Not surprisingly tracing the Jones
relations is not an easy task because of the commonality of the
surname. The furthest we can go back so far is to 1839 with the birth
of William Jones in Notting Hill, South London, the birth year is taken
from the 1881 census so could be out by a few years. The 1871 census
has him as being born around 1836 and in Kensington, so at present I am
not quite sure yet of the date and place. William is my great, great
grandfather. His father as shown on his marriage certificate was John
On 1st January 1866 he married Sarah Stevens. Shirley Gardiner found
this information for us. She noticed on the 1881 census that William
and Sarah Jones had a nephew staying with them with surname of Stevens.
From this information she was able to find the marriage and
certificate. The marriage was witness by William Stevens and Jane
I have information on 4 of the couple’s children, however there
may have been more. The first one recorded 1866 in Islington a girl,
named Charlotte Amelia Jones, who is my great grandmother, following
her later marriage to William Martin. Her birth was 10th December 1866
and was registered in Kensington. Father is William Jones, mother Sarah
Jones formerly Stevens.
Her record of Baptism is shown below early the following year, record is 2nd from bottom.
Next to arrive was another girl, Sarah E. Jones born about 1869, this
was worked out from the age on the 1871 and 1881 census. There seems to
have been a certain amount of movement by the family as Sarah is shown
on the 1881 census as being born in Notting Hill, where William
originally came from.
There is a big gap to the next child I have, which makes me think there
were others. The next child, was another girl, Harriet L. Jones born
around 1878, she is shown as aged 3 on 1881 census. Another location
for the birth this time Camden.
In 1881 the first boy, that I have found, arrives. William J Jones born
in B Buildings, Islington. I think the B buildings stands for
Beaconsfield Buildings, which we believe to have been somewhere to the
north of Kings Cross station.
There is a reference on the Charles Booth Online Archive at
(note there’s no www in the web address) to
Beaconsfield Buildings as follows:
Interview with Dr Gwyther, runs social club rooms at Beaconsfield
Buildings, Caledonian Road, in the parish of St Michael’s, 18
This would explain how Charlotte Amelia Jones above met
William Martin, as the Martins were living near to Beaconsfield
Buildings during this time.
The Beaconsfield buildings were of the Peabody type. Below is an
article by Michael Gandy where he discusses the Peabody buildings in
Blackfriers Road which would have been similar to where our
Martin’s lived. It shows you the type of conditions in which they
lived and the things they had to endure.
"Over the last couple of issues 1 have looked at the vast number of
organisations which gave regular help to the needy however from at
least the 1830s social reformers were consciously working to change the
system rather than just treat the symptoms
The progress of the last 150 years has been stupendous. We sometimes
talk about the "bad old days" but people back then talked in the same
way about the bed old days of their youth. Surviving hardship is a
competition we ad want to win and young pop stars talk and write about
their deprived childhood’s in the bad old days five years ago. At
least our cardboard box had Raps on. And we was 'appy!
Amongst the most serious social problems was housing. In the 19th
century towns there was mile after mile of slum housing built cheaply
and let cheaply. We have a whole mythology of bad landlords but in fact
a property company invariably has the staff and income to comply with
the law. George Orwell wrote in The Road to Wigan Pier: "I found that
small landlords are usually the worst. Ideally, the worst type of slum
landlord is a fat, wicked man drawing an immense income from
extortionate rents. Actually, it is a poor old woman who has invested
in three slum houses, inhabits one of them, and tries to live on the
rent of the other two - never, in consequence, having any money for
The idea that properties of good standard should be built by charitable
organisations, which would let them at fair rents, grew from the 1840s.
There was a boom in the 1860s and by 1875 nearly 7,000 London families
had been rehoused. The best known is probably the Peabody Trust whose
distinctive style can still be seen round London; they prepared the way
for the later municipal housing programmes.
These organisations tended to build flats - "tenements" and their great
blocks sharply divided public opinion. Certainly they were more healthy
than the slums, easier to build, easier to maintain - and easier to
control. But, the gut reaction of many people was against them. They
might be model dwellings but they could never be "homes". People lost
their individuality, became part of an anonymous mass; the public areas
were dangerous, people "did things" on the stairs and crowds of youths
terrorised respectable people. George Haw summed it up: "The cottage
has produced great men and women but forty years of block dwellings
have produced no single character of
Jerry White's book Rothschild Buildings (1980) describes life in one
such block, in Whitechapel East London, chiefly around 1900-1910. The
old people remembering their childhood seem perfectly aware that the
plate was okay for its time - but you and 1 wouldn't last five minutes.
1 was going to describe a typical flat but enough people today still
live in two rooms, kitchen and bathroom. Only, very few of us have to
bring up eight children in them. They were built by the Four Per Cent
Industrial Dwellings Company Ltd whose heart was in the right place, by
The living room was a good size (17 feet x 12 feet) but had to double
as a second bedroom and the beds had to be stored during the day. The
bedroom itself was long and thin (17ft x 6ft 61n). The kitchen was only
a scullery so anything that needed elbowroom had to be done in the
Some families had very little. One girl remembered: "Furniture? One
orange box - it was covered with a nice piece of material. We had
orange boxes for to eat on ... We had three chairs. My younger sister:
a boy wanted to take her home ... she said, 'I can't bring a boy home.
We've only got three legs on one chair, where's he gonna sit?"'
Things could get better once the children grew up and were bringing
money in themselves. One family had a real live piano. Few families
attained that ultimate status symbol but most had a solid table, a few
chairs, a chest of drawers and enough to give everyone a bed (not on
their own, of course).
Not that they always slept in it. Despite the quality of the building,
bed-bugs were endermic. 'The people there waged continuous war against
them but the bugs always won in the end. Tailors and housewives would
face a long day's work after a sleepless night when the bugs were
active. Children would fall asleep at school because the bugs gave them
little peace at night - 'didn't have any sleep, we used to be up all
night. You couldn't sleep'." Standing the bedlegs in tins of paraffin
didn't ready work and few people could afford to buy insecticides.
Every so often the flat would be fumigated. "My mother used to smoke
the place out with sulphur candles, year in and year out, twice a year
.. when we went in there was a pile like this. But Gawd love us! We had
thousands of 'em. And my mother was a clean woman but you couldn't keep
em away. I always remember - 1 had a friend up there and they were
crawling up the wafts. I didn't know where to put my face".
And these were model dwellings..
The scullery led off the living room. A small range (later, a gas
stove), a stone sink (one cold tap), coal bin, fitted dresser and a
copper and a space about 5ft x 4ft to stand and cook, prepare food,
wash clothes and wash yourselves. Measure it against your own kitchen
(though you'll have a separate bathroom). It's OK - if there were only
a couple of you!
Laundry was probably the biggest problem. Scrubbing was often done in
the living room. pans of water heated on the stove and then carried
into the main room. Whites were boiled in the copper but in many homes
the mangle (if you had one) was kept in the living room, perhaps next
to the sewing machine (lots of the residents were in the garment
"These tiny sculleries were always packed from concrete floor to
white-washed ceiling. Their cold, unplastered brick walls were wet with
condensation from continuous washing and cooking. There were buckets,
mops and brooms in every corner under the sink a pail of refuse waiting
to be tipped down the dust-chute; next to that a bowl of cold water
with a cloth over it, containing milk in jugs ... cups and glasses for
perhaps ten people were stacked or hanging on the dresser and shelves
round the walls; on the coal bin sacks of wood and paper, perhaps with
the scrubbing board balanced on top; across the scullery lines of
washing which seemed never to dry - there was always clothes hanging,
take one lot off and put one lot on; fish or chicken on the lid of the
copper waiting to be prepared for the evening meal; the midday meal
boiling on the gas stove and in between it all the children clamoured
for a bit of bread or a biscuit to keep them going till father came
A bit further up I was talking about orange boxes and now we're onto
fish and snacks. These are respectable working class people but
definitely poor - in a dreadful area, working in insecure and unhealthy
trades and sleeping three or four to a bed. Some of their children died
- but lots didn't. At the time of the Boer War the military authorities
were appalled at how undersized they were - but we knew them when they
were old and they were solid and healthy and at least as sane as us.
Poor, yes, - but not destitute."
Below, Shirley’s friend Wendy found a picture of the actual Beaconsfield Buildings in Islington.
The family are shown on the 1881 census still in the Islington district – details are shown below:
Dwelling: 31G Beaconsfield Building
Census Place: Islington, London, England
Name St Age Sex Birthplace Rel Occ
William Jones M 42 M Notting Hill, London, England, Head, Horse Keeper
Sarah Jones M 39 F Kent, England, Wife,
Sarah E.Jones U 12 F Notting Hill, London, England Daur,
Harriet L Jones U 3 F Camden Town, London, England Daur
William J. Jones U 3m M B.Buildings, London, England, Son,
William Stevens U 4 M Notting Hill, London, England, Nephew
As you can see from the above census William’s profession is
shown as Horse Keeper. That will be another project to work on at some
time. Missing from the household above is my great grandma Charlotte
Amelia Jones, by this time she is 16 years of age but can be found, not
to far away at number 46 Tollington Road the home of George and
Clementina Howard, working as a servant. Tollington Road is still
around today, at the top of Caledonian Road. Two maps below show the
location as it was in 1880’s and as it is now.
Tollington Road runs from top right hand corner into the middle of the picture. Below is as it is now.
Living in the same area, Islington, at the time were the Martin family,
and in particular William and at some point in time the couple met and
by 1883 they were married. The date was 25th November 1883 at St
Andrews Church in Islington, and the marriage was witness by William
Martin and John Roberts. Charlotte is living at 31 Beaconsfield
When they got married they rented a room in Clayton Street just off
Caledonian Road, so this would indicate that the location is about
right. I have in my possession a page from a rent book, which shows
details of the room William and Charlotte rented at 28 Clayton Street,
Caledonian Road, from 24th November 1883 to April 12th 1884, this can
be seen in an earlier chapter.
Details of their marriage are covered in the Martin
John Jones Descendant Chart