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Muckleston Family History Group

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He Took A Mistress

Looking into the history of two Thomas Mucklestons’, (father and son) it became continually confusing to decide who were the parents of which children, both men being named Thomas and having similar occupations as clerks or messengers for a solicitor did not assist in our endeavours. Harry Carter who has carried out a lot of research into this branch of the family put together a possible sequence of events. Bold print is used where we are certain of the information, plain print where probable and italics where purely speculative.


"Thomas snr., was baptised on the 11th September 1825 in Holborn, married Anne Lovejoy (reg Holborn 4Q 1850). Their first child was Louisa Ann (reg Holborn Q3 1851). Two years later their first son Thomas jnr (reg Holborn Q4 1853) was born. Neither was baptised. The following year Louisa Ann became sick and died (reg Holborn Q4 1854). They tried for another child and a daughter was born in 1856. She was sickly, so they turned more to the church and baptised her at Holborn on 5th of October 1856 as Eliza Bingham (named after his sister who married Edward Bingham). For good measure they baptised their son at the same time, as Thomas Howard.


Unfortunately their godliness failed to save Eliza, and she died soon afterwards (reg Holborn Q4 1856). In 1858 they had a son Edward James (reg Pancras 1858). Later they had sons William (reg Holborn Q2 1860) and John (reg Holborn Q2 1862) [though I hesitate because of their single names]. Unfortunately they were to grieve again when a sickness overtook the family in 1864 and both William and John died (both reg Holborn Q4 1864). They had had enough.


But nature sometimes springs surprises and, while in her forties, and after nearly 22 years of marriage, she became pregnant again. A son named Henry was born on 24th February 1872, a brother to Thomas jnr. (aged 15) and Edward (aged 13). She felt she couldn't cope with another infant, so they decided to take on a servant to help. This was Hannah Stanton a comely 19 year old. And she made it very clear to her husband Thomas snr. that no way was she going to risk having more children.


As his wife aged Thomas snr. became more attracted to Hannah. She wasn't interested at first, but gradually succumbed and became his mistress. This was the Victorian age and Thomas snr. saw nothing wrong in it, but his wife Ann was upset and left him. What happened to her is unclear; there is no record of her death or remarriage. She may have died unidentified, or adopted another name to cover her tracks.


Hannah Stanton brought a new lease of life to Thomas snr. He couldn't marry her because he was still legally married to Anne. But Anne hadn't been seen for years, so he passed off Hannah as his wife when she had children. They had William Alfred (reg Holborn Q3 1878) and John Edwin (reg Holborn Q2 1880). Meanwhile Thomas jnr. had got married (reg Holborn Q4 1874) and lived nearby. By his wife Sarah, he had three daughters, Ellen Eliza (reg Pancras Q1 1876), Jane Elizabeth (reg Holborn Q2 1878) and Louisa Ada (born Holborn 2 October 1880). Hannah and Sarah were of a similar age, and with both having young families, they naturally saw a lot of each other.


 It also meant that Hannah saw more of Sarah's husband Thomas jnr., also about her own age. Thomas snr. now in his late fifties, felt uneasy as Hannah showed signs of being attracted to the younger Thomas.  When he and Hannah had another daughter (reg Holborn Q3 1883), Hannah chose to name her Ada Louise after Thomas jnr. and Sarah's youngest, Louisa Ada. This helped to dispel the suspicions that were starting to arise about her relationship with Thomas jnr. But the clouds were starting to gather. When Hannah became pregnant again, serious questions were raised as to which Thomas was the father, especially as the Thomas snr. was by now a sick man. Hannah found it more and more difficult to cope with her young children, the sick Thomas snr. and her advancing pregnancy. Although 12 year old Henry was a help, she found herself relying more on support from  Thomas jnr.


The strain started to show. Thomas snr. got a distant relative in Bedfordshire to look after him and he died there aged 58 (reg Woburn Q4 1884). With his death came a deeper crisis. Hannah was left with her stepson Henry aged 12, four of her own children ages 1 to 6, and was heavily pregnant. Since she had not been able to marry Thomas snr., she inherited nothing from him. What there was went to Thomas jnr. He couldn't afford to keep two properties going, so he figured they should all move in together. That was too much for his wife Sarah, who saw Hannah as his mistress, and she left him.


Thomas jnr. now needed Hannah as much as Hannah needed Thomas jnr.  Still legally married to Sarah, he couldn't propose marriage to Hannah, so he offered to take her on as his "housekeeper". Hannah pointed out that she had been caught like that before, with the older Thomas, and she wanted a more secure future. Thomas agreed to make a will leaving everything to her in the event of his death; this would essentially give her the same expectations as a wife. Her baby Charles Amos was born on the 24th January 1885, registered as Thomas's son, and Thomas jnr. still only about 30 drew up his will, signing it on 27th February 1885.


In the will a few articles were left to Henry, the only child to have been old enough to help with the chores. Strictly, since he was only 13, he could not inherit even those few articles until he was 21; Hannah would have to hold them in trust. In all including Henry, there were 8 children to look after. Nevertheless, Thomas and Hannah had another child two years later, Robert Francis (reg Holborn Q2 1887). Thomas jnr. died on the 24th February 1890, on Henry's 18th birthday.


So what became of Hannah and the 9 children? How did they survive? We know that all the children survived to adulthood. Henry married in Holborn in 1891, the year after Thomas's death, had children and eventually died in 1940 aged 68. Ellen Eliza married in Edmonton 1894. William Alfred married in West Ham in 1916, eventually to die in New Zealand in 1962 aged 84. Jane Elizabeth married in Edmonton 1896. John Edwin married in Islington 1904, had children and eventually died in 1925 aged 45. Louise Ada never married and lived until 1969 aged 88. Ada Louise married in Holborn 1906. Charles Amos also married there about the same time, had children, and eventually died in 1974 age 89. and Robert Francis died in 1935 aged 47. Thomas jnr's. real wife Sarah died in Edmonton in 1909 aged 56. We don't know what became of Hannah Stanton, but her true life story would make interesting reading.


Much of the above is speculation, and no doubt the truth will be stranger than the fiction. Where do we go from here? Well Harry knows of one or two spiritualists, but they are not into genealogy; their contacts always seem to include a Red Indian.


(NB for those of you who are a little puzzled by some of the code in this article. In St Catherines house the Birth Marriage and Death indexes are kept in quarters therefore a birth could be registered - reg - in the first quarter - Q1 - and we would know it took place in January February or March of the year indicated).


I have retained this story as it was written in such an interesting way and appeared in a newsletter over 10 years ago. More widely available information which has appeared since throws far more light on the situation surrounding these two families. The following article is all factual.

There is a seamans ticket for a Thomas Muckleston born on 23 May 1826 in Holborn. (Ticket number 102368) He was a seaman aged 19 when he applied for the ticket. He could write was 5' 3½" tall had brown hair, fair complexion and blue eyes, he also had marks on his left hand. He had first gone to sea as a boy in 1840. He had not served in the Royal Navy. The ticket was issued at Liverpool on 11 June 1845. (See also  a Fishy Tale.)


By 1851 according to the census he was living at 201, Tash Street, Holborn, London, his occupation was given as Dock Labourer and his wife Ann who was just 18 was a carpet bag maker. He had married Anne Lovejoy on 28th December 1850.


By 1861 they had moved to 16 Model Buildings, Portpool Lane, Holborn, Middx and Thomas gave his occupation to the Census enumerator as a Clerk. They now had 3 sons, Thomas Howard Muckleston age 7, Edward James Muckleston age 3 and William Muckleston age 1. Both Thomas and Edward were shown as scholars and were therefore receiving an education. They also had a house servant called Sarah A Muckleston who was aged 15. We are not sure if the enumerator made a mistake with the “servants” surname as the only Sarah A Muckleston we have who would fit this bill lived in Bedfordshire and was no close relation to Thomas. They had a daughter who they named Eliza Bingham Muckleston in 1856 but she had died shortly after birth.


In 1871 Thomas and Ann were still together and still living at Model Buildings, he was working as a law clerk and Ann was continuing to make carpet bags. Thomas and Edward were still at home, Thomas was now 17 and was also working as a Law Clerk and Edward 13, was continuing his education. Son William and a brother who was named John born on 4th May 1862 had both died within a short while of each other in the second quarter of 1865. There was another son Charles born in 1865 again at 16 Model Buildings, we do not know what happened to Charles, he does not appear in the death indexes but as there is no trace of him after his birth that is the most likely outcome but he could of course have been adopted. In 1871 Hannah Stanton born in Hinxworth Hertfordshire about 1853 was working as a housemaid for a corn miller in Biggleswade Bedfordshire.


Son Henry was born to Thomas and Ann at Grays Inn Road on 24th Feb 1872. What happened then we do not know, there is no recorded death for Anne and it would be very surprising if she left behind young children but on the following census of 1881 Thomas was living at 12 Shorts Buildings in Clerkenwell London and still working as a Solicitors Clerk. His wife is now given as Hannah Muckleston aged 28 born in Hinxworth Hertfordshire. Three children were living with them Henry A Muckleston aged 9 and William A Muckleston age 3 and John E Muckleston aged 1 both these last two children had been born in Clerkenwell.


The birth certificate for William Alfred Muckleston born on 28th May 1878 shows that he was born at 4 Cromwell Place, Holborn, London his father is recorded as Thomas Muckleston messenger, and his mother as Hannah Muckleston formerly Stanton. With Hannah being the same age as Thomas seniors oldest son Thomas Howard Muckleston I did originally think that the child may have been his, however the fact that she is recorded as the wife of Thomas Muckleston age 55 on the census would indicate the relationship was with the father not the son. Obviously at this time Thomas had moved from being a clerk to a messenger. Was there some cataclysmic event which caused a change in the circumstances?


Son Thomas Howard Muckleston had married Sarah Hannah Cooper in 1874 and at the time of the 1881 census they were living 38 Corporation Row, Clerkenwell, Thomas was working as a Solicitors Clerk and the couple had 3 young daughters.


Thomas and Hannah went on to have three more children a daughter Ada Louise and two sons Charles Amos Muckleston born 1885 and Robert Francis Muckleston born 1887 on each certificate the mother was recorded as Hannah Muckleston formerly Stanton. At the time of Roberts birth Thomas’s occupation was given as Retired Messenger – he would have been 61 years old.


Meanwhile in 1889 son Thomas Howard Muckleston and wife Sarah had another daughter who they named Annie Florence.


Sadly in 1890 disaster was to strike. On 24th February 1890 Thomas senior was to die and it was clear that he never married Hannah. The index entry to his will states


“1890 Muckleston Thomas, Personal estate £70 4th March


The will of Thomas Muckleston formerley of 11 Corporation Row, Clerkenwell in the city of London but late of 42 Wynatt Street, Goswell Road, in the county of Middx, messenger who died 24 Feb 1890 at 42 Wynatt Street was proved at the principle registry by Hannah Stanton of 42 Wynatt Street, spinster the sole executrix.”


Transcript of the will:-


I Thomas Muckleston of 11 Corporation Row Clerkenwell in the city of London revoke all former wills heretofore made by me and declare this to be my last will. I bequeath to my son Henry Muckleston my watches pipes and trinkets. I bequeath to Hannah Stanton who lives with me as my housekeeper all my furniture and articles of household use or ornaments which at my death shall be in or about my dwelling house and I devise and bequeath all my real estate and the residue of my personal estate to the said Hannah Stanton absolutely and I appoint her sole executrix of this my will in witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand this twenty seventh day of February one thousand eight hundred and eighty five - Thos Muckleston - signed and declared by Thomas Muckleston the testator as and for his last will in the presence of us who at his request in his presence and in the presence of each other have hereunto subscribed our names as witnesses Edward James Muckleston 21 Kings Square Goswell Road EC Barristers Clerk Wm Jacob of 6 Islington Green Solicitors Clerk.


So on the birth certificates and census returns they chose to be regarded as husband and wife but when it came to the will, which having been a solicitors clerk, Thomas knew had to be truthful she was regarded as his housekeeper. Interestingly there is no record of the death in the death registers and we only know of the death from the probate records.


Sadly son Thomas Howard was also to die that year, on 21st June at the London Chest Hospital which caused some of the earlier confusion between the two Thomas’s.


The 1891 census then shows a different picture. Hannah had retained the name Muckleston, living at number 36 Wynatt Street (she had not necessarily moved, sometimes houses were renumbered) she was now working as a Dressmantle maker.


Hannah Muckleston, Head, 37 (or 39), Dressmantle Maker, bn Hinxsworth Hertfordshire.

Henry Muckleston, son in law, 19 Brass finisher, bn Clerkenwell Middx

William Muckleston, Son, 12, Errand boy to Chemist, bn Clerkenwell Middx

John Muckleston, Son, 11 Scholar, bn Clerkenwell Middx, blind in one eye

Ada Muckleston, Dau, 7 scholar bn Clerkenwell

Charles Muckleston, Son, 6, Scholar, bn Clerkenwell

Robert Muckleston, son, 4 Scholar, bn Clerkenwell.


Thomas Howard Muckleston's widow was living at 5 Pearls Cottages, Stamford Road, Tottenham, Middx and working as a charwoman. The brother on the census entry is a mystery, again maybe the enumerator assumed his surname was Muckleston. (On the 1871 census there are siblings whose names and ages fit Sarah and John Cooper at Grays Inn Road, Finsbury).


Sarah A Muckleston, Head, Widow, 37, Charwoman, bn Soho London.

Ellen Muckleston, Dau, S, 15, bn Islington London.

Jane E Muckleston, Dau, S 13, Scholar, bn Clerkenwell London.

Louisa A Muckleston, dau, S, 10, Scholar, bn Clerkenwell London.

Annie F Muckleston, dau, S, 2, bn Tottenham Middx.

John R Muckleston, brother, S, 27, Goods (?Porter), bn Holborn London.

Sarah died in Edmonton in 1909, but so far I have been unable to trace her and the family on the 1901census.


Hannah retained the name Muckleston and has been found on both the 1901 and 1911 censuses.

1901 census reads

34, Wynatt Street, Clerkenwell, London


Hannah    Muckleston, Widow, Head, 46, Mantle Maker (Tailor), Hinxworth Herts

William   Muckleston, Unmarried, Son,   23, Jewellers Warehouseman, Clerkenwell London

John Muckleston, Unmarried, Son,   21, Stick Mounter, Clerkenwell London

Ada  Muckleston, Unmarried, Daughter, 18,    Mantle Maker (Tailor) Clerkenwell London

Charles   Muckleston, Unmarried, Son, 16, Chaser, Clerkenwell London

Herbert   Muckleston, Unmarried, Son,   13, Silk Winder, Clerkenwell London

(final name should read Robert)

1911 census reads

179 Goswell Road, Holborn, London (RG14PN1237)


Muckleston,  Hannah  Head  Widow              F              56           Mantle Machinist    b Hinxworth Herts

Muckleston, William Alfred              Son         Single     M 32      Warehouseman   b Clerkenwell E C

Woolfrey, William GeorgeBoarderWidower                M 54      Nickle Plater         b St Pancras N W


Classing herself as a widow and keeping her former husbands’ name she obviously cared for him a great deal especially as far as we know, she never married again.


We have no relevant death recorded in the name for a Hannah Muckleston, therefore we must assume she was buried under the name of Stanton. (A possibility - Hannah Stanton born in 1853 died in 1915 in Oldham, Lancs. - along way from London but perhaps the war had something to do with it.)


Notes from Shirley Bray......


Model Buildings or Thanksgiving Model Buildings to give them their correct title, were built in 1850-51 and were one of the earliest blocks of working class flats. They were designed by the architect Henry Roberts for the Society for Improving the Condition of the Labouring Classes. Over £5000 was raised in church collections on the Day of National Thanksgiving for deliverance from the cholera epidemic of 1849 towards financing the building - hence the name. The flats were designed to accommodate 28 families in self-contained one and two roomed flats and had 64 rooms for 128 women. (information taken from streets of Old Holborn as above).