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William Turnham (1821 - 1888)

William Turnham
Born in Leighton Buzzardmap
Ancestors ancestors
Husband of — married 1861 in Ongar, Essex, Englandmap
Died [location unknown]
Profile manager: ed Maddex private message [send private message]
Profile last modified | Created 6 Jan 2010
This page has been accessed 577 times.

William Turnham was landlord of the Spanish Patriot 34 Lower Marsh, Lambeth , initially in partnership with his brother John until 1862.

He had married Sarah Argent in 1848 in Marylebone. When first married Sarah had worked at the Albermarle gentleman’s club made infamous by the libel and subsequent conviction of Oscar Wilde by the Duke of Queensbury. Working alongside her were Fred and Sam Chaplin, of the right age and location for one to be the unidentified grandfather of Charlie himself.

In 1864 William was a witness in the trial of Ann Pearcey who tried to give him a conterfiet coin, for which she got 8 months, with Ledger Dowsett mentioned in court as his barman. William had remarried in 1861 to Christina Dowsett, daughter of William Dowsett and they named their son Ledger, so one imagines the barman was her brother.


William Turnham appears at the Founders Arms, 213 (later 1) Brick Lane, Spitalfields in 1870 when he obtained the licence, in the 1873 P.O. directory and in the 1874 directory of Licensed Victuallers by H D Miles. Interestingly he is not here on the 1871 census.

This pub started out as The Brass Founders Arms at 255 Whitechapel Road, which would have put it immediately opposite the entrance to The Royal London Hospital. Joseph Merrick, the “Elephant Man”, was being exhibited in the shop two doors west from here in 1884 when Dr Treves discovered him.

However, due to road renumbering the pub address was then 46 Whitechapel street, ten doors from Taylors’ bell foundry, where the name probably originates. On the site now is the massive East London Mosque.

From 1850 this premises was at 213 Brick Lane, on the North West corner of the meeting with Wentworth Street and Osborn Street. When William Turnham and his family moved on from the Founders Arms it was taken over by Taylor Bros as an extension of their chocolate manufactory. Around the same time the numbering of Brick Lane was reversed and the address became number one.

Years later in August 1888 this corner was the exact location of Jack the Ripper’s first attack, on the 45 year old Emma Smith and his second on Martha Tabram was feet away in George Yard.

Unusually for the East End this building was the only one lost in the entire length of Brick Lane during the blitz when neighbouring Osborn street was completely levelled. On the site now are the Tower Hamlets NHS Spitalfields Health Centre, an apartment block and the offices of BSkyB .


Sebright Arms/Palace (or Temple) Of Varieties/ Belmont Music Hall/ Regent Theatre of Varieties 26/28/31 Coate Street, Bethnal Green. Family records listed this premises, and we are assuming that William lived here in 1874 when his son Seabright was born and that he was named after his father’s business. He must have barely moved in when Seabright was born, so perhaps the name seemed auspicious. William Seabright who gave his name to the pub had been a Clerk of London in the 16th century, acquiring large estates in Bethnal Green and funding an educational foundation in Worcester with the proceeds. When used as a name the spelling is always Seabright, but the pub name seems to have lost the ‘a’ at some point. This East End Music Hall began in 1865 in the basement of the pub until 1885 when a 700 seat theatre was built on the north side of the road, designed by J.G.Buckle.

In 1894 it hosted Charlie Chaplin, and Marie Lloyd’s first paid appearance was here. Attenborough’s film recreates Chaplin’s act of the time in just such a minor music hall. It was the first music hall to run twice nightly shows, and gets a mention as one of the ‘not so nice ones’ in the book “Tipping the Velvet” by Sarah Waters. It was popular with the east-end match girls but sadly was put out of business after the opening of the Hackney Empire in 1901, and following a time as a cinema or film studio in 1938 it was replaced by the vast “Sebright House” complex of flats. The pub itself survived and reopened in 2011.

Geo W Belmont was one of the more unorthodox businessmen in Victorian London. He moved from the King’s Arms to the Sebright Arms in the same year that William moved the other way between the two, so there is a strong possibility that they were in business together. This might also explain William’s financial difficulties, as Belmont himself is found a few years after advertising an ”infallible” betting system for one hundred pounds in the papers. One wonders why if it was so reliable he did not simply use the system himself to make money. However, after that he is found as director of Sadler’s Wells theatre so must have pulled his fortunes around, but William was not as fortunate.






William Turnham was at The Kings Arms,18 Hanway Street / Yard, Marylebone

in 1881/1982 with his wife Christina (Christiana in the directory). In 1891 it was listed as The Bodega Co; since Bodega is Spanish for bar, we like to think that there is some connection with what is currently named Bradley’s Spanish Bar at 42 Hanway street. Patrick McGoohan from Danger Man and The Prisoner runs past it above. Was there a Spanish theme to William’s pub names? Was Christiana Spanish?

However, the first OS street map shows the only PH at the corner with Tottenham Court Road, which would put the site under Boots the chemist. Although William was 59 on the census record his youngest son was 4! Luckily Christina was 19 years younger than William.

Farleigh Hotel a record in The London Echo of William’s suicide at the Fairleigh Arms,277 Amhurst Road, Stoke Newington, Hackney in October 1888; his body was discovered hanging in the cellar by his wife and eldest son. A report in the Yorkshire times states that he was bankrupt.The forecourt over the cellar has now been completely removed to make an open space in front of the basement.

There are an astonishing number of unhappy stories associated with this hotel…perhaps as the coroner’s court for many years it acquired an unhealthy atmosphere. One case recoded how a pregnant young lady had died due to the use of “improper implements” i.e. a bodged abortion. At an auction here in 18xx a punter attempted to put the auctioneer through the window, another time a barman went home from work and threw his landlady down the stairs, and in the record heat wave of 18xx a worker renovating the building suddenly and deliberately hung himself from the scaffold. Before the police had completed the record another suicide occurred nearby. In the sixties the Kray’s had their headquaters opposite. This large building at the genteel end of Amwell Road has now been tastefully renovated as offices and flats. Giles visited on a sunny day in February 2011 and was struck by the atmosphere of peace and quiet.


Mrs Christina Turnham was listed at The General Havelock 1a Lower Ranelagh Grove, Pimlico, St George Hanover Sq in 1891 and 1895 together with her children Fred and Alice (in photo?). the General Havelock has been demolished and the Rousillion French Restaurant built on its corner site renumbered 16 St Barnabus St.



Christina was listed at The Angel, Angel Hill. Sutton on the census of 1901

The pub was in trouble early in 2011 for underage drinking and drug deals, in June 2011 it suffered a fire and closed.



William & Christina’s son Frederick Dowsett Turnham was a public house manager living 135 St George's Road , Southwark in 1911. There were a number of pubs in the road but none has a particular claim to be his, there has been much renumbering and he may not have lived at his pub. We like to think it was the Prince of Wales since it is still there, so we can drink to his memory (below). His only servant on the census was Emily Holden aged 16, we have not yet proved her connection to another family member Professor A W Holden.



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