Pearce & Hurst
Great grandfather Henry Edward Pearce (1843-1927), was apparently an accountant. However in Brixton, London, at the time of the 1871 Census, he worked as a warehouseman, before going to live in Moss Side, Lancashire at the time of the 1881 Census; and shortly after that he went to Toronto, Canada, with all his family except his oldest son, my grandfather John William Ernest, who was by then at Oxford. I give below the 1881 Census return for his household in Moss Side. I believe that J W E was Head Boy at Manchester Grammar School (not checked), so perhaps it was his schooling that took the family from Brixton to Moss Side.
Henry’s father, James Pearce, was an undertaker when he married in 1828, and a schoolmaster when Henry was born in 1843. His wife was Priscilla Pearce, born Callaway – Henry’s parents are shown in the first two photos below. Henry’s wife Harriet (Hattie), shown bottom right, was the daughter of James Hurst, a grocer who had a shop at 21 Broad Street Bristol in 1844. James’s wife Georgina (shown top right) was born a Buckland. Both the Hursts and the Pearces were from Bristol, but I haven’t found them yet in any census before 1881: by that time Georgina, a widow, was living with her daughter Annie, who was a watchmaker and jeweller (with 3 men and 4 apprentices) in St James Parish, Bristol; and James and Priscilla were living with their daughter Priscilla, who was head of a boarding school at Woodchester, Stroud. Women in both families, it seems, had a head for business.
James and Priscilla Pearce had four daughters (Priscilla, Martha, Clarice and Margarette) and four sons (James, William, Henry and Alfred). Priscilla was the oldest of their children and never married – as a headmistress she may have been the inspiration for her nephew, my grandfather, to build and run his preparatory school at Merton Court, Sidcup. Two of the other daughters of James and Priscilla Pearce – Clarice and Margie – are shown above.
As well as Harriet, James and Georgina Hurst had two other daughters, Emily and Annie, and a son, John William, after whom Harriet named my grandfather “John William”… I have a letter he wrote to her from Lima, Peru in August 1863, congratulating her on her marriage. He wasn’t feeling well when he wrote it and I have no idea what happened to him later. It ends: “Oh if you have a little live doll to play with in about a year’s time and if its a boy call him by my name and he shall be my pet. God knows if ever I shall go to England ever again, matters don’t look very promising for it just now and to go home as poor as one came out here would be senseless work.” I find it difficult to think of my grandfather J W E Pearce, stern disciplinarian that he was, as “a little live doll!”