Miss Jessie BELL (c.1831–1869)
Mrs Susanna WILCHER, née Hales (c.1811–1891)
St Michael section: Row 8, Grave C48½

Jessie Bell


IN …

[rest obscured by footstone]





J. B

S. W.


Jessie Bell

Jessie Bell was born at Hulland, Derbyshire in c.1831, the eldest daughter of James Bell. Her mother’s maiden name is likely to have been Randles.

At the time of the 1851 census Jessie (20) and her sisters Ann (18) and Mary (11) were living at Wyle Cop in Shrewsbury with their aunt, Miss Elizabeth Randles (51). Jessie and Ann were both working as dressmakers, and Mary was at school.

In 1855 Jessie’s younger sister Ann Bell became the second wife of the photographer Robert Hills of Oxford.

The first evidence that she was a friend of Mrs Susanna Wilcher, the woman buried with her, can be found in the 1861 census Jessie (30), described as a saleswoman, was paying a visit to Mrs Wilcher and her husband Louis Wilcher, a retired chandler, at 4 Surrey Square, Newington. Susanna was born in Shrewsbury and lived in Shropshire until 1851, and it is likely that they became friends at this time: they also had a connection through Jessie’s sister Ann, Mrs Hills of Oxford.

Jessie had moved to Oxford by 1869 to live at 16 Cornmarket Street, which had been the home and studio of the Hills family. Robert Hills had moved to Cambridge in January that year, but possibly his wife remained in Oxford to start with, and her sister Jessie was keeping her company. She died there in March:

† Miss Jessie Bell died at 16 Cornmarket Street at the age of 37 on 8 March 1869 and was buried at St Sepulchre’s Cemetery on 11 March (burial recorded in the parish register of St Michael’s Church).

Her death notice in Jackson’s Oxford Journal read simply: “March 8, at 16, Corn Market-street, Oxford, Miss Jessie Bell, aged 37.”

Susanna or Susan Hales (later Mrs Veitch and then Mrs Wilcher)

Susanna Heath was born in Shrewsbury in c.1811, the daughter of the upholsterer William Hales.

Her first husband was James Veitch (born in Scotland in c.1806). They do not appear to have had any children.

In 1841 Susannah was living in the High Street, Newport, Shropshire with James, who was a publican. Two travellers and a lady called Mary Heath were staying at their inn, and they had five servants.

In 1851 Susannah (40) was living at Brockton in Longford in Newport, Shropshire with James Veitch (44), born in Scotland, who was now a farmer of 256 acres employing eight labourers. With them were Susannah’s mother Mary Heath (75), a retired victualler born at Leaten in Shropshire; plus two farming pupil, three farm labourers, and two servants.

Her first husband James Veitch died at Newport in 1851 soon after the census.

At St Andrew’s Church, Islington on 5 August 1856, the widow Mrs Susanna Veitch married her second husband Lewis Wilcher (born in Birmingham in c.1808).

At the time of the 1861 census Susanna was living at 4 Surrey Square, Newington, and her husband Louis Wilcher was described as a retired chandler, and Jessie Bell was paying them a visit.

In 1871 Susanna Wilcher (64) was living at 5 Surrey Square, Newington with Lewis (63) who was now working as a commercial traveller in soap & candles. Lewis’s granddaughter Sarah Wilcher (26), who was a governess, also lived with them, and they had a lodger and one servant.

Susanna’s husband Lewis Wilcher died at the Old Kent Road later in 1871.

At the time of the 1881 census Susanna Wilcher. a widow of 70, was paying a visit to the family of the photographer Robert Hills in Canterbury Road: his wife was the sister of her friend Jessie above.

By the time of the 1891 census she was the lodger of his widow, Mrs Ann Hills, at 3 Canterbury Road. She died there a few months later:

† Mrs Susanna Wilcher née Hales died at 3 Canterbury Road at the age of 80 on 27 June 1891 and was buried at St Sepulchre’s Cemetery on 30 June (burial recorded in the parish register of St Michael’s Church).

Her effects came to £157 3s.



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