The Greswell family
My mother’s mother, Louisa Greswell, was born in Cookham, Berkshire, in the later months of 1875. Her father was listed in the 1881 Census as Thomas Greswell (42, so born in 1839, Coal Merchant), born in Drayton Oxon. and her mother was Ann Greswell (41), born in Cookham in about 1840 as Ann Tubb. They were married in Cookham in 1864 (he is called “Griswell” in the record) and had quite a large family by the 1881 Census, beginning with Albina E(lizabeth) (14); Thomas (12); Annie (10); Arthur (8); Louisa (5) and William (2). In the 1891 Census report, three children were still at home: Louisa (15), William (12, Stable assistant) and the youngest, May (9). May was later to emigrate to Australia but came back on a visit in about 1952, when she came to tea with us. She looked exactly like her sister Louisa only younger! My grandmother always claimed to recall playing with the artist Stanley Spenser, Cookham’s most famous figure, but since he was only born in 1891, that seems unlikely, though possible. She claimed that he was a “naughty boy.”
By 1901, Annie Greswell was living alone with her husband at 38, The Moor, in Cookham. “Louise” was living as a children’s maid at The Manor House, Eastbourne, May was a housemaid in Shanklin, Isle of Wight.
The Davies-Gilbert family, for whom Louisa Greswell went to work, were (and remain) one of the main landowners in Eastbourne. The 1901 Census shows that the head of the Davies-Gilbert family for whom Louise was working, Carew Davies-Gilbert (1852-1913), was absent from Eastbourne; his wife (Grace Katherine Rosa, daughter of George Staunton King Massey Dawson of Ballinacourte, Co Tipperary, Ireland, whom he had married in 1881) was there “living on her own means” with 5 daughters, ranging from 19 to 6. In fact there was no son in the family. The youngest daughter, aged 6, was called Honor, the name later given to my mother’s sister. Above her came Hester, already 9, so Louise Greswell was almost certainly mainly responsible for looking after Honor. There was an unmarried female cousin of 43, too. Also living in the house were no less than eleven servants, including 2 governesses, a “lady’s maid,” and a “children’s maid” who was Louise Greswell. This is the origin of her Cornish destiny. In addition to their Eastbourne estate, the Davies-Gilbert family owned a splendid Cornish country house, Trelissick, situated in the parish of Kea, very near Feock. When Carew died in 1913, Trelissick was sold while the more lucrative properties were bequeathed to his two eldest daughters. Gran certainly went at least once with the family on a visit to Germany, she never forgot the German word for a 'pillow-case' (Kopfkissenuberzug) because it sounded so funny. She had a collection of photos from that time but her dying wish was that they should be burned, alas.
Born in 1874, my maternal grandfather James Green seems to have attracted the attention of someone at Trelissick for, according to family tradition, he was sent at about 12 years of age to spend a year as an apprentice gardener in Kew Gardens. He then came back to Trelissick to work as “Gardener Domestic .“
1907, the marriage of Louisa Greswell and James Green
was recorded at Maidenhead, Berkshire. They had
presumably been married at Cookham, obviously after
meeting (being formally introduced by their
employers?) in Trelissick during one of the visits by
the Davies-Gilbert family. At the Census of 1911 we
find James and Louisa living in one of the row of
estate-owned houses along the left-hand side of the
road going down to King Harry Ferry, probably the
topmost house which was later demolished. It must have
been a small cottage, it only had 4 rooms. By now they
had a son, John Greswell Green, aged 2, (March 27,
1909 - July 12, 2009). In actual fact Louisa was
already pregnant and on July 24, 1911, she gave birth
to a daughter, Nan Albina, my mother. The rather odd
names were almost certainly those of Louisa’s elder
sisters Annie and Albina.
There is a
problem about the Greswell lineage. My mother told me
that the Greswells came from Boston, Lincolnshire.
Henry Greswell 45
Mary Greswell 40
Juliet Greswell 10
Eliza Greswell 10
Benjamin Greswell 5
William Greswell 5
Henry Greswell 1
But there is no obvious connection with the Greswells of Drayton that I can see . . . .