Tag Archives: middlesex

Metropolitan Police Constable Thomas Gasson: a timeline

27 Apr

I mentioned yesterday (and on several occasions before that) that my 3x great-grandfather Thomas Gasson spent a short time a constable in the Metropolitan Police.

What I haven’t done until now is put together a timeline for this particular period of his life, bring together the evidence that I have for his time in the Metropolitan Police.

His exact dates of service are not known, so every little bit of evidence helps build up a picture, and may hopefully lead to further records.

28th July 1858 (Slaugham, Sussex)

  • Alfred Gasson son of Thomas and Harriet Gasson is baptised in St Mary’s Church, Slaugham. This is the last record of the family that I have in Sussex before Thomas joins the Metropolitan Police. Thomas is recorded as a labourer.

Q3 1860 (Edmonton Registration District, Middlesex)

  • The birth of their son Edward Gasson was registered in Edmonton Registration District, Middlesex. This places the family in Middlesex, but without checking the actual birth certificate I can’t tell whether Thomas was serving with the Metropolitan Police at the time.

7th April 1861 (Winchmore Hill, Edmonton, Middlesex)

  • Thomas, Harriet and their four children are shown in the 1861 census in Winchmore Hill in the parish of Edmonton, Middlesex. Thomas is recorded as a “Metropolitan Police Constable”.

16th May 1861 (N Division, Middlesex)

  • The Metropolitan Police Orders for the 16th May 1861 record that P.C. 265, Gasson was dismissed for being drunk on duty. This doesn’t provide enough information to confirm that P.C. 265 was my Thomas Gasson. I am also not sure what made up the boundaries of N Division, but I don’t think this matches Winchmore Hill.

Q1 1863 (Cuckfield Registration District, Sussex)

  • The birth of their daughter Harriett Gasson was registered in Cuckfield Registration District, Sussex (later census returns give her place of birth as Bolney or Warninglid, Sussex). This places the family back in Sussex, although it is not conclusive that Thomas had lost his job and they had permanently moved back home.

The only real evidence of Thomas’ service is the 1861 census, but it looks like he probably joined between July 1858 and Q3 1860, and he left between April 1861 and Q1 1863, probably in May 1861. With a bit more work I might be able to narrow these date ranges down a bit, especially with the purchase of a couple of birth certificates and a couple of baptism records.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
Creative Commons Licence
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons
Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

Why Edward Gasson is also interesting

26 Apr

A couple of days ago I wrote about Jane Linfield who after the death of her first husband David Burtenshaw married my 3x great-uncle Edward Gasson.

Edward himself is already of interest to me because his birth in 1860 is one of the few clues to his father’s brief time serving in the Metropolitan Police.

His father Thomas Gasson (my 3x great-grandfather) served with the Metropolitan Police for a few years around 1860. I still don’t know the exact dates, but the family were up in Middlesex in the 1861 census and possibly were there for a couple of years either side of that date.

Apart from the 1861 census and the birth of Edward the only other possible bit of evidence I have is an entry in the Metropolitan Police Order Book for 1861 (TNA MEPO 7/22) which records that P.C. 265 Gasson was dismissed for being drunk on duty. I can’t say for certain that this is my Thomas Gasson, but the date would fit.

I am naturally interested in finding out more about Thomas, because someone serving in the Metropolitan Police makes a welcome change from the typical agricultural occupations of my ancestors.

I had hoped to be able to learn something more from Edward’s baptism record and perhaps one day I might, if I can ever find it. As more and more records are indexed and put online there is a chance that it might turn up eventually.

I have long known that Edward’s birth certificate could be a key piece of evidence, hopefully this would give me an address for Thomas and his wife Harriett. I am not quite sure where I might be able to go after that, but in this business every little piece of information helps.

It is for this reason that there has been an entry on my to-do list for several years, reminding me that I need to order a copy of Edward’s birth certificate. I think it might be about time I got my credit card out and ordered that certificate.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
Creative Commons Licence
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons
Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

Where are you Martha KINGHORN?

20 Sep

I spent a couple of hours the other night searching for Martha KINGHORN, but despite all my efforts she still hasn’t come out of hiding. Martha was the wife of my half 3x great-uncle Wybrants KINGHORN and as such not a major part of my family tree, but I would really like to find out what happened to her.

Martha GARDINER married Wybrants KINGHORN on the 28th April 1852 in the parish church at St George Bloomsbury, Middlesex. Both were of full age and Martha’s father’s name was Edward GARDINER, a compositor. That is the last record I have of Martha.

I cannot find her (or Wybrants) in the 1861 census, or any later ones, I don’t know when she died, whether she and Wybrants had any children or if she re-married after Wybrants’ death in 1866. Wybrants was sentenced to eight months in prison for larceny at the end of May 1852, did she stick by him or take the opportunity to make a break leaving him and his life of crime behind.

The truth is I don’t know. I have searched various combinations and spellings of her name, (and both her married and maiden names), her baptism in 1831 is recorded under Martha Elizabeth GARDNER, the daughter of Edward and Martha. It doesn’t help that I can’t find her parents after the 1851 census either, but to be honest I probably need to spend a bit more time on them and her siblings.

For a while I confined myself to searching after Wybrants death in 1866, but then realised that she may have died before then, in fact she may have died as early as 1852 just after they married. There are far too many possible scenarios to consider, I just need a bit of luck and a few more clues.

What I find particularly frustrating is that the further out I go on the branches of my family tree, the harder it becomes. I wouldn’t mind spending hours searching for someone who was more closely related or a direct ancestors but the wife of my half 3x great-uncle is not someone I would want to invest a lot of time and effort into, let alone her parents of siblings. Of course the very fact that she can’t be found make it all the more intriguing, was there something more sinister gong on, or did she just fall through the gaps in the system and not get recorded anywhere?

Making the News: Wybrants KINGHORN on trial

16 Sep

Wybrants KINGHORN is one of the few black sheep in my family tree, he is my half 3x great-uncle (perhaps more meaningfully described as the son of my 3x great-grandfather Thomas KINGHORN and his first wife Alicia DALTON). On several occasions I have written about Wybrants and his appearances in the Criminal Registers on Ancestry.co.uk and his rather unusual (and gruesome) cause of death.

    I have been spending some time looking into the mail coach accident that his grandfather was involved in, making use of the 19th Century British Library Newspaper Collection, and decided that the chances of finding a mention of Wybrants KINGHORN in the newspapers ought to be quite good. I wasn’t disappointed.

I found two reports in London newspapers of Wybrant’s activities from December 1853. The first is from The Standard (Monday 5th December 1853 edition) and provides only the briefest of details. It does include the word "burglariously" though which I am finding is a real tongue-twister to say.


BURGLARY.- Wybrants Kinghorn was brought before Mr. Hardwick, on suspicion of having been concerned in burglariously entering the premises of Mr. Evan Astley, tailor, 72, Regent-street, and stealing therefrom property to a considerable amount. -The prisoner was remanded.

The second report is from Lloyd’s Weekly Newspaper (Sunday 18th December 1853 edition) and it contains much more detail, than the first one, and makes fascinating reading.



EXTENSIVE ROBBERY. –Wybrants Kinghorn, a journeyman tailor, was brought before Mr. Hardwick, for final examination, charged with stealing a quantity of doeskin cloth, the property of Mr. Evan Astley, tailor, 72½, Regent-street. -John Foster deposed that he was in the employ of the prosecutor, and that on the night of Thursday, the 1st inst., about twenty minutes to ten, he locked up the workshop in King’s Arm-yard, and at a little after six the next morning he went and found the door open, and missed several coats, pairs of trowsers, and other articles, also three pieces of doeskin cloth, altogether of the value of 50/. The three pieces of cloth now produced he believed to be the same stolen from the workshop. -Mr, Evan Astley identified the cloth as his property. -Julia Pallett stated that she resided at No. 27 Broad-street. On Friday the 2nd inst., the prisoner came to her shop and produced three pieces of cloth, and told her he had got two waistcoats to make for a party, and asked her to lend him 4s. on them till Saturday, as he was hard up. She did so, and he left the cloth, which she subsequently gave up to Police-constable Ryland. -Sergeant Godfrey 5, C, said, he took the prisoner into custody on the night of the 2nd inst. He said he had taken the cloth, but knew nothing about the other property. Silverton, 323 A, proved that in May, 1851, the prisoner was tried and convicted of felony at the Westminster sessions, and sentenced to eight months’ imprisonment. -The prisoner, who denied the charge, was fully committed for trial.


There is one obvious discrepancy, Wybrant’s previous trial and conviction was in 1852 not 1851, which does make me question the accuracy of the report, but considering the official records may not have survived it is possibly the closest I am going to get to finding out what Wybrants KINGHORN got up to.

There is so much information in there, almost enough to create a re-construction of the crime. I shall certainly want visit the locations mentioned and find out about the other people involved. It also highlights the fact that I need to try and find some more details on his other criminal activities, to see what else he got up to.

For whatever reason though he was actually acquitted of the charge, despite having admitted to taking the cloth (according to the report). I would love to know how he managed to get away with it!

Shocking discovery in the search for Wybrants KINGHORN

14 Aug

I have been trying to convince myself these last couple of days that I am not getting obsessed with Wybrants KINGHORN, and that I am right in investing time and money in finding out more about him even though he is not a direct ancestor.

Tonight that all changed because waiting for me at home (not quite on the doormat, but near enough) was a copy of his death certificate. I knew he was only 34 when he died in 1866, so I suspected something unusual, but I wasn’t quite prepared for what I found.

I went to the informant part first because I was hoping to find out that his wife was the informant and I would then have her/their address. But no, she wasn’t the informant, it read “Information received from Edwin Lankester Coroner for Middlesex inquest held 31st October 1866”. My mind starts wondering whether the Middlesex Coroners records have survived and where they would be now.

My eyes moved across to the cause of death, and I gasped in disbelief Manslaughter, I couldn’t believe it someone had killed him. I read on, by wounding eye with an Umbrella. No, that can’t be, what sort of murder weapon is that? Still there was more against Joseph Taylor alias Welsh alias Joe the Grinder P.M. My god how many alias does one man need! And a nickname as well “the Grinder”, he sounds a real nasty piece of work. Whatever could have happened? At first I wasn’t sure about those initials at the end, I thought it was a surname (Pitts), the writing was getting indistinct, there wasn’t much space left in the box for the registrar to write in! Looking at it again I realised it was P.M. for post mortem.

Suddenly my doubts had gone, my decision to continue searching for Wybrants had paid off, the best £7.00 I have ever spent. It is a shame I am busy tomorrow or I would be up in London first thing tomorrow morning, hammering on the door of an archive (don’t know which one!) screaming to be let in so I could find out more. I can feel a days holiday coming up next week, which gives me a bit of time to find out where to look.

Wybrants death occurred at Middlesex Hospital on the 27th October 1866, and now I am left wondering what happened to his wife after that, and did they have any children. The list of questions have for Wybrants and his family seems to grow longer every day, but I am still nowhere nearer finding out where he was in 1851 and 1861.

Wybrants KINGHORN’s marriage certificate arrives

13 Aug

Another part of the puzzle arrived today, the marriage certificate for Wybrants KINGHORN (son of my 3x great grandfather Thomas KINGHORN). This provides me with a handful of clues to continue my search for Wybrants in the 1851 and 1861 census.

Wybrants married Martha GARDINER (which I had pretty much worked out already) on the 28th April 1852 at the Parish Church in the Parish of St George Bloomsbury, Middlesex. Wybrants and Martha were both of full age (not particularly helpful).

Wybrants’ occupation was tailor, like his father and at least one of his brothers. He was living at 11 Hart Street, at least that’s what it looks like, but I could be wrong.

Martha was living at 8 Yeoman Street, I think, again the writing is not that clear. Her father was Edward GARDINER, a compositor (some who does typesetting).

The fact that these two places are on opposite sides of the River Thames makes me a little suspicious that I may have misread one or other of them. They both seem quite a way from Bloomsbury, but I need to look at some maps in detail to see if I am right or not.

The fact that Martha’s father was a compositor made it quite easy for me to identify Martha and her parents in the 1851 census in St Giles in the Fields, Middlesex, at 180 Drury Lane (PRO HO107/1508 folio: 355, page: 6).

Unfortunately none of this has so far helped me find Wybrants, and I can’t even find Martha’s parents in the 1861 census either. I am beginning to wonder whether they might have been on one of the missing pieces from the 1861 census? Perhaps the death certificate will be more help when that turns up!

Criminal registers at ancestry.co.uk

3 Aug

Why do Ancestry always do this to me? I thought I had this week nicely planned out, I knew what I wanted to achieve this week and then Ancestry go and put up a new database, which I cannot resist exploring.

The database in question is the Criminal Registers (1791-1892) from the National Archives (Series HO 26 and HO 27). These have been in the works for a while as part of the Ancestry World Archives Project. I learnt about their release at lunchtime from the BBC News website, and couldn’t resist having a look on ancestry.co.uk and checking some of my surnames.

The disadvantage of this database is that it provides very little detail on what actually took place, but there is just enough here to provide a gateway to further research. I can see that newspapers are probably going to be quite useful here, and this database is going to open up a lot of interesting material that would probably never have come to light otherwise (unless an ancestor was found in prision during a census or was transported). Another good starting point mentioned by Ancestry is the National Archives research guide Tracing 19th and 20th Century Criminals.

A case in point is one of my elusive relations Wybrants KINGHORN (son of my 3x great grandfather Thomas KINGHORN). There are two entries in the database for him, the first trial on the 31st May 1852 resulted in imprisonment for 8 months for simple larceny. The second trial on the 9th December 1853 was for larceny in dwelling house after previous conviction, but this time he was aquitted. Both trials took place in Westminster, Middlesex which fits with what little I do know about him already.

Maybe the reason I can’t find him in the 1851 and 1861 census is that he was detained elsewhere or even using an alias. Whatever the reason I now need to follow this up and search for more details and clues to his whereabouts. I can see it is not going to be a quick process, but now Ancestry and it’s transcribers have provided me with a signpost it is up to me to try and find out more. Time to go and re-write my plans!

%d bloggers like this: