Uglow Family History

Uglows in Cheltenham and Gloucester

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Cheltenham was a market town until the 18th century, when its medicinal waters were discovered. These were regarded as beneficial for a whole range of illnesses and by the late 18th century the town was one of England’s leading spas. In 1788 King George III spent five weeks at Cheltenham, drinking the waters for his health’s sake. His visit set the seal on the town’s popularity and during the following years the number of visitors and residents increased dramatically. Among famous visitors were members of the English and Continental Royal families, including Princess (later Queen) Victoria, the Duke of Wellington, and the novelists Jane Austen and Lord Byron.

Visitors to the town would drink the waters at either the original spa or one of the rival spas that were established in the early 19th century, such as Montpellier and Pittville. Several of the spas had tree-lined walks, rides and gardens in which the visitors could ‘promenade’, often with a band of musicians in attendance. Visitors could also attend balls, assemblies and concerts at the Assembly Rooms, plays at the Theatre Royal and horse races at the racecourse. They could also shop for souvenirs along the High Street and, from the 1820s, in the fashionable new shopping areas of Montpellier and the Promenade.

Cheltenham’s heyday as a spa lasted from about 1790 to 1840 and these years saw the building of the town’s many fine Regency terraces, crescents and villas. It was during this time that James Uglow, a musician, flourished in the town

Family 1: James and Ann Jordan

James 1813 is born in Plymouth Stonehouse, possibly the illegitimate son of Catherine 1777 but certainly the grandson of James and Mary Spiring from Stratton. He is clearly part of this branch of the family as his children have 'Spiring' as a forename.

(I am indebted here to Hugh Torrens of the University of Keele, who has written on the musician Thomas Arthur Burton (1842-1936) who was educated at Cheltenham, where he studied the organ, harmony, and counterpoint under James Uglow. Thanks also to Graham Lockwood,a trustee of the Holst Birthplace Museum in Cheltenham, who provided much useful information about the Cheltenham music scene. Finally to Sarah Batchelor who provided a long reprint from the Gloucester Chronicle. It is undated but seems to have been written after the deaths of James 1770 and Lydia Steel - I had considered them to be James' parents but the article makes it clear that they are his uncle and aunt. The article is very detailed about James' life and seems to have been written with his co-operation.)

James was born at East Stonehouse, Devon in 1813 and died in Cheltenham on 6 May 1894, aged 81, a "teacher of music". At the age of four and a half , he had moved to Gloucester, living with his uncle and aunt, James 1770 and Lydia Steel . He was admitted as a chorister at the Cathedral, aged 6, remaining there until nearly his twelve birthday. In 1824 he sang in Cheltenham, at a concert given by Thomas Woodward, organist at the parish church there, to whom he was soon articled. He then studied the violin and cello and was, at different times, organist at Trinity, St James's and St John's churches in Cheltenham.

The music: In the early 19th century, it became possible for professional musicians to make a living through a combination of teaching and performing. The local press makes many references to this group of self- styled  music professors of the town. Not only did these musicians perform themselves but on occasions they were to be found accompanying and conducting at the appearances of visiting professionals.  They also arranged concerts with local amateur music makers, some were church organists and yet others traded in music scores and musical instruments. In the latter capacity they were either in competition with the music stores or worked with them especially when these small commercial enterprises promoted concerts as part of their business activity.

This was certainly the case in Cheltenham and James was very influential in the Cheltenham music scene. He organised a fund raising choral concert in St James’s Church in June 1833 with a choir named  the Cheltenham Choral Society, on this occasion ‘…with the assistance of several professional gentlemen who have kindly volunteered their services’. Two years later again at St James, he advertised a weekend of music ‘upon a grand and extensive scale.‘  He called it a Musical Festival, possibly the first time such a title had been adopted in the town and perhaps somewhat overstating an event that comprised just an oratorio in the morning and a miscellaneous concert in the evening although, for the event, the church singers were augmented by the choirs of Gloucester and Worcester Cathedrals and singers from the Bath Choral Society. Moreover the festival earned an extensive five page review in the Cheltenham Looker-On of 30th June.

He was also influential  in the establishment of a Cheltenham Philharmonic Society focusing on the promotion of orchestral and choral music performed, in the main, by local musicians. At the time of the Society’s founding in the 1830s and for many more years, orchestral concerts were very rare in smaller towns. The first concert by the Society was given for its members in January 1838. In October 1841, Uglow held a musical party at his residence in Oriel Place ’attended by many of the most influential residents ‘

The money: His career was soon chequered, when he suffered insolvency. This, as a Cheltenham "seller of music", was announced in the London Gazette in February 1836 (Morning Post, 20 February 1836, p. 2) and he was still an insolvent "teacher of music" here in March 1839 (The Charter, 17 March 1839).

In1841 James, his wife and 3 children are living in Bath Road, Cheltenham. He became organist at St James' Church - the Bristol Mercury 13th April 1839 reported him as presiding at the organ at a music festival at Thornbury Church. He was a talented musician - a fine organist, violinist and cellist, - according to the Daily Era 12th December 1841, he played a violin concerto at a Cheltenham concert. He founded the first Choral Society in Cheltenham, while he was organist at St. James in the 1840s. He was also a composer: see Notes on Hymns A&M 311, tune St. Vincent, by J. Uglow.

In the early 1840s, he gave up St James temporarily - according to the Daily Era 23rd January 1842, a new organist was appointed at St James as James was off to Dublin, Ireland. Apparently this was to try and make a career as a singer, but the climate did not agree with him and he had returned to Cheltenham by the time the 1842 article was written. Apparently he regained his old job - this is confirmed by a book he published in 1847 "Hymns as sung at St James' Cheltenham composed and arranged by James Uglow.

The financial crisis seems to have been resolved by 1851 by which time he had moved to Chaceley, near Tewkesbury. In that year, he attended Gloucestershire Assizes where Sarah Berry received 2 months in prison for stealing a counterpane, the property of James. By 1856 in the Post Office directory, they were in Cheltenham and in the censuses from 1861-1891, James lived in the area of Leckhampton, Charlton Kings and Cheltenham.

James remained active in the music societies - in August 1856 Jackson's Oxford Journal reported that he conducted the St Johns Choir from Cheltenham at the Chipping Norton music festival - James was also one of the solo vocalists. He sang bass while Madame Greiffenhagen sang soprano and Herr Meyer was the tenor - the latter two hired from Nobility's Concerts in London. The Era reported on 14th December 1856 that James was conducting St Johns Choir at the Assembly Rooms in their annual concert of sacred music. On 5th April 1857 the members of the Cheltenham Philharmonic and Harmonic Societies gave a concert for charitable purposes. James Uglow conducted. The entertainment was 'satisfactory'.

The marriage: James' wife was Ann Jordan and they married at St Mary's, Chelteham on 30th December, 1833. At the 1851 census, Ann was said to be born in Cheltenham in 1811. But the use of 'Mainger' as a forename suggests that her family was from the north - 'mainger' is a Northumberland/Durham surname. In 1861, Ann was living with her son, Theodore, who was a teacher of maths and a housemaster at the Cheltenham Juvenile Proprietary School at Stamford House. She was helping him run his school and her sisters, Elizabeth and Emma, were also on the workforce!

This appears to have been a formal and legal relationship - in the Bristol Mercury 25th July 1863, we read of the dissolution of the partnership between T. Uglow and Elizabeth and Emma Jordan. This was obviously an arrangement between Theodore and his two unmarried aunts - the 'F' Jordan is a typo. They were in the business of 'boarding house keepers'. This step seems somewhat draconian - was this normal business or does it indicate friction in the family? We know that Theodore now turned his back on teaching and redirected his ambitions towards the church.

In 1871, Ann was running a 'boarding school for young gentlemen' with her son, Joseph, in Louth, Cheltenham. Ann died in 1879 in Ulverston, aged 74, visiting or living with her son, Theodore, who was the vicar at St Michaels, Rampside.

Later life: In 1881, James was still teaching music in Leckhampton - Harriet Payne, aged 70 and bedridden was visiting. James married again in 1882 in Cheltenham - he was 69 but his bride was Sarah Jane Hall, aged 23 and born in Dover in Kent. She was the daughter of a grocer, Horatio Hall and his wife, Sarah Ann. Sarah was in Dover with her parents in 1861and 1871 but her father died in 1874 and her mother remarried in 1878 - the census in 1881 shows Sarah in Margate, step-daughter to Thomas Brown and working as a dressmaker. A year later, she was in Cheltenham! Sarah Batchelor has looked at the marriage record and James recorded his father as "James Uglow - miner". This seems unlikely.

In later years, James was an invalid and in Cheltenham on 19 May 1890 was given a "grand benefit concert with a number of eminent artists" performing. (Musical Standard, 24 May 1890, p. 482). According to the Cheltenham Looker-On 10th May, it was organised by ‘The younger generation of local musicians who have kindly recollections of Mr. Uglow as an established professor when they were putting their first steps on the ladder…’  The professional singers offered their services without charge and were supported by the choral singers of the Cheltenham Festival Society. The Assembly Rooms were also made available at no cost and the hall was well filled for the concert of solo and choral singing and some instrumental works so James should have benefited well from the occasion.

In 1891, they were living in Cheltenham - James was a professor of music and Sarah was a masseuse. James died in Cheltenham in 1894. However Sarah pops up again in 1911, living at 20 Mimosa St, Fulham where (as Edith Uglow) she is the housekeeper for Alfred Emmanuel, a manufacturing chemist. The evidence for 'Edith' being 'Sarah Jane' is that she was born in Dover and her mother (Sarah Ann Brown) is visiting....

  • son Conrad Spiring 1834 born in Charlton Kings(?). He died in 1850

  • son Theodore Sebastian 1837 born in Charlton Kings. In 1870 he married Jane Elizabeth Nickless - Family 3 Lancashire.

  • son Vincent 1838 born in Charlton Kings. In 1851 he was in Chacely with his parents. In 1861, he was an assistant master at his brother Theodore's school. He travelled to New York and died there in 1868 - there is an inscription to him on his brother Conrad's tomb in St Peters, Leckhampton.

  • son Louis Felix 1840 born in Charlton Kings. He is not on the 1851 census in Chacely - perhaps he died in Ireland.

  • son Joseph Mainger 1842 born in Charlton Kings. In 1851 he was in Chaceley with his parents. But things get decidedly more interesting [I owe this to Sarah Batchelor] - in February 15 1860 an Ellen Harriet Uglow, formerly Rowland, registered the birth of a daughter Lavinia Agnes Jane Uglow . We can find no proof Ellen and Joseph were married and the baby disappears without trace. Harriet claims that her husband is in the merchant marine and maybe Joseph really did run away to sea to avoid marrying her! But he was definitely back by the time of the census of 1861 and teaching in a grammar school in Ware, Hereford.

    • daughter Lavinia Agnes Jane born Gloucester 1860

    After this he followed in brother Theodore's footsteps and obtained a degree form Trinity College Dublin in 1871. In the 1871 census he was helping his mother, Ann to run a 'boarding school for young gentlemen' in Louth, Cheltenham. Later that year, he was made a deacon and was curate of Richmond, Yorkshire between 1871 and 1875. He was ordained as a priest by the Bishop of Ripon at Ripon Cathedral on 22nd September 1872. In the Darlington Times 7th January 1873, he was at a party for Richmond children to see the illuminated Christmas tree, to sing hymns and to receive a bun and an orange. Later he was at Arlecton and Frizington near Carnworth from 1875 to 1876. In 1876 he moved to Bromley St Leonards as curate. By then, in 1875, he had married Caroline Tait in Kensington but the first baby arrives within six months - strange behaviour for a Victorian curate! Caroline was probably born in 1850 in Nottinghamshire - the link is that they must have met in Cheltenham as Caroline's sister, Mary Tait was a professor of music in Cheltenham in 1871 and Caroline was working for her as a governess. Within two years of the wedding, Joseph died in Poplar, East London in the last quarter of 1876. Caroline sought refuge with brother-in-law Theodore and his wife, Jane, in Barrow. But they all retreated south to Liverpool and West Derby where Caroline died in 1898 - at about the same time as her sister in law, Jane

    • son Lionel Percy 1875 born in Fulham. He married Mary Quirk in 1899 in West Derby - Lancashire Family 5

    • son George Mainger 1876 born in Poplar, just as his father died. He travelled with his mother to stay with his uncle Theodore but died in Barrow in 1879. The Manchester Times 24th May 1879 reported that the infant son of Rev T Uglow was drowned in a barrel in the yard - however George's place of birth makes that unlikely as Theodore is working in Cumbria throughout the 1870s

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