Marcus Hedges Lewis

Author: Sandra Copas
Date published: 23/03/2022

Marcus Hedges Lewis

Marcus was born in Newbury in 1839, the son of John Lewis and Jane nee Weedon.

John Lewis was born in Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire in 1799. He comes from a family heavily involved in hosiery and ribbon manufacture and was a Mercer at the time of their marriage in Newbury in May 1822. (A lot of information is available about the Lewis family through Andrew Robert Deane’s Tree on Ancestry – The Deanes of County Cavan). Jane was the daughter of Timothy, a Draper (born in London in 1771) and Ann nee Pizzie (born in Aldbourne, Wiltshire in 1773).

The Census for 1841 shows them living in the Market Place, Newbury and John’s occupation is that of Draper. On this Census, under John and Jane, are listed Henry 15, Walter 15 and Marcus age 1.  John is Mayor of Newbury in 1841. However, on the 1851 Census, only John, Jane and Henry are listed living at Greenham Cottage, near Goldings Yard, Thatcham. John is now retired but, the odd detail is that Henry is given as age 10. Walter dies at the age of 20 in 1844 and is buried at the Lower Meeting House. They also had a daughter, Jane Julia, who only lived for one year and 11 months, dying in 1844.

Marcus’s mother dies in 1853 and a Guardianship is set up through the courts, supported by John Lewis of 3 Vale Place, Guildford, for his care and education. These monies come out of the estate of his grandfather, Timothy Weedon, being part of the property which Marcus will become entitled to. Timothy died in Newbury in 1851.

In 1861, Marcus is living with his uncle, Austin Champion and aunt, Esther nee Lewis at Ham Mills, Thatcham. Austin is a Miller and later the proprietor of this property. The flour produced there is reputed to be of superior quality and Marcus learns about the business, becoming a Master Miller and taking over the mill on 6th. May, 1879.

Marcus marries Elizabeth Bennett, daughter of Simon and Louisa nee de Selvier Sallis at Holy Trinity Church, Clapham on 22nd. February, 1865. Simon was a Butcher and meat salesman. In 1871, Marcus and Elizabeth are living in London Road, Speen with son, John Austin Emiel (sometimes given as Ernest) age 5 and daughters, Louisa Jane 3, Alice Elizabeth 1 and Katherine May. Marcus is noted as a Master Miller and Reader of St Mary’s, Speenhamland. By the 1881 Census, the family are at Waterloo Terrace, Woodspeen and Marcus is listed there with daughters, Katherine 10, Esther 8, Daisy Anne 7 and Gertrude Maud 4.

Marcus is reported in the Reading Mercury many times through the 1870s-1890s as he is involved in local events and social activities, including the possibility of election to the new borough; meetings of the Newbury and District Angling Association (he was a passionate and accomplished angler, with specimens included in an exhibition in 1883), the St Nicholas’ Stained-Glass Window Society, the Religious Tract Society and for the organisation of the Conservative Party in the Newbury Division (1885). He attended the meetings of Greenham Common freeholders about recent fires (1886); of Didcot, Newbury and Southampton Junction Railway shareholders (1881); became a member of the Newbury Chamber of Agriculture (1879); was present at the laying of the foundation stone for the new Greenham Parish Church (1875) and was one of the people collecting contributions for the proposed Iron Mission Church in Shaw (1876). He also took part in fund-raising entertainments for the Woodspeen East Reading Room.

Matters regarding his property and finances also appear. The freehold of the house at 2 Waterloo Terrace is up for auction in 1870 and again in 1882. Marcus advertises for a Foreman and an Accountant for Ham Mills in 1872. He is in trouble in 1886 and noted as the “late proprietor of Ham Mill” and bailiffs are said to be in the house. His wife and children are no longer with him and he can not afford to support them. This led to his accusation of theft against his son and another boy when they took items, including fishing rods, from the mill to raise funds for their family. The case was not answered as Marcus did not appear in court when called. These difficulties might, in part, have been due to the extensive work he had done at Ham Mill, including the building of a private chapel.

Marcus then follows his calling and becomes a member of the Reformed Church of England and in 1891 he is in Braintree, Essex, a Clerk in Holy Orders. It appears that later he lost money gambling and attempted to forge a donation cheque from the Rev. J.L. Tarbett. He was arrested in Vicarage Road, Eccles and the case was taken to the Old Bailey on 13th. September, 1898. Marcus was found guilty and sentenced to 15 months (hard labour) in Pentonville Prison.

In 1901, his occupation is given as a minister in the Reformed Church of England and he is living with his wife, Elizabeth (noted as a Professor of Music) and their daughter, Katherine, in Southcote Road, Bournemouth. His death on 27th December, 1907 occurs in Newbury, where he is living at 2 Priory Road. He is buried with his uncle and aunt, Austin and Esther Champion, in Newtown Road Cemetery on 31st December, 1907.


(i) Elizabeth, his wife, is living at Brighton Villa, Craven Road, Newbury in 1891, with daughter, Gertrude Maud.

(ii) I could not establish why Hedges is part of Marcus’ name but, believe it comes from the Weedon side of the family as John Weedon, solicitor and owner of Western Elms Lodge, Oxford Road, Reading and his wife, Sarah nee Keep, have a son named Francis Hedges Weedon (1831-1904).

Sandra Copas March 2022


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