The Chapman and Gillions Family
by Linda Ayres
John James Chapman was born on the 10th January 1790 at Hungerford, Berkshire. He was the son of Captain Thomas Chapman and Mary (née Lowndes). Throughout the 17th and 18th centuries John James Chapman’s ancestors were well-known in the city of Bath, Somerset as members of the Corporation and sitting as Chief Magistrate on many occasions.
Captain Thomas Chapman was born in 1758 at Chatham, Kent. He served with the 23rd Regiment of Foot (Royal Welch Fusiliers). His regiment fought in almost every major campaign in the American War of Independence (1775-1783). During his time in America Captain Thomas Chapman met his future wife, Mary Lowndes. Mary was born on the 6th August 1764 in Pennsylvania, and was one of the nine children of James and Sarah Lowndes. In 1783 Captain Thomas Chapman and Mary Lowndes were married in America. By 1784 they had moved to England and were living at Hungerford, Berkshire.
Captain Thomas Chapman served in the campaign of 1794 to capture the Port-au-Prince, St. Domingo, which is the main port for Haiti. Unfortunately he died from yellow fever soon after he arrived.
On the 9th October 1794 the Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette reported: “In June last at Port-au-Prince, of yellow fever, Captain Thomas Chapman, of the 23rd regiment, second son of Colonel Chapman of this city, and nephew of the late Archdeacon Chapman. He left an afflicted widow and seven children”.
Mary Chapman subsequently returned to America. She died on the 20th November 1837. Her burial took place at St. Peter’s Churchyard, Philadelphia.
John James Chapman, a Soldier and Artist
On the 13th September 1805 John joined the Royal Regiment of Artillery. The following year he earned his commission as a Lieutenant. He served with the Walcheren Expedition under the command of the Earl of Chatham. The Expedition was one of the largest ever undertaken by Great Britain. Its objective was the crushing of the power of Napoleon. On the 28th and 29th July 1809 an expeditionary force of over 200 ships and 40,000 soldiers left Britain. On the 30th July 13.000 soldiers landed on the Island of Walcheren in the Netherlands. Soon after they arrived fever broke out on Walcheren, owing to its swampy nature and the bad water. Deaths rose to between 200 and 300 a week and before the evacuation of Walcheren on the 30th August 1809, over 4,000 troops had died and some 11,000 were ill. The Walcheren Expedition was a failure, as the fevers had destroyed the English army.
On the 3rd May 1820 John became Second Captain and the Adjutant of the Royal Horse Guards. He had served his country in many parts of the world. When he was in Asia with his regiment, he did several drawings and watercolours of places of historical interest. He later had them lithographed and published with the Royal Asiatic Society, of which he was a member. He was also a member of the Royal Geographical Society, and a Committee Member of the Royal Naval and Military Museum at Whitehall, London. Among his friends were Sir Richard Owen, a biologist, comparative anatomist and palaeontologist; Professor Michael Faraday, a physicist, and chemist; Sir Roderick Impey Murchinson, a geologist; Admiral Lord Nelson, famous for the Battle of the Trafalgar and Sir Walter Scott, the Scottish novelist, poet, and historian.
In 1825 Captain Chapman retired from the army on half pay. He travelled to various parts of Europe, America, and Asia. In 1828 he visited the Buddhist temples in Ceylon. From 1840 to 1849 he lived at 6 Old King Street, Bath, Somerset. He left about 150 volumes and manuscripts relating to Bath in charge of the Bath Literary Institution.
Marriage of Captain John James Chapman and Mary Gibson
On the 20th December 1852 John married Mary at the Parish of St. Luke, Middlesex. Mary was born on the 14th September 1819 at Cirencester, Gloucestershire. Before her marriage, Mary was a nurse and a midwife. By 1855 John and Mary were living at Hawley Road, Kentish Town, Middlesex. Two years later they moved to 33 Adelaide Square, Bedford, with their three children Marianne Gibson, Richard John, and Thomas Peter. Their youngest children, John James and Sarah Ash were born in Bedford.
On the 21st January 1867 Captain John James Chapman died aged 77 years at 33 Adelaide Square, Bedford. The Rev. R. W Fitzpatrick of Holy Trinity Church, Bedford, conducted the funeral service at Foster Hill Road Cemetery Chapel. Grave Ref: E3.7
Mary died on the 1st December 1874 aged 55 years at 24 Kimbolton Road, Bedford. Her burial took place in the grave with her husband on the 4th December.
Marianne Gibson Chapman
Marianne was the eldest of the five children of Mary and Captain John Chapman. She was born in 1851 at Paddington, London. Her christening took place on the 10th January 1866 at Holy Trinity Church, Bedford. On the 2nd August 1873 Marianne married Charles Edward Brown Gillions at St Peter’s Church Bedford.
Charles Gillions was born on the 21st June 1835 at Bedford. He was the son of Sarah and William Gillions. His father was a cabinet maker and upholsterer. The family lived at 4 Well Street, Bedford, (now known as Silver Street).
William Gillions was born in 1812 at Caldecote, Bedfordshire. He died on the 28th August 1862. His burial took place on the 2nd September 1862 at Foster Hill Road Cemetery. Grave Ref: H11.99
Sarah Gillions was born in 1796 at Biggleswade, Bedfordshire. She died aged 72 years at 4 Well Street in January 1868. Her burial took place on the 23rd January Foster Hill Road Cemetery. Grave Ref: H11.91
In 1859 Charles became an assistant master at the Commercial School Preparatory Department. In 1873 it changed to the Bedford Modern Junior School. His salary in 1859 was £30 per annum. In 2017, this was worth approximately £1, 773. 88. To supplement his income, he gave private lessons in drawing.
In 1873 and before her marriage Marianne designed the Grand Challenge Cup for the Bedford Regatta. As Honorary Secretary of the Bedford Regatta since 1854, Charles collected the subscriptions. The cup bears the name and town arms. On the lid is a water lily, and leaves decorate the stem. The makers of the challenge cup were John Bull, Jewellers and Silversmiths of the High Street, Bedford. The Grand Challenge Cup is 21 inches high and its weight is 130 ounces of solid silver. The value of the Grand Challenge Cup in 1873 was ninety guineas (£90 and 90 shillings). In 2017, this was worth approximately £5,916.55. In the 1873 Regatta the Thames Rowing Club became the first winners of the Grand Challenge Cup.
After their marriage Charles and Marianne lived at 2 Cambridge Villas, Alexandra Road, Bedford. By April 1881 Charles and Marianne were living at Waverly House, Alexander Road, Bedford with their three children – Mary aged 6, Rose aged 5 years and Francis aged 3 years. Also living with them were six male boarders of the Bedford Modern School, aged between 9 and 16 years old. It appears that Charles was their Housemaster.
On the 20th May 1881 Charles died within one day of his 46th birthday at Waverly House. His burial took place in the grave next to that of Captain John James Chapman and his wife Mary, at Foster Hill Road Cemetery. Grave Ref: E3.1
Marianne subsequently moved to 8 Gibbon Road, Bedford. In January 1884 Marianne became the first woman teacher of the Bedford Boys’ Modern School preparatory department. Marianne retired in 1912 and received a pension of £33 6 shillings 8 pennies per year. In 2017, this was worth approximately £2,605.74.
Marianne did not enjoy good health after she retired. She died on the 2nd February 1913 at her home at 4 Rutland Road, Bedford. The Reverends R. Howes and G. A. Walter, the curates of St. Paul’s Church, Bedford, read the service in the Foster Hill Road Cemetery Chapel. Her burial took place in the grave with her husband, Charles.
The children of Marianne and Charles Gillions
Their two daughters, Mary Ethel and Rose Isobel never married and lived with their mother until she died.
Mary Ethel Gillions
Mary was born in Bedford in 1874 and her christening took place on the 7th July 1874 at St Paul’s Church, Bedford. Mary went to the Bedford Girls’ Modern School, Bromham Road, which was part of the premises occupied by the Girls’ Grammar School. After she left school in 1890, she spent some years studying in Germany. It seems that she chose to stay with her aunt, Sarah Ash Becker (née Chapman) who lived at Herrnhut, Germany.
Mary returned to Bedford, and in 1895 she became a teacher at the Bedford Girls’ Modern School. The school had moved from Bromham Road in 1892 to St. Paul’s Square. Until then the Boys’ Grammar School had occupied the building. Mary was one of the founders of the Old Girls Association that began in 1911. She subsequently became the chairman. At the School’s Golden Jubilee in 1932, Mary received a gold watch from the members of the Association, as a token of their gratitude.
In the First World War Mary worked as a volunteer in the canteen at the Young Men’s Christian Association (Y.M.C.A.). During the Second World War she helped at the Women’s Voluntary Service (W.V.S) clothing depot, in Goldington Road. While she was there, she altered and made over 600 garments. The clothing was for those who had lost all their possessions in the air raids on London.
Mary was a member of the Bedford Amateur Dramatic Society. She regularly attended St. Paul’s Church and was a Sunday School teacher there. She donated a piano to the Parish Room. Later she attended Christ Church.
In 1946 the Bedford Girls’ Modern School changed its name to Dame Alice Harpur School. In 2009 the Dame Alice Harpur School merged with the Bedford High School. The school is now known as the Bedford Girls’ School.
Mary lived with her sister Rose at 36 Rosamond Road Bedford until she died on the 20th January 1949. Her burial took place at Foster Hill Road Cemetery. Grave Ref: G7.128
Rose Isobel Gillions
Rose was born in Bedford on the 18th November 1875. Her christening took place at St. Peter’s Church, Bedford on the 6th January 1876. Rose ran a private school from the family home at 4 Rutland Road, Bedford. Rose died in September 1949 at 36 Rosamond Road, Bedford. Her burial took place in the grave with her sister, Mary.
Francis Charles Moxon ‘Frank’ Gillions
Francis was the only son of Marianne and Charles. He was born on the 5th August 1877. His christening took place on the 28th September 1877 at St. Peter’s Church, Bedford.
On leaving school Francis trained as a bookkeeper. He became an amateur baritone singer and performed in many concerts in Bedfordshire. When he was 33 years old, he emigrated to Ontario, Canada. He returned to England for his mother’s funeral. A few months later he sailed back to Canada on the ship S.S Pomeranian. He arrived at Quebec, in July 1913.
When Great Britain declared war on Germany on the 4th August 1914, Canada was automatically at war along with other nations in the Empire. On the 7th April 1915 Francis signed his attestation papers at Toronto, Canada, with the Canadian Expeditionary Force. He joined the Canadian Infantry 3rd Battalion A Company as a private. When he left the army in 1919, he held the rank of Corporal. After the war Francis returned to live in Bedford.
On the 22nd November 1932 Francis died at 28 Alexandra Road, Bedford. His burial took place in the grave of his mother and father. Grave Ref: E3.1
Marianne’s three brothers, Thomas, Richard and John emigrated to New Zealand, and her sister, Sarah moved to Germany.
Thomas Peter Chapman
Thomas was born on the 15th November 1853 at St. Pancras, Middlesex. In 1877 he emigrated to New Zealand with his younger brother, John. Thomas died on the 24th November 1895 at Carterton, New Zealand. His burial took place on the 25th November 1895 at Clareville Cemetery Carterton. He never married.
Richard John Chapman
Richard was born in 1855 Middlesex. On leaving the Bedford Commercial School, he trained as an accountant. He emigrated to New Zealand, on the 6th November 1876 on the ship “Adamant”. He arrived in New Zealand on the 22nd February 1877 and moved to Carterton, Wellington, where he worked as a wood dealer. On the 5th May 1883 he married Augusta Alice Lipinski at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Carterton. Augusta died on the 1st April 1937 and Richard died on the 2nd June 1937 at Croydon Hospital, Carterton. Their burials took place at Clareville Cemetery, Carterton. His five children survived him.
John James Chapman Junior
John was born in Bedford on the 29th March 1857. He went to the Bedford Boys’ Grammar School. In 1877 he emigrated on the ship Dunedin to New Zealand. In 1881 he married Jane Agnes Bennington. After their marriage they lived at Masterton. North Island, New Zealand. In 1898 James and his family moved 235 miles to live at Tongaporutu, North Island. John was a farmer and in 1911 he became a Justice of the Peace. James died on the 28th June 1937 at Powderham Street, New Plymouth, New Zealand. His burial took place at Te Henui Cemetery. John and Jane had 12 Children.
Sarah Ash Chapman
Sarah was born in Bedford on the 4th January 1861. Her christening took place on the 28th September 1877 at St. Peter’s Church, Bedford.
Sarah trained as a teacher and went to live at Herrnhut, Saxony, Germany. On the 21st March 1882 she married Conrad Ludwig Becker, a merchant. Sarah never returned to live in England. She died in 1944 at Herrnhut, Germany.
Katherine was one of the four children of Sarah and Conrad Ludwig Becker. Katherine was born on the 18th May 1885. At the age of 25 she lived at 68 Theobalds Road, London. She was self-employed and worked as an artist and art teacher.
On the 30th March 1912 Katherine married widower John Hassall Kirtley at St. Giles in the Fields, Holborn, London. John was a solicitor at 3 Raymond Buildings, Gray’s Inn, London. The firm was known as Thompson Kirtley, and Denoy. They had been married for just 18 months when John died aged 52 on the 24th September 1913. They had no children.
Katherine subsequently moved to Bedford, and lived with her cousins, Mary and Rose. After they died, she carried on living at 36 Rosamund Road until her death on the 12th February 1959. Her cremation took place on the 16th February, and her remains were laid to rest in the Garden of Remembrance. Her name is inscribed on Mary and Rose’s memorial. Grave Ref: G7.128
Researcher Linda S. Ayres
The Cheltenham Chronicle 15th March 1810
Freeman’s Journal 10th May 1820
War Service of Captains Harts Army Lists 1868
Bedfordshire Times and Independent 26th July 1859 and 23rd March 1867 and 10th July 1873 and 1st November 1912 and 22nd November 1912 and 28th March 1913 and 20tth April 1917 and 25th November 1932
The Canadian Great War Project
The Survey: History of Bath Research Group
Ancestry and Family Search
The Sheffield Daily Telegraph 23rd December1902
Daily Mirror 4th December 1905
The Daily News April 3rd 1912
Rochdale Times 6th April 1912
Bedford Regatta Co.uk History
National Archives Currency Converter
Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette 9th October 1994