Robert thrasher/thresher - born 1826/1831 southampton

Dear Navy Net/History Forum

Please could you help with this enquiry. Thank you.

Our ancestor Robert Thrasher/Thresher born 1826/1831 Southampton, Hampshire is possibly found on the 1841 census as a servant and not found on the 1851 census and the 1861 census.

Robert's wife Priscilla May Pope born 1840 Hartest, Suffolk is also not found on the 1861 census and we have been unable to find a marriage for Robert and Priscilla.

Therefore, it has been suggested that Robert may have been a sailor, soldier or merchant (or worked for the East India Company).

The first child we know of born to Robert and Priscilla is Eliza Priscilla Thrasher in 1868 London - Robert would be nearing forty and Priscilla in her late twenties - it is possible that Robert and Priscilla married abroad, had children abroad, who either died abroad or stayed living abroad.

Robert's professions from the 1871 census and his daughters' birth certificates from 1868 to 1879 are messenger, process server and solicitor's clerk.

Robert's professions on his daughters' wedding certificates from 1900 to 1905 are secretary and private secretary - Robert is deceased by the time of their weddings.

Could Robert have worked for the navy in an administrative role? If so, could this role include working alongside aristocracy or socially mixing with aristocracy?

Could Robert have been a solicitor for the royal navy when living in London?

There is a death certificate for a Robert Thrasher in London in 1879 - but he is a fireman - so we believe that our Robert possibly died working abroad.

In the 1881 census Robert and Priscilla's daughter Louisa is at a boarding school - Robert is deceased as Priscilla is a widow in the 1881 census - so the family is either wealthy enough from previous savings, had already paid for Louisa's school fees or receiving Robert's pension.

We believe that Robert may have been with the Royal Navy as his daughter Louisa Thrasher marries Percy Atkins in 1905 - Percy Atkins father George Atkins is a Royal Navy Captain deceased - and could be how the families met?

Robert's grandson Horace Thrasher born 1893 Fulham (later known as Horace Thresher/Horace Courtenay) worked for the Coastguard Service during 1939-1945 moving to Blackpool during the war and worked for the Department Of Transport before and after the war until retirement. Could Robert's possible occupation in the Royal Navy have helped his grandson Horace working for the Coastguard Service?

Any help or suggestions gratefully received. As we are unable to find Robert's birth family, we are trying to find out about him from other sources to try and trace our recently discovered family, due to Robert's grandson Horace being illegitimate. Robert's daughter Alice and mother to Horace was born as Alice Thrasher. However, we only knew Alice as married name Mrs Grace Solomon and non-birth maiden name Miss Grace Courtenay - and both (Grace) and her husband Herbert never spoke of their families. Through much research we have found (Grace)'s family - but unfortunately have not been able to find Robert's parents and any siblings - and would love to know exactly what Robert's occupation was to possibly explain why members of this family regularly disappear from official records.

Thank you for your help.

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War Hero
Due to the lateness of the hour you may have to wait until Sunday for a response from the more knowledgable of our group.
Good Evening Waspie!

No problem, just off to bed - hopefully a beautiful day at the coast awaits tomorrow.

Good night and wishing you a good weekend also.

Orpington, Kent
Dear Navy Net/History Forum

Robert Thrasher/Thresher's wife was Priscilla May Pope born 1840 Hartest, Suffolk.

Priscilla is found in the 1841 census as a baby and in the 1851 census with her family. Her father Thomas Pope a carpenter had died in 1842 and her mother Charlotte is now a pauper laundress. At this time there was a severe rural depression in East Anglia and people from this area emigrated throughout the Empire to escape this ongoing poverty and to improve their lives - this is how we think that Priscilla met Robert.
(In 1850 Hartest had 832 residents, in 1901 Hartest had 537 residents).
The Song of the Emigrant ship

In the 1881 census Priscilla is now widowed and living in a lodging house at 1 Kinnerton Place Place South, Chelsea, Belgravia and her brother Alfred Pope born 1836 Hartest is living with the family. Priscilla is a domestic servant, working as a cook - but Priscilla is able to send her daughter Louisa to a boarding school - how? It may be that Alfred had previously emigrated and Priscilla left England to be with him - there is no other trace of Alfred other than the 1881 census - perhaps Alfred went to live abroad again after 1881.

Priscilla is then found in the 1891 census with her daughters at 18 Chapels Chambers, Westminster working as a dressmaker and dressmakers assistants - the family is recorded as Torplow (should either be Thrasher or Jezard as Priscilla remarried to John Jezard according to her 1900 death certificate).

As a cook and garmentmaker these would have been extremely useful jobs to work for the army, navy or a merchant. Where would women be employed as cooks/garment makers by the navy and who would employ them? Thank you.

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War Hero
Hi Lorraine,

What elusive ancestors you have!

I have been searching the census returns (UK, USA & Australia listings), birth, marriage & death indexes. I have also searched through the military listings (both RN & Army) along with the ships passenger lists and I am sorry to say that so far I am unable to add any new information regarding your ancestors Robert Thrasher & Priscilla Pope.

A change of tack is needed here! Leave it with me and I'll try to obtain access to some Parish Registers. I feel this is the route that will give you the answers that you seek.



Book Reviewer
A quickie because I have to go out presently, but CofE BMD Bishop's Transcripts for the three Indian Presidencies are held on
Hi Sweetpea and Seaweed - thank you for your posts - and for your initial searches and suggestions - they are much appreciated!

Yes, this family is extremely elusive - they haven't made it easy for us! There is so much to this story, here is an overview.

When my husband's grandfather Horace Courtenay died in 1959 his solicitors were unable to find his birth certificate or his father's family or mother's family. As explained above Horace's mother was born as Alice Thrasher - we knew her as Mrs Grace Solomon or non-birth maiden name Miss Grace Courtenay. Horace was born in 1893 Fulham as Horace Thrasher using false parent names, baptised in 1896 as Horace Thresher using false parents names and then known as Horace Courtenay by the time of the 1901 census.

By 1894 Horace's grandmother Priscilla May Thrasher is now known as Priscilla May Jezard (we have not been able to find a marriage for Priscilla May Pope/Priscilla May Thrasher to husband John Jezard) - and Priscilla is found in the 1894 electoral roll living at 81 Archel Road where Horace was born. Why is John Jezard not listed on the electoral register - we have also not been able to find him dying! Has Priscilla renamed her family as Horace was illegitimate - and rumoured to be the son of an aristocrat.

Horace was baptised in 1896 with his cousin Violet Alice Louise Jezard born 1890 Kensington - they are both living with their grandmother Priscilla May Thrasher at 133 Finborough Road (who has now remarried as Priscilla May Jezard according to the electoral roll and her 1900 death certificate).

Violet Alice Louise Jezard was also registered we believe with false parents, baptised with false parents and is found in the 1901 census with Horace at a girls boarding school - they are the youngest boarders by far compared to the other girls. Violet and her 'father' Alfred Jezard are not found with their mother Eliza Jezard (formerly Eliza Thrasher) in the 1891 census - Eliza is found with her mother Priscilla and sisters but they are called Torplow - whether this was a mistake on behalf of the census recorder or a deliberate family name change will never be known. We have also not been able to find Violet in the 1911 census, getting married or dying. We have not been able to find Violet's mother Eliza Thrasher/Jezard in the 1901 census, 1911 census, getting married or dying.

Horace's mother born as Alice Thrasher, is now known in the 1901 census as spinster Grace Courtenay living in a boarding house in Kensington living on own means. Grace marries in 1901 as spinster Grace Courtenay.

Horace's false baptism parents are actually his aunt Louisa Thrasher and uncle Percy Atkins - who later marry in 1905.

The youngest daughter of Robert and Priscilla is Ruth Thrasher who marries Albert Edward Court in 1900 as Ruby Jezard, calling her deceased father Robert Jezard. Ruth/Ruby disappears in the 1911 census - we know now that she was an actress performing at The Royal Drury Lane Theatre. Their son Edward Leslie Court born in 1905 Fulham emigrates to Canada in 1926 and we have no other knowledge of him.

My father-in-law had no knowledge of his great-aunts, great-grandparents or his father's cousins, except after going through all this research with him remembered an Uncle Percy and a Cousin Leslie (but not knowing how they were related) meeting them as a five-year old about eight decades ago. Finding this family has been bitter sweet - particularly as both Violet and Edward disappear - and Eliza and Ruth disappear and did they have other children - although our original goal was to find Horace's father, finding any unknown relatives is now a far more important goal.


War Hero

Having read the additional information in you last post, and having followed up with further research, I have no doubt in my mind that your ancestor Priscilla used the surname Torplow as an alias on the 1891 census, she also lists her place of birth as Cardiff, and not Suffolk which implies that she perhaps wished to keep her true identity quite quiet.

The plot thickens!

Hi Sweetpea - the plot thickens so much that a spoon would be standing up in it - and that only someone true and noble would be able to retrieve it!

We asked my parents-in-law last night about Horace again as he had spoken at great length about being at boarding school when he was younger - hated it - he went there when he was four - so not when Priscilla died in 1900 - and never spoke of his cousin Violet who was also boarding at the school with him in the 1901 census - perhaps he didn't know she was his cousin? Horace's mother married Herbert Solomon in 1901 just after the 1901 census (fortunately!!!). When his mother married Horace went to live with them (we don't know when) and attended Latymer Upper School in Hammersmith.

Horace attends Latymer Upper School in Hammersmith

Admissions register for Horace Courtenay
Date of birth 21 September 1895
Address 6 Charlesville Mansions, Charleville Road, West Kensington
Father Solomon H L Courtenay
Start Form: 1a
Start Date 11 September 1906
Leave Form: 5c
Leave Date 21 July 1910

Horace was actually born on 2 January 1893 so Herbert and Grace have mis-lead the school so that Horace can stay for the full time at the Upper School
Herbert, Grace and Horace are living at 6 Charleville Mansions

Horace's 'father' is Solomon H L Courtenay - a combination of his step-father Herbert Lewis Solomon and his 'father' 'H Courtenay'

It just makes us wonder - who was Violet's father - who was Horace's father - and who was Robert Thrasher - to go to all this trouble when illegitimacy rates were 4% at this time period but couples would often have two or three children before officially getting married or live as common-law 'husband and wife' so that the wife and children would still have the same surname as the head of the household - and why marriages are often not found.
Otherwise mother and child would end up in the workhouse, the child in a baby farm or even the victim of infanticide, or taken in as a nurse child. Abortion was also used more frequently towards the end of the 19th century.

Who was Horace, who was Violet and who was Robert?
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Dear Navy Net/History Forum

When Horace left Latymer Upper School in 1910, the family moved from London to Kingston as shown in the 1911 census, with Horace's cousin Edward Leslie Court born 1905 Fulham staying with the family.

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