If the death in 1855 of Joseph Boden, the bigamous husband of my great-great-aunt Elizabeth Robb, wasn’t already a miserable enough affair (Joseph spent his last days as a lodger in a stranger’s house, suffering from consumption), it seems that the event had an even more tragic coda.
In writing about Joseph’s death, I noted that it was registered by one Henry Lloyd, who lived at the same address in Fetter Lane, Holborn. At the time, I hadn’t managed to discover anything about Lloyd, beyond the fact that he wasn’t living in Fetter Lane at the time of either the 1851 or 1861 census. However, my fellow family historian Marcus Bateman has risen to the challenge and has managed to discover much more, and he has kindly shared his findings with me.
It appears that Henry Lloyd was born in Edenham, Lincolnshire in 1811. Married to a woman named Ann, the 1851 census finds them living in the High Street in Stamford where Henry is working as a grocer, employing a shopman, an apprentice and two female servants. At some point in the next few years, Henry Lloyd moved to London (though it seems Ann Lloyd stayed in Stamford), where he became the proprietor of the Brunswick Coffee House at 100 Fetter Lane, the address where both he and Joseph Boden were living at the time of the latter’s death on 10th April 1855. (I’ve noted before that in 1861 this address would be home to William Chitty, also a coffee-house keeper.) So Joseph was a lodger in Henry’s house.
Just a few weeks before he registered Joseph’s death, Henry Lloyd had been charged with robbery, as reported in this account in The Daily News of 31st March 1855:
It’s an odd story, especially as the witness admits that Lloyd kept ‘a very respectable coffee shop’ and ‘bore a very respectable character in the neighbourhood’. We also learn that Lloyd had been apprenticed to Thomas Sidney, who had been elected Lord Mayor of London in 1853, and seemed confident that the alderman would vouch for his honesty. One is tempted to dismiss the whole affair as one of mistaken identity by an elderly victim who was obviously the worse for drink at the time, especially as we know from other sources that the case was eventually dismissed for lack for evidence.
Victorian magistrates court, as depicted in Punch, 1861 (via victorianlondon.org)
However, the experience had grave consequences for Lloyd’s state of mind, and it seems that he never quite recovered from it. According to a report in The Stamford Mercury, the case affected business at the coffee house, which caused its proprietor to become ‘very melancholy’ and ‘in a desponding way’. One Monday towards the end of August 1855, the report continues, ‘not making his appearance at the usual time of opening the house, search was instituted, when the unfortunate man was found suspended by the neck in his apartment.’ The verdict at the ensuing inquest was ‘temporary insanity, and in that state deceased destroyed himself by hanging’.
Henry Lloyd was buried at the parish church of St Andrew, Holborn on 23rd August 1855, just four months after he had registered the death of his lodger Joseph Boden.