Francis Robinson 1834 – 1890


1834. Christened 17/08/1834, Shorthampton, Oxfordshire. Youngest of 4 sons of Samuel Francis Hands Robinson, 1801-1879 and Ann Treadwell (1801-1875): they also had 4 daughters. Born Thorngreen, Pudlicote - from Robinson Family Tree, Colin, on Ancestry. Pictures of All Saints Church, Chilson/Shorthampton - the 2 synominous - on his father's page.

1841 Census.  Living in Chilson,Charlbury.  All born Oxfordshire. Sister Elizabeth, 1823, died in 1840.

Francis Robinson  40   Cattle Dealer
Ann   40  
Edwin    15  
Walter     14  
Jane    12  
James   10    
Francis 6  
Isabella  2  

Chapel House, Over Norton

1851 Census. Living in rooms over Stables of Chapel House, Over Norton, Oxfordshire

William  Chufy  30  Landed Proprietor. b.Camb.
Eleanor Constance   20  
Marquanna    9  
W L W    8  
Frank Robinson    16  Groom    b.Chilson

So, Francis spent his childhood in Chilson [now a holiday home hamlet] and went to work as a groom some 6 miles away in Over Norton by age 16. How did he move to Shelley [Chipping Ongar] by 1858. Likely that he moved as a groom/servant/butler to another large house connected to the Chufys in the Ongar area, and, maybe there met his future wife, Elizabeth Rousell, working as a servant .

Shelley Church, ~ 2miles North of Chipping Ongar 2008

In 1870-72, John Marius Wilson's Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales described Shelley like this:

SHELLEY, a parish in Ongar district, Essex; 1¾ mile N of Ongar r. station. Post town, Ongar, under Brentwood. Acres, 600. Real property, £1,088. Pop., 178. Houses, 40. The property is subdivided. S. Hall, a Tudor edifice, is the seat of J. Tomlinson, Esq. The living is a rectory in the diocese of Rochester. Value, £241.* Patron, J. Tomlinson, Esq. The church was rebuilt in 1811. The rectory-house was the place where Bishop Newton wrote his Commentaries. Charities, £13.

Electoral Roll Books to be examined in ERO for 1856-1865: cover Shelley, Stanford Rivers, Chipping Ongar & much more!

1858. Marries, age 25, Elizabeth Anne Rousell, 19, in Parish Church of Shelley on 7/10/1858.. Professions: his as Butler, hers as blank, his father, Francis, as Cattle Dealer,& her father, James, as Farming Bailiff. Witnesses are Susanna Jane Lewis & William Rousell, Elizabeth’s siblings. His residence was Chipping Ongar, hers was Shelley on the marriage certificate.All can write. Have m.c. MR1. She was actually 20. Shelley just to the west of Chipping Ongar- nowadays part of the town. The church seems to have belonged to the Manor there : the Tomlinson family held the advowson from ~1820-1895. I suspect she was working as a servant in Shelley, which only had ~40 houses, so most likely at Shelley Lodge, next to Tomlinsons cottage.


A family myth, told me by my mother, was that a lady of higher social status had run off with the groom. Well, Francis had indeed been a groom but, apart from this one ref. to Elizabeth's father as a farming bailiff, her family seemed roughly of equal rank, low. Perhaps James Rousell was doing really well at this period of his life, but he had started off as a shepherd ,1841, was a farm labourer in 1851, then a servant & shepherd both in 1861 & 1871 and died in theWorkhouse.!

1859 Walter Harry Lewis Robinson born 4/10/1859, Chipping Ongar, father given as Butler. Have b.c.BR2. No baptism record found in Shelley or in Chipping Ongar ..Lewis no doubt originates from the married name of Susannah Rousell, his mother's sister, who was a witness at the 1858 wedding . The fact that Francis married in Shelley Church, yet first child was born Chipping Ongar, probably means the married couple settled in Chipping Ongar after their marriage, but then they moved back to Shelley 1861-4. .

D/DPb F195 is the 1877 Administration of John Groom of Shelley Hall . Will made 1867. Could Francis have worked here?- probably not as his address on the m.c. was Ongar

Q/RPr 1/28 Electoral register 1859-60 - & others

1861 Ellen Annie born 25/1/1861 at Shelley, Ongar. No baptism record in Shelley or in Chipping Ongar. Have b.c. BR3. Father given as Butler Domestic Servant.

1861 Census.  At Three Hants Way, Beer House, Shelley, lodger with a Ridgewell, shoemaker, and his family. Does this suggest that the family had only just moved to this address in Shelley, as he was not 'head' of his family?.. Robinson mistranscribed.

Francis   Roberson  26  lodger. Butler , b. Oxfordshire. Chilson
Elizabeth    21     b. Kent, Barham
Walter    18mths  b. Ongar
Ellen       1mth   b. Shelley

1863 Frank William Robinson born 'Mar' 1863 Shelley, Ongar. Baptised 3 years later, 8/08/1866 in Stanford Rivers, parents Francis & Elizabeth Annie, abode Stanford Rivers, father an Innkeeper.

1864 Lisette Charlotte Robinson born, baptised 3/08/1864, Shelley Church, father, Francis, butler, abode Shelley. Birth registered Sep 1864 Ongar as Lizzette Charlotte. Have viewed Baptism record in ERO. .

1865. Lizett Charlotte Robinson dies, Mar 1865 4a.60 Ongar. Was she born sickly?, in that she is the only child they have so far, by 1865, bothered to baptise. She was buried in Stanford Rivers on 30/1/1865 , aged 6 months, abode Stanford Rivers.

1864.Sometime from birth of Lizette & before her death, family moved from Shelley to Stanford Rivers (approx 8 miles south of Shelley).


1865. Edwin Robinson born Dec 1865 at Stanford Rivers, Ongar. No baptism record found . His b.c. would tell me Francis' occupation just after the move.[Stanford Rivers obtained from 1871C]

1866. Very strangely, he has 3 year old son, Frank William Robinson baptised, 8/08/1866, in Stanford Rivers [but does not baptise his younger son Edwin Robinson at the same time].

1866 Charles Howard Robinson born Dec 1866 at Stanford Rivers, Ongar. He was baptised 4/11/1866 to parents Francis, innkeeper, & Elizabeth Annie Robinson, Stanford Rivers. Bishops Transcripts for Stanford Rivers D/CR 335.

1866/7. Listed in the Post Office Directory as running the White Bear, Stanford Rivers.


1868 Florence Isabella Robinson born Mar 1868 at Stanford Rivers, Ongar.She was baptised 2/2/1868 to parents Francis, innkeeper, & Elizabeth Annie Robinson, Stanford Rivers. Bishops Transcripts for Stanford Rivers D/CR 335.

1869. Henry Robert Robinson born. He was baptised 21/8/1869 to parents Francis, innkeeper, & Elizabeth Annie Robinson, Stanford Rivers. Bishops Transcripts for Stanford Rivers D/CR 335. Then buried 30/9/1869, aged 2 months.

He would appear to have been an innkeeper[ as well as farmer of Clarks Farm 1869? onwards] from 1866-1871 .

Francis seems to have prospered in Stanford Rivers. From the St. Rivers Rates[D/P 140/11/1] in ERO, he had

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . a . . .r . . . p . . . . Rat. Value . . . . . . . Paid.

Apr.1868 house & land 'Bear Inn' . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 . . . 2 . . .1 . . . . .£38. . . . . . . . . . . . £1.1.8.

Apr.1869 house, land, Bear Inn & Clarks Farm . . .as below

May 1870 house,land, Bear Inn & Clarks Farm . . . as below . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . .£3.11.3

Apr 1871 house ,land & Clarks Farm . . . . . . . . . .35 . . 1 . . . 35 . . . £60.

& here someone else, Hannan[ Harman?], has the Bear Inn,but still listed under Robinson . . . . . . . . . .£ 3.4.4.

In Rates Stanford Rivers[D/P 140/20/1] Francis Robinson . . . Annual Value . . .. . To Pay.

. . . . . . . . . ..............March 1870............................................£38 & £57 . . . . . . £1.3.9d.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1871.............................................£38 & £57 . . . . . . £1.11.8d

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1872.............................................£57 . . . . . . . . . . . . 19s.

. . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1873 & 1874 . . . .No mention of him.

Difference between Rates fiches: D/P 140/11/1 is for 1868-1871and D/P 140/20/1 is 1870-1879 - some overlap here.

ronson white bear

Publicity for the White Bear, mysteriously found in the postcard collection of my sister Hazel. A W Aylmer was publican~1933-1937. Did anyone in my family know of Francis' connection to it??

The pub was sold in 2001 and converted to a private residence: photo below 1999


Brook Cottage, Stanford Rivers, Ongar. 2008.

1871 Census.  At Brook Cottages, Stanford Rivers, Ongar. page 33 of 40.

Francis  Robinson 39  Farmer of 40 acres employing 2 labs. b. Chilson 
Ellen   8   b. Shelley
Frank  b. Shelley
Edwin    5   b. Stanford Rivers
Charles     3     b. Stanford Rivers
Florence   2     b. Stanford Rivers

His wife and son, Walter Robinson, are missing from this listing & I cannot find Walter, not yet 12, at all.[have searched for him as a servant somewhere & mistranscribed ,etc.]. Elizabeth, 29, is with her mother, Mary Rousell, in Barham, Kent- see James Rousell page for the census entry. 

Still listed in1871 in the Post Office Directory as running the White Bear and as being a farmer.

Clarks farm .clarks farm photo.

Brook Cottages & Clarks Farm shown on 1873 OS map & a current photo of Clarks Farm, located to N of village

Interesting that he lived at Brook Cottages whilst farming ~ half a mile to the north. And the White Bear Inn is way south. 1871 census shows Ed.Harman as the publican. Brook Cottages, of which 8 other 'houses' is on page 33 of the census; Rocketts Cottages, shown on above map just south of Clarks Farm is on page 1[of 40] . Cannot find an entry for Clarks Farm, so maybe no farmhouse there then.

I would conclude that the family had lived at the White Bear ~1867-1870 and had recently vacated it at the 1871C.

1872 George Thomas Robinson born at Stanford Rivers[from 1881C] Sep 1872 Ongar 4a 135. No baptism found there.

The 4-6 eldest children would have attended Stanford Rivers school, 1865-1872: the 2008 occupants of Brook Cottage told me that school records exist. I must follow this up: the records are seemingly not in the ERO.; check this again 2010. ERO does have plans of the school 1840-1860 : E/P 111/1. Electoral registers for the years 1863-1873 also exist.

1872/3. Seems to have left Stanford Rivers and moved, presumably directly to Hatfield Broad Oak[ ~20 miles to the north, he would surely have needed to know something about it in advance], where again he was an Innkeeper by 1874: listed in Post Office Directory as running the Feathers, Hatfield Broad Oak.


hatfield broad oak

In Hatfield Broad Oak Rates, 1875 [D/P 4/11/14 ] ??or 1872 [D/P 4/11/15]??, a Mrs Robinson owns a house [ Heath], of rentable value £ 4.10s. , 2.8d to pay.. Family legend [John Kettle & mother Margery[nee Davies]] talks of Grandmother Robinson's house here & John was shown it by his gran [Ellen Annie Mead,1895 ] as a child.[1950/60s] . Was the 'grandmother' Ellen Annie Robinson,1861, or a previous generation, such as Elizabeth Rousell/Robinson 1838? - I think the latter. : I cannot see how it could be a previous generation on the Robinson side as all the Robinsons were in Chilson, Oxfordshire, but it is easy to speculate that Francis had fallen on hard times and moved his family a considerable distance north to HBO for a roof over their heads. More likely to have been the house where his wife, Elizabeth Annie Rousell/Robinson, was employed. But, having now located where the Feathers was on an 1873 ordnance survey map. I would conclude that the picture I have is of the house that housed the Feathers- so probably Francis was renting this between 1874-1876 at least. So think the following about a Mrs Robinson that I cannot connect with the family is a red herring. Need to look at D/P 4/11/15 ,[ where in 1872 a Mrs Robinson has a house, but on Hatfield Heath and not in the centre of the town, with rentable value £4.10 on which she paid 2.8d], to see if Francis appears & any deaths 1875 on for the mysterious Mrs Robinson?: is this a possibility for her? - Deaths Mar 1892 (>99%)Robinson Mary 76 Dunmow 4a 529: no probate. She is in 1871C, 55, widowed, no occupation & no relatives living with her. She, widowed, is the daughter of William Reed,1795, Builder in 1861C. But 1851C is missing and could find no trace of her nor father in 1841C, and no marriage for her to a Robinson 1837-1861. There are 2 deaths of male Robinsons in 'Dunmow' that are possibles: Thomas 1841 & John 1846. Could either of these be related to Francis?? In 1871C, James Smith, 30, is a Licensed Victualler at the Plume of Feathers, next to the Cottage Hospital and next door but one on the other side to the Cock Inn.: both the Feathers and the Cock can be seen on the above map when magnified!

1872-7. Only appears for the 2 years 1874 &1875 as 'Francis Robinson, abode HBO, House, Feathers Inn, town Electoral Roll books for 1872-1877 Q/RPr 2/18, 21,24,.

1872-1875. In D/P 4/11/13,4,5, H.B.O Rates, there is no mention of Francis Robinson, nor, I think, of the Plume of Feathers.

1875 Robert William Robinson born 5/7/1875 in Broad Street, Hatfield (Broadoak). Francis is given as Innkeeper.[ no mention of farming] Have b.c.BR4. No baptism record found 1870-1877 [Bishops Transcripts D/CR177] & no mention on the b.c. of the 'paralysed since childhood' that appears in 1891 & 1901Cs. Mar 2012: Hatfield Broad Oak Baptism registers have at last been deposited in the ERO - but after 1858, D/P 4/1/2, not yet digitised!


.feathers inn

Court House Hatfield Broad Oak 2008 and its position in the town. Church graveyard can be seen behind the Feathers/Court House as now known.

The house at Hatfield Broadoak where the Robinsons are said to have lived/worked? Almost certainly then the [Plume of] Feathers pub. 1875 [source John Kettle - he was shown this building by his grandmother, Pett, as a child].

The Court House, Feathers Hill, is a two-storeyed, long-jettied building of the late 14th century in which the upper floor was originally open. It was partitioned in the 16th century and a chimney was inserted. In the 17th century a range was built running back from the south end. The street front was cased with brick in 1771, the ground floor being arranged as a door and three windows in arched recesses in the original four bays, and the date being recorded on the side of the building. The quality of the structure indicates that it was an important building. Paintings formerly on the interior walls are said to have indicated that it had been a court house, and it is tempting to connect it with the Priory manor. In the late 18th and the 19th century it was the Plume of Feathers inn. . .The Plume of Feathers, later called simply the Feathers, appears to have traded from at least 1782 until c. 1895. . .Francis Marion Crawford (d. 1909). American writer, lived at Hatfield c. 1870 as a student under the vicar, George Burn, and used some of his memories in Tales of a Lonely Parish. : F.M.Crawford aged 16 is indeed in the 1871C living as one of 2 students with the vicar and his family.District 3 page 7. . . Extracts from British History online

. A building called Feathers - Hatfield Broad Oak Feathers Hill - was Grade2 listed in 1985: House. C17. Timber framed and plastered and part painted brick. Of 2 storeys with pegtile roof, gabled at south and half hipped at north end. Off-centre ridge line stack and single storey lean-to with pegtile roof at north end. Windows are C20 metal casements and front wall is part C20 pargetting with painted brick dentil course under eaves.. This probably the Feathers Inn - was confused by Feathers Hill location as opposed to Broad Street, but above aerial photo does show Feathers Hill!.

On the approach to the village from Hatfield Heath, up Feathers Hill, one is faced by the Court House, so named because this building once contained a local seat of justice in which court sittings were held. It later became the Plume of Feathers Inn (hence Feathers Hill) but has now reassumed the name of the Court House.

ERO D/P 4/18/73 of 1869 gives notice of James Button's intention to apply for permission to transfer his alehouse licence for the Plume of Feathers at Hatfield Broad Oak to James Crush.

1876-1880. Is there a Post Office listing for the Feathers?? Prob.not, but Kelly's has a William Pain, builder, there by 1878, its next entry to 1874.

hatfield Broad Oak Church

Hatfield Broad Oak Church

1878. He was no longer running the Feathers, and was not on the 1876, 1877, 1878 Electoral rolls so probably moved to Clapham 1876-1878.

1881 Census. At Broomfield Road, Clapham. Obviously has decided to move towards London for higher wages. There was a slump in farming~1875 and many left the Essex countryside, but he more likely left HBO in 1876 as he could not make a living runing the Feathers there. .

Francis Robinson   45    mar.  Stableman  b. Chilson
Edward  15    Errand boy. b Stanford Rivers[has changed his name!]
Florence  13    b. Stanford Rivers
Charles   14   Errand boy. b. Stanford Rivers
George  8     b. Stanford Rivers
Robert    5    b. Heathfield, Essex.( should read Hatfield)


Again his wife is missing from this Census; have searched all combinations for her, but not a unique name!. Eldest children, Walter Robinson & Ellen Annie Robinson, are working in Fulham & Clapham.

1887 Son Walter Harry Lewis Robinson dies 4/8/1887[ now called Walter William Henry!] , he having married in 1881. Have d.c DR0.

1887. He, Frank Robinson, given as Horse Keeper on his daughter's, Ellen Annie’s m.c. 8/10/1887

1890. A Francis Robinson is listed at 4 Cambalt Road Putney Wandsworth in the 1890 Electoral Roll - do not think this is he, as same entry exists for 1891 & 1892

1890. Francis Robinson dies, aged 53!, in’ Wandsworth’,’ Sep’, 1d.407. [Would actually have been  about 56] . D.C.DR01 gives him as an Ostler, aged 53, of 155 Clapham Park Road Clapham , died on 2/8/1890. Informant E.Robinson, widow of deceased, present at the death, same address. Cause of Death: Pulmonary Phthisis 2 years Exhaustion.. No probate



1891 Census. At 155, Park Road,Clapham.. Look up Clapham Park Road/Park Road Clapham in Electoral Roll for Clapham - LMA - 2012 Now online - cannot find Robinsons listed there. .

Elizabeth Robinson  45   wid.  Housekeeper Dom.    b. Hatfield
George     18 Groom      b. Hatfield 
Robert William  15   b. Hatfield    Paralysed from childhood.

[ Birthplaces wrong for Elizabeth [& George ?]. Robert's paralysis not mentioned in 1881C. He might have contracted polio between age of 5 & 15.]

Summary of Francis Robinson's life:

6th of 8 children to a family that had lived in Chilson or nearby Charlbury for generations.Was a Groom by 16. Do not know 'How' he moved to Essex, but married a girl from Kent in Shelley in 1858. 1858-1864 a Butler, - seemingly somewhere? in Chipping Ongar. 1868-1871 an Innkeeper. Farming 40 acres in Stanford Rivers in 1871 . Innkeeper in Hatfield Broad Oak in 1874/5. By 1881 a Stableman in Clapham - obviously  things had not gone well. 'Horsekeeper' in 1887, deceased ,Ostler, August 1890.

Summary of places Francis Robinson lived



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