The Beer Pages

The Sons of Joseph Reep Beer

The 1841 census shows our Joseph as a coal merchant in Exeter, living with his wife and five sons in Myrtle Cottage, Alphington Road. Despite being born in Cornwall, Betsey is awarded a "Y" in the "Born in this County" column. This is not uncommon in the 1841 census.

At some point he went into business in partnership with a William Henry Bastick. They were declared bankrupt in 1843. Opposite is one of several entries in the London Gazette,1

After his discharge from bankruptcy Joseph moved from Exeter. Bastick, a much younger man, returned to trading in Exeter and can be found in the 1851 census described as a "Coal Merchant and Ship Owner". Bastick was again declared bankrupt again in 1881, at the age of 60.

It appears from the information in the 1851 census, that our family moved to London before eventually settling in Southampton. Emma, the first of their daughters (they already had seven sons) was born in Whitechapel, London, in 18452. From 1851 onwards they are recorded in Southampton and Joseph Reep Beer appears as a Clerk with the Royal Mail Steam Packet Company. Whether he joined the company in London or in Southampton, we cannot tell. In 1871, he had an office in the commercial heart of Southampton. Cox's Street Directory for that year records:

Beer, Joseph R., R.M.Co., 12, Oxford street

1841 census, Alphington Road, Exeter


Joseph Reep Beer, London Gazette

1. Joseph Beer

Joseph's father, Joseph Reep Beer, appears to have adopted a policy of making sure his children followed clerical occupations. Thus, in 1851, Joseph (age 17) appears as a "Clerk to Shipping Agent". Ten years later he has become "Treasurer and Bullion Clerk to the Royal Mail Steam Packet Company."

Joseph married Emma Elizabeth Preston in Southampton in 1856 5. She was born in Southampton, the daughter of James Preston, described on the census forms as a "professor of mathematics", from Kent. Fletcher's 1836 Directory of the Borough of Southampton describes him more prosaically as a " mathematical tutor".

They had eight children, born between 1857 and 1870. Their eldest son,Joseph Preston Beer,was our great grandfather and the founder of Beer's Joinery Works, later to become the Southampton Steam Joinery Company Ltd.

It appears that Joseph's employment was based in London, although the family home remained in Southampton. However, several of the children were born in the London area, but all appear in Southampton, with their mother, on the 1871 census. Joseph however, does not, and avoided having his name recorded on this or any subsequent census anywhere in the country. For quite a time, we believed that he must have died, or possibly had been working abroad.

In 1871, 1881 and 1891 Emma appears on the census records in Southampton as head of the household. She is shown as married, rather than widowed,which implies that Joseph is still alive. Furthermore, the addresses show that they were far from living in abject poverty, suggesting that Joseph was still supporting them. In 1901, now that her children have grown up, Emma (still married) has moved into the household of her eldest son,Joseph Preston Beer.

After many false trails, discovery of the death of Joseph Beer enabled the story to be unravelled. Joseph died in London on 24 June 19106. Details on the certificate are shown on the right.

Joseph Beer death cert

151 Cornwall Road, Kensington, where Joseph Beer died, was the residence of Annie Winstanley, a 57-year old widow from Southampton. She was the widow of Henry Winstanley, a Royal Navy paymaster, who died in Alverstoke in 1876. I have vague recollections of other connections between the Beer and Winstanley families.

The 1891 and 1901 census listings for 151 Cornwall Road both show a man called Joseph Clark.

				census 151 Cornwall Road

Strangely, this Joseph Clark is the same age as, and was born in the same place as Joseph Beer. Furthermore, I have been unable to find earlier records of this person, or of his birth. Not exactly the level of proof required in a court of law, but we are pretty sure we know who he is!

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2. Benjamin Beer

Born in Exeter in 1834, Benjamin is recorded in the 1851 census as a solicitor's clerk. In 1859 he married Margaret Nainby in Cheshire7. She was the daughter of Grimsby auctioneer Charles Nainby and Phoebe Crashley.

In the 1861 census, Benjamin and Margaret are living in Millbrook Road in the Freemantle district of Southampton, with 11-month old Samuel. By 1871 they had moved "above the shop" at 172 High Street, the present address of Barclays Bank. They remained here until Benjamin's retirement in 1894. Throughout this period, he is described as a "banker's clerk."

Margaret died in 19008 and Benjamin can be found in the 1901 census as a "retired bank clerk" at Howards Road, with a housekeeper. 1911 shows the same details, but at 3 Osborne Road.

benjamin 1911

Benjamin's son Samuel, born in 1860, followed in his father's footsteps by becoming a bank clerk. He was still a bank clerk, and living at home over the bank, at the age of 30. I have not followed his career any further. Benjamin died in Southampton in 19239.

** (2018) 172 High Street is now the home of Bargate Jewellers

3. William Beer

Another banker in the family! Born in Exeter in 183810, William married Caroline, daughter of James Bridges and Caroline Pearson, in 185711. They had no children, but in 1871 William's nephew Charles (son of Joseph) was living with them. They were living in Hill Lane in 1871 and 1881. Cox's Street Directory (1871) records:

Beer, Wm.,The Town and County Bank, Cotell villa, Hill lane.

By 1891 they had moved to into one of the new houses being built off The Avenue, at the southern edge of Southampton Common. William died in 189212. Caroline can be found in the 1901 census as "Mrs Wm Beer" with her two younger sisters, Jane and Emily, running a lodging house at Oak House, Bedford Place. Caroline died in 190713.

4. Thomas Beer

In 1861 Thomas, aged 21, was a shipping clerk, living with his parents in Millbrook Road. 10 years later, still single, he can be found in a different port (Liverpool) still working as a shipping clerk. He was living at 114 Falkner street, Liverpool, a lodging house kept by Harriett Ward, a single woman from Weston on Trent, Staffordshire. Thomas married his landlady in 187714. By 1881 they had moved to a slightly larger house in Walton (16 Wellfield Road). Harriett is described in this census as " partly blind".

Thomas 1881

In 1890 Harriet died15. Thomas is still at the same address on census day 1891, with a new housekeeper Harriet Isabel Sumner (who later becomes Isabel Harriet.) Thomas's sister Mary, who was living on the other side of the Mersey at Birkenhead, is also shown here.

Thomas 1891

Thomas married Isabel in 189817. By 1901, they had moved to 59 Grey Road - only a couple of streets away, but a pleasant corner property in a quiet location. In 1911 they were at 17 Orrell Lane which today is a rather traffic-blighted spot, adjacent to Orrell Park Station. Isabel died in 191618, followed by Thomas in 191916.
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5. John Beer

John was another of the sons who started adult life in a clerical role. In his case it was as a railway clerk and in 1861, at the age of 20, he was in lodgings at 19 Nawbey Place, Camberwell. Another lodger was his cousin William Lidstone, aged 18, who was training as a civil engineer. Indeed William became a civil engineer and was also an accomplished artist. In 1873-5 he joined an expedition to explore the Amazon river with Dr. C. Barrington Brown for the Amazon Steamship Company. William was drawn to South America and died in Bogota in 192719.

Back to John Beer - by 1863 he was back in the City of his birth and married Ann Eliza Bird from Cheriton Fitzpaine20. In the 1871 census they are in Summerland Street, Exeter, with their seven-year old daughter Mary Ann (later referred to as Marion). She was born in South Wales21.It seems that John had given up the clerical life and was establishing himself in the building trades. In the census (1871) he is described as a bricklayer. By 1881, still described as "bricklayer", he has reached Grantham, the town where he will spend the rest of his life. They now have a one-year old son Henry, who was born in Sothport.

14 park road name and date

In 1886, John built his own house, a handsone double-fronted red brick building in Park Road, Grantham, known as "Exeter House" (nowadays simply 14 Park Street, but the name and date still adorn the building.)
In 1891 John appears in the census as "builder". I have been shown a few documents that seem to indicate the he was considered to be one of the "great and good" of the town.

Ann died in 1893. In 1900, John remarried22. His bride was Elizabeth Ann Wells, a young widow. Her late husband was a solicitor's clerk,who died at the age of 32. John died in Grantham in 192823 and Elizabeth died in 193524.

6. Samuel Beer

Clan Line

Samuel was born in Exeter in 184225. His son, Edwin John, writes:

My father has been many times half round the world ... having at 12 left school in order to join as a cabin-boy a tiny sailing ship bound for S. America. He commanded the vessel that carried a crowd of Ministers and M.P.'s to Kaiser Wilhelm's opening of the Kiel Canal44.

In 1856, there is a record of him being employed as Boy on the 84 ton schooner Renovatio of Salcombe45. This vessel on which he "ran away to sea" was owned by Beer & Co.

For most of his adult life, Samuel worked for Clan Line, of Glasgow, and became its Commodore Captain. He was a well respected and liked captain. He represented the Line, as its Marine Superintendent, at Board of Trade enquiries etc and appeared from time to time as an Assessor on such enquiries. For a substantial period, he was plying between Britain and India, which accounts for his absence from census records between 1851 and 1901. He was well regarded by those who served with him and earned the affectionate title "Captain Dear".

clan steamer pic 2

In 1877 he married Kate Agnes Nicholes26. Kate was born in Southampton, the daughter of William Nicholes, a successful Hounslow wholesaler and market garden owner, and Charlotte Amelia Slade. They had three children, Edwin John (born 1879), Alec Alfred (born 1881) and Margaret Kate (born 1883).

Edwin John Beer, Samuel's eldest son and known in the family as Jack, is reputed to have been Britain's second oldest man when he died in 1986, aged 107. He was a geologist and mineralogist and, almost accidentally, became one of the leading chemists involved in the development of rayon. His life was lived, partly in England, but very largely in India.

Edwin J Beer
Edwin John ("Jack") Beer

In the 1901 census Jack is described as an "experimental chemist" and his brother Alec as a tea merchant. Their parents and their sister Margaret are at 9 Kelvingrove street, Glasgow. Samuel and Kate retired to Hythe in Kent and the 1911 census shows:

Claymore, Earlsfield Road, Elham, Kent.
Beer Samm, Boarder, 69, Master Mariner, (Retired), Exeter, Devon.
Kate Agnes Beer, -do- , 58, Wife of above, Hounslow, Middlesex
Margaret Kate Beer, -do- , 28, Daughter, Birkenhead, Cheshire

Samuel died in Hythe on 3 February 191527, having nursed his sister Mary through through smallpox, and Kate died there in 1932, at the age of 7828.
On 14 August 1924 Alec, with his wife Ella and two children (Audrey and Daphne), sailed for Melbourne on the SS Themistocles. According to the record, they intended to settle in Tasmania. In fact, they settled in Sydney.

clan steamer pic 3

7. Edwin Beer

Aged 17 (and possibly earlier) Edwin was a Clerk with the Inland Revenue.

In 1869, he married Ellen Graham West, the daughter of Charles Toft West, Inland Revenue clerk at Somerset House, London29. In 1871 they were living in Camberwell with their 6-month old son Charles. At this point Edwin is described as a "builder's broker's clerk".

By 1881, the family was obviously flourishing. They had moved to a fairly large house at Catford Hill with a growing family (Charles, 10; Edith, 9 and Maud, 4. They were employing a governess, a cook and a housemaid. Edwin was now clerk to a bullion broker. In 1891 they were in the same house and Stanley (now 5) was the latest addition to the family. Charles was no longer at home, having enlisted in the Buffs (East Kent Regiment).

canterbury memorial

Charles is recorded on the Dover Boer War Memorial and on the Canterbury Boer War Memorial in Dane John Gardens, Canterbury (pictured). The memorial records that the Regiment:
sailed on the "Gaika" 22 December 1899 and arrived in The Cape 13 January 1900 along with 2nd Gloucesters, 1st West Riding Regiment and 1st Oxford Light Infantry. They formed part of 13th Brigade under Major General C.E Knox. The 13th Brigade was attached to 6th Division under Lieutenant General Kelly-Kenny.

In relation to Charles, the citation reads:
Private 2125, 2nd Battalion, The Buffs (East Kent Regiment).
Accidentally shot dead by sentry at Brugspruit 8th December 1900, died 9th December 190030.

At the time of the 1901 census, the family had moved to an attractive new house in Beckenham. Edwin appears as a bullion broker in his own right. Stanley is absent from the family home as he is a boarder at Tonbridge, one of the most elite and expensive of England's "public" schools. He can be found on the census at Ferox Hall, one of the school's boarding houses. Ten years later, Stanley is working as an insurance underwriter.

Edwin died in Beckenham in 192431 and Ellen 6 years later32.
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8. Henry Beer

Henry was the last of the sons, and the only one not to be born in Exeter. He was born in Southampton in 185033. In 1871 he is recorded as a clerk living in lodgings at 2 Sidmouth Street, Camberwell. Ten years later he had become a clerk to a bullion broker, still lodging in Camberwell.

In 1883 Henry married Mary Anne Wade34, daughter of Richard Wade, silversmith, and Mary Ann Johnson. They moved to their own home in Camberwell and, by the time of the 1891 census, they had Dorothy Grace (6) and Sylvia Mary (3 months). Another two children (Ruth and Oliver) arrived before 1901, and two more (Richard and Michael) by 1911. The extract below, from the 1911 census form, shows a roll-call of the household

				beer 1911 census

				house  white
				house location
The White House, Beckenham                         Location of the White House (shown in pink)
Images kindly provided by Bromley Historic Collections.

The reader will recall that Henry was present at the death of his brother Joseph in Kensington in 1910 (details above). Henry himself died in 192635 and his wife Mary in 193536.

What about the Daughters?

Joseph Reep Beer had three daughters. Only one married, but the lives of all three were intertwined. Emma was the oldest, and the only member of the tribe to be born in London37 (1845). Mary was born in Southampton in 185338, and Prothesa in 185739. Mary and Prothesa were both baptised at West Meon, Hampshire, on 14 August 187340.
In 1881, the three sisters were living together at 2 Warwick Villas, Shirley Road, Southampton. In 1886, Prothesa married William Henry Ridgway41, who was seventeen years her senior. According to the 1881 census, he was a schoolmaster, living nearby at 13 Waterloo Place with his widowed mother Abigail.

After 1881, the locations of the sisters, as revealed by the census are as follows:
1891 - Emma - with Prothesa and her children (2 and 11mo), 16 Hollybank Road, Birkenhead
1891 - Mary - with brother Thomas in Liverpool
1901 - Emma and Mary - Birkenhead;   Prothesa and children - Birkenhead (separate addresses)
1911 - Emma and Mary - Birkenhead;   Prothesa and children - Birkenhead (separate addresses)

Mary died of smallpox in Birkenhead in 191442, having been nursed by her brother Samuel. We have no record of what happened to Emma after Mary's death. Prothesa died in Bromley in 194343.

Prothesa had three children, Henry Nelsey, Harold Edwin and Kathleen. In 1916 Kathleen married Hector Leak (1887-1976), a civil service statistician and President (in 1941) of the Royal Statistical Society. He became a CBE in 1942.
Her younger son Harold served in the 7th Batallion, East Lancashire Regiment, becoming a 2nd Lieutenant on 12th May 1915.
William's brother Robert had a son Noel Green Ridgway who enlisted in the Australian Infantry Forces in 1914 and became a Sergeant in the Australian 49th Batallion.

Both cousins were killed on the 7th June 1917, at the Battle of Messines.

Memorial Certificate,
				Harold Edwin Ridgway Memorial Certificate, Noel Ridgway

Prothesa's husband does not appear on any of the censuses with her. Like her brother Samuel, he became a Chief Officer on Clan Line vessels. William appears to have been the first Master of Clan Macgillivray when it was launched in 1911. It was subsequently requisitioned by the Australian Government as " as HMAT A46 (Clan MacGillivray)". The London Gazette of 31 May 1916 (p5416) records that Capt. W H Ridgway, Captain HMT Clan Macgillivray, was "mentioned for good services whilst employed on transport duties at the Dardanelles".

We lack evidence as to what happened to William after Gallipoli. We know that he (and his ship) survived the campaign and that he wrote describing the events to his sister Grace. However, two years later he is described on Harold's commemorative certificate (shown above) as "the late Capt. W.H. Ridgway"

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  1. The London Gazette, 29 March 1844, p1096.
GRO ref: Whitechapel 1845 Sep 2/570.
GRO ref: South Stoneham 1866 Jun 2c/40.
GRO ref: South Stoneham 1878 Mar 2c/41.
GRO ref: South Stoneham 1856 Mar 2c/78.
GRO ref: Kensington 1910 Jun/1a 100.
GRO ref: Wirral 1859 Jun/8a 564.
GRO ref: Southampton 1900 Sep 2c/3.
GRO ref: Southampton 1923 Sep 2c/27.
GRO ref: St Thomas 1838 Dec 10/213.
GRO ref: Medway 1857 Dec 2a/496B.
GRO ref: South Stoneham 1892 Dec 2c/51.
GRO ref: Southampton 1907 Apr 2c/12.
GRO ref: West Derby 1877 Dec 8b/1838.
GRO ref: West Derby 1890 Sep 8b/377.
GRO ref: West Derby 1898 Jun 8b/744.
GRO ref: West Derby 1916 Dec 8b/790.

18. GRO ref: West Derby 1919 Jun 8b/130.
Lidstone of the Soth Hams of Devon, Hugh R.G. Lidstone, Lidstone Family History Society,1989.
GRO ref: Exeter 1863 Dec 5b/145.
GRO ref: Bedwellty 1864 Jun 11a/101.
GRO ref: Grantham 1900 Mar 7a/625.
GRO ref: Grantham 1928 Mar 7a/547.
GRO ref: Grantham 1935 Jun 7a/498.
GRO ref: St Thomas 1842 Mar 10/258.
GRO ref: Brentford 1877 Jun 3a/99.
GRO ref: Elham 1915 Mar 2a/2071.
GRO ref: Elham 1932 Mar 2a/1947.
GRO ref: Camberwell 1869 Sep 1d/757.
Compiled and copyright © Transcribed
David Hughes and Neil Clark 2006,

31. GRO ref: Bromley 1924 Mar 2a/910.
GRO ref: Bromley 1930 Jun 2a/671.
GRO ref: South Stoneham 1850 Sep 2c/321.
GRO ref: Camberwell 1883 Sep 1d/1296.
GRO ref: Bromley 1926 Mar 2a/726.
GRO ref: Bromley 1935 Jun 2a/749.
GRO ref: Whitechapel 1845 Sep 2/570.
GRO ref: Southampton 1853 Mar 2c/5.
GRO ref: South Stoneham 1857 Jun 2c/59.
West Meon Parish Register, transcribed
by Mark Cherry.
GRO ref: South Stoneham 1886 Jun 2c/95.
GRO ref: Birkenhead 1914 Dec 8a/533.
GRO ref: Bromley 1942 Dec 2a/939.
The Beginning of Rayon, Edwin J. Beer, F.G.S., published by Phoebe Beer, Paignton, Devon. 1962.
Records of Merchant Navy Seamen, National Archives, BT116


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Last updated 12 September 2020