George EllisView full burial details
in the cemetery
George Ellis was baptised on 13th September 1849 at St Mary’s, Northchurch, the son of Joseph Ellis, a labourer of Northchurch, and his wife Susannah. The parish church of St Mary dates from Saxon times and is one of the oldest churches in Hertfordshire. Part of the original Saxon building remains in the south and west walls. The parish is often called both Berkhamsted St Mary or St Mary Northchurch and was originally almost three miles long as it partially curved around the town parish of St Peter on the northern and southern sides. It can be considered to be the more rural of Berkhamsted’s two ancient parishes, as St Peter’s served the community in the urban area in the centre of the town.
The Ellis family ties appear to have been based in Northchurch as George’s father, Joseph Ellis, was baptised at St Mary’s on 23rd August 1807, the son of John and Sarah. Joseph Ellis married Susannah Lavendar, from Gaddesden Row, on 6th January 1830 at St Mary’s, Pitstone.
In 1837 Joseph and Susannah were living in the area known as Broadway, which is in the southernmost part of Northchurch parish, on the main road between Berkhamsted and Bourne End. This was also given as their address at the time of the 1841and 1851 censuses. In 1842 their home in this area was more specifically given as Bank Mill. The mill at Bank Mill was one of two Berkhamsted mills mentioned in the Domesday Book. Often called the Lower Mill, because the Upper Mill was situated near Castle Street in Berkhamsted, it ceased operating in the 1900s.
George had nine siblings:
• Hannah baptised on 8th July 1832. In 1851 she was living in the High Street as a servant for Dr Thomas Whateley.
• Charles baptised on 27th April 1835
• Eliza baptised 23rd January 1837
• Amy Emma, born on 5th February 1839 & baptised on 10th July 1842
• Mary Anne born on 8th December 1841& baptised on 10th July 1842
• Elizabeth, or Betsy, baptised on 12th May 1844
• James William baptised on 18th April 1847
• Rebecca baptised 2nd March 1851 and buried on 14th January 1864
• William baptised on 13th August 1854 and buried on 4th March 1855
Joseph Ellis was buried at Northchurch, aged only 47, on 5th August 1854, just days before the baptism of his youngest son, William.
In 1861 the widowed Susannah had moved her family to Ellesmere Road, which although in a more urban area of what would be considered today to be in the town of Berkhamsted, was still in the parish of Northchurch. Ellesmere Road and neighbouring George Street were in an area where many of the workers for the Coopers factory lived. The availability of work would have been crucial to Susannah, as with no husband to support her and her children, she would have needed an income.
George’s sisters, Mary Anne and Elizabeth, were both factory workers, most probably at Cooper’s, whilst George himself, although only 12, was now an apprentice bricklayer.
In 1865 George’s sister, Mary Ann, married George Chennells. The following year, on 30th September, their daughter Annie Rebecca Chennells was baptised at St Peter’s, Berkhamsted. Two years later they had a second daughter Emily Jane Chennells. Sadly, George Chennells died in 1869, which meant that by 1871 the widowed Mary Anne and her two small daughters had moved in with her mother, Susannah Ellis at Ellesmere Road.
On 20th June 1869 George married Lucy Chennells at St Peter’s Church. Lucy was the sister to his brother-in-law, George Chennells, and they settled in Ravens Lane close to where his mother was living in Ellesmere Road.
During the late 1800’s that part of Berkhamsted which was in the Parish of St Mary’s Northchurch, and which later became the Parish of St Michael’s Sunnyside, saw considerable development and population growth. In 1861 there were 18 houses in Ellesmere Road, by 1871 this had become 36, and in 1891 the number had risen to 55. The expansion in George Street, which wasn’t even on the 1861 census, was even greater. From having not been laid out at all in 1861, George Street had 92 houses and a population of 437 in 1891.
This rapid urban expansion right where George and Lucy were living would have given George a plentiful supply of work, as he was now a fully trained bricklayer.
George and Lucy remained living in Ravens Lane throughout the 1870s and into the 1880s. Ravens Lane runs along part of the parish boundary between St Peter’s Berkhamsted and that part of St Mary’s Northchurch that was later to become the Parish of Sunnyside. Although George was born and raised in the Parish of Northchurch, George and Lucy had seven of their children baptised at St Peter’s Church, the church used by the Chennells family, where Lucy herself was baptised in 1856.
George and Lucy’s children, who were all born in Ravens Lane, were:
• George William born in 1870 and baptised on 8th September 1872.
• Henry baptised on 8th September 1872.
• Charles baptised on 26th May 1875. On Saturday 12th June 1875 the Hemel Hempstead Gazette and West Herts Advertiser reported the following death on “June 2nd – at Raven’s Lane, Charles infant son of Mr George Ellis”.
• William, born on 9th April 1876 and baptised 24th February 1883.
• Charles born in 1879 and baptised 24th February 1883.
• Annie, born on 9th June 1881 was baptised 24th February 1883.
• Ada born 1885.
• Emily baptised on 15th December 1886.
In the 1850’s the Rector of Northchurch felt that the far-flung portion of the parish towards Bourne End should have its own place of worship and approached Thomas Halsey, of Berkhamsted Hall, to fund it. In turn George Gilbert Scott (the later designer of the Albert Memorial and St.Pancras station and hotel) was approached to design the building, designated initially as a Chapel of Ease. This is one of his first church designs. Work began in 1853 on a plain but architecturally striking building with cross beamed roof and was completed in 1855. The stained-glass windows by Alfred Bell were noted as particularly fine and the church was dedicated to St. John The Evangelist.
Having a place of worship so much closer to the community at Bank Mill, Broadway and Bourne End would have been greatly welcomed, especially in view of the previously-cited population growth. The first burials were held at St John’s in 1855, meaning that loved ones no longer had to be taken the two and a half miles to St Mary’s for burial.
On 27th January 1885, at the age of 75, George’s mother Susannah Ellis was buried at St John’s. Susannah was not the first nor last member of George’s immediate family to be buried at St John’s Bourne End. His sister Emma, who had married one Thomas Nash in 1869, was buried at St John’s on 6th March 1875, aged 37. His sister Mary Anne Chennells, the widow of his wife’s brother was also buried there on 3rd December 1898. Mary Anne’s address was given as 13 Ellesmere Road when she died. Finally, a third sister, Elizabeth, the wife of William Sewell, who also lived in Ellesmere Road, was buried there on 26th March 1909.
By 1891 George and Lucy had moved into a relatively new house at 8 George Street, which appears to have remained their home for the rest of their lives. The 1911 census tells us that it was a house with five rooms.
Although George seems to have been quite happily employed as a bricklayer, his sons George William and William both appear in the 1914 Kelly’s Directory as tradesmen in their own right, employing their own workers.
George William was a house decorator at 288 High Street, from as early as 1902 when he appeared in that directory, whilst William was a hairdresser at 18 Chapel Street.
Lucy passed away at George Street on 8th February 1909, the grandmother of four children courtesy of her eldest son George William. But George was not left alone as in 1911 he still had four unmarried children living at home: William, Annie, Ada and Emily.
George remained a widower in George Street for the rest of his life surrounded by a large, growing family. In 1924 his grandson, George William Ellis junior, was married at St Peter’s Church. He must have been very proud of having such a handsome family.
George died on 3rd January 1927 at 15 George Street with his son Charles in attendance, who at the time was living at 21 George Street. His death certificate says that he died of senility and cardiac failure. This was certified by John Best McBride, physician and Surgeon, who was the Medical Officer for Berkhamsted District.
Put to rest with his wife, Lucy, some of George’s descendants stayed in the Berkhamsted and Bourne End area to this day.