© Copyright Martin Bodman and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence
Thomas, like his father before him, was born in Coombe St Nicholas just 2 miles (3.2 km) northwest of Chard in Somerset and baptised in the local parish church on 12 April 1857 (3). By the age of 14 however he is living with his uncle Thomas Grigg (1809-1880) who as explained above had moved to Dorchester many years earlier and been running the Great Western Hotel in West Fordington since at least 1859 (4). Unfortunately Thomas and his wife Mary Ann had no children of their own and seem to have taken Thomas under their wing from an early age. The census returns show that Thomas was employing people to help run this large Hotel, and given that George & Sarah had 8 other children to feed, it made a great deal of sense for him to learn a trade under their tutelage. This impressive hotel was situated right next to the Militia Barracks at the end of Dorchester High Street and must have been a far cry from the much quieter life he experienced as a young child in Combe St Nicholas. No doubt this change in his circumstances raised his ambitions.
Throughout this period it seems highly likely that Thomas returned to Somerset from time to time to see his parents and siblings as only two years after his uncles death, he married in Combe St Nicholas on 1st February 1882 to Bessie Owsley (b1858) a native of Ashill in Somerset (1 & 6). Bessie was the daughter of George Owsley (1830-1861) a master baker and at one time an innkeeper. With his wife Mary Ann (1827-1862) (nee Dyer) they produced four children, Arthur William (1856-1930); Bessie b.(1858), and twins Dorcas Jane and Walter Harry (b. Aug 1860). Her father George Owsley died on 10th Oct 1861 and her mother followed 3 months later on 8th Jan 1862 leaving them as orphans with an estate between them of under £100. It's not clear what happened to the children but at least one (Walter) ended up in an orphanage in Bristol. By 1881 however Bessie aged 22 is working in the hamlet of Wadeford still within the parish of Coombe St Nicholas with her older brother Arthur William already at the age of 24 a master baker. The picture below shows their bakers cart circa 1940.
For more pictures of See 'The Old Parish' via this link
Thomas & Bessie soon produced the following children all born in Dorchester:-
He obviously moved his business around Dorchester as the 1895 edition of Kelly's Directory shows his business at 3 East Parade, but in the 1901 Census he is living with his family at 54 Icen Way and his 18 year old son Thomas Arthur Grigg (1883-1915) has a job locally as a reporter. In 1906 he moved again to live at 43 High East Street (12) and was still there in 1911 (with his two unmarried children Lillie & Walter) and in 1915 (13). His son Thomas Arthur continued in his profession as a journalist marrying Evelyn Couling in the Dec qtr 1910 at Upton upon Severn in Worcestershire. (14) Unfortunately he died at the age of 32 on 28th Nov 1915 at which time they were living at Hill View Kings Road Sherborne in Dorset. (15)
Thomas GRIGG died at the age of 75 in the registration district of Poole in Dorset in the year 1932 (16).
I have so far only recovered a few of the thousands of photographs taken by Thomas Grigg in his studio in Dorchester. If you have one buried in your family album I would love to add it to those shown below. Please make contact using the email address shown on the home page. The following photograph is possibly the earliest that I have as it was taken whilst his studio was in South Street. Whilst we know he was at 34 South street in April 1881 he is described as a victualler not a photographer and the earliest reference we have to his photographic business being there is 1889 (and then at number 35) although he claims the business started in 1875. We also know he was at 3 East Parade by 1895 so my best guess is that it dates from the early 1890's.
Picture © Michael Russell OPC for Dorchester & Fordington
I am grateful to Paul WOODROW of Kingston, Ontario, Canada for this photograph which he believes to be of Isabella Lee of Puddletown. It is slightly later than the photograph above as Thomas has added the number 35 to his address in South Street which seems to fit with Paul's estimate of 1892.
Picture © Paul Woodrow Kingston Ontario Canada
Paul comments:- "Although the person in the photo is not identified, I believe it is Isabella LEE. She was a daughter of Richard & Tamar Mayers, and was born in Puddletown in 1826. She married Harry WOODROW in Puddletown in 1846, and had a total of 13 children up to 1865. Her husband Harry died in 1872 and in 1879 she married James LEE in Puddletown. This family was still in Puddletown in the 1881 and 1891 census. James' death is listed in the first quarter of 1892.
Surprisingly I purchased this photograph from a dealer in Victorian photographs in Cyprus which just goes to show the power of the internet. The address is now 13 High East street and he has become an 'Artist to H.M.Government' . It is difficult to date but he appears to have been in High East Street from after 1906 (although living at number 43). A pure guess would be 1915?
Picture © Michael Russell OPC for Dorchester & Fordington
Genealogical Notes:- [If anyone has any more information, particularly about his role as 'Artist to H.M.Government' can more accurately date the photographs, or possess copies of any of this documentation please make contact as it would help add to our understanding of his life and help verify facts]
(1). Most of the Information about the life of the Grigg & Owsley families in Combe St Nicholas has been provided by Jenny Davis who has a particular interest in the village.
(2). National Probate Register for 1897 - George GRIGG of Combe-St-Nicholas Somersetshire labourer died 27 December 1896 Probate Taunton 19 January to John BROWN gentleman Effects £98 14 6d
(3). GRO 1st qtr 1857 Chard Registration district Ref 5c/501 baptism from Jenny Davis
(4). Post Office Directory for 1859
(5). National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations),1861-1941 Record for Thomas Grigg 1880 Personal estate under £2,000: 12th March. The Will of Thomas Grigg late of Fordington in the County of Dorset Gentleman who died 28th February 1880 at Fordington was proved at Blandford by Mark Pilley of Dorchester in the said County Boot and Shoe maker and Thomas Grigg of Horton in the County of Buckingham Grocer the nephew the executors. NOTE:- His uncle seems to have had a number of nephews; for example in the 1871 census an older nephew, John Barber was also staying with him in Fordington.
(6). Thomas Grigg's marriage is at GRO 1st qtr 1882 to Bessie Owsley Chard District Somerset Ref 5c/600
(7). GRO Thomas Arthur Grigg Dorchester District 1st qtr 1883 Ref 5a/349
(8). GRO Bessie Mary A Grigg Dorchester District 2nd qtr 1884 Ref 5a/352.
(9). GRO Lillie Georgina Grigg Dorchester District 4th qtr 1890 Ref 5a/341
(10). GRO Rena Emma Grigg Dorchester District 3rd qtr 1891 Ref 51/319
(11). GRO Walter Charles Grigg Dorchester District 1st qtr 1893 Ref 5a/314
(12). National Archives A2A A collection of deeds, maps, manorial and estate documents, sale catalogues and family papers D/COO:H/T/12 1906 Nos 20 and 43 High East Street (Coombs, Alington, Grigg)
(13). Kelly's Directory 1915 (Also in the 1911 Census with his wife, daughter Lillie and son Walter)
(14). GRO 4th qtr 1910 Upton upon Severn Worcestershire Ref 6c 559
(15). England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations),1861-1941 Record for Thomas Arthur Grigg of Hill View Kings-road Sherborne Dorsetshire journalist died 28th November 1915 Probate at Blandford 29th December to Evelyn Grigg Widow and Garnet McDaniel Ingram Accountant Effects £461.0s8d
(16). GRO Thomas Grigg 1932 age 75 Reg district Poole Dorset Ref 5a/261
(17). 1911 Census resident at 43 High East Street Dorchester enumeration district 2 thomas Grigg Head married male age 54 photographic Artist born Coombe St Nicholas Somerset; Bessie Grigg wife married female married 29 years aged 52 born Ashill Somerset; lillie G Grigg single female age 21 born Dorchester; Walter C Grigg son single male age 18 ironmongers apprentice born Dorchester
(18). The National Archives A2A website shows that the Dorset History Center has a photograph taken by T.Grigg of Miss Jane TREW Mistress of Beaminster Infants school (1875-1892)
(19). Isle of Man Times & General advertiser 4th Sep 1875, Issue 749: Also Dundee Courier & Argus Issue 6901 and many others including the Preston Guardian.
(20). This photograph is reported on the web to be circa 1940 but Jenny Davis (who lived in the village) and I both think this dates much closer to the start of the century circa 1904?
(21). GRO George Ernest Grigg born Dorchester District 1st qtr 1886 Ref 5a/339 - died Dorchester District 3rd qtr 1887 Ref 5a/191 aged 2