George WATKINS (c.1801–1888)
His first wife Mrs Esther WATKINS née Pinnock (1799–1865)
His second wife Mrs Fanny WATKINS (c.1824–1866)
His third wife Mrs Eleanor WATKINS formerly Mrs Bennet, née Shillingford (1811–1899)
St Giles section: Row 7, Grave B35

George Watkins and wives

Watkins headstone


Left: The headstone
(with the two earliest burials)

WHO DIED SEP 20 1865

WHO DIED [OCT 14, 1866]
AGED [42]


Above: The two sides of lid of vault
(with the two later burials)

[Illegible line, probably biblical text]



Not shown: Footstone (in death order):
E.W. / F.W. / G.W. / E.W.


George Watkins was born in Stanton Harcourt in c.1801, the son of Thomas Watkins, but was not baptised there.

By 1828 he had moved to Oxford, and was working as a college cook by 1841. Eventually he rose to the position of Manciple of Magdalen Hall.

First wife: Miss Esther Pinnock

George Watkins’ first wife, Esther Pinnock, was born in Standlake in 1799 and baptised there on 11 March that year. She was the eldest child of John Pinnock of Chimney and Mary Sparrowhawk of Aston who were married at Shifford Church on 27 May 1798. Mary's next three siblings were baptised at Shifford (which is one mile west of Standlake): William and Violette together on 17 November 1800, and Maria on 1 August 1802. Her last eight siblings were baptised at Standlake again: Carey (1806), Mary (1808), Caroline (1811), Azenath (1812), Esau (1815), Helen (1817), Caleb (1820), and Henry (1824). From 1815 Esther’s father is recorded as being a farmer.

On 24 March 1828 at Shifford Church, George Watkins, described as then being of St Peter-le-Bailey parish in Oxford, married Esther Pinnock of Shifford. They do not appear to have had any children.

At the time of the 1841 census George Watkins (40), described as a cook, was living at Walton Place (now Walton Street) with his wife Esther. An assistant cook was lodging with them, and they had one servant.

At the time of the 1851 census George Watkins (50), now more precisely described as a college cook, was living at 23 Walton Place (now 26 Walton Street) with his first wife Esther (53) and one servant. Gardner’s 1852 Directory lists George Watkins as the cook at Magdalen Hall (to the west of Magdalen College), and confirmed that he lived at Walton Place (Street).

In 1861 George Watkins (60), now described as a college manciple, was living at Blenheim Place (at the south end of the Woodstock Road) with his wife Esther (61) and one servant.

In 1865 George Watkins was elected as the city councillor for the North Ward of Oxford, and published his thanks in Jackson’s Oxford Journal on 25 November, giving his address as 4 Blenheim Place.

His first wife died in 1865:

† Mrs Esther Watkins née Pinnock died at Blenheim Place at the age of 66 on 20 September 1865 and was buried at St Sepulchre’s Cemetery on 24 September (burial recorded in the parish register of St Giles’s Church).

Just a year after her death, George Watkins married again.

Second wife: Miss or Mrs Fanny Knowles

Fanny Knowles was born in c.1824, and in the third quarter of 1866 in the Chippenham area of Wiltshire she became the second wife of George Watkins, who was 23 years her senior. As she was 42 at the time of her marriage she may have been a widow, but it is not possible to identify her positively.

The couple settled at St John’s Terrace in Oxford, but within weeks of the marriage, Fanny was dead:

† Mrs Fanny Watkins died at 2 St John’s Terrace at the age of 42 on 14 October 1866 and was buried at St Sepulchre’s Cemetery on 18 October (burial recorded in the parish register of St Giles’s Church).

Her effects came to under £1,000, and her husband George Watkins was her executor. Eighteen months after her death, he married a third time.

Third wife: Mrs Eleanor Bennet, née Shillingford

Eleanor Shillingford was born in Standlake in 1811, the daughter of the cow dealer John Shillingford and his wife Mary, and was baptised there on 2 April. Her two younger sisters were also baptised there: Elizabeth (9 June 1813) and Matilda (7 December 1814).

On 3 August 1833 at St Peter-le-Bailey Church in Oxford, Eleanor Shillingford of St Peter-le-Bailey parish married her first husband Abraham Bennet, who was described as a bachelor of New Woodstock, and they had the following children:

  • John Benjamin Bennet (born in Woodstock in 1834 and baptised there on 5 April)
  • Thomas Bennet (born in Woodstock in 1835 and baptised there on 14 September);
    died just after birth and buried on 17 September
  • Abraham Bristow Bennett (born in Woodstock in 1838 and baptised there on 9 September);
    died there aged one month and buried on 17 October
  • Mary Susanna Bennet (born in Woodstock in 1840 and baptised there on 16 February);
    likely to have died.

Eleanor’s first husband was described as a grocer at the baptism of their four children.

In 1851 Eleanor (40) was living at 7 Kensington Terrace, London, with her first husband Abraham Bennet (41), who was a tea dealer and Inland Revenue clerk, and their son John (16), who was assisting in his father’s business.

In 1861 their address was given as 13 Kensington Terrace East, and their son John (27), now a Collector of the Queen’s Taxes, was still living with them.

On 23 February 1867 Eleanor’s first husband Abraham Bennet died at the age of 56.

On 9 April 1868 at Stoke-next-Guildford, Surrey, Mrs Eleanor Bennet, née Shillingford (57) of Stoke-next-Guildford married George Watkins (67), described as a gentleman of Oxford.

In 1871 George Watkins (70), was living at 2 St John’s Terrace with one servant. His wife Eleanor (60) was away on census night, paying a visit to London to stay with her son John (36), now an Inland Revenue collector, and his wife and their three children.

In 1881 George Watkins (80), described as a retired cook and manciple, and his wife Eleanor (70) were living at 39 St Giles Road west (the south end of the Woodstock Road, and probably the same house as 2 St John’s Terrace) with one servant.

George Watkins died at 47 Woodstock Road in 1888:

† George Watkins died at 47 Woodstock Road at the age of 87 on 4 November 1888 and was buried at St Sepulchre’s Cemetery on 8 November (burial recorded in the parish register of St Giles’s Church).

His death notice in Jackson’s Oxford Journal read simply: “Nov. 4, at 47, Woodstock-road, Oxford, Mr. George Watkins, aged 87.” His personal estate came to £4,449 5s. 4d., and his executors were his niece Mrs Ann Bartlett (widow of 41 Leckford Road) and his nephew Robert Walter (of 74 Old Kent Road, Surrey).

In 1891 his widow Eleanor (80) was living alone at 47 Woodstock Road with one servant. She died in 1899:

† Mrs Eleanor Watkins née Shillingford died at 47 Woodstock Road at the age of 88 on 7 June 1899 and was buried at St Sepulchre’s Cemetery on 10 June (burial recorded in the parish register of St Giles’s Church).

Her effects came to £148 12s. 10d., and her executor was her son by her first marriage, John Benjamin Bennet, who was now a general agent in London.



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