|1792 Map of Part of St Martin in the Fields|
London Lives has been an invaluable resource in researching the family of Francis Goring (1755-1882). When Francis left England for Canada in 1776, he likely expected that he would not see his parents and sisters again. Still, he could look forward to occasional news from home. Unfortunately, the news he received was not good.
Francis Gorringe was born on 26 Aug 1755 in Westminster, Middlesex, the son of Abraham Gorringe, a bookseller, and Ann Lloyd. He was baptised twelve days later on 7 Sep 1755 at St Martin in the Fields. Abraham and Ann, "of St Bridget's, Fleet Street" were married at St. George's Chapel, May Fair on 19 Nov 1751. The Chapel, which was located at Hyde Park Corner, was established for those who wished to marry clandestinely, that is, without banns, a license, or the consent of parents.
It is likely that Abraham and Ann were married without the consent of Ann's parents. Ann, the daughter of William and Mary Lloyd, was baptised on 17 Dec 1734 at St Bridget's, Fleet Street, so she may have only been 17 at the time of her marriage. Ann would also have been pregnant when she married, as her first child, Mary, was born on 9 Jun 1752.
The parish register for St Martin in the Fields records the baptism of eight children of Abraham and Ann. Francis was the third oldest. Childhood illnesses took their tool. Francis's only brother, William, died at 23 months of age. Two of his sisters also died quite young: Ann (1753-1756) and Louisa (1770-1770).
There is evidence for another daughter named Elizabeth who was born about 1766 and buried at St Martin in the Fields on 16 Jun 1778, however, there is no record of her baptism at St Martin in the Fields.
Abraham's career as a bookseller was likely unremarkable. In the Old Bailey Proceedings for 7 Dec 1763, however, is recorded the indictment of Alexander Lowe for stealing two books from Abraham, one called The Travels of the Jesuits into Various Parts of the World, valued at two shillings, and the other The Complete London Songster valued at six pence. Ann Gorringe's testimony is also recorded:
I am wife to the prosecutor, he is a bookseller, and lives in May's Buildings. Last Monday, between three and four in the afternoon, the prisoner was looking at these books, and, as the window was open, he asked the price of two others, but we could not agree; he was going off, two of these volumes lay there five minutes before: I observed a book in his left-hand pocket, he was gone six or seven yards, I went and laid hold of him, and said, you thieving fellow, come back and give me the books out of your pocket; he had the two books, mentioned in the indictment, in his pockets; he insisted upon it, they were his own property, and talked of carrying me before a magistrate, the books produced, and deposed to.Lowe's defence consisted of the statement, "I was in liquor. How they came into my pocket, I know not." Lowe was convicted and was "ordered to be branded in the hand and discharged."
Abraham was also named as the executor of the will of his brother Richard. The will was dated 8 Jan 1768 and was proved at the Prerogative Court of Canterbury on 20 Aug 1770. Richard was a mariner and served on HMS Druid, a 10-gun sloop launched in 1761 and sunk as a breakwater in 1773. Ten years later administration was transferred to Abraham's daughter Ann, as Abraham had left the will "unadministered."
Abraham died several months after Francis had left for Canada. Less than two years later his mother was also dead, as was his sister Elizabeth. Francis received the news in a letter dated 28 Mar 1779 from James Crespel, the husband of his mother's sister:
I wrote you last year acquainting you of the death of your father. I now must acquaint you of the death of your Dear Mother, also your little sister, Betsy. Likewise your Aunt, my dear wife. All the rest of your family is well. Sally is in the Workhouse of St. Martins and is very well satisfied with her Situation. Nancy and Charlotte are in places and I hear no complaint.James Crespel's letter is part of the Francis Goring Fonds at Brock University.
James and his brother Sebastian were silversmiths. A silver ewer (left) dated 1765 and bearing the makers' mark for Sebastian and James Crespel is in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, while a tankard can be found at Colonial Williamsburg Foundation’s DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum. James married Sarah Lloyd at St Botolph without Bishopsgate, London on 17 Jan 1768. Sarah's burial is not recorded at St Martins in the Fields, however, James was buried there on 10 May 1815, aged 79.
Shortly before her mother's death, Francis's sister Ann (Nancy) applied for poor relief on behalf of her family:
The Examination of Ann Gorringe lodging at No.4 in Lazenby Court in parish of St Martin in the Fields, taken this 18th Day of March in the Year 1778. This Examinant on her Oath saith That her mother Ann Gorringe now ill as aforesaid is the Widow of Abraham Gorringe (who died in August 1776) to whom she was married at May Fair Chapel about the year 1754, That her father was a Book seller and lived and Rented an House in Little Mays Building in the Parish afore said for the space of twenty six years at the yearly rent of twenty pounds besides taxes quitted the same about Christmas 1775, That her father never kept house rented a tenement of ten pounds by the year nor paid any parish taxes afterwards, That her mother hath not kept house rented a tenement of ten pounds by the year nor paid any parish taxes since the death of her said husband, That her Mother hath three children by her said husband to wit Sarah aged eighteen years (who is Blind) Charlotte aged 16 years (who is lame) and Elizabeth aged twelve years now in Hungerford School. Sworn the 18th Day of March 1778.The most common form of relief available was the workhouse. Workhouses were institutions where the poor were given shelter, fed and put to work. The St Martin in the Fields Workhouse had been opened in 1725, and it was here that three of Francis's sisters became inmates.
Sir Frederick Morton Eden's 1797 State of the Poor provides a description of the St Martin Workhouse:
The Poor are partly relieved at home, and partly maintained in the Workhouse in Castle Street, Leicester Fields. There are about 240 out-pensioners, besides a considerable number on the casual list. There are 573 inmates (473 adults, 100 children). Their principal employment is spinning flax, picking hair, and carding wool. Their average earnings £150. It was once attempted to establish a manufacture, but the badness of the situation for business, the want of room for workshops, and the difficulty of compelling the able Poor to pay proper attention to work rendered it unsuccessful. Between 70 and 80 children are generally out at nurse in the Country, at a weekly allowance of 3s. (lately advanced to 3s. 6d.). At 7 or 8 they are taken into the house, taught a little reading, etc., for 3 or 4 years, and put out as apprentices. The bill of fare is as follows : Breakfast—bread and butter; Friday, water gruel sweetened and spiced; other days, milk pottage. Dinner—Sunday, 6oz. meat without bone; Monday, Wednesday, pease soup; Tuesday, Thursday, beef and greens; Friday, barley gruel with milk; Saturday, 1lb. plum pudding. Supper—every day, bread and cheese or butter. Fourteen oz. bread and 1 quart beer are allowed a day to each person; mutton and broth for the sick every day; to each married lying-in woman, one pot of porter for caudle the first 9 days and a pint for 7 days after; others half that quantity; boiled mutton with potatoes once in 6 weeks, pease and beans with bacon, and mackerel and salmon once in the season; grey pease and bacon on Shrove Tuesday; buns on Good Friday; roast beef on Christmas Day; pork and pease pudding on New Year's Day; plum cake on Holy Thursday.Ann Gorringe was first admitted to the St Martin in the Fields workhouse on 8 Jun 1778. She was discharged, readmitted and discharged again. She was last admitted on 22 Dec 1789, and died while an inmate on 9 Jan 1790.
Charlotte Gorringe was not admitted to the workhouse until 6 Nov 1783. She was eight months pregnant at the time. Charlotte died while an inmate on 6 Jan 1784 shortly after the birth of her illegitimate son, Francis. Francis was born on 20 Dec 1783, baptised on 6 Jan 1784, died on 15 Jan 1784, and was buried on 17 Jan 1784.
Sarah (Sally) GORING was first admitted to the workhouse on 16 Apr 1778. She spent the next forty-two years in and out of the workhouse, and was last admitted (for the 17th time) on 3 Mar 1817. She died while an inmate on 2 Jan 1820, the last of Francis's sisters.