John Algar was born in 1818 in Norwich, Norfolk, England to parents James Algar and Hannah Dady. He was baptised on 2 August of that year1, at that time, his parents were living at St. Michael in Coslany, his father was a shoemaker. As the baptism was only 10 months after his parents’ marriage, it may be assumed that John was the oldest child. James and Hannah did not follow the naming conventions, as, if they had, John would have been named Zephaniah after his paternal grandfather.
John was to have four brothers, James (1821), Charles (1824), Stephen (1826) and Abraham (1829). Both James and Abraham lived less than two years. Stephen died when he was 20, however Charles and John himself both went on to have families.
In 18412 John was living with his parents, Charles and Stephen at Sun Lane in the civil parish of St. Clement in Norwich. His father is listed as a shoemaker at that time. Although all three boys would have been old enough to be at least learning a trade, there was none listed on the census.
In 1851, at the age of 323, John was still living with his parents, this time in a place called Tubby’s Yard in St Mary’s Coslany parish. At that time, he was listed a worsted woolcomber journeyman. Although a woolcomber was was a factory job, an apprenticeship was required. The normal age to start the apprenticeship was 12 or 13 and the usual time was seven or eight years, so it is possible he was either finishing his apprenticeship or just starting as a journeyman at the time of the previous census.
The combs would have been heated in a charcoal filled comb pot, he would then take a tress of wool (sprinkled and massaged with oil) and comb through the wool repeatedly until the comb collected all the wool. Then he would repeat with a second comb. After that, the he would have combed one tress of wool into the other until all the fibers were parallel11.
On 28 March 1854, John Algar married the widow Ann Bell (nee Green) at the register office in Norwich4. At the time, he was living at St Mary’s, Coslany and she was living in Bull Close at St. Paul. His brother Charles and his mother Hannah stood up for them. John became an instant father to her two children Emma and William. Perhaps he had been training with his father as a shoemaker as well as working in the mill, as at his marriage, he is listed as a cordwainer, which is another name for shoemaker. During this time period, the Norwich weaving industry was rapidly declining and Norwich was becoming famous for its boot and shoemaking13.
Seven months after their marriage, their first daughter Hannah Edith was born. She was followed by three boys, John Stephen (1856), George (1858) and Arthur (1860).
On the 1861 census5, John is listed as a cordwainer, Ann is listed as a silk weaver and their youngest children, Hanna, John Stephen, George and Arthur are all living with them at Haywards in the Parish of Paul in Norwich.
Sometime between 1861 and 1871, John and Ann moved their family to Great Yarmouth. They may have left Norwich because of the population boom there which resulted in much overcrowding and unhealthy conditions12. On the 1871 census6 the same family group is living on Lays Corner in the ward of Nicholas Great Yarmouth. At that time John, Ann and Hannah are all working as factory hands. John Stephen is listed as a boot closer, George as an errand boy and Arthur as a scholar.
By the 1881 census7, Ann had passed (she died earlier that year). John was listed as a musician, as was his son George. Both John Stephen and Arthur are listed as bootmakers. George continued to be listed as a musician on the 1891 census when living with his brother John Stephen, but was listed as a bootmaker in later censuses after he was married.
John died on 8 January 1881 from a stroke8. On his death record he is listed as a shoemaker. John was buried in the parish of St. Nicholas in Great Yarmouth on 12 January 18819,10.
1Baptisms (PR) England. Norwich, Norfolk. 2 August 1818. ALGAR, John. http://www.ancestry.ca : accessed October 2019.
2Census. 1841. England. St. Clement, Norwich, Norfolk. H0107/788/5. p. 26. http://www.ancestry.ca : accessed October 2019.
3Census. 1851. England. St Mary of Coslany, Norwich, Norfolk. H0107/1812. p. 216.http://www.ancestry.ca : accessed October 2019.
4Marriages (CR) England. Registrar’s Office, Norwich, Norfolk. 28 March 1854. ALGAR, John and BELL (previously Green), Ann. No 63.
5Census. 1861. England. Paul, Norwich, Norfolk. RG 9/1212. p.22. http://www.ancestry.ca : accessed October 2019.
6Census. 1871. England. Great Yarmouth, Great Yarmouth. RG 10/1788. pg 37. http://www.ancestry.ca : accessed October 2019.
7Census, 1881. England. Great Yarmouth, Norfolk. RG 11/ 1912. p. 30. http://www.ancestry.ca : accessed October 2019.
8Deaths (CR) England. St. Peter’s Row West, Great Yarmouth, Yarmouth Southern, Norfolk. 8 January 1887. ALGAR, John. No #181.
9Burials (PR) England. Great Yarmouth, Norfolk. 12 January 1887. ALGAR, John. England & Scotland, Select Cemetery Registers, 1800-2016. http://www.ancestry.ca : accessed October 2019.
10Burials (PR) England. Great Yarmouth, Norfolk. 12 January 1887. ALGAR, John. Norfolk, England, Church of England Deaths and Burials, 1813-1990.