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Elizabeth Wilmshurst


1800 - 1881

Parents

Tilden Wilmshurst

Mary Udall

 

Born                                                                         Cranbrook, Kent, England

Christened                                       14 Mar 1800    Cranbrook, Kent, England

Married Thomas Russell Pigram        19 Oct 1820    Cranbrook, Kent, England

Died                                                   Jan-Mar 1881

 

Children with Thomas Russell Pigram

Elizabeth Pigram, died young

Unknown Pigram, alive when father was convicted of embezzlement, but died before the census of 1841

Ann Pigram, born during her father’s imprisonment

John A. Pigram, born after the family was reunited

 

 

Brief History

 

Elizabeth married Thomas Pigram when she was still a minor, and lived most of her life without him.  Christened Thomas Russell Pigram, Thomas took a certain pride in his middle name, and I have not identified a single record, from birth through criminal conviction to eventual pardon, where he did not identify himself as “Thomas Russell Pigram”.  The three two-syllable words roll off the tongue with a metered smartness: Tho-mas Rus-sell Pig-ram.

 

After marrying in Kent, they moved to London where he collected on accounts for a cheese merchant.  In 1826, Thomas got in trouble with the law.  It appears that he had a dangerous game going.  Having gained the trust of his employer, he kept amounts gathered on account for his own use, replacing them before the discrepancy was noticed.  According to court transcripts, these amounts were kept for long periods of time – six months, in one case. 

 

What he used it for is not known.  According to the court transcript, Elizabeth’s family had previously raised large sums to cover for him, but in this case he was discovered having received two sovereigns from a grocer named Henry Parton, before he could restore them.  As a result, Thomas was tried for embezzlement.

 

The trial took place at the Old Bailey in London.  Though deficient of the two pounds, Thomas was able to hire an attorney to defend him.

 

The defense inquired whether the grocer had actually lent the money to Thomas rather than paying off a debt.  Parton conceded that Thomas had indeed requested a loan, but when he gave Thomas the money he verbally stated the true purpose.  He also didn’t get a receipt for the transaction.  This is peculiar.  If a man asks another man to lend him some money, it would be very odd to pay money intended to fulfill an obligation to a third party instead.

 

Regardless, the testimony against Thomas by Parton and his employer’s clerk Charles Neal was enough to convict him of the crime.  His sentence was “14 years transportation”, which meant exile to Australia, New Zealand, or some other faraway place for 14 years.

 

Though essentially a death sentence, this sort of penalty for a petty embezzler was not so unusual for the times.  Thomas was sent from court in London to the prison hulk Ganymede, a ship moored at the port of Chatham – coincidentally enough, home of the grocer from whom he had collected the two pounds.

 

Convicts were not usually sent directly into exile.  They often stayed on the prison hulks in Britain for months or even years, working on labor gangs and fulfilling various duties according to their skills and training.  Well-behaved prisoners would be kept around even longer and were known to finish their sentence without ever being sent overseas.

 

This was the case with Thomas Russell Pigram.  He was not hardened or hostile and took to prison discipline with comparative ease.  The jailor’s official record states that Thomas “behaves well here”, and Thomas was pardoned 9 Jun 1832, after serving six years of his fourteen year sentence.

 

Six years is still plenty long to be separated from family, and we can dare imagine the emotion of their reunion.  Life had not been easy on the outside: Shortly after Thomas’ conviction Elizabeth had a baby, Ann.  One of their children had also died during his imprisonment.

 

Together again, they continued on in London.  However, prison life may have harmed him permanently, for Thomas died before the census of 1841.

 

Elizabeth continued raising their children with the help of her mother and sister Mary.  She worked as a laundress with her mother until her youngest child John left home to learn the butcher trade from a relative.  For the next few decades she was a nurse for wealthy families.

 

 

Documents

 

Maidstone, Kent Parish Records - Baptisms

Thomas Russell, son of James and Elizabeth Pigram, christened 13 Jul 1798

 

 

Parish Records for Cranbrook, Kent - Baptisms

Elizabeth, daughter of Tilden & Mary Wilmshurst, christened 14 Mar 1800

 

 

Canterbury, Kent Marriage Licenses
Thos Russell Pigram of Maidstone bachelor & Eliz Wilmshurst of Cranbrook minor (fathr Tilden Wilmshurst), at Cranbrook 11 Oct 1820. 

Book: Volume 35           

 

 

Cranbrook, Kent Parish Records

Thomas Russell Pigram of the parish of Maidstone, and Elizabeth Wilmshurst of this parish were married in this church by license, this 19 Oct 1820 by J. Mossoss, in the presence of Thos. Lavender and John Waters.

Note: Both Thomas and Elizabeth signed their name.

 

 

London, England Deaths and Burials

St James Garlickhythe, City of London

Elizabeth Pigram, res #192 Upper Thames St, died of inflammation on the brain, buried 17 Sep 1824, age 18 months, by T. Jones, Assistant Curate

Note: Parents are not mentioned, but in 1841 the family lived at 194 Upper Thames St, so this is almost certainly Elizabeth’s daughter.

 

 

Proceedings of the Old Bailey Criminal Court, London

May Session 1826

London Cases, First Jury.

Before Mr. Recorder.

907. THOMAS RUSSELL PIGRAM was indicted for embezzlement .

MR. ADOLPHUS conducted the prosecution

 

Mr. WILLIAM ALLEN:  I am a wholesale cheesemonger . The prisoner was in my service, and entrusted to collect monies for me. Mr. Parton, of Chatham, was a customer, and indebted to me. The prisoner never accounted to me for two sovereigns received from him.

 

Cross-examined by Mr. PHILLIPS

Q. What salary had the prisoner?

A. Thirty-five shillings a week; he has a wife and two children - he has stated to me that he has repaid 75 pounds and 25 pounds, which he had used, but I know nothing of that; I know nothing of any deficiency prior to February - he never returned any money to me, as having used it.

 

HENRY PARTON:  I am a grocer, and live at Chatham. I dealt with Mr. Allen, through the prisoner, and on the 26th of December I paid him two sovereigns on account of Mr. Allen. I took no receipt, but made a memorandum of it.

 

Cross-examined

Q. Might not you have paid him in silver?

A. No - I am certain it was sovereigns.

Q. Did he borrow 2 pounds of you?

A. He asked me to lend him two sovereigns - I gave them to him, and told him to place them to my credit, as I owed Mr. Allen an account; I made it an express condition that he was to put it to my credit.

 

CHARLES THOMAS NEALE:  I am the prosecutor's clerk - it was the prisoner's duty to account to me for money he received. When he came from his Christmas journey he delivered me an account, in his own hand-writing, which I produce - here is no account of this 2 pounds.

 

Cross-examined.

Q. Do you know of his being deficient in 75 pounds and 25 pounds, and paying it back when he got money?

A. He certainly was deficient; when I applied for 75 pounds to Mr. Alchin, of Hastings, he said he had paid it; the prisoner was on a journey at the time, and when he returned included it in his cash account, as if he had received it that journey. I believe he borrowed 150 pounds, by his wife's means, to raise it.

 

Mr. ADOLPHUS

Q. Was that before or after you discovered it?

A. Afterwards, about February this year - he had received it in August.

 

GUILTY . Aged 27.

Transported for Fourteen Years .

 

 

England & Wales Criminal Registers

Thomas Russell Pigram, 27, tried for embezzlement at Old Bailey, May Session 1826, sentenced to 14 years transportation

 

 

UK Prison Hulk Registers and Letter Books

Register of the Ganymede, moored at Chatham

Received from Newgate (London) 23 May 1826

Thos Russell Pigram, 27, convicted of embezzlement in Middlesex on 11 May 1826, sentenced to 14 years, pardoned 9 Jun 1832.  Character from gaoler: Behaves well here.

Note: From wikipedia.org: "Ganymede was the French frigate Hébé captured in 1809. She was converted to a prison hulk in 1819 and broken up in 1838."  Register for the vessel appears to go back to 1814, however.

 

 

1841 Census District 14, St. James Garlick Hythe, Middlesex

Elizabeth Pigram, 40, laundress, not born Middlesex

Ann Pigram 14, born Middlesex

John A. Pigram 6, born Middlesex

Mary Wilmshurst 60, laundress, not born Middlesex

Mary Wilmshurst, 40, "F. L.", not born Middlesex

Note: They lived at 194 Upper Thames St. with three other families and two single individuals.

 

 

London, England Births and Baptisms

Ann, Daughter of Thomas Russell (a grocer) & Elizabeth Pigram, of 194 Upper Thames St., London, baptized 1 May 1842 by J. Luhton (?), Rector in Parish of St. Michael Queenhithe, in City of London,

born 5 Oct 1826

 

 

1851 Census District 2d, Cranbrook, Kent

Elizabeth Pigram servant 51, born Cranbrook, Kent, nurse, no marital status given

Note: Served as a nurse for a 3 and a 5 year old in the home of Benjamin Stable, a “Clergyman no cure”.  Lived on Common.

 

 

1851 Census District 2a, Cranbrook, Kent

James Wilmshurst head 43, born Cranbrook, Kent, butcher

Sarah Wilmshurst daut 12, born Cranbrook, Kent

Elizth Wilmshurst daut 8, born Cranbrook, Kent

Jonathan Wilmshurst son 6, born Cranbrook, Kent

Mary Wilmshurst daut 3, born Cranbrook, Kent

Ebenezer Wilmshurst son 1, born Cranbrook, Kent

Ann Jonathan m-in-law 70, born Cardeger the Cardigan, housekeeper

John Pigram apprentice 16, born London Upper Thames, apprentice

Mary Thomas visitor 36, born Lydd, Kent, teacher

Note: Lived at Cranbrook.

 

 

1861 Census, District 5, Clapham, Surrey

Elizabeth Pigram, servant, 61, born Cranbrook, Kent, widow, nurse

Note: Lived in home of Arthur Wilson, an unmarried 45 year old woolen cloth merchant.  As there were no children in the household according to the census, she may have served as nurse for William Wilson, a “gentleman” 80 years of age.  Lived at #3 Lark Hill Grove.

 

 

1861 Census District 1, Cranbrook, Kent

John Pigram lodger, 25, born Upper Thames St., London, butcher, single

Note: Lived in household of James Davis, rope and twine maker master.  Lived on High Street.

 

 

England & Wales, FreeBMD Marriage Index: 1837-1915

Name:                John Pegram, Agnes Couchman

Year of Registration:       1862

Quarter of Registration: Oct-Nov-Dec

District:               Cranbrook

County:              Kent, Sussex

Volume:             2a

Page:   910

 

 

Cranbrook, Kent Parish Records - Christenings

John, son of Thomas and Elizabeth Pigram of Cranbrook, a butcher, christened 10 Jul 1864

Note: Occupation is probably that of John and not his father, since John was almost 30 years old and his father had probably been dead for a couple of decades.  It is possible that after being pardoned Thomas was a butcher, but we have no records for that time period and don’t know how long Thomas lived after prison.

 

 

1871 Census, District 4, Lee, Lewisham, Kent

Ann Pigram, visitor, 72, grocer's widow, born Cranbrook, Kent

Note: This is probably Elizabeth.  Wrong first name, of course, but fits in every other way perfectly, even for the trade of her husband.  She is the only Pigram, Pegram, or Pilgrim on the whole census to report being born in Cranbrook.  Lived in household of John Vincent, an attorney and solicitor.  She is listed as a “visitor”, and so does not appear to have been a servant.  It also makes sense for her to be a visitor, since she lived and probably died in London.  Lived at 3 Granville Ormond House.

 

 

1871 Census, District 2, Cranbrook, Kent

John Pigram head 39, born London, Middlesex, butcher

Agnes Pigram wife 40, born Maidstone, Kent

Thomas Pigram son 10, born Cranbrook, Kent

John Pigram son 8, born Cranbrook, Kent

William Pigram son 6, born Cranbrook, Kent

Elizabeth Pigram daut 3, born Cranbrook, Kent

Note: Lived on High Street.

 

 

England & Wales, FreeBMD Death Index: 1837-1915

Name:                Elizabeth Pigram

Estimated birth year:       abt 1801

Year of Registration:       1881

Quarter of Registration: Jan-Feb-Mar

Age at Death:    80

District:               Wandsworth

County:              Greater London, London, Surrey

Volume:             1d

Page:   375

Note: It is very likely that this is her.

 

 

1881 Census District 2, Cranbrook, Kent

John Pigram head, born London, butcher

Agnes Pigram wife, born Maidstone, Kent

John Pigram son, born Cranbrook, Kent, groom, domestic servant

William Pigram son, born Cranbrook, Kent, apprentice bricklayer

Elizabeth Pigram daut, born Cranbrook, Kent

James Pigram son, born Cranbrook, Kent

Alfred Pigram son, born Cranbrook, Kent

Henry Pigram son, born Cranbrook, Kent

Emily Pigram daut, born Cranbrook, Kent

Note: Lived on High Street.

 

 

1891 Census District 2, Cranbrook, Kent

John Pigram head 58, born London, Middlesex, laborer

Sarah Sivyer boarder 58, born Gandhurst, Kent, housekeeper

William Pigram son 27, born Cranbrook, Kent, bricklayer

James Pigram son 20, born Cranbrook, Kent, groom
Alfred Pigram son 18, born Cranbrook, Kent, butcher

Henry Pigram son 14, born Cranbrook, Kent, errand boy

Emily A. Pigram daut 12, born Cranbrook, Kent

Kate F. Pigram daut 9, born Cranbrook, Kent

Note: Lived at Lan Yard.

 

 

1901 Census District 2, Cranbrook, Kent

John Pigram head 69, born London, Middlesex, butcher, widowed

Emily A. Pigram daut 21, born Cranbrook

Note: Lived on High Street.

 

 

England & Wales, FreeBMD Death Index: 1837-1915

Name:                John Pigram

Estimated birth year:       abt 1832

Year of Registration:       1908

Quarter of Registration: Apr-May-Jun

Age at Death:    76

District:               Cranbrook

County:              Kent, Sussex

Volume:             2a

Page:   477