Renshaw Family

‘Transport for London!’

As so often happens, I have been side tracked by the interesting story of a distant relation by marriage. Working with Dwight, with whom I share ancestry, we have been trying to identify his predecessors.

It may be useful to recap on previous research. My ancestor Joseph Lovell Raine, married Elizabeth ‘Betsy’ Rogers, and his sister Charlotte Lovell Raine married John Renshaw. Another sister, Elizabeth Lovell Raine married Edward Paul. There was also a brother George, although we have been unable to locate further information of him. Also a number of step siblings.

This whole family has been elusive and it has taken years to unravel their at times, unbelievable stories. It appears the story of John Renshaw may be as interesting!

We begin with the marriage of John Renshaw to Charlotte Lovell Raine on April 11th 1852 at St Marys Church Paddington. His father was given as Henry William Renshaw a coachman. Witnesses were William Rapley and Mary Ann Till.

William Rapley had been a fellow servant with John in the house of Robert Allen, a merchant, at the time of 1841 census. Mary Ann Till was Charlotte’s step sister. John Renshaw was also a witness at the marriage of Charlotte’s sister Elizabeth in 1851.

Soon after marriage, John and Charlotte Renshaw, emigrated to America, where a handwritten note was written and passed down the generations.

Handwritten note detailing family ancestry.

It gives John Renshaw’s date of birth as 19th February 1830 and states that his mother was named as Bull or Buce, although this isn’t clearly written.

Search for a suitable birth on brought up the following record. The birth of John Renshaw born 19th February and baptised March 21st 1830, to William and Hannah of Broad Street, William a Porter. It all seems to be falling into place.

Renshaw is not an especially common surname, particularly in the London area. My guess would suggest it to be a ‘Northern English’ name. Searching for other children born to William Renshaw in Middlesex between 1820 and 1840, brings up 9, some repeats. One couple, a William Renshaw and Mary, a copper plate drawer, obviously not ‘ours’, they had a number of children. Also a William and Sarah, probably not, but needs further investigation. However this entry below is particularly interesting.

William Bues Renshaw born to William and Johanna, baptised May 4th 1828. They were living at James Street and William was a servant. Sadly four years later, William (Bues) died, at Broad Street, and was buried August 16th 1832, at St James. Westminster.

Is Johanna a misheard or misspelt version of Hannah, or Hannah a shortened version of Johanna? However the ‘Bues’ is an interesting connection to the ‘Buce’ in the handwritten note from America.

Some years ago, I did a general search for John Renshaw and his ancestors, in the hope it may give some clues to the Lovell Raine ancestry, but unfortunately I had little information to go on, and didn’t get very far. Now with the new information from Dwight, we can hopefully find out more about the Renshaw’s, which may in turn lead to new discoveries in the Lovell Raine line.

In the recent investigations, the first search on, was for a John Renshaw born c1830 in Middlesex, and this entry appeared:

Workhouse Admissions book for Westminster.

In 1843 Hannah aged 40 and John aged 13, of 24 Earl Street, were admitted into the workhouse on 18th February. It states their place of settlement as St. Marylebone.

Deserted by the husband who is not inculpable a warrant was served, he appears and is to await the Magistrates decision on Tuesday next as to maintenance, he being an omnibus driver. She was allowed at first 10/- weekly. But shilling by shilling nothing.

Workhouse Discharge book.

Ten days later, on 28th February they were discharged.

Hannah’s discharge entry in the ledger: ‘A magisterial arrangement and warrant against the husband.

And by John’s discharge entry in the ledger: ‘With the father.’

So we now have information that John’s mother was Hannah, and was born about 1803. His father William was an Omnibus Driver.

It seems rather strange that in 1841, John is a servant in the house of Robert Allen (along with William Rapley and his wife Mary). Then in 1843, he shows up in the workhouse with his mother Hannah.

Point of interest: In both 1851 and 1861 censuses (see below), William Renshaw, Omnibus Driver, claims to be unmarried, and we have not found a suitable marriage for him. Just wondering, if Hannah, having been deserted at some point prior to 1843, wanted her revenge on William, so took John along to the workhouse with her, claiming for his upkeep too. Presumably he was either their only child, or the only child she was likely to receive maintenance for.

A search for a marriage of William Rapley, brings up this very interesting information, his marriage to Mary Bues on 8th November 1840 at Marylebone. Further searches need to be done, but might it be that Mary Rapley (Bues), is John Renshaw’s aunt?

Marriage of William Rapley 1840.

For some reason, William Rapley was in police custody, at the time of the 1851 Census.

1851 census entry, William Rapley.

However, ten years later he was back with his family at St Mary Abbotts.

1861 William Rapley census entry.
1851 Census entry William Renshaw

In 1851 census, William Renshaw is lodging in the house of George Dedman, (apparently unmarried!), yet on September 29th 1852, a son, William Renshaw was born at Hermitage Street and baptised on October 15th to William, an Omnibus Driver, and Sarah (GRO index records her surname as Baker).

GRO Reference: 1852  D Quarter in KENSINGTON PADDINGTON AND FULHAM  Volume 01A  Page 3
Birth details for William Renshaw 1852.

Sadly 5 weeks later on November 14th, this baby died and was buried.

1861 Census entry for William Renshaw

Finding the following records would be helpful

  • 1841 census entry: Jo/Hanna, William,
  • 1851 census entry: John, Jo/Hanna,
  • 1861 census entry: Jo/Hanna,
  • 1871 census entry: Jo/Hanna, William,

At some point between 1801 and 1828, William Henry Renshaw left Nottinghamshire. We do not know why, but probably hoping for a better life. At that time, the mining industry of Nottinghamshire was taking off, and perhaps young William did not fancy a life of toil underground. Instead he headed for London, perhaps hoping to make his fortune. Beginning as a servant, he worked his way up to Omnibus Driver, which was probably a pretty good job, by the standards of the day, and certainly would have required intelligence.

His son John, later showed the same pioneer spirit, when he left England with his wife and young family, for a new life in America.