Wednesday, 25 April 2012

John Edmund Joseph Newnham (1811-1894)

My 2x great-grandfather was born in Chatham, Kent on 9 Feb 1811 and baptised at St Mary the Virgin, Chatham on 17th March 1811. His parents were William Henry James Newnham and Anne Newnham (nee Newnham). John Edmund (or Edward) Joseph Newnham was the third child and he had 4 sisters and 6 brothers.

Nothing is yet known of his early life but it is safe to assume that he completed an apprenticeship as he is described on his Death Certificate as a Journeyman Bricklayer (i.e. was not permanently employed but a casual worker). As his father was a carpenter is seems unlikely that John was apprenticed to him but the identity of his Master has not yet been discovered.

On 6th October 1833 he married Frances Merzaler Mallery at St Mary the Virgin, Chatham. Their first three children were born in Chatham and the remaining 7 in Woolwich or Plumstead, then in Kent now in the London Borough of Greenwich. Their last child was Reuben, my great-grandfather, born 27th August 1855.

From the 1840s onward there was considerable residential development in Woolwich and Plumstead associated with the expansion of the Royal Arsenal, especially during the period of the Crimean War (1854-1856). John probably saw this as a good employment opportunity and moved his family to Woolwich and then Plumstead.

Their first home was in Peakes Place, Woolwich, described as "... the degenerate tailpiece of the primitive Love Lane" in The Record of the Woolwich District by W T Vincent. Whilst Love Lane survives, Peakes Place has disappeared, to be replaced by a public open space. Later, they lived in Bullfields, Bramblebury Place and, finally, Walmer Road.

John died in the Infirmary of the Woolwich Union in Plumstead on 27th November 1894 at the age of 83 and was buried in Plumstead Cemetery.

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