George Sydney Smith Williams, who was a builder of Thornhill Square, by his great great granddaughter

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Hello. I am so excited, having just today found your web site. I am the great great granddaughter of Mr George Sydney Smith Williams (GSSW), who built parts of the square and dozens of other streets, and his wife Mary nee Fallover. Please can I see the document in which you found him?

Sadly, Mary died in 1850 aged just 30. GSSW subsequently ‘married’ Mary’s sister Catherine. (See the Deceased Wife’s Sisters’ Act.)

GSSW moved to live in the square after building parts. Most of his second set of children were born there. He later retired to Hove with his second wife Catherine and his younger daughter Frances. There they brought up their grandson/my grandfather Henry, whose mother Annie had died when Henry was aged just one. At the age of nine, Henry boarded at ‘first’ school in Hove with Winston Churchill. Henry’s first wife was distantly related to Churchill, so I think that they must have met at Churchill’s family home or some such. So you can see that GSSW was a very successful Victorian businessman: his children and grandchildren continued to prosper. Sadly, my father, who, like Henry, attended public school and Oxford, turned against all that! While I was still a toddler, he threw away everything that the family had worked for over several hundred years!

I have further information on my family that you might like to know re the building company. For now: number 32 was the company headquarters and my family’s home also. My great great grandfather built it as it is so that his clients and employees could turn right into the office (now 32a) and the family could turn left into their home (32). The clients’ servants, horses and carriages could use the mews behind (now off Matilda Street).

I have sent one letter to 32 and 32a Thornhill Square, asking for further information on the house. I hope they pass it to each other and respond to me. Please will you also?

I am not clear from where the information about GSSW reached you. Do you have some documents that I could see please?

2 thoughts on “George Sydney Smith Williams, who was a builder of Thornhill Square, by his great great granddaughter

  1. Dear Anita Rose,

    Please do get in touch with me. As you know, I too am identically descended through Mary and George, as my post’s first paragraph makes clear, but through their son.

    Their children’s inheritances enabled the next generation of businesses, including Hook Knowles of New Bond Street. One of our family’s shoes, an elegant red ladies’ one, is currently on display in the permanent V&A fashion exhibition.

    I have never needed to use Ancestry, but I would love to know more about your Knowles side, as neither George born 1841 nor Emily their sister had children, so out of all GSSW’s eight children, the descendents of only (our) two, remain in Britain. Catherine’s children and descendents all either left Britain or died out. So I know for a fact that only our two strands remain in Britain.

    I take it Ancestry, which often misleads people, assumed only Mary’s line survived? Wrong! I am the eldest child, descended from GSSW’s son’s son’s son. Did you know that you and I are also descended from a long and illustrious Goldsmiths Guild line? GSSW had to start his own business because he was ‘only’ the second son. We come from many generations of goldsmiths, through GSSW’s father John who was a ‘gentleman’, descended from two barons, and many hundreds of years of illustrious goldsmith generations prior. No doubt his money got GSSW started in his huge master builder success.

    We could exchange so much interesting information.

    I would so love to hear from you. Do contact me: please ask the Association to give you my email address. I will await your reply to my inbox.

  2. I was very interested to find your message, as I, too, am a great great granddaughter of George Sidney Smith Williams but with his first wife, Mary Fallover; my great grandmother was their daughter Mary who married Walter Thomas Knowles, who had a shoe shop in Bond Street making shoes for Queen Victoria. She died shortly before my birth in Jan 1939. I knew that GSSW was a builder in Islington and discovered that they lived at 32 Thornhill Sq through census returns on Ancestry.

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