GWR 1834-1891

Born: either 1833 or 1834 at Potton, Bedfordshire, baptised there 16 February 1834

Parents: Jacob Russell 1788-1849 and Susannah Wagstaff c1795-1845

Siblings: Emma Russell 1831-?; Louisa Russell 1837-?

Half siblings: Mary Russell 1814-?; Hannah Russell 1816-?; Ann Russell 1819-?; Jacob Russell 1821-?;Fanny  Russell 1824-?; William Russell 1826-?

Step siblings: Emma Townsend 1816-?; Elizabeth Townsend  1818-?; Mary Townsend 1821-?; Susanna Townsend 1821-?

Married: Eliza Day c1828-1887 on 31 October 1853 at All Saints Church, Isleworth, Middlesex

Offspring: George Wagstaff Russell 1855-1940; Henry William Wagstaff Russell 1857-1930; Elizabeth Russell 1861-83; Alice Elizabeth Russell 1863-?; Grace Marion Russell 1866-1941; Eleanor Sarah Russell 1869-1933

Died: Hitchin on 15 September 1891

GWR senior early life

The first George Wagstaff Russell was born in Potton, Bedfordshire, the only son of fellmonger Jacob Russell  and Susannah Wagstaff. GWR senior, as I will call him to distinguish him from his son also George Wagstaff Russell was baptised on 16 February 1834 so he could have been born in 1833 or early 1834.

At the time of the 1841 census GWR senior was in Potton with his mother, two full sisters and two young Wagstaff relations. At the same time his father Jacob, described as a fellmonger was lodging with a family in Deptford, south London near the leather centre of Bermondsey.

Death of his parents Jacob and Susanna
Move to Hitchin

In 1845 when GWR senior was 11 or 12 years old, his mother Susanna died in Potton of consumption. Four years later in 1849 Jacob died in the graveyard in Hitchin of cholera.

In the 1851 census we find 19 year old [!! he was only 17 years old] GWR senior, described as a fellmonger is a ‘visitor’ in Bancroft, Hitchin with butcher George Hall and his family.

1853: Marriage to Eliza Day

It is proving difficult to trace the ancestry of GWR senior’s wife Eliza Day who was born in Enfield, see notes on the Day Family page. At the time of the 1851 census Eliza, aged 23 was living in Back Street, Hitchin in the household of John Young, ‘baker and grocer employing 1 man’.  Eliza is described as a ‘niece’, presumably to John Young’s wife Elizabeth [nee Day?]. The fourth member of the household was John and Elizabeth’s daughter 21 year old Martha Young. Back Street, later renamed Queen Street was in the slum area of Hitchin.

[Note the The enumeration district comprised of ‘the east side of Back Street, Hollow Lane, Top of Hollow Lane and House near the Windmill’. Add link to a page, not yet made of maps, images etc of Hitchin]

So on census day 30 March 1851 both Eliza and GWR senior (already lying about his age) were living in Hitchin.

© Copyright N Chadwick and licensed for reuse under the Creative C Licence.
All Saints Church, Isleworth following a fire in the 1943 only the tower remains of the old church. © Copyright N Chadwick

Their next official record is their marriage in Isleworth, near Twickenham, Middlesex on the north side of the River Thames opposite Richmond. In 1853 All Saints Church was the only Anglican Church in Isleworth.  There are two odd things on the certificate. Firstly ‘full age’ then meant 21 years or over but GWR senior could not qualify as he had been born in 1833 or 34. Secondly GWR senior had been described himself as a fellmonger two and a half years earlier in the census. Maybe he really was employed as a cooper in Isleworth.

There is a good website that includes Isleworth.

Unfortunately the marriage certificate does not give their address in Isleworth.

[Note but GWR’s birth cert would .. buy?] YES bought and gives address as Link Lane … adding more later

GWR senior was not of ‘full’ age!!

The witnesses show that the couple did have the support of at least two members of their families.

  • Susannah Holleyman was GWR senior’s half sister.  As Susannah Townsend she was the informant when their mother Susanna Russell nee Wagstaff died. Susannah and James Holleyman lived in Lambeth, south London where James had been born. James Holleyman was a ‘Grainer’, a painter specializes in painting inexpensive wood to appear like more expensive wood. He could probably also make surfaces appear to be of marble.
  • It is highly likely that Martha Young was Eliza’s cousin who she had been living with at the 1851 census.

Why did GWR Senior and Eliza go to Isleworth to be married? I, Carolyn can find no clues and there are no records of offspring until 1855.

Two sons are born in Isleworth

In 1855 their son George Wagstaff Russell, or GWR as he was usually known was born in Isleworth followed by Henry William Wagstaff Russell in 1857.

Return to Hitchin

GWR and HWWR  were both baptised on 27 May 1859 at Hitchin Independent Chapel.

By the 1861 census GWR senior, a “skinner”, Eliza, their two sons and daughter six month old Elizabeth were living in Back Street, the same street in the same slum area that Eliza was living in 10 years earlier. The household also included lodger Elizabeth Cook, a 56 year old straw plaiter who would have been very poor. Eliza’s age was incorrectly recorded as 54 years.

more to follow!!!

Sometime between the 1861 and 1871 census returns GWR Snr and Eliza moved from Back Street to Radcliffe Road where they lived for the rest of their lives. House could be anywhere in this road, if it still exists

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