Sunday, March 14, 2021

13 Bruton Street, W1, or Who Slept in MY bedroom?


This week's schedule has been a little skew-whiffed. Wendy has taken her mother, Pat, on a wee trip to the North Island to visit the mainland family and its graves: so I have been left in charge of feeding, medicating, cleaning-up-behind and otherwise watching over and caring for, in particular, the eight cats, and two aged and very large geldings ...

The morning ' breakfast session' begins sometime between 7am and 8am. The latter, the hour when usually I am sitting down at my desk with my first green-lemon tea, and having a whisk through the nightgrown offerings on e-bay et al. E-bay has been rather dull, recently. Worse than the TV for 'repeats'. When I see a re-re-re-offered item (at the moment, its that corny old picture of Lydia Thompson with her axe: buy my biography of the lady ... its not much dearer and better quality!), I switch keyword. So if your item is offered BEHIND such monsensicals Peter Paul Rubens described as 'theatre' or Marie Roze labelled as 'Marie Pink', I don't see it. Vendors of e-bay unite, these incompetent galguys are costing you views! 

Anyhow, today's late harvest was all right. Thomas Fawcett Burra and his family were cute, but I've had my fill of Reverends ... so I was going to get down to fixing the family's finances when I saw this pair of smart young fellows. Oxford University boys, just like my little brother. Dressed up for graduation day 1878.

Their names are on the back.

One is easy. Alan Walter Lennox BOYD (b Piccadilly 7 August 1855; d Bournemouth 23 November 1934) son of Scotsman Edward Boyd, sometime manager of an insurance firm, and his wife Georgina. There seem to be five siblings and as many servants ...  Anyway, Alan became a barrister, married (1902) Clementine from Bermuda, himself fathered four children (and employed five servants) and ended up in Bournemouth as, I suppose, a seaside solicitor up to his dying day. When he left a comfy 43k sterling. I haven't investigated his afters (I suspect his descendants did the pooffy hyphenatin' thing. Lennox-Boyd?). 

The other was less easy. James Ramsay (or Ramsey) PARSONS. Eeeeeeasy. Not. Guess what. Two chappies with the identical name were born within a couple of years. One in Mumbai, India, the other in Islington. Easy? No. Both, apparently from prosperous families, both became prosperoud gents ... so which is which and who went to St John's, Oxford?

After several hours of digging, I have settled on the Indian one. (b) defeats (a). Evidence follows.

(a) James Ramsay PARSONS (b Islington 1853; d Hollywood House, Wimbledon Common 13 September 1915). Son of James Parsons. Married Dundee 9 February 1884 Amy Isabella Stiven. Variously described as 'of Yokohama', of Singapore', 'banker, of London', 'African merchant banker and ?outfitter?. 'Yokohama Agent for the Chartered Bank of Australia, India and China', 'of the Nigerian tinfields' etc.  Son James Ramsey born  Java 17 May 1887. Son James Cairns born Japan 1892. ... no mention of University ...

(b) James Ramsey PARSONS (b Mumbai 11 October 1853; d Symington 3 August 1918). Son of Liverpool-born John Parsons of Twyford Lodge, East Grinstead 'East India Merchant' and his wife Jane Josephine. Father obviously travelled early on, as JR was born in Mumbai, the family is is Birkenhead for the 1861 census, but by 1871 mother and father are living in Leinster Terrace (where mama promptly got over her 20-years headache and had two daughters!) and John is boarding with a tutor (crammer?) named Deane. Mr Deane must have crammed well, for young Mr Parsons passed his Oxford exams, graduated in 1878, and was admitted to the bar in 1879. We can see him in 1881 in a gentleman's boarding house ('of the Inner Temple' 13 boarders, 5 servants) in Bruton Street. Well, now:  lived in Bruton Street exactly a century later. He lived at number 13. I lived at number ... 13. And I don't think it had been much altered in the century intervening, except to change its function from boarding house to the HQ of Harold Fielding, theatrical producer! He was 'barrister in practice' ...

He ('of Inner Temple') married (16 August 1882) Blanche Eva Russell, fathered a son, John Clive Russell Parsons (who succumbed to the hyphenation disease) and barristered-on ...  mother died in 1886, father lived to the age of 98, and died at Twyford Lodge 27 April 1913, possessed of a grand fortune of L91,000. James survived him only some five years ...

Well, its not often you find a photo of someone who may have slept in your bedroom, a hundred years before you did!

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