LORIMER, A Watford publican, 1899-1912

March, 2013




Cassio Hamlet

Viv Dean (vmdean  @t hotmail.co.uk) write from Cornwall to say: My great grandfather, Alexander Lorimer, may have been the Alexander Lorimer who was the landlord of 'The Dog' public house, in Cassio Hamlet, in 1912. If this AL was an ex-soldier, of the Scots Guards, then I am confident that the two are the same person. Any further information on Alexander, or on his wife, Jane, would be much appreciated, especially when they took over the pub.

The usual starting point to solve this problem is to check your Lorimer grandparent's birth certificate - and I assume that this has not provided you with sufficient information to be certain. It is unlikely that local records relating to the management of a public house are likely to provide any firm evidence relating to Alexander's army career. However the information from the censuses (FindMyPast or Ancestry), trade directories (various online and CD sources), civil registration (online index at FreeBMD) and probate information (online index on Ancestry), much of which you say you have seen, are sufficient to show which birth and/or marriage certificates you need to buy to confirm Alexander Lorimer's identity.

The starting point is the 1901 census - which gives details of Alexander and Jane Lorimer and their three sons at the Red Lion public house in Watford. It also firmly identifies Alexander's place of birth as Scotland. One can use this information to search for relevant facts and reconstruct the following story - which needs checking against birth/marriage certificates - but seems highly probable.

The first thing we find is that an Alexander Lorimer that matches the 1901 census data was a private  in the Royal Regiment of Horse Guards in their barracks in London in 1881. (A possible brother was also in the barracks.) The 1901 and 1911 census show that Alexander married Jane in about 1881 - which must have been after the census - which had shown him to be unmarried.

So could he be the Alexander Lorimer who married Sarah Jane Mattinson at Salford in April-June 1882 and if so it was a shotgun marriage as a John Alexander Lorimer's birth was registered at St Pancras, London, in the same quarter. This is an area where one cannot be certain of the answer without buying the certificates. John A. Lorimer died in the Watf ord area in 1944, aged 61.

There can be little doubt that the Hugh William Lorimer whose birth was registered at Chelsea in October-December 1883 is the Hugh listed in Watford the 1901 census, who was a Corporal in the Royal Horse Guards in London in 1911, and who was an executor of Alexander Lorimer's will.

Arthur Edward Lorimer, birth registered at St Pancras in October-December 1889, must surely be the Arthur Lorimer in Watford in 1901 and 1911  and the 69 year old Arthur Edward Lorimer who died in Watford in 1958.

All members of the family appear to be missing from the 1891 census for England - and if Alexander was in the army they could have been posted in Ireland - or even further afield.

Alexander first appears in Hertfordshire trade directories in 1899, as landlord of the Red Lion public house in the centre of Watford, and he was still there in 1902 but had moved to the Dog in Cassio Hamlet by 1908. He was still there in 1912 but had been replaced as landlord by Edward Sedding Norris by 1914. (The local trade directories in Watford Central Library might allow more precise dating.)

Probate records show that Jane Lorimer,  of 48 Langley Road, Watford, died on 28 April 1915, and that her husband Alexander Lorimer was an army pensioner. Alexander Lorimer, 73, of Denmark Street, Watford, died on 26 February 1929 and his executors were John Alexander Lorimer, fitter, and Hugh William Lorimer, storekeeper.

It would therefore appear that the publican Alexander Lorimer was from Scotland, had been in the Army (why else would he be an army pensioner) and all the evidence points to a strong family connection with the Royal Horse Guards. The children's poem "They're Changing Guard at Buckingham Place" comes immediately to mind.

Vivian replied: I think the 'Sarah Jane Mattinson' line of enquiry is not worth pursuing, as Hugh William L's parents were Alexander Lorimer and Jane SIM. There is a Jane R Sim, born 1852 in Scotland, in Kensington in the 1881 census, so my theory is that Alexander L is the AL from Grange, Banffshire, and he and Jane, who may be from Cairnie, which is within a few miles of Grange, married in Scotland, as there appears to be no marriage record for them in England/Wales.
Hugh William was also the executor of a Mary Lorimer's will, but I've had no luck at all finding her.
My grandfather (Hugh) used to tell me that true Scots went back to Scotland regularly to renew their links, so their absence for a census is not necessarily significant.
Personally, I am convinced that the landlord of The Dog is indeed my great grandfather. Family tradition has it that his father, too, was in the Horse Guards ( I am waiting on the response from their records); and the full names and ages of the three sons fit perfectly. My grandfather was also a bricklayer before he enlisted, so that fits, too. As 'Lorimer' is not a common name in England, do you think I may be safe to assume the connection?
I am of course going to try the Scottish records as well - although Lorimers and Sims are in abundance in Scotland - and hope that their ordering service is quicker than the England/Wales one, which took over a month to get the certificates to me!

I would agree that the 'Sarah Jane Mattinson' marriage is not the right one - and I don't think there is any doubt that the Watford publican was the father of John, Hugh and Arthur, and I am very happy with the idea that he was the private in the Horse Guards barracks in 1881. I will be interested to know if the Lorimer/Sim marriage turns up in Scotland.

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

March 2013   Page created