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George Newport (1837-1906) & Matilda Martha (née Natt) (1843-1931)

(My 3 x Great Grandparents)

George was born in the village of Herne, in Kent, not far from Canterbury, on Friday 17th.of February, 1837, and baptised just over a month later, at St. Martin's Church, by the vicar, the Reverend J. S. May, on Sunday 19th of March.

The small parish of Herne was, at that time known, as "Herne Street" and was, virtually, just that, a street, with few roads going off from the main thoroughfare and few outlying houses. According to old maps, the village today appears to have changed very little since George's day.

George was the third child of John Newport, born in Nonington, in 1809, and Sarah Spicer born Reculver, 1806. They were married in 1830 in the same church of St. Martin's, on Wednesday 1st of September, 1830.

The newly-born George had two older siblings - a sister Ann, aged 6, and a brother, John William, 3 years old.

George was born just four months before Queen Victoria came to the throne, on June 20th, and about the same before the recording of all births, marriages and deaths, known as "Civil Registration", became law on 1st July.

On Friday 10th. of July, 1840, John William, aged 6, was buried in the churchyard of St. Martin's; he had died a on the 10th July, of Scarletina (more commonly known as "Scarlet Fever").

On Sunday, 7th of June, 1841, the first census that gave any real information about the people of Britain and, the first to be of some use to family historians, was taken.

The following, showing George and the rest of the Newport family, comes from the census for 'Herne Street', piece number HO107/467/6 Page 28.

Name Age Occupation Born in Sussex?
John Newport 30 Ag. Lab. Yes
Sarah Newport 30 Yes
Ann Newport 10 Yes
George Newport 4 Yes
William Newport 1 Yes

Unfortunately, from the point of view of the family historian, the census for this year didn't give as much information as would have been really useful - no relationships were given, nor any idea as to an individual's marriage status, and ages were rounded down to the nearest five years, except for children under sixteen, where the actual age was wanted.

People were only asked to state whether or not they were born in the county in which the census was being taken Kent (using the letters, "y" for "yes" and "n" for "no" - I have used the full words for clarity). They weren't asked where in the county nor the name of the county in which the person had been born, if different to that of the census. Luckily for me, each member of the "Newport" family, answered, "Y", they were born in "Kent", so my area of research was much reduced!

By October of this census year, John and Sarah had moved, across the road, to a small cottage owned by a John Brown, a cordwainer (someone who makes shoes), with a shop in Herne. The yearly rental was £4 which seems to indicate that the family were getting financially better off.

In 1843, on Saturday, 27th May, a new sister was born and christened Sarah on Sunday 25th of June.

Another brother to George was born in 1847, and christened, James, in St. Martin's Church, on Sunday 31st. January.

On Sunday 23rd December, 1849, John, the last son of John and Sarah, and brother to George, was baptised at Herne Church. In less than a year, the new baby, John, died and was buried, in Herne Churchyard, on Saturday, 24th August, 1850.

By the time the 1851 census was carried out, the family, including George's grandfather, Richard Spicer, had moved, yet again, into a cottage in School Lane, Herne - this would be their final move.

Before the school was built, the lane had been known as "Pudding Lane", and it′s believed that the name came about because of the pies and puddings sold by a butcher, about two or three hundred years ago at the Reculver end of this lane.

Later still, part of the lane became known as "Broomfield Lane": it is said that this is most likely because of the fields of the broom plant. which grew there in abundance and from which the local people, originally, made their "brooms".

According to the census, George aged 14, was an "Agricultural Labourer" while his older sister, Ann, appears as a kitchen maid at the "Fountain Hotel", in St. Margaret′s Street, Canterbury.

The "Fountain Hotel", later, took the title of "Royal Fountain Hotel", after a visit to Canterbury by Queen Victoria, who chose to stay in that hotel(or had it chosen for her!).

The hotel no longer stands, in St. Margaret′s Street, as, on the night of 31st May, 1942, almost a fifth of Canterbury, including the "Royal Fountain Hotel" and the street on which it stood, was destroyed by Germane bombers, in one of what became known as the "Baedeker Raids". The name came from the, then, most popular German, tourist guide of Britain.

With the memory of the Blitz, as a lesson, and as British bomber power became stronger, due to bigger aircraft, heavier bombs, better equipment, new navigational aids, and radar technology that gave the bomb aimer a much clearer picture of the target, Bomber Command, in the hope of bringing the war to a early end, planned experimental raids on the Baltic ports of Rostock and Lubeck, which, like Canterbury, were historic mediaeval cities, and had no military importance. It was, however, a trial of the ability of Bomber Command to carry out such planned raids and the effectiveness of those raids - and, by doing so, take the war deeper into Germany.

After the raid, an angry Hitler ordered Goering, to bomb all the British towns and cities, featured in the "Baedeker Guide for Tourists" — hence the name of the raids.

In 1851, according to the census (HO107/1625, folio 318v, page 35), the family, was living in a cottage in School Lane, with Richard Spicer, Sarah's father, as the 'Head'.

Name Relationship to Head Status Age Occupation Where born?
Richard Spicer Head Widr 77 Pauper Reculver, Kent
John Newport Son-in-law Mar 43 Gardener Nonington, Kent
Sarah Newport Wife Mar 44 Reculver, Kent
George Newport G/Son Un 14 Herne, Kent
William Newport G/Son Un 10 Scholar Herne, Kent
Sarah Newport G/Dau Un 7 Scholar Herne, Kent
James Newport G/Son Un 4 Scholar Herne, Kent

By 1861, George, at the age of 24, had moved out of the family home, in Herne, Kent and moved to London. He was working as a “Draper’s porter” in an umbrella factory, at 20, New Bond Street, St. George’s, Hanover Square, run by Henry H. Peppin, which at that time was a very well known company in the London area.

The census (RG9/44, folio 9. page 16) shows him in a “household” comprising twenty-six people; eight women and eighteen men. They were, in fact, all employees of the umbrella business, and, as was standard practice with big businesses, shops, and, even warehouses, at that time in London, they were all expected to live and sleep on the premises, usually up in the attic spaces, in shared rooms – men and women were, obviously, not expected to share a room!

With ninety-two employees, it was, obviously, a big business, and the manufacture of umbrellas would have needed large quantities of bales of material, all of which would have required transporting around the factory to wherever it was needed; whichever room, whichever floor. That would have been the job of George and the other porters.

Why he went to St. George’s, in the first place, is a mystery but go he did, and he stayed.

On 12th September, 1862, at St. George's Church, Hanover Square, London, George married a young girl from Hoo, in Suffolk, named Rebecca Moss (known affectionately by her family and friends as "Becca"): how they met is unknown as, in the census of 1861, she was still at home, so did George go up to Hoo, and why or did Rebecca come down to London.

The church at St. George's, Hanover Square, has long been famous for its weddings. It was here that Sir William Hamilton married Emma Hart - the woman who caught the eye of Nelson. On December 2nd, 1886, the future American President, Theodore (Teddy) Roosevelt and Edith Carow, were married here (his entry in the registers gives his particulars as "28, widower, ranchman". He stayed, at Brown's Hotel, in Dover Street, for the period of time required to qualify for marriage at St. George's Church. When Mr. Asquith, who would one day be Prime Minister, married Margaret Tennant at St. George—s, the register was signed by a Prime Minister in office (Lord Rosebery), a Prime Minister retired (Mr. Gladstone), and another Prime Minister–to–be (Mr. Balfour).

At the beginning of 1863, Rebecca became pregnant and, as the time for the birth of her child drew near, she went to her parents, in Hoo, Suffolk, with the intention of having the child there, among, and with the care of, her family. Perhaps, she knew no one in Brixton (where they were living) who could have helped her through the birth and George, because of his work, was unable to be with her over that period. Life was much harder then and George wouldn’t have been able to say to his superior that he wanted to take a week or so off to be with his wife until she had had the baby - if he had, he ran the, definite, risk of losing his job. So, he had to remain in London.

It was on Wednesday night, the 30th of September, at '1/2 past 11 o'clock' (according to my great grandfather's notes) that their son, George John Newport, was born, The birth certificate gives the date as 1st. October, but I think the date and time given by George is the correct one.

Rebecca’s father, George Moss, signed (left his mark) on the birth certificate, thus :-

”x - The mark of George Moss, Grandfather, Hoo”

Because of what happened next, the birth wasn’t registered until 1st November 1863.

In the next few days, Rebecca developed scarletina, a disease that was prevalent throughout the 19th century, and she died on the 5th.October; she was 23 years old. My great-grandfather, George, was still at their home in Brixton at the time of his wife's death.. Giving birth was a great risk in those days but, it was a part of life and there was nothing much that anyone could do about it, except trust to luck and pray.

Rebecca’s father, George Moss, was present at the death and had the dreadful tasks of seeing his daughter die and, then, having to sign his own daughter’s death certificate (as he had done, just a few days before, on the child’s birth certificate); no father should ever have to do that. The registrar was a Henry James Shirley.

Three days later, on Wednesday, the 7th. of October, Rebecca was buried in the churchyard, at Hoo, Suffolk.

On the 1st November, the registrar, the same Henry James Shirley, added a note to the birth certificate, saying :-

"In no. 266 col 7. The mother died 3 days after confinement. The father lives in London and could not certify, therefore received the information of the birth from the nearest relative."

"H. J. S., Registrar – June 23, 1864"

"No 266" is the number of the birth certificate and column 7, is where the informant gives his/her details.

On the 20th of April, 1864, their son, George John, aged just six months, died, according to the death certificate, of 'Marasmus’, which is a severe form of malnutrition. It, usually, occurrs in the first year of life and is caused by an extreme lack of protein and calories, which results in a general wasting away of the body and growth retardation.

The most likely reason is that, with the death of his mother, the only way of giving the child the nourishment he needed, was for a wet nurse to be employed but the difficulty would have been in finding one. Wet-nurses were, usually, from the lower classes and were mothers whose own baby had died or whose illegitimate child had been taken away but, by the 1860s, with the middle classes (those people most likely to use a wet-nurse) becoming more aware of disease and hygiene, the practice was beginning to die out.

This left just the use of cow’s milk, which could upset the child’s stomach, or the whey from the milk - neither of which were that successful. It was about this time that a good substitute for mother’s milk was being formulated but it would be a few years, yet, before any would be on sale.

It is sad to think of the grandparents agonizing, helplessly, over what to feed the child, while having to watch him, slowly, deteriorate and, then, eventually, die.

Today, there is no headstone to mark where Rebecca, or the child, lies; perhaps, none was ever erected, or, if so, time must have worn it to a point where the words are no longer readable. The vicar of the church, in Hoo, sadly, reported that there were few headstones in the churchyard and there was no record of where Rebecca and George had been buried. That I find very sad, very sad, indeed.

Two years later, on the 22nd of July, 1866. the wedding took place of my great-grandfather, George, and my great-grandmother, Matilda Martha Natt, at the same St. George′s church, in Hanover Square, where George was married in 1863. One wonders how George must have felt.

On the marriage certificate, George gives his occupation as "porter" but whether he is still working for the same umbrella company or has found other work, is unknown. He gives his address as St. Marylebone, while she is living in South Molton Street, not far away.

Matilda Martha Natt, born on 23rd September 1843, was 22 years old at the time of their marriage: her father was James Natt, a carpenter and her mother, Matilda Gray; both were from Chatham, in North Kent. James Natt met the young Matilda Gray at a house in High street, Chatham, where he was a servant. While Matilda was in the same household, with her older sister, Eliza, at the same time as James, the census gives no indication as to why the two women were there because no occupation is given against their names nor, being the 1841 census, is a relationship to the head specified.

On 31st July, 1867, George and Matilda′s first child was born; my grandfather, John James Newport. They were living at 37, High Street, Cavendish Square, Marylebone and, according to the birth certificate, George was, by this time, an "Upholsterer′s Shopman". I have been unable to find the name of the shop

In Victorian England, an "upholstery shop" would have supplied furniture, beds, cushions, fabrics, curtains, hangings, and even, perhaps, carpets but, as well as selling the goods, the company would have, when required, furnished the buyer's premises, hung the curtains, and fitted the carpets.

The shop, most probably, was not a large business and the owner would have been the upholsterer though he may have employed other experienced upholsterers to work with him.

A shopman would either have worked in the shop selling goods or worked with the owner, and the others, helping with the furnishing and the fitting: George may have helped in this, as he was, later, to become a "carpet planner", so, perhaps, this is where he did his "training".

In 1869, the house at 37, High Street, according to the rate book, was owned by a Mr. Kirby, who it, also, said was a builder and the occupier. It seems, from that, that George and Matilda must have been sub-renting either a room there or rooms, because, their next son, William, was born in that house, on 1st March of that year.

By the time the 1871 census was taken, George and his family had moved in with his in–laws, the Natts, at 35, Molton Street, Hanover Square and list below is an extract from that census (RG 10/93 folio 10 page 13).

Name Relationship to Head Status Age Occupation Where born?
James Natt Head Mar 56 Builder Brompton, Kent
Matilda Natt Wife Mar 51 Chatham, Kent
Emily Natt Dau Un 25 Dressmaker Chatham, Kent
James Natt Son Un 21 Carpenter Chatham, Kent
Ellen Natt Dau Un 19 Dressmaker Chatham
Sarah Natt Dau Un 16 Dressmaker Paddington, London
Ada Natt Dau Un 11 Scholar St. George’s, Hanover Sq.
George Newport Son-in-Law Mar 33 Porter Kent
Matilda Newport Dau Mar 27 Chatham, Kent
John Newport G.Son Un 3 Scholar St. Marylebone
William Newport G/Son Un 2 St. Marylebone

The family was still living at the same address in Molton Street, when their first daughter, Emily, was born, on 18th January, 1873. On her birth certificate, George gives his occupation as a 'carpet planner' which must have meant an improvement in their financial situation but whether or not he was still working for same Upholstery company is unknown.

In 1876, on the 26th. of June, Matilda gave birth to a second son, Robert Henry Newport, at 6a, Swiss Terrace, Hampstead. That's where Robert was born but may not have been where the family was living.

George′s occupation is given as "Porter in a Carpet Warehouse" and it is, now, fairly certain that he was no longer working for the upholsterer but quite what this means as regards his previous position as a "carpet planner", is uncertain.

In 1879, on the 29th of May, a second daughter was born, Matilda Martha Sarah. The address is given a 6a, Swiss Terrace, and George, again, says that he is a carpet planner.

In the early part of 1881, another son was born, and christened, Ernest Edward. Six days after his birth, the census was taken and we find the family living at 23, Little Marylebone Street, Marylebone, which, at that time, was a large tenement building, where George, who, throughout the whole of his life never believed in buying a house, rented rooms.

The 1881 census reference is - RG11/138 folio 9, page 11

Name Relationship to Head Status Age Occupation Where born?
George Newport Head Mar 45 Carpet Planner & Porter Kent, Herne
Matilda M. Newport Wife Mar 38 Dressmaker Kent, Chatham
William Newport Son Un 12 Scholar Middlesex, Marylebone
Robert H. Newport Son Un 11 Scholar Middlesex, Hampstead
Matilda M. Newport Dau Un 1 Middlesex, Hampstead
Ernest G. Newport Son Un 6 days Middlesex, Marylebone

Tragedy struck again when, a year later, Ernest died of Whooping cough, still a serious disease to-day, and convulsions (aged just 12 months) on 1st April, 1882: the informant was his grandmother, Matilda Natt. The address given on the death certificate is 23, Little Marylebone Street, London so, at that time, George and the family hadn't moved. Matilda Natt, was still living at 35, South Molton Street, St. George's.

According to the Rates Books, from 1883 to 1884, the family were living at No. 5, Spencer Terrace, Ariel Street, Hampstead but, in 1885, they moved, yet again, to No. 10, Ariel Road (this was the same street but it had been renamed "Ariel Road"). The house, or rooms, they were renting was owned, up until 1889, by a Mr. Samuel Reeve and after that by a Mr. R. H. Livingstone. Each of these men owned several houses in Ariel Road.

1888 February 21 - Rachel, a daughter, was born and baptized on March 5th but died shortly after.

In 1890, on the 6th of December, my grandfather and grandmother were married, with the ceremony taking place at 2 o′clock in the afternoon at Christ Church, in the parish of St. Andrew–the–Less, Cambridge. John James was 23 years old, a bachelor, and a schoolmaster, while my grandmother, Emily Harriet Aslett was aged 17, and a spinster. Grandmother′s father is given, on the certificate, as James William Aslett (Deceased), and an engineer.

In the spring of 1894, once again according to the rate books, George and his family had moved out of No. 10, Ariel Road but there was no trace of where they went to.

George Newport appears in the 1899 Hampstead Borough Council Register of Electors, which states the following: – "Persons entitled to vote as Parliamentary Electors, as County Electors, and Parochial Electors."

Among the list it gives - "10568 George Newport 33, Maygrove Road"

On July 14th, 1900, George′s youngest daughter Matilda Martha Sarah, was married to an Arthur John Croome, at St. Cuthbert’s Church, Hampstead. The photograph of the wedding group appears to have been taken at the rear of the house.

Many years ago, my Aunt Gwen, wrote the first names of each person across their forehead in the picture, which upset some people but I found this very useful as there would have been no way that I could have identified anyone without it having been done.

Click on the picture below to get a larger image. This new image can then be enlarged further by clicking on it. The tip of your cursor should change to a small magnifying glass, with a 'plus' sign.

Matilda's Wedding 1900
Marriage of Matild Martha Sarah Newport to Arthur John Croome – 14th July 1900

The people in the photograph are:

Back Row — Matilda Newport (my great–grandmother — née Natt); Robert "Bob" Newport (grandfather′s brother); Matilda Natt (my great–great–grandmother — née Gray); Unknown child.

Middle Row — Edith Newport; Mary Ann "Polly" Newport (née Hoare); Arthur John Croome; Matilda Martha Sarah Newport, George Newport (my great–grandfather); Doris Newport

Front Row — Irene Beatrice "Beattie" Newport; Phoebe Newport; Grace Ada Newport; Ethel Matilda Newport

Notes – Edith, Doris, and Phoebe were all children of William and "Polly" Newport, while "Beattie", Grace, and Ethel, were my aunts

In 1903, on the 1st of August, George's eldest daughter, Emily was married, at St. Cuthbert′s Parish Church, Hampstead, to Henry (known as "Harry") Bradfield, who came from Reading, in Berkshire. The reception was, most probably, held at 53, Maygrove Road, which is where the Newport family was living at that time. The wedding photograph has a high brick wall as the background to the wedding party and it′s likely it was the rear wall of the house.

Emily's Wedding 1903
Marriage of Emily Newport to Henry "Harry" Bradfield — 1st April 1903

The people in the photograph are:

Back Row — Unkown; John James Newport (my grandfather); Arthur John Croome; George Newport (my great–grandfather); Matilda Natt (my great-great grandmother - née Gray); Emily Harriet Newport (my grandmother); Mary Newport (ée Bromley — wife of "Bob" Newport; Robert "Bob" Newport).

Middle Row — Sarah Newport (my great-grandfather′s sister); Matilda Martha Sarah Croome (nee Newport); Henry "Harry" Bradfield; William Newport (my grandfather's brother), Matilda Natt (my great–great–grandmother — née Gray); Unknown.

Front Row mdash; Phoebe Newport; Gwen Croome (Baby); Grace Ada Newport; Gwen Newport; Ethel Matilda Newport; Irene Beatrice "Beattie" Newport

In 1904, once again, according to the rate books, the family were still living at 53, Maygrove Road, but, in 1906 they had moved to 29, Maygrove Road.

On November 7th, 1906, George died aged 69, of, the death certificate says, "chronic endocarditis" and cerebral thrombosis". From this it seems he had had, for some time, an infection of the lining of the heart or the valves, which led, eventually to a blood clot, causing a stroke. He does seem to have had a problem with his heart for some time, because my grandfather wrote, in the Hooe School Log Book, on 12th November,

"My father died last Wednesday afternoon. In the morning I was informed by telegram he was "sinking" fast".

"Arriving home the same night I found he had been dead about 6 1/2 hours and it was my duty to prepare for the internment, etc."

"Consequently, on Thursday the 8th inst., I was busy with such arrangements and the funeral was on Saturday. Today I was absent: having other matters concerning my mother's future, a headstone for the grave, etc., to settle."

"Over anxiety about his work, acting on a weak heart, hastened his decease but his life proved he was prepared and willing to depart and be with Christ."

My grandfather signed the Death Certificate, and gave his address as "Caritas Villa", Hooe, Sussex, where he was Head Teacher at the local school and where he was living with his family.

George was buried in Kensal Green cemetery, Hampstead, plot number 87H8, and, so was, my great-grandmother when she died many years later.

The idea of well-laid out, quiet, landscaped cemeteries with high hedges to hide the city or attractive views overlooking parkland, and with winding pathways, lined by tombstones, headstones, yew trees, junipers, cypresses, and elm or lime trees, and with carefully-thought out and strategically placed wooden benches on which to sit, caught the public’s imagination or, at least, the well-off public, because it was, also, seen, by some entrepreneurs, as a way of making money. The result was beautifully designed cemeteries in which people could buy their own plot, knowing that their graves would be well looked after and maintained after their death.

Unfortunately, once a plot had been sold, it couldn’t be sold again and so, the cemetery companies began to run pout of customers and money – but that’s another story!

George’s HeadstongThe photograph, on the left, taken on 19th March, 1984, shows the headstone of my great-grandparents’, George and Matilda Newport. It's only a few steps, literally, from that of my grandparents' grave, which is in plot number 88F8. It was when trying to get a better picture of my grandparent's grave that I stepped back a few paces, glanced to my left and saw the headstone - and next to that the headstone of George Natt's son, James, and his family, neither of which did I have the slightest suspicion was there.

Click on the picture for a larger image.

Plot 87H8, was, actually, owned by my grandfather, John James Newport, while Lilian Natt (the wife of Albert Victor Natt, a nephew of my great grandmother) owned the plot that my grandparents were buried in. It all seems very confusing!

In 1907, though George died in 1906 his name appeared in 'Kelly's Directory' for that year, as a lodger (with his family) at 27, Maygrove Road. Obviously, he had moved yet again and it was too late for publication to omit the entry.

NOTE. From 1904 to 1911, the house at No. 33, Maygrove Road was owned by a William Newport, who took in lodgers. I first thought that he was, most probably, George's younger brother, born in 1840, and last heard of in the census of 1851, but, subsequent to that, I found him, as a groom, in Westbere, Kent, in the census of 1861, and Reading, in Berkshire, from 1871 onwards, until his death in 19, working as a packer in a biscuit factory.

It doesn't seem likely, that he would have the money to buy a house, in Hampstead, but the coincidence is very strange.

However, the William Newport, disappeared as owner of No. 33, Maygrove Road, in 1911 and our William Newport died in June, 1912.

Proof of the relationship of the William Newport, packer, in Reading, Berkshire, to my great-grandfather George Newport, in Hampstead, came from a letter, in my Grandfather's scrapbook, which begins, with the words "Dear Cousin". It′s signed Horace J. Newport and carries the address "65, De Beauvoir Road, Reading". The Death Certificate for William Newport, who died 1912 at Reading, has the signature of the informant, his son, - "Horace J. Newport"

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