Mrs Ann SCOWN (c.1816–1859)
St Mary Magdalen section: Row 21, Grave G54½

Ann Scown


I h s


WHO DIED FEB. 28 1859



Ann's husband George Scown does not appear to be buried in this grave with her, but his biographical details are included below.

More about George Scown's early life can be found in his verse autobiography, Such is life! or, The experiences of a West Country painter: containing many interesting events and incidents connected with his own history in Exeter, London, Windsor, and Oxford, from 1836 to 1876 (Oxford: J. Oliver, 1876)
The printed book is in the Bodleian Library or online here.

George Scown was born in Exeter, Devon in 1814, one of six brothers. He was educated at Cocky Stevens's School in St Mary Arches Street in Exeter until the age of 11, when he started work, first for a chemist, then for a draper, and finally for a hop merchant from 6am to 9pm. He “finally decided to be a tradesman of some sort, preferring ten hours a day to fourteen”, and after serving an apprenticeship became a journeyman painter.

On 12 September 1836 at St Olave's Church, Exeter, George Scown married his first wife, Sarah Payne. Just after their marriage George lost his job and walked with two friends from Exeter to Southampton, where his wife joined him. He moved on to work in Basingstoke, and then set his sights on London, where the pay for painters was rumoured to be a crown a day. He hired a room near Burton Crescent, where his wife gave birth to a dead baby on Christmas Eve, presumably in 1837. He then started to sing in pubs to earn money.

George and Sarah moved to Windsor, where he painted the castle prior to Queen Victoria's marriage in 1840. They were back in London by the time of the 1841 census, living at Upper Union Place, St Pancras: George was described as a painter, and Sarah as a laundress. They were living in Paddington when their only child who appears to have survived was born:

  • George Eli Scown (born at 16 Church Place, Paddington on 15 March 1849).

As George appears to have had a new, second, wife called Ann by 1850, one would have expected that his first wife, Sarah Scown, formerly Payne, died between 1849 and 1850: but no such death was registered, and she reappears in Oxford as his wife, together with her son, after Ann's death. Sarah therefore must have left her husband in 1849, taking her new baby with her. The reasons why she would have done this are obvious from his verse biography: his dalliances with other women and his drinking; and indeed Ann must already have been pregnant with his child in September 1849, just six months after Sarah gave birth to George.

Ann is recorded in the 1851 census as having been born in Frimley, Huntingdonshire, but this place does not exist, and so she is hard to identify, given that no definite marriage can be found. George probably lived with her as his common-law wife, and they had the following children:

  • Ann Elizabeth Scown (born at the Strand, London on 24 June 1850 and baptised at St Mary le Strand on 4 June 1851)
  • Sarah Scown (born in Marylebone, London in 1851, reg. third quarter).

George and Ann began their life together in London, first in Paddington and then in the Strand. At the time of the 1851 census George (36), who was a licensed victualler, and Ann (34) were living in London at 23 New Church Court, St Mary-le-Strand with their daughter Ann Elizabeth (nine months), three lodgers, and two visitors. They had two servants: a potman and a 13-year-old housemaid called Elizabeth Scown who was born in Teignmouth, Devon and was likely to be George's niece. George's son George Eli Scown (2) is hard to find, which strengthens the case that his wife Sarah was still alive but had left him, taking their baby.

Scown records in his biography that he invested £600 in a pub business near the Strand, and lost most of it. Later in 1851 he and Ann moved to the Marylebone area, where their younger child Sarah was born.

Shortly afterwards they moved to Oxford, where George initially recommenced his painting trade, but by 1852 Gardner's Directory listed him as the landlord of the Bell & Crown (also known as the Bell Inn) at 17 Magdalen Street. George wrote a long description of it in his verse biography, starting as follows:

At an Oxford Brewery of renown [Morrells],
I bargained for the “Bell and Crown,”
In Magdalen Street — a perfect barn,
Was doing neither good nor harm.

And quite unsightly to behold,
But soon it sported paint and gold;
Its pewter counter, tops, and brass,
And splendid chandeliers of glass.

Double set of spirit fountains,
With polished brass, and pewter mountings;
Beer engine new, and measures bright,
It looked like sunshine day and night.

The news through Oxford quickly flew,
In Magdalen Street was something new;
So much the natives did admire,
They flocked, like going to a fire.

George Scown was a freemason, and in Jackson's Oxford Journal on 20 August 1853 there was a report on a masonic dinner held at his pub, which began:

SOCIAL SONS OF APOLLO.—On Wednesday last the anniversary dinner of the Social Sons of Apollo took place in their spacious lodge-room at the Bell and Crown, Magdalene-street, when an excellent entertainment was well served up by the spirited host, Br. [Brother] Scown.

George continued with his trade as a painter at the same time as keeping the pub, and on 6 May 1854 the following advertisement appeared in Jackson's Oxford Journal:

GEORGE SCOWN, Proprietor of the BELL and CROWN INN, Magdalen-street, Oxford, begs most respectfully to acquaint the Nobility, Gentry, and the Public generally, that he intends following his Trade with all possible zeal.—Imitator of Woods and Marbles, Plain and Decorative Painting, Writing, and Glazing, in all its varieties.
Contracts taken and executed with dispatch. First-rate-materials, and the best workmen may be relied on.

Mrs Ann Scown died in 1859:

† Mrs Ann Scown died at the Bell & Crown, 17 Magdalen Street at the age of 43 on 28 February 1859 and was buried at St Sepulchre’s Cemetery on 4 March (burial recorded in the parish register of St Mary Magdalen Church).

George Scown continued

At the time of the 1861 census George Scown (46), described as a victualler, was still living at the Bell & Crown, 17 Magdalen Street with his son from his first marriage George Eli Scown (12) and his daughter from his second Sarah Scown (9); but his younger daughter Ann (10) is hard to find. He was looked after by his housekeeper Mrs Sarah Payne Scown (48), born near Exeter in Farringdon, Devon, who was listed as married. All the evidence points to the fact that this was Sarah Payne, his original and only legal wife, especially as George junior suddenly returns to the family There were four travellers and a lodger staying in his house.

In 1863 George was given three months' notice to leave the Bell & Crown, “Because some Nobs, to cut a swell, / Was going to build a large Hotel” (the Randolph) on the site of the pub. His “worthy master, on the Hill” (James Morrell junior of Headington Hill Hall) died on 12 September 1863, and “No sooner was he gone to rest / Than many tenants were oppressed”: the house that Scown had been promised did not materialize, and the £300 he had laid out on the pub over twelve years was mostly lost, as he received scarcely one-fifth of the value of what the goods had cost. He was unable to pay his outstanding debts, and was taken to court and sent to prison as a bankrupt in 1864.

When he came out of prison he moved to Gloucester Green and returned to his trade as a painter & glazier.

His son by his first marriage was married in 1870:

  • On 17 April 1870 at St Martin-in-the-Fields Church, Westminster, George Eli Scown married Ellen Ruth Clark.

Sarah Scown, the younger daughter by his second, presumed common-law, wife Ann died at Gloucester Green at the age of 19 at the end of 1870 and was buried on 1 January 1871. Her burial is recorded in the parish register of St Mary Magdalen Church and it is likely that she would have been buried with her mother, but there is no inscription on the grave to prove this.

At the time of the 1871 census George Scown (56), painter & glazier, was living at 5 Gloucester Green with Mrs Sarah Scown (59), who was now describing herself as George's wife and working as a dressmaker. His daughter Ann (20) is again hard to find.

In 1876 George Scown published his verse biography. It is notable that he does not use his wife's (or wives') name in it, perhaps hoping to gloss over the precise details.

His surviving daughter by Ann was married in 1877:

  • On 17 December 1877 at St Mary Magdalen Church, Ann Elizabeth Scown (27) married George Cox (34), a carpenter of Stanton Harcourt, the son of the mason Alfred Cox. An announcement was placed in Jackson's Oxford Journal.

At the time of the 1881 census George Scown was living at 26 Gloucester Green with his wife Sarah. His daughter Ann Elizabeth and her husband George Cox were also living with them with their children George Scown Cox (1) and Richard Allen Cox (three months).

Mrs Sarah Scown died at Gloucester Green at the age of 74 in 1886 and was buried on 8 May. Just six weeks later George Scown died at 26 Gloucester Green at the age of 72 and was buried on 8 May. Both burials are recorded in the St Mary Magdalen parish register, and is it likely that they are buried together in a different grave in St Sepulchre's Cemetery which no longer has a legible stone.

The surviving son of George Scown and his first wife Sarah
  • George Eli Scown (born 1849) was working as a painter in 1871 and living at High Street, Great Marlow with his wife Ellen and their baby son George (1), in the home of Ellen's widower father John Clark, who was a tailor. George (32) was working as a decorator and tobacconist in 1881, still living at that address with Ellen (38) and their children George (10), Alice (8), Esmeralda Mabel (4), Maxwell Orman (3), and Doris Muriel (1). Their last child, Iona Lionora, was born at the end of 1881. They were at the same address with their children in 1891, and Alice (18) and Agnes (17) were now pupil teachers. In 1901 George and Ellen were still at home with Agnes (25), who was now an elementary teacher. George Eli Scown died at Marlow at the age of 53 near the end of 1902.
The surviving daughter of George Scown and his second (common-law?) wife Ann
  • Ann Elizabeth Scown, Mrs Cox (born 1850) died at Gloucester Green, Oxford at the age of 37. Her burial on 12 June 1888 is recorded in the parish register of St Mary Magdalen Church, so she is likely to be buried in St Sepulchre's Cemetery. On 2 March 1889 at St Mary Magdalen Church, her husband George Cox, described as a Warden of H.M. Prison, married his second wife, the widow Jane Smith Shead, a dressmaker of the same parish and the daughter of the labourer Anthony Smith. At the time of the 1891 census they were living at 30 Buckingham Street, South Oxford with his three children by his first wife Ann: George Cox (12), Richard Cox (11), and Helen Cox (6).



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