John Smith's Family Tree Website


Close up of Tijou Screen at Hampton Court Palace

Tijou family   


* * *


Part 6: William Tijou Sr (1805 - 1883)


Marriage to Elizabeth Hampshire

William Tijou was the only known son of William Edward Tijou and Mary (surname unknown). He was born 20 July 1805 and baptised three months later. He married Elizabeth Hampshire and they had eight children: Ann, Elizabeth, John, William, twins Walter and Martha, Esther and Emma.

William Sr was a patten maker and master involved in making shoes and clogs. The family lived in Southwark. Elizabeth died before 1851 but despite having many children, it seems William still had no one to take look after him in old age and possible destitution. By 1871, he was in the St George-the-Martyr parish workhouse in Mint Street, Southwark.


Workhouse life 

Since the reign of Elizabeth I, parishes were legally responsible for looking after their own poor. The Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834 established Poor Law Unions throughout England and Wales and workhouses were set up. 

This workhouse was opened Christmas Day 1729. In 1872 a new building was erected and the workhouse taken over by the St Saviour's Poor Law Union. Life in a workhouse was designed to be a harsh deterrent to all but the most desperate: basic and monotonous food like gruel, bread and cheese; rough uniforms; communal dormitories; separation of family members; tedious or hard work such as breaking up stones or picking apart old ropes. William joined the old, the infirm, orphans, unmarried mothers, and the mentally or physically disabled.

If William had been an inmate in 1865, he would have been part of a report into the appalling conditions at this workhouse, which appeared in the medical journal 'The Lancet'. Here are some extracts:

The house was built for 624 inmates, but when we visited it there were only 420 in residence, and yet it appeared very full. Classification there is none, excepting the common division of male and female wards, and the separation of the "foul cases." In a house so conditioned there can be neither order nor method.

For the last three years and a half this house appears to have suffered from various epidemics, and especially from typhus. 

The average mortality of the house is 300. Last year the number was 296.

We cannot doubt that, with such a history and so many surroundings, it is our duty to condemn this workhouse, which ought to be removed, and one built better adapted to fulfil its duties to the poor and sick of the neighbourhood.

Inmates were free to leave and it is possible William was able to leave for a time, perhaps to live with family members. However, by 1881 he was in the Christchurch Workhouse in Marlborough Street, Southwark where he died in 1883. [1]


Children of William and Elizabeth

Ann (1831 - ?) was born 15 August 1831 in Southwark. She was baptised 04 September the same year at St George the Martyr Church, Southwark.


Elizabeth (1833 - ?) was born 25 august 1833 and baptised 15 September the same year at St George the Martyr Church, Southwark.


John (c1836 - c1838) was born c1836 and died two years later.


More information about William Jr (1838 - 1901) appears in Part 7.


Twins Walter (1840 - 1919) and Martha (1840 - ?) were born 06 August 1840 and baptised 20 September the same year at St George the Martyr Church, Southwark. Walter later emigrated to Canada where he died 12 May 1919 in Toronto.


Esther (1843 - ?) was born 04 October 1843. Unlike her sibling who were baptised within a month of their births, she was baptised two years later 07 September 1845 at St George the Martyr Church, Southwark.


Emma (1846 - ?) was born 05 July 1846 and baptised 09 December the same year at St George the Martyr Church, Southwark.


Next: William Tijou Jr


[1] Tijou family history researched by Charles Tijou; Workhouses website (