Including below Grants, Meagers, March family, Smiths etc, a family tree showing relationships, a case in Chancery involving the family, a case of bigamy including letters from the bigamist addressed to his 'victim' and the history of Nicholas Arrowsmith whose daughter, Sarah Alecia married into the Cope family of Lambeth that ran a coffee shop on the south bank of the Thames.
No further information is yet available on the Alderson family of Hoo St Werburgh, not far from Rochester, though it is claimed according to a study of name frequency in the censuses they probably originated from one valley in Yorkshire. The Meagers however have been taken back a couple of generations thanks to a new and rather puzzling discovery in the records of the Chancery Court.
Previous remarks about the origins of the names ''Arrowsmith' and 'Fletcher' were incorrect and led to the assumption that the first was confined mainly to Lancashire or Scotland. In fact the two names involve different parts of the arrow. The arrow itself, a shaft and metal arrowhead, was made by the arrowsmith, but the 'fletchers' added the feather which enabled the arrow to fly for quite a distance,(from the French word, 'flèche',).
This leaves the origins of Arrowsmith family wide open again of course, and an old story about French ancestors can no longer be ruled out. However, nothing is known of them before the first Thomas, whose birth and birthplace are unknown.. The source for most of the records of Thomas I & II below are from the Bishops Transcripts, Rochester 1752 - 1780. All the families in Kent, not surprisingly, moved freely between Chatham and Rochester, which face each other across the R. Medway. Related families lived in the surrounding areas as shown by the other families below. By the 19th century, no doubt with much easier transport the Arrowsmiths were moving to the fringes of London and back - or even just visiting for the day
Thomas Arrowsmith I & Sarah
(see the tree above)
The Arrowsmith family were living in Rochester, Kent for at least three generations. It was there that the six children of Thomas and Sarah were born and brought up. All were baptised at St Nicholas' Rochester, and images of all the original entries are available on the City Ark site for Medway. (More may yet come to light - especially in view of the gap between 1758 and 1769 - unless of course there were two Sarahs! It's unlikely but can't be ruled out)
- Thomas Arrowsmith II b. 10 Mar, chr. 30 Mar 1752,
- Sarah Arrowsmith b. 7 Aug chr.19 Aug 1753
- John Arrowsmith b.19 Feb chr.14 Mar 1756
- Matthew Arrowsmith b. 10 July, chr.1 Aug 1758
- James Arrowsmith b. 12 Jan, chr.5 Feb 1769
- Isaac Arrowsmith b. 12 Jul, chr.15 Jul 1770
No.1 - Thomas Arrowsmith II m. Mary (surname and dates unknown)
No 3.- John Arrowsmith - could be the one who married Sarah Goldick on 23 Nov 1779 at Strood [IGI]
No. 5 - James Arrowsmith m. Sarah (date unknown) and had two daughters:
(i)Sophia chr 9 Feb 1794, St Nicholas, Rochester
(ii)Elizabeth chr. 21 Jan 1798, St Nicholas, Rochester
No. 6 - Isaac Arrowsmith m. Elizabeth Bridgens 6 Jul 1800 at St Nicholas, Rochester
Thomas Grant & Mary
A breakthrough in this family reveals six daughters for Thomas Grant & Mary, all baptised in the Parish Church of Murston, now a suburb of Sittingbourne. [IGI Batch No.I049500]
- Sarah Grant chr.7 Mar 1749 m. Thomas Matson (date & place unknown)
- Mary Grant chr. 13 Feb 1754 (d. in infancy)
- Susannah Grant chr.11 Apr 1755
- Mary Grant chr. 3 Apr 1757 m. John Smith 20 Oct 1778 in Milton
- Ann Grant chr.6 May 1759
- Jane Grant chr.22 Nov 1761 m. James Meager 15 Jul 1780 in Milton
The marriages of Mary and Jane are both recorded on the IGI for Milton [C006303] Murston is now part of Sittingbourne. Milton is also very close nearby and only a few miles south-east of Chatham & Rochester, on the south bank of the R.Medway.
John Smith and Mary (Grant, both shown on the tree above)) had at least one son, John Grant Smith, executor of his mother's will and a daughter, Susannah Sarah Grant Smith (chr. 4 Oct 1785 in St Andrew's, Holborn). A Thomas Grant who later replaced another executor had a married sister, Sarah Matson. From the case in Chancery referred to here and outlined below it looks as though Thomas was brother to Jane and Mary Grant and therefore uncle to Alicia Arrowsmith. (These relationships are still speculative!)
John Grant Smith and his wife Anne had one daughter, Annie Grant Smith chr. in Bexley, Kent on 4 Nov 1824. [IGI Batch #C130922]
Apart from a lot of Meagers in Cornwall and a cluster of three families or so, probably all related, in Croydon, Surrey, most examples of the name are fairly scattered in the Home Counties and their origin is still unknown.
'A House Divided'
The report of the case in Chancery in 1833 known as March v.Russell gave a lead in establishing the close relationships between the parties involved in the Arrowsmith, Meager, Smith and Matson families. The IGI revealed that the maiden name of Prudence March was Matson. (Alicia Eliza also used the name Prudence for one of her daughters.)
Thomas Arrowsmith II and Mary
It is not known when Thomas and Mary (surname unknown) married, but they had four children, all baptised at St Margaret's, Rochester.
- Sarah Arrowsmith chr. 10 Jul 1774
- Thomas Arrowsmith III chr. 23 Nov 1777
- Martha Arrowsmith chr.17 Feb 1780
- Jenny Arrowsmith chr.6 Oct 1782 .
The marriage of Thomas Arrowsmith III to Alicia Eliza Meager was recorded at Cuxton, Kent on 4 Sep 1803.
[ Bishops Transcripts, Chatham 1794 - 1812 ; IGI Batch no.M135182 Cuxton]
James Meager and Jane Grant
James Meager and Jane Grant were married on 15 Jul 1780 in the church at Milton next Sittingbourne, about ten miles eastwards of Chatham. In the absence of any conflicting information James and Jane are believed to have had the following children :
- Alicia Eliza Meager b. 14 Jul 1782 chr.11 Aug 1782 in St Olave's, Southwark, Surrey, [IGI Batch #C022727]
- Mary Grant Meager,>b.30 Mar 1784 in Milton next Sittingbourne, Kent
[IGI -Batch #C034839]
No other Alicia Eliza has been found, and there are many inaccuracies between various sources. These continue in the easily identifiable census records for Alicia's children, in both dates and place of birth, including the now rather obvious confusion of Alicia with Letitia
Family of Thomas Arrowsmith III & Alicia Eliza Meager
Alicia was born on 14 Jul and was baptised on 11 Aug 1782 at St Olave's in Southwark. No other person named 'Alicia Eliza Arrowsmith' has been found and the subsequent family history bears out this identification. Alicia/Alecia did not sign anything, just made her mark.
The marriage of Thomas Arrowsmith III to Alicia Eliza Meager was recorded at Cuxton, Kent on m. 4 Sep 1803. Bishops Transcripts, Chatham 1794 - 1812 ; IGI Batch no.M135182 Cuxton].
Cuxton is a small village about two miles southwest of Rochester, on the R.Medway, which was presumably where Alicia was living at the time.
The first five children were all born in Chatham but none of the places are far away from each other, lying along the R.Medway. Most of the known birth or christening dates below are freely available as photocopies of the original parish records on the site for Medway. 'City-Ark''. The parish clerk seems to have a problem with hearing and/or recognizing the name 'Alicia', three different versions being shown in italics after her children's names below, though of course spelling was not standardised at this time. The sound in English would be 'Letisha', not very different from 'Alisha' whether the 'i' sound was short or long (like 'ee'). The children with the 'incorrect' [Letitia/Elicia] names for their mother are marked in green. With all the new, more reliable, information now gleaned from Chancery, censuses and other records there is no longer any doubt of this solution being correct.
- Alicia Mary Meager Arrowsmith (Alicia Eliza) chr. 29 Jul 1804
- Thomas Arrowsmith IV(Letitia Elizabeth) chr. 13 Apr 1806
- Sarah Prudence Arrowsmith (Elicia Eliza) chr. 2 Apr 1809
- Nicholas Arrowsmith (Alicia Eliza) b. 8 Nov 1812, chr. 11 Nov 1812
- Jane Ellen Arrowsmith (Letitia Eliza) chr. 6 Apr 1817
- Francis Arrowsmith (female) (Alicia Eliza) chr. 5 Dec 1819 St Margaret's, Rochester, Kent
'Frances' was often and still could be misread as the 'e' is easily written with a closed loop and confused with an 'i' - this one looks like this kind of mis-reading.
With languages such as Latin (in older records) with their male and female endings (Francisco v. Francesca) this was much less likely to happen.
This table shows the ages of the Arrowsmiths who continued to live together from 1841 as entered iin the census. Each is paired with their real age in purple. Some are wildly astray - whether such errors were deliberate is not known...Or they were due to one person, not necessarily related to the one whose details were being entered
Year Alicia Sarah Jane E. Frances 1841 56 : 59 24 : 32 22 : 24 16 : 22 1851 ---- 32 : 42 32 : 34 23 : 32 1861 ---- 43 : 52 35 : 44 30 : 42 1871 ---- 51 : 62 44 : 54 --- : 52
The name 'Alicia', in its spelling of 'Alecia', has continued in use at least once in every generation of descendants in the female line to date (i.e. five more than those listed here) without anyone apparently being aware that it was a 'family' name with a long pedigree! Keeping the 'e' in this case was a matter of pride for being 'different'.It is now known that Nicholas followed his father in the tallow chandler's business, and in fact there is a document concerning the title deeds to a property in Rochester, 'the new-built messuage, garden etc adjoining this last on the same side of Ironmonger Lane erected by Thomas Saxton and now in the occupation of Thomas Arrowsmith...' dated 2 May 1826. The family presumably lived in Rochester from at least 1819 when Frances was born till some time after 1826; they seem to be in Chatham again by 1837 judging by the second court case concerning bigamy, below.
Sarah Prudence In 1861 [ RG number:RG09 Piece:133 Folio:49 Page:41] the three younger Arrowsmith girls were all living in Sutherland Terrace, Islington and running a Fancy Toy Shop. Sarah, now calling herself 'Kemp' and claiming to be widowed from 1851 though no marriage has yet been found to justify this. . Her sisters were identified from their initials (not J.C. but J.E. - the enumerator's entry could be an E, - and F.. the 'M' probably being someone's guesswork at the time.) Other people in the house must have often offered such details by guessing, not by knowing the right answer!.
There was a niece Ellen Arrowsmith, (also involved with the fancy toys) who appears on the 1871 census as born in 1853, her relationaship of 'niece' being only by reference to Sarah Prudence. She is now known to have been Jane Ellen's daughter, born in St Giles' parish, London at 14 New Compton St Bloomsbury on 9 Nov 1847 - but the father's name is not given.
In 1871 [RG number:RG10 Piece:716 Folio:46 Page:10] Frances Arrowsmith is 'missing' - both marriages and deaths have been searched, so far without success - but the others had all become governesses, now living in Putney, Surrey, on the R.Thames.
None of them have yet been found in any census from 1881 onwards, nor do any of them appear in the full death register between March 1871 and March 1881. The eldest daughter, Eliza Mary Meager Arrowsmith remains a mystery but probably married before registration began in 1837 which, in the absence of a married name, makes it very difficult to find her later. (There is no guarantee that her 'extra' names would appear on the census. Thomas is also elusive as he died in the Mar Q 1841 - just before the census - so nothing is known about him at present other than his birth and death dates.
'March v. Russell'
Summary of a case in ChanceryThe main inter-related people involved are shown in bold.
The original document has been transcribed, presumably by OCR, with some odd results and is printed in full online.
It can be found by googling "Alicia Eliza Arrowsmith" in quotes.
The tree, repeated here for convenience, shows the relationships between the various families involved in Chancery (March v. Russell below) or in the case of the bigamous marriage of Sarah Prudence in 1837 (new information with full report below). The two names in grey are so far speculative but it is assumed as a 'working hypothesis' that Prudence and Thomas March 'belong' in the 2nd generation and that the others shown as in that generation were siblings or cousins. (Even if not the same generation, they were all related!) William and Mary Matson had 8 children, some born in Ashford. Jane, next after Prudence, was born in Milton next Sittingbourne'. Others associated with the village through birth or marriage were Jane and Mary Grant, James Meager, Mary Grant Meager and also John Smith. (Milton is only a few miles from Chatham and Rochester, both places where the Arrowsmiths of that earlier generation were born, on that side of Sittingbourne)
Further details of Matsons, Marches, Grants and Smiths are now included on a separate page for other Kent families not being relevant here.
Any more information about them would be very welcome.
The case in Chancery stemmed from a deed made in 1807 by Thomas and Prudence March appointing George Russell and George Hodgson as trustees for a 'sum of stock' for the benefit of their children, then infants. Thomas March's wife Prudence was the third of six daughters of William Matson and Mary, born on 1 Oct 1777 in Kent, probably in Ashford.
Thomas and Prudence had three children according to the report,
- Mary Prudence chr. 7 Apr 1799 in Deptford
- George Thomas b.14 Feb, chr. 27 May 1801
- John, b. abt 1803
By 1833 George and John were said to be 'the only children' of Thomas and Prudence.
The proceedings in Chancery began in 1817 to find out what had happened to the stock but no-one seemed to know where it had gone. In 1810 Thomas Grant replaced Hodgson, and soon after transferred the stock, 'a sum of 1000 Navy 5% Bank Annuities' held in their joint names (Russell and Grant) into the name of the other trustee, Russsell, only. The solicitors representing Thomas and Prudence March wrote to Grant asking for the stock to be replaced. Grant replied to Mrs March (at no.33 Moffatt St, City Road, London) with a string of excuses about why this hadn't been done, referring to the stock 'which you so much wished me to let Mr Russell have.' He wrote that it was
---- 'in estates and business...the sooner I can buy in the stocks the better it will be for me as they keep rising...'
.......' it could not be your wish to distress me...it would put me to considerable inconvenience to buy in the stocks immediately...'
----'I understood you, when I was in town, that if the interest was regularly paid you would be satisfied....'
----'When I returned from London I was attacked with inflammation on my lungs which laid me up for some time...'
----'I am sorry to say that Mrs Matson is very ill...'
In 1818 the March family filed a bill in Chancery against Russell and Grant but Russell gave additional security for interest both in the past and for the future and Grant killed off the bill with a rather suspicious document apparently signed by Thomas and Prudence March, 'expressly authorising him to transfer the stock to his co-trustee, Russell.' (The 'signatures' were perhaps just crosses. Alicia Eliza only signed her will with a cross.)
Will of Thomas Grant
However ill Sarah Matson was in 1817, she managed to survive until 1830. It was Thomas Grant who died, just two years later, in 1820. His executors were Sarah Matson, Russell and John Perkins. Thomas left much of his personal estate to his sister Sarah Matson, and out of what was left after his debts were paid, a third to Sarah, one third to Mary Smith (nee Meager), and one third to Alicia Eliza Arrowsmith (nee Meager), wife of Thomas Arrowsmith. Alicia was to receive one third of that share and the rest was to be invested and the interest paid to her. After her death the capital was to be shared out among her children. (It should be noted of course that women could not own property in their own name, not even the clothes they wore - everything would go to their husband when they married - so it was usually given as an investment in trust, thus being protected from 'intermeddling' by the husband)
Will of Sarah Matson (formerly Grant)
Sarah Prudence Arrowsmith was her 'residuary legatee'.
Will of Mary Smith (formerly Grant)
Mary Smith also died. Her executors were George Ray and her son John Grant Smith who both also proved her will, but it looks as though her personal estate was very small.(The year is not given and a will with such a name is practically impossible to find!)
Will of Alicia Eliza Arrowsmith
In her will, dated 1844, Alicia Eliza identifies her daughters as Jane Ellen, Sarah Prudence and ffrances (the ff being an old usage for F) Both the 1841 census and the Citation of March v. Russell give the Arrowsmith address as Burton St, Middlesex and Alicia's will states that she was then a widow. There is a record of a death in the March Q 1841 in the same parish, St George, Hanover Sq. of a Thomas Arrowsmith who can probably be identified with her husband Thomas - or possibly with her son Thomas? Alicia is not described as a widow until 1844, but she was alone in 1841.
In 1833 George and John March, the children, filed a new bill in Chancery, against Russell, Perkins, Thomas and Alicia Arrowsmith, their daughter Sarah Prudence Arrowsmith, and Alicia's other children, and also against their own parents, Thomas and Prudence, against Ray and against John Grant Smith, but the latter was 'out of the jurisdiction of the court.' The Master of the Rolls found for the two March children, ordering the way in which was owed them should be made good out of the various estates, a very complicated affair, and awarded costs to be paid by Russell and the other defendants. All of them, except for Russell and the March parents promptly appealed.
The proceedings which followed were further complicated by an argument over precedent where a breach of trust was involved - what was the situation in previous cases where the Plaintiffs were under age (being only ten and eight) when the situation first arose. Would the lapse of time itself contribute towards invalidating their demands? Had they been aware of what was happening and had they 'acquiesced' in a breach of trust? They argued the case from many examples of similar actions in the past. Eventually the appeal was finally dismissed, with costs. It seems to have been the best the judges thought could be done in the circumstances. (Could anyone could be really sure what had happened to the stocks? They had been transferred and reinvested so many times in different names - some of it had even been changed at one point to a mortgage. Sarah Prudence Arrowsmith seemed only to have received 'the clear surplus of Sarah Matson's estate', namely £129 15s 1d (or 11d.?)
It was eventually decided that the lapse of time since the original Bill in 1817 was no bar to the March brothers' claim for repayment, both being now 'of age', as they had been underage then and could not be expected to have agreed to something they didn't understand, to the funds remaining in the wrong hands or to acquiescing in a breach of trust. The appeal was dismissed with costs. Mary Smith, Alicia and her daughter Sarah, would have had to repay all that they had received, though it seems unlikely that they had any idea that they weren't entitled to any of it.
The marriage that wasn't!
'The Rochester Giovanni'As reported on 29 April 1837 in the Gravesend & Milton Express, the Chatham & Rochester Standard and the West Kent Guardian
No sooner was the case in Chancery concluded than the family were embroiled in the law again. It was discovered in March 1837 that Sarah Prudence Arrowsmith had gone through a form of marriage with a Samuel Playsted Jeston, surgeon and oculist, who was born in Warwickshire in 1805. With the benefit of our modern search engines and programs we can readily check the details which the preliminary hearings had some trouble establishing since they had to contact all parties involved, including the ministers who had performed the various ceremonies. It was Jane Ellen (20) who discovered what had happened.
In January Jane had received a letter from the postman addressed to Sarah, but instead of giving it to her sister, showed it to her mother. The letter was so worded that they immediately concluded that Sarah had already married Samuel but without telling anyone. Sarah was still living 'at home' but with occasional excursions up to 'town' (i.e. London) .( It wasn't in fact until the 29th of March that she and Samuel were 'married' at St Giles', Cripplegate.) There must already have been some family talk - and disapproval of Samuel that alerted Jane, 7 or 8 years younger than Sarah - and made her feel justified in opening her sister's letter. . Although he was a regular visitor to the Arrowsmith house, often for a meal, he was, it turned out, not too welcome a guest and their suspicions were to prove correct, for he had married a Jane Pelling only just over three months previously, on the 2nd of December 1836 at St Mary's Church in Lambeth.
Upon hearing of Jane's suspicion's Thomas Arrowsmith immediately set a prosecution in motion against Samuel Jeston for bigamy. His son Nicholas stood in for him (it is suggested that Thomas was too ill to handle the affair himself) in the court proceedings which began a little before the 29th of April, when the first report appeared in the West Kent Guardian, and then continued over the following two weeks.
It seems unlikely that the Thomas who died in 1834 in Marylebone was related, unless it was Sarah's older brother, Thomas, then 35, who was ill. He could be the Thomas who died in the district of St George, Hanover Square in 1841. A Thomas Arrowsmith also appears on the 1841 census in Marylebone. The relevant Thomas might be none of these.
In the local newspaper Samuel was given the titles of Rochester's 'Giovanni' and 'Don Juan'. The reporter wrote, '...We have said the charge against Dr Jeston is bigamy, but it might, probably, be called trigamy, as there are three marriages in the business...' This turned out not to be true. A 'previous arrest' was mentioned, for 'ill-treating Mrs Jeston secondo..' meaning Sarah Prudence of course, as Samuel's second 'wife, and 'hence', he wrote, 'arises a kind of legal hitch. The prisoner is said to have first married a Miss Arrowsmith, then a Miss Pelling, and then Miss Arrowsmith again.'
The first problem was to identify and prove both 'marriages'. The supposed first marriage - to Sarah Prudence a couple of years before turned out to be almost certainly a fiction, though not, it seems, in Sarah's view. She had known Samuel for three or four years and it appears that he promised her marriage at least two years before. It is obvious from the two surviving letters below (though there must have been others) that he had convinced her somehow that they were as good as married. (The particular references are shown in red).
In all the census returns Sarah appears as around ten years younger than she really was, but she was born in 1809 so was already 'on the shelf' as so many young girls thought if not married by their mid-twenties. She was 26 in 1835 and time was running out. She had convinced herself (or Samuel had convinced her) that a promise of marriage was as good as a marriage itself. The reporter for the Guardian remarked, "It does not yet appear why Miss Arrowsmith found it necessary to go through the nuptial ceremony a second time - another examination may clear up the mystery."
First known letter from Samuel Jeston dated (from the postmark) 8 Jan 1837 (a Friday)
My Fondest, Dearest Love, - How, Sarah, how can I express my gratitude to thee for thy forbearance, knowing how deeply I have wronged you, and that when my life was in your hands you have pleaded for me; Sarah, my much injured, my ever forgiving Sarah how deeply I have injured you! And now that you have an opportunity of resenting everything by joining with your friends to condemn me to death for having two wives, yet you are the first to forgive but not only to forgive, but even to be my advocate. Ah, my God, Sarah, how my heart bled to have thee reviled this morning, and yet, like a true love, you pleaded for me, when my would be wife was doing all in her power to bring me to the *------ I will not say what.
Sarah, my devoted girl, use every influence in thy power not to bring me to a trial, but if she is determined to do so, dont, oh, Sarah, do not appear against me; for you know well you have the certificate in your hands. I have destroyed the only thing that can tell against me; providing you tell them not where another may be found. Oh, Sarah, my once, my still fondly loved girl, appear not thyself against me and even if I come then to an untimely end, I can meet it if I have thy forgiveness. It is not that I fear death, no! I would at this moment freely sacrifice life for thy sake to make thee happy.
Now, should your mother bring this case before the public, I fear that the laws will compel you to come forward if you can be found; therefore, under such circumstances, would it not be better for you to leave England for a time I will provide you the means - £20 will keep you for a tolerably good time in a cheap country. If you will leave England you shall have that to-morrow and you have proved your love for me in not acknowledging your having been married to me this morning, but rather suffered yourself to be called all, nay, every bad name, that the final tongue of reproach could bestow. I can write no more, Sarah, now, than that I am an unhappy man. I love thee and only thee, and my heart can never put up with another. May God bless and protect thee, my fondest, dearest love, Yours, &c, C.F.
*. The missing word is probably 'gallows' ! Whether or not that was true he was presumably trying to scare her on purpose.
The item that would tell against him was the marriage certificate for himself and Jane Pelling, dated 2 Dec 1836 at St Mary's, Lambeth. Whatever 'certificate' Sarah was looking after is not clear., though he had probably persuaded her it wasn't what it seemed to be.
2. Thursday morning, 21 Jan 1837 (dated by the postmark)
(italics in the text represent underlining in the original)
My ever fondly loved but much injured wife, - Your unhappy husband is now alone repenting him of the madest (sic) act that ever mortal man was driven to, by that fell demon jealousy. Sarah, my still ever fondly cherished wife, this suspense is intolerable I can endure it no longer Tell me if there is still one spark of hope left for me tell me, Sarah, oh tell me if it be possible for me to see your father and come to some definite arrangement for our future happiness I will freely acknowledge all, and freely put my life in his hands, for life is now hateful to me I am too unhappy to endure this long. Tell me my own fondly loved girl what are your sentiments? Can you, and do you love me still tell me but you do, and I can bear up.
This woman, my housekeeper, has now left me for a time, and she has at length agreed to give up her claim upon me, whatever that claim might be. I am about going to London to shape my course to some other part of the world but before I go I must see or hear from you, as your welfare shall be my future study through life. I should like much to see your father, as well as yourself. Can you tell me what a small piece of land with a house might be purchased for at Jersey, and should you like that situation. - Remember, Sarah, every future action of my life now will be regulated by her who is far dearer to me than life itself, and one whom had I known her true worth as well as I do now, nothing on earth should have induced me to have acted thus madly as I have.
Oh! with what foul and malignant calumny did that woman (your and my enemy) poison my mind against the reputation of a too fondly loved, but not trusted wife. Sarah, I thought you guilty of the crimes charged against you by your foulest enemy, and I almost blessed myself that I had not publicly acknowledged a wife who could so soon and with so slight temptation fall from her marriage vow, and forget that plighted truth made in the presence of God. Stung to madness by the demon jealousy, and thinking myself pointed at by the finger of derision, in an unguarded moment of bitter resentment and my mind being worked upon till almost a frenzy forced it over reason and usurped the entire command of body and soul in that moment, Sarah, thinking thee false and myself dishonoured, I fell but oh! God, how deep how heart rending has that fall been to me what heart sickening sorrow now overwhelms my sorrowing soul, even to know I suspected thee wrongfully suspected thee, Sarah, the most faithful the most virtuous of wives, and without one atom of foundation. Oh, God, the thought is more than I can endure.
Forgive me, Sarah, oh! forgive me !! for I am miserable and unhappy. And will you, Sarah, condescend to accept this small trifle from the hands of a husband who loves thee beyond his own life. Sarah, dare you show this note to your father? If you wish to do so, do; and tell him that I am anxious, very anxious, to see him ask him if I may be allowed to call (or if he will, for thy sake, call upon me, for I am quite alone now and shall be for a time), upon him, for I wish to have an hours conversation with him, and remember that for thy sake and thine alone I will place my future existence in his hands thou canst never be anyone elses so long as I live, therefore for the sake of his child, for the sake of the happiness of one of the best of daughters and most calumniated of wives, I implore him to see me. May God ever bless and preserve thee my Sarah, and may he restore thee once more to thy unhappy husband.
Yours, &c, C.F.
The reports - three in all over three weeks, of the proceedings in court - during which time Samuel Jeston remained 'on remand' (as he couldn't provide money for bail) were concerned with proving whether the charge of bigamy was justified, or in other words, finding proof of the two alleged marriages.
Samuel's two letters to Sarah were produced and read in court by Mr Birch, as evidence against him, so some of the cross-examination of witnesses inevitably concerned Samuel's handwriting. Samuel had referred to Jane as his housekeeper, not as his wife. Yet when Samuel himself was questioned he said he was not guilty, and asked 'why the principle witness,' meaning Miss Arrowsmith,'had not been called, as she could swear to the fact of his not being married to her .' (that is, in January of course, not mentioning that they were married in March, i.e. before the court case began. ) Mr Birch then said that 'he could prove the second marriage to Miss Arrowsmith by putting in the certificate - but that he must if possible, prove the first, or the verdict upon the second could be made null and void by the defendant's proving he had married Miss Arrowsmith the first time, and also the parties (presumably Nicholas and his father) wished to avoid the expense of two prosecutions.'
Constable breaks in to courtroom
The 3rd proceedings before the magistrates, when the final decison had to be made as to the charge, if any, against Samuel, had a touch of absurdity. There was such a confusion in the Council Chambers that they were close to 'suffocating' owing to the anxiety .of several persons to obtain a sight of the prisoner , whose dress and appearance was altogether different from what it had been on the former examination, ' that the decision was made to adjourn to the City Hall which was more spacious.' Unfortunately, the key was now held by a Mr Batten who really had no right to keep it and who couldn't be found, so in the end the local constable had to climb in at a window and open up from inside. A witness, John Railton, who knew Jane Pelling or Jeston, on being questioned about the prisoner, was asked if he (the prisoner) had a pair of bushy whiskers at the last examination. Yes, he had, and he had since shaved them off! (The account reads as if everyone was still outside clamouring to get in during this exchange)
The solicitor appearing for Nicholas Arrowsmith called for Jane [Pelling] to appear but said she was a most unwilling witness and had refused to answer to any name other than Mrs Jeston. This Jane said she had known the prisoner about 18 months and produced her marriage certificate. The minister who signed it next had to appear in court and be cross-examined. Another question was raised about the signature of the husband in both cases, and eventually Sarah Prudence was forced to face cross-examination. Samuel had offered Sarah money to leave the country as early as January implying that she could not therefore be called to witness against him, yet of course they weren't actually married then and there was therefore no charge to answer at that time!
John Grant Heard, (another relative?) assistant to Mr Thomas Arrowsmith in his business as a tallow chandler, vouched as to the genuineness of the handwriting in the two letters being Samuel's. Then Jane Ellen, Sarah's younger sister was called. She said she had received the first letter from the postman but had given it to her mother (Alicia Eliza), instead of to her sister. In fact she had never told her sister about it. She had then gone to Mr Jeston's house in January and asked to see the housekeeper. When Jane appeared she asked if the first Mrs Jeston had come from Warwickshire, but Jane replied, 'I am the only Mrs Jeston, ' adding that her 'situation was such that it was quite time she made herself known as such.' The account continues, 'She saw her at the window and shook her fist at her', Jane having obviously refused her entry to the house. (There was still uncertainty about the so-called 'first' marriage, supposed to be between Sarah Prudence and Samuel about 1835. There was no marriage - it was all in Sarah's imagination - and of course she couldn't produce a certificate.)
Jane Ellen was then questioned by Mr Cook, the solicitor appearing for Samuel. The reporter continues. 'She thought her sister was married to the prisoner from reports she had heard - had been acquainted with the prisoner about three years and a half - he had dined and supped at her mother's house, but had never slept there. One morning she saw the prisoner coming downstairs, it was about half past eight - the prisoner had not his shoes in his hand , she concluded that he had been conversing with her sister in the drawing-room - her sister was not in bed, but had begun her breakfast - her father and mother both objected to the prisoner's visits.'
(note - drawing-rooms were usually upstairs at this time, the ground floor being various 'offices, kitchen etc and the domain of servants).
Sarah Prudence herself refused to attend but a warrant was obtained and she appeared about an hour later. There follows a digest of her deposition,
'I reside at Chatham and am married to Mr Jeston - his Christian name is Samuel. I never heard he had any other name. That is the person (looking at the prisoner who smiled)....I was never married before - I had a promise of marriage. I have seen the prisoner wrtite a great many times - the letters produced are in his handwriting - I have read them and presume in consequence of the promise of marriage he calls me his wife in them. I had a conversation with the prisoner respecting his marriage with Pelling since the receipt of the letters. He said he had married her with the idea that she had property amounting to £6000 a year....
When cross-examined by Mr Cook she continued, '- had known Jeston four years - he was first introduced to our house by a party, and frequently came after - had heard of a certificate, but the prisoner said it was a forgery, and therefore did not write for him to meet me - I agreed to meet him at the Monument in March; we conversed on different subjects, cannot recollect what, nor where, it was not far. It did not matter where...my parents knew nothing about my marriage.
When asked what she thought Samuel's remarks about the 'two wives' meant she said that he could answer that better than her. 'The promise spoken of I consider binding.' (Was that meant to justify Sarah's rather muddled views about what constituted a valid marriage?)
Mr Cook tried to claim that the marriage to Jane Pelling was not valid as she was a minor at the time. Although her father had given her away, 'his consent had not been proved.' To which Mr Birch snapped, 'Nonsense!'
Finally Sarah Prudence - with her reluctant agreement - was bound over to appear as a witness at the Quarter Sessions in Maidstone. Samuel was then committed to Maidstone that afternoon, to await trial and sentence there. He was, as was now inevitable, found guilty and sentenced to seven years transportation. He left England on the 2nd of October 1837, bound with 223 other prisoners to Sydney where he remained - and continued quite legitimately to practise as surgeon and oculist - but marrying another convict, Jane Jessop, in 1854!
By 1851 Sarah Prudence appears as Sarah Prudence Kemp, claiming to be a widow. No other marriage has been found and it looks rather like a convenient fiction. She was probably comfortably off at that time, 'Ind.' for 'Independent' as the 1851 census has it, for her mother's cousin, Sarah Matson, formerly Grant, had apparently left her everything in her will in 1830. Perhaps however, 'everything' was all spent or used up, for in 1861 she was listed along with Ellen and Frances, as running the 'fancy toy shop' in Islington with them. There was also a niece, Ellen Arrowsmith, born in the parish of St Giles in the Fields (in the Bloomsbury area), in the Dec. Q 1847. Frances 'disappears' after 1861 and hasn't been found later, either in marriage or death records. Sarah and Jane Ellen have not been found after 1871 when they and the niece Ellen were living in Putney and were described as governesses (as well as all born in Rochester, which is of course incorrect). Ellen was also given as born in 1853 which is incorrect.as she was 24, not 18. (She is always given as Sarah's niece, but the ages of the Arrowsmith girls is hardly ever accurate! By 1861 they were all recorded as about ten years younger than their real ages)
In 1881 an Ellen Arrowsmith appears at 152 Golborne Rd, Kensington as a domestic servant, aged 33 in the house of a Harriet Miller and her sister.. Ellen, supposedly born in Kensington, could be the same Ellen Arrowsmith, Sarah's niece and daughter of Jane Ellen (but this is unproven). . An Ellen Arrowsmith died on 12 Feb 1893 in the district of St Marylebone. No other has been found so it looks quite likely that these are all the same person (who might not know for sure where she was born if she didn't grow up in that place!)
Nicholas (No.4) married Sarah Alderson
at Hoo St Werburgh, near Rochester, Kent, on 6 Feb 1832.
[ IGI Batch no.M131462; Hoo St Werburgh]
The names of Sarah Alderson's parents is not known, only that she was living at Hoo, near Rochester, at the time of her marriage in St Werburg's on 6 Feb 1832. She may also hve had a brother called George, but otherwise nothing is known about the Aldersons. Sarah was of course known as Sarah Arrowsmith in 1841, age approximately 30 but neither she nor Nicholas have been found on that census yet, nor have their (known) three children: (Interestingly, as a boy Charles Dickens also lived in the parish of St Mary's Chatham at about this time. It's unlikely that the families met, though it's possible that they attended the same church at the same time). The case of bigamy above has now proved beyond doubt that Nicholas was still alive in 1837 (as was his father Thomas). Neither of them have been found in death records, not so surprising since these official lists had only just begun and were not compulsory till many years later.
Nicholas had followed his father Thomas as a tallow chandler, and it was given as his occupation on the marriage certificate of his daughter Sarah. By that time, 1852, Nicholas had died, but it is not known when. He hasn't been found on the 1841 census and isn't mentioned on his mother's will of 1844 so perhaps he died between 1837 and 1841, and almost certainly before 1844.
Children of Nicholas Arrowsmith
and Sarah (Alderson)
1. Sarah Alecia Arrowsmith chr. 8 Aug 1832 at Hoo St Werburg, m. Henry George Cope d. 18 Oct 1878
2. Ellen Jane Arrowsmith chr 9 Sep 1834 at St Mary's, Chatham, d. 20 Sep 1834 Chatham
3. Francis Arrowsmith (also known as 'Frank') b. abt 1836, emigrated to Alberta, Canada and presumably died there, probably some time after 1878 when Alicia died. (Henry remarried in early 1879 - he needed help to keep the business going - but he too died in January 1881.
Henry's 2nd wife, Sophia, was at the coffee shop for that census, but she then disappears from the records. 'Father of the family' William Cope died in 1883 aged 86. By then Harry, William's grandson, Henry's eldest son, had taken over the business, carrying on until he died in 1931.The coffee shop closed down in 1934 and became the site for a post office.After a few years that disappeared under a car park, the Coin St complex)
The Arrowsmiths above have not been found in 1841 although Sarah and Frank are easily found later. [In 1841 they should be: Sarah, 8/9, Ellen Jane 2 weeks, Francis 4/5]
Names can be switched around so it is possible that Ellen might appear as 'Jane' but she has not been found later under either name. Perhaps she died young as was the fate of many other children at the time. Those who lived in Lambeth were very vulnerable - see the family of William Cope, father of Henry George as an example) mostly owing to the unsavoury and damp conditions there, with the added hazards of frequent outbreaks of cholera and other virulent infections passed on in the early part of the 19th century via the handle of an ordinary water pump (the only source of water for most people).
Ada Cope, born 1868, remembered her mother Sarah Alecia, above, on Sundays, 'in her brown silk dress', (probably dressed up for church, not in her 'working' clothes?), busy writing to her brother Frank (5 in 1841) who had emigrated to Alberta, Canada. He is last found on the 1861 census as a 25 year old warehouseman living with Sarah and her husband Henry Cope in Westminster, not far from St Martin in the Fields. He has not been found in Alberta records but these are very sparse as it was still pioneer territory. Sarah died in St Thomas's Hospital, Lambeth on 18 Oct 1878 and Henry died of pneumonia on 28 Jan 1881 so whatever contact there might have been was lost. More about Henry George Cope and Sarah Alicia (nee Arrowsmith) can be found on the Cope family pages.