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William Prentice of Maldon, Essex, England

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William Prentice of Maldon, Essex, England
By Linus Joseph Dewald Jr., Editor
Fall 2007 and Revised 23 May 2016

Introduction: This article consolidates the information in 2 of our earlier article:



1. William Prentice was b. 1816 (per Robert Prentice, email 26 Dec 2007). That date is consistent with Robert Prentice's email of 13 Jul 2007 which relates that his son, Robert, below, on Robert's marriage record gave his father's name as William Prentice, profession, 'mariner'. That date is consistent with Robert Prentice's email of 13 Jul 2007.

He m. Sarah (per Robert Prentice, email 26 Dec 2007). They hd 1 or more children, including:

  1. Robert Prentice was b. c. 1842 in Maldon, Essex, England . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . [2]

2. Robert Prentice was b. 1 Dec1842 at Heybridge Salt Cote, in Maldon (indexed as "Moldon") (per Robert Prentice, email 26 Dec 2007), Essex, England, and d. 1918 at Hartlepool (per Robert Prentice IV, see below). He does not appear in the 1851 census, but does appear in the 1861 census in "Civil Parish Vessels, Misc. Ships at Sea or Abroad" as an A B Seaman aboard the vessel "Vesper", Stephenk Chapman, Master, in the town of Yarmouth Roads, England.

He does not appear in the 1871, 1881 or 1891 census, but does appear in the 1901 census in West Hartlepool, Durham, England, as a "Marriner Seas." with his wife and family.

He m. Jane Grainger (see below), b. c. 1845, Whitby, Yorkshire. She appears in the 1881 Hartlepool census, without a husband, but with some of the following children; children per census records and email of Robert Prentice IV):

  1. William Henry Prentice, b. 23 May 1863. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . [3]
  2. Robert Prentice, b. 1865 and d. 20 Dec 1900 at the age of 35 years. Not in 1871 census. In 1881 census in Poplar Registration Dist. as an unmarried 16 year old Apprentice aboard the vessel, "Ellen." Not in 1891 census. He later became a Master Mariner and Captain of a ship called the Bencliffe. On his last voyage he sailed for Mobile, USA and died on 20 Dec.1900 per "The Master Mariners List" held at the Guildhall Museum, London (per Robert Prentice, email, 23 Jan 2009).
  3. Mary Jane Prentice, b. c. 1868, Hartlepool, Durham. At home in 1881. She m. John Thomas Bell on 11 Dec 1887. He was b. c. 1865 in West Hartlepool. They appear in the 1891 census in Stranton, Durham, and in the 1901 census in West Hartlepool. Children:
    1. Ethel Violet Bell, b. c. 1889, West Hartlepool. At home in 1891 and 1901.
    2. Edith Florence Bell, . c. 1900, West Hartlepool. At home in 1891. Not home in 1901.
    3. Launcelot Bell, b. c. 1893, West Hartlepool. At home in 1901.
    4. Celeste Bell, b. c. 1895, West Hartlepool. At home in 1901.
    5. Daras Bell, dau., b. c. 1900, West Hartlepool. At home in 1901.

  4. Emily Prentice, b. 1870 and d the following year, 1871.
  5. Frederick Prentice, b. 1872, Hartlepool. At home in 1881. He was a mariner and there is a vague rumour that he may have gone to Africa.
  6. Sarah E. Prentice, b. c. 1878, Hartlepool. At home in 1881.
  7. Emily Prentice, b. 1878, Hartlepool, Durham, and d. 1920. At home in West Hartlepool in 1901 (per census). She m. Daniel Kirby Smith on 18 Sep 1906.
  8. Ernest Prentice, b. 1883 and d. 2 years later in 1885.
  9. Gladys D. Prentice, b. c. 1899, West Hartlepool, Durham. At home in West Hartlepool in 1901 (per census).
  10. Harry Prentice, b. 1874, Hartlepool, Durham. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . [4]
  11. Albert Prentice, b. 1881, Hartlepool, and d. 24 Apr 1958. At home in 1881. Acrobat. He m. Minnie Noble. By email of 21 May 2016, Steven Prentice relates that, ". . .Albert was a very naughty man, leaving his wife and [son] Cecil to take up with an American lady living in England by whom he had 2 children. When the American lady died suddenly he took the 2 children back to his original wife, Minnie and asked her to take him back and the children in, which she did - which I think shows that she was really "Noble" (her maiden name)." Son of Albert and Minnie:
    1. Cecil Prentice. For more information about his life, see Fn. 1.

Also shown in that same 1881 census is an R. Prentice, b. c. 1845, Hartlepool, who is a 2nd mate aboard the vessel "Celeste" in Stranton, Durham. He may well be Jane's husband, Robert, #2 above, who was not counted in the census at home if it was because he was aboard the "Celeste."

Robert Prentice IV provided the following information about Robert Prentice by email of 13 Feb 2007 :

    The above was my great grandfather b1842 d1918 at Hartlepool and I refer to him as Robert Prentice the First. He married Jane Grainger. However, only marriage given in the statutary records was Robert Prentice/Jane Walker at Hartlepool in April 1861. Age on certificate is given as 'Full Age' which is always suspicious. He was 19, she was 16,perhaps they were marrying without parantal consent.

    Robert gave his father as William [Prentice], profession, 'mariner'. Their eldest son was William Henry [Prentice,] (my grandfather) b. 23 May 1863 and d. 4 Mar 1915 (enemy action), who became a master mariner

Also living with Robert's family in 1901 was a granddaughter, Ethel V. Bell, b. c. 1889, West Hartlepool, Durham, and a nephew, John T. Walker, b. c. 1861, Hull, Yorkshire.

3. William Henry Prentice, b. 17 Oct 1751 and d. 4 Mar 1915 (enemy action sinking his ship, the Beeswing), master mariner (per email of 13 Jul 2007, above). He is the William H. Prentice, Master Mariner, b. c. 1864, who appears in the 1891 census and in the 1901 census in West Hartlepool, Durham, England with his wife and family.

He m. Mary Mole on 6 Sep 1881. She was b. 10 Aug 1861, Hartlepool, and d. 1957. Children per 1901 census:

  1. William Henry Prentice, b. 17 Oct 1881 Hartlepool,and d. 4 Mar 1915. . . . . . . . . . . .[5]
  2. Robert Prentice, b. 24 Jan 1882, West Hartlepool, and d. 20 Dec 1916. . . . . . . . . . . [6]
  3. Thomas Prentice, b. 9 Jun 1886, West Hartlepool. He was an officer on a ship that docked at Freemantle, W Australia and found acable waiting for him which gave the bad news of the death of his father and brother, William, in the sinking of their ship, the Beeswax, by enemy action. Thomas left the ship and joined the Australian Army at Perth on 4/05/1915. His unit was the 1st Reinforcements for the 28th Battalion, service No 1573. He embarked on HMAT Geelong on 5/06/1915 en route for Gallipoli, via Egypt.He was badly wounded and returned to Australia with a diabiity pension. About 1928 he wrote his brother, Gordon, that he had been out 'Gold Prospecting', that his horse had died of sunstroke and that he was having to work up another 'grubstake'. Nothing further was heard from Thomas (per Robert Prentice IV, email, 17 Jul 2007).
  4. Frederick Prentice, b. 5 Feb 1888, West Hartlepool and d.1955. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .[7]
  5. Albert Prentice, b. 7 Nov 1890, West Hartlepool, and d. 1976.
  6. Evelyn Prentice, b. 5 Jun 1894, West Hartlepool, and d. 1985.
  7. Clifford Prentice, b. 26 Jun 1896, West Hartlepool, and d. 1975.
  8. Gordon Prentice,b. 2 Oct 1899, West Hartlepool, and d. 8 Jun 1983. . . . . . . . . . . . . . [8]

  9. Hilda Mary Prentice, b. 7 Feb 1903, probably West Hartlepool.

4. Harry Prentice, b. 1874, Hartlepool, Durham, and d. 1909 at the age of only 35 years. At home in West Hartlepool in 1901. He m. Margaret Wood in 1902. Cycle Repairer.

He m. Sophia, b. c. 1872, Epton Bridge, Yorkshire. In the 1901 census they are living with Harry's parents. No children shown.

5. William Henry Prentice, b. c. 1882, West Hartlepool, Durham. WW I military death records identify him as a First Mate in the Merchant Marine aboard his father's ship, S.S. "Beeswing" when he, too, died 4 Mar 1915 when his ship, the Beeswing, was sunk by enemy action. He was the son of William Henry and Mary Prentice; husband of Margaret Ann Prentice (nee Bruce) of 42 Kimberley St., West Hartlepool. His memorial, too, is at Tower Hill Memorial (see his father's memorial, above).

6. Robert Prentice, b. c. 1883, West Hartlepool, Durham. At home in 1901. Like his father, William, Robert appears in WW I military death records as a Second Engineer, Mercantile Marine, S.S. "Hildawell" (West Hartlepool), who d. age 22 on 20 Dec 1916, son of Mary and the late William Henry Prentice; husband of Elizabeth Ford of 16 Topcliffe St., West Hartlepool. Born at West Hartlepool. His memorial can be found at Tower Hill Memorial.

7. Frederick Prentice, b. c. 1888, West Hartlepool, Durham. At home in 1901. Subject to further investigation, he is tentatively identify as the Frederick Prentice who m. Hilda Emily and had a son:

  1. George Frederick Prentice who is identified in WW II military death records as a Stoker Petty Officer Mechanic, Royal Navy, H.M.S. Agincourt, who d. at the age of 30 on 14 Nov 1947, son of Frederick and Hilda Emily Prentice, of West Hartlepool. His grave is Grave 126, Hartlepool (Stranton) Cemetery.

8. Gordon Prentice, b. 2 Oct 1899, West Hartlepool, and d. 8 Jun 1983. By email of 17 Juo 2007, Robert Prentice IV advises that Gordon eventually went to sea as an engineer. He passed the exams for his Chiefs ticket, which was published in the local Hartlepool newspaper. Many months later he got a letter from his brother, Thomas, who had managed to read a copy of the paper in Australia and he congratualed Gordon on passing his exam

He m. and had 1 or more children, including:

  1. Robert Prentice IV (per his email of 13 Jul 2007).

Who are William Prentice's Parents?

William may, or may not, be related to the Maldon families discussed in our earlier Newsletter articles in:

  1. our Summer 2003 article about Charles Prentice of Maldon, Essex.
  2. our Summer 2003 article about Henry Prentice of Maldon, Essex .
  3. our Summer 2003 article about Jeremiah Prentice of Rochford, Essex who was a Wheelwright in Maldon in the 1861 census and had children born in Maldon.

Robert may, or may not, be related to Walter Prentice, b. c. 1847, Maldon, Essex, who appears in the 1881 West Ham, Essex, census as married, but no wife named, and in the 1901 West Ham, Essex, census with his wife, Emily, b. c. 1859, Coggershall, Essex.

Walter is almost certainly the same person as Walt Prentice, shown in the IGI as chr. 1 Feb 1846 in Mundon, Essex, son of Jeremiah Prentice. Mundon lies about 4 miles south of Maldon. Perhaps he was b. in Maldon and chr. in Mundon.

If you have any information about the folks mentioned in this article, please send your information to us at the Prentice Newsletter. Be sure to give the full title and date of this article in the Subject line of the email.

Caution: If you don't use the above email link, your email to us may be deleted as spam by our email filter.


Fn. 1: Cecil Prentice

By email of 15 May 2016, Steven Prentice offers the following information about Cecil Prentice:

    Thought you might like to hear some information on the son of Albert Prentice mentioned in your correspondence with Robert Prentice about the Prentices of West Hartlepool. Cecil was my grandfather and had a very colourful life with his "El Granadas" act which my father and mother were also in.

    Attached are some photos of the Act, he used the stage name "Cecil Granada" - and this is an article I recently wrote about his life:

    Cecil Prentice was born on the 24th August 1903 to Albert Prentice and Minnie Prentice (nee Noble) in West Hartlepool, England. His parents were living at 3 Freville Street and his father was, at the time, working as a timber measurer at H.M.C. but with ambitions to go on the stage as an acrobat.

    The family later moved to 94 Sandringham Road where Cecil attended Elwick Road and Church Square Schools. Leaving School he served an apprenticeship as an electrician at Richardsons Westgarth Ltd in 1918, a company that manufactured marine engines for ships, and also worked at pipe work contractors and engineers Dixon Barker. By this time, Cecil’s father had managed to start his show business career in Bronco Bills Circus with Cecil’s mother Minnie (nee Nobel). Cecil never completed his apprenticeship as he was already looking to follow his father on to the stage but due to being unable to raise his right arm above his head could not be an acrobat.

    When Cecil was 14, his father left his mother for an American woman taking Cecil’s savings of nearly £100. Cecil never saved again for the rest of his life. “The Old Man” as Cecil called him, was never truly forgiven for deserting Minnie and Cecil. Albert had two further children by the American woman; Katheline and Rhodes. Some years afterwards their mother died unexpectedly leaving Albert with the two small children to bring up by himself. Albert took the children to Minnie, and admirably, she took them in and brought them up as her own.

    In the meantime, Cecil had obtained his first job in the theatre was as an electrician at The Empire, West Hartlepool . It wasn’t long before Cecil had progressed to Gandy’s Circus where he worked with Bronco Bill and “The Un-ridable Mule” and with his friend George Garbutt (Geordie) began to learn the skills of rope spinning and manipulating a stock whip. Life was very tough in the 1920s and work in the business was not easy to come by. Cecil teamed up with Cal McCord, another good rope spinner. Sometimes, busking or even trying to combine busking with selling razor blades in London was the only way to survive. Cal and Cecil would start rope spinning to draw a crowd then attempt to sell them the razor blades.

    Cecil also busked in the northern mill towns of Lancashire with violin player Verno Caselli and Verno’s father. Cecil would go through the streets cracking his stock whip to draw attention, then Verno would play the violin and Cecil would spin ropes. Verno’s father would “bottle” the audience, going round and collecting scraps of change.

    Sometimes the takings were virtually none existent and on one occasion, Verno’s father was put into bed at the lodgings where they were staying and his suit was pawned. This gave them just enough money to travel to another town where the takings were better before returning to redeem the suit, get the old man out of bed dress him and move to yet another town to busk again. Eventually, Cecil joined an act that specialised in eccentric bicycles called “The Daimlers”. Bicycles made of a brass bed head or one with square wheels were the stock in trade of this act and they performed in variety theatres across Britain.

    One such engagement was to prove fateful for Cecil when they accepted a booking in Derby in early 1928. This is where he met Lila who had recently returned from Palestine and a failed marriage. She had restarted her career on the stage as a dancer and Cecil took a shine to this headstrong woman. His chat up line of “I’m going to get you drunk tonight” was at least direct, and led to Lila’s pregnancy and the birth of their son, Peter.

    As soon as Lila and Cecil got together, they began to plan an act of their own. Initially called “La Rope and Lady”, Cecil came up with another name which was to take them through the rest of their stage careers; “El Granada’ s”.

    El Granadas started as a bicycle, rope spinning and stock whip cracking act, but the bicycle side was gradually dropped in favour of more spectacular rope spinning and ribbon spinning.

    At one stage the act even included a dog “Pancho”. Cecil made a scooter for him to perform with. Unfortunately, the dog was run over in the street and it was a many years before dogs were to appear again as part of Cecil and Lila’s repertoire.

    As a child, Cecil ran down the stairs with a pair of scissors in his hand and tripping, had punctured his eye. This showed a small grey spot in one eye. Astonishingly, he also was born slightly crippled and could not raise his right arm above shoulder level, so to become an expert rope spinner was an extraordinary feat. He was quite a gentle man who lived to be the best he could be at what he could do. The contrast with Lila’s character left him as the quiet, sensible council who could change Lila’s attitude if he felt she was being too difficult with anyone.

    Lila and Cecil made the act better and better and the crowning glory came when their son, Peter joined the act. El Granadas and Peter introduced Peter on unicycles, baton spinning by Peter and a spectacular finale. By now they were playing the “Number Ones” of the Moss Empires circuit and the icing on the cake was when they received a telegram from their agent saying; “ hold everything — Royal Command Performance possibility”. This led to their appearance in the 1946 Royal show at the London Palladium. Quite a journey for the stage electrician from West Hartlepool.

    For a man with a dream, Cecil followed it relentlessly and saw astonishing success, playing all over Europe and appearances at the London Palladium and before his king and queen in his lifetime. His act was, arguably, the best in the business at the height of his career. He never made any real money and never bought any property. At one stage he was offered their rented house at 41 Bolton Road for £100 and turned it down. Everything they earned went on the best costumes, which Lila would sew and make and the best props, many of which Cecil would design and construct. What little money was left went on quality publicity material. After his father ran away with his savings as a boy, Cecil never saved any money and died comparatively poor but with a full date book with 9 months work solidly booked. Cecil’s final resting place is in Torquay. He had died “on the road”.

    El Granadas had entertained the troops waiting for D day and after the second world war was over with Dorothy joining the act, work started to come from Europe and Soon Cecil and the act were touring France, where they appeared at the Moulin Rouge, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Holland, Lapland, Finland and Norway. Cecil celebrated his 50th birthday appearing with the Circus Troll Rhodin

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