1. Student Showcase: Telling Your Family Story – The Tilliduffs


    This is the third in a series of blog post from students of Janet Few‘s Are You Sitting Comfortably?: writing and telling your family history (216) course.

    Janet says: “I have been tutoring the course for several years. Three years ago the option to submit an assessed piece for feedback was added. Since then, each time the course has run, several students have taken this opportunity and have sent in a section of their family histories. They are given about six weeks after the course finishes to do this. I have been in awe of what they have produced in a comparatively short space of time. It is a pleasure to be able to feature some of their stories on the Pharos blog“.

    This offering comes from student, Christine Searle, and tells the story of Tilliduff Family

    The Tilliduffs

    The first mention of the Tilliduff name was in 1317 when John de Tolidef was up before the baillies in Aberdeen requesting that lands he had inherited from his mother Alice be passed to him. His half-brother Adam de Ran was keeping them for himself and had been overheard saying that he had done so.(1) The name comes from the former barony of Tillydaff, about 16 miles to the north-west of Aberdeen and the name is Celtic for “hill of the oxen” (2). The area of Tillydaff still exists as an organic vegetable farm called “Vital Veg”.

    Photo courtesy of Vital Veg, North Tillydaff, Aberdeenshire

    Tillydaff Barony

    The barony consisted of the areas of Tillydaff, (due west of Aberdeen) Rothmaise (near Rothienorman), and Logierieve, Orchardtown and Raniston, all close to Pitmedden.

    Once the family reached Fife in 16th century the name changed to variations of Tullideph. The Fife family were covenanters, and in direct conflict with the few remaining Tilliduffs in Aberdeen, which was a staunchly Catholic area, with William Seton, the son of Marjory Tullidaff, (d. 1616) aligning himself with the Earl of Huntly and the Catholics.(3)

    I have records of 143 people born in Scotland with the name, the majority being in Aberdeenshire, and then Fife, with a handful in Edinburgh and Perth, while there are 58 births in England, with just a couple in Cambridgeshire recorded as Tullideph, the rest being exclusively London and Kent, all but one recorded as Tilliduff and similar spellings. There are just 4 Tullideph births in Antigua and one Tilliduff in South Africa (the only place where the name still exists). The name Tullideph has been carried down several lines as a middle name to the current day (and in one case, still living, as a first name).

    And so to London…..

    The first member of the Tullideph family to settle in London was my fifth great-grandfather, Robert, son of Thomas, who was born in Dron, Perthshire, in 1731(4). A few weeks after his birth the family moved to Markinch in Fife, and in 1734 his father Thomas was appointed to Principal at St Leonards College, St Andrews, where Robert probably remained until he joined the army in September 1756, recorded as lieutenant in George Howard’s Regiment of Foot (the Buffs). This was at a time when there was a recruitment drive in Scotland to strengthen the army for the Seven Years War.

    The Buffs, National Army Museum (out of Copyright)

    Three months later in January 1757 Robert married Lilias Lindsay in Edinburgh.(5) It appears that he abandoned Lilias, as in 1758 he left the army and in 1761 he was in London living with Eleanor and producing a son, Robert Pitman Tullideph.(6) It is assumed that Eleanor’s surname was Pitman, although no marriage has been found – Robert was, after all, already married.

    Their son was baptised at St Mary’s Church in Marylebone Road, London, The church where he was baptised was demolished shortly after the baptism, a larger church being needed. The space remains as an area of rest, with the new church, built about 10 years later, seen just behind.

    A number of things indicate that Robert was disowned by his father Thomas. Thomas’s brother David left a will which specifically excluded Robert, leaving a bequest to “John, the only son of my dearly beloved brother Thomas Tullideph of Kilmany”.(7) Thomas had been the Principal of the United Colleges of St Andrews since 1747 and he was described as “tyrant, proud, selfish, usurping and tyrannical, very far from being a popular Principal”(8). The marriage with Lilias was maybe an arranged one as was often the case in Georgian times, and Robert was not happy about it. His uncle Walter, Thomas’s brother, lived in Antigua and while there he kept a diary.(9) He kept notes from time to time of when he wrote to the family at home, and in 1755 he noted that he had written to Robert – “dear cousin Robin, re his love affair, he the 1st son. My father had 5 children, his Estate was such that he could not give more to your father, although the eldest son, than he gave us”. It appears that Robert wanted to marry but his father couldn’t afford to give Robert an allowance large enough to keep the young lady in a suitable manner. Robert was packed off to the army in September 1756 and three months later married to Lilias, perhaps reluctantly.(10) He left the army as soon as he could, in 1758, just as his regiment was posted to the West Indies, and went to London.

    How would Robert have maintained himself in Georgian London? He was almost certainly well-educated, if not to university level, and perhaps taught the sons of gentry, or possibly he was a servant assisting a well-to-do family with their business. Lilias remarried in 1781 using both her maiden and her married names.(11)

    Nothing is heard of Robert after the birth of his son in London until he is back in Scotland in 1799 and living at Scoonie in Fife, his father having died in 1777. According to records in the archives of the University of St Andrews he is caring for David Hutton, the son of his late sister Cecilia, who had been wounded in the head while on the “Defence” in the service of the Royal Navy and was now suffering from severe epilepsy.

    The Defence at the Battle of 1st June 1794 (public domain)

    The record stated that Robert is farming and describes him as being “in much reduced circumstances.”(12) No burial record has been found. David entered the Royal Hospital in Greenwich later in 1799 and died there in 1812, being buried in Shoreditch on March 7th.(13)

    Meanwhile his son Robert was still in London, living in the City, on the baptisms of his children being recorded as married to Lydia and working as a cordwainer. However, there is no record of him in the Freedom Registers of the City of London for 60 years prior to his death, therefore although living in the City, he would not have been able to work in the city. Did he travel outside the City for work? Cordwainers were makers of fine shoes, usually making a last to fit a particular customer and making shoes to order as required, although they would also often keep a stock of shoes ready-made for passers-by.

    Some research on the family was commissioned by my great-aunt, a descendant of Robert, probably in the 1950s – 1960s, which gives information that no longer exists. The work contains no sources. The London Metropolitan Archives has said that a relevant batch of records was stolen many years ago and the information is no longer available, and many of the records are from this period. Three children are recorded for Robert and Lydia in this research, Joseph born 9th November 1788, Ann born February 11th 1793, and Samuel born June 14th 1795. The record for Samuel is still available,(14) together with the records of two more children, Alice, born 14th September 1797(15) and James, born 31st October 1799(16) – neither of these two appear to have survived babyhood. According to the research Lydia died in 1801, and Robert in 1809. The record of Robert’s death says “Robert Tilliduff, father of the aforesaid children, departed this life on Friday December 29th 1809, buried January 3rd 1810 in St Thomas Burying Ground near the spot where Lydia his wife lay”. This record is no longer available, but I have verified that December 29th 1809 was indeed a Friday. The LMA are unable to say which St Thomas Burying Ground it might have been – there is more than one in the area, and again the records no longer exist.

    Possibly the parish took care of the younger children after Robert’s death, as records for Ann and Samuel from Cripplegate School were available to the researcher, Joseph being of an age to have been already working at the time of his father’s death. Ann was enrolled into Cripplegate School on 21st April 1801, and from 11th June 1811 to 18th April 1820 she went to work as a live-in servant to Mr Hallam the grocer at £8 per annum. Two weeks after leaving her employment she married John Steel at St Saviours, Borough.(17) Samuel also started school at Cripplegate in 1801, and on 1st February 1812 he went to live with Messrs Smith & Holding & Co Ribbon Manufacturers of 35 Newgate Lane earning £8 per annum, to be raised by £4 annually. Joseph married in 1810 at St. Botolphs, Aldersgate, to Elizabeth Surrey Maria Prudden.(18) The church had recently undergone a major refurbishment at the time and has a magnificent interior.

    St Botolph without Aldersgate, Interior (geograph.org.uk)

    The presiding minister at the marriage was Arthur William Trollope, believed to be uncle to the author Anthony Trollope. Joseph worked as a merchant’s clerk throughout his life, although spending time in the workhouse due to illness on occasions. They had six children, Joseph Samuel 1811 – 1845,(19) Ann Lydia 1813 – 1876,(20) Elizabeth Surry 1815 – 1871,(21) Emily in about 1816 who probably died soon after birth, John Robert 1820 – 1887,(22) and Thomas Prudden 1824 – 1909.(23) The family moved around quite frequently, being recorded at a different address for each birth, around the Blackfriars to St Katherine’s Way area to the east of the Tower of London. Thomas was born in King Henry Yard, two blocks to the east of the Tower of London.

    John Rocque Map 1746 (public domain)

    Soon afterwards the area was cleared for the construction of St Katherine Docks, although the layout is still similar. The area was quite wealthy at the start of the 19th century, with wealthy merchants drawn to the district. However the arrival of the docks brought unskilled labourers and poverty. Elizabeth died in St George in the East(24) workhouse in 1861 aged 71, recorded as dying from “Climacteric decay”, which is defined in A Dictionary of Practical Medicine (Vol. 1) by James COPLAND, published in 1858, as “General decline of the vital powers, at the age of senesence, without any evident cause”. Joseph followed in 1863(25) aged 76, also in the workhouse, recorded as still working as a clerk at the Gas Works, and dying from senile decay. The workhouse was usually the only help available to ordinary working people at that time, whether they were sick or out of work, as medical fees were out of reach for most.

    Joseph and Elizabeth’s son Joseph Samuel became a compositor. A compositor would prepare the trays of letters ready for the printing press. Some of the terms they used are still in use today in computer language, such as “upper case” and “lower case”, which relate to where the trays of letters were to be found stored ready for use on the printing press. It was a time when printing was developing rapidly, with the art of printing illustrations improving, and the ability to bind books with a sewing machine developed. In addition a method of gluing with rubber called “perfect binding” was invented. But Joseph died of phthisis (pulmonary TB) in Bethnal Green in 1845 aged just 34.(26) He left a very detailed will,(27) leaving his bookcase and contents to his father, as well as a Scotch pebble, a gold mounted seal and a beaver hat. To his mother Elizabeth he left a tea-tray with tea service, two beds with bedsteads, and many other pieces of houseware, as well as his Waverley novels and his Johnson’s dictionary. Elizabeth must have been literate, and able to do considerably more than write her name. Joseph was careful to ensure in his will that if his mother were to remarry the items would remain hers and could not be used financially or sold by any future husband. He left a sum of money to both his brother John and sister Elizabeth, and all the remainder of his possessions to his sister Ann, who married two weeks later. Joseph had evidently been very well-off for a young man of 34 in the Bethnal Green area.

    Newgate Prison (public domain)

    At the time of Joseph’s death Ann had just been released from prison at the end of a one-year sentence in Newgate.

    In 1844 she had been found guilty at the Old Bailey of stealing three half-sovereigns and two watch seals from her employer.(28) She was lucky. Transportation would have been the usual punishment for theft of that magnitude, but the prosecutor recommended her to mercy, possibly because of her father’s situation, as he seemed to suffer from ill-health and was in the workhouse quite frequently. Ann was released from prison in 1845, and shortly afterwards married William Vaughan in Bethnal Green.(29) William and Ann had six children, Lydia (1846 – 1942),(30) Peter (1848 – 1922),(31) Ellen (1850 – 1916),(32) William John (1853 – 1855),(33) John (Sept.1856 – Dec 1856)(34), and William Francis (1858 – 1879) who died from accidental drowning in Otora Creek, Mangakahia, New Zealand, on 6th June 1879,(35) where he had been working as a logger, and slipped off the logs as he was freeing them to float down-river, a not uncommon cause of death. New Zealand was short of labour at the time, and the London newspapers had many advertisements for passages to New Zealand where there was plenty of work to be had.

    None of the Vaughan children had offspring so the line ended with them.

    The youngest child of Joseph Tilliduff and Elizabeth was my great-great-grandfather Thomas Prudden Tilliduff, born in 1824 in King Henry Yard, East Smithfield. In 1841 he was living with his family in Philip Street, St George in the East, recorded as an apprentice aged 17. In fact he was an apprentice blacksmith, and in 1851 he is living with his mother in Prevots Row, Stratford-le-Bow. His father Joseph was in the workhouse due to ill health. According to an old newsletter from 1987 by the East London History Society Prevots Row was a row of cottages in Old Ford Road, which still has some houses from around the right era. In 1852 he married Honor Clark in Bethnal Green.(36) and in 1853 their daughter Honor was born (1853 – 1879)(37) but in 1854 the mother died of cholera,(38) being recorded as living in Providence Street, one of the areas that was very badly hit by the outbreak for which the work of John Snow became well-known, instigating the construction of a new sewage system for London and making it one of the most advanced in the world at the time. The source of the outbreak had been traced to a pump in Broad Street, and John Snow removed the handle so that the pump could no longer be used.

    Thomas remarried in 1858, to a widow, Ann Wheal, nee Enever(39) and by 1861 they were living in Plumstead, Kent, where Thomas was working at the Woolwich Arsenal. The Arsenal had had a recruitment drive when ammunitions were needed for the Crimean War, and Thomas was no doubt very glad to move out of disease-ridden London and move his family to the countryside of developing Plumstead, which would remain the home of the Brown/Tilliduff family for the next hundred years and more. In 1861 they were living in St James Place, which would have been in the area of Burrage Road where St. James Church was built in 1855. Thomas and Ann had three children with them born in London, Honor, Eliza Ann (1858 – 1932)(40), and Elizabeth Surrey (1861 – 1946)(41). Four more children were born in Plumstead, Thomas Joseph (1863 – 1924)(42), Emily Mary (1865 – 1866)(43) who died of convulsions caused by whooping cough aged 8 months, Charles Prudden (1863 – 1953)(44), and William John, (1870 – 1928)(45) both of whom went to Australia with their families, but the name died out there with only daughters being born. Thomas Joseph Tilliduff’s son Frederick (1905 – 1981)(46) emigrated to South Africa after the Second World War, where his grandson is now the only person remaining with the name Tilliduff. As he has never married the name worldwide will die with him.

    Thomas’s daughter Honor died in 1879 while in service in Plumstead as a cook to a solicitor, Mr Marwood Kelly Braund. Her dress caught fire while she was cleaning the stove, and she and her fellow servant were so panicked they could do nothing. The flames were put out by Mrs Braund but Honor was “dreadfully burnt” and died from her injuries.(47) Women’s clothing of the time was not compatible with safe working conditions – according to the report Honor’s dress touched the hot iron bar around the hearth and that was enough to set her dress alight.

    Thomas retired in 1883 on a pension from the Woolwich Arsenal, and died in 1909 from carcinoma of the stomach(48). Thomas and Ann’s eldest daughter Eliza married John Henry Brown in 1881 in Rectory Place Chapel, Woolwich.(49) They had eight children, only one of whom failed to reach adulthood – Lilian, 1886 – 1900,(50) died of rheumatic fever in 1900, one day after her fourteenth birthday. My grandfather’s earliest memory was being called in from playing in the street to say goodbye to her. In addition there was Henry, (1882 – 1951)(51), Charles, (1884 – 1922)(52), Sydney (1889 – 1972)(53) Ethel, (1890 – 1972)(54), Agnes, (1892 – 1985)(55), John, my grandfather (1895 – 1990)(56), and Albert, (1897 – 1977)(57).

    My grandfather John Percival Brown gained a scholarship to Haberdashers Aske school in Lewisham, where upon graduation he started to study for a science degree, but an opportunity came up in 1912 when Heinz visited the school looking for candidates for a post as an industrial chemist and John was glad to accept. In 1915 his father John Henry was sent to the United States as Inspector of Armaments destined for the United Kingdom, and in order that he had a home to go to when on leave from the war my grandfather and grandmother, Lilian Henwood, were allowed to marry (58), although still young. His wife Eliza and Agnes, as their only unmarried daughter, went with John Henry to the US, and they appear to have enjoyed themselves, having the opportunity to travel around the US sightseeing during their stay.

    1917 John Brown and Eliza in USA


    1) The Miscellany of the Spalding Club Vol. V
    2) Celtic Place Names in Aberdeenshire – John Milne MA LLD
    3) http:// History of the family of Seton during eight centuries Volume 2 (George Seton)
    4) Scotlands People O.P.R. Births 345/00 0010 0244 DRON
    5) https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XYM1-RLD
    6) https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:JQY7-8YV
    7) National Archives Reference PROB 11/975/230
    8) Academic Patronage in the Scottish Enlightenment – Roger Emerson
    9) The History of the Island of Antigua Vol. 3 by Vere Langford Oliver
    10) https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XYM1-RLD
    11) Scotlands People O.P.R. Marriages 706/00 0050 0063 DUNBAR
    12) https://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/library/special-collections/archives/
    13) David Hutton Age: 45 Birth Date: 1767 Burial Date: 7 Mar 1812 Burial Place: Shoreditch, Middlesex, England FHL Film Number: 405140 Reference ID: Vol. 12
    14) https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:JW7G-KJL
    15) https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:JQLN-KQ1
    16) https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:NLP3-D74
    17) https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QGLZ-NDJZ
    18) https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:NVK1-DMV
    19) https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:NP35-343
    20) Film Number: 0374416, 0374417 Ancestry.co.uk
    21) https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:JWQ5-QKM
    22) https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:JS1P-TZ1
    23) https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:NLQL-6ZK
    24) GRO Reference: 1860 M Quarter in SAINT GEORGE IN THE EAST Volume 01C Page 390
    25) GRO Reference: 1863 D Quarter in SAINT GEORGE IN THE EAST Volume 01C Page 347
    26) GRO Reference: 1845 D Quarter in BETHNAL GREEN Volume 02 Page 16
    27) TNA ref IR27/283 Birth, Marriage, Death & Parish Records Record collection Wills & probate
    28) https://www.oldbaileyonline.org/
    29) Marriage – Dec 1845 TILLIDUFF Ann Lydia – VAUGHAN William Francis Bethnal Gn 2 27
    30) Birth – VAUGHAN, LYDIA EMMA (Mother TILLYDUFF) GRO Reference: 1846 D Quarter in STEPNEY Volume 02 Page 458
    31) Birth – VAUGHAN, PETER WILLIAM (Mother TALLIDORF) GRO Reference: 1848 S Quarter in STEPNEY Volume 02 Page 446
    32) Birth – VAUGHAN, ELLEN JANE (Mother FILLIDUFF ) GRO Reference: 1850 S Quarter in STEPNEY Volume 02 Page 475
    33) Birth – VAUGHAN, WILLIAM JOHN (Mother TILLIDUFF ) GRO Reference: 1853 D Quarter in STEPNEY Volume 01C Page 516
    34) Birth – VAUGHAN, JOHN (Mother TILLIDUFF ) GRO Reference: 1856 S Quarter in STEPNEY Volume 01C Page 534
    35) Birth – VAUGHAN, WILLIAM (mother TILLIDUFF) GRO Reference: 1858 J Quarter in STEPNEY Volume 01C Page 479 Death – https://www.bdmhistoricalrecords.dia.govt.nz/ Reg No. 1879/632
    36) Marriage – Jun 1852 Clark Honor Margaret – Tilliduff Thomas Prudden Bethnal G 1c 545
    37) Birth – TILLIDUFF, HONOR SARAH (mother CLARK) GRO Reference: 1853 J Quarter in WHITECHAPEL Volume 01C Page 370 – Death – Mar 1879 Tilliduff Honor Sarah 26 Woolwich 1d 808
    38) Death – TILLIDUFF, HONOR MARGARET Age 28 GRO Reference: 1854 S Quarter in SAINT GEORGE (IN THE EAST) Volume 01C Page 380
    39) Marriage – Sept 1858 Tilliduff Thomas Rudden Bethnal Gn. 1c 601 Wheal Ann Bethnal Gn 1c 601
    40) Birth – TILLIDUFF, ELIZA ANN (Mother ENEVER) GRO Reference: 1859 M Quarter in LEWISHAM UNION Volume 01D Page 680 – Death – Mar 1932 Brown Eliza A Age 73 Woolwich 1d 1528
    41) Birth – TILLIDUFF, ELIZABETH SURREY (Mother ENOVER) GRO Reference: 1861 M Quarter in LEWISHAM UNION Volume 01D Page 702 – Death Mar 1946 Applebee Elizabeth S Age 86 Woolwich 1d 1081
    42) Birth – Jun 1863 TILLIDUFF Thomas Joseph Lewisham 1d 726 Death – Name: Thomas J Tilliduff: Sep 1924 Age 62 Woolwich Volume: 1d Page: 888
    43) Birth – TILLIDUFF, EMILY MARY (Mother ENEVER) GRO Reference: 1865 S Quarter in LEWISHAM UNION Volume 01D Page 768 – Death – TILLIDUFF, EMILY MARY Age 0 GRO Reference: 1866 J Quarter in LEWISHAM UNION Volume 01D Page 522
    GRO Reference: 1867 M Quarter in LEWISHAM UNION Volume 01D Page 866
    – Death – Date: 05 Jan 1953 Death Place: South Australia Page Number: 143 Volume Number: 792
    45) Birth – TILLIDUFF, WILLIAM JOHN (Mother WHEAL) GRO Reference: 1870 M Quarter in WOOLWICH Volume 01D Page 961 – Death – 1928 – The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848-1954) Wednesday 16 May 1928
    46) Birth – TILLIDUFF, FREDERICK CHARLES (Mother ELLICOTT) GRO Reference: 1905 Mar DARTFORD 02A Page 627 – Death – https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/48621/page/7292/data.pdf
    47) The Worcestershire Chronicle dated Saturday 22nd March 1879
    48) Death – Dec 1909 TILLIDUFF Thomas P 85 Woolwich 1d 647
    49) Marriage – Jun 1881 TILLIDUFF Eliza Ann – BROWN John Henry Woolwich 1d 1536
    50) Birth – BROWN, LILIAN ADA (Mother TILLIDUFF) GRO Reference: 1886 J Quarter in WOOLWICH Volume 01D Page 1230 – Death – Jun 1900 Brown Lilian Ada 14 Woolwich 1d
    51) Birth – Mar 1882 Brown Henry George T Woolwich 1d 1249 – Death – BROWN, HENRY GEORGE THOMAS 69 GRO Reference: 1951 J Quarter in GREENWICH Volume 05C Page 515
    52) Birth – Jun 1884 Brown Charles Frederick W Woolwich 1d 1225 – Death – Dec 1922 Brown Charles F W 38 Woolwich 1d 1116
    53) Birth – BROWN, SYDNEY CURTIS (Mother FILLIDUFF) GRO Reference: 1888 D Quarter in WOOLWICH Volume 01D Page 1247 – Death – Sydney Curtis Brown Death Age: 84 Birth Date: 21 Sep 1888 Registration Date: Dec 1972 Registration district: Lambeth Volume: 5d Page: 459
    54) Birth – Sep 1890 Brown Ethel Maude Woolwich 1d 1233 – Death – Ethel Maude Burrows Age: 82 Birth Date: 10 Jun 1890 Reg Date: Jun 1972 Reg district: Greenwich Volume: 5b Page: 1019
    55) Birth – BROWN, AGNES HONOR (Mother TILLIDUFF ) GRO Reference: 1892 D Quarter in WOOLWICH Volume 01D Page 1234 – Death – Agnes Honor Brown Birth Date: 7 Oct 1892 Date of Registration: Feb 1985 Age at Death: 92 Registration district: Greenwich Volume: 12 Page: 1439
    56) Birth – BROWN, JOHN PERCIVAL (Mother TILLIDUFF ) GRO Reference: 1895 M Quarter in WOOLWICH Volume 01D Page 1345 – Death – John Percival Brown Birth Date: 14 Jan 1895 Date of Registration: Apr 1990 Age at Death: 95 Registration district: Darlington Volume: 1Page: 792
    57) Birth – BROWN, ALBERT LESLIE (Mother TILLIDUFF ) GRO Reference: 1897 J Quarter in WOOLWICH Volume 01D Page 1254 – Death – Name: Albert Leslie Brown Birth Date: 29 Mar 1897 Date of Registration: Jun 1977 Age at Death: 80 Registration district: Hastings and Rother Volume: 18 Page: 0948
    58) Marriage – Sep 1915 Brown John P (Henwood) Woolwich 1d 3599 Henwood Lily E (Brown) Woolwich 1d 3599