George Washington Gibbs

of Aylesbury, St Albans & Liverpool,

1802-1868

 

George Washington Gibbs was only in St Albans for a few years but can be considered to have been the first step in establishing the Gibbs family connections with the town. In 1824 he took the lease of the printing shop that then stood at the foot of the Clock Tower, in St Albans. While he left for Liverpool in about 1831 the printing business was continued by his younger brother Richard, who later founded the Herts Advertiser newspaper in 1855, and lead to the establishment of a large family publishing company, Home Counties Newspapers Ltd (see Family Group).

When I first became seriously interested in family history in 1977 I spent a lot of time investigating the Gibbs family of Aylesbury and documented the St Albans branch. George Washington Gibbs was always something of a mystery because of his move to Liverpool where he worked for the Customs - while the rest of the family were all tradesmen working in their own businesses.

I was therefore very interested to get a message from Andrew Pearson that suggested that George had had a son Alfred Gibbs, who grew up as Alfred Washington Pearson. I have therefore transferred my old records into the following time line, with updates using information not readily available 35 years ago, and added relevant information on Alfred Pearson (shaded boxes) from census returns and information on family trees on Ancestry.

Time Line

7 October 1802

Aylesbury

George Washington Gibbs was born in Castle Street, Aylesbury. He was the son of Robert Gibbs (1768-1808) and Ann Miller (1765-1835). He had brothers John (1792-1860), Robert (1794-1826) who married Jane Dagley in 1819, Samuel Miller (1795-1878) and Richard (1804-1883) and sister Ann (1798-1824) who married John Thorpe in 1822.

 

10 September 1805

Aylesbury

Birth registered. Note that George's aunt, Elizabeth Dawney (nee Gibbs) was present at the birth. [The family were well-to-do nonconformists and all the children's births were recorded in the register kept by Dr William's Library in London.]

(Dr Williams Library)

1808 Aylesbury

When his father Robert Gibbs died the trustees for the estate were Robert's brother-in-law Thomas Dawney (1771-1815) husband of Elizabeth Gibbs (1776-1860) and a leading Aylesbury Quaker, Jasper Jackson (1760-1836)

 

1823

 

George becomes of age and it seems to have been a family tradition to launch the sons into a business of their own soon after their 21st birthday.

 

16 October 1824  

G. W. Gibbs, pawnbroker, St Albans, was selling tickets in Bish's Lottery - One of a number of similar adverts listing him as an agent.

Northampton Mercury

1 December 1824

 St Albans

The Corporation Seal was affixed to an assignment of the lease of the Clock Tower from William Brown to George Washington Gibbs, who with his brother, Mr John Gibbs of Aylesbury, executed a bond for the payment of the rent and performance of the covenants of the lease.

The Corporation Records of St Albans

26 December 1824

Watford

Banns called at Watford (1st time) for marriage of George Washington Gibbs of Abbey Parish, St Albans, and Ann Dagley of Watford.

Banns

13 January 1825

Watford

George married Ann Dagley (1799-1837). Her sister Jane (1799-1865), born Hethe, Oxfordshire) married George's brother Robert Gibbs at Watford in 1819, and later married Charles Palmer after Robert's death.

 

3 December 1825 St Albans

G. W. Gibbs, Pawnbroker, St Albans, was selling tickets in Bish's Lottery (and other dates)

Northampton Mercury

3 January 1826

St Albans

George Gibbs (1826-1837), son of George Washington Gibbs and Ann was born in the High Street, St Albans.

familysearch

15 April 1826 St Albans

Continuing as agent for Bish's Lottery - but now described as an auctioneer

Northampton Mercury

1826?

St Albans

Engraving of Clock Tower showing the Gibbs' shop, with the signs Printers, Broker & Pawnbroker. [The shop was demolished later in the 19th century.]

Family Group

13 April 1828

St Albans

Daughter Ann (1828-1868) born in St Albans

familysearch

1828/9 St Albans

J & G Gibbs, Clock House listed as auctioneers, and Geo Gibbs listed as broker & pawnbroker & printer in the High Street.

Pigots Directory

1829

St Albans

Lease on the Clock House had expired and property let to Mr Joseph Wood at 35 10s. per annum.

The Corporation Records of St Albans

?

St Albans

What happened to cause the move to Liverpool? It is clear that his brother Richard continued the business elsewhere in St Albans. But why did George leave? The Gibbs were a family of self-employed business people - so why did George leave the area to become an employee? Was there some kind of financial or family problem?

 

1833

Liverpool

Daughter Eliza (1832/3-1855) daughter of George Washington Gibbs & Ann, was baptised at St Peter, Liverpool

familysearch

1835

Liverpool

George Gibbs, Landing Waiter living at 13 Hunter Street, Liverpool

Directory

1837

Liverpool

George Gibbs, Landing Waiter living at Spencer Buildings, Liverpool

Directory

1837

Liverpool

George wrote a letter to Liverpool Mercury entitled "Lord Nugent a Candidate for Liverpool" and gives the address Hunter Street. The letter was reprinted in the Aylesbury News. (14 March)

(The office copy of the Aylesbury News has initials as to which of the Gibbs family had written items and this is annotated "G W G")

Aylesbury News

18 April 1837 Everton

Burial of George Gibbs, 11, son of Geo. W. Gibbs & Ann of Hunter Street, at Low Hill Cemetery, Everton. Cause of Death: Consumption.

OPC for Lancashire

21 April 1838

Liverpool

Ann Gibbs (37), the wife of George Washington Gibbs "in the Customs" died of consumption at Spencer Buildings, Hunter Street, Islington, Liverpool. The informant, G W Gibbs, was present at the death

Certificate

1839

Liverpool

George Gibbs, landing waiter living at Spencer Buildings, 33 Hunter Street, Liverpool

Directory

?

 

The name of George's wife in 1841 census given as Elizabeth (born Lancashire). Was he ever married to Elizabeth? No relevant marriage entry registered after July 1837.

FreeBMD

1841

Liverpool

George Gibbs, customs living at 17 Gildart Street, Liverpool

Directory

31 January 1841

Liverpool

Alfred Gibbs (1841-????) was born on the 31 Jan 1841 17 Gildart Street. Father George Washington Gibbs a Landing waiter and Mother is Elizabeth Gibbs Formerly Pearson Informant Elizabeth Gibbs Mother 17 Gildart Street Registered 1st of March 1841.

Certificate

6 June, 1841

Liverpool

George Gibbs (35, Customs) living with wife Elizabeth (30, born Lancashire), Ann (12), Eliza (10, born Lancashire) and Alfred (1, born Lancashire)

Census

?

Liverpool

It is possible that Alfred Gibbs was brought up as Alfred (Washington) Pearson (1840-1912). It is possible that his mother was  Elizabeth Pearson.

 Further information needed.

Elizabeth and young Alfred Gibbs appear to disappear from the records. Elizabeth Gibbs may have died in Liverpool in 1843,1846 & 1850, but there were no deaths of Alfred Gibbs in Liverpool between the censuses.

 

1851

Liverpool

H M Customs, living at 33 Netherfield Road N

Directory

1851

Liverpool

George Washington Gibbs, widower, and Searcher in Her Majesty's Customs, was living in Netherfield Road North, Everton, with daughters Ann and Eliza.

Census

1851

Walton on the Hill

11 year old Alfred Pearson was in the workhouse at Walton on the Hill, West Derby, Lancashire. [If this was Alfred Gibbs it would seem that George had completely disowned him. However if the workhouse knew he was George's son they would have made sure that George took over responsibility for him.]

[Could his mother also have been in the workhouse? I was unable to scan a list of all the occupants and as the original is faint her name may have been incorrectly transcribed.]

Census

1853

 

The Bucks Advertiser [edited by his nephew Robert Gibbs] has a regular column of news from Liverpool - was it by G W G?

Bucks Advertiser

1855

Liverpool

H M Customs, living at 33 Netherfield Road N

Directory

11 September 1855 Buckingham

DEATHS: Sept. 11, at Monks' House, when on a visit to her relations, aged 23 years, Eliza, youngest daughter of Mr. G W Gibbs, of Liverpool.

Bicester Herald

11 September 1855

Buckingham

Eliza Gibbs, of Liverpool, died while visiting friends at Monks House, Buckingham.

Bucks Herald

1857

Liverpool

H M Customs, living at 33 Netherfield Road N

Directory

1859

?

Not listed in Liverpool Directory

Directory

1860

Westminster

Made his will while living at 2 Lower Eaton Street, Pimlico, on 16 March, 1860.

... and bequeath all and every my household goods and furniture ready money securities for money and all other my personal estate and effects whatsoever and wheresoever (except my leasehold messuages and premises hereinafter bequeathed) unto my dear daughter Ann Gibbs to and for her own use and benefit I give devise and bequeath all those my leasehold messuages and shops situate in Great S@@@ Street in the Parish of Liverpool in the County of Lancaster my leasehold messuages and shops situate in Northfield Road North in the Township of Everton in the Parish of Walton in the County of Lancaster and my leasehold messuages in Bamber Street, Edge? Hill? in the Township of West Derby in the County of Lancaster and all of my other leasehold messuages and premises and also all my real estate whatsoever and wheresoever unto my nephew Richard Gibbs of Saint Albans in the County of Hertford printer and Robert Gibbs of Aylesbury in the county of Buckingham newspaper proprietor their heirs executors administrators and assigns for an during the natural life of my said daughter Ann Gibbs in trust to receive the rents and profits of my said leasehold messuages premises and real estate as they shall become due and thereout pay the rents and perform the covenants subject to which the said leasehold messuages and premises are respectively held and to pay the residues of the said rents and profits into the proper hands of my said daughter for her separate use independently of any husband with whom she might happen to marry ...

    The will was witnessed by Henry Watson solicitor Aylesbury and Richard Maynes Clerk to Mr Watson

[The property references would be typical of someone well enough off to be able to provide a pension in the form of rents on properties.]

[The will does not mention Arthur Pearson but it could well be that George didn't know, and didn't care, what happened to Elizabeth Pearson and baby Alfred]

Will

1861

?

[Despite an extensive search I have not found George or daughter Ann in the census]

Census

1861

Lathom, Lancashire

Alfred Pearson (20, born Liverpool) was a journeyman tailor boarding with, and probably working for Robert Lyon, draper and tailor employing one man and one boy.

Census

19 May 1865

Liverpool

DEATHS: On the 19th inst., at Liverpool, Mr. George Washington Gibbs, aged 63 years.

Bucks Advertiser

19 May 1865

Liverpool

DEATHS: On the 19th instant, at his residence, Netherfield-road, aged 63 years, Mr. G. W. Gibbs, late searcher, &c., her Majesty's customs at this port.

Liverpool Mail

17 June 1865

(Principal Registry)

The Will of George Washington Gibbs formerly of 2 Lower-Eaton-street Pimlico in the City of Westminster but late of Liverpool in the County of Lancashire a Retired Officer of Her Majesty's Customs deceased who died 19 May 1865 at Liverpool aforesaid was proved at the Principal Registry by the oaths of Richard Gibbs of St. Albans in the County of Hertford Printer and Robert Gibbs of Aylesbury in the County of Buckingham Newspaper Proprietor the Nephews the Executors. Effects under 2,000

Probate

2 September 1867 Southport, Lancashire

Alfred Pearson (26, Tailor) son of George Pearson (Custom House Officer) married Margaret Rimmer (19) daughter of William Rimmer, Carter. [On marriage certificates the father's details often end up wrong if there is anything out of the ordinary. The minister filling in the form knows the bridegroom's surname and asks for the father's name. The reply "George" would then be entered together (by default) the bridegroom's surname. If the father is dead the register may add the word "late" but not always, and in any case Alfred may not have known George Washington Gibbs was dead.] 

Marriage Register

10 March 1868

Aylesbury

Deaths: On the 20th inst., in the New Road, Miss Ann Gibbs, daughter of the late Mr. George Gibbs of Liverpool.

Bucks Herald

1871

Southport, Lancashire

Alfred Pearson, tailor, living with wife Margaret and son William George Pearson [Named after the two fathers  named on the marriage certificate.]

Census
1881-1911

Malpas, Cheshire

Alfred Pearson, master tailor living in Malpas with family

Census

1884

Malpas, Cheshire Alfred Washington Gibbs Pearson born  

1 June 1912

Malpas, Cheshire

Alfred Washington Pearson (71, master tailor) died at Church Street, Malpas. Death registered by son William G[eorge] Pearson

Death Certificate

The evidence is consistent with the following scenario. George's wife Ann dies in 1838 leaving him with daughters Ann (9) and Eliza (4). If George had still been in the Aylesbury or St Albans area a suitable "child minder" to take care of the children might well have been found among his friends or relatives - but instead he took on a Lancashire girl, Elizabeth Pearson, as a child minder and housekeeper. She became pregnant (not that uncommon in these circumstances) and the child Alfred Gibbs was registered as if they were already married. There was some major "incompatibility" and Elizabeth left (or was thrown out) taking Alfred with her, and she continued to use her maiden name. What happened to her is, so far, unknown, but by 1851 Alfred was in the workhouse - possibly as "an orphan" - and all official links with George Washington Gibbs "forgotten" by the authorities - who would have held him responsible for Alfred had the relationship been known.

The above seems to be a plausible scenario and it therefore seems very likely that Alfred Gibbs and Alfred Pearson are one and the same person. However I would like to know more about Elizabeth Pearson, as we know so little about her, and the name is rather too common to make the search easy. For instance after 1841 (and before 1851) she could have married (9 women called Elizabeth Pearson married in Liverpool between the 1841 and 1851 census) or died (5 died in Liverpool over the same period - and she could also have married and died). In addition she might have left the Liverpool area - or just been missed or mis-recorded in the 1851 census.

As my own interest is really limited to George Washington Gibbs' connection with St Albans, and why he moved to Liverpool I leave it to other to prove the connection with Alfred Pearson, one way or another.

     

December 2014

 

Page Created

June 2015   Press reference added