John WHEELER (1811–1872)
His wife Mrs Sarah WHEELER, née Smith (c.1810–1906)
Their son Thomas WHEELER (1844–1883)
St Paul section: Row 8, Grave A5 [St Paul refs C5 and C6]

Thomas Wheeler

 

IN LOVING MEMORY OF
THOMAS WHEELER
WHO DIED OCT. 8 1883
AGED 39 YEARS

 

ALSO OF
SARAH WHEELER
WHO DIED NOV. 30 1906
AGED 96 YEARS

 

ALSO OF
JOHN WHEELER
WHO DIED SEP. 17 1872
AGED 61 YEARS

 

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The order of the inscriptions indicates that this gravestone was erected when John and Sarah Wheeler's son Thomas was buried here in 1883.John Wheeler, the father, was the first member of the family to die, in 1872, but it appears that his wife Sarah did not put up a gravestone to him until her son died in 1883. (It is possible that he is buried in the vacant plot next to this one.)

John Wheeler was born in Oxford in 1811 and baptised at St Mary Magdalen Church on 22 September. He was the son of Rowland Wheeler, who was a post-boy, and Mary Fairbrother, who were married at Holywell Church on 15 October 1799. They began their married life in Holywell, where three of John's older siblings were baptised: Charlotte (1805), Susanna (1807), and Rowland (1809). His younger brother Thomas was baptised at St Mary Magdalen Church in 1816.

Sarah Smith was born in Wootten near Woodstock in Oxfordshire in c.1810, the daughter of William Smith, a servant.

On 25 June 1839 at St Paul's Church, Oxford, John Wheeler married Sarah Smith: they were both then living in the Clarendon Buildings in Jericho and working as servants. They had the following children:

  • Henry Wheeler (born at Jericho Terrace in 1840 and baptised at St Paul’s Church on 26 April)
  • Thomas Wheeler (born at Union Street, Jericho in 1844 and baptised at St Paul’s Church on 25 February)
  • Sarah Elizabeth Wheeler (born at Union Street, Jericho in 1847 and baptised at St Paul’s Church on 23 May).

John Wheeler was a cook at Worcester College for about thirty years. At the time of the 1841 census he and his wife were living in Union Street, Jericho with their first child Henry (1).

By the time of the 1851 census they had moved with their three children to 2 Worcester Terrace (now Richmond Road), where they were to spend the rest of their lives. They had a lodger, James Brown (17), who was also a college cook.

In 1861 John and Sarah (both aged 49) were home at Richmond Road with Thomas (17), who was now also working as a college servant, and Sarah (13), who was still at school. Their eldest son Henry (21) was a house servant at the Manor House in Headington.

Their elder son was married in 1861:

  • On 20 May 1861 at St Mary Le Strand Church, Westminster, Henry Wheeler married Fanny Knight.

John and Sarah Wheeler were still living at Richmond Road in 1871 with their two unmarried children: Thomas (27) was now a cook at Balliol College, and Sarah (23) was a shopwoman. They now had a hairdresser boarding with them.

John Wheeler died in 1872, while he was still working as a servant at Worcester College:

† John Wheeler died at 2 Worcester Terrace (Richmond Road) at the age of 61 on 17 September 1872 and was buried at St Sepulchre’s Cemetery on 21 September (burial recorded in the parish register of St Paul’s Church).

His death notice in Jackson’s Oxford Journal on 21 September 1872 read: “Sept. 17, after a few weeks’ illness, aged 61, Mr. John Wheeler, of Worcester-Terrace, Walton-street, in this city, for many years servant of Worcester College; much respected and deeply regretted.” His effects came to nearly £100.

His two younger children were married shortly after his death:

  • On 4 July 1871 at St John's Church, Horselydown, Sussex, Thomas Wheeler, described as a cook of Kensington, married Sophia Jessie Venables (who was born in Oxford in 1842, the daughter of the bailiff William Venables).
  • On 29 October 1872 at Ss Philip & James’s Church, Oxford, Sarah Elizabeth Wheeler married Thomas Harris (a coal merchant of Kingston Road born in Crick, Northamptonshire in 1842/3).

Thomas and his wife, who do not appear to have had any children, had returned to Oxford by the time of the 1881 census and were living at Llantrisant House, 78 Kingston Road. Thomas's mother Sarah (71) was also living with them there.

Thomas Wheeler died in 1883, predeceasing his mother by 23 years. He was still working as Cook & Manciple of Balliol College at the time of his death, and he must have been highly regarded, as his funeral service at St Sepulchre’s Cemetery was taken by Benjamin Jowett, the Master of the college:

† Thomas Wheeler died at Kingston Road at the age of 39 on 8 October 1883 and was buried at St Sepulchre’s Cemetery on 11 October (burial recorded in the parish register of St Paul’s Church).

The following report on his death and funeral appeared in Jackson’s Oxford Journal on 13 October 1883:

SUDDEN DEATH. — We regret to have to announce the sudden decease on Monday last, at his residence, Llantrisant House, Kingston-road, of Mr. Thomas Wheeler, the well-known cook of Balliol College, at the comparatively early age of 39. Mr. Wheeler has been in delicate health for some years, arising from internal complications and disorders, although he has been able to attend to the fulfilment of his duties at the College. On Monday morning he did not feel so well as usual, and during the temporary absence of his wife for but a few minutes only he ceased to exist, and was found on her return to the bedroom quite dead. Mr. Wheeler was well-known as a caterer at public dinners, &c., and he was as esteemed for his integrity in all his business engagement as he was respected in private life by his numerous friends. The funeral took place on Thursday in St Sepulchre’s Cemetery, Walton-street, and a most gratifying mark of the respect in which he was held was evidenced by the presence of the Master of Balliol (the Vice-Chancellor), who read the Burial Service in a very impressive manner, and by the remains being borne and followed to the grave by the whole of the servants of the College. Scores of other friends of the deceased also attended, and several wreaths and crosses were placed on the coffin as tokens of sympathy.

His effects came to £993 6s. 6d. At the time of the 1891 census his widow Sophia (45) was the housekeeper at the Station Hotel in Cholsey.

In 1901 Mrs Sarah Wheeler (90) was staying in Rushden, Northants with her son Henry and his family. She evidently returned to Oxford to come and live with her widowed daughter Sarah, as she died at her house in Summertown five years later:

Mrs Sarah Wheeler, née Smith died at 300 Banbury Road at the age of 96 on 30 November 1906 and was buried at St Sepulchre’s Cemetery on 3 December (burial recorded in the parish register of of St Paul’s Church).


Surviving children of John and Sarah Wheeler
  • Henry Wheeler (born 1840) was working as a butler in 1871 and living in the High Street, Rushden, Northants with his wife Fanny and children Henry (10), Maria (5), Mary (3), and Minnie (eight months). In 1881 he was working as a shoe rivetter, and living at Church Street in Rushden with his wife and four children: the eldest, Henry (18), was working as a shoe clicker. They were still there in 1891 but Henry was now a house decorator, as was his son Tom, while his daughters Maria, Minnie, and Fanny were all boot closers; there was now another daughter Laura (10). In 1901 only his youngest daughter Laura (20), a daily governess, was still at home with her parents, and his mother Sarah had come to live with them. In 1911 Henry (71) was still working as a painter, living at 11 Church Street, Rushden with his wife Fanny: three of their nine children were then dead. Henry Wheeler died at Rushden at the age of 77 near the beginning of 1918.
  • Sarah Elizabeth Wheeler, Mrs Harris (born 1847) was living at Obeleigh, Bynner Street, Shrewsbury, where her husband Thomas was an iron founder’s manager, in 1891, and their niece Laura Harris was living with them, plus one servant. By 1901 Sarah was a widow, and she was living at 300 Banbury Road, Summertown as housekeeper to her brother-in-law, Walter Harris, who was a music-seller. By 1911 she lived alone with one servant as the head of the household there. Sarah died at the age of 81 in 1928, probably in Summertown.

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