My Great-Great-Grandad, Henry Howard, lived in the early 1800’s - a time of great rural depression - and so he left his Devon home to look for work in London with the result that several generations of my family lived in the Hammersmith area. The story is that he walked all the way. No doubt the stage coach fare was beyond the means of an unemployed labourer.
He found work constructing railways which at this time were spreading rapidly all over the country. He may have found lodgings in North London, perhaps in Camden with either his brother or his cousin George Howard. Later he moved to the Hammersmith area and he married in his early twenties. He had (at least) six children, the eldest of whom, Elizabeth, was born about 1840. His son - William Henry (my Great-Grandad) was born in 1846 and the family story is that the youngest son was Jack who later emigrated. Two of the Howard family daughters, Louie and Mary Jane, did not marry and in later life lived together with their father Henry at 100 (or was it 104 as memory is playing tricks!) Iffley Road which is about half a mile from Hammersmith Broadway. Henry found other employment after the great railway boom came to an end. For many years he worked locally in Hammersmith for the Post Office. However he was eventually pensioned off following an accident in which he broke his leg.
The family attended the Congregational Church at nearby Brook Green and it was here that Henry Howard’s elder son, William Henry Howard, met his future wife Jane Esther Goodwill. Great-Great-Grandad Henry Howard outlived his wife by several years (about thirteen). My Great-Uncle Harry Howard recalled the severe winter of 1894/1895 during which he was ill and remembered that his grandfather Henry used to read to him. Soon after that bad winter, Henry died at the age of 82 whilst living with his two unmarried daughters at Iffley Road. Great-Grandad William Henry Howard, was artistic and he married into an artistic family. He was a wood carver and in later years taught his craft at Mayfield, Sussex. William Henry Howard married Jane Esther Goodwill at St Peter’s Church, Hammersmith on the 27th September 1873 and set up home nearby at 9 St Peter’s Road, just a short walk from Hammersmith Town Hall. He and Great-Grandma Jane were married by a careless curate who made a mistake on their marriage certificate! Perhaps thinking Jane was an uncultured cockney who dropped her “aitches” he recorded Hester on the certificate though her name was always Esther.
William Henry Howard and Jane had six children. They first lived at 9 St Peter’s Road, Hammersmith, later at 20 Chalcot Crescent near the zoo at Regents Park and finally at 59 Ranelagh Gardens in Barnes, SW13, opposite the Ranelagh Club and two doors away from Ranelagh Avenue (opposite Barnes Common). There, at number 59, William Henry Howard died on the 4th February 1917 of apoplexy and a coma. About this time his son Harold Howard returned from the wars in India and moved into number 32 Ranelagh Gardens. My Great-Grandma Jane (his granny) moved in with him. Great-Grandma Jane died in 1931. Great-Grandad William Henry Howard’s daughter Florence and her husband William Arthur Norfolk stayed on at number 59 having moved there in either 1915 or 1916 from St Leonards Road, East Sheen, Richmond, Surrey. Meanwhile the other sons of William Henry Howard were moving around. Frank, the eldest, married Harriett Millicent Eley (“Milly”) and moved to Temple Sheen Road, East Sheen. Either Frank or Milly had previously lived at 16 Hillersdon Avenue, Barnes, near Beverley Brook and it was here that William Arthur Norfolk was lodging after his arrival from Leeds at the time of his marriage to Florence Howard. Milly was a witness at Florence and William’s wedding. Following Frank’s death, Milly and her son Cyril moved to Lonsdale Road, Barnes (by the river).
My Great-Uncle Harold Sidney Howard, the next son of William Henry Howard, was born in 1881. He served in India during the Great War and returned in 1917 to live with Great-Grandma Jane at 32 Ranelagh Gardens. My Great-Uncle Len Howard was the youngest son of William Henry Howard – he served with the Royal Fusiliers in the Great War and fought at the Battle of the Somme and lost a leg. Subsequently he lost his wooden leg while walking across a street in Barnes suspiciously close to The Red Lion!
William Henry Howard’s only daughter – my Grandma Florence -married William Arthur Norfolk on 9th April 1912 at Barnes Parish Church. I have what is probably an engagement photograph of them bearing her nickname Flossie. William Henry Howard was 66 at the time and he and Milly both witnessed the wedding. The bride and groom slipped out of the back door of the church to avoid the confetti! They set up home firstly at 202 St Leonards Road, Mortlake and later at 59 Ranelagh Gardens with Great-Grandma Jane (who later moved in with her son Frank and even later moved to 21 Ashchurch Park Villas, Hammersmith in the very area where she and William Henry began their married life in 1873. There she died on the 7th February 1931 at the age of 83 almost exactly 14 years after William Henry. Where did Florence and William then live? Perhaps they owned but were forced to sell their home in Ranelagh Gardens to pay off various debts then moved? I am unsure. I suspect that they rented their home in Barnes and then rented a home for a few months only in Ship Street, Brighton. This was followed by renting at (number 86?) The Grove, Hammersmith. So far as I am aware there are no longer any of our Howard family now living in the Barnes area.
A memory shared byon Jan 11th, 2008.
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