The Jeal Mystery

A few years ago I received a photograph from my cousin and friend Bill Heasman, written on the back was the following :-

“This is my mother’s and uncle, Mr. and Mrs. Jeal.  They lived in a cottage by the ‘Brewery Tap’ in Lakedale Road, Plumstead.  I used to go and see them and meet my mother there when I came from school and we would walk home together.  My mother died suddenly of a heart attach when I was 13.  I was in the Ext 7th and left school then. My sisters Dolly then 17 and Kate 14 were mother’s helps.”        Lizzie Heasman

You would think that would be enough to work out who the couple were, wouldn’t you? Wrong!!!

The Jeal family are not an easy one to track down – they need to be teased out rather than tracked down in 10 minutes (metaphorically speaking).

Their name can be spelt on a variety of ways Gel, Geal, Heal etc.  Add into this mix the name Jewiss and you’ve got a minefield – Huss, Jervis you get the picture [but that’s for later].

I don’t find the London aspect of my family history very easy to get my head around – I have never been to Plumstead or walked its streets and acquainted myself with its finer points – this connection I feel is important to us, ‘the seekers’.

To overcome this problem I consulted and then transcribed Charles Booth‘s poverty account of Plumstead.

His descriptions are frank and to the point with none of the rose-tinting that one might get from memories.

“… all the houses practically brothels, used by sailors, loafers, waterside labourers and by the lowest grade soldiers … “

“… All these roads are 2st [storey], clean, fairly broad, built about 40 years ago : poor : have the look of tenants who earn money but don’t spend it well.  Clyne gives them all a bad character for drink …”

A thought suddenly occurred to me and I went off at a tangent and posted an ‘APB’ on a RootsChat forum and lo and behold an angel answered my call and it transpired that perhaps this wasn’t Mr. and Mrs. Jeal after all.

To be honest try as I might I’ve never be able to slot this photo into the Jeal / Heasman timeline – they are either dead; not born; not old enough for school; or simply in the wrong part of town.

With Rog’s help (of RootsChat) I started to think perhaps Lizzie had got it slightly wrong yes, the couple were her mother’s aunt and uncle but could it be one of her mother’s married aunts instead of a married uncle?  Only one could fit the bill – Elizabeth born 1826, three years older than her sister Emma (Lizzie’s grandmother, my 4x grandmother).

Elizabeth and her husband John lived on Cage Lane/Lakedale Road for much of their married lives and they didn’t die before Lizzie reached school age – hurray!

All in all I think ‘Rog’ cracked it for me, a fresh pair of eyes – thanks Rog.

So here is the photo in all its glory, I give you Elizabeth and John Jewiss.


2 June, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Family History. Leave a comment.

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