Tuesday, October 6, 2020

John Gadsden at Upton House, West Ham


My great great grandparents, John Gadsden (1794-1853) and Mary Ann Bone, were married at St John Hackney on 27 March, 1821. However, by that year there was a ‘New Church’.* At the time the couple were living at Upton House, West Ham [see watercolour, partly after a photograph, partly after a sketch by Mary Lister; source Wellcome Library]. Their eldest son, Moreton Champness Nevins Gadsden was born at Upton House.

Upton House was situated on the opposite side of Upton Lane to Ham House, which was also, confusingly, known as Upton House for a short time in the eighteenth-century.  It was typical of a number of fine seventeenth- and eighteenth-century houses built in West Ham as country retreats for City merchants and businessmen.  Upton House (that is, the one the Gadsdens lived in) was rebuilt in 1731 and was the birthplace of (Lord) Joseph Lister (1827-1912), the founder of antiseptic surgery.  It was demolished in 1968.’ [Source: From  ‘Britain in Old Photographs: Stratford West Ham & The Royal Docks’ by Stephen Pewsey  pub: Sutton Publishing Ltd 1996]

Clearly, if Joseph Lister was born at Upton House in 1827 it is reasonable to suppose that the Gadsdens had moved elsewhere by that date. John and Mary Ann re-emerge in the City of Waterford, Ireland, where John was a provision merchant. He and his brothers Charles Edward Gadsden and James Eyre Gadsden apparently left England and went to live in Waterford where all three produced children as baptismal records show. It is possible that John at least 'commuted' between Waterford and London, as ties with West Ham and Hackney continue until 1828 when John and Mary Ann’s daughter, Mary Rochenda, aged only 4 months, was buried at St John Hackney on 13 November of that year.

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