Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The end of Thomas Charles MARCH, his wife and children, apart from one important detail

The story so far:

Thomas Charles MARCH was a lifelong servant of the royal household during Queen Victoria's reign. He rose through the ranks of the Lord Chamberlain's office and by 1881 was Pay-master of the Royal Household. In sequential census returns, and in some of the other public records Ancestry.co.uk (Ancestry.com) has online, as well as what others have posted to the Web, I have been tracing Thomas and his family. The larger context started out with Bram STOKER and is explained in previous posts.

Bram Stoker and family in the 1881 English census

I looked more closely at the three servants:

Emma Barton, Bram Stoker's 15-year-old parlourmaid in 1881

Harriet Daw, Bram Stoker's Cook in 1881. The problem of a small spelling error


A brick wall: Elizabeth Jarrald, widow, Nurse to Bram Stoker's baby son in 1881.

Researching Elizabeth led me to the man I think she married:

Charles Jarrald, a well-placed servant indeed.

And then I got on to the MARCH family. I started using the common convention of putting surnames in ALL CAPS when I got to the MARCH family because it's too easy to confuse their name with the month of March.

Thomas Charles MARCH marries

Thomas Charles MARCH married Sarah COOPER in 1867. She brought with her a daughter, Arabella, who went by MARCH for the rest of her life. I think the daughter matches the Arabella MARCH who died in 1944. The probate records for 1944 are not yet available online but when I can get a look at them, I'll be interested to see the size of the fortune, or lack of it, that Arabella had when she died. I haven't found her in the census after 1891. I rather hope she was installed in a nice grace and favour apartment somewhere on the grounds of Buckingham Palace or even Hampton Court Palace for the rest of her days.

MARCH family life in the 1880s and later

Thomas and Sarah had two little brothers for Arabella, Thomas Charles MARCH, b. 1867, and Reginald George MARCH, b. 1874. Sadly, it appears little Thomas died at the age of 8.

By 1881, the MARCH family had decamped from London and were living at a very nice country house called Forest Lodge in Ashtead, Surrey.You can read a bit about it online, courtesy of the Surrey History Centre Archives and their website, Exploring Surrey's Past. They had probably left London for Surrey earlier, in the 1870s, as Reginald was born in Holmwood, Surrey in 1874, and the boy Thomas died, probably at Ashtead (Epsom registration district), in 1876. In 1881, Thomas (the father) was 61 and as mentioned, Pay-master of the Queen's Household.

Reginald was away at school in Cheltenham for the 1891 census. Thomas and the daughter Arabella were the only ones at Forest Lodge. This was Arabella's home until about three years after her father died (he died in 1898), when she sold it to Mr. Augustus MEYERS, who built a beautiful new home there.

Here is what the Surrey History Centre Archives' website says:

"In the early 19th century, the Haunch of Venison inn stood [where Forest Lodge was] but, during the 1860s, Henry Parsons converted it into a house, where, in 1871, he lived with a large household, including five servants. In the 1879 sale of Ashtead Park, Forest Lodge was bought for £3,700 on behalf of Lord Rosebery, although it was occupied at the time by Thomas C March, who held important positions in the royal household and who subsequently purchased the property. After his death, it was sold by his daughter, Arabella.

"Augustus Meyers purchased the estate in 1901 and lived there for nearly fifty years. Soon after he acquired the property, he built the present Forest Lodge, set well back from the road behind the site of the original inn, which had stood near the present entrance. The laying out of the grounds, including the demolition of the earlier house, had been completed by 1911."

Just a side-note about Lord Rosebery: he became Prime Minister of England. He was born in 1847 at No. 20, Charles Street, Berkeley Square. You may recall that Charles Street is what got us here. Thomas Charles MARCH lived at No. 1 in 1861.

There is a privately-published book called Photographic Views of Interior and Gardens, Forest Lodge, Ashtead, Surrey (1911) displayed on the website of Dumbarton Oaks Research Library, as part of an exhibit called "Of Making Many Books There is No End", that will close on March 31, 2011. Only the cover and one photograph (the one the cover picture is based on) are pictured on the website. The book was, I assume, prepared for Mr. MEYERS and depicts his new house, but that is just my best guess.

Sarah, Arabella's mother, died at Forest Lodge on July 7, 1888. Probate was granted, not to her husband, but to her spinster daughter Arabella MARCH on August 13, 1888. Sarah's will may have been set up to name Arabella as executrix because, with Thomas being about 20 years her elder, Sarah expected to outlive him. Sarah's personal estate was valued at £633/0/11.

Before her marriage to Thomas, the 1861 census showed Sarah living at 78 Sloane Street, Chelsea with her occupation being "House and Funded Proprietor". If that means she owned the house on Sloane Street, her fortune could have been considerable. Maybe that was invested in Forest Lodge, or maybe she was less wealthy than I imagine. Students of women's history can perhaps shed some light on the situation of a married woman's property in 1888. Did it remain hers, or did it become part of her husband's wealth upon marriage? I would only be guessing if I answered that question either way.

Link to the map and Google Street View of present day 78 Sloane Street. Dorchester Court, the modern red brick building on the left, is No. 77 through 81.The white building with the blue plaques is No. 76 (at the end close to Dorchester Court).

View Larger Map

It appears Thomas worked for Her Majesty's household until his death in 1898. His occupation in the 1891 census was "Secretary of Board of Green Cloth, Queen's Household".  Probate was granted to Reginald George MARCH, his son, who was then a Clerk to the Lord Chamberlain, on August 10, 1898.

Thomas's estate was valued at £15,387/0/8.
In the National Probate Calendar (Ref: England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations),1861-1941 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2010.Original data: Principal Probate Registry. Calendar of the Grants of Probate and Letters of Administration made in the Probate Registries of the High Court of Justice in England. London, England © Crown copyright.), Thomas was called Thomas Charles MARCH of 82 Ebury-street Middlesex C.B.

The C.B. was news to me, and stands for Companion of the The Most Honourable Order of the Bath, an honour bestowed by the Queen, to a senior civil servant. I have not been able to find details of when Thomas MARCH was given this honour.

Here is a link to the Google Street View and map for 82 Ebury-street (modern day; the black door on the right, with the two white squares of what looks like paper), in case the embedded map below is not visible. In the 1891 census, this was a lodging house kept by a widow. On census night the widow, two female servants, and one 21-year-old man, an Assistant Engineer in the navy, were there. I would guess this was a convenient place for Thomas MARCH to stay when in London on business, but not likely the sort of place his daughter would have moved to after selling Forest Lodge, if it catered to gentlemen civil servants.

View Larger Map

The two surviving family members, Arabella and Reginald appear, from the scanty collection of records I have seen, to have gone their separate ways. I don't mean they were estranged (who knows?), only that I haven't found them living together. I don't know where Arabella was between about 1901 (the sale of Forest Lodge) and 1944, her death.

I couldn't find Reginald in the 1901 census, either, but I did find a good explanation for that.

In 1914, when the First World War started, Reginald enlisted and gave his occupation as "motor lorry driver". That's rather unexpected for a Clerk to the Lord Chamberlain. The reason comes from his prior military service as a member of Lord Paget's Horse. This was a private regiment raised by Lord Paget to fight in the South African (aka Boer) War. It appears they were in South Africa on census night, 1901.

Lord Paget's Horse recruited gentlemen, and its official initials, PH, were jokingly said to stand for "Piccadilly Heroes".

Also mentioned in Reginald's First World War attestation papers is the fact that he was married, and the papers identify his wife and two children.

Reginald enlisted for "Short Service (One Year With the Colours)" on October 5, 1914 at the age of 30. As mentioned, his stated Trade or Calling was "Motor Lorry Driver". There was also a note "Speaks French fluently and German [illegible]". On November 17, 1917, he was discharged as being medically unfit for service, being over age. His service record shows that he was at Home (i.e., the UK), not sent abroad to fight.

He died in 1918, leaving £2,686/8/1 and naming his wife Ella and two solicitors as executors. It's possible Ella went on to remarry (I found a possible match in 1927 to John MAYLE) and also that she travelled to the U.S.A., and that she died in Winchester in 1973. I haven't tried to check those things out (too remote).

Of his children, the little bit of searching I did suggests (doesn't prove) that his daughter Marjorie Eva went to the U.S.A.  in 1930, for 3 months at the age of 19. The Marjorie MARCH who made that trip listed Mrs. MAYYLE [sic] as her mother on the ship's passenger list, so it all fits.

Reginald's son, Thomas Charles MARCH, matches the age and name of a gentleman who died in Winchester in 1999.

I have a little more information about Reginald that I won't put here; we've strayed rather far from Thomas, his father, already.

The MARCH family into which Thomas Charles MARCH the father was born did very well for themselves. I will show how well in a couple of posts from now.

Next time, I want to show the Six Degrees of Queen Victoria and Six Degrees of Dracula for the MARCH family we've looked at so far.

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If you find these stories interesting, or have a question, please leave a comment. Let me know what catches your fancy and I'll find more.

Thomas March is the first of many interesting people we will meet on Charles Street in 1871. His story starts with Thomas March of 1 Charles Street: One degree from Queen Victoria.

This article is one in an ongoing series, starting with Bram Stoker, author of Dracula in public records: BMD (Birth, Marriage, Death).

Next: Six degrees of Queen Victoria: How the Thomas Charles March family were connected.


  1. I need to clean up a few typos here and one omission, I think. I didn't say the value of Thomas's estate. Will add that in as soon as I can.

  2. Done! Thomas's estate (now worked into the body of the post above) was over £15,000.


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