Members may have seen in the ‘Amersham Advertiser’ last June a reproduction of a drawing made in 1862 by Master J Line, aged 11, a pupil of the British School, Amersham. The drawing had been kept by the school’s headmaster, Henry Kirby, and passed on to his descendants in America, one of whom returned it to Amersham this year.
After the item was published, the Amersham Society was approached by Mrs Lilian Spragg of The Gowers, Amersham on the Hill. Her maiden name was Line and she wished to discover whether she and her sisters, Mrs Phyllis Annetts and Miss Rose Line, were related to the schoolboy who made the drawing in 1862.
A search of the 1861 census (taken 20 months before the date of the drawing) revealed a John H Line, aged 9, whose father, also John, was a wheelwright on the west side of Union Street. (Whielden Street was so called in the mid-19th Century because it led to the Union Workhouse.) The house was about six doors before The Platt and Mrs Spragg says that she remembers some cousins living there at one time.
By 1871 John Line and family had moved to the Broadway (north side) near the gas works, while opposite lived Mrs Spragg’s grandfather, Harry Line, then aged 12 with his parents, James and Harriet. The census return gives the address as ‘High Street’ but as the house was only three doors from Norwoods Yard it must have been in what is now the south side of the Broadway. (Earlier James and Harriet had lived in part of the ‘Daisy Shop’, just a few doors from 49 High Street!) James was also a wheelwright but there was nothing in the census to indicate whether the two households were related.
However, a visit to the Probate Registry at Somerset House turned up the will of William Line, wheelwright of Amersham, who died a widower in July 1861, aged 83. He had sons John and James to whom he left the business on condition that each paid £100 into the estate – presumably to ensure there was enough money to cover legacies to his other four children, Ephraim, Richard, Sophia and Sarah, wife of Henry Stops.
William’s death was obviously the signal for a kind of General Post, as John moved into his father’s vacant house in the Broadway and became a coachbuilder, while James’s eldest son, another William, took over the Union Street house.
Later Mrs Annetts produced the Line Family Bible* which listed some of the names mentioned in the will and others known to be of John Line’s household. It seems almost certain that John Line senior and James Line were brothers. Thus Harry and John H Line would have been cousins which would make Mrs Spragg and her sisters first cousins twice removed to the young artist. (*Written inside the front cover of the Line Family Bible was: ‘A great storm of wind took place on Friday, 14th October 1881, blowing 200 trees down on Shardlows Estate, Amersham, Bucks.’)
Harry, the youngest of nine children, became a blacksmith but it has not yet been possible to find out what happened to Master John H Line when he grew up. In the 1871 census, aged 19, he is described merely as ‘coachbuilder’s son’ – perhaps his artistic talents found expression in the decorative painting of coachwork.
Mrs Queenie Gladman of Peacehaven, Sussex wrote to say that her father, William George Line (1876-1949) was a wheelwright, coachbuilder, undertaker, etc. in the Broadway, Amersham from 1909. Her grandparents, George and Martha (née Darvill) lived at Sloe Cottage, Chesham Bois, in their later years.
Dave Morris, a volunteer researcher for the museum, confirms that Queenie Gladman’s grandfather George (married to Martha Darvell) was indeed the son of James Line and Harriet (née Bailey) and the older brother of Harry. John H Line was married in Islington in 1877 to Mary Ann Barnes, daughter of a carpenter. John was working as a Coach Builder at the time, and living in Islington although Mary was born in Chesham. John and Mary were in Amersham in 1881 living on The Broadway, and John was employing one man in his business. He was still living in Amersham, at 32 Whielden St, in 1901 and was now a Wheelwright.
More information about Jemima Price (née Line)
In 2016 we were contacted by Susan Price in Canada who wrote to send this photo and to tell us about Jemima Line, her great grandmother on her father’s side, born in 1853. Jemima’s family lived in Lines Cottage in The Broadway. Jemima’s father James (1810-1886) was a wheelwright and blacksmith and Jemima had four siblings: Tom, George, Polly and Sophia.
The photo above was taken outside the home in Amersham of Jemima’s grandmother, which is thought to be next to a dance school that Jemima attended. The woman standing on the right is Jemima Price, née Line, the woman on her right is her mother Harriet Line, née Bailey, (1816-1889), the other woman who is seated is Jemima’s sister Sophia and the woman on the far left is possibly another sister named Polly.
Another story about Jemima is that she was sitting on her father’s lap when Disraeli came looking for votes. Disraeli, who was the local MP from 1847, commented that both he and little Jemima had curly hair. This incident probably happened in the late 1850s.