Jehu Briggs was born sometime between May and September in 1750, the oldest child of Timothy Briggs and Lettice Preston. Timothy and Lettice were apparently respectable landed gentry. They married on 5 May 1750. Jehu Briggs was baptised 28 September 1750 in Elswick Independent or Congregational Chapel, Lancashire. I will leave the reader to do the maths.
In the baptism register, his name was originally written as John Briggs, but the John is crossed out and Jehu written above. This confusion between the two names continued for his entire life. It is an additional challenge in family history research to be hunting for someone known by two names. While Jehu Briggs is a good name to research, as every reference to the name I have found in the time period refers to my ancestor, there are many more John Briggs’s. In addition, when hand written, the names look similar and Jehu is sometimes wrongly transcribed as John.
Jehu had at least two brothers, one who died in infancy, and one sister. The Briggs family lived in Thurnham in the parish of Cockerham, Lancashire. They were yeomen and non-conformists. Timothy Briggs died in 1762, leaving a young family. Lettice’s family had very little money and appear to have been supported by a distant noble relative, at least until her mother died in 1765.
According to the Register of Duties Paid for Apprentices' Indentures, 1710-1811 - in 1764, a John Briggs was apprenticed to Thomas Hall, a cooper and citizen of London. I think this might be Jehu. I wonder if he was apprenticed as soon as he was old enough due to his family’s circumstances rather than following in his father’s footsteps as yeoman. Jehu Briggs later took on apprentices as a cooper or at least as a member of the Coopers Guild, Thomas Swanton in 1785 and Thomas Patrick in 1790. Members of a guild did not always practice the trade in the guild’s name.
From 1781, there are land tax records showing that Jehu Briggs was living in St John Street, St Sepulchre (Farringdon area), in London, initially as a tenant and later as a property owner. St John Street is still lined with Georgian terrace houses, so it is easy to picture the world he lived in. In fact, here is me looking at some houses in the area that may be very like what the Briggs family lived in (photo taken by my mother), although I think where the Briggs family actually lived is now Smithfield’s Markets. Their address is sometimes given as Smithfield Barrs. Jehu lived in St John Street for the rest of his life.
Somehow, Jehu met a young lady from Suffolk, Susan (or Susanna) Mumford, daughter of Robert. They married in Action, Suffolk by Licence, on 14 Oct 1784*. Jehu and Susan had at least seven children, four girls and three boys: Elizabeth, Charles Jehu, Mary Ann, Sarah, Louisa, George Mumford and Henry Sparrow, all baptised in St Sepulchre parish church. Curiously, in the parish registers, the father’s name is given as Jehu for the boys and John for the girls.
Sometime in the 1790’s Jehu changed trades from cooper to pawnbroker, with a shop in St John Street, possibly under the family residence. In 1797, one Hannah Wright stole 5 yards of cotton material from his shop. The trial took place in the Old Bailey and Jehu Briggs gave evidence in court, so I have a transcript of words he actually spoke. Hannah was found guilty and sentence to 6 months confinement.
In addition to working, Jehu Briggs supported the Finsbury Dispensary benevolent charity, which provided medicines for those who couldn’t afford them. A book about the dispensary says that in 1797, Mr Jehu Briggs was a steward of the charity.
Jehu Briggs died in August 1821, age 71, and was buried 29 August 1821, at St Sepulchre in London. In the burial register, he was original named as John Briggs. His son-in-law, James Clark, the husband of Louisa, signed an affidavit, which was inserted into the parish register, to say that John was also known as Jehu. So the man who started life with two names also ended with them.
I have yet to find a will but assume he must have had one, given that he was a successful business man.
*Sudbury Marriage Licence Allegations gives the year of marriage as 1782 but given the entry is in the 1784-1785 section, this appears to be a typo.
Notes on lineage: Me > Mum > Daphne Madge Smith > Esther Ilma Lees > Fanny Sarah Eliza Briggs > Frederick Henderson Briggs > Henry Sparrow Briggs > Jehu Briggs