Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Bloomsbury Connections

I'm interested in hearing from people with ancestral connections to Bloomsbury, and not just those who were born, lived or died there. Perhaps your ancestor was an employee in one of the various institutions established in Bloomsbury during the 18th and 19th century such as the Foundling Hospital (pictured), or they might have established a business. Don't worry if the information you have is minimal. I might be able to discover more in the history archives, and you'll also be making potential connections with others who can fill in the gaps.

Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Bloomsbury Parishes, 1877

These are the Bloomsbury parishes from Stanford's parish boundary map, 1877. According to this information, there are twenty parishes wholly or partly within the Bloomsbury area. Of these, six are wholly within Bloomsbury.

They are Holy Cross, All Saints St Pancras, St George's Bloomsbury, St Peter (Regent Square), St George the Martyr (Queen Square), and St John Holborn (Red Lion Square).

Of the other fourteen, we are only interested in the streets which fall within our borders, ie. Tottenham Court Road (west), Euston Road (north), Gray's Inn Road (east) and New Oxford Street/High Holborn (south).

These parishes are: St Andrew (Wells Street), St John (Fitzroy Square), and St Mary - only Tottenham Court Road.
St James (Hampstead Road), Christ Church (Somers Town), and St Saviour - only Euston Road (New Road).
St Albans - only Gray's Inn Road.
St Andrews - only Gray's Inn Road and High Holborn.
All Saints (Islington) - only Gray's Inn Road and Euston Road (New Road).
St Pancras (pictured, c.1890) - only Euston Road and streets south of here.
St Jude (Gray's Inn Road) - only Gray's Inn Road and streets west of here.
St Giles in the Fields - only St Giles High Street, Broad Street, High Holborn and streets north of here.
St Bartholomew's, and Trinity (Gray's Inn Road) - only Gray's Inn Road and streets west of here.

Albert Isaiah Coffin and the Tomey family

I have just received an e.mail from Kay Williams whose ancestors, George Tomey and his second wife, Sarah, lived in Little Russell Street (1841), 49 Duke Street (1851, now Coptic Street) and 31 Dorset Street (1861), which is half a mile west of Bloomsbury. The Tomeys were involved with Albert Isaiah Coffin (1790/1-1866), an American medical botanist, who came to Britain in 1838.

Coffin (pictured) may have begun orthodox medical training but claimed to have been influenced by Native American healers, after being successfully treated for tuberculosis. He first practised in Manchester, using key remedies, lobelia (an emetic) and cayenne pepper (for warmth). He wrote 'Botanic Guide to Health' (1845) and 'Treatise on Midwifery and the Diseases of Women and Children' (1849). One of Coffin's assistants, John Skelton, was a great influence on John Boot, the father of Jesse and founder of Boot's pharmaceutical company and high street chemist chain. The institutions of British herbalism, notably the National Institute of Medical Herbalists, can be traced back to Coffin, who was active in London from the late 1840s.

Apparently, the Tomey family were a 'project' of Coffin's as he studied them for a number of years. Kay doesn't have the details of this surveillance but has given me the contact details of a distant cousin who might.

Coffin died on 1 August 1866 at 24 Montague Place, Russell Square, which is in the heart of Bloomsbury.

For more information about Albert Isaiah Coffin, click on the link:

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

The Hatton Family

Patricia Player writes: My husband's great, great uncle, Charles Frederick Hatton, is recorded as residing at 12 New Oxford Street at the time of the 1891 Census.

Charles was born at 5 Freeling Street, Islington, on 16 January 1853, son of Clerk Rattray Hatton and Elizabeth Ayres (Clerk Hatton was born in Edinburgh, attended the Edinburgh Academy, and according to the published Register of Pupils for the Academy, became Translator of Foreign Documents at Chancery Lane, London).

Charles' grandfather, David Hatton, of 97/98 Princes Street, Edinburgh, was a carver, gilder and printseller to the King. David Hatton published many of the works by the well known Scottish artist, Henry Raeburn (1756-1823).

Charles Frederick Hatton is recorded as being employed at the Courts of Justiciary, London. He married Frances Sarah Taylor at Islington in 1881.

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Bloomsbury photographs and documents

If you have family photographs and documents that would help bring this project to life, I'd be very pleased to include them on this blog and to deposit copies in the archive that we're hoping to establish at University College London. They'll also be important for future exhibitions.

I've been working on a similar project, The Children of Craig-y-nos, which also has a blog at You can see how we've built up the project over the past sixteen months with memories, images, letters and other memorabilia. We've also had two major exhibitions and a third is booked for this summer at Swansea Museum, south Wales.

If you want to send me original material (by registered mail for safety), I can scan it to high resolution and return it (by registered mail). If you have electronic versions so much the better.

Monday, 21 April 2008

The Horne Family

Vivienne Lewis (nee Horne) writes: I am a direct descendent of the Horne family who were involved in the coal merchant business and subsequently banking and insurance in central London. Just recently I found out that my great-great-great grandfather had a house in Gordon Square which I believe is in the centre of Bloomsbury. In the 1841 Census he is recorded as living there with his wife Ann, his son Neale Horne and wife Louisa, their daughter Ann, and two more members of the Horne family, namely Mary and Julia, but I do not know their relationship to the others. Also recorded as living there are three female servants and one male servant. Unfortunately, in the 1841 Census there are no numbers listed in Gordon Square, but the entry above is of the Musgrave family, which includes a barrister and the entry below is of a James Harding who is recorded as being an artist.

The Horne coal merchant business was located at Bankside, and both Thomas and his Brother, William, were born on Bankside, the business having been founded by their great-grandfather, Benjamin Horne. As a point of interest, William's son, Edgar Horne, was a founding member and the first chairman of the Prudential Insurance Company, and subsequently his son, William Edgar, was also Chairman of the Prudential.

Before Thomas Horne relocated to Gordon Square, he had been living at his house in Bankside (where the Globe Theatre now stands), with his business close by. They were of Quaker origin, with a social conscience, and in the 1830s he had tried unsuccessfully to get a standard pay rate fixed for the porters so they would not have to compete with each other when work was scarce. This fact I found out from a book published last year called The House by the Thames: and the people who lived there, written by Gillian Tindall (London: Pimlico 2007).

Although I have yet to find out whether Thomas had any input into any of the institutions in Bloomsbury, he does come over as an individual who liked to be involved. At the time of the 1841 Census he was 56 and he was still alive in the 1861 Census when I found him living at 21 Highbury Grove, Islington.

Bloomsbury People

Do your ancestors have Bloomsbury connections? If so, I'd like your help in creating an archive of 19th century literary, medical and scientific Bloomsbury (1800-1904), a period which saw its metamorphosis from swampy rubbish-dump to centre of intellectual life.

The Leverhulme-funded Bloomsbury Project is a University College London initiative that will trace the foundations of many diverse local institutions including Great Ormond Street Hospital, the British Museum Round Reading Room, the Swedenborg Society and Mudie's Circulating Library. It will also feature many of the individuals who made significant contributions to learning in the area. A website is being developed and will be added to as the project progresses over three years:

However, I'm also keen to receive information about the ordinary professional and working people of Bloomsbury - the writers, journalists, publishers, librarians, hospital employees, doctors, dentists, scientists - who contributed to this increasingly vibrant and unique area of London. Bloomsbury is defined as the area of cental London bounded by Euston Road (north), Gray's Inn Road (east), New Oxford Street / High Holborn (south) and Tottenham Court Road (west).