Alfred Archer Dixon 1846 - 1914

Isaac Dixon & Ann Elvee . Alfred John Dixon & Elizabeth Sturgeon . Alfred Archer

 

Alfred Archer Dixon, my great grandfather. Why he was called Archer is a family mystery. In this story I have called him AA.  He had a hard and lonely life - he must have been a tough tough man. And he probably wasn’t very nice! He worked on the railways in north London and had nothing, yet finished up a wealthy man. But he was unlucky in love - three wives and all died before he did. And he lost most of his children as well. I have pictures of his father, grandfather and the generations that followed him - but nary a one of him or his wives. However .... this is his story:

Alfred Archer Dixon was the son of Alfred John Dixon 1815-1878 and Elizabeth - See their photos below:

 

 

I am so grateful to cousin Grace Lindsay for the photograph of Lizzy.  You will see Grace’s line of descent later on in this chapter. Until she sent me this photo in 2017, I had no idea what Lizzie looked like (I’m sure she was called Lizzie). Similarly,  great appreciation goes to my New Zealand Dixon cousins for the photos of Alfred John Dixon. It’s staggering how different branches of the family still have mementos of family from more than 100 years past. And yet I have no photograph of this man -  Alfred Archer Dixon. And  he was the wealthiest member of the family!

Alfred Archer Dixon was born 17 Mar 1846 and baptised 10 Apr 1850 at St Mary's church, Harrow-on-the-Hill.  His father Alfred John Dixon (AJ) ran a carriers business and kept cows. 

 

Alfred Archer would have attended the John Lyon school. We know that at the age of 16 (1861 census) he was still at home and not working (at the same time his older brother was driving the family horse and cart). This was the age of the Industrial Revolution. The railways were thrusting out all over the country. Excitement was in the air. A vast new Empire was being carved out and AA wanted to be a part of the movement.   We know AA joined a railway company and for many years worked as a porter.

At the age of 21, AA was married to Susan Climpson. Interesting to note that Susan had a brother who married AA's sister Eliza Emma.   AA and Susan were married at St James' Church, Pentonville on 6th Nov 1869. They both then lived at 74 Southampton Place, Pentonville.cSusan was born in Kensington, bap 19 Aug 1849, the daughter of George and Margaret Climpson. George was a cowkeeper and dairyman, the same as AA's dad. In 1851 the family lived in Marylebone, but they also lived for a time in Westminster. When Susan was born they lived at 14 Edward Street, Dorset Square, St Mary Bryanston Square. Pretty posh area today – it was built as part of the Portman Estate. I expect the Climpsons lived in the workers cottages

The 1871 census shows us that AA was working as a railway porter and living at 1 Durham Place, West Hackney with wife Susan and they have a daughter

 

Edith Susan Dixon aged 2 (born circa 1868).

The UK Employment Records, 1833-1956 lists the Midland Operating, Traffic, Coaching Departments and shows that A Dixon was a van boy, but that he resigned in 29 Aug 1872. He probably joined another railway company.

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By 1881 AA and Susan were living at 49 Red Hill Street, Regents Park, another very nice area (now! but not then!). Their daughter, Edith was aged 12 and AA was still working as a railway porter. This area was one of the busiest areas of North London. There were warehouses, a busy canal, vinegar factory, distillery, piano factory, crystal works and a number of straw and hay storage facilities. Nowadays the area is dominated by the Peabody Cumberland Market Estate. Other memories from older residents from this time include recollections that Redhill Street was one of the busiest areas in north London for prostitutes to pick up their clients and was known amongst locals at the time as ‘Redhot’ Street!  AA must have worked at Euston station - just 4 streets away

Red Hill Street right next to the canal basin, now filled in

But things weren't going well in their marriage. There were no more children and the marriage was on the rocks. Worse than that was talk of domestic violence. It was reported that Susan had taken off with a cabman 7 weeks before she was found dead.

In 1882 at the age of 30, Susan died at 11 Kentish Town Road and was buried 4 Oct at St Pancras cemetery. We have so little info about her, but so much about her burial!! We have the plot no 4; the square (11C) and the size (6 feet) and the depth (7 feet). The registry no is 62384.  The cemetery replied to my question and said "The grave in question is a communal grave and as such may not be marked by way of memorial."

"Dr Diplock yesterday held an inquest at Providence Hall respecting the death of Susan Dixon aged 33, the wife of a railway porter, living at No 7 Burton Street, Burton Crescent - Alfred Dixon, the husband stated that his wife had been subject to fits and he had not seen her for three weeks - Mrs Bowen, of 21 Alfred Road, sister of the deceased woman, said that her sister came to her a few days ago and told her she had to make herself a new home, as Alfred had left her. Dr Finzi of 89 Sutherland gardens stated that he was called to 21 Alfred Road on Monday evening, whereas he found the woman lying on the floor dead. The post-mortem examination showed the cause of death to be fatty degeneration of the heart. The husband here said he wished to make a statement, as reports had gone out he had ill-used her; but so far from that, his wife had left him about seven weeks ago to live with a cabman taking 105/- (one hundred and five shillings) and on the day of her death was driving about with him and a sister. The Jury expressed themselves entirely satisfied with the husband's explanation, and a returned verdict of Death from Natural Causes."  London Evening Standard 1 Sep 1882

Second wife

Just two years later though, at the age of 36, he married Eleanor Adeline Roope aged 21 at the parish chapel St Pancras on 14 Aug 1883. Eleanor's father was James Edward Roope and he was a malster. Eleanor moved in with the family in Harrow when she was coming close to giving birth. Sadly, the birth was not easy, as so many in those days were not and she and their son, Alfred Herbert Dixon, died 12 days after the birth.   She and Alfred were both buried 17 Jun 1884 at St Mary's churchyard, Harrow.

Third wife

AA was not a man to hang around because within a year he married for the third time - to Fanny Law, daughter of Richard Law, a publican in Layer Breton, just outside Colchester.  They were married in Layer Breton in the winter of 19 Oct 1885. At this time AA had been promoted to station master at Ponders End railway station.   AA started our family's connection with the little village called Layer Breton, just outside Colchester (Ed: where I was born in 1949). On the 19th March 1897 AA erected a little pair of cottages next to Layer Breton Heath called Sea View.)

We find this intriguing entry in the National Archives for 1886. This website gives details of Alfred Archer's negotiations for a property. These documents are held at London Metropolitan Archives"  Mr.George Powell to Mr.A.A.Dixon: Assignment of Lease of the Premises known as No.11 Stratford Place, Camden Town, St Pancras C.P  LMA/4059/C/015  1886 Mar 1" Surely this is not the same place where the Oriental Club is, just off Oxford Street?

In the same year, 1886, a son was born, Alfred James Dixon and was baptised 28 Nov 1886 in the family church of St Mary’s Harrow on the Hill.

In 1892 AA and Fanny had a daughter - Alice Mabel Dixon. She lived for 5 months. A family story came down through the generations that the nursemaid dropped her on her head and she died.

On the 19th March 1897 AA erected a little pair of cottages next to Layer Breton Heath. For the full story of these cottages see Appendix One "A History of Sea View".

The handbooks of the time give us only a little more information. Kelly's Directories (1901-1914) make mention that he was the owner of the Railway Hotel and one other house. However we know that he owned 8 houses in Bell Road. In the 1912/13 Directory we learn who lived in these houses:

  • 5 Bell Road: George Gent

  • 6 Bell Road:George Donald Harding

  • 7 Bell Road:William John Newman

  • 8 Bell Road: Henry Pearce

  • 9 Bell Road:Charles Genower

  • 10 Bell Road:Joseph Webster

  • 11 Bell Road:William Cross

  • 12 Bell Road:Frank Thomas Duddy

By 1911 he was 65 and a widower again. Son Alfred James was living at home. He was aged 24 and a commercial traveller. Also his niece was there - Winifred Diss, in the capacity of housekeeper. She was the daughter of Fanny's sister.   Winifred’s decsendants moved to British Columbia in Canada.

AA the publican

It was probably inevitable that AA would gravitate towards being a publican. So many of the family had been in the business, he had a lot of knowledge to draw upon.    

1899: AA took over the lease of the Old George at 61 Church Street, Kensington as reported in the West London Observer Friday 6 Jan 1899 and he was also the publican there in 1900. He sold the license to George Naylor in 1901. The area has been completely rebuilt. There are no pictures of the pub.

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By 1891 we find that AA lists himself as a publican/licensed victualler, living 179 Morning Lane, Hackney. This was a public house called the Duchess of Kent. The picture below shows what it looks like now. It was and still is a pretty rundown area.

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Railway Hotel Ponders End. AA was the publican 1901-1914. Other members worked here as well- Winifred Diss, his niece. We also see his aunt Matilda and her husband John William Bliss based here

In the 1901 census he is the publican at the Coach and Horses, at 862 High Road, Tottenham. Fanny was with him and he had three employees. They lived on the second floor. He was still there in 1908,

According to Dora Wilkinson, he also managed the Britannia public house in Waltham Cross - no dates known for this, but she recalls visiting him there when she was 10

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The White House pub in Enfield Wash. AA was the licensee till his death in 1914 and his son AJ Dixon took it on. In the 1970s I went in and explained I was doing family tree research. The publican said he had some old photographs of a bloke on a bike.  He went up into the roof and brought them down. I still have them - see Alfred James Dixon on his beloved motorbike.

AA in the press

Being a publican in a tough part of London naturally brings trouble at times, and I found the following stories in the press :

  • AA the conductor set upon by thugs

  • Summoned for keeping an open house after hours; Middlesex Gazette 17 Aug 1901

  • Customer drunk on licensed premises The Weekly Herald 23 June 1905

  • Charges against a variety agent  The Weekly Herald 13 May 1904

  • Publicans Perils The Middlesex Gazette Saturday July the 2nd1905

  • Fannies Perks The Wednesday Herald 29 Aug 1906

Fanny died in 1909 and is buried in the Council burial ground in the churchyard of St Matthews, Enfield Wash. The tombstone can be clearly read. It says:  "In Loving memory of Fanny, the beloved wife of Alfred Archer DIXON who died 4th July 1909 in her 50th year - For ever with the Lord."

AA died in May 1914 of gangrene and diabetes and is buried with her.  Unfortunately his name is not recorded on the tombstone. Did they forget ?? Was it due to the onset of WW1 ?? Was there bad blood between AA and his son Alfred James?? He is definitely in there because I checked the graveyard burial registry.

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AA was a popular figure in the Enfield area. He rated the following obituary in the Enfield Gazette and Observer dated Friday 22 May 1914:

"Mr Alfred A DIXON.

On Tuesday the funeral took place of the late Mr Alfred Archer DIXON of No. 1 Bedford Villas, Southbury Road, Enfield, amongst many tokens of respect to his memory. The deceased had suffered from diabetes for some short time past and the cause of death was gangrene. He was 68 years of age. The body was interred in the family grave in the Enfield Highway churchyard. The officiating minister being the Rv J L BOULDEN, vicar of St James, Enfield Highway. The chief mourners included Mr A J DIXON (son), Mrs HUGHES (daughter), James, Enfield Highway. The chief mourners included Mr A J DIXON (son), Mrs HUGHES (daughter), Mr HUGHES (son-in-law), Miss DISS (niece), Mr John CREASEY and Mr FREEMAN. There were also some 50 members of the Northern Suburban Licenced Victallers Association of which body the deceased was a trustee.

He was widely known in North London as a licensed victualler, having been the licencee of several houses in the district. For several years and up to some 3 years ago he was the respected landlord of the Railway Tavern, South Street, Ponders End. At the time of his death he held the licence of the White House at Enfield Wash.

He was a well -known member of the Enfield Town Constitutional Club and was a Forester of some 47 years standing.

The funeral arrangements were carried out by Messrs Blake and Co. of Enfield Town.

The family of the late Mr A A DIXON wish to thank all their numerous friends for all tokens of respect in their bereavement."

As is often the case when a parent has more than one spouse that has produced half brothers and sisters there is often a corresponding jealousy when it comes to the inheritance.

Alfred Archer DIXON's first and second wills are reproduced right and it is clear that between 1911 and 1914 someone else moved into a close association with him. This was Winifred Diss, his niece. In the first will dated 1911, the executor is AA's son Alfred James Dixon and he is to receive everything except for £300 which is to be given to AA's daughter. At this time Jimmy was spending a great deal of time away from home pursuing his motor racing career.

My aunt Phyl (Alfred James' daughter) wrote: “He was bitterly upset when he returned home, that his father died thinking he would not come to his deathbed. Mother told me many times that AA was licencee of a number of inns – all potential sources of income. On his deathbed it was Winnie Diss.

Looking at the second will - obviously a deathbed will, we can see that AA reduced his son's inheritance quite considerably. One must remember that in 1911, £920 was a great deal of money (£115,500 in 2022). By 1914 there would undoubtedly have been more. One could have bought 6 good houses at least. The 8 properties in Bell Road were worth £1000 in total.

The Executors - his son-in-law Frederick William HUGHES and his friend W. Freeman are made executors of his final will. It was they who should have attended to the carving on the gravestone, but they did not. After all, they had been left ALL the cash and saleable furniture and it is of course up to the executors to take care of that sort of detail. £

First will DATED 23 February 1911

"This is the last will and testament of me Alfred Archer DIXON of No. 1 Bedford Villas, Southbury Road, Enfield in the county of Middlesex, Licensed Victualler. After payment of all my just debts, funeral and testamentary expenses, I give, devise and bequeath to my son Alfred James DIXON my property in Bell Road, Enfield, eight houses numbers 5 to 12 inclusive, two copyhold villas at Layer Breton Nr Colchester, Essex and seven hundred pounds, £700, invested at 401 with Messrs Boord & Sons Distillers of Tooly St Boror and two hundred and twenty pounds, £220, on deposit at 5% with Watney Combe, Reid & Co my brewers of the Stag Brewery, Pimlico. A life policy I hold of Mr Richard LAW for three hundred pounds, £300, which at his death I wish my daughter Mrs Edith Susan HUGHES of 128 Faulkland Road, Hornsey to receive. Should my daughter be deceased, I wish it to be equally divided between her two children Frederick and Violet HUGHES. I hereby revoke all other wills made by me and declare this to be my last will and testament and I hereby appoint my son - Alfred James DIXON to be sole executrix hereof, in witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand this twenty third day of February one thousand nine hundred and eleven

signed Alfred Archer DIXON

The last will dated 9 May 1914

This is the last will and testament of me Alfred Archer DIXON of I Bedford Villas, Enfield. I hereby revoke all former wills by me. I give my son Alfred James DIXON my eight freehold cottages in Bell Road, Enfield also two copyhold cottages at Layer Breton near Kelvedon, Essex.

I give to James CREASEY of the White House, Enfield Highway a legacy of £IOO clear of duty. All the rest and residue of my estate and effects of what nature of kind soever I give and bequeath the same unto my son-in-law Frederick William HUGHES and W FREEMAN of the George Hotel, Enfield upon trust to realise the same and to divide the proceeds between my daughter Edith Susan HUGHES and my niece Winifred DISS and I appoint the said Frederick William HUGHES and W FREEMAN executors of this my will as witness my hand this ninth day of May one thousand nine hundred and fourteen.

Alfred Archer DIXON

On 30th June 1914 Probate of this will was granted to Frederick William HUGHES and Robert William FREEMAN the Execs.

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To recap, the children of Alfred Archer Dixon were:

Edith Susan Dixon, daughter of AA and his first wife Susan.

Through the ups and downs of marriages and deaths we see that Edith Susan Dixon has survived because on 13 Aug 1895 she married Frederick William Hughes in the parish church of St Matthews, St Pancras. AA was present at the wedding and so was Ada Silvester Hughes (sister?). Frederick was the son of Robert John Hughes (deceased) and Georgina, a charwoman. Frederick was born 14 Apr 1866 and baptised at Old Church, St Pancras 22 Jul 1866.

 

FW worked as a commerce clerk. They lived at 4 Corime Road, Islington, 44 Grayford Road and 128 Falkand Road, Hornsey.

During WW2 FW was a fireman and was injured in the Blitz. He was taken to Highgate Hospital. His name is recorded as Civilian War Dead in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (his death is given as 19 Dec 1944 and his address is 170 Malden Road).  Fredrick William Hughes died 27 Nov 1944 at the North Middlesex Hospital, Edmonton. Administration at Llandudno 19 Jun 1944  to Frederick Dixon Hughes, civil servant and Edith Violet Hughes, spinster. Effects £2922.8s.7d.

I don't know when Edith died.

Frederick and Edith had only two children:

Frederick Dixon Hughes born 21 Jun  1896 and baptised 1 Aug 1897 St George church, Tuffnel Par

Edith Violet Hughes born 10 June 1897, baptised  1 Aug 1897 St George church, Tuffnel Park

 

Frederick Dixon Hughes

Frederick was just the right age to get caught up in  WW1 and we find that he is a corporal with regimental no 199172 and a a gunner with the RFA. He was awarded a British War Medal. He became a member of the Alexandra Freemasons Lodge . He was initiated 23 July 1919 at the age of 23. He lived at Jubbalpore and his occupation is given as a soldier.  The London Gazette 7 July 1922 states that he was appointed to the Board of Education.   Upon returning to England he lived  at 1 Frobisher Road, Haringay in 1928.

He married Winifred Reeve Rask on 27 Jun 1931 at St Catherine church, Hatcham, Lewisham. They were both civil servants. Her father was a seaman - John Victor Rask (deceased) and his wife Jane. She was born 11 Nov 1904 and baptised 18 Jan 1905 at St John Horsleydown, Southwark. They lived in 43 (Centre) Vine Street Buildings, Southwark  In 1932-3 they lived at 56 Jernigham Road, Deptford.

Frederick Dixon Hughes died 17 Feb 1978 in Hampshire aged 81. He lived at 22 Loxwood Avenue, Church Crookham, Aldershot. Probate was granted 25 April and effects were £860 . I don't think he had any children.  Winifred died in may 2001 in Milton Keynes aged 96.

 

Edith Violet Hughes

born 10 June 1897, baptised 1 Aug 1897 ( St George church, Tuffnel Park). In the 1901 and 1911 census she is at home.

She never married and died in June 1968 at Croydon aged 71.

Thus the Dixon line continues through Alfred James Dixon