Richard James SPIERS (1806–1877)
His wife Mrs Elizabeth Phené SPIERS née Joy (1818–1858)
Their son Samuel Patey SPIERS (1840–1891)
St Giles section: Row 12, Grave B28

Richard Spiers's grave

The names of ELIZABETH SPIERS (buried 1858) and RICHARD JAMES SPIERS (buried 1877) have almost
worn away, but the words “ALSO OF / SAMUEL PATEY SPIERS / SON OF THE ABOVE” (buried 1891) are still clear

Richard James Spiers was born in Oxford on 16 June 1806. He was the eldest son of Richard Spiers and Catherine Sirman. His parents were married at St Peter-le-Bailey Church in Oxford on 17 September 1805 and had four children:

  • Richard James Spiers (born on 16 June 1806 and baptised at St Mary the Virgin Church on 18 June)
  • Ann Spiers (born on 1 September 1807 and baptised at St Mary the Virgin Church on 3 September)
    Later (1) Mrs Samuel Patey and (2) Mrs Richard Mallam
  • James Spiers (born on 15 April 1809 and baptised at St Mary the Virgin Church on 1 May)
  • Katharine Sirman Spiers (born on 16 April 1811 and baptised at St Mary the Virgin Church on 11 August)
    Later (1) Mrs Edward Standen and (2) Mrs John Willins.

Richard James Spiers’ father Richard Spiers was born in Oxford on 3 February 1776. He was not a freeman of Oxford, so in order to run a hairdressing business in the city on 19 March 1798 he was matriculated at the University of Oxford as a privileged person (“tonsor”). By 1816 he was a hairdresser and perfumer at 28 High Street, Oxford (one of the shops demolished in 1887 to make way for Brasenose’s High Street frontage); he also had property in St Peter-le-Bailey parish. In Jackson’s Oxford Journal of 28 October 1809 he advertised his shop as a “Peruque and Ornamental hair manufactory”.

Spiers's mother, Catherine Sirman was born in Oxford on 26 September 1779, the daughter of the Oxford tailor James Sirman and his first wife the widow Mrs Ann Teazler née Hester, who were married at St Michael's Church on 10 December 1778. Presumably Catherine was not expected to live, as she was baptised the same day and not brought into St Martin's Church at Carfax until 26 October. Catherine's father James Sirman was an Oxford tailor, probably the man of that name who came on to the city council in 1798, while her mother Ann (who had married her first husband, Richard Teazler, at Holborn on 17 February 1776) died on 29 January 1783. Catherine acquired a stepmother when James Sirman married his second wife Lydia Stevens at St Martin's Church on 26 March 1788.

As soon as he was aged 21, Richard James Spiers was matriculated by the University of Oxford as a hairdresser like his father. His entry in Alumni Oxonienses reads: “Spiers, Richard James (‘tonsor’). s. Richard, of Oxford (city); privilegiatus 30 June 1827, aged 21.” His younger brother James was similarly matriculated as a “chemicus et pharmacopola” (chemist) five years later on 14 June 1832.

On 13 October 1832 his father Richard Spiers announced in Jackson's Oxford Journal that he was taking him into partnership as a perfumer, hairdresser and stationer at 28 High Street. Less than eighteen months later Richard James Spiers moved the shop across the road, writing in his Family Register on 26 March 1834, “I took possession of No 102 High st.” This shop was described in a directory the following year as a stationery and fancy-goods shop, and later as a china and glass warehouse. The picture below was drawn by Cuthbert Bede for his book The Adventures of Mr Verdant Green, published in 1853, by which time Spiers had expanded into No. 103 High Street next door.

102 High Street

The new undergraduate Verdant Green is taken in by the joke that Wordsworth wrote “Oh ye Spires of Oxford” in praise of the shop. Mr Green ended up buying the following “remembrances of Oxford”: a fire-screen to be prepared with the family coat of arms for his father; another with a view of the High for his aunt; a netting-box, card-case, and a model of the Martyrs’ Memorial for his three sisters; and a paper-knife for himself.

On 2 July 1836 Jackson’s Oxford Journal reported that James Drew, who had access to Spiers’ home in the High Street “in the character of ash-man” had stolen two silver tablespoons worth ten shillings and was sentenced to one month’s imprisonment with hard labour.

In August 1836 Spiers, then aged 30, went on his last jaunt as a bachelor with his friend Edward Standen (1809–1845), who had married Spiers’s sister Katharine on 23 April 1833. Standen was a mercer and shirtmaker at 28 High Street (the shop formerly occupied by the Spiers family business, and opposite their new 1834 shop. Spiers describes his travels in Europe in his diary, which he entitled “Memorandum of an autumn tour in 1836”.


Elizabeth Phené Joy, Spiers’s future wife, was born in Oriel Street, Oxford on 16 June 1818. She was the eldest daughter of the Oxford tailor Thomas Joy (born 29 June 1785) and his first wife Martha Phené (baptised at Kings Weigh House independent chapel, Fish Street Hill, London on 11 January 1795) who were married at All Saints Church in Edmonton, Enfield on 17 September 1817: he was described as being of St Mary the Virgin parish in Oxford and she was from Southgate. They lived in Oriel Street (then St Mary Hall Lane), and had two children:

  • Elizabeth Phené Joy (born at Oriel Street on 16 June 1818 and baptised at St Mary the Virgin Church on 6 July)
  • John Joy (born at Oriel Street on 31 July 1819 and baptised at St Mary the Virgin Church on 6 September; died there on 14 May 1820 at the age of ten months and buried at St Mary the Virgin Church on 17 May)

Elizabeth’s mother Martha Joy died at Oriel Street on 30 August 1819 at the age of 24 after giving birth to John, and was buried at St Mary the Virgin Church on 4 September 1819: she shares her memorial in that church (below right) with her husband and his second wife. Baby John only survived for ten months: he is remembered by a diamond-shaped tile on the floor of St Mary the Virgin Church.

Joy memorial

On 5 April 1821 at St Cross Church, Elizabeth’s father Thomas Joy married his second wife, Maria Thorp (born 24 March 1796), the youngest daughter of John Wise Thorp of Holywell parish, and they had the following children:

  • Sarah Thorp Joy (born at Oriel Street on 25 April 1822 and baptised at St Mary the Virgin Church on 22 May)
  • Mary Joy (born at Oriel Street on 2 April 1824 and baptised at St Mary the Virgin Church on 29 April).
  • Susan Joy (born at 10 Holywell Street on 18 October 1825 and baptised at St Cross Church on 13 December)
  • Helen Lawrence Joy (born at 10 Holywell Street on 23 November 1826 and baptised at St Cross Church on 5 January 1827; died aged one year and buried at St Mary the Virgin Church on 10 December 1827)
  • Francis William Joy (born at 10 Holywell Street on 9 March 1831 and baptised at Holywell Church on 31 March)
  • Arthur Thomas Joy (born at 10 Holywell Street on 13 July 1832 and baptised at St Cross Church the next day; died aged ten days on 24 July 1832 and buried at St Mary the Virgin Church on 27 July.

10 Holywell

The family evidently moved from Oriel Street to 10 Holywell Street (right), a house belonging to the family of Thomas Joy’s second wife Maria Thorp, in 1824/5.

Elizabeth’s stepmother Maria Thorp died at 10 Holywell Street on 19 July 1832 at the age of 36, just after giving birth to Arthur, and was buried at St Mary the Virgin Church on 27 July. A diamond-shaped tile in the floor of that church commemorates Maria and her babies Helen and Arthur.

Elizabeth’s father Thomas Joy died at 10 Holywell Street on 6 November 1833 at the age of 44 and was buried at St Mary-the-Virgin Church on 9 November: he is also remembered on this floor tile there:

Joy diamond

Elizabeth was left an orphan at the age of 15, and her step-uncle William Thorp (who served his first term as Mayor of Oxford in 1833/4) came to live with her and her younger half-siblings in 1834, when he was a widower of 49.


On 15 July 1837 at St Cross Church in Holywell, Richard James Spiers (31) married Elizabeth Phené Joy (19). Their wedding tour lasted 3½ months, and again Spiers kept a journal, describing their travels to the Isle of Wight, Belgium, Germany, Austria, and Italy, and back through Austria, Germany, and Holland, and then home to Oxford via London. They began their married life living over Richard's father's shop at 102 High Street.

Mr & Mrs Spiers
Richard and Elizabeth Spiers on 22 June 1854.
Three months later, Mrs Spiers gave birth to her
eleventh child; and four years later (after giving
birth to another two children) she died

They had thirteen children over the next eighteen years:

  • Richard Phené Spiers (born at 102 High Street on 19 May 1838 and baptised at St Mary the Virgin Church on 17 June)
  • Samuel Patey Spiers (born at 102 High Street on 27 March 1840 and baptised at St Mary the Virgin Church on 26 April). Spiers later added to his Family Register that he was christened by “Cardinal Newman”.
  • Frank Edward Spiers (born at 19 St John Street on 21 July 1841 and baptised at St Giles’s Church on 1 September)
  • Elizabeth Joy Spiers (born at 14 St Giles’s Street on 11 July 1843 and baptised at St Giles’s Church on 9 August)
  • Charlotte Horn Spiers (born at 14 St Giles’s Street on 5 December 1844 and baptised at St Giles’s Church on 6 January 1845)
  • Alice Jane Mary Spiers (born at 14 St Giles’s Street on 7 March 1846 and baptised at St Giles’s Church on 15 April)
  • Agnes Ellen Spiers (born at 14 St Giles’s Street on 15 May 1847 and baptised at St Giles’s Church on 7 June).
    Died aged
    three weeks on 12 June 1847
  • Walter Lewis Spiers (born at 14 St Giles’s Street on 27 July 1848 and baptised at St Giles’s Church on 1 October)
  • Florence Ellen Pigott Spiers (born at 14 St Giles’s Street on 10 June 1850 and baptised at St Giles’s Church on 8 November)
  • Agnes Decima Spiers (born at 14 St Giles’s Street on 27 September 1851 and baptised at St Giles’s Church on 29 October)
  • Arthur Hood Spiers (born at 14 St Giles’s Street on 7 July 1853 and baptised at St Giles’s Church on 25 September)
  • Ernest George Spiers (born at 14 St Giles’s Street on 15 September 1854 and baptised urgently on 16 September and again at St Giles's Church on 3 November 1854)
  • Hubert William Spiers (born at 14 St Giles’s Street on 31 July 1856 and baptised at St Giles’s Church on 12 November)
    Died aged three on 6 January 1860.

On 9 November 1838 Spiers was been elected on to Oxford city council as the Conservative representative for the Central Ward.

In Pigot's Directory for 1839 Spiers & Son is listed under Perfumers and Hair Dressers as operating at 102 High Street, showing that at this point Richard was working in his father's business.

On 31 October 1840, Spiers wrote in his family register: “I qualified as Commissioner of the Thames, 6th district to Cricklade.”

Richard and Elizabeth Spiers had moved to 19 St John Street in St Mary Magdalen parish by about 1840, and they can be see there at the time of the 1841 census with their first two children Richard (3) and Samuel (1), plus two servants. Spiers was still described as a perfumier. He recorded in his Family Register for 4 March 1841: “Rosehill priory first occupied by father & mother”, and his parents can duly be found in retirement in Iffley in the 1841 and 1851 censuses.

 

14 St Giles'

 

On 6 January 1842 they moved again: Spiers wrote in his diary that day: “I took possession of 14 St Giles’, sleeping there for 1st time”. The family was to live in that house (right) for 35 years, and the last ten of their thirteen children were born there.

Their baby daughter Agnes Ellen Spiers died at this house aged three weeks on 12 June 1847, a year before St Sepulchre’s Cemetery opened, and was buried in St Giles’s churchyard on 14 June 1847.

Spiers meticulously recorded details of his family in a notebook with the title Lett’s Family Register and Perpetual Diary: Intended as a journal of domestic occurrences such as births, deaths, marriages, and other remarkable events. Here he recorded the heights and weights of all his children each year, and as he included himself, we learn that he was 5ft 9¾in tall, while his wife was 5ft 3¼in.

He also records the family illnesses: of his twelve children who survived babyhood, eleven endured measles, whooping cough, and chickenpox; two endured diphtheria; and six endured scarlet fever.

 

 

The Post Office Directory of 1847 had the following listing for Spiers' business, which had expanded to include the larger shop at 103 High Street to the west:

Spiers Richard & Son, stationers, general fancy warehousemen, perfumers, desk & dressing case makers, cutlers, china & glass dealers, & hardwaremen, 102 & 103 High Street.

On 27 April 1848 Spiers's only brother James died at Iffley (presumably at his parents' home at Rosehill Priory) at the age of 39 and was buried there on 2 May

In July 1850 Spiers took over a second shop at 46 Cornmarket Street, and two months later he put in his servant Thomas Seaman as assistant manager, and allowed him to live over the shop. For the next thirteen years the Cornmarket branch of Spiers sold china and earthenware, while the shop at 102 High Street concentrated on fancy goods.

On 9 November 1850 Spiers inserted a notice in Jackson’s Oxford Journal thanking the burgesses of the Central Ward for re-electing him on to the Council.

At the time of the 1851 census Spiers (44) described himself as a Town Councillor of Oxford, Stationer, Manufacturer of Fancy Goods, and employer of 29 persons and two apprentices. He was living at 14 St Giles's Street with his wife Elizabeth (32) and their children Elizabeth (7), Charlotte (6), Alice (5), Walter (2), and Florence (ten months), plus three house servants. Their three eldest sons were all away at boarding school on census night: Richard junior (12) was at Westminster, and Samuel (11) and Frank (9) were at John McKay Colgan Bennett's school in Temple Cowley. The upstairs premises at 102 & 103 High Street were now occupied by Spiers’ employees, headed by William Harvey, the manager of the shop, and his wife, who had three counting house clerks, two shopmen, and a stationer’s apprentice living with them, as well as a general house servant.

On 4 January 1851 Jackson’s Oxford Journal reported a case at the Oxford Epiphany Quarter Sessions in the Town Hall. William Morris Williams, who had been an employee in Spiers’s High Street shop for nearly three years and supervised the perfumery department, was transported for ten years for stealing four items of property belonging to Spiers (a gold pencil case, a glass jar, a mariner’s compass, and an ivory box).

Spiers was elected Sheriff of Oxford for 1851/2, and Mayor of Oxford for 1853/4. The following report on the latter election appeared in the Daily News of London on 10 November 1853:

OXFORD.—The election of Mayor of this city took place yesterday, when Mr. Alderman Richard James Spiers, stationer and china merchant, was elected. Mr. Spiers being a conservative, was opposed by the liberal party, who nominated Mr. James Pike, hop merchant; but on taking the votes, there were for Mr. Spiers, 19; for Mr. Pike, 16; consequently Mr. Spiers was elected.

On 22 June 1854 Spiers and his wife presided over a banquet in the old Town Hall, and they are pictured here the Illustrated London News of 1 July 1854 facing the guests as they entered from the left

Spiers: Reception

The accompanying text read:

Renowned as the city of Oxford has ever been for its hospitality, and for the liberal spirit which has characterised those who have filled the office of Chief Magistrate, it has been the particular study of the present Mayor (R. J. Spiers, Esq.) to please his native city in a still prouder position in those respects. On Tuesday, the 22nd ult., a banquet was given at the town hall, which, in point of elegance and splendour, far surpassed the ordinary style of corporation entertainments. On this occasion, in addition to his corporate friends and fellow-citizens, the Mayor had invited the leading members of the University and county gentry — including Sir H. Peyton, Bart.; the High Sheriff; the Right Hon. J. W. Henley, M.P., Mr J. H. Langston, M.P.; the Right Hon. E. Cardwell, M.P.; Mr G. Harcourt, M.P., &c….

The Reception by the Mayor and Mayoress in the Town-hall on Thursday evening was brilliantly attended. The invitations were extended to 1000. The object of this gathering was to bring again together the most distinguished members of the University, the county gentry, and the citizens, and to place before their notice works of art, rare literary works, and other objects calculated to gratify intelligent curiosity, and afford intellectual enjoyment. In this object the Mayor and Mayoress most eminently succeeded.

The town-hall presented a most brilliant appearance, for around its walls were hung some of the choicest works of Millais, Hunt, Collins, Ansdell, Allom, Prout, D. Cox, and others illustrious in art; while on stands in many parts of the room were ranged a collection of water colour drawings, by some of the most distinguished artists of the present day. In the various recesses and in the centre of the room were models of the most finished pieces of sculpture, by Calder Marshall, Macdowall, and others, imparting a degree of grace and beauty to the scene which could not be surpassed.

Soon after eight o’clock the company began to assemble. The list of guests included many of the most distinguished names in literature, science, and art. As they arrived they were introduced by Stewards to the Mayor, who then introduced them to the Mayoress, and she, as well as the Mayor, gave to each a cordial welcome. About ten o’clock the whole of the company had arrived, and, notwithstanding that upwards of 1000 persons were congregated together, there was an entire absence of confusion and pressure, owing to the excellent arrangements laid down and the admirable manner in which they were carried out by the Stewards, who undertook, as a labour of love, the duties which were assigned to them….

The Town-hall-yard was covered with a spacious tent, in which refreshments were dispensed. The Public Library was crowded during the night with parties examining the beautifully illustrated works, lent for the occasion by the Architectural Society, other public bodies, and private individuals….

On 19 August 1854 Jackson’s Oxford Journal reprinted this longer article on this reception that had been published in the Art Journal.

His father Richard Spiers senior died at his country residence at Rose Hill, Iffley at the age of 79 years, 11 months, and 6 days on 6 January 1856 and was buried there on 11 January. Nine days later on 15 January his mother Catherine Spiers, née Sirman came from The Priory in Iffley “to Oxford to reside at Mr Bannister's”: this is presumably Alfred Bannister, Spiers's married clerk. Their “very superior villa, known as “The Priory” was advertised for sale in Jackson's Oxford Journal of 31 May 1856.

Spiers was a prominent freemason, and on 8 January 1857 was elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries.

On 12 June 1858 Spiers's mother died at the age of 78, and was buried in Iffley churchyard on 16 June. She was described in its register as Kate Smith of Oxford.

Just 3½ months later on 29 October 1858 his wife Elizabeth also died. Four days later on 2 November 1858 Spiers wrote in his diary: “To St Sepulchre’s Cemetery with Richd, Sam & Waldie to select site for burial place; by the side of G. P. Hester’s & Browning’s.”

† Mrs Elizabeth Phené Spiers née Joy died at 14 St Giles’s Street at the age of 41 on 29 October 1858 and was buried at St Sepulchre’s Cemetery on 4 November (burial recorded in the parish register of St Giles’s Church).

Elizabeth died very suddenly in their bathroom at home, and so an inquest was held. Jackson’s Oxford Journal, 6 November 1858 reported on it as follows:

AWFULLY SUDDEN DEATH OF MRS. SPIERS. — We deeply regret to have to record the sudden death of Mrs. Spiers, wife of Mr. Alderman R. J. Spiers, a lady much esteemed throughout Oxford, who was discovered dead in her bathroom on the night of Friday the 29th ult. It appeared that at about eleven o’clock the deceased lady proceeded to take a bath, leaving Mr. Spiers and one of his sons engaged in writing. Some time afterwards, finding that Mrs. Spiers had not gone to her bed-room, Mr. Spiers went to the bathroom, and found her lying on the floor beside the bath, and apparently in a lifeless state. Medical assistance was procured without loss of time, but all was of no avail, as there in reason to believe that the deceased had breathed her last half-an-hour before she was discovered by her disconsolate husband. An inquest was held on the body, a post mortem examination having previously been made, and it was clearly proved that the deceased died of disease of the heart, under which she must at the time have been suffering, and a verdict to that effect was returned by the Jury. — Mrs. Spiers, who was in her forty-first year, has left twelve children to mourn their sad and sudden bereavement, besides a large circle of friends, who knew and appreciated her many amiable qualities. Mr. Alderman Spiers, it will be remembered, filled the office of Chief Magistrate of this City in 1854, and during his mayoralty gave his memorable Conversazione at the Town Hall, when upwards of 1200 persons were present, and the guests were received by Mrs. Spiers with much affability. But it was in the domestic and private circle that her amiable qualities were more prominently seen, and few who ever visited it will forget that happy home of which she was the very light and centre. The suddenness of the blow which has rendered desolate that home, and deprived a large and young family of a devoted and affectionate parent, has awakened general sympathy, and few have passed away from us whose amiable qualities will be more fondly cherished in remembrance. — The funeral of the deceased took place on Thursday last, and her remains were interred in the St. Sepulchre burial-ground, a large and sorrowing circle of relatives and friends following her to her last home.

Her youngest child Hubert William Spiers died from scarlet fever at the age of three just over a year later on 6 January 1860. His burial at St Sepulchre’s Cemetery on 8 January was recorded in the parish register of St Giles’s Church, and he was probably placed in this grave with his mother.

The 1861 census shows Spiers as a widower, described as a “China & Glass Merchant, Fancy Manufacturer, Stationer & Perfumier & Alderman & Magistrate”, living at 14 St Giles Street with his children Samuel (21), described as “Assistant and superintendent of my business”, and Elizabeth (17), Charlotte (16), Alice (15), Arthur (7), and Ernest (6), who were all at school. Also living them was Spiers' nephew Joseph Standen (19), who was a tailor. His son Richard (22) is hard to find. Frank (19), described as being in the china trade, was lodging at Edgbaston. The other three children were at boarding school in Oxford: Walter (12) at Magdalen College School, and Florence (10) and Agnes (9) at 7 Park Villas with a governess/schoolmistress Miss Anne Wagstaffe.

In August 1863 Spiers held a closing-down sale at 46 Cornmarket, and the shop closed on 8 October. His former manager, Thomas Seaman, inserted the following advertisement in Jackson's Oxford Journal on 10 October 1863, stating that he was going to open his own shop at 4 Magdalen Street:

Notice in JOJ re removal to Magdalen Street

After the closure of his Cornmarket shop, Spiers accused Seaman of embezzlement back in 1860 and 1862. Jackson's Oxford Journal of 16 July 1864 reports at length on the court case, which was held at the Oxfordshire Midsummer Assizes at the Crown Court in Oxford. Counsel for the defence remarked: "… it would appear that Mr. Spiers, like many men who had eventually risen to eminence and wealth, had been at different times short of the ready.” The benefit of the doubt was given to Seaman, who was found not guilty.

In 1868 Spiers & Sons were appointed stationers and china & glass merchants to the Prince of Wales.

At the time of the 1871 census Richard Spiers (64), who described himself as an “Alderman & Magistrate of Oxford & General Merchant” was at home at 14 St Giles's Street with four of his children: Samuel (31), described as a stationer's assistant, Frank (29), described as a china merchant's assistant, Elizabeth (27), and Florence (20), plus two general servants. His daughter Alice (24) was staying at 61 St Giles's Street with Mrs Mary Standen, the wife of her cousin Joseph Standen. Richard (32) was an architect, living at 21 Bernard Street, St Pancras, and three of his siblings were living with him: Charlotte (26), Walter (22), who was an architect's clerk, and Ernest (16) who was a solicitor's articled clerk, plus a cook and housemaid. Agnes (19) is hard to find and may have been working abroad as a governess, while Arthur (17) was boarding at The King's School, Canterbury. The upstairs premises at the High Street shop were occupied by Spiers's manager and commercial clerk Alfred Bannister and his wife.

On 19 October 1871 his son Arthur Hood Spiers was admitted as a pensioner at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge.

The Spiers business may have gone downhill under the management of Spiers’s sons Samuel and Frank, because Jackson’s Oxford Journal of 1 June 1872, under the heading “Local liquidation cases”, reported that the following petition had been filed:

Re Richard James Spiers, china merchant, stationer, and general fancy warehouseman, trading under the style of “Spiers and Son.” On the 17th of June, in the Clarendon Hotel.

Spiers resigned from being an Alderman in the year of his bankruptcy, and took no further part in public affairs.

In 1872 Spiers decided to move into a smaller house, handing over the keys of 14 St Giles' Street to T. H. Green on 30 November. He took out a lease on Huntercombe at 9 Blackhall Road, and started to move in on 8 November 1872, and an auction of his superfluous furniture took place on 19–November. His new house was still sizeable, with four sitting rooms, seven bed and dressing rooms, a bathroom, and an additional two-storey building at the back.

On 12 July 1877 at St Andrew's Church in Headington his son Samuel Patey Spiers  (37), described as a stationer of the High Street, married Mrs Elizabeth Ann Foster, née Prickett (39), the widow of John T. Foster.

Richard Spiers died later in 1877:

† Richard James Spiers died at Huntercombe, 9 Blackhall Road at the age of 71 on 28 September 1877 and was buried at St Sepulchre’s Cemetery on 2 October (burial recorded in the parish register of St Giles’s Church).

His personal effects came to nearly £2,000. His executors were his son Richard Phené Spiers, who was now an architect living at 21 Bernard Street, Russell Square, Middlesex; his son Samuel Patey Spiers, a china merchant of Oxford; and his nephew Richard Spiers Standen, a tailor of 16 Waterloo Place, Middlesex and the son of his sister Katharine.

His obituary in Jackson’s Oxford Journal on 29 September 1877 read:

THE LATE MR. R. J. SPIERS.— Our obituary to-day records the death of another old and much respected citizen, Mr. Richard James Spiers. Mr. Spiers had for many years conducted the well-known business in the High-street, and was distinguished as a man of considerable taste. He was a Justice of the Peace for the City; he served the office of Sheriff in 1851, and of Mayor in 1853, and a very handsome testimonial was presented to him for the spirited manner in which he had performed the duties of that office. He was elected an Alderman in 1851, but he resigned his gown in 1872, since which period he has taken little or no part in public affairs. He stood very high as a Freemason, having filled the highest offices in the Lodges here, and only a short time ago a splendid testimonial was presented to him, at the hands of Prince Leopold, for the many services he had rendered to the Craft and as a mark of esteem on the part of the brethren. Mr. Spiers had been gradually declining in health for some months, and his death is deeply deplored by his numerous family and his many friends.

Just four days after his funeral, on 6 October 1877, his house was advertised for sale in Jackson’s Oxford Journal:

“Huntercombe,” Black Hall Road, Oxford.
Mr. F. R. PIKE
Begs to announce he is favoured with instructions by the representatives of the late R. J. Spiers, Esq., to dispose (by PRIVATE CONTRACT), — Of the above charming SEMI-DETACHED VILLA, pleasantly situated within five minutes walk of the centre of the city, and within two minutes of the Parks, the New Museum, Keble College, the Schools, and other principal University Buildings; it contains four sitting rooms, seven bed and dressing rooms, bath room, one large attic, excellent domestic offices, and cellarage, large garden in high cultivation, with two-story buildings at the back easily convertable into stable and coach-house. The fittings throughout are of a very superior quality and in the most exquisite taste, and every modern improvement in the way of ventilation, heating apparatus, and other sanitary appliances has been adopted.


Samuel Patey Spiers

Samuel (born 1840) managed his father’s business for some years, and lived with him at 14 St Giles’s Street. A report in Jackson’s Oxford Journal of 26 September 1868 when Samuel was successful in getting a vote shows that he lived at the third floor front of his father’s house, and paid £17 10s. a year for his room and partial board.

On 12 July 1877 (just three months before his father’s death) at St Andrew’s Church in Headington, Samuel Patey Spiers (37) married the widow Mrs Elizabeth Ann Foster, née Prickett (39). She was born in Oxford in 1837/8, the daughter of James & Elizabeth Prickett, who are also buried at St Sepulchre’s Cemetery. Elizabeth's husband John T. Foster had died four years earlier in 1873, and they had four children.

On 17 May 1879 Samuel announced in Jackson’s Oxford Journal that he had purchased the whole of the stock of the late Mr R. J. Spiers at greatly reduced prices, and was offering it for sale at a reduction for cash of from 15% to 50% in his father’s old shop.

On 1 September 1880 his wife, aged 42, gave birth at Wychbourne in the Woodstock Road to twin boys: Richard Aubrey Howard Spiers and Hubert Frank Spiers. Hubert was baptised (privately) at home by the Revd E. C. Dormer of Ss Philip & James’s Church on 12 September, and was received into that church on 10 October when his twin Richard was baptised.

The 1881 census shows the family living at Wychbourne, which was then numbered 55 Woodstock Road. Samuel was described as a stationer and china and hardware merchant employing eighteen hands, and as well as his wife and twin babies, his wife’s daughter Beatrice K. Foster (15) was living with them. They had four servants: a cook, nursemaid, general domestic, and (even though the twins were now seven months old) a monthly nurse .

The business Spiers & Son finally closed in 1890.

At the time of the 1891 census Samuel, now described as a retired stationer, his wife Elizabeth, and their eleven-year-old twins were living at 18 High Street with Elizabeth’s sister, Mrs Mary Foster (59), who was a widowed hotel proprietress. Also living with them were three of Elizabeth Spiers's children by her first marriage: Beatrice, Frank, and Charles Foster. (Their home is now the right-hand part of the Mitre.)

Later that year Samuel Patey Spiers moved down to Bournemouth to live, but soon afterwards died there from influenza:

† Samuel Patey Spiers died at Burghclere, Lyall Road, Bournemouth at the age of 51 on 27 November 1891 and was buried at St Sepulchre’s Cemetery on 2 December (burial recorded in the parish register of St Giles’s Church).

His personal estate came to £2,882 7s. 2d.

Samuel Patey Spiers’s wife

Mrs Elizabeth Ann Spiers was living at 1 Turl Street, Oxford when she was the executor of her husband’s will. At the time of the 1901 census she was living at 63 Iffley Road in 1901 with her daughter Beatrice Foster (35) and two servants, and the situation was the same in 1911. She died on 13 April 1914 and was buried in a new grave in Rose Hill Cemetery two days later (C3/23). Her sister Mary Foster was buried with her in 1920, and her daughter Beatrice Kate Foster in 1950..

Samuel Patey Spiers’s twin boys (born 1880)
  • Richard Aubrey Howard Spiers was working as a clerk in a pottery at the time of the 1911 census and living at 17 Coburg Mansions, St Pancras. He was then a bachelor of 30 and had two journalists boarding in his house. In 1913 he married Flora Godfrey in the Brentford registration district. Their son Richard Godfrey Morris Spiers was born at 21 Sutton Court, Chiswick on 14 October 1913 and baptised at St Michael's Church there on 11 January 1914. The family later lived at Huntercombe, 51 The Avenue, St Margarets-on-Thames, Twickenham. Richard Aubrey Howard Spiers was living at 51 The Avenue, St Margaret's-on-Thames, Middlesex when he died at St Bartholomew’s Hospital, London at the age of 51 on 3 September 1931. His body was brought back to Oxford, and on 8 September he was buried in Rose Hill Cemetery (C3/137), and Flora was buried with him on 18 December 1951.
  • Hubert Frank Spiers married Frances Henrietta Dolores Jackson in Lewisham in 1913. His wife died in Camberwell in 1929, and he died in Oxford at the age of 63 in 1944.

Samuel Patey Spiers was the only one of Richard James Spiers's children who married, and as his only grandson Richard Godfrey Morris Spiers had no children, the line has died out.


Richard James Spiers’s eleven surviving children
  • Richard Phené Spiers (born 1838) trained as an architect and never married. At the time of the 1881 census he was aged 42 and the head of the household at 21 Bernard Street, St Pancras, a large 13-roomed house, where he was living with four of his unmarried siblings: Elizabeth (37), Charlotte (36), Walter (32), and Ernest (26). He remained at this address for the rest of his life. In 1891 only his sisters Elizabeth and Charlotte were living with him; in 1901 he was with his two sisters and also his brother Walter; and in 1911 only his sister Charlotte. Richard died at 21 Bernard Street at the age of 78 on 3 October 1916. His effects came to £10,761 3s. 8d., and his executors were his brother Walter and sister Alice.
    See entry for Richard Phené Spiers in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
    and also his
    Wikipedia entry and his 1880 watercolour of Christ Church
  • Samuel Patey Spiers (born 1840): see above.
  • Frank Edward Spiers (born 1841) worked as a commission agent, and was lodging in Kilburn in 1881 and at different addresses in St Pancras in 1911. He never married, and died at 81 Duke's Avenue, Chiswick at the age of 83 on 26 June 1925. His effects came to £396 19s. 5d., and his executors were his brother Arthur and his nephew Richard.
  • Elizabeth Joy Spiers (born 1843), known as Bessie, was a landscape painter who exhibited at the Royal Academy: details here. She never married. At the time of the 1891 census she was aged 47 and described herself as an artist, and was living at 21 Bernard Street, St Pancras, London with her eldest brother Richard; she was still living with him at the time of the 1891 and 1901 censuses. She died at the age of 58 at her brother's house on 13 September 1901. Her effects came to £1,293 7s., and her executors were her brothers Richard and Walter and her sister Charlotte.
  • Charlotte Horn Spiers (born 1844) was an artist at Minton's Art Pottery Studio at Kensington Gore and also painted landscapes: details here. She never married, and at the time of the 1881, 1891, 1901, and 1911 censuses she was living with her elder brother Richard at 21 Bernard Street, St Pancras, London. She was still living at that house when on 7 September 1914 she died at Christchurch, Hampshire at the age of 69 on 7 September 1914. Her effects came to £1,312 18s. 6d., and her executors were her brothers Richard and Walter.
  • Alice Jane Mary Spiers (born 1846) never married nor had any profession. At the time of the 1911 census when she was aged 65 she was paying a visit to the Misses Semples at 8 Torrington Square, London. She died at the age of 87 on 4 April 1933 at 5 St Bernard House, 42 Bernard Street, London. Her effects came to £5,733 5s. 3d., and her executors were her brother Arthur and her nephew Hubert (Samuel's son).
  • Walter Lewis Spiers (born 1848) was an architect and district surveyor. He never married, and at the time of the 1891 and 1901 censuses he was living at 21 Bernard Street, St Pancras, London with his older brother Richard. After his brother's death he lived on his own at 13 Lincoln's Inn Fields. He was Curator of Sir John Soane’s Museum at 13 Lincoln's Inn Fields from 1904, and was living there at the time of the 1911 census. He died at that address at the age of 68 on 28 May 1917. His effects came to £7,634 4s. 3d. and his executors were his sister Florence and his nephew Richard.
    See entry for Walter Lewis Spiers in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography and some of his works in the Royal Academy collection here
  • Florence Ellen Pigott Spiers (born 1850) never married. She is hard to find in the censuses of 1881, 1891, and 1901 and may have been working abroad as a governess. At the time of the 1911 she was a retired governess aged 60 living on her own with a servant at the North Lodge, Warfield Park, Bracknell, Berkshire. By 1935 she was living at a subdivided house at 32 Brunswick Square, London. She died at 12 Buckland Crescent, Swiss Cottage, London at the age of 91 on 16 March 1942 and was cremated at Golders Green two days later. Her effects came to £7,734 13s., and her executor was her nephew Hubert Frank Spiers and her solicitor. Her death notice stated that she was the only remaining member of the family of the late Alderman Richard James Spiers of Oxford.
  • Agnes Decima Spiers (born 1851) never married. She was a governess, and may have been abroad at the time of the 1881 and 1891 censuses. In 1901 she was paying visit to her brother Richard and siblings Elizabeth, Charlotte, and Walter who lived together in London and, aged 49, she described herself as a retired governess. In 1911 she was living alone at Copse Road, Cobham, Surrey with a housekeeper, plus the housekeeper's husband and nurse child. In 1939 she was living at 59 Mount Ararat Road, Richmond, the home of the retired architect Edward D'Ingley. She died at that address at the age of 89 on 14 June 1941. Her effects came to £4.349 6s. 2d.
  • Arthur Hood Spiers (born 1853) obtained his M.A. at the University of Cambridge. He was aged 29 in 1881 and working as an assistant master (Mathematics) at Newston College at Wolborough, Newton Abbott: he still held this position in 1891 and 1901. From 1903 to 1919 he was Mathematics master at Gresham’s School in Holt, Norfolk and can be seen living there in the 1911 census. He died at 2 Mortimer Place, Kilburn at the age of 86 on 2 January 1940. His effects came to £2,918 1s. 9d., and his executors were his nephew Hubert Spiers and his solicitor.
  • Ernest George Spiers (born 1854) was admitted as a solicitor in 1877 and became a partner of Rooks & Co. He never married, and at the time of the 1881 census he was living with his brother Richard at 21 Bernard Street, St Pancras. His address was given as 12 New Inn, Middlesex and 16 King Street, Cheapside, London when he died at Southend-on-Sea on 17 July 1896, and he was buried at Woking. His effects came to £5,063 14s. 4d., and his executors were his brothers Richard and Walter Spiers and his solicitor.
    See his obituary in The Cantuarian vol. IV, No. 21, p. 245

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