I made a film about the Rowsell family connection to the Congreve family in Ceylon. Both were involved in tea planting in the late 19th century.
I recently learned that in 1883 Norman Rowsell (1855-1919) was the Honorary secretary and treasurer of the Dickoya Maskeliya Cricket Club (which was actually also a rugby club) now known as the Darrawella Club. I managed to find some more photos of him and his younger brother Eustace Farquhar Rowsell (1867–1911) on the History of Ceylon Tea site. There is a whole album of photos from the Darrawella Club including an image of Nicholas II Emperor of Russia visiting the Club in 1881.
The photos of the Rowsell bros. are all of the Up-Country rugby team, which they both played for. Eustace had played for Blackheath 1st XV in England in 1891 (see first image) and was playing for the Up Country 11 in 1894, with his big brother Norman as Captain (see 2nd image)
The following year, it seems Norman was no longer on the squad. Maybe he wasn’t as good as his little brother? In any case, they were both playing in the 1897 Dickoya vs Maskeliya & Bogawantalawa game. For some reason Eustace’s nickname is written this year as “Family” Rowsell.
That’s the last year they are photographed together, but Norman reappears in 1902 as the referee for the Up-Country vs Colombo game.
There is also this photo below of the Darawella club from way back in 1885, a time when Norman was definitely there and one of the guys looks like him.
Lieutenant Edmund Wilkinson (1872 – 1914) came from a long line of Lancashire men. He was one of at least 7 children of Joshua Wilkinson (1848-1924) and Christina Williams (b. abt 1851). Edmund came from working class stock and grew up to be a war hero. This post explains his origins and his story.
Joshua and Christina lived at 22 Queen Street, Colne. Joshua’s father was Edward Wilkinson (1810 – 1867) whose father was John Wilkinson (b. 1799), whose father was James Wilkinson of York. Joshua is first recorded as a “cotton weaver” in Burnley, Lancashire in the 1871 census. As a cotton weaver, Joshua would have endured great hardships during the 1860’s when English textile factories were forced to shutter their doors as cotton exports played into American Civil War strategy.
Interestingly there was a folk song popular among Lancashire Cotton weavers which expresses sympathy for Napoleon of all people! Hand Loom weavers of the area had made their living through weaving cotton at their own hand-looms in their cottages and were economically threatened by the technological advances in production that came about through the Industrial Revolution. The reference to the Napoleonic Wars dates to the pre-industrial period, not long before the ‘Industrial Revolution’. The song in the video below was written sometime around 1808 but was sung by Lancashire weavers for decades afterwards.
Edmund Wilkinson was born in Colne. He joined the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment around 1888 when he was only 15 years old and was given the number 2677.
At the age of 27, in 1899, he was fighting in the Boer war where he endured 4 months at the Siege of Kimberley. His rank by this time was Colour-Sergeant.
On 7 October 1899, an artillery battery and four companies of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment were dispatched to secure the town under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Robert Kekewich. Five days later, with the start of hostilities, Boer forces arrived and began to besiege Kimberley. For the next 126 days, the North Lancs and the local militias would be cut off and subjected to regular shelling from the Boer artillery. The siege was finally lifted when Brigadier-General Sir John French’s Cavalry Division was able to breakthrough the Boer lines on 15 February 1900.
In 1905, at the age of 32, Edmund married Eliza Harriet Parkhouse (1880 – 1945) in Bideford, Devon. Eliza, like many in the Rowsell family tree, was from the West Country; her father was William Parkhouse (1850 – 1930) of Parkham, Devon. Eliza had four children by Edmund, three of which survived past infancy. Interestingly Eliza was one of 13 children, some of whom lived until well over 100 years of age.
Edmund received his commission into the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment in June 1912 and sailed to France with the 1st Battalion on 12th August 1914.
Edmund was 43 when he was killed in Belgium at the First Battle of Ypres on 31st October 1914. He was promoted to the rank of Honorary Lieutenant for his service in WWI.
The following is an excerpt from The Bond of Sacrifice:A Biographical Record of All British Officers Who Fell in the Great War
LIEUTENANT and QUARTERMASTER EDMUND WILKINSON, 1st BATTALION, LOYAL NORTH LANCASHIRE REGIMENT, was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Wilkinson, of 22, Queen Street, Colne, and was forty-three years of age at the time of his death.
He served twenty-six years with the Colours, and had a
distinguished career having risen from the ranks through his ability, courage, and good conduct. He served through the Boer War, having been besieged in Kimberley for four months, and was presented with the Kimberley Star. He was awarded the South African medals and the Distinguished Conduct medal for distinguished gallantry at Hartbeesfontein, leading the company in a charge when the officers were out of action, which gallant act probably saved the whole column. He received his commission in June, 1912.
He was killed in action on the 31st October, 1914, and the news of his death was conveyed in a letter written by Lieutenant-Colonel Carter, D.S.O., of his battalion, himself soon afterwards killed in action, who wrote : “We
have lost officers and men, but the greatest loss to me personally is caused by poor Wilkinson’s death. He was the whitest man that ever breathed, with the heart of a lion. He fell lighting at the head of a number of men of various corps on the road near Ypres. He attempted to stem the on-flood of the German advance down the road — and apparently did so with the men he collected. It has been said he should be given the Victoria Cross. His duty did not lie with the battalion in the fighting line, but he was ever present where the fighting took place. The regimental Sergeant- Major of the 1st K.R.K.C. witnessed his last heroic action, and the words he used to me were,
‘ If ever soldier earned a V.C. your Q.M. did the night of the 31st October, 1914.’ ”
Lieutenant Wilkinson was mentioned in Sir John French’s Despatch of the 14th January, 1915.
He was a great sportsman, a fine athlete, probably the best in the regiment for several years, and as a cyclist he had few equals. He was generous to a fault, a staunch friend, and beloved by everyone who had dealings with him.
Lieutenant Wilkinson married Eliza Harriet, daughter of William Parkhouse, of Parkham, and left three daughters : Irene Ethel, born November, 1907 ; Audrey Dora, born December, 1911 : and Edwina Mary, born after her gallant father’s death, in January, 1915,
These are Edmund Wilkinson’s medals.
Edmund’s three daughters mentioned were Irene, Audrey and Edwina. Edwina was not born until after Edmund was killed, a not unusual circumstance in the Great War. Edmund is buried in Ypres Town Cemetery. The portrait below is of Edmund’s second daughter, Irene Ethel Wilkinson (1907–1968).
The following post concerns the Montgomery family of Scotland who are linked to the Rowsells through the marriage in March 1948 in Bideford, Devonshire of Major Colin Merville Norman Rowsell (1919-2000) and Margaret Ann Mary Richards (1923-1992) dau. of Captain Robert Alven Richards (1878-1963) of the Royal Navy. Margaret’s Mother was Eva Montgomery (b.1887) after whom a ship built in 1901 was named.
Eva’s father was William Montgomery (b.1851 died before 1911) who owned W. Montgomery & Co. of London, which was an import company, shipping goods such as coal from South America; mainly Chile and Argentina. He owned three ships, one named after his wife Grace Harwar (1858-1946) and the other two named after his daughters, those being the Ladye Doris named after Doris Montgomery (b.1891) and the Eva Montgomery.
This video may show footage of the Grace Harwar taken by Alan Villiers. The full film can be seen here.
William was the son of John Montgomery (1815-1898) son of William Montgomery (abt 1786-abt 1861) who was a Justice of the Peace for Renfrewshire, Scotland in 1851. John was born in Lochwinnoch, Renfrewshire and moved to Innerleithen where he became a Minister for the Church of Scotland. He died in Edinburgh and had 11 children with his two wives. One of whom, Archie Montgomery, was employed by his half brother at William Montgomery & Co of London.
William Montgomery was married to Grace Margaret Amelia Harwar on 17 Sep 1878 at St James the Great, Friern Barnet, London. Grace was the daughter of Joseph Richard Harwar (1823-1908) and Jane Forrester Cumming (1815-1894), the daughter of Captain John Johnstone Cumming (1786-1843) who was born in St Lucia in the West Indies. William and Grace had 3 children; the two girls mentioned previously and a son named Joseph Montgomery (1880-1968) who was nicknamed “Jum”.
William Montgomery is first listed as a South American Goods merchant in the 1881 census when he was 30 years old. The boat named Grace Harwar was built in Glasgow in 1889, and the twin three masted sailing ships Eva Montgomery and Laye Doris were each built in 1901 by William Hamilton & Co, Glasgow. William Montgomery allowed the captains of his ships to bring their wives and children to live on board. There is a fantastic book by Mary Hay called “I saw a ship a’ sailing” in which she recalls her childhood on board the Ladye Doris. It contains the photograph below in which Mr. Montgomery, the thin man in a bowler hat, stands with the Captain, marine superintendent and apprentices. The Ladye Doris also had an enthusiastic photographer as mate for a while, and quite a number of his photographs of daily life onboard were published in a book by A. A. Hurst. “The medley of Mast and Sail 2”
The Grace Harwar was allegedly a cursed ship, as this account says:
The Grace Harwar developed a reputation as a man-killer. In 1907, under the command of Captain C.S. Hudson, the ship was sailing from Australia to Tocopilla, Chile. Captain Hudson’s young wife was on board. Already suffering from tuberculosis, she died off of the coast of Chile. The ship returned empty to Australia with Mrs. Hudson’s body in the ballast. Supposedly, Mrs. Hudson put a curse on the ship before dying– that it would kill one man on every voyage.
“Jum” Montgomery served in the 7th (Princess Royal’s) Dragoon Guards and became Captain Joseph Montgomery, from 3rd (King’s Own) Hussars and fought at Roberts Heights, Transvaal, South Africa about 1911 and was awarded the Queen’s South Africa Medal. He married one of the most famous opera singers in the world, Emma Luart (1892-1968) [real name Emma V Luwaert] in 1919. Luart was a glamorous Belgian starlet but her career was disrupted by the outbreak of WWII.
You can hear her beautiful singing voice in these YouTube videos at the bottom of this page.
Samuel Rowsell (1777-1858) was a solicitor of Tulse Hill in London. 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 with whom this post is concerned.
- Elizabeth Rowsell (1797-1874)
- Sarah Rowsell (1798-1882) married Sir Charles Barry (1795–1860)
- Samuel William Rowsell (1800-1860) married Anna Alicia Penning (1810-1888)
- Charles John Rowsell (1802-1882) married Sarah Lewis (1809-1897)
- Rev.Evan Edward Rowsell (1804-1875) married Anna Maria Baker (1808-1893)
- Jane Rowsell (1804-1864)
- John Thomas Rowsell 1805-1894 married Eliza Thompson (b. 1813)
- Henry Rowsell (1807-1890)
- Jane Rowsell 1808-1890
- Eleanora Rowsell 1811-1888
- Thomas Rowsell (1811) [died as infant]
- William Rowsell (1812-1850) married Maria Lewis (1812-1889)
- Catherine Mary Rowsell (1815-1902)
- Rev. Thomas James Rowsell (1816 1894) married Marianne Norman
- Emily Rowsell (1819 1898) married Thomas Grueber
Sir Charles Barry
Samuel’s second child was Sarah Rowsell (1798-1882) 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. She married the famous architect Sir Charles Barry (1795–1860) on 7th December 1822 at St Matthew Friday Street, London, England and had seven children four of whom were also famous architects. In 1840 Barry began his great work with Augustus Pugin, the Houses of Parliament, including the clock tower that houses Big Ben.
One of Charles and Sarah’s sons, Sir John Wolfe Barry (1837-1918) married his own cousin Rosalind Grace Rowsell (1846-1937) who was daughter of Samuel Rowsell‘s sixth child, the Reverend Evan Edward Rowsell (1804-1875) of Hambledon. The cousins married in the village of Hambledon near Godalming in Surrey in 1874 and had four sons and three daughters. John Barry was most famous for his construction of the iconic Tower Bridge in London which he completed in 1894.
Samuel’s first son was named Samuel William Rowsell (1800-1860). He was married to Anna Alicia Penning (1810-1888) at Marleybone church in November 1828 and they had 6 sons and 5 daughters two of which are buried with their spouses, parents and grandparents in the Rowsell family grave in West Norwood Cemetery. In 1838 Samuel William Rowsell was an auditor of the Mutual Life Assurance Society at 37 Old Jewry, and by 1840 he was on the board of directors. One of Samuel and Anna’s 11 children was Sir Francis William Rowsell CB CMG (1838-1885) who was British commissioner of ceded Daira lands, Egypt and a commissioner for inquiry relating to the Government of Malta 1877–8 (see the The Rowsell-Julyan-Keenan Commission)
Samuel and Sarah’s second son was Charles John Rowsell (1802-1882) who had 4 children with Sarah Lewis (1809-1897).
Charles John Rowsell patented the graphoscope in 1864: “Apparatus for viewing photographic and other pictures, coins and medals, which is also applicable in the production of drawings and paintings“, British Patent: 270
The Reverend Evan Edward Rowsell (1804-1875) is Samuel’s third son. He married Anna Maria Baker (1808-1893) on 29th December 1831 at St Ann’s Limehouse, East London. They had 8 children, the first 7 of whom were born in London. Their last child, Clarence William Rowsell, was born in the district of Guildford, Surrey in 1849 at which point they were living near Godalming. Prior to living in rural Surrey, Evan was Curate-in-charge of the parish of Brinkley in Cambridgeshire and appears to have brought increased worship and growth to the little church there.
From 1859 he lived for a long time in the Surrey village of Hambledon . By 1859 he and his wife were living on Godalming high street. There is a touching entry in Godalming town centre parish church baptism records where we find him baptising his own son, Clarence. It appears that during this time, rather than leading a church, he is a private tutor.
Two of his sons went on to be clergy. Rev Evan Edward Rowsell is recorded as being involved in a £500 mortgage for the Cold Harbour Estate. The figure involved suggests not inconsequential private means, due to the affluence of the Rowsell family of Lambeth. Like many of the clergy of Hambledon before him, Rev Rowsell died in post and was buried at Hambledon in December 1875 and two of his grand-daughters were later buried with him.
As previously mentioned, Evan’s seventh child was married to the famous Sir John Wolfe Barry, but his eldest daughter Annie Marion Rowsell was also well matched with William Haig Brown Master of Charterhouse school near Godalming. See the following excerpt from his biography WILLIAM HAIG BROWN OF CHARTERHOUSE A SHORT BIOGRAPHICAL MEMOIR.
But it was towards scholastic work with its greater
opportunities of usefulness and its many problems of absorbing interest that his inclinations at this time were evidently leading him, and perhaps, too, the bent of his mind may have been quickened by reason of the fact that chance had lately thrown in his way the opportunity of becoming acquainted with the family of the Rev. Evan Edward Rowsell, who was then Curate-in-charge of the parish of Brinkley, in the neighbourhood of Newmarket. Haig Brown, as has been said, was fond of riding: Brinkley was at a convenient distance, and the rectory, with its congenial company of young people and its warm welcome, became a very pleasant and a very frequent terminus for a ride. Mr. Rowsell’s family consisted of four daughters, all of whom married well and happily in later life, viz., Annie Marion, who became Mrs. Haig Brown ; Adeline Mary, who married the Rev. Dr. Porter, afterwards Master of Peterhouse, Cambridge ; Flora Catherine, who married Colonel, afterwards General, Stewart, of the Royal Marine Light Infantry ; and Rosalind Grace, who became the wife of John Wolfe Barry, the engineer, now Sir John Wolfe Barry, K.C.B.; and four sons.
As the acquaintance ripened into friendship and in-
timacy, Haig Brown began to foresee that there was just a possibility that his affections might become seriously engaged to one of the ladies of that family, and so it might in consequence become ultimately necessary to resign his fellowship, and obtain work which would enable him to marry.
Samuel’s 12th child William Rowsell (1812-1850) has an interesting but very sad story. A poetic letter to Maria Lewis (1812-1889) reveals a romantic relationship with a mystery man when she was 23 years old.
Dear me how very odd it is
To have a letter from a Miss
Full of such tender loving matter
And see too how the girl can flatter
She talks of charms and…………… beauties
That never were in Polly Lewis
Surely to turn my shallow brain
And spite of reason make me vain
Can only be Miss Luffs design
In sending me this Valentine
And yet perhaps in this I err
And far more wisely should infer
That this is but a copy meant
For my inspection of one sent
To her by some admiring ..(gent?)…
Beseaching her to change her name
And she would ask a friend’s advice
Whether ’tis good with him to splice
If so I’ll lose no farther time
But criticize her Valentine
After deliberate attention
And more ….. study than I’ll mention
Ms my opinion dear Mifs Luff
That he who wrote such fulsome stuff
Is some old empty headed fool
Or else a boy just come from school
And I advise you to beware
Of his fine speeches and take care
He tempts you not to be his wife
Such hot love could not last thro’ life
And trust me you would aft reprise
You listened to his Valentine
I assume the letter was from William Rowsell because they were married 6 years later on 13th April 1842 in Toronto, Canada and had one son and two daughters there. At some point around 1848 they moved back to England and things went terribly wrong for them. The dashing William was committed to a lunatic asylum in Hackney after his Mother and then his one year old daughter Julia Maria Rowsell died. He perished in the asylum on 24th July 1850 after just 8 years of marriage. Maria moved to the village of Lewes in Sussex where she lived a long life and died aged 77.
Samuel Rowsell’s youngest son was The Reverend Thomas James Rowsell M.A. (1816-1894). He became a very popular preacher starting his career in Stepney in the East End and finally becoming Canon of Westminster Cathedral and Honorary chaplain to Queen Victoria. He received a BA at St John’s College, Cambridge, 1838; and a Masters degree in 1843.
Thomas James Rowsell was married to Marianne Norman about 1841 and they had 2 sons and 2 daughters. The following is a timeline of his impressive career.
- Domestic chaplain to Duke of Sutherland.
- Vicar, St Peter’s, Stepney, 1844-60.
- Rector, St Margaret’s, Lothbury, 1860-72.
- Select preacher at Cambridge, 1859-62.
- Honorary chaplain to the Queen, 1866;
- Chaplain in ordinary, 1869 to death;
- Vicar, St Stephen’s, Westbourne Park, 1872-83.
- deputy clerk of the Closet, 1879 to death.
- Canon of Westminster, 1880 to death.
He was present at the funeral of Charles Darwin at Westminster Abbey in 1882. Thomas died 23January 1894; his funeral service was held at Westminster Abbey, 27 January of that year and he was buried near to the Rowsell family grave at West Norwood Cemetery. The engraving below depicts Canon Rowsell preaching to “the mob” outside Westminster Abbey.