Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Comparing Thomas March, Henry Fleming and George Lambert, all of Charles Street in 1871

It might be interesting to look at a few key bits of information about the principal residents of the first three houses on Charles Street, just for the halibut as they say down at the docks.

No. 1: Thomas Charles March, civil servant, age 52

Born: July 4, 1819, Marylebone

Married: March 23, 1867.

Spouse: Sarah Cooper, later called Arabella, b. 1839, Basingstoke

Children: Arabella (Daughter of Arabella, apparently adopted by Thomas), b. 1857, Chelsea; Thomas, b. 1868, St. George's [Hanover Square?], died at age 8; Reginald George March, b. 1874.

Died: 1898, age 79 approx.

Occupation: In the Royal Household his whole life, mainly in the Lord Chamberlain's officer; Paymaster; finally Secretary of Board of the Green Cloth. A high-ranking civil servant handling the finances of the Royal Household.

Highest honour: CB, Companion of the Order of the Bath

Value of estate: 1898, £15,387/0/8. The website Measuring Worth.com says this is worth £1.280 million in 2008 using the retail price index, or £7.04 million in 2008 using average earnings.

Parents: Thomas March, Esq. and Mary Ann Gonne, both British subjects born in Portugal to wine merchants. Gonne is an Irish surname. Mary Ann was distantly related to Maud Gonne of a later generation. There was intra-family litigation between Thomas and Mary Ann's brothers after Mary Ann's father died and Thomas went bankrupt, involving Mary Ann's marriage settlement. The case was reported in the bankruptcy law books.

Siblings: At least three sisters and two brothers. The family appears to have been wealthy and to have retained or improved their social standing.

Other notes: In 1852, Thomas represented the Royal Household in escorting the body of the Duke of Wellington to Westminster for his state funeral.

Queen Victoria Number: 1

Dracula Number: 2

Left Charles Street around 1872.

No. 2: Henry Fleming, civil servant, age about 69

Born: about 1812, apparently in Birmingham. His exact age was something of a mystery to his social circle.

Married: Never.

Died: 1876, age about 74

Occupation: Lifelong civil servant, mainly as Permanent Secretary to the Poor Law Board where it appears he was not particularly effective. He was more successful socially. Known as "The Flea", his role from at least the 1840s was literally to spread gossip strategically in political and intellectual circles. He knew Prime Ministers Palmerston, Gladstone and Disraeli, and was described a few times in the letters of Thomas Carlyle. He introduced the painter George Frederic Watts to the much younger beauty, Virginia Pattle, at a party given by Lady Holland. It goes on and on.

Highest honour: Nothing official I'm afraid.

Value of estate: Less than £3,000. In 2008 terms, either £210,000, or £1.560 million, depending on the computation method used.

Parents: Irish army officer Captain Valentine Fleming of Tuam, County Galway, and Catherine Emma Gowan, whose father was a notorious anti-Catholic, Hunter Gowan. One of Catherine's half-brothers, Ogle Gowan, started the Orange Lodge in Canada.

Siblings: Sir Valentine Fleming, a lawyer (as was Henry, though he didn't practice), Chief Justice of Tasmania; James Fleming, also a lawyer, and Chancellor of the Palatinate of Durham. James's eldest son, Frances Fleming, was Governor of Antigua, and of Hong Kong, among other postings, including service in Africa. Henry also had a sister, Emma, of whom I have seen very little.

Other notes: The brothers Fleming attempted unsuccessfully to prove themselves the lawful descendants of the Barons of Slane. No castle for you!

Henry's nickname was "The Flea". Someone should write a thesis about his role in mid-nineteenth century communication.

He died at home in 1876, at No. 2 Charles Street.

Queen Victoria Number: 2

Dracula Number: 3

No. 3: George Thomas Lambert, later, Sir George Lambert, civil servant, age 34

Born: 1837, Ireland

Married: Never

Died: 1918, age 81

Occupation: Private secretary to the Admiralty

Highest honour: Companion of the Order of the Bath (1897), Knight Bachelor (1903)

Value of estate: £22,946/9/8. Value in 2008: £833,000 or £4.1 million, again, depending on the computation method used.

Parents: Henry Lambert of Carnagh, Ireland, and Catherine Talbot, both of prominent Irish families.

Siblings: Many.

Other notes: Prominent Catholic.

Queen Victoria Number: 1

Dracula Number: 3

Frankenstein Number: 3

Winners and Losers?


81 Lambert
79 March
74 Fleming

Money at the end:

£7.04 million March
£4.1 million Lambert
Less than £1.560 million Fleming


Of the three men, only Thomas March had children. His adopted daughter, Arabella, was unmarried. His second son, Reginald, died in 1918, leaving (at least) a daughter, Marjorie (b. 1911, the rest, unknown), and a son, Thomas (1915-1999). There may be March descendants living today.

March 1, the others zero.

Highest honours:

Lambert CB and Knighthood
March CB
Fleming Nada

Best remembered:

March and Lambert tied, far behind

The Score:

11 March
9 Lambert
6 Fleming

Who had the most fun?

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