The Islington Families

This is the fourth in a series of four posts about the children of William Smith of Melmerby (1781-1857) and his wife Mary Longrigg.

The three Smiths I am writing about in this post are William, Elizabeth and Lancelot – the three youngest children in the family. They were first cousins of my great-grandfather Lancelot Smith of Corballis (1824-1899). There are several Lancelots in this story as well as several Williams and Elizabeths so I will try to make it clear which one I am writing about as I go along.

Although writing about three people in one post has made it rather long, I have found it necessary to write about all three of them together because there are significant inter-connections between these Smiths and the Harrisons of Gamblesby and with the Borough of Islington in London.

The three Smiths were:
William Smith (1825-1905);
Elizabeth Smith (1831-1900); and
Lancelot Smith (1833-1889).

William Smith (1825-1905) was the second surviving son in the Melmerby family. In late 1857, William married Elizabeth Harrison from Gamblesby and around the same time in 1857 (I don’t have the exact dates), William’s younger sister Elizabeth Smith married William Harrison. So, a Smith brother and sister married a Harrison sister and brother. Having two same forenames and two same surnames can lead to confusion but it helps a bit that William Smith and his wife Elizabeth (Harrison) stayed in Cumberland whereas William Harrison and his wife Elizabeth (Smith) went to live in London, specifically in Islington.

William Smith inherited freehold property in Gamblesby following the death of his father in June 1857 although he apparently did not take possession of the farming property right away. William and Elizabeth were living in Great Broughton, Cumberland when their son William was born in December 1859. They were still in Great Broughton at the time of the 1961 census. By 1871, they were living in Gamblesby with a farm of 80 acres and by 1881 William was farming 130 acres.

Below are photographs that I believe show William Smith of Gamblesby and his wife Elizabeth Smith (formerly Elizabeth Harrison).










William and Elizabeth lived in Gamblesby for the rest of their lives. However, their son William did not – even though he would have been the heir to the freehold property of his father. Perhaps farming did not appeal to him.

Their son William seems to have been overlooked in the 1871 census when he would have been 11 years old. He re-appears in the 1881 census, by which time he was living with his uncle Lancelot Smith in Islington. From then on, William stayed in Islington and worked in business with his two uncles – Lancelot Smith and William Harrison. (More about this younger William Smith later.)

Meantime, William Smith and his wife Elizabeth continued living in Gamblesby. In the 1881 census, nearby neighbours were Sarah Cowen and her husband Joseph. Sarah was a younger sister of Lancelot Smith of Corballis. She had moved to Ireland in the 1850s with her family but she returned to live in Gamblesby after the death of her father in 1871 and married Joseph Cowen in 1875. Sarah was born in Gamblesby in 1829 and would have known the Smiths, Harrisons and Bensons in Gamblesby. William Smith was her first cousin.

In 1884, William Smith was co-executor and trustee of his brother John’s will (the other co-executor and co-trustee was John’s son George Hardy Smith of Melmerby). I will be writing a post about John Smith and about his son George Hardy Smith later.

William Smith died in June 1905 at the age of 79 and was buried in the churchyard of Melmerby Parish Church.

In her husband William’s will, Elizabeth was to get a legacy of £20 to be paid within two months of his death (he died in June 1905).  She also got all household effects and an annuity of £60 per year and the use of Brook House and its adjoining garden during her lifetime. All of William Smith’s property was bequeathed to their son William after Elizabeth’s death.  Sadly, Elizabeth did not live long enough to benefit from all these bequests because she died in September 1905, only three months after her husband. She too was buried at Melmerby Parish Church. In 1928, a memorial tablet was installed in the Church by their son, then known as William Harrison-Smith.

Elizabeth Smith (1831-1900) and Lancelot Smith (1833-1889) were the two youngest children in the Smith family of Melmerby. Elizabeth was born in early 1831 and Lancelot in early 1833.  Their lives were so intertwined that I have found it best to describe them together.

In 1851, Elizabeth was still living at home, aged 20, while Lancelot, aged 17, had gone to live in Penrith with two of his older sisters, Mary and Agnes. Lancelot’s occupation in the 1851 census is given as draper’s apprentice. (I have written about Mary and Agnes in a previous post titled The Two Milliners.)

Elizabeth’s father William died in June 1857, after which she received £140 in his will. That legacy would be worth about £12,260 today. Lancelot inherited a house and some property (Croft Bowen) in Gamblesby in the same will.  I do not know what happened to this property but Lancelot did not choose to live there and I assume he sold it, possibly to his brother William.

In late 1857, Elizabeth Smith married William Harrison from Gamblesby. William Harrison was born in 1828 and baptized in Addingham Parish Church in October of that year.  William was a younger son of William Harrison and Mary Benson; his older brother John Harrison inherited the family property, a farm of 120 acres in Gamblesby. As well as being a farmer, John Harrison was a local Methodist preacher.

As a younger son, William Harrison would have had to earn his living in some way other than farming. It is interesting to see that, in 1851, William was living as a boarder in Brampton (east of Carlisle), aged 21 and a student. Another student boarding in the same household was Joseph Falder, also 21 and also from Gamblesby. The household they were staying in included a teacher “at the academy” aged 24 and a pupil-teacher at the academy aged 16 – as well as William Harrison and Joseph Falder. It seems likely that the four young men were all involved in the same academy in Brampton. It is possible the census record is incorrect and William was actually a student-teacher at the academy. The academy referred to was most likely Croft House Academy (also called Croft House School), a boarding school for about 80 boys aged between about 11 and 15. The school was run for many years by Joseph Coulthard and appears to have taught a traditional grammar school curriculum as well as some commercial subjects.

I have not found where William Harrison and Lancelot Smith were between 1851 and 1861. At some time in that decade they moved separately or together to London. In the 1861 census, we can find William Harrison, his wife Elizabeth and Elizabeth’s brother Lancelot Smith all in one household at 73 Upper Street, Islington. William Harrison was the head of household, aged 33, and Lancelot Smith was a boarder, aged 28. William’s occupation is given as lace manufacturer and his brother-in-law is described as partner in the business employing 50 people.

The 1861 household also included two interesting visitors: Mary Smith, annuitant, aged 67 and a widow (this was Elizabeth’s and Lancelot’s mother) and Mary Smith, retired milliner, aged 32 and unmarried (this was Elizabeth’s and Lancelot’s older sister).

Photographs of Lancelot Smith, William Harrison and his wife Elizabeth (nee Smith) have kindly been shared with me by another family historian so this is what they looked like in later life. This is Lancelot Smith:










And here are William Harrison and his wife Elizabeth (formerly Elizabeth Smith):










It would be fascinating to learn how William Harrison and Lancelot Smith managed to establish and develop a lace manufacturing business. As far as I know, there was no tradition of running this type of business in either of their families. I can only assume that they had both learned enough about the business and, for some reason, found it worthwhile to move to London – rather than, say, Manchester or Birmingham – to develop their business there.

Post Office directories for London from 1865 onwards show that William Harrison and Lancelot Smith were partners in a lace manufacturing business called Harrison & Smith (later called Harrison, Smith & Co.). The company also manufactured hair nets, ruches, trimmings, head-dresses and – a bit surprising to me – umbrellas and parasols. In the city directories and later censuses, William and Lancelot are variously described as lace manufacturers, lace merchants, warehousemen and merchants. In this context, warehousemen were businessmen who owned warehouses and dealt in the buying and selling of goods manufactured by other businesses as well as in the selling of their own products.

The business addresses changed over time from 5 Angel Street to 15 King Edward Street, and then to 28-29 Hamsell Street. All these places were in the City of London, in an area of warehouses near St. Giles Church in Cripplegate; this area has been completely rebuilt since the Second World War and is now occupied by the Barbican Centre and many newer buildings. (Hamsell Street was about half-way between what is now the Museum of London and the Barbican Theatre.)

The business continued in operation until at least 1925 although neither William Harrison nor Lancelot Smith were involved after 1888. In early 1889, their nephew William Smith took over the business and ran it from then on, possibly with new partners. I believe it was at that time the business name changed to Harrison, Smith & Co. A catastrophic fire in the Cripplegate area in 1897 destroyed many buildings on Hamsell Street and several neighbouring streets but my understanding is that the warehouses and factories were re-built and Harrison, Smith & Co. continued at the same address on Hamsell Street thereafter. A fascinating newspaper account of the fire and its effect on the businesses in the area can be found on the website Grace’s Guide to British Industrial History.

Although I am interested in following Lancelot Smith’s and William Harrison’s business career, I do not want to lose sight of William’s wife Elizabeth Harrison (nee Smith). Elizabeth had seven children of whom four daughters survived to adulthood. William and Elizabeth had only one son and he died as an infant. The 1861 census record for the Harrison household (mentioned above) is especially interesting not only for who was there but who was soon to arrive. The census took place on the 7th of April, 1861 and Elizabeth gave birth to twin girls on the 16th of April. The imminence of the births could explain why Elizabeth’s mother and sister were in the household that month.

Elizabeth and William Harrison’s four surviving daughters were:
Ada Mary Harrison, born 16 April 1861;
Elizabeth Maude Harrison, born 16 April 1861;
Mabel Gertrude Harrison, born 3 June 1867; and
Clara Wilhelmina Harrison, born 5 September 1870.

Meantime, in 1864 in Islington, Lancelot Smith married Eleanor Jane Morrison, who was born around 1840 in Gateshead, Durham. They had two sons: Lancelot Smith, born in 1865 and Horace Smith, born in early 1867. Both boys were born in Islington. The Smiths were living at 7 Highbury Park North in 1865. Their home address in 1870 was Newport House, Quadrant Road North, Highbury New Park. They continued living in the same house although the address changed to Quadrant Road Inner Circle Highbury in 1871 and to 14 Highbury Quadrant in 1881. Also in the 1881 household was William Smith, his nephew from Gamblesby, aged 21, and a warehouseman. During these years from 1871 to 1881, Lancelot’s occupation changed from warehouseman to merchant. In each census, the Smith household had two or three domestic servants.

By 1870, the Harrisons had moved to Addingham House, 11 Quadrant Road, Highbury. I think it was a nice touch that William Harrison named his house in Highbury after his home parish in Cumberland. In the 1871 census, the Harrison household was listed as living at Quadrant Road South Side and by 1881 this was 23 Highbury Quadrant – still the same house, I believe. As with Lancelot Smith, William Harrison’s occupation also evolved from warehouseman to merchant. His household also enjoyed the benefits of having several domestic servants.

This is what Highbury Quadrant looked like in 1885 in an excerpt from a map of London. The map excerpt below shows the area known as Highbury Ward, within the Borough of Islington. Highbury Quadrant is in the upper right hand corner.

The smaller map below is a closer look at Highbury Quadrant.

Below is another map, this time from Charles Booth’s London poverty maps dated from 1898-99. The colour coding refers to the level of wealth (or poverty) of people living in London at that time. Yellow represented “Upper-middle and upper classes. Wealthy.” while bright red represented: “Middle class. Well-to-do.” As you can see, the residents of Highbury Quadrant and the adjacent north-south street called Highbury New Park were assessed as either well-to-do or wealthy.

Living on the same street in the Highbury Park area for decades and working together in the lace manufacturing and warehousing business in the City even longer shows the very close personal relationship between Lancelot Smith and William Harrison. I imagine that the two families spent a lot of time together as well. Probably their nephew William Smith did too.

Unfortunately, this harmonious state of affairs suffered a serious blow in 1889. On the 3rd of June, Lancelot Smith died at 14 Highbury Quadrant at the early age of 56. Probate for his estate shows that his executors were his two sons, the Rev. Lancelot Smith and Horace Smith, a student at Cambridge University. The probate record states that his business was at 28 Hamsell Street, St. Giles-without-Cripplegate in the City of London (this information would have been from his will, which could have been written some years before.). The estate effects were £58,709 6s. The value of this estate in today’s currency would be about £6 million.

In 1891, Eleanor J. Smith, Lancelot’s widow, was living with or visiting her son the Rev. Lancelot Smith who was then an Anglican curate in Fakenham, Norfolk. Eleanor’s younger son Horace was a medical student at Cambridge University and living in lodgings.  In the same 1891 census, the Harrison family was staying in Newton Abbot, Devon – probably on a spring holiday in Torquay. They seem to have been staying in rented accommodation with no servants of their own. William Harrison’s occupation was given as Justice of the Peace for the County of London. The only person of interest who was in Islington in the 1891 census was William Smith, who was living in lodgings and working as a lace merchant.

In 1894, the Rev. Lancelot Smith married Florence Worsley Gibson in Cowes, Isle of Wight, where he was then the vicar of St. Mary’s Church. They had four children over the next 12 years. The family moved to various parishes in Southern England over the next three decades.

In 1897, the Harrison household started to change as the daughters were married. The first one to marry was the youngest of the four: Clara Wilhelmina. She married her cousin Horace Smith, in Islington. By 1897, Horace was a medical doctor. Clara and Horace had no children.

Two more Harrison marriages followed in 1900: Ada Mary married Elisha Fowler and Mabel Gertrude married Philip Stanley Oswald. Elisha Fowler was an inspector of insurance agents. Philip Oswald was then a barrister, who later became an Anglican clergyman. The Fowlers had one son; the Oswalds had seven children.

In November 1900, Elizabeth Harrison died in Islington. In early 1901, William Harrison was at 23 Highbury Quadrant living with his only unmarried daughter Elizabeth Maude (known as Maude), aged 39. Also there on census day were Ada Mary and Elisha Fowler and a visitor, Ella Oswald, who was probably a sister of Philip Oswald. In the same census, William Smith was still living in Islington although in different lodgings and his occupation was described as lace maker. By this time he was 41 years old and unmarried.

Lancelot’s Smith’s widow Eleanor was at 14 Highbury Quadrant in 1901, with one of her widowed sisters, while her son Horace Smith and his wife Clara were living in Bournemouth. Horace was a practicing physician (although he retired from his practice before 1911). Also visiting the Bournemouth household in 1901 was Horace’s brother the Rev. Lancelot Smith, his wife Florence and two children: Marjorie E. W. Smith and Lancelot E. Smith.

William Harrison died in November 1907, aged 79. His estate was valued at £48,318 14s 7d (which today would be worth nearly £4.7 million). His executors were his daughter Maude and two of his nephews, William Smith, merchant, and Horace Smith, MD.

In June 1909, Elizabeth Maude Harrison married her double first cousin William Smith. The couple adopted the name of Harrison-Smith. They had no children. William and Maude Harrison-Smith lived at 23 Highbury Quadrant until about 1930 when they moved to Bournemouth, where Horace and Clara were already living.

Perhaps a modified family tree chart here may help to explain the complex inter-relationships that had developed between the Smiths and the Harrisons.

This is an adapted version of the usual family tree structure. Reading from left to right, in the first column are William Smith and Mary Longrigg who were the parents of  William Smith, Elizabeth Smith and Lancelot Smith. At the same level (and unusually in this type of chart) I have added William Harrison and Mary Benson, who were the parents of Elizabeth Harrison and William Harrison. Having a brother and sister who married a sister and brother in another family is probably not particularly unusual but genealogy software for chart creation does not seem to allow for that possibility so I have had to improvise.

On the right hand side are the children in the next generation. Again, I have had to improvise. Usually, those children would be coloured the same as each other because they are of the same generation but I have chosen to colour some differently to illustrate that several of the cousins married each other. William Smith (coloured bright yellow) married his double first cousin Elizabeth Maude Harrison (also coloured bright yellow) and changed his name to William Harrison-Smith. Clara Wilhelmina Harrison (coloured green) married her cousin Horace Smith (also green).


Final Comments
The lives of the three Smiths (William, Elizabeth and Lancelot) were quite closely entwined in marriage, business and living together in Islington. The lace-making business that William Harrison and Lancelot Smith established in London was successful and provided considerable wealth for both families and later also for their nephew William Harrison-Smith. The interconnections were made even closer by the marriages of several of their children.

This all occurred very far away from the Cumberland farming communities where the Smiths and Harrisons were born.

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