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JONES, Archibald

b.1853 – d.1909

Early life

Archibald was born in 1853 in Rotherhithe to Jenkin Jones, born 1819 of Cardiganshire, Wales, and Mary Watt, born 1818, Scotland.

His parents registered him without a Christian name, the GRO record shows Jones 1853, Mother Watt. No baptism found for him. The older children were baptised before the family moved from Park Street, Limehouse to Rotherhithe.

His brother Jenkin was born in Rotherhithe. The baptism record is damaged, looks like fire damage, so maybe Archibald’s and Mary’s were also damaged and were unable to be transcribed.

Archibald had six siblings, Thomas 1848-1849, Ann Ellen 1845-1898, Robert George 1847-1848, Margaret 1850-1887, Jenkin 1851-1854, and Mary 1858-1900. Two of his siblings had died before he was born, and one died the year after he was born.

I believe the deaths of Archibald’s three brothers as infants are correct, although I am unable to find the 1851 census for the family to help confirm my findings.


In the 1861 Census we find the family residing in 2 Records Cottages, Cow Lane, Rotherhithe, close to the docks. They were living here in the baptism record of 1851 for Jenkin Junior. Head of house is Jenkin, 42, a Cellarman for a Beer Warehouse, his wife Mary, 43, and children, Margaret 11, Archibald 6, and Mary 3, scholars. Ann Ellen is no longer with the family and in 1865, she marries Edward Isaac Shepherd, a police constable for the Thames Division.


1871 Census: The family has moved to 55 Lower Queen Street, later known as Rotherhithe Street. Head of house is Jenkin, 52, a labourer in a Beer Warehouse, his wife Mary, 54, and children Archibald 18, with no occupation listed, and Mary, 15. Margaret married on 26th February of this year to George Hall, a Shipwright. By 1881, George is the landlord of the Blacksmith Arms, Rotherhithe Street.

1871: Mother Mary dies later this year.

24th December 1871: See newspaper report that Archibald had been attacked by Norwegian sailors John Auguste and Carl Frederick Janson.

29th May 1876: There is an Old Bailey record showing the defendant Archibald Jones, of 6 Silver Street, Rotherhithe, charged with the Killing/Manslaughter of John Howard on 6/7th May 1876. Verdict: Not Guilty.

29th December 1877: A newspaper report, Archibald Jones, a Lighterman of Silver Street, is stabbed and wounded by Peter Selberg, a Swedish sailor off the Ship Yoppin, docked in Surrey Commercial docks on the night of 24th December.

Rotherhithe was a Trading Dock for Scandinavian and Baltic Ships.

1878: Father, Jenkin Jones dies.

1880s and Alone

1881 Census: Archibald is now a lodger with Jemima Bailey, 54, and her son Edward, 25, a labourer, and William White, 57, widower and labourer. Archibald is 27 and a Lighterman; the address is 3 Faustin or Fausten Place, Rotherhithe.

1881: 2nd May, sister Mary marries Thomas Robert Hunt, a cabinet maker.

A body in the Thames

1883: 30th June, Body Found, Newspaper article: Mysterious Death in the Thames. The report of the inquest states that Archibald Jones, a Lighterman of Fausten Place, Rotherhithe, whilst on the Commercial Dock, noticed a dark object in the Thames on the Ebb tide. In the company of James Bowen, he rowed out to find the object was a body of a man. The body was later identified as William Tarryer, a local Lighterman and celebrated Sculler, aged 30.

1887: Death of sister Margaret.

22nd August 1888 finds Archibald in the Dreadnought Seaman’s Hospital, Greenwich. He is a Lighterman on the ‘ship’ Salamanca, suffering from Cellulitis of the foot. A serious infection of the skin, this can be life threatening if left untreated. After six days he is released as cured.

1891 Census: Unable to find Archibald.

1898: Death of his sister Ann Ellen.

1900: Death of his sister Mary.

1900s – Workhouse and Asylum

1901 Census: Archibald, 47, is a boarder and Dock Labourer living with James Stewart, his wife and family of six children at 28 Odessa Street. This is close to Rotherhithe Street and the Surrey Docks. In the present day this is new housing.

Sadly between the census and 2nd August 1902, Archibald was admitted to Horton Lunacy Asylum from the St Olave Parish Street Workhouse. I have not been able to find him in the online workhouse records. He died on 4th September 1909, age 55 and was buried in Horton Cemetery on 9th September, grave number 481b.

His death certificate states that Archibald died from Cancer of the Oesophagus about 4 months, PM:- post mortem, certified by J R Lord. Death registered by acting medical superintendent of Horton Asylum, Sam C Elgee, on the 7th September. Registrar Ernest George Pullinger. Archibald’s age is 55 years, occupation Waterside Labourer of Parish Street Workhouse.

Archibald’s extended Family

Archibald’s grandfather John Jones was from Cardiganshire, Wales and moved to St George’s Southwark, London in the 1820s. He was a Tobacco Cutter and listed as a Tobacconist on his son’s marriage records. I found four sons: Jenkin born 1819, Thomas born 1820, born in Wales, John born 1831, and Daniel born 1833 in Southwark. There are probably more children looking at the birth dates, unfortunately Jones is not the best surname to positively trace. Surprisingly Jenkin is a very popular Christian name with the Jones surname.

Father and uncle before Archibald’s birth

Archibald’s father Jenkin and his brother Thomas worked in the Beer/Wine industry. Jenkin, a Cellarman/Corker, and Thomas a carman for a Beer Warehouse. In 1848 there is a newspaper article where the brothers are arrested for the death of Susan Collidge, I cannot find the court case verdict.

Author’s thoughts

Rotherhithe and the dock area was a very rough place at this time with plenty of ale houses and sailors coming ashore, which is proved by all the newspaper articles. Life was hard and Archibald’s job as a Lighterman was very skilled. A Waterside Labourer, which he became, underlines the job he held when he was a strong and fit man. Maybe a combination of the pressures of poverty, declining health and loneliness lead to Archibald’s mental health issues or perhaps early onset Dementia. It is however very sad to find him being admitted to Horton Asylum for the last years of his life.

The research shows that all his siblings had already died before his admittance.

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