Part 3: “The Lost Temple” a Family lost and found in South East London

Lunch at Gilray’s Old London County Hall Building



In Part 1 Part 1: Finding the “Lost Temple” for an old mate and Part 2 Part 2: “What’s all the Waller about then?” we traced the maternal and paternal families of my mate Les Temple, who had slung a family mystery onto the dinner table when we were out for one of our occasional

“…let’s ‘av a pint and a bit of nosh, and tell each other the same old stories so we won’t forget ’em before we get dementia…” bashes.

…and it was a good laugh, as it always is.  This lunch was in Gilray’s Steak House which is housed in the old Greater London Council (GLC) headquarters on the Southbank of the Thames, an institution for which we both used to work 40 years ago.  Gilray’s overlooks Westminster Bridge, and brings back some great memories.  Probably put me in a good mood, so the revelation that there was such a great mystery in the Temple Family, was too good to pass up.  As we always say at Time Detectives:

“Every working class family has as much right to have their family history remembered and cherished as any family of the nobility.”

So having found the genetic ancestry of Les’s Family in parts 1 and 2, the last part of the puzzle was how and why did the Family end up with the Surname Temple, when their paternal line were the well to do, but slightly mental Wallers, and the maternal line were the hard working Gunmaking Scots Erskines.  we can start by finding out were the Temple line came from.

The Temple

The Temple who gave Les’s Temples the surname Temple was one William Henry Temple born around 1820 in Stockton-On-Tees County Durham.

William turns up in living in lodgings at Falmouth Road, Newington, Southwark, South London in 1871.  He was a travelling “Commission Agent” which was basically a travelling salesman, although what he was selling is not clear.  He was an unmarried 51 year old man and profoundly deaf, he probably wasn’t a great catch.  There the story may have ended with William passing his life as a Bachelor, but his life would change in 1871.

The Browns

In 1821, within a year of William Temple’s birth in Stockton-On-Tees, a child named Frederick Brown was born in Woodham Walter,  just to the East of Chelmsford in Essex.  He worked as a Gentleman’s Servant and married Mary Ann Gardner in 1842, the following year they were blessed with their first child Sarah Ann Brown.  The couple went on to have a further eight children over twenty years.  But the one we will focus on will be the eldest child Sarah Ann.

Sarah Ann, like many of the women in this story found employment as a Domestic Servant, and at the tender age of 18 was working miles away from Essex for a household in Croydon Surrey.  Like the women in the Erskine Family Domestic service didn’t work out for Sarah Ann, and at the tender age of 19 she was back in Springfield Chelmsford with her family where she gave birth as an unmarried mother to her son Edward.

A Perfect Match

Edward was looked after by his Grandparents whilst Sarah Ann worked in domestic service nearer to home in Chelmsford.  Her father was working as a Carman and Coal Porter, so life wouldn’t have been easy with several children to feed as well as a new grandchild.

At some stage around 1870 Sarah Anne Brown met William Henry Temple the same age as her father.  How they met is not clear, most likely Sarah Ann came back down to London to work in Domestic service again, and met William Temple there.  They hit it off and the middle aged deaf salesman found a wife, and the unmarried mother Sarah Ann Brown, along with young Edward in tow, found a husband and protector.

The couple set up home in a flat in Camden House, Kensington, and William took on Edward Brown as his own son, and he was renamed Edward Brown Temple in recognition of this.  The boy did well, working in a Warehouse and then as a Grocer’s Assistant.  It may have started as a marriage of convenience for both of them, but it undoubtedly had a loving core to it as the couple had seventeen happy years together until William’s death in 1888.

Edward Brown Temple

Edward continued to prosper after his step father’s death, looking after his mother in Cavendish Buildings Clerkenwell.  Cavendish Buildings were a reclaimed school building, redeveloped as a site for “artisans’ dwellings”.  Known at first as St Paul’s Buildings and later as Cavendish Buildings, these opened in 1890, and the Browns moved in when they first became available.  The Block was developed into 72 two and three-roomed flats arranged in four linked six-storey blocks, those at the north and south ends apparently retaining some of the school fabric.   Access was via a doorway on Dallington Street into a small courtyard, where a large, cast-iron staircase with decorative balustrading led to long, gallery-like balconies.

Cavendish Buildings

These Buildings were classed as very respectable, with no broken windows, and flowers on show on the windowsills, put there by the housewives to brighten up the area.

Edward was doing well working as a Grocer’s Assistant, and in 1900, married Martha Annie Bond.

The Bonds

Martha Annie Bond was the eldest daughter of George and Clementine Bond from Offley in Hertfordshire.  George was a Groom, who looked after horses for their owners, but after becoming unemployed in 1871, went out on his own as a Cab Driver (a horse drawn cab that is).

Martha Annie went to London to find work in Domestic Service, and found employment with a wealthy Widower’s household in Jermingham Road New Cross, South East London.  She was taken on as a “Lady’s helper” looking after the Widower’s elderly Mother-in-law who lived at the address.  How she met Edward Brown temple is not clear, but in 1900 they married at Hatfield in Hertfordshire in her parent’s home Parish.  Within a few years, 1903, their daughter Vera Ethel Clementina Brown temple was born at Little Heath Hertfordshire.

Bringing the Temple/Brown, Erskine and Waller strands together

There the story may have ended, but then in 1912 “Cyril Waller”, Les’s Dad, was born illegitimately to Emma Erskine, quietly away from Clerkenwell in Deptford, looked after by Emma’s mother, and financed we assume by the Father’s family the Wallers.

From the records it seems that Cyril was raised by Edward Brown Temple and Martha Annie Temple (Bond).  When this happened is not clear, but there is a distinct possibility that Cyril was “informally” adopted by the Brown/Temples, soon after birth.

I would speculate that after the birth of their daughter Vera, the Edward and Martha found that they were unable to have anymore children, and there is a distinct possibility that Edward would have liked to have had a son, and in 1912 Cyril came along unwanted it would seem because of his illegitimacy by both sets of his parents.

Baby Cyril’s plight would have resonated with Edward who was himself the illegitimate son of a Domestic Servant, but who’s mother had keep hold of him, and with the help of her parents managed to bring him up albeit in relative poverty until William Henry Temple, the kindly deaf middle aged travelling salesman had come along and offered safety and security , and raised the boy in a loving home of his own.  Cyril represented Edward’s opportunity to pass on the same selfless kindness to another illegitimate boy and raise him as his own son.  Compassion passed down through the generations as a noble Meme in the Temple Family.

But what was the link?

So we know what happened, i.e. Edward Brown Temple and Martha took on Cyril as their own, and Cyril took not only the Temple surname, but also dropped the “Waller” and adopted Edward’s name as his own middle name, which says a lot for his love for his adopted parents.

So how did the connection come about?  This will need to be intelligent speculation based on the facts we do know.  The family storey is that Cyril was brought up by an Aunt, but we were not able to find an obvious relationship between Cyril and Martha who raised him, so it seems there must have been another relationship.

There is a common theme linking the women in the story to Domestic Service in South East London.  Emma Suttle had worked as a Maid in Camberwell before winding up in Wandsworth Prison, and was living in Camberwell when she married William Dodd Erskine, her daughter Emma Erskine was a Domestic Maid in Bromley South London, Martha Annie Bond who along with Edward Brown Temple adopted Cyril had been a domestic servant in Deptford, Emma and her mother went to Deptford to give birth to Cyril, so  it is likely that the various women involved.  So it is possible that the women had some contact earlier in their lives.

Another explanation would be that Edward Temple the grocer new the Erskines from Clerkenwell, as they did not live that far from each other, we may never know for certain.

Wait a minute Mr Postman

Before we leave the story there is a postscript of a possible Temple/Erskine/Waller connection.

In  1924 Emma Erskine, Cyril’s Mother married a widower, and ex-Royal Navy Sailor called George Francis William Hand and moved to Hackney.  George Hand was now a Post Office Sorter.

Perhaps a coincidence but William Charles Waller, Cyril’s putative father Stanley Waller’s Uncle, was a Principal Clerk in the London Postal Service, a very important role.

In 1939 we find Cyril living in Ealing with Martha Temple (Edward Brown Temple having died in 1923) doing very menial work stuffing hemp under bedding.

In the 1940s Cyril manages to get a job as a Postman, a good job at the time, and a major step up from where he had been stuffing hemp mattresses.  Did he receive a helping hand?  Either through his Mother’s guilt via her new husband George Hand, or perhaps, were the Waller’s still paying their debt to young Cyril?  Did Cyril’s Father’s Uncle come to the rescue in Cyril’s hour of need, as a way perhaps of keeping the situation quiet going forward?  perhaps coincidence perhaps not?

Modern Times

A footnote into modern times, Les’s putative Grandfather Stanley Waller was still alive in 1969, a few years before we worked together, and his Grandmother Emma Erskine/Hand died in 1956 in Sidcup just South East of where Cyril was living in Peckham, and the same year that Martha Annie temple died, so Cyril lost two mothers in a single year.  Despite being so close in both time and space, the Family story was lost until now.

Les’s surname is now Temple, but it has no genetic link with his family whatsoever.  despite this the elderly deaf salesman from Stockton-On-Tees, William Henry Temple who died in 1888, passed down a legacy of compassion and the idea of Family as a loving unit whether there were blood ties or not.  What better legacy could a man ask for, and how proud can a family be of bearing the name of such a man?


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