George was born into a family of Master Tailors, which included his father Charles, uncle William and grandfather Langley Paulson of Baumber, Lincolnshire.
His birth was registered in Louth in Q2 1847, which was the registration area covering the village of Ludford Magna, Lincolnshire. He was baptised in the parish of Ludford Magna and Parva in April 1847.
His father was Charles Paulson (1818-1892), son of Langley Paulson and Sarah Coggle, and his mother was Ann Grant (1826-1847), daughter of William Grant and Ann Smith of Binbrook, Lincolnshire.
Ann Grant was challenging to trace as there were several women of that name born in Lincolnshire at around the same time. Further research and connections within the extended family in later census returns make us believe we have found the correct person.
Charles and Ann were married 1846 in Horncastle, Lincolnshire.
Sadly, Ann died in Q4 1847 aged 20, maybe due to complications from the birth of George.
In 1849 Q3 Charles was remarried to an Elizabeth Fletcher who was about 8 years his senior. There are no children of this marriage to be found in the GRO index.
The 1851 census finds George aged 3 living in the village of Ludford Magna with his father Charles, a master tailor employing 1 man, and his step-mother Elizabeth.
The 1861 census tells us that George is no longer living with his father. He has moved to Southwark and is a 14 year-old Pawnbroker’s assistant living at 4 Melina Buildings, Westminster Road, St George, Southwark. The household is headed by Jane Tamm, a Housekeeper, and includes three other Pawnbroker’s assistants.
Next door is Ebene zer Leibrecht, a Pawnbroker. He is the husband of Elizabeth, sister of George’s mother Ann. Another member of the household is George’s grandmother, Ann Grant.
George is following in the footsteps of his uncle Charles – Elizabeth and Ann’s youngest brother – who in 1851 had similarly been a pawnbroker’s assistant to Ebeneezer Leibrecht but by 1861 was married to Elizabeth Mollett née Murphy and working as a bookseller’s agent living in Walworth.
We have been unable to find George in the 1871 census, which was taken on the 2nd April.
On 5th November 1871 at St Mary’s Newington, George married Jessie Eliza Salmon, born 4th February 1848 in St Oysth, Essex. Her father was Mark Salmon and her mother Mary Ann Borley.
The 1871 census had recorded Jessie as a servant to Thomas Hall, a Draper in the High Street, Norwood, Surrey.
Witnesses to the marriage were George’s uncle Charles Grant and his wife Elizabeth Mollett Grant. This is consistent with the 1861 census and confirms the Grant family connection.
George’s occupation is given as ‘mariner’. Is this why he could not be found in the 1871 census? Could he have been at sea? As yet we are unable to find any other evidence of George being a Mariner.
In the 1881 census George and Jessie are living at 48 Thurlow Street, Newington. He is a Commercial Traveller. This is a shared house with an older couple, George Merriott and his wife Isabella. This turns out to be the last time we can find George and Jessie living together. There are no children of their marriage to be found in the GRO records.
There is an Electoral Register entry for George in 1890 living at 148, Westmoreland Road, Walworth. He is renting at 5s 6d a week, two unfurnished basement rooms from a Mrs Blyton. Is Jessie still with him? Two rooms for one person?
On 31st July 1890 George Paulson was admitted to St George’s Workhouse, Mint Street, Southwark from Newington Parish. He is described as a Traveller. Admitted by Bassett. He was discharged by order to Newington Workhouse on 16th August 1890.
On 9th March 1891 he was transferred back to Mint Street Workhouse and the 1891 census records him there: George G Paulson, Pauper Inmate aged 39, a Traveller in Mineral Waters.
The 1891 census finds his wife Jessie living alone at 49 Westmoreland Road, Walworth, a dressmaker. This is further along the same road where George was recorded living in 1890.
In Q2 1892 George’s father Charles died in Louth, Lincolnshire. The 1881 census shows that Charles was at that time still a tailor. In the 1891 census he was described as a retired Costermonger (a person who sold goods from a handcart in the street).
The National Probate Calendar records that on 22nd June 1892 George became the beneficiary of Charles’ estate which was valued at £115.12s 6d. (equivalent to approximately £16,250 in 2022 values). There are no further workhouse admissions to be found until 1898. Charles is described as a skin dealer.
On 2nd June 1893 there was a report in the Stamford Mercury newspaper of a court case brought by the local branch of the Ancient Order of Foresters Friendly Society against George Grant Paulson, Commercial Traveller, seeking an order for the sale of ‘a certain property at Ludford’ inherited by George from his father Charles and on which the Foresters had a mortgage of £40. Charles had borrowed the money, equivalent to about £5,000 in 2022 values, in 1876. George argued that the loan was from the now deceased former secretary of the society. However, the Foresters produced evidence he was aware that it in fact it had come from the society.
Stamford Mercury – Friday 02 June 1893
© THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
On 16th June a notice appeared in the same newspaper of the sale of the property by auction.
Stamford Mercury – Friday 16 June 1893
© THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Advert for the sale of George’s late father’s ‘Cottage or Tenement’ in Ludford Parva. This was after administration of Charles’s estate was granted to George and the consequence of a court action ‘Portus and others v Grant’.
This did not end the matter though. There was a further report in the Stamford Mercury on the 28th July. No bona fide bids had been received for the property and the Foresters returned to the court to request that it take over the administration of Charles’s estate so that the society’s loan could be recovered from £35 held in the savings bank at Louth which allegedly was all that remained of the £115 that had been sworn to by George at the time he was granted the administration of the estate. Apparently, George was not present as the judge ordered that he be given notice of the application and for an affidavit to be filed as to his dealings with the estate.
We do not know what happened after this. No further reports have been found.
There is a gap of about five years in the records until starting in June 1898 George was spending time back in the workhouse in Southwark.
8th June 1898 – 21st June 1898. Mint Street Workhouse, Traveller, Marital status W[idowe]r (even though, as we will see, Jessie was still alive). Discharged at his own request.
29th October 1898 – 8th August 1899 Mint Street Workhouse, now described as a Carman, again W[idowe]r and discharged at his own request.
There is an entry for Geo Grant Paulson admitted to the St Saviour Workhouse, Southwark on 4th December 1900. It states he is a Baptist. Previously he had been recorded as C of E. His year of birth is incorrectly given as 1839 rather than 1847. His occupation is given as Coachman.
The 1901 census records George as an inmate at Newington Workhouse. He is described as married and a coachman. His age is given, again incorrectly, as 61. He was 53.
He was transferred on 5th Dec 1902 to Newington Workhouse and then discharged on the 12th December to Horton Asylum.
The Lunacy Patients Register has an entry recording his admission on that date to the Horton Lunatic Asylum Epsom.
Records for Horton Asylum are held by The London Metropolitan Archives (LMA). Unfortunately, George’s case notes are in a volume that is in too poor a condition to be viewed. His name is however to be found in the Register of Patients which gives some information about his circumstances.
He had been admitted from Newington Workhouse. His mental disorder was Melancholia, supposedly caused by Alcoholism and a head injury and the duration of the attack was 17 years, that is starting in 1885. His health is described as ‘Moderate’.
There is a gap in the online records covering this time between the entry in the 1881 census when he was living with Jessie and the first records found of George’s admissions and discharges to the workhouse which start in 1890.
There are no details of how he obtained his head injury. Was it inflicted by a fall caused by his alcoholism or an injury while he was a Mariner? Was this the start of the Epilepsy that we will find recorded on his death certificate? The combination probably made it hard for him to hold down a permanent occupation. Hence some stays in the Workhouse and the suspected breakdown of his marriage.
On 29th January 1909 sadly George died in the asylum.
As was the case with the majority of asylum patients, a post mortem was carried out and the report, which is held by the LMA, records the cause of death as Epilepsy and Mitral (heart valve) Disease which is what appears on the Death Certificate, certified by J R Lord, the Medical Superintendent of the asylum. The informant was Sam Elgee, acting superintendent of Horton Asylum. George’s occupation is given as ‘coachman’ and his residence prior to Horton Asylum is confirmed as Newington Workhouse, Walworth. It is mentioned in the autopsy report that he had two tattoos. Is it possible that these were a legacy of time spent as a sailor?
The UK Find a Grave entry has 5th Feb as George’s death date. This is his probable burial date.
What became of George’s wife Jessie?
At the time of the 1901 census Jessie was a visitor at 1, Doctor Street, Newington in the household of a confectioner, Elizabeth Deans, from Wicklow. She is recorded as a Dressmaker living on her own account. Her ‘Condition as to Marriage’ is M[arried].
In 1911 Jessie was a housekeeper for Frances Selina Lancaster, a Theatrical Costumier, at 97 Grosvenor Park, Newington. She is recorded as a widow which implies that she knew that George had died.
In the 1939 Register Jessie is at St Francis Hospital, Constance Road, East Dulwich. Her date of birth is recorded as 4th February 1850 which would make her 89; her widowed status is also recorded. Under ‘occupation’ she is described as ‘incapacitated’. St Francis Hospital, formerly the Constance Road Workhouse, catered for geriatric patients.
Jessie’s year of birth changes in the records: 1848 at birth; 1852 on 1911 census; on 1939 register and death register it is 1850.
Jessie died aged 90 in Q3 1940. She was buried on 2nd September in Southwark.
Notes of interest:
Baumber, a small village 3.5 miles from Horncastle and part of the manor owned by Thomas Dighton, whose daughter and heir married Edward Clinton, second son of the Earl of Lincoln. Later bought by Joseph Liversley. Baumber was reputed for their racing stables and in 1875 the Epsom Derby winner Galopin was bred there.
Ludford Magna and surrounding farmland was an RAF base during WW2. After the war the unheated Nissan huts were used to house the displaced Polish people, until it closed in 1955/56. It reopened again during the Cold War 1958- 1963.
1861 St George the Martyr Workhouse Southwark was part of the Lancet report on conditions in Workhouses. 1867 Metropolitan Poor Act:- The Metropolitan Asylums Board.
Thank you to Roger Miller who researched records at the LMA.