Monthly Archives: April 2018


John was 26 years old at the time of his marriage in the church of St. Mary, Plympton:


23 Aug 1858 John Tapson Full Bachelor Accountant


Parish of Charles, Plymouth (Father: Ebsworthy Tapson, Grocer)

Elizabeth Ann MacFarlane Full Widow


Plympton St. Mary (Father: Richard Hill, Gentleman) by Licence in the presence of Ebsworthy Tapson & Edmund Crese.


The births of two daughters were registered in Plymouth R.D.: Catherine Hill in 1859, Q2, and Annie Hill in 1860, Q3. The births of two more children were registered in the very large registrar’s district of St. Thomas, which covers the area around Exeter: John Richard Hill in 1862, Q2, and Rosa Hill in 1865, Q3. The family were back in the Plymouth area by the time of the 1871 census, when they were included in the return for Stoke Damerel (PRO RG10/2137 Fo. 5): at 4 Earls Acre, Milehouse Rd.


The family’s address is given more fully in THORNE’S THREE TOWNS’ DIRECTORY 1873, the three towns being Plymouth, East Stonehouse and Devonport (page 217); John’s name appears under Stoke and Morice Town:


Tapson John, accountant, Hill Field House, Alma Place, Earl’s Acre, Stoke

John is also listed at the same address in the Court section of Kelly’s 1873 directory for Devonshire.


Rosa Hill died in 1878 and was buried in Ford Park Cemetery:


16 Mar 1878 Rosa Hill Tapson 6 Albert Road, Plymouth (St. Andrew) 12 2 / 3 yrs

And Catherine Hill married John Foot in 1879, Q4 (Plymouth R.D.). Elizabeth and her unmarried daughter, Annie Hill, appear in the 1881 census for Plymouth St. Andrew (PRO RG11/2199 Fo. 116): at 2 Alvington Place.


Annie Hill had a Christmas Day wedding in the Plymouth church of St. Andrew:


25 Dec 1883 Charles Henry Mullard 28 Bachelor Accountant


3 Alvington Place (Father: William Mullard, Commercial Traveller)

Annie Hill Tapson 22 Spinster


26 Cambridge Road, Ford (Father: John Tapson. Mason) by Sup 1 Reg s Certificate in the presence of Ann Mullard & William Peter Henry White

It is strange that John should be described as a Mason in this marriage entry.


The Will of John Tapson dated 17 November 1896


This is the last Will and Testament of me John Tapson of N° 3 Hobart Terrace Plymouth Manager of the Bedford Brewery there. I give unto my Daughter Catherine Hill Foot my household goods and furniture and to my Son John Richard Hill Tapson I give my gold Watch and chain and as respects my freehold house and premises in Young’s Terrace Compton Gifford my monies shares in Public or other Companies bonds and all such real and residuary personal estate as I may die seized or possessed of I give and devise the same unto my Executrix hereinafter named Upon trust to sell and reduce into money such parts as shall not consist of money and to divide the net proceeds and my monies equally between herself the said Catherine Hill Foot my Daughter Annie Hill Mullard and my Son John Richard Hill Tapson in equal shares as tenants in common. I appoint my said Daughter Catherine Hill Foot to be the sole Executrix of this my Will. In witness whereof / have to this my last Will set my hand this seventeenth day of November One thousand eight hundred and ninety six


John Tapson


John died at Plymouth on 21 December 1896; his age was correctly given as 64. He was buried at Ford Park Cemetery:


24 Dec 1896 John Tapson 3 Hobart Terrace Plymouth (Charles) 64


Probate of John’s will was granted on 22 January 1897 to Catherine Hill Foot (Wife of John Foot), his effects being valued at £787 – 9 – 8.


It comes as a surprise that no mention was made of his wife, Elizabeth Ann, in John’s will; her death had not been registered when the will was written, and the only death subsequently registered which could possibly refer to her was in 1904, Q4 (Islington R.D.), when an Elizabeth Ann died at the age of 83, which is reasonably consistent with the age given for John’s wife in the census returns. In view of the fact that she was not with John at the time of the 1881 census (no trace of him or of his son, John Richard Hill, at that date has so far been found), one suspects that there may have been a breakdown in the marriage.


John Richard Hill also seems to have moved to the London area, for the marriage of a John Richard H. Tapson was registered in 1897, Q2 (West Ham R.D.) The death was registered (also West Ham R.D.) in 1904, Q3, of a Lydia Tapson, Aged 40, presumably John Richard Hill’s wife; he would have been 42 years old at the time. Two years later, in 1906, Q4, another marriage was registered (St. George, Hanover Square R.D.) of a John Richard H. Tapson; this would seem to have been John Richard Hill’s second marriage. There do not appear to have been any children of the first marriage; certainly no birth was registered in the West Ham R.D. during the period of that marriage.



[It’s in the nature of a book such as Bob’s, with several hundred years’ worth of official records scoured to produce the basics of our ancestors’ lives, that there is little by way of narrative. The longest pieces of prose are the wills, which is why I am reproducing so many of them. They present something of the family and historical settings.]

The Will of Ebsworthy Tapson dated 14 December 1864

This is the last Will and Testament of me Ebsworthy Tapson of the Borough of Launceston in the County of Cornwall Carpenter and Shopkeeper I bequeath unto my Wife Mary all money which may be in my house and standing to my credit in any Bank and all the household furniture and stock in trade in my business of a Shopkeeper, all debts which may be due and owing to me except the debts if any which either of my Children may owe me I give and bequeath to my said Wife the annual income which may arise from a sum of Two hundred pounds which by a certain Policy of Assurance will become due and payable at my death from the Royal Exchange Assurance Corporation Society . I give to my said Executors power to invest the said money arising from the said Policy and empower them to pay over the annual income arising therefrom as aforesaid I give devise and bequeath unto my Executors hereinafter named all those Messuages Tenements and Dwelling houses situate in Back Lane within the Borough aforesaid Upon Trust to pay over the annual rents arising therefrom unto my said Wife during her life but I declare that such annual rents as well as the annual income arising from the aforesaid sum of Two hundred pounds shall not be paid to my Wife in the event of her marrying again after my decease and on the decease or second marriage of my said Wife I direct that the said sum of Two hundred pounds and the whole of my said houses shall become the property of such of my Children as shall be then living their heirs and assigns share and share alike as tenants in common and not as joint Tenants Subject nevertheless that the share of each of such Children shall have deducted therefrom such sum as they shall respectively owe me at the time of my decease which sums so owing to me at the present time are as follows from my son James Fifty Pounds and from my son John Fifty pounds I direct that the shares which may become due to either of my Daughters shall be for her sole use independently of her husband . I appoint my said Wife and John Powell of Launceston aforesaid Grocer Joint Executors of this my Will hereby revoking all former Wills In Witness whereof I the said Ebsworthy Tapson have hereto set my hand this fourteenth day of December One thousand eight hundred and sixty four – Ebsworthy Tapson

In a codicil dated 8 November 1867 Ebsworthy revoked for good and special reasons the provision that the sum of fifty pounds be deducted from the share of each of his two sons James and John. The witnesses to the codicil were William Tapson Grocer and Dorcas Tapson, the son and daughter-in-law of his brother James. Ebsworthy died on 21 November 1867 at Launceston; he was interred at St. Thomas by Launceston Wesleyan Cemetery:

26 Nov 1867 Ebsworthy Tapson Launceston 77

Ebsworthy’s age given here, as in the census returns, suggests that he was born about 1790. His will and its codicil were proved at Bodmin on 30 December 1867; effects were valued at under £450.



ROBERT TAPSON, ROYAL ARTILLERY, GUNNER [The sad story of a short life. PTSD?]


Robert was just 19 when he enlisted into the Royal Artillery. A Royal Chelsea Hospital Document (PRO W097/1838) gives details of his military career:


Leith Fort 26 May 1874


Discharge of 972 Gunner Robert Tapson


16 years 44 days service (l P/12 year abroad in India)


Discharge — unfit for further service


Conduct has been Very Good and he is in possession of three Good Conduct Badges

His name appears three times in the Regimental Defaulters Book

He has never been tried by Court-Martial


A Medical Report is attached to the service record:

  1. a) Dyspepsia b) Eczema


It is possible that the Dyspepsia has been aggravated by drinking and that the Eczema is of a Syphilitic origin. The disease is likely to be permanent. Will not be able to contribute in any way towards livelyhood [sic].


No 972 Gunner Robert Tapson, by Trade a Shop-man, was born in the parish of Plymouth, Devon, and attested for the Royal Arty Reg at Woolwich, Kent, on 13 April 1858 at the age of 19 years.

Discharged at Leith Fort 15 June 1874

Age 35 Height 5 feet 7 inches

Complexion Fair Eyes Blue Hair Fair Trade Shopman

Intended Place of Residence Arundell Hotel, Litton, Devon


Robert, who did not marry, is shown in the 1881 census for Litton (page 200) living at Fore Street, Lifton, with his retired father, his widowed sister and her two daughters. It is clear from Robert’s medical report at the time of his discharge from the Royal Artillery on 15 June 1874 that his father had not then retired from the Arundell Arms. The fact that Robert’s sister Mary and brother William were given responsibility in their father’s will for making a weekly allowance to Robert might seem to suggest that Christopher considered Robert to be incapable of handling money wisely, especially if the implication in his medical report that he was a heavy drinker was well founded. However, an alternative explanation is that Robert’s health had further deteriorated and it was thought that he was unlikely to live long; for he died, at Lifton, within a year of the will being written. His death certificate* states that he died on 29 April 1881 of heart disease aged 42 years, that he was a Royal Artillery Pensioner, and that his father, Christopher Tapson, was present at his death; his age was accurately recorded on his death certificate. It is probable that the period of 11 years which Robert spent in India took its toll upon his health and was as much responsible for his medical condition as was his way of life, which itself was no doubt a consequence of the difficulties of living in that subcontinent. Robert was buried at Lifton.

Royal Artillery India 19th Century

THE BIG RED BOOK 19: further afield


The marriage of Nicholas to Emma Clay was registered in 1866, Q1 (Islington R.D.). The birth of their first child was registered at Hackney:

12 Dec 1866 Mark, son of Nicholas Tapson, Tailor Master, & Emma Tapson, formerly Clay, 4 Romsey Terrace, South Hackney

The birth of an Emma Tapson was registered in 1868, Q3 (Woolwich R.D.); although, to establish with certainty whether she was another child of Nicholas and Emma, her birth certificate would be needed, her name suggests that she probably was, especially since it is known that Nicholas and Emma were living in Woolwich by 1887, when Nicholas was listed in Kelly’s Post Office Directory for Kent:
Tapson N. Herbert road, Woolwich

Emma’s death was registered in 1876, Q3 (Woolwich R.D.); her age was given as 7.

Both Nicholas and his wife were included in Kelly’s 1888 Post Office Directoiy for
London, Southern Suburbs:

Tapson Nicholas, tailor, 143 Herbert road, Woolwich
Tapson Emma (Mrs), dressma, 143 Herbert road, Woolwich
and they were shown at the same address in the 1891 census for Plumstead (PRO RG12/536 Fo. 88):
143 Herbert Rd

Nicholas Tapson Head Mar 50 Tailor Devon, Stowford

Emma Tapson Wife Mar 53 Dressmaker Middlesex, Hanks (?)

Nicholas’s age given here establishes that he was the eldest son of John and Elizabeth, bom very nearly 50 years earlier.
Nicholas was actually bom at Marystow; his mistake in the census about his place of birth was no doubt due to the fact that his parents moved to Broadwoodwidger when he was still a small child, but had settled in Stowford by the time he was 9 years old.

Nicholas’s name does not appear in Kelly’s 1894 Post Office Directory for London,
Southern Suburbs, though his wife is still listed:

Tapson Emma (Mrs), dresma, 204 Herbert rd, Woolwich
Nicholas’s death was registered in 1913, Q4 (Woolwich R.D.), when his age was correctly given as 72.
The Emma Tapson, Aged 82 whose death was registered in 1918, Q2 (Wandsworth R.D.), was probably his widow, though her age, to be consistent with that given in the 1891 census, should have been recorded as 80 or 81.