Inherited Craziness
A place to share all the nuts found on my family tree

Tuesday, 19 January 2021

Joseph Wilton and Ann Thurlbourn

High Street, Great Dunmow
cc-by-sa/2.0 - © William Metcalfe -

Having often joked that I come from a long line of Essex girls (white stilettos optional), little did I know quite how much influence on 'Essex style' (stop thinking TOWIE), my relatives may have had, having served the clothing needs of the population in Great Dunmow for probably three centuries or more. 

Joseph Wilton, son of Stephen Wilton and Elizabeth Hankin, married Ann Thurlbourn, daughter of John Thurlbourn and Rhoda Poarcher, in Cambridge and brought his new wife to set up home and business in the High Street, Great Dunmow, where his uncle, eldest sister and two brothers already lived. If one could take a time-machine back to Great Dunmow in 1841, imagine how long it would take to get any shopping done after greeting all the family en route

Robert Hockley (bap. 1775), who may also have been my relative, was listed as a tailor in Pigot's Directory of Essex 1823 and still listed as a tailor and draper in the High Street in 1841. They may have been in competition, but as Robert Hockley was then 65, there also exists the possibility here that my Wilton relatives took over the business from my Hockley ones. Joseph Wilton was once again listed in White's Directory of Essex 1848, as a Tailor and Draper.

The difference between tailor and draper is that tailor makes, repairs, or alters clothes professionally, especially suits and men's clothing while draper is one who sells cloths; a dealer in cloths; as, a draper and tailor. And a clothier is a person or company that makes or sells clothes or cloth, while an outfitter is a shop selling men's clothing.

As the census returns for 1851 in Great Dunmow are missing, we have to wait until 1861 - when Joseph's occupation is described as Tailor And Clothier - to encounter them again. That census locates Joseph's premises three-doors-down, on the same side of the road, from the The Saracen's Head Hotel, with a confectioner and a clockmaker between them and a draper and grocer on the other side. We also find he and Ann have been a tad busy in the intervening two decades, with eight of the nine then surviving children still at home
  1. Sarah Ann Wilton born 1842 (died 1874)
  2. Edwin Joseph Wilton born 1843
  3. Eleanor Wilton born 1845
  4. Kate Wilton born 1846 (died 1870)
  5. Clara Jane Wilton born 1848
  6. Arthur Thurlbourn Wilton born 1851 
  7. Alice Maria Wilton born 1852 (died 1854)
  8. Lydia Ann Wilton born 1853
  9. Alice Maria Wilton born 1855
  10. Herbert Charles Wilton born 1857 (died 1858)
  11. Fanny Wilton born 1859
  12. Marion Louisa Wilton born 1860 (died 1861)
  13. Frederick John Wilton born 1862 (died 1879)
Joseph Wilton, Clothier, employing 3 men and 1 boy, in 1871, is still in the same position with the Willis brothers next door (although the clockmaker has changed career to become an insurance agent) and then the Parker family, confectioners. In the Wilton household are Joseph (56), wife Ann (50), Edwin Joseph (27), Eleanor (25), Arthur (20), Lydia Ann (17), Alice Maria (15), Fanny (12) and Frederick (8). Kate had died, aged 23, in 1870. 

Joseph Wilton died, aged 58, on 11 Aug 1873, leaving effects valued the following year of 'Under £600'. Wife Ann died three years later, in the 4th quarter of 1876. Son, Frederick John, died, aged 17, in 1879. 

The level of loss between the 1850's and 1870's is heart-breaking. 

In 1881, it fell to Edwin Joseph Wilton to carry on the Outfitters Shop, High Street, Great Dunmow. Meanwhile, there is reportedly a gents outfitters in Great Dunmow today (I haven't yet located it), still owned by the Hockleys. 

Ann Thurlbourn - the daughter of John and Rhoda Thurlbourn (née Poarcher), born on 9th September 1820, in the Parish of St Michael Cambridge, was baptised 2nd January 1821.

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