Sunday, 17 September 2017

Henry Ivall (1842-99), Convict and Royal Navy Sailor

Henry Ivall was born on February 1st 1842 at 22 Willsted Court, Somers Town. He was the third of ten children born to my ancestors David and Elizabeth Ivall. Somers Town was an area of mostly poor housing in London near St Pancras station where the British Library is now located. Henry was baptised at St Pancras church on February 27th 1842.

The 1851 census lists David (aged 34, a coach maker) and Elizabeth (33) Ivall living at 29 Bull Place, St Pancras with their children Henry (9), Georgiana (7), David (2) and Elizabeth Ann (8 months). David and his family moved from St Pancras to Southwark sometime between 1851 and 1853.

Henry worked in the coach maker’s shop with his father. There is a story1 that David showed Henry a piece of finished work and asked how long it would be before he could do as well. He answered “Never!” and was chased out of the shop.

On August 7th 1856, Henry, aged 14, was tried2 at Middlesex County Sessions for the offence of “Stealing from the person of Thomas Rickett Lovell, a handkerchief, value 2s, his property.” He was found guilty of “Larceny from person” and sentenced to 4 calendar months in the House of Correction, Cold Bath Fields. This prison was in Clerkenwell and was notorious for its very strict regime of silence and also for the way in which the treadmill was officially used. Today, the site is occupied by the Mount Pleasant Royal Mail Sorting Office. The court record says that Henry had been in prison before.

The National Archives has a record showing that Henry voluntarily joined the Royal Navy on November 10th 1857. He was aged 15 and was assigned the rating “Boy Second Class”. He signed up until February 1st 1870. The 1861 census shows him as a Royal Navy sailor, ordinary 2nd class, on board HMS Narcissus, a wooden hulled frigate. This ship was launched in 1859 and was powered by sails as well as a steam engine (that drove a propeller). It was crewed by 540 men.
1859 painting of HMS Narcissus by J Wood (National Maritime Museum, Greenwich)

In 1864, Henry signed (as a witness) the marriage certificate of his sister Emily when she married William Ralph in Walworth, S E London. I can’t find Henry in the 1871 census.

In 1872, banns3 were read for the marriage of Henry Ivall (a bachelor) to Ann Eliza Butterby (a spinster) at St Mary’s Church, Lambeth. As Ivall is a very unusual surname, I am fairly sure that the Henry Ivall named is the subject of this article. It seems that the marriage didn’t take place (there is no record of it in London Parish Records on Ancestry or on Free BMD), but I don’t know why. To add to the mystery, I can find no other records of anyone called Ann Eliza Butterby.

I can’t find Henry in the 1881 or 1891 censuses. He died on May 2nd 1899 at St Saviour’s Union Infirmary in Dulwich (the building is now Dulwich Community Hospital). The death certificate gives his age as 61, whereas Henry was actually 57. Incorrect ages at death are common, especially when family members are not available to give the correct information. I am fairly sure that this is the “right” death certificate, because Henry Ivall is an uncommon name and I have information on all Ivalls in England at that time and can rule out other possible candidates. Henry was a scaffolder living at St Olave’s Chambers, Newington. The cause of death was phthisis (another name for tuberculosis), granular kidneys and uraemia. It was notified to the registrar of deaths by the Infirmary Superintendent.

I don’t know where Henry was buried and his name is not in probate records.

1. Recorded by Dennis Endean Ivall (1921-2006), in notes on Ivall family history he consolidated in 1986.
2. From “Digital Panopticon” website, accessed 15 Sep 2017.
3. London Parish Records collection on accessed 16 Sep 2017.

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