James & Jane COMPTON

JAMES COMPTON c 1838 – 1905

JANE ELIZABETH COMPTON (CLARKE) 1832 – 1915

James Compton was born in Potton, Bedfordshire about 1838 but he is not easy to trace. It’s possible his parents died when he was young or they had too many children and put him with his Grandparents.  He states his father was William, and in 1841 there is a William, but no relationship or status is given.

In 1841 James aged 3 is with his grandparents Boston Compton aged 65, a wheelwright and Elizabeth aged 65, other people there are William 20, David 19, Richard 15, and aged 14, they are in Potton.

Ten years later, only Boston now aged 79, his sons David 28, Richard 25 and grandson James aged 13 are still there.

By 1861 James is in Birkenhead he is 22 and an engine driver, he has a 26-year-old wife Jane Elizabeth who was born in Dover. “Engine Driver” was used for anyone who operated all types of steam driven machinery.

They have two children Elizabeth 2 and John Boston who is 2 months old.  He is named after his grandfather which is a good clue that it`s the same person. Both children were born in Birkenhead and were registered with mother’s maiden Clarke.

Little John Boston died later that year. It appears that they weren`t married until 27 December 1863 when James Compton married Jane Elizabeth Clarke in Liverpool Parish Church. He named his father as William Compton a huntsman, Jane`s father was Samuel Kemp Clark a mariner.

Both James and Jane were living in Oxford Street Liverpool where he was a servant.  Whether James knew who his father was is anyone’s guess, often people just gave a name of a close male relative.

Jane Elizabeth Clarke was baptised 6 June 1832 at St. Mary the Virgin, Dover, her parents were Samuel Kemp Clarke and Jane Hiller who had married in Canterbury on 19 December 1829. Samuel Kemp is listed in the Electoral Registers in 1833 in Dover.  He was a Freeman and a mariner living at Fisherman’s Row, Dover. This matches the details Jane Elizabeth gave at her marriage.  He appears again in the 1841 Electoral register at Paradise St, Dover and in the 1841 census when they have 4 children – Jane (Elizabeth) 9. John (Richard) 7, Eliza 3 and Edward 1.

They lived there for some time before Jane died in Paradise Street at the age of 42, she was buried on 30 December 1847 at St. Mary the Virgin.

Samuel Kemp Clarke is found in 1851 he is still in the same parish but now in Elizabeth Street, he is 48, a widower, a mariner and on his own. None of the children are found for certain in 1851, but Jane Elizabeth would have been old enough to be working.

Samuel Kemp Clarke died aged 56 and was buried on 19 November 1857 in St. Mary the Virgin, Dover.

We know that Jane Elizabeth met James Compton in the next couple of years before they were in Birkenhead and then found in Liverpool, but when or where they met is a mystery.


By 1871 they have moved to Wrexham and are living in 7 Fairfield Street, James is an engine driver again, their children, James 8, Elizabeth 12, Anne 6, Grace 3, and Jane 1, were all born in Birkenhead so they couldn`t have been there for long.

The 1881 census was taken on the 3 April, when James and his family were at 11 Town Hill which was the Three Tuns Inn. (This was later demolished when the Ellesmere railway bridge was built about 1895)

James was a waiter, his son James was a barman, Grace is in school and they had 3 more children who were born in Wrexham.  Jane 11, William 7 and Mary aged 5.

Between January and March 1881 there was lot going on in the Licensing applications department. In January Mr Bernard Lewis appeared to apply for the transfer of the licence of the Nag’s Head Inn, Mount Street, from Mr Charles Pantin to Mr James Compton, the reason was that Mr Pantin was bankrupt and therefore could not pay his rates. James stated that he was paid wages, and had nothing to do with the rates and taxes. He was then more or less cross examined to prove he was the tenant, but he stated that he was only a weekly tenant. This agreement was refused.

Nags Head, Mount Street Wrexham. mid 1800s

Some sort of compromise must have been made because James was still there in February   when a report was in the papers about Sarah Price, a nut hawker, who was summoned by Mr J. Compton, of the Nag’s Head Inn, with maliciously damaging a window. Mr Compton said that on the previous evening the prisoner went into the house and called for a glass of beer. On taking it to her he found that she had fallen out with her husband. He took the beer away, and turned the woman out twice. On the second occasion she smashed a window, causing damage to the value of 1s. The prisoner pleaded provocation on the part of her husband, and was ordered to pay 1s as damages, and 4s 6d costs.

On May 9, 1881 at the Borough Magistrates Court. The licence of the Nag’s Head Inn, Mount Street was transferred from Mr C. Pantin to Mr G. A. Pavitt, and that of the Three Tuns, Town Hill, from Mr Pavitt to Mr James Compton.

This seems to mean that James was never officially the tenant of the Nags Head and had been employed at the Three Tuns before becoming the licencee.

The family moved again to 5 Hightown Road and in 1891 James is still an inn waiter, but we don`t know where he was working. His son James has left, and only the other children are at home.

Their son James Compton died 15 August 1894 in Liverpool and was buried in Anfield Cemetery, he was only 32.

James and the family moved again to Bury Street by 1901, he is still a waiter but again not known where. On 18 August 1903 James died at his home he was aged 65.

Jane Elizabeth died in 1915 aged 82, she was living at Poplar Road by then, she was buried with James on 4 February 1915.

Also buried with James is his son William who had married Ethel Knighton in 1908, she had been born in Nottinghamshire, but was living with her parents in Flint, where her father Robert Willis Knighton was a colliery manager.

The couple lived in Wrexham but sadly William died in January 1911 aged only 37, a few months after his death Ethel is found at 55 Ruabon Road, she was a grocer and had a 6-month-old son Leslie Boston Compton to care for. Ethel never remarried and died at 74 Victoria Road, she was buried on 6 April 1933 with William.

Researched by Annette Edwards. December 2018. Gravestone photograph by Graham Lloyd.

Grave ref: Wrexham Cemetery J-02412