środa, 25 kwietnia 2018

Four Johns Benjamins:
watchmaker, gentleman, music-seller and freemason

From J. R. R. Tolkien's letter to Amy Ronald, 2 January 1969 (Letters, No. 309):
Now, my dear, as to my name. It is John: a name much used and loved by Christians, and since I was born on the Octave of St John the Evangelist, I take him as my patron – though neither my father, nor my mother at that time, would have thought of anything so Romish as giving me a name because it was a saint's. I was called John because it was the custom for the eldest son of the eldest son to be called John in my family. My father was Arthur, eldest of my grandfather John Benjamin's second family; but his elder half-brother John had died leaving only 3 daughters. So John I had to be, and was dandled on the knee of old J. B., as the heir, before he died. (I was only four when he died at 92 in 1896.)
My father favoured John Benjamin Reuel (which I should now have liked); but my mother was confident that I should be a daughter, and being fond of more 'romantic' (& less O[ld] T[estament] like) names decided on Rosalind. When I turned up, prematurely, and a boy though weak and ailing, Ronald was substituted.
The tradition of naming the older (or oldest) sons John Benjamin in every generation began in Gdańsk (see here) thanks to John Benjamin's [I] godfathers, Johann George Rohn, a furrier and Benjamin Sonnenström, a Faßbecher Meister (a kind of lorimer, see here). In England in every generation of the Tolkien descendants of the Gdańsk emigrant, Johann Benjamin Tolkien ([I], 1752–1819) there was one John Benjamin. Let us read about four Johns Benjamins I found in the archives: 
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[I] John (Johann) Benjamin Tolkien (forms: Tollkien, Tollkühn, Tolkin, Tolkien, b. June 1752, Petershagen, Gdańsk/Danzig, Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth – d. 27 January 1819, London), a lorimer, a clock- and watchmaker (c. 1796–1813), and china and glass-seller (1813–1819). Great-great-grandfather of J. R. R. Tolkien. He was one of four children of Christian Tolkien (born in Kreuzburg in 1706, died in Gdańsk in 1791) and Anna Euphrosina Tolkien, née Bergholtz (1719–1792, Gdańsk), daughter of Ephraim Bergholtz from Petershagen, Gdańsk. He was their second son (his older brother was Daniel Gottlieb Tolkien, a furrier from Cheapside, London). The Tolkiens in Gdańsk were Lutheran Pietists, possibly members of the United Brethren (Herrnhuts). John Benjamin was baptized on 11 June 1752 in St Salvator Lutheran church in Petershagen, Gdańsk (church known as a centre of the Pietist movement in Gdańsk). About 1772 he emigrated to London. In 1777 in St James's church in Clerkenwell he married Mary Warner (1753–1779) from the Proto-Methodist Countess of Huntingdon Connexion. Thanks to this he became an Englishman by the marriage with an English native. John Benjamin and Mary had two daughters: Elisabeth and Anna Maria. Mary died in 1779 (she was buried by Spa Fields Chapel's cemetery). In 1881 in Holy Sepulchre church he married Mary Wall (1746–1837) as a widower. With Mary he had only sons (only two survived their childhood): Benjamin (d. 1787), George (1784–1840, J. R. R. Tolkien's great-grandfather), John Benjamin ([II] 1788–1840) and Henry (died as a child). His family lived at 77 White Lion, Islington, London and he had his workshop at 145 Saint John Street, Clerkenwell, London. In 1792 John Benjamin Tolkien in the age of 40 became the co-owner of the clock- and watchmaker firm which was known as "Gravell & Tolkien". Its address was 49 St John Street, Clerkenwell, London. It belonged earlier to the famous Eardley Norton. In 1808 John Benjamin Tolkien began new business "Tolkien & Dancer Watch-movement & Tool-manufacturer” at 145 Saint John Street, Clerkenwell, London. In May 1813 his older brother died and John Benjamin bankrupted. Daniel Gottlieb Tolkien before his death borrowed him 700 pounds. On 17 July 1813 he received a certificate as china- and glass-seller at St Paul's Churchyard, Covent Garden. John Benjamin Tolkien died on 27 January 1819 and he was buried in February 1819 at Non-Conformist cemetery of Bunhill Fields by City Road. In London he was probably a Lutheran belonging first to Countess of Huntington Connexion (Calvinist Methodist) while his older brother was John Wesley's "Arminian" Methodist.
One document with two Johns Benjamins, I & II. And with the place-name Gdańsk ("Dantzic")

[II] John Benjamin Tolkien Esq. (7 January 1788, Islington, London – 8 September 1859, Clifton, Bristol), a free of the City of London and a loriner (from 1813), a gentleman (esquire), a clerk in Norwich Union (from abt. 1818), a Major of Navy (1832?), a supporter of the Missionary Society and the missions of the United Brethren (Moravians, Herrnhuts) in Bristol. He was third son of John Benjamin Tolkien [I] and Mary Tolkien, née Wall. He was baptized on 27 January 1788 at St James's, Clerkenwell. In February 1813 he was "admited into the freedom of this City by redemption in the Company of Loriners" (he was apprentice in his father's workshop). Thanks to this he became free citizen with priviledges. After his father's death in 1819 he married Elisabeth Frances Carter at St Mary, Newington, Southwark, London. He worked as a Chief Clerk for London Life Department of Norwich Union (at least from 1818). In 1820-1824 he was called a gentleman and a freeholder. The couple lived at 12 Church Row, Newington, Southwark. Elisabeth died in 1822 after their only son John Carter Barlow Tolkien died in 1821, and in 1827 John Benjamin married Elisabeth Oxley as a widower (1803–1890). The wedding took place at St Giles, Camberwell, Southwark. The couple had one daughter, Elisabeth Oxley Tolkien (1828–1901). The Tolkien family lived in Bristol, in Clifton at 5 Lansdown Place. In the 1850s John Benjamin Tolkien was a supporter of the United Brethren community (about Moravian Brothers or Herrnhuts or United Brethren you can read here). He and his wife Mrs. Tolkien were mentioned in the Periodical accounts relating to the missions of the Church of the United Brethren established among the heathen, v. 20 (1851/1853), v. 21 (1853/1856), v. 22. (1856/1858), v. 23 (1858/1861), v. 24 (1861/1863) v. 25 (1863/1866), v. 26 (1866/1868), v. 28 (1871/1873). He probably attended the services at the Brethren Chapel of the congregation of the United Brethren Church in Bristol with his daughter, Miss Elisabeth Tolkien. John Benjamin Tolkien was also mentioned in Missions to Seamen. Report for 1857-8. John Benjamin Tolkien died in the age of 71 on 8 September 1859 at 8 Bedford Square in the Palace District of Brighton. He was buried on 14 September 1859 at St Andrew's cemetery, Clifton, Bristol.
John Benjamin Tolkien Esq. from Bristol as a supporter of the Moravian Brothers
[III] John Benjamin Tolkien (27 March 1807, London – 1896, Birmingham, for detailed account see here),  a tuner, a music seller, a composer, a philantropist in Birmingham, a brother of a music seller and Freemason, Henry Tolkien and father of a Freemason, John Benjamin Tolkien [IV]. He was one of thirteen children of George Tolkien (1784–1840) and Eliza Lydia, née Murrell (1787–1863), and their second son. When he was born on 27 March 1807, his father, George, was 22 and his mother, Eliza, was 20. John Benjamin was their second child and second son. He was baptized at St James's, Clerkenwell, London on 29 April 1807.  He received his names after the grandfather from Gdańsk and London, Johann/John Benjamin Tolkien (1752–1819, see here). He was married three times and had seven sons and eight daughters. In 1849 he was described as a music seller and lived already in Birmingham, in the parish of Aston, in Portland Villa. The family had even a "maid of all work", Maria Swinbourne. Then the family moved. In the same year 1849 we meet John Benjamin Tolkien as a professor of music at Bristol Road, Hemlingford, Edgbaston. John Benjamin's wife, Jane, died in 1854. As a widower and music seller from Handsworth, Birmingham, in the age of 48, John Benjamin married Mary Jane Stowe (1833–1915, daughter of John Sutcliffe Stowe, a commision agent from Grosvenor Place, Birmingham, of predobaptist or independent denomination). The wedding ceremony took place in the parish church of All Saints in Birmingham on 16 February 1856. His first son from Mary Jane Tolkien was Arthur Reuel, J. R. R. Tolkien's father. Before 1871 the family moved to 2 Heathfield Rd, King's Norton, Worcestershire and before 1881 to Alcester Rd, Kings Norton. There they had a house servant, Ann Hough and house maid, Phebe Powel. It is good to know that third wife of John Benjamin Tolkien, Mary Jane was only three years older than his oldest daughter, Emily! In the census of 1881 J. B. Tolkien is described as a "Piano Fort & Prussia Dealer", in 1891 as a "pianoforte tuner". In 1891 John Benjamin Tolkien lived in his son-in-low's house of Henry Holden's house, his daughter Loisa's husband. His last address was Bell Lane, Erdington, Aston, Warwickshire (close to Birmingham). After his son Arthur Reuel died in 1896 he also died of sorrow in his age of 89 in King's Norton on 1 August 1896 and was buried at the Key Hill Cemetery, Birmingham. His grave still exists.  
[IV] John Benjamin Tolkien (January 1845, Birmingham – October 1883), a music dealer in Birmingham, a tuner, a newspaper reporter and a composer. He was a half-brother of Arthur Reuel Tolkien, J. R. R. Tolkien's father. He married Agnes Marion Tyrrell on 24 December 1865 in Southwark, Surrey. Contrary to the words of J. R. R. Tolkien they had one child during their marriage, Beatrice Tolkien. He died in October 1883 in Camberwell at the age of 38. From 21 March 1871 to 1881 he was a member (Senior Warden) of the Lodge of Perseverance (No. 573) in Halesowen, Worcester. He composed a masonic hymn "United Ever".
England, United Grand Lodge of England Freemason Membership Registers, 1751-1925

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