Joseph Beckwith Family no. 1
Be that as it may, their first child Joseph, was born almost exactly nine months later in Clerkenwell - well he was baptised at St. James Clerkenwell though he was born in St. John’s Parish which is right next door. There is an 1811 Directory entry for Joseph which has him living at 26 St. John’s Street, which is the road running almost north/south on the left of the map at right and no. 26 is on the left, just above Great Sutton St. Clerkenwell is where he stays for many more years and certainly for all the years he was married to Jane Pittard.
In the middle of summer (June 30th) in the first year of a new century Joseph married Jane Pittard, at St Mary’s Islington. He was only 23 and she was just a year or so older. The picture at left would date from about that period so you can see that Islington was not at all like it is today - lots of open space. They are both supposed to be of the parish, so I guess they must both have been living near there - or maybe Joseph was living with her? I also do not know at this stage what Samuel Pittard (Jane’s father) did, and so I have no idea how they met.
26 St John Street - now a bar and restaurant (curiously appropriate) - the house in which Joseph and Jane spent their early married years.
Prior to little Robert’s death there were four other children after Joseph - Jane Elizabeth (my great-great grandmother), born in 1805, Henry Samuel born 1809, Mary Ann born 1811 and George born 1816. So a smallish family of five children for the times. Maybe, like the man in the painting at the top of the page, the joy of marriage and children wore off (well I think the man in the painting looks as if he is over it). This, of course, is all supposition - there may well have been a tragic series of miscarriages. By 1819 Jane would have been 44 years old, so may also have been past childbearing.
Whatever, the reason the family was small, so you would think, slightly more prosperous than many around them - not that five children are that easy to bring up, but they were relatively spread out - Joseph, the oldest, would have been almost eighteen by the time his possible baby brother Robert was born.
The children came at fairly regular intervals for a time, though not that closely. It is possible, of course, that there were miscarriages, or that Jane was not particularly fertile (Joseph obviously was, as we shall see). I cannot find any deaths of infants though, until 1819, when Robert William Beckwith is buried as an infant. He is the last child I have for this marriage, and I am not 100% sure that he is theirs - however, the address of St. John’s Street is sort of correct. At least until 1811 Joseph and Jane lived in St. John’s Street. However, an 1817 directory has his address as 25 Wilderness Row. Now this is also the address of brother Robert the silversmith, so maybe Joseph just worked there for a time and continued to live in St. John Street. But as I say I am not 100% sure that Robert is their child - he could be the child of Robert.
The children grew, left home, married, had children of their own. And then, tragically their oldest son, Joseph died in 1827 of ‘rapid consumption’ (TB) at the age of 26. He left a young wife and two children, but even more tragically the two small children also died within weeks of each other and just a couple of months after Joseph - they maybe had TB too. Poor Eliza, his wife. And poor Joseph and Jane. I wonder whether it was this tragedy that maybe made them drift apart. I believe this often happens, even though one would expect that tragedy would draw people together.
Mary Ann Callendar
Jane Elizabeth Beckwith
The Fleet River and Shoe Lane
Sometime between 1811 and 1817 the family moved to 25 Wilderness Row. Wilderness Row is the road in the picture at left at the far side of the Charterhouse complex, in front of the trees. This picture was made in 1770, so a little earlier than when Joseph was living there, but it probably had not changed hugely by the early 1800s. He lived there for several years, and at various points his brother Robert did too, as well as daughter Jane and her husband John when they first married. It was also a shop and workshop as the Old Bailey trial shows. Maybe his wife Jane helped in the shop, maybe she simply managed the household. Also by 1817 Joseph is describing himself as an engraver - silversmithing seems to have been left behind. Perhaps he discovered that this is where his talents lay. The coffee rooms came later, although in 1843, his address is no. 3 Wilderness Row. Maybe it was smaller, and with wife dead and children gone, he did not need as large a home
So a marriage that can’t have been a great success - why else start a second ‘illegitimate’ family whilst your wife is still alive - which is what Joseph did. But his daughter writes with grudging admiration and even affection of Joseph, so it can’t all have been bad.