Tag Archives: 1879

1879 : Gipsy Life on Mitcham Common

Sketches on Gypsy Life : Inside a tent on Mitcham Common

GIPSY LIFE NEAR LONDON. Another sketch of the wild and squalid habits of life still retained vagrant parties or clans of this singular race of people, often met with the neighbourhood of suburban villages and other places around London, will be found in our Journal. We may again direct the reader’s attention to the account of them which was contributed by Mr. George Smith, of Coalville, Leicester, to the late Social Science Congress at Manchester, and which was reprinted in our last week’s publication. That well-known advocate of social reform and legal protection for the neglected vagrant classes of our population, reckons the total number of gipsies in this country at three four thousand men and women and ten thousand children. He is now seeking to have all movable habitations—i.e., tents, vans, shows, &c. —in which the families live who are earning a living travelling from place to place, registered and numbered, as in the case of canal boats, and the parents compelled to send their children to school at the place wherever they may be temporarily located, it National, British, or Board school. The following is Mr. Smith’s note upon what what was to be seen in the gipsies’ tent on Mitcham-common:-

“ Inside this tent —with no other home—there were two men, their wives, and about fourteen children of all ages : two or three of these were almost men and women. The wife of one of the men had been confined of a baby the day before called —her bed consisting of a layer of straw upon the damp ground. Such was the wretched and miserable condition they were in that I could not do otherwise than help the poor woman, and gave her a little money. But in her feelings of gratitude to me for this simple act of kindness she said she would name the baby anything I would like to choose ; and, knowing that gipsies are fond of outlandish names, I was in a difficulty. After turning the thing over in my mind for a few minutes, I could think of nothing but Deliverance.’ This seemed to please the poor woman very much; and the poor child is named Deliverance G——. Strange to say, the next older child is named Moses.’

Source: Illustrated London News – Saturday 06 December 1879 from the British Newspaper Archive (subscription required)

Sibthorp Road

Called Sibthorp (without the ‘e’) in earlier street directories, Sibthorpe Road is currently a short road, almost an alleyway, off of the west side of London Road, north of the Kings Arms pub and opposite the White Lion of Mortimer pub (formerly the Bucks Head). It leads to the public car park, which has entrances in Holborn Way.

It was possibly named after Waldo Sibthorp of The Elms.

On the 1866 OS map there is a strip of land with trees, with two houses on the south side.

1866 OS map

An auction notice of 1879 includes a block of 12 brick and slate houses, one unfinished, with the rest let at 5 shillings per week, which could imply that they had recently been built. The auction also refers to two cottages and a plot of building land opposite.

14th June 1879 Morning Post auction notice (from the British Newspaper Archive)

The 1893 electoral register includes named terraces, listed below. It is not known which terrace was built first.

Garfield Terrace
1, William WHITFIELD
2, George BETTS
3, George BUTLER
5, Henry GREEN
7, Thomas CRESSWELL
8, Arthur BASSON
9, Robert DIXON
10, Henry SEARLE
12, Robinson AMBROSE

Garibaldi Terrace
1, William WILKES
3, William LUKER
5, Edward BALL
6, John SALLIS
7, John GODDEN
9, John CHADWICK
10, John PARSONS
11, George STANLEY

Mayfield Cottages
1, ALfred Wilks
2, George BURTON
3, Thomas GOULD
5, David LAVENDER
6, Amy HIGGS
7, William KENT

Occupants listed in Sibthorp Road in 1893:

1, Walter WATSON
2, Aaron WARE
3, Charles HARVEY
4, William SUGDEN
5, William TOWNSEND
6, James HOLLOWAY
7, Caroline BATCHELOR
8, Noah BLAKE
9, John RAPER
13, Henry CHANDLER
14, Thomas RUSSELL
15, Henry FORSTER
16, Thomas ISAAC
17, William VARNHAM
19, Arthur HOOKINS
25A, George SALES
26, Albert WARD
27, George CORNISH
27A, Albert BOWMAN
28, Joseph WOOLMER
28A, Josiah SMITH
31, Thomas NEWSOM
32, Edward BRYANT
34, Thomas CLARKE

1921 aerial view of Sibthorp Road

2015. View from public car park. White Lion of Mortimer pub can be seen at far end.

2015. View from public car park. White Lion of Mortimer pub can be seen at far end.

1910 OS map

1910 OS map

1952 OS map

1952 OS map

sibthorpe-road-from-fb

MITCHAM ROBT. N. FULLER, MOON & FULLER Will Sell by Auction, at the Greyhound Hotel, Croydon, on THURSDAY, JANUARY 26th, at Six o’clock, NOS. 2 to 24 (even Nos.), SIBTHORP ROAD, consisting of twelve desirable leasehold COTTAGES, producing together £202 16s. per annum. Printed particulars with conditions of Sale may be had of the Vendor’s Solicitors, Messrs. Woodcock, Ryland and Parker, 15, Bloomsbury-square, W.C. ; of Messrs. Chart, Son and Reading, Architects and Surveyors, Vestry Hall, Mitcham, and at the Auctioneers’ Offices, 83, High-street, Croydon, and at Purley, Coulsdon, Reigate, and Epsom

Source: Croydon Chronicle and East Surrey Advertiser – Saturday 24 December 1910 from the British Newspaper Archive (subscription required)

Occupants in 1911 included William Kent, blacksmith.

1911 Census for the family of Private George James Howe.

Private Charles Henry Hussey lived here in the 1930s.

Matilda Baker and Emma Gregory lived here and both worked as Firework Artists, according to the 1881 list of workers at James Pain’s firework factory.

Gardener at the Tamworth Farm recreation ground, George Finch, lived here in 1952.

World War 1 Connections

Corporal T G Bates

Private George James Howe

Private Edward Henry Roles

Private George James Schofield

Private Walter John Wells

From the Surrey Recruitment Registers:

R BARRON of 36 Sibthorpe Road, aged 17 Years 9 Months, Firework Maker. Conscripted on 13 September 1916 to the 22nd Training Reserve Batn.

E H BOLES of 68 Sibthorpe Road, aged 18 Years, Factory Hand. Conscripted on 2 September 1916 to the 26th Training Reserve Batn.

Thos BUTCHER of 90 Sibthorpe Road, aged 18 Years 11 Months, Carman. Joined on 17 May 1915 to the Royal West Surrey Regiment.

C H COOK of 21 Sibthorpe Road, aged 38 Years, Butcher. Volunteered with the Derby Scheme on 7 June 1916 to the Middlesex Regiment (29th Batn).

W FOSSETT of 14 Sibthorpe Road Mitcham, aged 18 Years 8 Months, Carman. Joined on 19 June 1916 to the Royal Fusiliers.

C GAUNTLET of 62 Sibthorp Road, aged 26 Years 9 Months, Labourer. Volunteered on 20 October 1915 to the East Surrey Regiment (11th Batn).

S HARPER of 50 Sibthorpe Road, aged 39 Years 4 Months, Fitter. Volunteered on 27 May 1915 to the Royal Engineers.

A D JOHNSON of 48 Sibthorpe Road, aged 37 Years 11 Months, Wheelwright. Volunteered on 1 February 1915 to the Army Service Corps.

J LAWRENCE of 7 Sibthorpe Villas Mitcham, aged 28 Years 6 Months, Cook. Volunteered with the Derby Scheme on 5 June 1916 to the East Kent Regiment (3rd Batn).

A G MANN of 78 Sibthorpe Road, aged 40 Years, Fitter. Volunteered on 31 May 1915 to the Army Veterinary Corps.

A A MILES of 76 Sibthorpe Road, aged 40 Years, Labourer. Volunteered on 31 May 1915 to the Army Veterinary Corps.

G MORRIS of 84 Sibthorpe Road, aged 26 Years, Plumber. Volunteered with the Derby Scheme on 12 December 1915 to the Royal Engineers.

C NIGHTINGALE of 42 Sibthorp Road, aged 39 Years 3 Months, Bricklayer. Conscripted on 12 December 1915 to the Royal Engineers.

William ROFFE of Fred Roffe 20 Sibthorpe Road, aged 19 Years 7 Months, Carman. Joined on 16 December 1913 to the East Surrey Regiment (4th Batn).

R T SCHOFIELD of 34 Sibthorp Road, aged 17 Years 9 Months, Porter. Conscripted on 14 April 1917 to the 27th Training Reserve Batn.

H J J SCOBELL of 20 Sibthorp Road Surrey, aged 18 Years 10 Months, Baker. Joined on 14 June 1915 to the Army Service Corps (supply).

J TAYLOR of 66 Sibthorpe Road, aged 23 Years 2 Months, Box Sorter. Volunteered on 18 January 1915 to the Army Service Corps.

H J WELLS of 19 Sibthorpe Road, aged 38 Years, Bricklayer. Volunteered on 27 January 1915 to the East Surrey Regiment.

W J WELLS of 19 Sibthorp Road, aged 17 Years 9 Months, Gardener. Conscripted on 17 March 1917 to the 27th Training Reserve Batn.

S WHEELER of 22 Sibthorpe Rd, aged 22 Years, Gardener. Volunteered with the Derby Scheme on 22 November 1915 to the Royal West Kent Regiment (3rd Batn).

H A WILDE of 70 Sibthorp Road, aged 17 Years 9 Months, Porter. Conscripted on 31 March 1917 to the 27th Training Reserve Batn.


News Articles
Mitcham & Tooting Mercury, 12th January 1917, page 3

Compulsory Education

A Mitcham mother had to answer in dock at Croydon on Saturday for having failed to send her child to school regularly. The prisoner, who had been arrested by a warrant officer, was Edith Amelia Hinckley (31), married, of Sibthorp Road. She had been before the court six times on summonses, and had failed to obey the last one. After the last fine, on October 7th, her girl made only 12 attendances out of a possible 103.

Prisoner said the child was delicate, and having 6 youngsters to keep on a separation allowance of 29 shillings weekly, could not properly clothe her for going out in all weathers.

A fine of 10 shillings was imposed.


Maps are reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland.