BECKLEY, Orphanage at Essendon, 1873




Joan Beckley (jbeckley @t of Toronto writes: On the birth certificate of his son William Frank Beckley, registered at Essendon, Herts October 1873, the father William Beckley is described as "Superintendent of a home for orphans". Have you any knowledge of such an institution in Essendon or vicinity at that time?  If so would there be any records of personnel still existing?

Unfortunately small orphanages can be difficult to identify, as while schools are listed, orphanages appear not to have been included in the Post Office Directories of the time. Presumably the superintendent of such an institution was not considered "Gentry" while orphanages are not mentioned under the "Commercial" heading. although schools are given in the description of the place. (The 1882 classified section of Kelly's directory for Hertfordshire does not even have headings for Orphanages or Children's Homes.)

A specific check in the directories under Essendon for 1866 and 1882 (the nearest years I have ready access to) gives no entry for William Beckley. The directory was also published in 1870 and 1874 (I don't have ready access to these years) but in view of the above comments about orphanages they are probably not worth checking.

Checking the 1881 census (online at familysearch) for Essendon showed that William Beckley was no longer there but I found the following two households which could be relevant. Both were at unidentified places within the village, and appear not to have been close to each other.

Address: The Boys Home, Essendon.

 Name  Relation   Age Birthplace Occupation
 Letitia GEORGII   Head   M   41   London  Matron Boys Home (Instit Serv) 
 Thomas GEORGII   Son      9   London Adelphi, London  Scholar 
 Alfred WATSON   Ward      11   Launton, Oxfordshire   Scholar 
 William WEBB   Ward      12   N K   Scholar 
 Henry JAMES   Ward      10   Dover   Scholar 
 Edward JAMES   Ward      7   Dover   Scholar 
 John HIGGERTY   Ward      8   London,  Scholar 

As Letitia Georgii is married it is possible that her husband was the "Master, Boys Home" and was away from home on the census night. There is no entry for Georgii in the 1882 directory for Essendon

Address: Over Stables In Late Orphanage, Essendon

 Name  Relation Marital Status Age Birthplace Occupation
 William MILES   Head   M   27   Essendon   Groom 
 Mary Ann MILES   Wife   M   29   Ramsgate, Kent   
 Ada Louisa MILES   Daur      2   Essendon    

This is a frustrating entry in that the census return does not relate the stables to any of the immediately nearby households - one of which was presumably the former orphanage.

The 1871 census may well be more helpful - and might include William Beckley if he was in post then. You should be able to arrange to view the microfilm containing Essendon at your nearest LDS Family History Centre (address from familysearch).

Whether any records might survive relating to the orphanage will depend on who effectively ran the orphanage and whether they have cleared out old files any time in the last 100 years or so. If the orphanage is listed in the 1871 census the birth places of the children could give a clue. If all come from the immediate area (in effect the Hatfield Union) it may have been associated with the Hatfield workhouse and you should approach HALS to see if they have any records. If they came from the same (out of Hertfordshire?) area they may have been associated with a particular charity. For instance some London guilds made arrangements for orphaned children of their members. The problem is that if you don't know the charity, finding the records - if they exist - will be almost impossible. 

Joan responded: Many thanks Chris for your prompt and helpful response. I think our boy William Beckley must have been a bit of a rolling stone. On his marriage certificate (May 1867) he is listed as a Schoolmaster, living in Paddington. Then as I told you , in 1873 he is "Superintendent of a home for orphans" at Essendon. In the 1881 census he is listed as a boarder at the establishment of William Kethro in Oxford, and is described as an "Auctioneer's manager". (The rest of the family is at home in the Paddington area of London. They were hard to find because they are listed as Bukley. Eldest son age 11 [1870] is said to have been born at Bishopsgate, while William F is 7 [1873] and joined the family at Essanston (sic). Henry age 2 was born at Walworth.) By 1901 he was living in Hammersmith as a "French polisher".  I haven't yet found the family in the 1871 and 1891 censuses.

At any rate it does not appear as if William was in Essendon for very long - 1870-1879  at the outside.  I am beginning to think there was some family connection, his mother's side, to Hemel Hempstead. I'll have to do some more sleuthing about that.

September 2011

Jennifer Cranfield (jennifer_cranfield @t of Warwickshire writes: I have been researching the Georgii family for a relative. Letitia Georgii nee Hill was married in London in 1866 to Thomas Georgii a book binder. They had 4 children but by 1881 the marriage seems to have broken down. As you know Letitia was Matron of the Boys Home and her son Thomas was living with her. Her 3 other children were in orphanages; 13-year-old daughter Alice in Marylebone, and sons Frank (6) & Frederick (4) in Torquay. After some difficulty I found Letitia's husband boarding with a family in Ealing.

If you can add to the information given above tell me.