The Algar Family

The Nineteenth Century

John Algar (1) was born in Fressingfield, Suffolk, in 1792.  Two generations later, in Willesden, Middlesex, his grand-daughter Elizabeth Rosetta  Algar (1852-1926) was to marry James Henry Warden (1848-1920).  I have no evidence that there was any connection between these two families when they lived in Suffolk. It is a coincidence, and probably no more, that the Warden family members of the same generation as John Algar came from Ubbeston, in the same County, and no more than five miles away from Fressingfield. So whether the knowledge that their forbears came from the same part of Suffolk did anything to strengthen the bond between the young people and their parents, living in Willesden, is also an unknown.

In the early years of the nineteenth century both the Algars and Wardens took the bold step of moving south, from Suffolk to the County of Middlesex, to villages where a livelihood was to be gained from providing the growing metropolis of London with fruit, vegetables and flowers.  John Algar’s son, John Algar (2) married an Essex girl, Elizabeth Luck (1824-1905); but with that one exception, the Luck family stayed close to their Essex origins.

On July 6 1815, in the Parish of Islington St. Mary, Middlesex, John Algar married Elizabeth Rosetta Curtis (variously known as Rose, Rosa, and Rosina); they both came from the same Suffolk village of Fressingfield. She was a year younger that he.  Their story, as told by his grand-daughter Auntie Di, (Eliza Ann Algar 1858-1940) is that they lived for some time in an old farmhouse just outside Abney Park (Stoke Newington).  The modern day A-Z Street Atlas of London shows Abney Park as a cemetery.  This is now a very neglected open space, almost entirely surrounded by houses and roads.

Auntie Di’s story continued :- sometime before 1827 the family removed to the White Cottage, Lordship Lane, Tottenham, where the youngest son John (2) was born.  In fact I think that John (1) and his wife Elizabeth moved there quite a bit earlier than that, because Charles, b.1821, and George, b.1825, also give Tottenham, rather than Islington, as their birthplace (in the 1851 Census).  Louisa was born in Islington in 1818, but Robert, (the first son and eldest child, b.1816) married in Islington, and raised his own family in the Stoke Newington Road.  This may reflect the fact that he too was born there, rather than in Tottenham.

John Algar (1) cultivated a large nursery off Lordship Lane, and his sons, when grown, used to take the produce to Covent Garden Market.  Again, I consulted the A-Z Street Atlas, and found ‘Nursery Street’ and ‘Nursery Court’, just off Lordship Lane - a sure sign that here was the earlier location of the Algar enterprise, where now you will find modern housing developments and busy streets.
web_Algar John [1795]
John Algar 1 [1792]

In 1841 (the Census) we find Robert (now 26) working with his father in the nursery, helped by Charles (20), George (18), and John 2 (14).  Louisa has already left home - and in 1843 she was to marry Stephen Robert Dobbs.  Also living in this household, I found little Eliza Ann, aged one - grand-daughter to John and Rose.  This posed a problem - whose daughter could she be ?  The Census does not reveal all, however much the twentieth century historian would like it to do so !  Further diligent research in the birth, marriage and death indexes at the Public Record Office in London proved that she was Robert’s little daughter, and that his first wife, Sarah Elizabeth Dadd, died aged only 24, at or shortly after giving birth to Eliza Ann.

 Eliza Ann’s Grand-parents must have grown very fond of her, for when Robert eventually married for the second time, she stayed on with them, and was still there aged 21, in the 1861 Census, when John and Rosina were aged 66 and 65 respectively.  But in 1862, on June 23rd Eliza was married to Albert Scaby, a watchmaker, at St. Mary’s Newington, in Surrey.  John Algar (1) died in 1865, aged 70.  His wife, Rosina, pre-deceased him by just one year, and she was then 68.

I have now discovered what became of the Algar’s nursery business after their deaths: in the 1871 Census the nursery was being run by one Alexander McKay. As far as I can tell, none of John’s four sons took over the running of it at any point.   By 1851, neither Robert nor John was living at home, though Charles and George were still employed in the Nursery.  George died in 1853, aged just 28 and un-married.  Sometime in the next few years, and before 1861, Charles set up in business on his own account, as a florist & seedsman in the Tottenham High Road, not so very far from the Nursery.  By then he was married to Esther Harper(1858). Very sadly, Charles died in 1863, so they were not married for long.  There were no children, and Esther later re-married.

In 1851 Robert was living with his family at 1, Brunswick Gardens, Tottenham, not far from his father’s nursery.  In 1881, Robert and family were living in Stoke Newington, and he was still working as a gardener.

The youngest son, John Algar (2) is the most important one, from where I stand, since it was he who married Elizabeth Luck in 1850.

web_Algar John [1828]a                          web_Algar EL[1823]

 John Algar 2 [1827]                                Elizabeth Luck Algar [1823]

Their eldest daughter Elizabeth Rosetta became Mrs. James Henry Warden in 1873.

web_Algar ER [1852]
Elizabeth Rosetta Algar [1852]

John and Elizabeth spent almost the whole of their married life in Willesden, at Neasden Lodge, where John was the gardener to Neasden House.  But they started out (1851 Census) in Hope Place, Tottenham.  They were still living in Willesden in 1891, having by then moved to 79 Vicarage Road.  John would have been 63 then, and he may have retired from his life-time’s work of gardening.  Elizabeth died in 1905 aged eighty, and John (2) died in 1911, aged 83.  I have a photograph of them in on their 54th wedding anniversary, in 1904.

John and Elizabeth Algar’s four children were:- Elizabeth Rosetta (1852-1926) ; Mary Ann Luck (1853-1946), known to the family as Auntie Madge ; John (3) (1855-1914) ; Eliza Ann (1858-1940) otherwise known as Auntie Di. 

As I mentioned earlier, Elizabeth Rosetta married into the Warden family.  The aunties - Madge and Di - never married, and John (3) married Maria Jackman - ‘the girl next door’.  Her father, George Jackman, was the village farrier.  John and Maria also had four children - Dorothy, Frederick, Stanley and Leonard.  They were all born in the 1880’s - and for the time being, that is all that I can tell you about them.

Auntie Madge and Auntie Di had careers as Court Dressmakers.  Their brother John started out as a linendraper, but in 1891, when he was 35, he gives his occupation as Registrar of Births & Deaths (1891 Census).

web_Algar MAL                       web_Algar EA a

Mary Ann Luck Algar [1853]                           Eliza Ann Algar [1858]

And that is where we shall leave the Algar family.  I am sure that there is much more that could be told; and when time permits I shall look at the Willesden Chronicle and the Hendon Times, in the hope that I can fill out more details of their lives.

Looking for more details? Try the Family Groups page, where you will find Census references, birth, marriage and death records.