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Saturday, 19 January 2013

The dangers of drink: another John Gidley and another sad fate

Most of the Gidleys seem to have been a pretty sober lot, with a few exceptions, of course. One whose presumably rare excesses turned tragically sour on him was John Gidley of St Pancras, who met an unpleasant end through his own recklessness. I quote from the following account in the Morning Chronicle of 4 Apr 1833.

Coroner's Inquest - Dreadful Accident
Yesterday an inquest was held at the Five Bells Tavern at New Cross before Richard Cartter, Esq., the Coroner for Surrey, on the body of Mr John Gidley, aged 38 years, who met his death under the following afflicting circumstances.
It appeared in evidence that the unfortunate deceased was a pork butcher, residing in Brewer St, St Pancras.On Monday last he left home in a horse and chaise cart for the purpose of proceeding to Greenwich to receive his pension, he having served for many years at Gibraltar. After he had received his pension he went to several public houses, and at length he became quite intoxicated, and in that state he departed towards home. In passing along New Cross he whipped his horse into a full gallop, and in endeavouring to pass through a gate, the off wheel came in contact with the post, and the unfortunate man was thrown out to a distance of seven yards, and falling upon his head, his skull was much injured but not fractured; the blood, however, flowed from his mouth and nostrils in torrents. He was picked up immediately and carried to the house of Mr Law, the surgeon, where he died in about 10 minutes. Upon examination it was found that his death was occasioned by a rupture of a blood vessel upon the lungs.
The deceased was a married man and has left four children.
The Jury returned a verdict of Accidental Death.

So which John Gidley was this? He was quite easy to identify, with the Gibraltar clue. (Pictured is the dry dock at Gibraltar, but at a much later date than when John worked there). I believe his parents were Bartholomew Gidley and Mary Manning who married in 1793 in Ashreigney, Devon. John was their oldest child. Their second son, Bartholomew, was a smith at the Royal Dockyard in Plymouth, and has descendants, at least in the female line. Their third son, Thomas, a carpenter, was an early emigrant to Canada where he founded a family in Exeter, Ontario. At least two daughters, Mary and Wilmot, followed their oldest brother John to London, where they both married. But firstly John married at the age of only 20 (in 1815 at Stoke Damerel) Mary Maria Treweeke. His occupation at that time was a carpenter, and when a child was born in 1820 he was a "house carpenter in the Dockyard". But John's oldest son, another John, was consistent in claiming his date and place of birth as Gibraltar in 1818, so some time between 1815 and 1820 John senior must have served in the Dockyard there, little knowing it would be the eventual cause of his death.
As stated in the newspaper report, John and Mary Maria did indeed have four children - John in Gibraltar, two daughters Emma and Mary Maria in 1820 and 1824 in St Dominick, Cornwall, and another son in about 1826, Thomas. It seems that Mary Maria died soon after Thomas's birth, as she was buried in St Dominick that year. Thomas was never too sure where he was born - it varied in the censuses between St Dominick, St Pancras (London) or even Lambeth (Surrey). It was probably about that time that John moved his family to London (did his sisters accompany him to help?), and became a pork butcher. When their father died in 1833 the children's ages ranged from 15 to 7.
It was a surprise to me that John was a married man, having evidently remarried. Searching the marriages for any available John Gidleys between 1826 (when he was widowed) and 1833 (his death) I found the only possibility - John Gidley, widower, married Ann Gillatt, spinster, at St George's, Bloomsbury, in October 1831.
So what happened to the family after the tragedy? The family didn't seem to pull together very much, or maybe the financial circumstances were against them. By 1841 I can't find the oldest son, John, who probably never left London, but the other three children had returned to their Cornish roots, possibly supported by their mother's family for a while. The two girls are living together in Fore St, Callington, with the older working as a dressmaker. The younger son Thomas is possibly of no occupation in the Talbot Inn, Lostwithiel. Their stepmother Ann remained in London, working as a female servant in her brother Isaac's wine merchants' in Piccadilly, Westminster, where she continues to live until at least 1851. She must have been about 10 years older than her husband, so perhaps she didn't have the resources to cope with bringing up his young family.
The younger sister, Mary Maria Gidley, died unmarried in Cornwall in 1851 in her 20s, the same year as her sister Emma married Frederick Smith in Dover registration district. This couple then vanishes and I can find no further trace of them in England & Wales censuses.
John Gidley, the oldest son, however, managed to train as a printer's compositor and lived for many years in Islington until he died in 1884. He had two wives, Elizabeth, by whom he had no children, and a second wife, Sarah nee Strong, by whom he had a daughter, named after his mother, Mary Maria Treweeke Gidley. Sadly, this name brought no luck again, as Mary died as a young woman, a few years after her marriage. Sarah already had other children, by a previous marriage, who adopted the name of Gidley, and there are descendants in the female line.
Thomas Gidley, the younger son who wasn't too sure where he was born, has provided me with a few problems. It seems he married Ann Barnard in York in 1852, but by the 1861 census his wife is Mary Ann, born in Newcastle upon Tyne in 1837. They have a baby daughter Eliza. Is first wife Ann the Annie Gidley who died in York, although not until 1863? (May 2013 update: no, this is another Annie Gidley, married to William Gidley from a completely different family, although, strangely, her address is given as Beedhams Court, Skeldergate, which is where Thomas and Mary Ann are living in 1861 and 1871). There's no sign of Ann in the 1861 census. Thomas has become a fishmonger in Skeldergate. In 1871 and 1881 things still seem to be going well for Thomas, and there are three more daughters (one died as a baby). Thomas has been employed as a groom and as a newsagent. By 1891, however, this second marriage had evidently failed. It actually only took place in York in 1880, by which time their oldest daughter Eliza was 20 and married herself, but I imagine it proves that Mary Ann and Ann, the first wife, were not one and the same person. In 1891 Thomas describes himself as a fish hawker and widower, and has moved to the other side of the River Ouse in York. He died in 1896. Mary Ann describes herself in 1891 as a widow, head of the household, in a working nurses' home in York. In 1901 she is a charwoman and by 1911, the year before her death back in her native Tyneside, she is a boarder with a family in York.
What happened to their daughters? I don't know their ultimate fates, but it seems likely they all emigrated. Two married in York, but there is no trace of the younger pair after 1901, and of the first couple nothing after their 1876 marriage. The unmarried daughter doesn't seem to have married or died in England & Wales.
In 2007 I heard of a descendant of Mary Maria Treweeke Gidley, daughter of John Gidley the printer in Islington, who was researching this particular Gidley family. Michael Brimacombe traced the birth details of the children of Sarah Strong's first husband, who were Mary's half siblings.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

The two George Gidley murderers

1) George Gidley, chimney sweep, found guilty of the manslaughter of a fellow chimney sweep in Leeds in 1836
This one is quickly dealt with. Although the newspaper reports of the time consistently give the accused's name as Gidley, a quick glance at the 1851 census shows that there were at least two families of chimney sweeps in Leeds at the time who quite clearly had the surname Gidlow. The clerks at the trial, or the arresting police officers, had evidently incorrectly recorded his name as Gidley. There are also some birth references in the BMDs in the Leeds registration district between 1839 and 1847 which recorded these families' children as Gidley.
The newspapers of the time reported:
"There is a strong presumption that the boy, Hurley, died from a beating with a stick by the man, Gidley, who had been to fetch him from Ripon. This inhuman monster had compelled the lad to walk barefoot from Ripon to Harewood, a distance of 18 miles, in one day. When at the latter place he became exhausted, and received a severe beating from Gidley, which from the evidence given, seems to have caused his death. Gidley was committed to York Castle to take his trial at the assizes next week, on the capital charge of "wilful murder". (At this trial he was found guilty of manslaughter)."

2) George Gidley, ship's cook, hanged in 1766 for murder and mutiny on the high seas
There's also a possibility (only a small one, I'm afraid) that this George Gidley's name has also been misrecorded.
The main published sources are the Annual Register for 1765, and the New and Complete Newgate Calendar for 1765. The Annual Register describes George Gidley and fellow-mutineer Richard St Quentin as "west of England men". On the other hand, the Newgate Calendar has George Gidley "born in the West of Yorkshire", and Richard St Quentin "a native of the same county". The story is also covered in a much more recent title, The Mary Celeste and other strange tales of the sea, by J G Lockhart, published in 1952. This records George Gidley as a west of England man, but Richard St Quentin as a Londoner. The original papers appear to be kept in Belfast, in the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland, so not very accessible for me. If anyone wants to visit, the references seem to be PRONI D 2015/5; CMSIED 9804413.
The printed sources all agree that George Gidley was the ship's cook, which means, I'm afraid, that he dealt the fatal blow to Captain Cochran, the captain of the ship. According to Lockhart (above), he brained him with a marlin spike.
This is the story (taken from
"Compared with the mutiny on the Earl of Sandwich, which took place in the Irish Channel, almost at our doors some 24 years earlier, the mutiny on the Bounty might almost be considered a decent kind of an affair. This mutiny, which at the time stirred the interest of every man and woman in the country, contained all the elements of a boy's thriller - murder, scuttling, looting and buried treasure. The Earl of Sandwich was a small brig under the command of a captain Cochran and he was bound home from Tenerife. In addition to the captain there was a crew of six men and two boys and three passengers who had joined the ship at Tenerife - a Captain Glass, his wife and daughter. Captain Glass was also a seaman who had a stirring career. The Earl of Sandwich carried a considerable amount of treasure, probably the result of a long trading voyage. Mutiny broke out on November 30, 1765, as the ship was approaching the Irish coast. Four of the crew attacked and killed the mate and master with an iron bar. Captain Glass, hearing the noise of the struggle, ran up on deck and, seeing what had happened, turned and ran back again for his sword. Knowing that he was a brave and resolute man, one of the mutineers followed and hid himself and as Captain Glass passed him with his drawn sword he threw his arms around the captain from behind and called for assistance from his fellow mutineers. The other rushed forward and, taking the sword from the captain, they ran him through the body. In doing so they also ran the sword through the arm of the man holding their victim. The four mutineers were the boatswain, cook and two seamen, and their purpose was to possess the treasure on board, of which apparently they had obtained knowledge. After killing Captain Glass they actually forced Mrs Glass and her daughter, clasped in each other's arms, over the side. The bodies of the other dead were thrown after them, and the only other survivors left were the two boys. When nearing the coast of Wexford the mutineers opened the ballast ports, got out the longboat, loaded it up with the treasure, and left the ship. They landed at a spot called Booley Bay on the Wexford coast, and after burying the bulk of the treasure in the sand made their way to the town of Ross and engaged a room in a public house where they deposited what gear they had brought with them. The men went round the town changing dollars for gold, and in this way disposed of 1,250 dollars, and obtained nearly every gold piece in the town of Ross. Next they set off for Dublin but had only been gone six hours when the hue and cry was raised. The suspicions of the authorities had been aroused owing to their boat having been found with a number of loose dollars in it. A quantity of the ship's cargo and goods also came ashore. "
The men themselves also drew suspicious glances, being "rough-looking fellows" to be in possession of such obvious wealth. George Gidley managed to bolt from outside a goldsmith's shop in Dublin, but the hue and cry was on and he was stopped at Carlow, in possession of 50-60 English guineas & Spanish & Portuguese money.
The four men were found guilty in Dublin on March 11th 1766 and were sentenced to hang on St Stephen's Green. Their bodies were then hung in chains in the harbour for a year, serving a warning to all passing ships against mutiny and murder.
So which family of Gidleys has the dubious honour of relationship to a brutal murderer? There's no easy answer. We need:
a George Gidley of an age to be a ship's cook in 1765
a George Gidley not necessarily living on the coast, as a cook's skills were presumably less generic than those of a seaman, but not recorded as following any other trade
a George Gidley for whom there is no burial record.
I don't think for one moment that I have recorded all the Gidleys alive in the 18th century, but there is one George Gidley who may fit the bill, although he does appear to be a little old to be a ship's cook in 1765.
There is a small family of Gidleys in Northam, Devon, recorded by Family Search. The married couple are George Gidley amd Martha Man, who married there in 1722, presumably making them both born about 1700. I have no idea what family George could belong to. The baptisms of 9 children are recorded in Northam, several of whom died young. The only one I can trace a marriage for so far is George Gidley junior, who married Amy Davies in Bristol, joined the Royal Navy and consequently left a will (leaving everything to Amy). George and Martha's family was poverty-stricken - all the surviving children were apprenticed out by the parish at a young age - and there is no burial recorded for George Gidley senior, although Martha was buried in Northam in 1760. And Northam parish included the Devon port of Appledore.
This is my best guess so far, but I'm always prepared to be proved wrong.
Any ideas are welcome. At least this particular George Gidley doesn't have any known descendants to feel ashamed of him.