rucker & Bencraft grew over the years.

Returning now to the Rucker family, I pick them up firstly in the 1841 census taken at 31 Hendon, Grays Inn Lane, St Pancras, London where John Anthony Rucker was given as a merchant. With him was his wife Ann and three of their children including SUSAN SIBELLA RUCKER. No doubt Susan was educated at a private girls finishing school in London.

Susan’s father John Anthony Rucker passed away in London in 1846. His death was registered in the 4th qtr of 1846 at the Isle of Wight, Hampsire. His will of St Pancras (made in 1840) was proved June 7,1851. The will is very simple, leaving everything to his wife Ann and identifying his brother-in-law William Benraft and his son Daniel Henry Rucker junior as the executors of his estate.

The 1851 census, taken at Clapham, Surrey gave Ann Rucker as a widow and a fundholder. With her were her daughters Caroline and SUSAN and two servants. Also there were two sister-in-laws Eliza and Elizabeth.

Sometime before 1861 Ann Rucker and her daughters Caroline Ann Rucker and SUSAN SIBELLA RUCKER moved to Tunbridge Wells and took up residence at Ashforp Lodge located at 4 Mount Ephraim Road. The 1861 census, taken at that address, gave Ann Rucker as a widow and fundholder. With her were her daughters Caroline Ann Rucker and SUSAN SIBELLA RUCKER, both of independent means, and a grandson Edward Augustus Rucker,age 10. Also there were two domestic servants.

In 1866 SUSAN SIBELLA RUCKER signed the Womens’s Suffrage Petition. Her name is listed on the petition as “Susan Sibella Rucher of Mount Ephraim Road, Tunbridge Wells”.

The 1871 census, taken at Ashforp Lodge, 4 Mount Ephraim Road gave Ann Rucker as a widow  living from “ interest of money”. With her were her daughters Caroline Ann Rucker and SUSAN SIBELLA RUCKER, both living from “interest of money”. Also there were three domestic servants.

On February 24,1872 Susan’s mother Ann Rucker passed away in Tunbridge Wells. Probate records gave Ann Rucker of Tunbridge Wells who died there February 24th . The executor of her under 8,000 pound estate was her son Daniel Henry Rucker of 38 Mincing Lane, London, a colonial broker. Where Ann was buried was not established. Her death was reported on in the Maidstone Journal of March 3,1872 and giving the date of her death as above in her 85th year , a widow of the late John Anthony Rucker.

After Ann’s death Susan and her sister no doubt continued to live at the family home at 4 Mount Ephraim Road for a time but it is known that Susan left the town and moved to Brighton, Sussex.

Probate records gave SUSAN SIBELLA RUCKER late of Saxon Villa, Clifton Terrace, Brighton, Sussex when she died June 1,1883 at Saxon Villa. The executor of her 10, 062 pound estate was her brother Daniel Henry Rucker of 37 Mincing Lane, London, a colonial broker and only next of kin.

JANE ASHBY

The name of Jane Ashby of 1 Neville Bank, Tunbridge Wells was recorded on the 1866 Women’s Suffrage Petition. Little is known about Jane as a review of local newspapers did not turn up any references to her. One record refers to a Jane Ashby of Kent being an abolishionist (of slavery) and that in October 1855 one of her poems was published in the Liberator and reference to other poems by her were also found.

The book ‘ Disgusted Ladies’ by Anne Carwardine which reported on the women of Tunbridge Wells who fought for the right to vote gave the following about Jane in connection with Matilda Biggs and her daughters Caroline and Elizabeth who came to Tunbridge Wells from Leicester and settled at Barden Farm (a hops farm), a few miles from Tunbridge Wells and then  in 1864 at took up residence at Calverley Lodge. Of Jane Ashby Anne wrote that Matilda Biggs was in poor health due to tuberculosis and was confined to her home. “Her daughters Elizabeth and Caroline seem to have canvassed for support amongst friends and acquaintances in the Tunbridge Wells area and, as a result, a handful of local women signed (the 1866 petition). “These included Jane Ashby, a friend of Elizabeth’s (Elizabeth Biggs), and the wife and daughter of the corn merchant who had taken over Barden Farm when the Biggs moved to Calverley Lodge”. In an email to me by Anne she stated that the Ashby's who had Barden Farm was not the Jane Ashby who signed the 1866 petition and that Elizabeth Biggs in a letter dated June 1867 to the American Abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison referred to Jane Ashby as her friend. Both Biggs and Ashby were abolitionists.

A search for corn merchants with the surname of Ashby was undertaken with the only one found being Frederick Ashby in Tonbridge dated January 10,1857 as a trustee. A search for a Jane Ashby in Tunbridge Wells located only two. The first was one in the  1871 census taken at 2 Goods Station Road where a Jane Ashby was given as born 1847 in Tunbridge Wells and the wife of Isaac Ashby,age 24 from Lamberhurst who was a baker. However the marriage between Isaac Ashby to Jane Maryan took place in the 1st qtr of 1869 therefore eliminating her as the Jane Ashby who signed the petition in 1866. The second Jane Ashby was found in the 1861 census at West Crofs in Tenterden, Kent being born 1791 with the occupation of fundholder. With her was one visitor and one servant. The same Jane Ashby was found in the 1871 census in Tunbridge Wells residing at 48 Beulah Road. Living with here were two attendants and one servant. The same Jane Ashby, given as born abt 1790 died in Tunbridge Wells in the 3rd qtr of 1872. It was not established definitively if either of these Jane Ashby's were the one who signed the petition but of the two only the last one referred to qualifies as a possibility. 

THE BIGGS WOMEN

Three members of the Biggs family signed the 1866 petition namely Matilda Biggs and her two daughters Caroline and Elizabeth, all of whom in 1866 were living at Calverley Lodge at the corner of Pembury Road and Bayhall Road.  Details about the history of Calverley Lodge, in which I recorded information about Joseph Biggs (Matilda’s husband) and his family were given in my article ‘ The History of Calverley Lodge’ dated January 11,2012 but updated March 13,2017. Shown opposite is a 1907 os map showing in red the location of Calverley Lodge.

In the years leading up to 1864 Calverley Lodge was occupied by the Harman sisters. Maria Harman,born 1782 and her sister Lucy, born 1784 were women of independent means. Maria Harman died at Calverley Lodge on September 9,1864 and upon her death the home became the residence of Joseph Biggs and his family. As noted by Anne Carwardine in her book Matilda Biggs and her husband Joseph Biggs and some of their children left Leicestershire and moved to Barden Farm a few miles from Tunbridge Wells in the 1860’s and then to Calverley Lodge in 1864.

Joseph Biggs was in 1864 ,and no doubt for some time earlier, one of the directors of the Nottingham Manufacturing Company Limited. An advertisment of this company was given in the July 16,1864 edition of the Railway News and Stock Journal in which mention is given that the company was incorporated with a capital of 200,000 pounds with 10,000 shares being offered at 20 pound each. .An 1867 Kelly directory records "Joseph Biggs,Esq.,Calverley Lodge,Pembury Road."

Another Biggs business venture was the hosiery company of Biggs and Sons. John Biggs who died June 4,1871 was a member of this firm and was Joseph Biggs brother. Joseph and his brother were the "sons" mentioned in the company name, a business founded by their father.

Joseph Biggs was a hosier born in Leicester in 1809.He was baptised September 29,1810 with his parents recorded as Jonathan and Elizabeth Biggs. He was the fourth son of the couple and co-partner in the family firm and initially managed the glove department.

In 1837 Joseph married Matilda Ashurst,daughter of W.H. Ashurst a London solicitor.

The 1841 census, taken at London Road in Leicestershire gave Joseph Biggs as a hosier. With him was his wife Matilda; their daughters Elizabeth and Caroline and three servants.  The 1851 census recorded that the family was still living in Leicesterhire.

By 1852 Joseph moved to Barden Park,near Tunbridge Wells. In 1852 Joseph travelled to Italy with his wife who by this time was in poor health. Barden Park is also referred to as Barden Farm (a hops farm) a few miles from Tunbridge Wells Speldhurst.

In the 1861 census Joseph was living at Paddington and was recorded with the occupation of "gentleman farmer employing 20 men and 4 boys". With him was his wife Matilda Ashurst Biggs, born 1819 in Middlesex and their children (1) Elizabeth Ashurst Biggs, born 1840 in Leicestershire (2) Caroline Ashurst Biggs, born 1842 in Leicestershire (3) Maude Ashurst Biggs, born 1857 in London (4) Ada Biggs, born 1860 in London. Also there were three domestic servants. The Biggs family maintained residences in both Tunbridge Wells and London and treated their residences in Tunbridge Wells as their summer homes. Shown opposite is an image of Caroline Ashurst Biggs and below it is a book by Elizabeth Ashurst Biggs.

Matilda died October 15,1866 in Tunbridge Wells at Calverley Lodge, a home the family had taken occupancy of in 1864. After Matilda’s death Joseph  moved to Notting Hill Square,London sometime before 1868 for in that year Calverley Lodge was the residence of Solomon Augusta Richards.

In the 1871 census Joseph was living with his second wife Elizabeth, born 1839 Leicester and four children plus two servants, at Kensington, London. Joseph was recorded with the occupation of 'retired woolen manufacturer'.

The 1881 census taken at 19 Notting Hill Square,London gave Joseph living there as a retired manufacturer with his three daughters Caroline,Kate and Elizabeth and two servants.

In the 1891 census Joseph was at 2 Alexandra Road, Hampstead, London living with his daughters Elizabeth and Maud plus two servants.

On October 19,1895 Joseph Biggs passed away at #3 Alexandra Road, Hampstead and left his estate of over 15,000 pounds to his unmarried daughter Elizabeth.

Given below is a summary of the life of Matilda Biggs with references to her daughters Caroline and Elizabeth in which their involvement in various women’s causes are outlined as given in Wikipedia. Shown opposite is an image of Matilda with her daughter Elizabeth.

Matilda Ashurst Biggs (c 1818 – 15 October 1866) was a member of the notable 19th-century British family of reformers, the Ashursts. Their circle of radicals was nicknamed the "Muswell Hill Brigade" after the family homestead. Alongside her family, Matilda Biggs promoted progressive domestic and foreign causes, especially working for women's equality in Britain and Italian unification.

Matilda was the second of the four daughters of William Henry Ashurst and Elizabeth Ann Brown: her sisters were Eliza Ashurst Bardonneau-Narcy, Caroline Ashurst Stansfeld, and Emilie Ashurst Venturi. Matilda did not publish under her own name, but contemporaries described as being very clever: "All the daughters were remarkable women, but Matilda's powers are said by one who remember her to have even transcended those of her sisters. She must, indeed, have possessed a rare intellect."She had one brother, William Henry Ashurst, junior, who became solicitor to the Post Office. Revealing their strong sense of shared family values, all the children embraced reform ideas.

In 1837 Matilda married a businessman, Joseph Biggs (1809-1895) whose two older brothers John and William would serve as Members of Parliament from Leicester. Like the Ashurst family, the Biggses were Unitarians with a penchant for radical causes.

Matilda Ashurst Biggs cultivated an international network of allies. As a young woman she attended the World Anti-Slavery Convention held in London in 1840 with her father who served as a delegate from Darlington. She befriended American abolitionists such as William Lloyd Garrison and Lucretia Mott It was Matilda who wrote Garrison to inform him of her father's death in 1855.She entertained Ralph Waldo Emerson on his visit to England in 1847 and her correspondences to him are preserved in the special collections archived at Harvard University's Houghton Library. She had a keen interest in politics, as evidenced in an undated letter written to Emerson regarding Americans' need to expiate their sin of slavery.

Matilda was very involved with the movement promoting Italian unification and was close with Giuseppe Mazzini who became like another brother to the Ashurst family and was a houseguest at the Biggs residence. He was devoted to the Biggs family, sending even the children letters and gifts. Matilda worked alongside Felice Orsini in 1850 selling bonds to fund Mazzini's Risorgimento activities. She resided in Genoa, Italy with her two daughters and sister Emilie from 1850-1851. She joined the Society of the Friends of Italy upon its founding and worked until her death promoting the Italian cause.

Like her sisters and daughters, Matilda was supportive of women's rights. Helen Blackburn reported that she helped circulate Anne Knight's leaflet calling for universal suffrage in 1847. In 1859 she wrote a letter to the Newcastle Chronicle protesting women's exclusion from formal citizenship. She signed the 1866 petition calling for female suffrage presented in Parliament by John Stuart Mill and subscribed to the Enfranchisement of Women Committee. While living in Leicester, she and her sister Emilie set up a refuge for prostitutes. Matilda died after a long illness on 15 October 1866.

Matilda and Joseph Biggs had four daughters: Elizabeth Ashurst (1838-1905), Caroline Ashurst (1840-1889), Maude Ashurst (c.1857-1933), and Kate Ada Ashurst (c.1859-1901).None of the daughters ever married; they continued the family tradition of activism. Caroline Ashurst Biggs became a leader in women's rights campaigns in Britain and served as the editor of The Englishwoman's Review from 1871 until her death. She spoke frequently in public and was an active member of numerous political action committees. She wrote rousing political pamphlets and anonymously published one novel. Her sister Elizabeth Ashurst Biggs anonymously published two novels promoting abolition in America and women's rights in Britain. Their sister Maude was also involved in politics; she devoted herself to the cause of Polish nationalism and published English translations of Adam Mickiewicz's poetry in addition to 23 articles on a variety of local and international topics in The Englishwoman's Review. The youngest sister, Kate Ada Ashurst Biggs, published articles in The Gentleman's Magazine.

Further information about Caroline Ashurst Biggs and her sister Elizabeth can be found on the website Wikipedia and also in Anne Carwardine’s book “Disgusted Ladies” (of Tunbridge Wells) (2018).

 

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