Delving Into Old Bitterne History

From Bygone Bitterne, April 1997

Author: Margaret Sandells

In early January, as Church Secretary, I was given a letter from Mrs E. Carson of West London to look for any information about her family in the Church archives. The clues were as follows:-

Her great-great-Grandfather, John LUMB, married a Mary FLETCHER in Southampton in 1838.

Mary’s father was Isaac FLETCHER, a Bookseller of Southampton.

John LUMB was an Independent Minister without charge when the family moved to Bitterne about 4-5 years after they were married. I put on my BLHS hat and rang Jim Brown, our Vice-Chairman, to ask his advice. Within about half an hour he phoned me back to say that he had found the family in index of the 1851 Census, and as he was going into the Southampton Reference Library within the next few days he would look up the full Census to find the family’s address and other details. He not only looked at the Census but also at Kelly’s Directories and found that by 1823 Isaac Fletcher was in business as a Bookseller at 143 High St. By 1834 he had taken his sons into the family firm and expanded its services. By 1843 he had taken a partner named FORBES and for many years their company names were embossed on the spine of the local Street Directories. It appears that during this period the Revd. LUMB and his family had moved into ‘Monte Repos’, Bitterne. This house was located on the south side of what is now Bitterne Precinct, immediately adjacent to the Abbey National Building [recently Santander]. The site is now the access road called Angel Crescent leading to the car park at the rear of Sainsbury’s. ‘Monte Repos’ was at one time occupied by school teachers when Bitterne School was built nearby, but by 1918 it had been demolished and replaced by a garage, later called ‘Bitterne Motors’, (photo on page 50 of ‘Bitterne Before The Bypass’.) This was, in turn, replaced by Gusters Ltd and the right hand side of this shop is where ‘Monte Repos’ stood. This can be clearly seen on page 52 of the same book.

The 1851 Census indicates that by then the Revd. LUMB was running a small school at ‘Monte Repos’, with his three oldest children included among the pupils. Two of his children were named after their Grandfather and Mother, with FLETCHER as a Christian name. This follows an old Scottish custom. The details in the 1851 Census are as follows:-

John LUMB (Head) aged 42, born Otley, York, an Independent Minister without a pastorate. His wife Mary LUMB aged 42, born Southampton and six children born from Madras to Bitterne aged from 4 months to 11 plus a Housemaid and Cook plus six ‘Scholars’ aged from 7 to 12.

My husband went searching for the marriage and found it in the very first register after compulsory registration was introduced in July 1837. The marriage took place in the Independent Chapel (known to our older readers as Above Bar Congregational Church, which was on the site of what is now Marks & Spencer in Above Bar before the blitz of 1940) on the 25th July 1838. John LUMB gave his profession as Dissenting Minister, residing at the Dissenting College, Homerton, Middlesex (which is still in existence, with links to the present day United Reformed Church). As expected, Mary LUMB was the daughter of Isaac FLETCHER, Bookseller of 143 High St. Mary and her husband John LUMB boarded the ‘Mary Ann’ at Portsmouth at the end of August 1838 and sailed as missionaries for Madras, where they arrived on the 21st December. Mary was already pregnant when she arrived in Madras and their son Isaac was born there in June 1839. By this time John was seriously ill with a form of typhoid with jaundice and gallstones. After many weeks on the verge of death he recovered but was advised to leave India, and they left for England that autumn, arriving back in December 1839 or January 1840. Their second child was born in Woolston in 1841 and their second daughter, Mary, in Weymouth. John’s health was poor and he had to leave his position in Weymouth and by 1845 they were settled in Bitterne. The family moved on from Bitterne and John is recorded as a Minister in Reading and Ross on Wye before ill health forced his retirement to Islington in North London in 1871. John Lumb died in 1884 and his wife Mary in 1897 and they are buried in Abney Park cemetery near Stoke Newington. The cemetery was created out of the grounds of the house at Abney Park to make a burial ground for all denominations who, unless they were members of the Church of England, were denied burial in a consecrated churchyard. If you have any information about the Fletchers or Lumbs, please let the Society know.

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