Thomas James

1798 - ????

Claimant or beneficiary


Thomas James 'of Clements Inn', son of John Thomas James and Elizabeth, née Owen, born 1798, London. Nephew of Humphrey Owen (q.v.), husband of Frances Wright Wright (widow of William Burt Wright). Claimed compensation for three estates in Manchester, Jamaica, as co-executor of Edward Owen, for a group of enslaved people on another estate in Manchester as guardian of his son John Thomas James (q.v.) and for a fifth estate in Manchester as trustee of Elizabeth Brooks with William Morrice. He was also very probably the same man as the Thomas James acting as trustee for New Shafston Pen in Westmoreland.

  1. Thomas James was baptised 07/06/1798 at St Mary Le Bow, London, the son of John Thomas James and Elizabeth, née Owen. He had two older brothers baptised at St Mary Le Bow: Charles, born 27/10/1794, baptised 26/11/1794 and William, born 21/06/1796, baptised 26/11/1796. A younger sister, Elizabeth, was baptised 29/06/1799 at St Ann’s, Blackfriars and another sister, Carolina was baptised on or just before 13/08/1800 and buried as an infant 13/08/1800 at All Saints, Edmonton. A younger brother, John, was born 08/10/1804 and baptised 30/10/1804 at St George’s, Bloomsbury. Their parents, John Thomas James and Elizabeth Owen, were married by licence at St Mary Le Bow 22/08/1793. Both were described as single and both signed their names clearly. Witnesses to the marriage were Harriet Hopkins and Chas(?) James. Carolina’s burial provided extra information about John Thomas James: Hambro’ Merchant, Queen Street, London. (Elizabeth James, née Owen, appears to be the sister of Humphrey Owen (q.v.) as Humphrey’s will names John James, nephew, as an executor: see notes on Humphrey Owen. (The 1871 census entry for John James gave his birthplace as St George’s, Bloomsbury, which led to his baptism and parents, from which other baptisms were found, with names and dates tying in with the 1851 census.)

  2. Thomas James married Frances Wright Wright on 20/07/1822 at St Mary-le-Bone, Middlesex: ‘Thomas James Esquire of this parish, bachelor, married Frances Wright Wright of this parish, widow. Married by license.’ Both signed the register. Witnesses: Elizabeth Brooks, Geo Brooks and Maria Owen. Elizabeth Brooks is mentioned in the same claim as the grandmother of Helen Frances Wright and her status as the mother of Frances, and with George as Frances’ brother,  is almost certainly confirmed in ‘Wrights of St Elizabeth Family’: ‘William Burt Wright b 18/07/1782. Married 11/03/1817, Frances Brooks (d. before 1829, sister of George) at Shaftston Pen (outside Savanna la Mar) in Westmoreland, he of Kingston. He died 20/02/1821, drowned in bathroom. Buried in Kingston Church, referred to as Merchant of Kingston…. In WBW’s will, she is referred to as Frances Wright Wright ….Wife remarried Thomas James, who was appointed guardian for H Frances Wright until 21.’

  3. In Cobham, Surrey, there is a baptism for Fanny Wright, daughter of Thos and Frances James on 22/07/1823 (born 07/05/1823). Thomas is described as a Gent with the address as Cobham. In the Parish of Lewisham on 16/04/1828 there is a baptism for Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas and Frances James. The abode is given as Southend (this is a district within Lewisham, not the Southend in Essex) and Thomas is given as Gentleman. In the column headed ‘By whom the Ceremony was performed’ there is an unusual note: ‘As supplied by the Revd Joseph Fletcher April 23 1828 to me Hugh Jones Vicar’. Neither of the above baptisms can be definitely accepted as baptisms for the correct Thomas and Frances James as they stand but a baptism on 21/04/1831, also in Lewisham, is fairly clearly the right family: ‘Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas and Frances Wright James, Southend, Gentleman’. There is no evidence that the first Elizabeth died and that this child was named after her and census evidence would suggest that the two baptisms are actually for the same child. Frances Wright James was buried 17/04/1828, aged 31, in St Nicholas, Brighton, Sussex. The baptism in Lewisham on 16/04/1828 for Elizabeth James, daughter of Thomas and Frances James, is the day before this burial and is probably explained by the unusual note giving the baptism ‘As supplied by the Revd Joseph Fletcher April 23 1828 to me Hugh Jones Vicar’. Presumably the family, normally resident in Lewisham, were in Brighton, perhaps on holiday, when Elizabeth was born on or just before 16/04/1823, perhaps prematurely. It is likely that a hasty private baptism took place in Brighton which was then entered in the Lewisham register ‘as certified’. Her mother must have died at or just after Elizabeth’s birth. Since there is another baptism for Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas and Frances Wright James in Lewisham in 1831, three years after the death of Frances, the explanation is probably that Thomas or other family members, felt that the hasty private baptism was not an official one, hence the second baptism.

  4. There is no obvious sign of Thomas James in the 1841 census but at 2 Marine Parade, Dover, Kent, there is an interesting group: Fanny James, 15, Jacintha James, 15, Elizabeth James, 13, Louise James, 10, and Helen Wright 20. Fanny, Jacintha and Elizabeth James and Helen Wright are all shown as not born in county with Louisa James shown as born in county. Ages for those over 15 are rounded down to the nearest five in the 1841 census so Fanny would be 15-19. An age of around 18 would match the 1823 baptism of Fanny in Cobham. Fanny would thus be old enough to be head of the household, especially as there is a 35-yr-old governess, Eleanor Bigg, resident in the household, plus three female and one male servants. The 13-yr-old Elizabeth would match the 1828 baptism in Lewisham which would suggest that this child did not die but was probably, as suggested above, baptised again in 1831. Helen Wright is almost certainly the Helen Frances Wright mentioned in the claim, the daughter of Frances Wright Wright, née Brooks, and William Burt Wright. Against this is the fact that Helen Frances Wright is described as an infant in the 02/02/1836 letter mentioned in the claim. But perhaps this simply means that she was under age and Thomas James was her guardian till she became 21 (see note 2 above)? Also in 1841, living together in Littlebourn in Kent, are Thomas’ brothers, Charles, William and John, all given as ‘Ind.’, together with John’s wife, Elizabeth and two children, Elizabeth,3, and Charles, 9 months. The combination of Dover for Thomas’ children and Littlebourn for his brothers would suggest that two burials in Littlebourn – Elizabeth James, aged 68 on 14/03/1839, abode Dover, and John Thomas James, aged 79, on 02/04/1841, abode Dover, are for the parents.

  5. On 16/08/1842 at St John’s Church, Paddington, Helen Frances Wright married George Hill Clifton. Both are given as of full age with George given as a Clerk but, surprisingly, no father’s name is given for either of them. However, two of the witnesses are Fanny James and Elizabeth James. The other witnesses are Thomas Innes, Philip Miller[?] and Fanny Clifton. A note in the Gentleman’s Magazine gives the bride’s father: ‘August 16th. (1842) At Paddington, the Rev. George Hill Clifton, Rector of Ripple and Queenhill, Wore, to Helen-Frances, only child of the late W. Burt Wright, esq. of Jamaica.’

  6. The 1851 census, at Ripple Rectory, Worcestershire, shows George H Clifton, 42, Rector of Ripple, born Worcester, Helen F Clifton, 32, born Jamaica, West Indies, four servants and two visitors, Fanny James, unmarried, aged 27, born Surrey, Cobham, and Elizabeth James, 22, born Sussex, Brighton, both given as ‘Gentlewoman’ for occupation. This census entry clearly ties in with the 1823 baptism of Fanny James to Thomas and Frances in Cobham and Elizabeth is the right age to match the 1828 baptism of Elizabeth James to Thomas and Frances in Lewisham but with her place of birth here is given as Brighton, matching her mother’s burial. The 1851 census also shows that the Jacintha and Louisa James of the 1841 census are the daughters of Thomas’ brother, Charles James, 56, Retired Officer of H.M.S. Scotch Greys, born Kent, Greenwich. The household is still in Littlebourn Village, Kent, and in addition to Charles, Jacintha and Louisa there is Georgina, 26, another daughter, and William, brother, 54, unmarried, Officer Half Pay H.M.S. 90(?) Foot, born Middlesex, London, John, 46, brother, married, Retired Officer H.M.S. 5(?) Foot(?) Guards, born Middlesex, Bloomsbury and John’s wife, Eliza, born Jamaica, and their six children, some born London, some born Dover. Eleanor Bigg of the 1841 census is also with the family as a visitor, occupation Governess. Again there is no obvious sign of Thomas James in this census.

  7. Later censuses follow various members of the family through, with several buried in Littlebourne, to the death of Jacintha James in 1910, aged 86, but there is no obvious sign of Thomas James at any point. Fanny James married James Trower Bullock, born Jamaica, in the Littlebourne area in the June quarter of 1860 and she and her husband, an Attorney and Solicitor, are in Debenham, Suffolk, in 1861 with Elizabeth James as a visitor in the household. In 1871 Fanny and James are in Purton, Wiltshire but there is no sign of Elizabeth James, nor of Elizabeth under a possible married surname. James Trower Bullock’s death is registered in Brentford, Middlesex in 1880 and there is a likely death for Fanny, aged 56, in the same area in 1879. The fact that there is no obvious sign of Thomas after the claim and the fact that Fanny and Elizabeth are living with their cousins and/or half-sister or each other in the various censuses suggests that Thomas died between the correspondence of 1836 and the 1841 census. No obvious burial has been found.

  8. The claim mentions John Thomas James, son of Thomas James and Frances Wright James. While there is no definite sighting of this son, there is a baptism, on 20/07/1826 in Newchurch, Isle of Wight, Hampshire, for a John Thomas James to parents Thomas Wright James and Frances. The date would fit perfectly and the combination of the parents’ names seems to be more than coincidence: the middle name of Wright might have been given to the father rather than the mother. Another source for the same baptism gives John Thomas Wright James with parents Thomas Wright James and Frances Wright James. The only sources available online are transcripts so a sight of the actual register would be needed to clarify this. There is no obvious entry for this John Thomas James, mentioned in the claim, in the 1841 census. He would only be about 15 years old so would be expected to appear either with family or at a school. However, his sisters, Fanny and Elizabeth, are in Dover in 1841 and in the March quarter of that year, and therefore shortly before the census was taken, there is a death registered for a John Thomas James in the Dover registration district. No burial online.


T71/860: Manchester claim nos. 113, 114, 222 and 443. T71/860 Manchester no. 82. Claim by Elizabeth Brooks, Absentee, tenant in tail. Notes say: 'Will of Geo Brooks by which Eliz Brooks is tenant during widowhood'; 'Letter received from Messrs Meredith & Reeve giving notice of the death of all the executors appointed by the will of the late John [sic] Brooks'; 'Award amended and altered from Eliz Brooks to Thomas James and William Morrice.'; T71/1378/9 Westmoreland no. 414.

Probably a London attorney and possibly the Thomas James of 11 Gray's Inn Square and 21 Burton-crescent in 1836 whose will 'Bencher of the Honorable Society of Gray's Inn' of Burton Crescent was proved 20/10/1853: Boyle's Directory 1836, p. 457; PROB 11/2179.

  1., London, England, Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1538-1812 [database online];, London, England, Marriages and Banns, 1754-1921 [database online].

  2., London, England, Marriages and Banns, 1754-1921 [database online]; [accessed 28/12/11].

  3., London, England, Births and Baptisms, 1813-1906 [database online]; Sussex Family History Group Burials online.

  4. 1841 census online;, East Kent Burial Index 1813-1846 [database online].

  5., London, England, Marriages and Banns, 1754-1921 [database online]; [accessed 28/12/11].

  6. 1851 census online.

  7. 1861, 1871 and subsequent censuses online; Kent Family History Society burials online; FreeUKGen, England and Wales Free BMD Database, Deaths, 1837-1983 [database online].

  8., England and Wales Christening Records 1530-1906 [database online]; FamilySearch baptisms online; FreeBMD Death Indexes online.

Further Information

Frances Wright Wright nee Brooks
Fanny (1823-1879), John Thomas (1826?-), Elizabeth (1828-)

Associated Claims (5)

£1,960 2s 6d
Awardee (Executor or executrix)
£2,326 4s 6d
Awardee (Executor or executrix)
£1,419 10s 7d
Awardee (Executor or executrix)
£184 0s 5d
Awardee (Trustee)
£337 14s 6d
Awardee (Trustee)

Relationships (6)

Step-father → Step-daughter
Second Husband → Wife
Other relatives
Notes →
Thomas James married Frances, the widow of William Burt...
First Cousins
Nephew → Uncle
Nephew → Uncle

Addresses (1)

Cobham, Surrey, South-east England, England