Of John Rowsell’s (1737-1792) 8 children, most are buried in West Norwood Cemetary in Lambeth, South London, near Brixton. As mentioned in the previous post, his second son Thomas Rowsell (born 1772) was given the opportunity to begin a career as a solicitor and is recorded as a legal clerk at age 14 in 1786 and was sworn into the King’s bench in in 1793. His job is listed as “solicitor” in 1820 at the time of his son Benjamin’s birth when he was 48 years old while he is simply listed as “Gentleman” 7 years later on his son Nicholas’ birth record. He may have pursued other things too because more obscure sources refer to him as as a skinner (Rowsell men were usually admitted freedom of the city among the company of skinners) as well as a parish clerk, although this may be another Thomas Rowsell who is known to have inhabited Lambeth at the same time. The following is an excerpt from “A Bishop Family History” Prepared by Reverend John Bishop.
Earl Spencer, grandfather of the Princess of Wales, showed me a letter at Althorp which indicated he (Thomas Rowsell) was Parish Clerk. He was also a skinner, married twice and his line is still going strong, although we are not in touch, except rarely.
Both of the Thomas Rowsell’s in Lambeth married women called Frances [one Frances Lester (died 1844) and one Frances Hall (died 1871)] This makes things very confusing, especially since they were all buried in the same cemetery! My ancestor died leaving a widow, while the other Thomas died 2 years after his wife. The grave of this Thomas and Frances at West Norwood is no longer there because Lambeth council illegally resold the plot. I only later realised this was not my ancestor’s grave but have not located the Thomas and Frances I am looking for yet. The wrong Thomas and Frances lived at Miles Street in Lambeth (see pic below) while my ancestors lived a bit further South in Brixton.
Thomas, who was described as a “Gentleman of Lambeth”, first married Eleonora Catherine Grainger (1775–1814) on 1 May 1798 at St Marylebone, England. They had 2 sons one of whom went to Melbourne in 1865. This son was named Thomas Spooner Rowsell (b. abt 1805). He had his handkerchief stolen on 28th of July 1828 – a boy by the name of William White was found guilty and sentenced to 3 months and a whipping; you can view the proceedings here.
I was opposite the Mansion-house , on the 28th of July, about a quarter before three o’clock – I heard some one call, “Sir, you are robbed;” I missed my handkerchief, and saw it on the ground – I had had it not ten minutes before; this is it: I saw White and Wood in custody when I turned round; Jeffries had one and Breakwell another – I did not see Wells. – THOMAS SPOONER ROWSELL .
But TSR, who worked with his father as a legal clerk, later fell a foul of the law himself. He was imprisoned for unpaid debts and under the Insolvent Debtors Act of 1813 was granted a hearing on Thursday the 9th of June 1836. The following is a quote from the Gazette of that year.
Thomas Spooner Rowsell, formerly of Caroline-Cottages, St. Ann’s-Road, Brixton, afterwards of Slough-Lane, Wandsworth, both in Surrey, and late of Camera Square, Chelsea, Middlesex, Attorney at Law, and Joint Clerk with Thomas Rowsell, of the Court of Requests for the Western Division of the Hundred of Brixton, Surrey.
According to The Monthly Law Magazine and Political Review, in 1838 TSR made an application for a re-admission as an attorney, so I expect his career and reputation had been severely damaged. TSR emigrated to Australia and there is a man by that name recorded there who married and had children leaving a line in that country. TSR’s Mother died when he was still young and his Father remarried.
Thomas Rowsell‘s second wife was Frances Hall (1786-1871), whose brother was Benjamin Hall (d.1847) of Buxted lodge (now known as The Grange), a large house near Hadlow Down in Sussex (see pic below). Benjamin was a wealthy man with great concern for the well-being of the rural poor. In 1834, to prevent villagers having to walk too far for church or from attending the weird non-conformist church that was in the village, Benjamin campaigned for the construction of an Anglican church, St Mark’s of Hadlow Down, which still stands there (although not the original structure). He also contributed £15 and a four acre field to the church grounds.
Benjamin wrote to the Archbishop of Canterbury, William Howley, seeking permission and funds to build a church in the village—adding that “very many poor children [were] wandering about the lanes in ignorance of almost every duty, moral or religious”. The following is a quote from a book of sermons from Lambeth, although the specific sermon is from 1836 and is perhaps the first in St. Mark’s itself which is described as a “new church on the boundary of the parishes of Mayfield and Buxted” and it specifically mentions Benjamin Hall of Buxted.
I cannot omit testifying how much we owe him (Benjamin Hall), by whom, as residing on the spot, it was reasonable that the ancient necessities and evils should best be known; from whom therefore, it is but justice to mention, that the suggestion of the scheme first distinctly came; who has prompted the work by his bounty, in a variety of ways, spared no anxiety or time to further its progress; and will now, I doubt not, watch the success with almost paternal care.
Like the Rowsells, Benjamin Hall was an attorney, and is recorded as such in legal records of the 1820’s and 40’s. Frances Rowsell is described as his “dear sister” in Benjamin’s will (see below). Benjamin married Angela Pugh who was his brother in law Thomas Rowsell’s cousin.
Thomas and Frances had three sons; Nicholas Henry Rowsell (1817-1860) who married Mary Ann Bishop, Benjamin Rowsell (1820-1886), who was named after his uncle and whose wife was named Sarah Norman, and Edward Pugh Rowsell (1827-1878) who was named either after his grandmother Eleanor Pugh (1748-1833) or his Aunt Angela Pugh (b. 1788). Edward married Amelia Gordon. Thomas and Frances also had two daughters; Frances Rowsell (b.1819) who was married to Thomas Huggins in her uncle Benjamin’s church in Hadlow Down on 12 Oct 1843, and Angela Mary Rowsell (1823-1871). Frances lived for many years as a widow on Vassal Street in Brixton. She is recorded there in the 1851 census as the Head of House and land holder living with her children Benjamin (30), Angela (28), Edward ( 24) and a servant called Maria Norman (22). She remained there until her death 20 years later. Click here to learn more about Thomas and Frances Rowsell’s children.
Thomas Rowsell‘s brother Samuel Rowsell seems to have lived a more glamorous life. He married Sarah Smith (1775-1847) on 18 Jul 1794 in London and they had 15 children! Among them are some famous and prominent people who you can read about here. Samuel’s second child was Sarah Rowsell (1799-1882) who was listed in the Visitations of England and Wales, which were tours of inspection undertaken by Kings of Arms to regulate and register the coats of arms of nobility and gentry and boroughs.
These photographs are of the surviving graves of some of John Rowsell‘s children at West Norwood Cemetary, including Samuel and his wife Sarah, Evan Edward Rowsell (1785–1864) and Eleanor Rowsell (1775 1862).