In the 1861 census, living with Charles Henry Murray and his family in Camberwell, is an Andrew Foster, a screw cutter aged 40, born in Middlesex and apparently a cousin to the head of household. In 1851 he was a work engineer lodging in Greenwich, aged 30, and born in Shoreditch; 1871 finds him boarding in Beckenham in Kent, an engine driver on well work, aged 48, and born in Shoreditch. In 1881 he is an inmate in the Hampstead Workhouse, aged 54 and a railway engine driver born in the City Road, London; he’s still there in 1891, but now aged 72, he is a retired engine driver, born in Finsbury. In 1841 an Andrew Foster is a bargeman on the Kennet & Avon Canal at Claverton, he’s 20 and not born in the county, so this could also be him. He died in Hampstead in 1893, aged 69. It is possible to pin him down like this as his name is not a common one in the Middlesex area, especially with a birthdate around 1820. With birth years varying from 1819 to 1827, and birth places from Shoreditch to Finsbury and the City Road it could be difficult to find details of his birth, but again the unusual name helps. There is apparently only one Andrew Foster born in Middlesex in or near this time frame, and he was born to George and Elizabeth Foster on either the 13th or 15th April 1816. The query over his birthdate arises from the fact that he appears to have been baptised twice: once on 22nd April 1816, and again on the 7th July 1816. The baptisms took place at St Leonard’s in Shoreditch, and his father’s occupation is porter on the first, and warehouseman on the second, while their address is Willow Street on both. Andrew had three brothers all baptised at the same church: George on the 5th June 1814, when the address is Finsbury Market, and George senior’s occupation is warehouseman; Francis on the 6th June 1819, Cross-street, Leonard-street, warehouseman; Alfred on the 7th October 1821, Cross-street, Leonard-street, druggist. All the addresses fall within an area contained within the lines of the City Road, Old Street Road, and Shoreditch High Street, so Shoreditch or Finsbury. George Foster, Andrew’s father had been employed by David Taylor & Sons, druggists, of 46 Cross- street, Finsbury-square, since 1813, which was the year he married his wife Elizabeth. This is the generation that may provide clues to Andrew Foster’s relationship as cousin to the Murrays. However there were two marriages of a George Foster to an Elizabeth in 1813: Elizabeth Jones on the 11th April 1813 at St Botolph without Bishopsgate, and Elizabeth Nichols on the 1st August 1813 at St Dunstan, Stepney. Judging from the birthdate of George junior (7th May 1814) the first seems more likely, especially as Charles Henry Murray’s mother’s maiden name was Jones, though one could have wished for a more unusual surname! Was the choice of Andrew as a christian name for his second son a nod towards his possible brother-in-law Andrew Murray? While the surname Nichols has suitable Scots/Aberdonian links … Andrew Foster’s doubt about his age in the censuses probably derives from the fact that his father died on the 24th February 1828, on board Dolphin, a prison hulk moored at Chatham. Even assuming Elizabeth was still alive on this date, this event and what preceded it would probably have destroyed any family unity. On the 17th January 1827 George Foster appeared at the Guildhall before Mr. Alderman Key on a charge of stealing a pound of opium from his employers. 15 lbs of opium had already gone missing from their stock over the previous month, and the Taylors set two City of London officers to watch George as he left work. They stopped and searched him, and what George claimed were potatoes in his pocket turned out to be a packet of opium. He claimed in defence that “he went for some samples to Apothecaries Hall on Tuesday afternoon, and in returning across Smithfield, a stranger asked him if he was not carrying drugs, insinuating that he also was in the drug line, and gave him the opium to dispose of, promising to meet him again that night at his club-house. Mr Alderman Key said a jury might believe this story, but he did not.” [Evening Mail 19 January 1827]. George was sent for trial at the Old Bailey, where on the 15th February, he was indicted for stealing on the 16th January, 12 ozs. of opium, value 15s, the goods of David Taylor and others, his masters. Although it comes up in the trial that he had worked for them for 14 years, and had always had a good character, he was found guilty, and sentenced to 7 years transportation. George only made it as far as the Dolphin, where he was sent on the 14th March. The quarterly reports from the register of convicts state him to be healthy, with good behaviour, until the final quarter of 1827 which says “sickly”. The next quarterly report says that he died on the 24th February 1828, and the gaoler's report is an unusually detailed comment on his behaviour: “A very well behaved Man, 14 years in his last employer's service.” I have found no further trace of Andrew’s mother Elizabeth or his brother Francis, but his brother Alfred, who would have been six when their father died, appears to have done his apprenticeship as a cordwainer, and worked all his life as a shoemaker in and around Shoreditch, Stepney and Bethnal Green. Like Andrew his age in the censuses varies wildly giving birth years from 1811 to 1831, though he is consistent in giving his place of birth as Shoreditch. With his wife Sarah Sully (though I can’t trace a marriage for them) he had five children: George, who was born in 1850, died in 1853; William John, born in 1855, married Sarah Ann Blundell in Bethnal Green in 1884; Andrew, born in 1857, married Jane Fenn in Bethnal Green in 1877; Alexander, born in 1864, married Martha Dulieu in Bethnal Green in 1884; and Sarah Elizabeth, born in 1870, who married Francis James Bradshaw, a police constable in St Bartholomew’s, Moor Lane in London in 1898. Alfred probably died in Shoreditch in 1895. Andrew’s oldest brother, George, was 14 when his father died, so old enough to be at work, or apprenticed. George Foster is a far more common name than either Andrew or Alfred, and he is more difficult to trace. What follows is total speculation! A George Foster, a commercial traveller, married Ann Alice Walton in St Anne, Limehouse on the 15th December 1857. He says his father is Thomas Foster, a solicitor. Ann died on the 21st October 1860, by which time they had moved to Heath-street, Hampstead, where George had set up a business as a chemist and druggist. He remained in this business and at this address until the 1891 census, and living with him for all that time was Margaret Walton, his sister-in-law. She died in 1894 in Heath-street, and probate was granted to George Foster in early 1895; but I haven’t yet traced his death. So why do I think this is Andrew Foster’s brother? He has the right name and date of birth, but he consistently says he was born in Clerkenwell, the other side of the City Road to Finsbury. He says his father was Thomas Foster, a solicitor, but I haven’t yet been able to trace a baptism for a George Foster either in Clerkenwell, or to a Thomas Foster, or even trace a Thomas Foster who was a solicitor. George could have been trying to distance himself from his own father, especially as he seems to have entered the same trade. Was it possible that George junior was already working for the Taylors at the time of his father’s trial, and that he gained experience as a chemist and druggist that he used first as a commercial traveller and then later when running his own business? And then there’s the Hampstead connection; what drew Andrew Foster to this part of London in his later life? It is John Taylor who gives evidence against George at his Old Bailey trial; he states himself to be in partnership with David and John Taylor - his uncle and father. He confirms that the prisoner had been in their service for fourteen years and bore a good character but had no authority to take the opium, worth 12s. The firm had missed 15lbs since the 1st of January - there is an implication that George was involved in the earlier losses, but no proof or charge. So would this firm continue to employ the son of a convicted former employee who was probably now the family’s sole breadwinner? Surprisingly we know a lot about the Taylors and their circle, from their association with Thomas Carlyle and John Stuart Mill. The firm had long been established in Finsbury Square and the adjoining Cross Street as wholesale druggists or ‘drysalters’ and had been carrying on a prosperous business in the City for at least fifty years. The John Taylor who gave evidence at George’s trial in 1827 was only recently married to Harriet Hardy, who would go on to conduct a scandalous, though possibly platonic affair with John Stuart Mill, whom she married after her husband’s death in 1849. While it is agreed that John Taylor could not match the intellectual or artistic abilities of his wife, he had more practical pursuits of his own: “He devoted a good deal of time to the management of the finances of the Unitarian congregation to which the Taylors as well as the Hardys belonged, and conducted the occasionally difficult negotiation with its strong-willed minister, William Johnson Fox. As a convinced radical he took an active interest in politics; there is also some evidence that on behalf of the Unitarians he concerned himself with the affairs of the new University of London. In 1836 we find him among the original members of the Reform Club, which suggests that he was regarded as one of the more important radical business men. He also seems to have made a special point of looking after the interests of the numerous political exiles from France and Italy who had arrived in London.” * Does this mean the Taylors would have looked more kindly on George’s family? I would hope so. As the Unitarians state on their web site: Throughout our history Unitarians have stood for inclusivity, reason and social justice including gender equality. Though I suspect George junior would have been watched very closely, even as he was endebted to them. *This quotation is from the book Hayek on Mill: the Mill-Taylor friendship and related writings, edited by Sandra J. Peart and published by Routledge in 2015. Previews on Amazon and GoogleBooks show the relevant pages, and also give the refences to John Stuart Mill’s Autobiography, and The reminiscences of Thomas Carlyle.
Murray families: Cousin Andrew Foster