The Wickwars are hard to track down with total certainty, since nobody has heard of the name and, if written badly on an old document, it can be misinterpreted. Secondly, this family was predominantly Roman Catholic, so old parish records are not always findable and, thirdly, there were many children in each generation and the forenames, which were very common ones, such as William, Mary etc, kept repeating. We will start with ‘Hub Wickwar’ in Epsom and gather up others as we go.


The Wickwar name and the places

There are various theories about the origin of this unusual surname, which also has variant spellings, but one idea is that it originates from the village of Wickwar in South Gloucestershire, near Chipping Sodbury. The Wickwars who pitched up in Epsom during the 19th century were from a Berkshire branch of the family, but Joseph Wickwar Senior, patriarch of the Epsom people, was born in Hatherop, Gloucestershire, so there were connections with the county, and I believe that his distant ancestors were Wickwarres of Calne, Wiltshire . However, Joseph’s business was in Bagnor, Berkshire, a hamlet near Newbury.


A painting of Joseph Wickwar Senior
Photograph by Cuthbert John Hopkins, courtesy of Bourne Hall Museum


The Stationery Office

The Wickwar brothers who lived in Epsom were two of Joseph’s sons, William Joseph (known as Joseph) and Joseph James (known as James) – the name confusion has started already – and they were clerks at HM Stationery Office (HMSO). I always wondered why it was called the Stationery Office, as opposed to the Printing Office, because I had thought it was just the Government’s printer, the place that churned out chunky copies of boring and incomprehensible Acts of Parliament etc and where, occasionally, people used to queue outside at midnight to buy the hot-off-the-presses best-seller (as people did more recently at bookshops for new Harry Potter novels). For example, in 1963, when Lord Denning’s report into the Profumo affair was published, there was a rush worthy of a Black Friday sale, but without fisticuffs over a bargain television set.


A queue of people waiting, outside Her Majesty’s Stationery Office,
for their copy of Lord Denning’s report about the Profumo affair.
It went on sale at 12.30 pm on Thursday 26th September 1963.
(Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images)

There’s a lot more to it than that. The establishment of HMSO, in 1786, came about because of the cost to the Government of paper, ink etc. Basically, private suppliers had a very nice little earner going and the Government was cost-cutting, so a single entity was created to take charge of all stationery procurement and it was answerable to the Treasury. This is how the Wickwars fit in – they were all about paper.

Joseph’s business

Joseph, who was born in about 1773, ran a paper mill in Bagnor, or rather the firm of William & Joseph Wickwar & Co did. It isn’t necessary to go into the full ancestry of the Wickwars for this piece and all we need to know is that the William Wickwar of the Bagnor firm died in January 1834, aged 78: he may have been an older brother of Joseph or perhaps an uncle. There are indications that the business had been in trouble for a while, since an advertisement appeared in 1827 offering to sell the remaining lease on the Bagnor Mill and all that went with it ‘with immediate possession’. Evidently there were no takers and in 1832 William and Joseph were made bankrupt.

Marriage and family

Joseph had married Ann(e) Coverdale, eldest daughter of John Coverdale of Ingatestone Hall, Essex, in October 1798. The Hall, which is still there, has a rich history in the annals of Roman Catholicism, dating back to Tudor times, but I think that the Coverdales were the land stewards rather than the main residents.


A painting of Mrs Wickwar Senior
Photograph by Cuthbert John Hopkins, courtesy of Bourne Hall Museum

I shall now have a stab at listing the children, but I am emphatically not attempting to chronicle the detailed family tree of the Wickwars. In censuses the place of birth varies as between Bagnor and Speen, but Bagnor is near to Speen, so it makes no great difference to the narrative.

  • William Joseph, born c.1799 Bagnor/Speen, Berkshire
  • Ann, born 1800
  • Mary, born 1802 Bagnor
  • Elizabeth, born 1805 Bagnor
  • T(h)eresa, born 1809 Bagnor
  • Catherine, born 1812 Bagnor and probably died February 1831.
  • Joseph James, born 1815 Bagnor/Speen

There may have been others, but I’m not confident about some of the sources. Also, relatives often stayed with other family members – for example, in the 1841 census there was a young James Wickwar, Roman Catholic priest, with Mr and Mrs Wickwar Senior, but no clue as to the relationship. We shall leave William Joseph and Joseph James until later, since we need to return to paper matters in due course.

In the 1851 census Mary and Theresa were visitors to a household at the quaintly named Great Knightrider Street (Numbers 12-13) in the City of London. Visiting is often helpful in censuses, as you may uncover hitherto unknown connections or missing relatives, but it isn’t helpful in this instance. In 1861 Mary was housekeeper at 12-13 Great Knightrider Street, but Theresa was married and visiting someone who had a fancy repository in North Audley Street. This would not have been ‘housekeeper’ in the normal domestic sense, since the buildings and occupations in the street were part of the paraphernalia surrounding Doctors’ Commons, a complex rather like the Inns of Court, where the professional occupants practised ecclesiastical and civil law.


Doctors Commons By Thomas Rowlandson and Augustus Charles Pugin
Public Domain, via Wikimedia

Theresa had got married in 1858, to Joseph Holland, son of a Mr and Mrs Thomas Holland, who kept a provisions store in the Norwich area: he was much younger (born c.1832 Norwich, dentist) and if we go back to 1861 he is with Mary Wickwar in Great Knightrider Street, described as married and a cousin. He never seemed to be with Theresa, but may have been some of the time, as they all loved to go a-visiting, especially on census night. Theresa died in Chelsea in 1883. Mary Wickwar, who never married, had gone to live with Joseph James and family by 1871 and died in 1879: she is interred at Epsom Cemetery (Grave H9A).

More about old Joseph

We left old Joseph bankrupt in Bagnor, but he and his wife moved on. We are off to Baylis House in Stoke Poges next. It is very near to Slough and is now a hotel, advertised as being in Slough and close to Heathrow – however, it is a Grade 1 listed building. Back in the early 19th century it had been rather a stately home, but in 1830 it was taken over by brothers William Henry and James Palmer Butt and turned into the St James Roman Catholic school, the only one in the area. There was extensive land, which they farmed, with a dairy, bakery and brewery (I assume the brewery products were for the adults and, perhaps, for ‘off-sales’, rather than part of the pupils’ diet).

Baylis House, Slough
Image by Stephen Richards © via Geograph and licensed (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The Butts previously operated a Catholic school in Richmond, Surrey, from the early 1820s, but outgrew the premises. Catholics had only been fully emancipated in 1829 so there was a shortage of Catholic institutions. William left Baylis House in the mid-1830s but James continued to run it. In the 1851 census old Joseph was the land steward there. I had thought that James Butt might have married a Wickwar, but he didn’t, but there is a paper trail – in 1819 he had been admitted to the Freedom of the Company of Stationers in London.

Joseph Wickwar died in 1852; I am not too sure when his wife died, but it would have been around the same time and certainly before 1861.

More about paper

As mentioned, Joseph James Wickwar of Epsom was a clerk at HMSO and a quick web search reveals that Wickwar companies once supplied some of their paper. I know little about paper-making, but up until the very early 19th century, it was hand-made. However, as with many things, mechanisation arrived and I imagine that the Wickwars couldn’t keep up with the competition. William Joseph is hugely elusive in his earlier years, but I may have found him as the man in charge of paper sales for the firm of Sir William Magnay & Co in the City of London, during the 1840s. Amongst many other things, this firm supplied wagonloads of paper to HMSO.

William Joseph gravitated to HMSO in Dublin, which was still British in his day and, therefore, a branch of the London operation: it was located at 6 Upper Merrion Street. He worked there for many years as the Examiner of Paper, until he retired to Epsom somewhere around 1870. He died, unmarried, on 10 July 1874 and was buried in Epsom Cemetery (Grave H2A).

William Joseph Wickwar
Photograph by Cuthbert John Hopkins, courtesy of Bourne Hall Museum

Joseph James (also known as James)


Joseph James Wickwar
Photograph by Cuthbert John Hopkins, courtesy of Bourne Hall Museum

I shall call him JJ, to avoid the fact that he often reversed his forenames. In 1843 he married Mary Monica Rogers (born 1816 Fulham) and they settled in the Kensington/Chelsea area, with children arriving regularly. The offspring were as shown below.

Name Information
Mary Ann Born 1844
Joseph Born 1846
James Born 1848
William Born 1849
Francis Born 1852
Vincent Richard Born 1856


By 1861 JJ and family had moved to Woodcote Green/Woodcote End, Epsom and they were still around in 1871, but then relocated to Bagnor Lodge, Dorking, where JJ died on 26 August 1878. His widow, Mary, took herself off to Broadwater (Worthing), where she lived in Bagnor Villa on Graham Road; she expired on 22 October 1887. JJ and Mary are both buried in Grave H2A at Epsom Cemetery.

There are several reasons why I called this article The Wickwar Circle. The wider family was quite close-knit, so that relatives kept weaving in and out of the plot and, more to the point, into the Cuthbert Hopkins studio and JJ’s family; there were also close ties to an orphan called Sophia Rymer. I will tell you about all these people later but let’s follow the children of JJ and Mary first.

Mary Ann

Mary Ann Wickwar

Mary Ann Wickwar
Photograph by Cuthbert John Hopkins, courtesy of Bourne Hall Museum

I have no idea what happened to Mary Ann, who seemed to disappear off the face of the earth after the 1861 census, so if anyone has further information please contact the webmaster. (There is a possibility that she married under the forename of Marian and emigrated, but that is just a vague theory.)


Joseph was initially as elusive as his older sister, but at least I found the end of him quite simply: he died on 4 August 1929, then living at 3 Chatsworth Road, Brighton (Hove), leaving effects of just £ 50. Eventually I tracked down his ‘life story’ via his brother William (see below), with whom one of Joseph’s offspring was staying in the 1911 census. See what I mean about circles?

The offspring in question was Sydney Keppel Wickwar, a tea planter from Ceylon (the Kalkudah Estate). So, Joseph married a Harriette Watson, daughter of a Lt. Col. Watson, and she was born in Ceylon. The name Watson at this point fills me with apprehension, as there are more to come, but I can’t find any connection between Harriette and the others: she died in Coniston, Lake District in 1913 and was buried in the churchyard of St Andrew, Coniston.

Joseph WickwarJoseph Wickwar photo back
Joseph Wickwar, together with a photo back showing that he was in Colombo by 1869
Images courtesy of Leroy Bogart © 2018


A ray of light in the search is that we know exactly where James went and what happened to him. The photo below is described as James Wickwar Junior and I presume that would be because JJ often called himself James.

James Wickwar

James Wickwar
Photograph by Cuthbert John Hopkins, courtesy of Bourne Hall Museum

James emigrated to the United States in about 1869 and married Elizabeth Davis in 1872 in Johnson, Iowa. They ultimately settled with their large family at Kirwin, Phillips County, Kansas, where they had a farm, although they had returned to England for many years in between Iowa and Kansas and most of their children were born in Surrey. They died on 20 February 1915 and 18 March 1932 respectively and are buried in Kirwin Cemetery.

James Wickwar as an adult.

James Wickwar as an adult.
Image courtesy of Leroy Bogart © 2018

James Wickwar and family, 1882

James Wickwar and family, 1882
Photo courtesy of Leroy Bogart © 2018


William Wickwar

William Wickwar
Image courtesy of Chris Wickwar © 2019

I am grateful that William became a priest because clergymen are easier to trace than most people and tend not to disappear. This man is delightfully straightforward, having studied theology at Ushaw College in Durham and, on being ordained, he became a ‘Professor of Discipline’ at the same place. He then became a priest in West Hartlepool, where he remained until his death on 28 September 1933. William was much revered for his lifetime of service to the Catholic population. In 1881 he had founded St Cuthbert’s Grammar School in Newcastle (although bishops get the credit for it) and was the first headmaster. He was very much preoccupied with education for Catholic boys and, on being appointed to the Mission of St Joseph in West Hartlepool, he set up a school and was instrumental in raising the funds for a church, which opened in 1894.

William Wickwar in later life

William Wickwar in later life
Image courtesy of Chris Wickwar © 2019

St Joseph's Church, Hartlepool

St Joseph’s Church, Hartlepool
Image by Dave Bevis © via Geograph and licensed (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Francis (Frank)

Frank Wickwar

Frank Wickwar
Image courtesy of Leroy Bogart © 2018

Frank was also into farming at one point and in 1881 he was a dairyman, living at Shermanbury, Sussex with his wife Eliza (née Fowler) and their two young children. Unfortunately, Eliza died in 1885,aged only 35, and in the 1891 census Frank was visiting his brother William in West Hartlepool. Then, in 1900 he married Leeds-born Elizabeth Drake, who was about 20 years his junior, and they settled in Torver, a stone’s throw from Coniston, where Frank was a slate quarry manager. By 1911 they were in Coniston, with six young children of their own, and Harriette, Joseph’s wife, was with them. Frank died on 14 September 1925 and was buried in the Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Churchyard at Coniston. Elizabeth moved to Hove, where she survived until 1945.

Frank in later life

Frank in later life
Image courtesy of Chris Wickwar © 2019

Vincent Richard

An old business directory tells us that Vincent went coffee-planting in Ceylon and then on to the Malay States, where he developed large estates on behalf of the coffee industry. He moved on to rubber-planting and became a director and chairman of several rubber companies, returning to the UK in 1905. In 1912 he married the widowed Louisa Helena Crawley, who was a Watson descendant (see later). Vincent died on 15 April 1932 and Louisa died in Portsmouth district in 1956, aged 86 (name recorded as Helen L Wickwar in the GRO index).


Sophia Rymer was JJ Wickwar’s god-daughter and I assume the families knew each other through the Church, as I can find no evidence of an immediate blood relationship, but there is a Coverdale in the mix, by marriage anyway, and you may recall that JJ’s mother was a Coverdale. There is very little information about the earlier years of the Rymers and I cannot even identify Sophia’s mother. Her father was Charles John Rymer and the Rymer family was in the leather business, Sophia’s grandfather, Alfred, being a currier. As with the Wickwars there was a huge network of relatives.

Appollonia Coverdale was the second wife of Alfred Rymer and they were married in 1837, so she was not the mother of Charles John (Alfred’s first wife was Winifred Winkfield). I will just recite the few facts which I have managed to verify and then we shall move on to Sophia. Mrs C J Rymer Number 1 must have died between 1844, when Sophia was born, and the first half of 1850 when Charles John married Agnes Elizabeth Clements in Strand district. There were two sons of the second marriage, being Charles Joseph, born 1851 Northampton, and Frederick Francis (1852 Northampton). The Rymers supplied leather for boot and shoe manufacture in both London and Northampton. Charles John died on 14 May 1855, aged only 34, at his father’s house in Soho and there seems to have been some protracted dispute about his estate – apparently his widow carried on the business for some time, at least nominally; she eventually went to France, dying on 31 May 1890 at the Chateau de Wimille, Pas de Calais.

Frederick Francis Rymer became a Catholic priest, but died at the age of 22 in Pau, France on 22 November 1874. Charles Joseph married barmaid Mary Ann Richens on 21 December 1872 at St Swithin, City of London. This marriage was not a success and in 1881 Mary Ann filed for a judicial separation. The application was eventually struck out, as neither party complied with the court’s requirements. The evidence originally presented is illuminating. It seems that the couple had moved around a great deal since their marriage and four children had been born (Francis Joseph 1874-5, Clare Agnes 1876, Charles Frederick 1877 and Frederick Francis 1879). According to Mrs Rymer, her husband had committed adultery as early as 1873 and she had contracted a sexually transmitted disease as a result; she alleged that the same thing had happened again later on and in between he had beaten her with a stick, threatened to kill her and thrown her into the street. Mr Rymer denied everything and countered with allegations that she had committed adultery in 1880. As I have said before in another article, the wife’s adultery often seems to come at the very end of a long catalogue of ill treatment. Mr Rymer was living in Boulogne by now and I am not aware that he ever returned to England for any length of time. The legal separation never happened and in the 1881 census Mary was to be found in lodgings with her son Charles. Charles Joseph was evidently in Shepherd’s Bush, since he gave an address there when he made a composition with his creditors in 1884. Clare Agnes became a nun and died on 13 July 1948 at St Mary’s Priory, Princethorpe, Warwickshire, then being styled as Clare, the Rev. Mother Mary Francis de Sales, OSB (Order of St Benedict).

By 1891 Charles Frederick had been packed off to a Jesuit college in Derbyshire and I believe that the youngest boy, Frederick Francis, had survived only until 1881. Charles Frederick ultimately became a farmer in Kent and died in 1951. I think Mrs Rymer might have died in 1892 but am not sure.

I think Sophia had a sad life – she looks sad in the photo below -, although she very possibly found solace in her religion. Effectively she had no home or close family of her own. However, she had the Wickwars for a time.

In the 1851 census Sophia, aged just six, was a pupil at a Catholic school in Northampton. One of the teachers there was a Winifred Rymer (an aunt) and another pupil was Mary A Rymer, 11. By 1861 she was at the previously mentioned St Mary’s Priory in Princethorpe, at which point it looked to me as if she would become a nun, but that didn’t happen; her half-brother, Charles, was a pupil at Baylis House, Stoke Poges, where Joseph and Anne Wickwar had lived until their deaths. In the 1871 census Sophia was with JJ Wickwar and family in Epsom. Whether or not she went with them to Dorking I don’t know, but she was in Broadwater with the widowed Mrs Wickwar, described as a visitor, in 1881. However, Mrs Wickwar died in 1887 and I then thought I had lost Sophia, but she turned out to be transcription errors on the census forms. I don’t know where she was in 1891, but in 1901 she was a visitor to a Scottish family named Macdonell in Streatham. The household consisted of Mrs Christina Macdonell (84) and her two youngest daughters, Josephine and Alice Claire. However, when I saw the 1911 census I rather wished I hadn’t found Sophia. Mrs Macdonell had died in 1906 and by 1911 Josephine Macdonell’s occupation was ‘care of a lunatic’; Alice was a writer of poetry and Sophia was a boarder, but described as an imbecile, the significant words being ‘from 3 years’. I cannot decide whether it means from the age of 3 years or that she had been an imbecile for 3 years. If the former, it would explain a great deal. Josephine died in 1915 (under the name of Josefina N M Macdonell) and the Macdonells were a Roman Catholic family, which makes some sense of things. Alice Claire ended up alone in Hove, which could explain Sophia’s ultimate whereabouts.

The last time we encounter Sophia is in a probate record and it turns out that she was ‘of St George’s Retreat, Burgess Hill’, which was a care home on Ditchling Common, run by Augustinian nuns: it was principally for the mentally ill, although it also took in the elderly. However, Sophia died at Villa Maria, Manor Road, Brighton (on 20 February 1933): this place still existed as a convent (albeit Benedictine by then) until about ten years ago and is actually an annexe to a bigger main building, The Lees, both of which formed the seaside branch of The Retreat at Burgess Hill. In the last few years both The Lees and Villa Maria have been incorporated into a gated ‘exciting development’ of apartments and houses, which is a hotchpotch of different styles bearing no relationship whatever to the original buildings. Villa Maria now comprises eight apartments and I have managed to get a picture of it over a wall (an original bit of the convent wall), without all the modern stuff surrounding it.

Sophia left effects of just over £ 9,000 and half-brother Charles seems to have been the beneficiary: he died in Belgium (Antwerp) on 6 March 1936, leaving almost the same amount.


There was another female Rymer who spent decades as a patient at St George’s Retreat and also died at Villa Maria, in 1929: this was Mary Agnes Rymer, born 1855/6 in London. She was a niece of Horatio Rymer, a brother of Charles John, but I cannot find her parentage. However, this does suggest that there was some history of mental impairment in the family.

Sophia’s uncle, Henry Rymer, another brother of Charles John, was a Catholic priest and for nearly 40 years he was attached to the Church of St John the Baptist, Kemp Town, Brighton. The Very Reverend Canon Henry Rymer died in 1887. The church is famous for being the final resting place of Maria Fitzherbert, mistress of the Prince Regent/George IV.


The Watsons also had a circle, with various relatives and connections coming and going and it is nigh on impossible to sort them all out. ‘Hub Watson’ was at 30 George Street in the parish of St George, Hanover Square, London, which looks to have been a large working establishment including accommodation. John Watson was a warehouseman from Cumberland and a sometime traveller in ribbons – particularly Coventry ribbons -, which Mrs Watson would most certainly have used liberally in the millinery business she ran from the premises. Mrs Watson was Elizabeth, daughter of Joseph and Anne Wickwar and sister of JJ.

John and Elizabeth were married on 2 September 1839 at the Bavarian Chapel, Warwick Street, Soho: this chapel was subsequently re-named the Church of our Lady of the Assumption and St Gregory and has a remarkable history. There is a marriage document, albeit in Latin, which shows that the witnesses were old Joseph Wickwar and his eldest son, William Joseph.

In the 1841 census the Watsons were already at Number 30 and the first connection who crops up as an assistant there is Julia Ann Butt, daughter of James Butt, the Stoke Poges schoolmaster. And, while we’re at it, I’ll toss in another strand of the Wickwar web and tell you that Mrs James Butt (Sarah) was an Adams: the Adams sisters ran a prep school at Baylis House and one of them was Catherine, who married Thomas Holland and was the mother of Joseph Holland the dentist, husband of Theresa Wickwar.

The children were as shown below and we have photos of most of them, although in the case of two of the girls we cannot be quite sure which is which.

Name Information
Agnes Mary Born 1840; married John Floris. Died 1885.
John Born c.1842; probably died 1866.
Joseph Born c.1843.
Mary Teresa Born c.1846. Married John Crawley, architect, 1866. He died in 1881. She died 22.1.1931, then living in Kensington.
Their daughter, Louisa Helena, firstly married Henry John Hudson (died Colombo 1911) and then in 1912 Vincent Richard Wickwar.
Elizabeth Born c.1848
Edward Joseph Born c.1841. Catholic priest. 1881-St Patrick Leeds. 1901 – Keighley St Anne until death. Very Rev Canon. Died 20.3.1905.


Although the Watsons were not Epsom residents, I daresay they visited frequently: however, the eldest, Agnes Mary, did live in Epsom for a time. Agnes married wine merchant John Floris in 1864 and they were at Downs Road for some years, during which they had several children. They seem to have moved on somewhere around 1880, but Agnes died in 1885. John never remarried and his unmarried daughter Teresa stayed on with him as housekeeper until his death in 1912.

Joseph Watson was last sighted (by me, at any rate) in the 1871 census as a wine merchant’s clerk, but I lost him after that. 

Thanks to Eduardo and Lorenza Molina in Mexico, who have been in touch with us (September 2022), we now know where Joseph went, but not what happened to him in the end. His date of death and burial site are still unknown, but investigations are continuing. Eduardo and Lorenza are great great grandchildren of Joseph Watson.

 Joseph emigrated to Mexico; the family does not know precisely when and why, but it would have been in the early 1870s, which explains why he ‘disappeared’ after the 1871 England census. He seems to have had substantial assets by 1883, when he partnered with English businessman Henry Gibbon in the first factory in Mexico to manufacture Portland cement.  Mr Gibbon had originally founded the business in 1881, when he rented a part of the old Hacienda of Jasso, Hidalgo to install a hydraulic lime factory. From what Eduardo has told us, we suspect that Joseph was somehow into silver mining.

Hidalgo Province in Mexico, north of Mexico City, was known for its influx of miners in the 19th century and became an area where the British settled. More specifically, many of the miners were Cornish, from Camborne and surrounds, and were based around Pachuca City, the capital of Hidalgo; they introduced their staple diet, the Cornish pasty, to the region. ‘Pastes’ are still sold and eaten there today. Additionally, the immigrants started up football and the eventual result, Club de Futbol Pachuca (C.F. Pachuca), despite many ups and downs over the decades, is now one of Mexico’s top teams.

Joseph married Isabel Fischer-Linares, who was the daughter of a German immigrant to Mexico, and their first child was born in 1874. In Mexico the forename is followed by two surnames, which are the father’s paternal family name and then the mother’s paternal family name – so in this instance Isabel’s father was surnamed Fischer and her mother was a Linares.

Joseph and Isabel had six children, listed in the table below

Name Born  
Isabela Josefa 1874
Jose Emilio 1877
Maria Ysabel Melitona 1878
Eduardo Fernando 1880
Alfredo Manuel 1883
Jorge Gustavo



The fortunes of the Mexican Portland Cement Company deteriorated over the years until it became bankrupt in 1906 and was sold: it is now a cooperative operating worldwide out of Mexico City under the name of Cemento Cruz Azul. And here is another photo of the no longer missing Joseph Watson.

Eduardo and Lorenza are descended from Eduardo Fernando Watson, who married Dolores Del Collado-Illanes.

Dolores and Eduardo on their wedding day
Image © Molina family 2022

Dolores and Eduardo had ten children, as listed below.

Name (Watson) Dates
Eduardo 1913-85
Maria de la Luz 1914-92
Maria de los Dolores 1916-95
Maria de Guadalupe 1917-2003
Ignacio 1919-68
Isabel 1921-94
Emilio 1923-2013
Ana Maria 1925-69
Maria de Carmen 1927-2012
Gustavo 1928-90


And here is a delightful picture of the couple with nine of their offspring.

Dolores and Eduardo and children, late 1920s
Image © Molina family 2022

Maria de los Dolores Watson married Jaime Cortina and their daughter, Dolores, was the mother of Eduardo and Lorenza Molina.

As mentioned in the table, Edward Joseph (not to be confused with plain Joseph) became a priest and was thus very traceable.

Edward Joseph Watson

Edward Joseph Watson
Photograph by Cuthbert John Hopkins, courtesy of Bourne Hall Museum

Elizabeth Watson was still at her mother’s millinery emporium in 1871 but after that I can’t find her. This photo has a wrapper saying it is ‘Lizzie Watson’, so we can be sure of her identity.

Miss Elizabeth Watson

Miss Elizabeth Watson
Photograph by Cuthbert John Hopkins, courtesy of Bourne Hall Museum

We have two more photos of Watson daughters, so they must be Agnes Mary and Mary Teresa. They were 5 or 6 years apart in age, Agnes being the older one, but I can’t make up my mind which looks older. Here they both are.

'Miss Watson', either Agnes Mary or Mary Teresa

‘Miss Watson’, either Agnes Mary or Mary Teresa
Photograph by Cuthbert John Hopkins, courtesy of Bourne Hall Museum

'Miss Watson', either Agnes Mary or Mary Teresa

‘Miss Watson’, either Agnes Mary or Mary Teresa
Photograph by Cuthbert John Hopkins, courtesy of Bourne Hall Museum

John Watson Senior died at home on 12 November 1870. Mrs Watson continued to run her George Street millinery business for a time but then went to live at 12 Bruton Street, Berkeley Square; she died there on 1 January 1880.


People surnamed Brown can be even less traceable than Watsons and that is the case here. I have them traced to a point and then I can’t find them again. The Browns were probably relatives of Mr Watson and came from English Street, Carlisle, which was a township back then, and a couple of them popped up at ‘Hub Watson’ in censuses. Since one of the Brown children is described as a niece of the Watsons on a census, I thought that John Brown, the patriarch, who was an ironmonger, must have married a sister of Mr Watson, since the latter came from Cumberland originally, but it seems that he didn’t. Mr Brown was already a widower in 1851 and had four young children on his hands. He remarried, more children were born, and he died in 1860, so the first batch of Brown children were then orphans and presumably had nowhere to go. One of the Brown daughters, Jane (born c.1845 Carlisle), was a pupil at Miss Eisdell’s school in the 1861 census and her older brother, John Henry, was at ‘Hub Watson’, described as an insurance office clerk.

'Miss Jane Brown, Miss Eisdell's'

‘Miss Jane Brown, Miss Eisdell’s’
Photograph by Cuthbert John Hopkins, courtesy of Bourne Hall Museum

And then we have another Miss Brown at Miss Eisdell’s, who is clearly not Jane. This one is a conundrum. Jane had two sisters that I know about – Jessie and Emma. Jessie was roughly two years older than Jane and Emma was about two years younger. In 1871 Mrs Watson had an assistant milliner called Mary Brown (niece), also from Carlisle: this Mary seems to be the same age as Jane would have been, so perhaps it’s a mistake on the census form. So, the upshot is that I don’t know exactly who the second Miss Brown is, but if you do, please contact the webmaster.

'Miss Brown, Miss Eisdell's', exact identity unknown

‘Miss Brown, Miss Eisdell’s’, exact identity unknown
Photograph by Cuthbert John Hopkins, courtesy of Bourne Hall Museum

End note

Most of the difficulties encountered in this saga have been caused by a lack of old records, mainly because almost all the characters were Roman Catholics and we don’t know where they were baptised (or got married, if that was before civil registration started in 1837). Additionally, very few of these people appear on family trees that people have put online. Hopefully, more records will appear as time goes on and we shall be able to fill in some of the holes. In the meantime, if you can help with any snippet of information about the people who ‘disappeared’, please do get in touch.


About Wickwar

Founded in 1773 , by Joseph & William Wickwar , Wickwar started as a luxury paper mill outside Newbury . In 1786 HMSO was founded and Joseph Wickwar won the contract to supply paper to Parliament .

In 1788 Joseph partnered with Joseph Bramah to produce luxury Despatch boxes for Royalty & Government and went on to produce in excess of 5,000 boxes and became the premier supplier of the Iconic red box .

The simple design of the famous Gladstone Box continues today & Wickwar manufacturers around 100 boxes per year using traditional skills & tools from its workshop in London .