We have seen previously that William Wenban was a miller and farmer and five generations of Wenbans worked at the Wandle Mill. Two of Williams brothers went to America in 1828 to begin the American lineage. We have also seen that two of Williams sons emigrated to Australia in the early 1800's to start the Australian line of Wenbans.
Of those who remained in England, Henry, the ninth child and fifth son of William, grew up in the village and in 1831 married at Hawkshurst, the neighbouring village, a girl from Sedlescombe in Sussex. We do not know what he did for the first years of his working life but four years after his marriage he moved to Hastings in Sussex.
He must have joined his sister Mary and brother-in-law Ransom the printer, for this was his occupation when later he went to London. His first two children were born at Hawkshurst, the next two at Hastings and two at Lewes. He probably moved to London in 1843 where a daughter was born, a year later both he and she were dead from small-pox and the widow returned to Lewes where their last child was born at the end of that tragic year. The 1841 census showed the family resident in Priority street, Lewes, Sussex. The 1851 census registers his young widow in the same town earning a megre living as a straw- bonnet maker, with the remnants of her family ( Three had died around her), she lived long enough to see some of her grandchildren, her two elder sons Bertram and Harry having married 7 and 5 years respectively before her death at 50 years of age in 1867. Her eldest grandson was later to visit his relatives in Australia only to lose his life on the return voyage through Cholera at Shanghai.
Henry's second son, also Henry, was apprenticed to a bookbinder but abandoned that craft to enter the Post Office and make that his career. He began at Lewes, married the daughter of a local builder, and was later transferred to Dover where he spent twelve years living in several different houses as his family grew from three children who went there from Lewes to the eight who made up the family when they left for Wimbledon in Surrey. This was a rapidly growing dormitory area for London business and professional men and for railway workers and minor civil servants of an expanding urban society. Promoted to Chief of the South West region of London sorting office for a short time he was finally appointed Postmaster at Eastbourne in Sussex. Here his health began to fail and an incurable stomach tumour took his life at the early age of 54. The "East Sussex News" of the time opened its columns to an announcement of a memorial fund to be subscribed for the benefit of his widow and still young family. This exceeded £100, quite a substantial sum then, which showed the esteem in which he was held. His funeral was conducted by ministers from three churches where he had given his talents, Eastbourne , Clapham and Wimbledon.
Arthur Thorpe Wenban, his eldest surviving son, was only 21 years old and had just completed his apprenticeship as a watchmaker and jeweller at Lewes. With a widowed mother and nine brothers and sisters he had a heavy burden on young shoulders. His mother was offered the position of Postmistress at the small town of Shoreham-by Sea, his eldest sister was already in the post office service, so he moved up to Brixton in South London to gain further experience in his trade, as a working craftsman, prior to setting up business on his own account. At some time during his visits home to Shoreham he met Miss Ellen (Nellie) Reeves of Sawbridgeworth in Hertfordshire who was working as a draper's assistant in Worthing.
They became engaged but possibly due to financial stringency making it difficult to set up a home parted for a while. Later however, they resumed contact and in 1901 were married at Shoreham and began their married life at Wimbledon, where Arthur had been as a boy for some four years. He had a small shop near the railway station, his next brother Harry John was then working at an ironmonger's a few doors away. He was 33 years of age, most of his brothers and sisters were launched in their careers. Grace, his second sister had married and lived in Bedford, Alice was in the Post Office with her mother and ultimately to succeed her. Two of his younger brothers were also in the Post Office, and the two youngest in a bank and shipping office. In 1909 he found an opportunity to rent a half-shop and living quarters above in the Broadway, the main street, near the Town Hall. He was to remain here the rest of his active working life and bring up his family of three, Roy (Robert Henry), Mary (Alice Mary) and Archie (Archibald Arthur). He was one of the early group of watchmakers who took instruction in sight testing and added the Diploma of the Worshipful Company of Spectacle makers to their horological skills and "art and mistery" of eye care became an integral part of, and ultimately the sole purpose of the business in which his younger son followed twenty years later, qualifying through the Diploma of the British Optical Association.
Arthur's youngest brother, Clement James, who was with the Furness Withy Steamship Company in the city, and Bertram Donald, who was at the Head Post Office in London both settled nearby in Merton Park after their marriages. The three of them played a responsible part in the life of the Queen's Road Baptist Church, two holding the office of Deacon and Clement being the organist for many years. Donald was the one who began th research on the family history upon which most of this account is based.
The progenitor of the largest group of contemporary members of the Wenban family still in the U.K. was James, the forth son of Thomas and Mary. He almost certainly went off to America to join his brothers but he left in Britain two sons both of whom had large families. Born on the 3rd May 1782 he married Ann (nee) Swift at Ticehurst in 1810. He does not appear in the 1841 Census of the village though his sons do. Charles and Joseph were sixth and seventh sons and Charles was twice married. He had three sons by his first wife Jane (nee) Crouch. They each in turn had sons. Similarly by Anne (nee) Naish he had two sons who had male issue (offspring). The first, third and fifth sons of Joseph each had large families. Charles was a carpenter by trade who later became a farm baliff. His eldest son, also Charles, had two sons. William born in 1866 had three sons and two daughters, originating in Ticehurst they moved later to the village of Seal Chart near Sevenoaks in Kent. The middle son Arthur lived all his life there and is commemorated by an inscription above the door leading to the Belfry of the little Parish Church. It reads "In affectionate memory of Arthur Wenban, devoted Ringer in this tower from 1904 to 1961". His brothers, William and Charles, moved around Kent for some years then William went to Stanmore and Charles nearby and they continued the bell-ringing tradition in the Middlesex and Hartfordshire County Associations. A third generation in Ralph son of William and Albert son of Charles still carries it on. Ralph took part in a BBC Television programme called "This Ringing Isle" which described the art of change-ringing, an uniquely British art. Ralph (1921) and Keith (1923) both have sons, they now live in Gloucestershire. Another family descends from Thomas second son of Charles and Jane. He wrote to Curtis Gideon in America thanking him for receiving his son Frank who had gone over as a valet and had called on him. In this letter is the definite statement that his uncles, Thomas and James "went out to grandfather" in America, but gives no location. The third brother James? went to Bermondsley in London, from him stem two brothers who were in the Ilford Essex area shortly after the war, Thomas James (1917) and Charles Victor (1921) . From Charles' second marriage with Ann came two sons, Charlie and Francis Henry. Both raised families in South East London and the son of the second, Frances Thomas is at present living in Pluckley near Ashford in Kent. He has no children but has a nephew Kenneth born in 1827 who has at least one son.
Joseph, the second son who stayed in England, was born in 1826 and raised his family of six sons and three daughters inTicehurst. The first son, also Joseph, had a son Albert William who was in the building trade near Eastbourne in Sussex for some years. He had three sons, one, Howard (1910) was resident in New Malden, Surrey. The others, Albert N. and Robert were born in 1914 and 1923. The second son James (1849 - 1897) lived in Poplar.
The third Albert had four sons, George Henry (1885 - 1973) has a son now living in Frant, Sussex south of Tunbridge Wells. Hubert James (1886) was in East Grinstead in Sussex, married twice and had sons Michael and Peter Graham. Frederick Charles (1894 went into the navy, served through the first world war and was re-called for the second. By co-incidence he was stationed at a reception barracks at Gosport, Hants to which Archie (of Henry's branch) was sent on joining in 1942 so they met for the first time. After his second pensioning he lived in St. Leonards near Hastings and was a messenger at Royal Observatory at Herstmonceux when it moved from Greenwhich and was first under Naval control. The forth brother Arthur Victor was similarly in the Army and settled in Molesy in Surrey by the River Thames and had three sons, Geoffrey, Hugh and Maurice in 1929, 1931 and 1934. The youngest of Joseph's sons, William (1865) lived at Belvedere, Kent and had a son Robert who lived there until recently. Three other brothers, Charles Bert, Frederick James and John Thomas were all at Rotherfield, Sussex, the eldest brother George had a son who went to New Zealand, he may have followed him there. Most of the descendants of James can be found in the telephone directories of South East London and home Counties of Kent, Sussex and Surrey.
There are two contemporary branches not as yet linked on the main stem, though they probably spring from it somewhere along the line. One is centred on Gravesend in Kent where there are today two parrallel families who have been there since about 1850. There is another group in Bristol.
The older form of WENBORN or WENBOURNE is still found in some geographical ares, Chislehurst having some gravestones with the latter form.
A family bearing the name of Wenban-Smith is still in the South of England, they arise from Mary Wenban, daughter of Gideon the elder. she was the third child of his first marriage and William Smith. Born in 1811 she died in 1844 and is commemorated on a gravestone in Ticehurst, Sussex. Her only son William Wenban-Smith settled in Worthing on the Sussex coast and was a builders merchant. He named the Wenban Road in that town. By custom the sons in his family adopted the hyphenated form, one of his grandsons entered the civil services and under the Colonial ( Later Commonwealth) office served in African and Far Eastern posts. He is the only one to have taken the Wenban name into "Whos Who".
(Note! most of this extract was written by Archie some time ago back through the forties, fifties etc
so some of the infomation is dated . If you have updated info , please forward to the author
(Myles Wenban)Email email@example.com)
© 2008 Wenban Family. Website by Myles design.
Here I quote from Archie Wenbans book "Rude Forefathers" Courtesy of Peter Wenban, who kindly sent me the book.
Wenbans Farm, house and barn. 15th century, added to in 17th century
Above photo L to R
Front Row. Harry, Arthur, Donald.
Back Row. Clement , Herbert , William.