Tuesday, 8 February 2011

The Newsoms of Bloomsbury Square

Raymond Foster recently contacted me with details about his great, great grandparents Samuel John and Jane Hovil Newson who, in the 1850s, lived at number 3 Bloomsbury Square. The photo above shows this lovely square, which is the oldest of London's residential squares, set out in 1665. It was originally called Southampton Square. Here's a link to a panorama of the entire square.

Jane was born in 1807 in the City of London to John and Sarah Sawyer (née Hovil) and baptised at the church of St Botolph-without-Aldersgate. Her grandfather, John Hovil, was a celebrated clockmaker, living and working in Horsleydown, Southwark. Jane went to Cork (Ireland) as a young woman and there married an Italian, Giovanni Berra. He died within a year of their marriage but not before she had established ‘Signora Berra’s School’ on Patrick Street where she taught languages.

Jane subsequently married Samuel John Newsom in 1839. He was a member of a large Quaker family in Cork. They were importers and retailers of tea and coffee. Samuel and Jane left Ireland in about 1845 and settled in Bloomsbury Square where Jane continued to teach languages but whether she set up another school is uncertain (I’m hoping that my colleagues researching the Bloomsbury Project might help here). Raymond states that ‘it is just possible that the Sawyer family (with Dublin connections), living just round the corner in Montague Place, were relatives of Jane, but this is speculative.’

Samuel and Jane had three children. In 1865, their elder daughter, Pauline Genevieve, married John Harwood Thomas, a native of Cork, at St George’s Bloomsbury. Jane died in 1870, in Tavistock Place.

If anyone has more information about this family, please do contact me.