John GEE (1842–1898)
His wife Mrs Elizabeth GEE, née Payne (1841–1887)
St Giles [Ss Philip & James] section: Row 26, Grave F42
In Loving Memory
BORN FEBRUARY 28 1842
DIED FEBRUARY 8, 1897.
[should read 1898]
HIS BELOVED WIFE
BORN MAY 14, 1841
DIED NOVEMBER 21, 1887.
ALSO OF THEIR 3 INFANT CHILDREN
There is another John Gee buried at St Sepulchre’s Cemetery who is not related to this famous Oxford family: he came from Northamptonshire, and none of his children stayed in Oxfordshire.
John Gee was born in Bear Lane, Oxford on 28 February 1842 and baptised at All Saints Church on 9 May. He was the second son of Charles Gee (who had been born in Kennington, Berkshire in 1812/13, and was in turn the son of another John Gee, who was a farmer) and his wife Martha Horn (born in Oxford in 1811 and baptised at St Mary Magdalen Church on 25 October, the daughter of the confectioner Richard Horn, later of 15 Cornmarket Street). John Gee’s parents Charles and Martha were married at St Michael’s Church, Oxford on 20 December 1838 and had six children:
- Charles Gee junior (born in Bear Lane, Oxford in 1840/1 and baptised at All Saints’ Church on 27 February 1841)
- John Gee (born in Bear Lane, Oxford in 1842 and baptised at All Saints’ Church on 9 May)
- Richard Gee (born in Bear Lane, Oxford on 9 August 1843 and baptised at St Mary the Virgin Church on 1 September)
- William Henry Gee (born in Egrove, Kennington in 1844/5)
- Henry Gee (born in Kennington in 1845/6)
- Martha Ann Gee (born in Kennington in 1847/8)
John’s father Charles Gee senior was a tobacconist in All Saints’ parish at the time of his marriage in 1838, and a billiard-table keeper in Bear Lane when his first three sons were baptised. Then in about 1844 Charles appears to have moved his family to Kennington, his birthplace. By the time of the 1851 census they were in Sunningwell: Charles Gee (38) was then a farmer of 35 acres, living with his wife Martha and children Charles (10), John (9), Richard (7), William Henry (6), Henry (5), and Martha Ann (3).
By the time of the 1861 census John’s father Charles Gee had changed his career again, and was now a sausage maker, living at 33 Speedwell Street, Oxford with Martha and three of his children: Richard (17), who was a confectioner’s assistant; William (16), who was a bookseller’s assistant (and was later to have his own bookshop in Oxford’s High Street); and Martha (13), who was at school; and three of his nephews, all born at Radley, were also living with him.
John Gee himself (19) was a hatter & hosier in 1861, lodging at 14 Market Street, Oxford with his uncle John Horn (42) and John’s sister Catherine (49), who were both unmarried confectioners. Soon after that census he must have changed his trade to that of a nurseryman, as Jackson’s Oxford Journal reports that at the Royal Oxfordshire Horticultural Show on Tuesday 15 September 1863, he won third prize in the nurserymen’s class.
Elizabeth Payne was born in Limehouse, London on 14 May 1841, the second daughter of John Payne.
On 28 January 1864 at All Saints Church, Poplar, John Gee married Elizabeth Payne, and their marriage was announced in Jackson’s Oxford Journal on 6 February. They had the following children:
- John Payne Gee (born in New Hinksey, Oxford in 1865 and baptised at South Hinksey Church on 16 July 1865)
- Elizabeth Sarah Gee (born at North Parade, Oxford in 1866 and baptised at Ss Philip & James’s Church on 23 September)
- Charles William Seaborne Gee (born at North Parade, Oxford in 1867 and baptised at Ss Philip & James’s Church on 17 November)
- Edith Ellen Gee I (born at St Giles’s Fields/Banbury Road in 1869 and privately baptised through Ss Philip & James’s Church on 6 August; died aged five weeks and buried on 10 August 1869)
- Amy Florence Gee (born at St Giles’s Fields/Banbury Road in 1870 and baptised at Ss Philip & James’s Church on 6 November)
- Maud Ada Gee (born at St Giles’s Fields/Banbury Road in 1872 and baptised at Ss Philip & James’s Church on 14 April)
- Grace Kate Gee (born at Banbury Road in 1873 and baptised at Ss Philip & James’s Church on 20 April)
- Edith Ellen Gee II (born at Banbury Road in 1874 and privately baptised by Ss Philip & James’s Church on 7 August; died aged four and buried on 11 November 1878)
- Margaret Emily Gee (born at Banbury Road in 1876 and baptised at Ss Philip & James’s Church on 24 February; died aged four months and buried on 13 March 1876)
- George Richard Gee (born at Banbury Road in 1877 and baptised at Ss Philip & James’s Church on 5 April)
- Henry Horn Gee (born at Banbury Road on 1 February 1879 and baptised at Ss Philip & James’s Church on 9 March)
When their eldest son was baptised on 16 July 1865, John and Elizabeth Gee were living in New Hinksey (which, although it was in the south part of Oxford, was then in the county of Berkshire), and John was described as a florist. Within a week or so, John Gee took over the business of the gardener & seedsman Henry Hooper, and the following announcement appeared in Jackson’s Oxford Journal on 29 July:
HENRY HOOPER, Gardener & Seedsman,
MIDDLE ROW, OXFORD MARKET,
RETURNS his sincere thanks to his friends and the public generally for the kind support they for so many years bestowed upon him; and begs to inform them that he has disposed of his business to Mr. JOHN GEE, whom he can confidently recommend as his successor, and for whom he solicits a continuance of their support.
In returning thanks to his friends and customers for past favours, begs to inform them that he has taken to the Business carried on for so long a time by Mr. Hooper; and hopes, by keeping a constant supply of good articles, to merit a continuance of their favours.
By the time of Elizabeth’s baptism in 1866, they had moved to North Oxford and were living in North Parade. John was then described as a gardener, and his market garden was just to the south on the west side of the Banbury Road. (The road was then virtually unoccupied, and the south part was still described as St Giles’s Fields.) He began to supply the new North Oxford houses with shrubs and plants: the garden historian Mavis Batey wrote: “Ferns and spikey plants in pots to echo spikey finials and gables were much in demand”.
Between 1867 and 1869 the Gees moved from Norham Gardens to a house on the Banbury Road on the site of their market garden. The first of the two daughters they named Edith Ellen was born and died there in 1869: her death was recorded in the parish register of St Giles’s Church, and she and the other two babies who died later may be buried in St Sepulchre’s Cemetery: they are certainly remembered on their parents’ grave.
Early in 1871 John’s father Charles Gee died at Speedwell Street at the age of 58, and was buried on 16 January, probably at Osney Cemetery; his mother continued to run the family sausage-making business.
At the time of the 1871 census John and Elizabeth Gee, both aged 29, were living on the Banbury Road with their four surviving children John (5), Elizabeth (4), Charles (3), and Amy (six months), plus a servant. John was described as a market gardener employing three men.
On 12 October 1872 John’s mother inserted a notice in Jackson’s Oxford Journal under the heading GEE’S OXFORD SAUSAGES thanking readers for the support bestowed on her late husband and herself for the past fifteen years, and announcing that Mr E. Horn was no longer her agent, and in future “her celebrated Oxford Sausages can only be procured from her Sons, Mr. John Gee, Middle Row, Oxford Market, Mr. Charles Gee, grocer, 18, St. Aldate’s-street, and from the Manufactory, 33, Speedwell-street, Oxford”.
In 1881 John and Elizabeth Gee, both aged 39, were living at a “house in Gee’s Garden, Banbury Road” with their children John (15), Elizabeth (14), Amy (10), Maud (9), Grace (8), George (4), and Henry (2).
In 1882 a house and shop were built for John Gee at 61A Banbury Road by John C. Gray.
† Mrs Elizabeth Gee née Payne died at Banbury Road at the age of 46 on 21 November 1887 and was buried at St Sepulchre’s Cemetery on 24 November (burial recorded in the parish registers of both Ss Philip & James and St Giles’s Churches).
Their son Charles was married in 1889:
- On 8 August 1889 at Ss Philip & James’s Church, Oxford, Charles William Seaborne Gee (22), described as a market gardener, married Isabella Maria Baker (22) of Little Clarendon Street, daughter of the late Thomas Baker, a builder, and the marriage was announced in Jackson’s Oxford Journal.
At the time of the 1891 census John Gee, a widower of 49, was living at Ivy Lodge on the Banbury Road with his son John Payne Gee (26), both described as “Farmer, Nurseryman, etc” and his daughter Elizabeth (25), who acted as his housekeeper. Also still at home were Amy (20), Maud (19), and Grace (18), who all worked as florist assistants, and his youngest son Henry (12).
On 30 January 1892 William Gee took out a large advertisement in Jackson’s Oxford Journal, inviting people to inspect his numerous stock at Diamond Farm, Banbury Road, listing many trees, shrubs, and climbers, and stating that orders could be received at the Victoria Nurseries, Banbury Road and at the Market, Oxford. On 2 February 1895 he advertised fruit trees and shrubs available for inspection at the Blackhall Farm Nurseries, Banbury Road.
In 1897 a new house was built by Sims, with H. W. Moore as architect, for the nurseryman William Gee, with a large conservatory. (The house is recorded as 61A Banbury Road by Tanis Hinchcliffe, but is probably in fact No. 63, as this is the number given in directories.) The photograph below shows the conservatory (No. 61A) with No. 63 on the right in 2013:
Gee died early the following year at Black Hall Farm on the Banbury Road:
† John Gee died at Black Hall Farm at the age of 55 on 8 February 1898 and was buried at St Sepulchre’s Cemetery on 11 February (burial recorded in the parish registers of both Ss Philip & James and St Giles’s Churches).
Probate was granted to four of his children (John, Charles, Elizabeth, and Amy), and his effects came to £6,119 7s. 7d.
In 1899, the year after his death, his business was listed as “Gee John, Victoria nurseries, 63 Banbury rd. St. Giles’; greengrocer, 84, 85, 86 and 74 The Market; & market gardener, Black Hall frm. Banbury rd. Summertown.”
Surviving children of John and Elizabeth Gee
- John Payne Gee (born 1865) became a florist & market gardener like his father. In the fourth quarter of 1898 he married Mary Susan Wheeler. At the time of the 1901 census when he was 36, he and his wife were living at 45 Oakthorpe Road, Summertown with their eighteen-month-old son John Wheeler Gee, plus a 15-year-old servant. By 1911 they were living at the Nurseries, Summertown Farm, with John (11) and their second son William Frank Gee (9). John Payne Gee was described as being of New Farm, Cumnor when he died on 17 October 1951, and his effects came to £14,186 11s. 6d.
- Elizabeth Sarah Gee (Mrs Tanner) (born 1866) presumably continued to act as her father’s housekeeper until his death in 1898. At the time of the 1901 census she was living with her brother George and his wife at Black Hall Farm, St Giles; but her address was given as 11 Plantation Road when on 30 December 1903 at Ss Philip & James’s Church, at the age of 37, she married Edward William Tanner (40), the farmer at Rectory Farm, Horspath. At the time of the 1911 census they were living at that farm. They had no children.
- Charles William Seaborne Gee (born 1867) who had married Isabella Maria Baker in 1889, took over his parents’ house at 63 Banbury Road, and he and his wife and 11-month-old son Charles can be seen living there at the the time of the 1891 census: he was then described as a fruit salesman, probably employed by his elder brother. By 1901 he was a fruit merchant and employer, and he and his wife lived at 19 Islip Road with their children Charles (10), Edward (9), Arthur (8), Stewart (5), Thomas (4), and Frederick (1). By 1911 Charles was a farmer and fruit salesman at Gosford Farm Kidlington.
- Amy Florence Gee (born 1870) was living at Blackhall Farm when she married Walter Abraham Pike, a college clerk of 21 Wellington Square and the son of the baker John Pike, at Summertown Church on 8 January 1900. At the time of the 1901 census they and their baby daughter Margaret Amy (seven months) were paying a visit to Amy’s sister Mrs Maud Goundrey at Hampton Poyle. By 1911 they had moved to 61 Banbury Road and had another daughter Edith Ellen, then six. Amy was described as the manageress of a fruiterer and florist business. Ann Spokes Symonds in The Changing Faces of North Oxford writes that “The very neat and ladylike Mrs Pike (née Gee) who wore her hair in a bun, and her son, ran the famous shop for many years. Here were made up the wedding bouquets and funeral wreaths for generations of North Oxford families.”
- Maud Ada Gee (born 1872) was living at 29 Thorncliffe Road when she married the ironmonger Arthur Percy Goundrey, the son of the ironmonger John Goundrey, at Summertown Church on 31 December 1900. At the time of the 1901 census they were living at Hampton Poyle, and Arthur was described as an ironmonger. Her sisters Grace and Amy (the latter with her husband and baby) happened to be paying a visit on census night. By the time of the 1911 census Arthur (34) was the farmer at Grove Farm, Kidlington, where he lived with Maud (29) and their children John (9), Mary Elizabeth (8), and Edward Arthur (6). Maud died in the Banbury district at the age of 86 in the second quarter of 1958.
- Grace Kate Gee (Mrs Hunt) (born 1873) was paying a visit to her sister Mrs Maud Goundrey at Hampton Poyle at the time of the 1901 census. She was living at 83 Southmoor Road when at the age of 33 she married Charles Hunt (44), the miller at Botley Mill, at Ss Philip & James’s Church on 26 February 1906. They had three children: Kate (1906), Maude (1907), and Ruth (1909). At the time of the 1911 census they were living at 61 Botley Road, and Charles Hunt was described as a miller and baker. She is probably the Grace K. Hunt who died in the Ploughley registration district at the age of 70 in 1943.
- George Richard Gee (born 1877) was living at Blackhall Farm when he married Edith Emma Baker of 19 Islip Road, the daughter of the deceased licensed victualler Thomas Baker, at Summertown Church on 6 February 1900. At the time of the 1901 census George (24) and Edith (32) were living at Black Hall Farm, where George was the farmer, and George’s unmarried siblings Elizabeth (33) and Henry (22) were living with them
- Henry Horn Gee (born 1879), known as Harry, was living with his brother George and his wife at Black Hall Farm, St Giles in 1901, when he was aged 22, and working as a nurseryman. In the second quarter of 1904 he married Minnie Radbone in Oxford. At the time of the 1911 census Henry (32) and Minnie (33) were living at 19 Islip Road, Sunnymead with their son Herbert (3) and daughter Grace (ten months), plus a mother’s help. Henry Horn Gee died at Meadowsweet, Small Lane, Fishponds, Bristol on 27 November 1965. His effects came to £459.
Gee’s Victoria Nurseries
The address of Gee’s Victoria Nurseries, which was given at 63 Banbury Road in the early twentieth century, later became 61A Banbury Road. “Gee’s Victoria Nurseries, fruiterers” were still listed there in 1976 in the last Kelly’s directory to be published, and in the 1980 telephone directory.
The Oxford Times of 19 August 1983 (p. 7) reported that the conservatory was to be converted into a restaurant by its new owner, Jeremy Mogford, and the Oxford Mail of 4 July 1984 that Gee’s Restaurant had opened.