In summary, George Mitchenall was born in 1832 in Edenbridge, Kent. His father, William, was then 39 and his mother, Mary, was 41. He married Elizabeth Penfold and they had five children together before Elizabeth died. He then married Mary Sole Kidman and they had nine children together. He died on 4 May 1904 at the age of 72. 14 children, 2 marriages and a whole host of history - and descendants still alive in England and the United States. There's a lot to tell about George.
He was born in Edenbridge and probably lived at home until he moved to live as an apprentice with William Balton and with his wife Eliza. In 1851 he was living with the blacksmith William along the High Street in Edenbridge from his mother and father. His exact birth date is not clear, but the 1841 census (6/6/41) says he is 9, and the 1851 census (30/3/51) says he is 18. If these are correct, his birth was most likely in April or May 1832. Later census ( 1861, 1871, 1881 and 1891) all record his age as n8 ( 28,38,48, 58) although the 1901 census says 69. All later census took place between the 30th March and 7th April, so excepting the 1901 census are consistent.
The next year, in 1852, he married his first wife Elizabeth Penfold. Elizabeth was the first child of Sophia Penfold, born before Sophia's marriage to James Mills in 1832, and not James child. By the 1841 census Elizabeth, aged 10, is living separately from her mother Sophia. She is living on Edenbridge High Street but not with her mother, who lives with her step father James Mills. Instead she is in the household of Stephen Water (aged 71) and 5 other young people. Next door but one is George's elder sister Mary (just 15), also living away from home with Mr Mellish, the baker. A possible son of the baker, George Mellish, lives with Elizabeth at Mr Water's house. (Elizabeth's identity is confirmed by her mothers's presence looking after her grandchildren (1861 census) after Elizabeth's death about 1860. (see below))
George was 20 when he married the 22 year old Elizabeth, at St George The Martyr, in Borough High Street, on 21st November 1852. This was a bare month before their son George William was born in Edenbridge, so he presumably had met Elizabeth some months before. Both were living away from their parents, although all were living in Edenbridge High Street. George's brothers James and Amos were witnesses at the ceremony, and both George and Elizabeth were stated to be "of full age". It seems reasonable to assume his brothers knew he wasn't 21.. His son, William George, or George William, (it changes) was the only one of their children born in their home town of Edenbridge, and they then moved fairly regularly.
George and Elizabeth's next child, Simon James, was born in 1855 in St Mary Cray, Bromley. St Mary Cray is east of Petts Wood and Orpington. Then in 1857, John was born in Woolwich (or East Greenwich) - still identified as Kent.
Mary Jane, born in 1858, was born in Lewisham St Mary, probably at South End Village, which is where brother David (1859) was also born. Its also probably where his wife Elizabeth died, and is where George states he lives in the 1861 Census. Here George is stated to be a widower, and his mother, Mary Mitchenall, his mother in law Sophia Mills, and his sister Ann and her husband William are also in the house - presumably all helping to look after his 5 children, and George not yet 30. He's 28 with 5 children. His mother and mother in law are looking after them, as George apparently had interests elsewhere. He has business and personal interests elsewhere.
Georges later life revolves around Gipsy Road, Norwood, and he may have started a shop at Gipsy Road in Norwood in 1852, 9 years before the 1861 census, at the age of 20. 1852 is the same year he married his first wife. This shop is certainly near where he was living in 1871 and where he died in 1906. Was George, or any Mitchenall, really running this shop in 1852? 1852 is the year the reconstruction of the Crystal Palace at Penge Place commenced, following the Great Exhibition of 1850. The Exhibition Hall was dismantled from Hyde Park and moved to a site on the top of the hill, today crowned by two broadcasting masts. The effect on business in the local area must have been significant - but was it George who recognised the opportunity?
1832 to 1906
George married again shortly after the death of his first wife, who must have died either in childbirth or very shortly after the birth of David in 1859. On the 7th July 1861 he re-married to Mary Sole Kidman, from St Neots in Hertfordshire, again at St George the Martyr, Borough High Street. This time the witnesses were from Mary's side of the family, and Mary signed herself Mary Mitchenall. This was but 3 months after the 1861 Census entry mentioned above, and George had only just turned 29. Mary inherited the 5 children, and although the marriage record says they both lived near St George's, it seems more likely they started their married life in South End Lewisham. By daughter Jane Mary's birth in 1864 they were in Norwood, but other events had already happened
Georges first son by Mary, Charles Robert was born on the 22nd October 1861, in Lewisham. This is 4 months after his marriage to Mary Kidman, but Charles must have been conceived in about February 1861, before the 1861 census entry. If we assume Charles is Mary's child, then we know that whilst George's mother and his late wife's mother were caring for his 5 children by his recently departed first wife, George was having a close relationship with another woman, whom he again married in her pregnancy.
The next 10 years are again eventful. After Charles Robert (1861) daugther Jane Mary (1864) was born.
Side note - Mary and Mary : George confused the records by giving two of his daughters the name Mary - which both daughters seem to have used as their known name. These are probably Mary Ann and Jane Mary (k/a Mary). George presumably wished that one of his second wife Mary's daughters bore her name.
The 1871 Census records only the childrens initials, but there is a daughter M aged 13 (born 1858 Lewisham) and daughter J aged 7 (born 1864 Norwood). The 1861 is a very clear record for three year old Mary. The 1881 Census records Jane, aged 17, born in Norwood - no Mary. The 1891 census records Mary J (27), an Ironmongers assistant, born in Norwood. So this is Jane Mary, not Mary Ann. Mary Ann, born Lewisham, with mother Elizabeth, seems to disappear, whilst Jane Mary, born Norwood, mother Mary, becomes Mary. In 1910, however, Sarah Ann and Mary Ann are baptised together, same father, and thereafter Mary Ann appears to live with Sarah and her husband W C Dubber, whilst (Jane) Mary reverses her names and runs a lodging house in Eastborne with her other sisters. Sarah and Mary Ann, with Sarah's husband, live very close to the Mitchenall cluster on Gipsy Road.
George's business is registered, and in 1867 he is recorded as a Whitesmith of Gipsy Road, alongside brother Amos, in Brixton. He is stated to be a smith, blacksmith and farrier.
Brother Amos died in 1867, and in early 1868 George had a son whom he christened Amos who was born, and died, with the first three months of the year. At the same time, George was up before the Magistrates for assaulting a constable, an offence he seems to have committed with Fredericke Cooke and William West. All three failed to appear on the 3rd March.
On the 20th March William West receives "Six Cat and Hard Labor" but Frederick Cook and and George are acquitted. So what happened? Fred Cook was the man who ran off with brother Amos's wife, and George had just lost both his brother and the son (whom he had named after his brother). Did George and Fred get lenient treatment because of the circumstances, was George involved in an altercation with Fred that the police intervened in? We'll probably never know.
We do know that his next child, Elizabeth, was born and died in 1871, and then in 1872 his daughter Agnes Charlotte was born. The 1871 census record Elizabeth as E - 3 months - she died before reaching six months. As the census was on 2nd April, and she is stated to be three months, she must have been born in January. She had died before July.
George and Mary have two further daughters, Lily Louisa (1875) and Margaret (1877). George was then 45, second wife Mary 42. The Ironmongery business in Gipsy Road seems to have continued, and trade directories show sons George and Frank opening a neighbouring business in Paxton Yard - between the shop on Gipsy Road and homes in Caroline Cottages and Oak Terrace occupied by members of his family. George himself moves into Bon Marche Terrace - at the back of the shop - but at some time took up residence in the shop at 246 Gipsy Road
246 Gipsy Road as it is today - Pomodoro, an italian restuarant, The alley besides SONDLYS, behind the taxi in this photo, leads to Bon Marche Terrace.
The year following the birth of his youngest daughter Margaret, George's mother died in Edenbridge. From this point forward, life seems to have settled down a bit and apart from confusion of residence with son George, he seems to have lived out his life in either 5 Bon Marche Terrace or 246 Gipsy Road. Son George William, also born in Edenbridge, lives close by at 2 GloucesterTerrace, off Hamilton Road, with son George Samuel. George William's two sons, George Samuel and Frank Rowland, were still running a business in Paxton Mews in the 1930's, and Frank is on the Electoral roll in 1961.
George (snr), however, survived to see the death of many of his siblings, including Ann who was living just round the corner having outlasted her third husband. She died at 105 Gipsy Road. Sister Rebecca died at 9 Paxton Yard in January 1901,
George's wife Mary died in April 1901, her address recorded as 246 Gipsy Road, and five years later, on the 4th May 1906, George followed. George left all his money and effects to Edwin Miles, a baker. He had accumulated £1079 4s 2d, not a small sum, but I am unable to establish any connection with Mr Miles.
George was buried, as was his wife and a number of other Mitchenall's living in this area, in Norwood Cemetery. He'd fitted a lot into in his 74 Years.