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Edward Belcham Francis and his Sister

Edward Belcham Francis

1850 - 1939

Compiled by Terry Joyce

picture of Edward Belcham Francis

Contributions from:
Ernie Lane, Peter Everingham, Cllr Eddie Dray, Viv Irvine, and Mike Davies.

Sources: Ancestry, Findmypast and The British Newspaper Archive.


There are a large number of documents & pictures relating to the research carried out into Edward.
Some are shown on this page, the full list can be seen and accessed from this link.
Edward Francis documents

Any links on this page will open a new window

1850 Clements Hall

Clements Hall is in Victor Gardens, north of where Clements Hall Leisure Centre is now.
It is a Grade II listed building.

See the listing on the Historic England website

Clements Hall, Hawkwell

Edward Belcham Francis was born at Clements Hall on 30th July 1850 to Charles Wordley Francis, age 25 and Mary Francis age 17. His mother Mary's maiden name was Belcham. His Father Charles Wordley Francis was listed as Gentleman on his birth certificate. There are a number of different spellings of Wordley in various documents.

Birth Certificate of Edward Belcham Francis

Edward was baptised at St Mary the Virgin Church in Hawkwell on 10th September 1850.

St Mary the Virgin Church, Hawkwell

1851 Clements Hall

In the 1851 Census Charles W Francis was listed as a Maltster and Farmer, farming 280 acres and having 21 labourers working for him. An Acre is 4046.86 square metres. 280 acres is approximately 140 football pitches.
Information on how Malt is made The Maltsters' Association of Great Britain
Living with Charles at Clements Hall were: his Wife Mary 18, an eight month old Edward, Hannah Kempster 28 and Emma Goddard 15 both listed as servants.

1861 Clements Hall

10 years later in 1861 things had changed significantly. They are still living at Clements Hall but the number living and working there have increased. Charles is now 35, Mary 28 and Edward is now 10. There have been a number of additions to the family; Lydia Mary 7, Fanny Ann 5, Richard Charles 3, Alice Esther 1 and Edith Ellen 3 month. With more children comes more staff; Ann Drake 19, Governess (teacher), Charlotte Garwood 24, Domestic cook, Mary A Turn 22, Housemaid and Emma Horsnell 18, Nursemaid. The farm is now 810 acres, there are 40 men and 10 boys working there.


It is likely the Edward would have received some home schooling.

He may have attended the National School for boys & girls in Hawkwell as that was the nearest school to Clements Hall but we have been unable to confirm that.

In later years Edward was educated at Repton School.
See their website Repton Co-educational Independent School
Their records show that he was at the school From September 1864 until December 1868. He was a boarder and the house that he lived in was called The Priory. Before 1920 it was located in The Old Priory, pictured below, which is one of the oldest buildings on the school site (c.1172). The picture was taken during the period when Edward Francis was at the school, under the headmastership of Dr Steuart Adolphus Pears.

The Old Priory

1871 Southchurch Wick

Southchurch Wick

Another ten years has past and the 1871 Census reveals more changes. They are now living at The Wick a Farm in Southchurch, Southend. Charles is now 45 and Mary 38. Edward is now 20 and has now joined the Indian Civil Service after passing an exam in an open competition in 1870. He came 2nd out of 40 entrants with 2,161 marks, compared to the 2,992 of the winner. Back to Wick Farm; Lydia Mary is 17, Fanny Ann is 15, Richard Charles is 13, Alice Esther is 11, Edith Ellen is 10. There have been some more additions to the family; Alfred George 8, Lucy 6, Walter 2 and Henry 7 months. I hope you are keeping count of the children. Are there going to be any more? Ellen Mary Smith is a servant and Louisa Sains is the Cook. The farm is now showing as 700 acres and the workers consist of 36 men, 6 women and 10 boys.

1881 Southchurch Wick

Ten more years and this is what was included in the 1881 Census. The family are still at The Wick Farm. Charles is now 55, Mary is 48, Lydia Mary 27, Alice Esther 21, Alfred George 18, Lucy 16, Agnes Kate 8, Eliza Attridge 26 is the Cook and Annie Keyes 21 is the Housemaid. Charles now has 900 Acres Employing 36 Labourers 10 Boys & 6 Women On the 2nd June 1881 Lydia Mary married Philip Benton at Holy Trinity Church in Southchurch. There were no buildings between the farm and the church and there was a footpath.

Here is the list of Edward's siblings:
Lydia Mary 1854 - 1922
Fanny Ann 1855 - 1944
Richard Charles 1857 - 1873
Alice Esther 1859 - 1913
Edith Ellen 1861 - 1903
Alfred George 1862 - 1940
Lucy 1864 - 1916
Walter 1869 - 1940
Henry 1870 - ????
Agnes Kate 1873 - 1963

Indian Civil Service 1870-1897

Records show that Edward served as Assistant and Deputy Commissioners from 1871 until he retired in 1897. Here are some of the places he is listed as serving: Umritsur, Ferozepore, Punjab, Gurgaon and Lahore. Edward wrote a number of books relating to his time in India that are held by The British Library.

More about Edward

1901 Rayleigh & Torquay

Just a quick glimpse in time.
Staying at the house in the High Street (Francis House) is Mary and Daughter Lucy with the Cook, Emily Ada Whalley, Julia Annie Allen, the Housemaid.
At the Sherwood Hotel in Torquay were Edward with his Sister Edith Ellen.

Photographer, Archaelogist and more

Edward was an excellent photographer and Rayleigh Town Museum have a collection of pictures in the local area that he took in the early days of photography.
Here is a picture that Edward took that shows his Mother's house in Rayleigh High Street. It is now Lloyds Bank and called Francis House.

Francis House and Rayleigh High Street

In 1909 Edward bought a property call Castlebank on what is now Crown Hill and the land behind it, which we know today as Rayleigh Mount, the site of a Norman Castle. He bought the property to allow him easy access to the Mount to carry out archaeological excavations.
Edward built a bridge across the moat, as you can see from this picture.

Castle Bank

He investigated the records and history of the castle and discovered the extensive foundations, coming across arrow-heads, knives and whetstones, spurs, quaint locks and keys, bronze armaments and seven silver pennies, very thin and much tarnished coin from King Stephen's reign between 1135 and 1154. The articles found were placed in the Priory Park Museum.

In 1911 Edward was living in Rayleigh High Street in now what is Francis house (Lloyds Bank) with his Mother Mary, Sister Lucy, Minnie Sewell Cook and Emily Louisa Hymas Housemaid.

In 1912 We have a record of Edward and Fanny Ann returning from Tenerife on the Grantully Castle (2nd Class).

In 1914 Edward was on the Committee who organised the Rayleigh Volunteer Training Corps, this was the equivalent of the Home Guard in World War 2.
See Rayleigh Volunteer Training Corps
More information about the Volunteer Training Corps

On 3rd June 1915 Edward was awarded the Kaisar-i-Hind Medal for Public Service in India.
The Kaisar-i-Hind Medal for Public Service in India was a medal awarded by the Emperor of India, between 1900 and 1947, to "any person without distinction of race, occupation, position, or sex who shall have distinguished himself (or herself) by important and useful service in the advancement of the public interest in India". The Emperor in 1915 was King George V.

Edward gave the Mount to the National Trust in 1923. Edward wrote a book on the History of Rayleigh Castle. It is due to him this historical spot, remains to be enjoyed by the public in perpetuity.

Among other generous acts, he paid for the planting of the trees in the High Street (of which only a few now remain and at Christmas time, provided the poor of the town with five to eight cwts (See * for description of cwts) of coal according to their need. He allowed himself one luxury, a hard pavement with a kerb outside his house, which was then in contrast to the muddy unmade pathway at the Crown Public House. As he lay dying, he arranged for certain of his properties in the town to be sold off cheaply to tenants and it is said he sold Frost's, the tobacconist's and confectioners for £250. Today, Boots the Chemists occupy the site.

Edward Belcham Francis died on the 20th May 1939, shortly after agreeing to serve on the local committee to cope with any invasion. Sadly in keeping with his modesty, his body was quietly and speedily removed to London and unusually for that time he was cremated at the City of London Crematorium on the 23rd May and his ashes scattered in the Garden of Rest.

The cost of Cremation in 1939 was £4 18 shillings & 1 pence. See the advert.
1939 Advert for City of London CemeteryPage 6 Southend Standard, January 19th 1939

The Edward Francis School and the Plaque at Francis House, High Street, remind us of the highly commendable deeds of a fine gentleman.

The End - for now

We will update this as and when we find out more.

Edward Francis documents


*In 1340, King Edward III changed the value of the stone from 12½ pounds to 14 pounds. Since a hundredweight is 8 stone, the 100-pound hundredweight became 112 pounds

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