5: The Orchard’s of Devon

To understand what happened next we need to look at Hannah’s eventual husband, Henry Orchard, and his background and connections.

The Orchard storey starts in 1833 where in the parish of St Mary Major in Exeter a John Orchard married Anna Maria Beer. This is the earliest positive identification I can make in the records of an Orchard whose line can be directly traced through to a marriage to Hannah Musselwhite some sixty years later.

In 1836 John and Anna had a son, Ephraim Orchard, and this, perhaps, reveals that John was of Jewish origin which may be of interest shortly. Jewish people have long had connections to the tailoring trade and John had a tailor’s shop in Author’s Buildings, St Paul’s, Bradninch in Exeter. The shop is probably still there today although not called “Orchards” I suspect! Working in the shop with John was William Beer who, going by his age, was almost certainly John’s brother-in-law. John and William were recorded at the shop during the 1841 census and at the same time John’s wife Anna was living with her parents, Samuel and Mary Beer in the village of Copplestone, near Bridford in Devon. Anna had her son Ephraim with her as well as an older son Samuel who had been named after his grandfather.

Surprisingly, later in 1841, John Orchard married a Charlotte Susannah Bodley in the St Thomas district of Exeter so presumably John and Anna had divorced and that is why they were recorded apart in the census earlier that year but divorce was a very rare occurrence in those days so I cannot begin to imagine what had gone wrong!

By 1851 John and his second wife, recorded just as Susannah (not Charlotte), were living in Perrymans Place, Withycombe Raleigh, near Exmouth and had John’s son from his first marriage, Ephraim (aged 13), living with them. John and Susannah had a daughter of their own, Ellen, who had been born earlier that year. There is no sign of John's eldest son, Samuel so he presumably was still with his mother - maybe they took one son each when they parted? It seems that by now the shop had been abandoned and John was a ‘journeyman’ tailor. John seems to have had a sad life as he passed away in 1856 in Exeter at the age of just 43.

It seems likely that one of John’s main clients during his years as a tailor was Sir Massey Lopes who lived at Maristow House, Mount Jessop, Tamerton Foliot near Plymouth. Sir Massey was of “Sephardic Jewish” origin and was a 3rd Baronet, a government minister and a progressive agriculturist. I will discuss Sir Massey’s ancestry and connections in much more detail as he becomes an important figure in our story

In the census of 1861 John’s son, Ephraim, was a footman in Sir Massey’s household. It may be that Ephraim applied for the job when advertised but I suspect that when John died in 1856 Sir Massey gave Ephraim a job to help the remaining family survive. It might be that John arranged this with Sir Massey before he died? Just speculation of course but I like to think there is some connection and concern here.

The position of footman was of some standing in a household! It meant that Ephraim was effectively Sir Massey’s personal assistant on the long journeys between Devon and London. It also meant that Ephraim would have spent long periods in London at Sir Massey’s London base and It was in London he met and married Emma Pickard in 1867 in the Kensington district of London. Emma Pickard was born in Great Yarmouth in 1848 but how, twenty years later, she came to be in Kensington is not clear but her father, Joseph Pickard, may have had business interests in London.

Ephraim and Emma had their first child, Henry Orchard, in 1868. His birth was recorded in the registration district of Westminster St Margaret so they were obviously still living in London at this time. However, just three years later they had moved and were living in their own house in Amersham in Buckinghamshire and had a daughter, Agnes, born there. I doubt they owned this house, it was probably a tied cottage. I am just trying to say they no longer lived in service within their employer's household and had some independence

Ephraim was now a valet, promotion from the post of footman and less travelling. Who Ephraim was working for is unknown but it is very likely it is still Sir Massey who may have taken an ‘out of town’ country residence closer to London than Plymouth? There were still strong connections between the Orchards in Amersham and with London.

Life was not to be a complete bed of roses for the young Orchard family and Ephraim died in 1880, just 44 years old. When the census was taken a year later in 1881 Emma, now 33, was a ‘patient’ in St George's Hospital, Hanover Square in Belgravia, London; very near the home of Sir Massey Lopes. With his father Ephraim now dead and his mother Emma in hospital in London, young Henry (aged 12) was a grocer’s errand boy and deemed by the census clerk to be the head of the family which now comprised Henry and his two brothers and three sisters. They had a Mary Lock living with them as housekeeper so young Henry was not coping alone but they must have been very difficult times for a boy of 12. But who who was paying the housekeeper? Presumably Sir Massey Lopes was still taking care of them financially, perhaps he paid for Emma’s hospital treatment as well?

At some point Emma left the hospital was able to return to Amersham where she became a dressmaker. One of her daughters, Ellen, became a school teacher there. Emma eventually passed away in 1934 aged 84, her death being recorded back in Lambeth in London.


But what of Ephraim and Emma’s eldest son, Henry, the grocer's errand boy and head of the household in 1881? He married a certain Hannah Musselwhite in Kensington in the spring of 1890 … two years after the birth of Hannah’s son, Charles Edward. But how did they meet; by chance or by design?


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