Uglow Family HistoryUglows in Cheltenham and Gloucester
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 Englands leading spas. In 1788 King George III spent five weeks at Cheltenham, drinking the waters for his healths sake. His visit set the seal on the towns 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.
Cheltenhams heyday as a spa lasted from about 1790 to 1840 and these years saw the building of the towns 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.
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).
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.
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!
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.
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....