In his book Our Sussex Parish, Thomas Geering has a story entitled “The Old Druggist: Her Shop And Her Lodger”. In the story he describes Mrs Gearing (who was the druggist) and Captain Barclay (who was the lodger).
I had never heard of Captain Barclay before, but I have since discovered (through the story and online research) that he was a celebrated pedestrian, who carried out various walking feats, mostly it seems for money, such as walking a 1000 miles in a 1000 hours for a wager of 1000 guineas.
Of course the real interest for me is whether Mrs Gearing the druggist, is my 6x great-grandmother. My gut instinct is that she is, but there is just not enough evidence yet for me to be 100% certain.
My own research has taken my GEERING ancestors back to Hailsham, Sussex. My 4x great-grandfather Richard GEERING was born in Hailsham in 1805 and appears to be the son of James and Ann GEERING. This is really as far back as I can confidently go so far.
I haven’t found a marriage for James and Ann, but it looks like James was the son of Richard and Mary GEERING, baptised in Hailsham on the 26th December 1776. Richard GEERING and Mary JARVIS were married in Hailsham on the 29th August 1776.
The 1841 census shows a household in Hailsham, which appears to relate to my ancestors, but the relationship is a bit confusing, because they are not included in the 1841 census. The first person in the household is Ann GEERING (aged 55), then we have John GEERING (aged 60) and Jane GEERING (aged 35).
Normally if John and Ann were married I would expect John to be listed first, so these are probably not husband and wife (maybe brother and sister). Both Ann and John GEERING have given their occupation as druggist.
John died before the 1851 census, but Ann and Jane are still living together in Hailsham. Ann (aged 67) is shown as unmarried, with the occupation of chemist and druggist. Jane (aged 53) has no occupation and her relationship to Ann is given as niece. My guess is that Jane was the daughter of James, and James was the brother of Ann.
Pigot’s Directory of Sussex for both 1832-4 and 1839 list a Mary GEERING as a “chymist and druggist” in Hailsham. This information may be out of date because I suspect that Mary actually died in 1825.
My hypothesis is that both Ann and James were the children of Richard and Mary GEERING, my 6x great-grandparents, and that the druggist business passed down from Richard and Mary, to just Mary, then to Ann and James, and then just Ann (probably assisted by Jane).
My problem is going to be finding the evidence to support this. The only child that I can find for Richard and Mary GEERING is James, no sign of Ann. I have found three children for James and Ann GEERING, but no sign of Jane.
As you will see in my next post, Thomas Geering’s story about the old druggist does provide a few clues which may fill in some details on the family.