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Section 2b: Occupants of the Manor House (continued) - 1881 census to 1939 Register

1881 census The PLUCKNETTs are still in residence, though only six of the children are still living at home – they still have a Cook, parlourmaid, three housemaids and a kitchenmaid living in the house. The same Coachman – James Lane and his wife Frances – are living in the Lodge, along with a groom:

1881 census Manor House clip

1881 census - The PLUCKNETT family occupy the Manor House

1891 census There is now a new family resident at the Manor House: William Pearce JONES, a silk mercer born in Dolgelly, North Wales has taken over the Manor House – he is accompanied by his wife Emma and nine children, along with a Governess, maid, three female servants, a butler and a cook.  William JONES, along with two brothers John and Robert was the founder of Jones Brothers in Holloway Road – a firm that would later evolve into John Lewis & Partners – you can read about him on the Memory Store of the John Lewis website (h) 

1891 census clip

1891 census - the new tenant is William Pearce Jones and his family

W P Jones
Jones Brothers Store in 1895

The early portrait of W P Jones, and the image of the Jones Brothers store in Holloway Road in ~1895 are from the John Lewis website link in source (h) below.  Could the portrait have been set on the circular gravel drive in front of the Manor House?

1901 census William and Emma Jones, plus nine of their children, are still resident at the Manor House, but now their two elder sons are also Drapers and the next two sons are both Stockbroker’s Clerks; the fifth son is a Draper’s clerk and the sixth an Ironmonger.  The youngest son, now aged 24, is a Draper.  There is a Butler, plus six domestic staff living in the main house; as well as a Coachman, his wife and four children living in the Lodge (along with a Cowman, a gardener and a groom!)

1901 snip

1901 census - William Pearce Jones and his family are still living at The Manor House

1911 census William Pearce Jones died in 1905, but Jones Brothers had moved on to greater things, and the new residents of the Manor House were another retail giant of the time ... the Gamages. Albert Walter Gamage and his wife Jane, with their rather modest family of four children, were managing with just nine staff in the Manor House (which we learn from this census comprised 23 rooms).  Albert Gamage was described as aged 55, an Athletic Outfitter from Hereford. His wife Jane was born in Glasgow and the couple had been married for 26 years. Their eldest son was assisting in the business and the next son was an Articled Clerk to a Solicitor. The Lodge was now occupied by a much more manageable family of three - John Gissing (domestic gardener) plus his wife and six year old son.

1911 census Manor House clip

1911 - census - This census provides far more detail about households than any previous census (recording how many years a wife has been married; how many children born to the couple and how many are still living) - and is the only census where we can view the household information form which was completed and signed by the head of household, so is frequently the only historical document which shows the actual signature of the head of household (all earlier census forms were completed by the census enumerator, and often contain recognisable transcription errors).

The next census to be taken was the 1921 census (which is not due to be published until January 2022).  In addition to all the information collected in 1911, this census collected details of where they worked, the materials they worked with along with information about education received.  But sadly, all the records from the 1931 census were destroyed in a fire, and there was no census taken in 1941 because of the 2nd World War.  


However, an alternative source for information is the 1939 Register (i) ... this detailed information was taken in September 1939 – at the very start of World War II – and the purpose was to ensure that a record was maintained for every individual to be used for purposes such as recruitment for the military, the production of Ration Books and Identity Cards etc.  The index cards were continually updated throughout the 1939-1945 war and beyond; indeed these records formed the basis of the Medical Cards for the National Health Service.  The original data was continuously updated with details of marriages (including married name), deaths, and also records voluntary service such as Air Raid Wardens, etc. as well as changes of address.  


The 1939 Register provides us with a record of every individual resident in England and Wales (except those already serving in the Military Services);  including full dates of birth, relationship to the Head of Household, occupation, marital status, etc for every individual in every household in 1939 - so a hugely valuable snapshot.  For privacy reasons, the published Register has names redacted for every individual who was born less than 100 years ago and who is not known to have died. However, some children had already been evacuated, so may not appear at their home address.


By the time the Register was created, the Convent of Marie Auxiliatrice had taken over the Main House. The occupants of The Lodge of the Manor House in 1939 were John Mansfield, Head Gardener, with his wife Bertha and his mother Mary plus the Mansfield’s two children.  Mr Mansfield was still the gardener when I attended the School between 1951 and 1963!  


However, it is impossible to recognise the names of any of the eighteen nuns who lived at the Manor House and taught many of our classes, because their birth names are shown and not the names we knew them by (Reverend Mother, Mother Mary Patrice, Mother Mary Etheldreda, etc).  But it is possible to see that the oldest nun was born in 1862 and the youngest in 1912; and although this Register does not include place of birth, their names provide clues as to their nationalities – several French and Italian as well as many English and Irish sounding names.


In addition there were 26 boarders – most of the fifteen viewable records, showed girls in their late teens and training for domestic duties, needlework, etc, and some had physical or learning difficulties; as well as a few older women described as ‘Spanish Refugees’ or ‘Inmates during war’. Eleven of the records for boarders are still officially closed, so presumably they were still quite young at the time the survey was taken. Some of the entries for the nuns are shown below – the years of birth for most of those shown below would have been in the 1800s:

Manor house in 1939

1939 Register - just some of the 18 nuns living in the Convent at the Manor House in 1939

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