Great-grandpa is 200 yrs old today…

John and Emily Gray in 1889, with George, Jesse, and Kitty.


John Gray III, (1819 -1893) was born on Wednesday the 13th January 1819, four months before Queen Victoria, and almost seven months before Prince Albert. He was born in a house in Broad Street, in the City. The house was demolished in the early 1860’s to build Broad Street Station, which in turn was demolished in 1986.

Broad Street Station, 1865

Broad Street station was next door to, and to the west of Liverpool Street Station. In fact one of the original entrances to Liverpool Street tube station is still in Broad Street. The remainder of the old Broad Street station  is now the part of the Broadgate office complex.


He is one of the more fecund ancestors, fathering thirteen children, nine of whom lived to adulthood; though he was beaten in those stakes by his father who had fourteen, starting at the age of nineteen with a wife who was pregnant when they married on Christmas Day 1816. She was nineteen, and John Gray II (1798 – 1868) was just eighteen. He carried on fathering children for the next thirty-nine years.

Both rather put John Gray I (1763 – 1821), respectively father, and grand-father, to the younger two men to shame, who only had two children apparently.

John Gray III was married at the age of twenty-two, a father at twenty-four, and fathered his youngest child – Walter – my grandfather when he was seventy. Grandpa was born a month after his father’s seventy-first birthday in 1890.

My great-grandmother was younger than all her four step-children.

According to more recent family history un-earthed, John worked for S.W.Silver & Co. in Cornhill for over fifty years. They  began in the 18th Century as Colonial and Army agents, clothiers and outfitters principally to those in the Army and Colonial Service, as well as acting as shipping agents for such people travelling overseas; and John always described himself as a “hosier” – i.e. dealing in hosiery.

S.W.Silver expanded into waterproof clothing, and then waterproof and insulated cables. eventually setting up a factory on Woolwich Reach on the north bank of the Thames in 1852. The factory continued to expand, employing most of the local population, and the area became known as Silvertown, a name that still exists today.

John and family moved out of the City, and south of the river by the 1840’s, living at various addresses in Lambeth, and Southwark, until finally moving to Croydon. By 1891 he is living at 186 Selsdon Road, Croydon next to the Pack Horse pub with Nelson Gray his 38 yr old widowed son, and his second family. Two years later he is dead.

So Happy Birthday.