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Joseph Christopher Lambert

Say “Lord Lucan” or “Reggie Perrin” to me, and images of Reverend Joseph Christopher Lambert spring to my mind. A man from a family steeped in the church, with Vicars and Canons in every branch of his family, he became a professor of music, a mason, a teacher, a missionary, a vicar, and a canon. And then seemingly without warning, he vanished without trace, leaving a widow and 4 children.

This is my research into the life of Reverend Joseph Christopher Lambert, school-master, vicar, canon and precentor on St Helena between 1857 and 1886. It charts his life, plus that of his wife – a Saint – and their 6 children, 4 of who were born in Jamestown. I follow Johanna and her children back to London, and miserable years moving between poor-houses, before Joseph is declared dead, and some of the family move to Eastbourne.

This does not seem to have been an easy life for the family, with premature deaths, a disappearance, death in the Great War, and finally what appears to be a pauper’s funeral for Johanna.

The PDF at the end carries the most recent research, and all of the photos and images that I have sourced.

Joseph Christopher Lambert


Joseph Christopher Lambert was born in Richmond, Yorkshire in the later months of 1840 to Alfred Lambert and Jane Metcalfe. Richmond is a small market town dating as far back as 1071 located on the North-Eastern edge of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, sitting on the River Swale.


Just a few weeks later, on the 17th January 1841, Joseph is christened in Richmond, Yorkshire. Presumably Alfred and Jane (his parents) were living in Richmond at the time, before they moved south to Monk Bretton for the posting that accounts for most of Alfred’s career in the church.

In June, when the 1841 census is taken, Joseph is 5 months old, and living with his parents at Church Street, Monk Bretton – on the outskirts of Barnsley. This is some 75 miles south of Richmond.


At the time of the 1851 census Joseph is living at home in Monk Bretton, aged 10 and listed as a scholar. Alongside him are his siblings Alice Anne Lambert (later to marry Thomas Longley), Katherine Jane Lambert (later to marry the “Barnsley murderer” William Henry Emeris Burke), Walter John Edward Lambert, and Claude Alfred Lambert.

Late 1850’s

Aged no more than about 20, Joseph is no longer living in the UK, and has seemingly found his way to St Helena. St Helena is far from an obvious destination for a man of his age. In the Atlantic, some 1,200 miles West of Angola, it is one of the most remote islands in the world, and even in 2019 takes some getting to. There must have been a real calling to travel from Yorkshire to the middle of the ocean, but this is what JCL did. The question is, why? Before moving on, let’s look briefly at St Helena, as it might throw some light on his decision.

St Helena

Although previously ruled by the Portugese and the Dutch, in 1657 Oliver Cromwell granted the East India Company a charter to govern St Helena – Britain’s second oldest overseas territory (after Barbados). Napoleon was exiled to St Helena between 1815 and 1821.

In 1833, control of the island passed from the East India company to the crown. This change in administration, coupled with the advent of steam-ships and the opening of the Suez Canal saw a decline in the importance and population of St Helena.


Joseph is further described as Assistant master to Bennett in the 1860 “Blue Book”. Note he is recorded as Reverend as early as 1860:

“Schooling in the South Atlantic Islands 1661-1992” by Dorothy Evans records that when the Reverend Bennett “applied for a year’s leave of absence” from the Head School in late 1850s “the Reverend Lambert took the role”.


Records show him at the St Helena masonic lodge, recorded as a School-master, born in 1838. The probability that this record is for a different individual is microscopically small for many reasons.

It seems right to explore the relationship between the church and Freemasonry at this juncture. The Catholic church is strongly opposed to participation, and prohibited members from being masons. The view from the Protestant church is more mixed, but on balance, it is more disapproving than it is accepting.

Given that we see Joseph at lodges across the globe, does this association play any part in events that are yet to unfold, including his relationship with his father? The Lamberts and Longleys were dominated by senior members of the Church of England, so did Joseph find himself on the outside/ periphery of the family?

JCL Locations


On the 2nd, 9th and 16th February 1862, the Banns for Joseph CharlesLambert (bachelor) and Johanna Mary Lambert (spinster) are read at St James, Jamestown, St Helena. Joseph marries Johanna Mary Fitzpatrick at St James’ church on the 12th March 1862 on St Helena. Johanna is the daughter of a soldier (His Majesty’s 66thRegiment) who later became a farmer. Interestingly, on the marriage certificate his name has initially been recorded as Joseph Charles Lambert (the name on the Banns), which has subsequently been amended to the name by which he is more frequently known by. At the time of their marriage, Johanna was a little over 17 years old, to Joseph’s 21. There’s nothing particularly unusual in her age, though it’s slightly younger than most of my extended tree, where most were between 20 and 24 at marriage.


On the 9th  December 1862, slightly less than 9 months after their marriage, Joseph and Johanna bring Mary Margaret Lambert into the world in St Helena, later baptised on the 18th January 1863 at St Paul’s. They were clearly keen to start a family. His occupation listed as “Merchant”, which seems slightly odd.


Records show a Joseph Christopher Lambert on the “Register of contributions : Country and foreign lodges” at The Hartington Lodge (1021), Fairfield Lane, Barrow in Furness, England. He is listed as a “Petitioner from 718”. Neither his age nor occupation are listed. Lodge 718 is St Helena, so this must be him. Does this place him in Barrow in Furness? The location of Barrow in Furness seemingly makes no sense until much later in the family’s history when one of Joseph’s children (Augusta), who was born in 1865, potentially on St Helena, appears to list her place of birth as Barrow in Furness in census records.


He then appears to pop up at Restoration Masonic lodge, Darlington (on the “Register of contributions : Country and foreign lodges”) recorded as an Organist, residence Gainford. Gainford is 8 miles from Darlington, which in turn is 13 miles from Richmond. The reference to Lodge 488 (Jamestown, St Helena) seems to support the fact that this is our Joseph. This record sits between 1862 and 1866 where he is in St Helena, so this seems to be something of a red herring? Or did he spend much of his time travelling between the two locations? Augusta Mary Lambert is born – possibly on St Helena, and possibly in Barrow in Furness, Lancashire. No verifiable, or even likely, record of her birth, place of birth, or date of birth has yet to emerge. As we will come to later, Robert C. A. Lambert assigns his war pension to his niece Augusta J Lambert. An 1891 census record, which we will also come to, reveals an Augusta Lambert, born in St Helena in 1865 (inferred date), and other research points to Augusta Johanna Lambert being the daughter of this Augusta Lambert. A birth in St Helena in 1865 feels correct, though a very thorough search of records on the island has drawn a complete blank. We will come back to her place of birth in due course…


St Helena Masonic lodge, St Helena. Initiation date 10th December 1866.


Alice Jane is born in Hemsworth, Yorkshire on the 12th June. Hemsworth is some way South of Leeds, and is mid-way between Pontefract (Canon Thomas Longley et al) and Monk Bretton (home to many Lamberts and Burkes). What were they doing here? The baptism of Alice was performed by T. Longley. Presumably this is Thomas Longley – Joseph’s brother in law, and spouse of Joseph’s sister – Alice Anne Lambert. Thomas is also a clerk in holy orders. Other baptisms on the page from the register were performed by Joseph’s father – Alfred. The fact that his father didn’t perform the baptism raises something of an eyebrow. Did Alfred take umbrage with his son’s Freemasonry dabbling, or was there some other more innocuous reason? Joseph’s occupation is recorded as “Professor of Music”. So, less than 30 years old he has qualified as a vicar and quite possibly completed a PhD/ Doctorate in music. He’s not hanging around. That said, the occupation declared on a baptism certificate is unlikely to be subject to much scrutiny – particularly by his family!


Records show him at St Botolph’s masonic lodge, Sleaford, Lincolnshire, organist, born 1839. This ties in nicely with the 1871 census record – below. Initiation date 12th  December 1870.

1871 April 2nd

The 1871 census shows JCL living on West Street, New Sleaford, Sleaford, Lincolnshire with Johanna, their two offspring (Mary Margaret and Alice Jane) and a servant Elizabeth Staples. His occupation is listed as “Professor of Music”. They live between the Red Lion (50 West Street) and the White Swan, though for the life of me I cannot find West Street on a map! West Street, South Street, North Street and Market Place must be very central. Why he finds himself here, seemingly making a living as a musical teacher/ professor I do not know. I wonder if he had a connection with the Sleaford Parish Church of St Denys. Sleaford is 17 miles south of Lincoln, and about 11 miles north-east of Grantham. If there is an Augusta Lambert, born 1865 in St Helena (or in Barrow in Furness), where was she in the 1871 census, given she’d only be about 6 years old? Surely too young to be away from her parents?

1871 – October

On the 6th October Joseph and Johanna and welcome Alfred Fitzpatrick Lambert (taking his mother’s maiden name) in to the world, being born in Sleaford, Lincolnshire.

1873 – April

On the 4th April, barely 18 months after he was born, Alfred passes away in Sleaford, being buried in Monk Bretton at the family church.


Hundred of Elloe masonic lodge, Spalding, Lincolnshire. This ties in with the 1871 address above to some extent, however Spalding is hardly on the doorstep of Sleaford. Based on the above, it seems that Joseph and Johanna were living in Sleaford between approximately 1870 and 1874. Sleaford is located more or less mid-way between Louth / Conisholme and Norfolk – both places the Longleys, Lamberts and Metcalfes lived in. The St John’s College Cambridge University records the following over the next few years:


Admitted pens. at St John’s, Cambridge University 24th April 1874.


He kept five days of Easter, 1874 and eight days of Michs. 1874. Name off, October 5th Migrated to New College, Oxford, whence he matriculated 19October 1874, age 33 (as John Christopher Lambert). What is interesting here is that he has presented himself as John Christopher, for a reason that is currently unclear. Emailed St John’s 4 March 2019. The Oxford University alumni entry provides scant additional information: Lambert, John Christopher, 1st son of Alfred of Richmond, Yorkshire, clergy. New College, matriculated (started). 19 October 1874, aged 33. The following response came back from the extremely helpful staff at New College:
“This is very strange. Joseph Foster’s Alumni Oxonienses notes John Christopher Lambert as the eldest son of Alfred Lambert of Richmond (Yorks), a cleric, coming to us in 1874, aged 33 and matriculating on 19 October that year. Yet his name does not appear in any of our own records of admissions or lists of students or tutors who came here in 1874-5. (None of these records are available on line, but I have made a thorough search for you). Also, all our matriculands for 1874 matriculated on 16 October, not 19th. Thinking perhaps that Foster had noted the wrong college, I checked the published Oxford University Calendars for 1874-1877 but cannot find anyone named JC Lambert in their indexes to the various colleges and Halls in Oxford. So I am not sure what to advise, and am very sorry that we cannot help you from the college archives here.”
Beyond confirming that we’re looking at the same person, it’s unclear what happened at Cambridge and what happened at Oxford.

1875 January

Masonic records show a Joseph Christopher Lambert at the Universal charity masonic lodge, Madras (India), with profession shown as Cathedral Organist. This fact is corroborated by a note from “Schooling in the South Atlantic Islands 1661-1992″ by Dorothy Evans that says: “Many years before, in 1861, Mr Lambert had been Under Master at the School, but since then had been away from St Helena teaching in India”. From lodge 588 (Sleaford). Initiation date 18th November 1875. What other information about this period in his life can I find? Anything regarding this time will most likely come from SPG records, or immigration/ travel.


St Helena Lodge, showing his initiation date as 23rdJuly 1874. From lodge 588 (Sleaford).


“Schooling in the South Atlantic Islands 1661-1992” by Dorothy Evans notes that “The Head School had a change of Master in 1878 when Mr Janisch resigned and the Reverend Joseph Lambert took over, and the numbers rose to 37 boys in 1879.” The Head School was part of a two-tier system on the island at that time. The “Head” school focussed on providing an education for children of employees of the East India Company, officials, and for those destined for university or a company career. The St John’s Cambridge alumni entry provides the additional following narrative:

1879 – 1886

S.P.G. missionary at St Helena (SPG is Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts (SPG) – an overseas missionary organisation of the Church of England).


Ordained deacon (St Helena)


Priest (St Helena)


The 1881 England census shows Mary Margaret Lambert residing in Monk Bretton with her Aunt Katherine Jane Burke (nee Lambert) aged 18. Why she was in the UK while her father was apparently in St Helena is a mystery. Sadly the detailed 1881 St Helena census records have been lost, so nothing more is likely to be found regarding the whereabouts of her immediate family. Travelling between the UK and St Helena would have taken several weeks on the Union Castle Line, from Southampton via Cape Town, and while she may have travelled alone, a family companion would seem likely. An examination of the census records for her Aunts and Uncles hasn’t revealed her parents whereabouts – or in fact her siblings at that time. I have to presume that Joseph, Johanna, and their other children are safely installed in Jamestown at this point.


The Old Rock masonic lodge, Jamestown, Clerk in Holy orders. Initiation date 1stFebruary 1882. Lodge number 912, 1224. Shows lodge from 488 (St Helena).

1880 – 1886

Vicar of St James’s, St Helena. St James’s Church has the distinction of being the oldest Anglican church in the Southern hemisphere, having been built in 1774.

1881 – 1886

Canon and precentor of St Paul’s Cathedral.


Son Robert Charles Alfred Lambert is born in St Helena on the 3rd November 1881, baptised on 4th December at St James’ church.


Numbers (at the Head School) declined and in the 1880s “the Government at last decided that the school was no longer fulfilling its purpose. The Reverend Lambert was given a pension of £60”. Head School closed 31st December 1884.


On the 3rd May 1886, Joseph’s father Alfred passes away in Monk Bretton, aged 80. As a man of the cloth for his entire life, and possibly as the inspiration for Joseph to train in the clergy, what was the impact on Joseph? Had his father been his guiding light and emotional support? How long would communication between the UK and St Helena have taken at this point? I assume that messages would have been via ships.
The Standard 1902

The Disappearance

On or around the 13th May 1886, Joseph (aged 46) seems to have disappeared, as noted by the notice in the London Standard some years later, plus the abrupt cessation of his religious duties. By the time of his disappearance, he had conducted:

  • Baptisms: 343, the last of which was on the 12 May 1886
  • Marriages: 40 in total, the last of which was on the 25th April 1886
  • Burials: 86 in total, the last of which was on the 15th April 1886

With fast approaching 500 ceremonies to his name, he would have been a recognised a somewhat notable figure on the island.

Now, given the geography of St Helena, disappearing is no mean feat. Looking at the options:

  • He’s not going to have swum or rowed himself off.
  • Flights into the Island didn’t start until a runway was built in the 21st
  • Boarding a scheduled boat service in his own name would have shown up on records.
  • He might have been murdered.
  • He might have accidentally killed himself in a place where the body was not found.

Two likely options seem to remain. He either paid to leave discretely on a merchant ship, or he committed suicide. But in either instance, why do this? The answer to this question may lie in future events.


On the 18th May 1887, May Fitzpatrick Lambert is born, being baptised on the 20th May 1887 at St John’s. Her mother is shown as Johanna Mary Lambert (Chubb’s Spring, St Helena), however no father is recorded. The child would have been conceived at some point from the middle of August 1886 onwards – some 3 short months after Joseph disappeared.

Previous births have been registered with Joseph and Johanna in Jamestown – presumably living in church provided accommodation. It seems that Johanna has been required to move from the main town since losing her husband. Were they previously living in the vicarage?

May only survives 4 days before her untimely death. What caused her death, and who was her father? She was buried at St Pauls. The epitaphs for the headstones of the various cemeteries have been transcribed, and a thorough search has revealed nothing for little May.

More interestingly, and this is nothing but conjecture, does the birth of May provide a clue as to the catalyst for Joseph’s disappearance? May was conceived little more than 3 months after Johanna’s husband of 25 years has suddenly disappeared. Falling pregnant so quickly, and registering a child with no father doesn’t immediately suggest a grieving widow. It’s also worth noting that he hadn’t been recorded as dead – simply as missing.

Was Johanna already enjoying the companionship of another man, while still married to a notable religious figure in a small community?

The Workhouse


As a side-line to this story, in 1888 Joseph’s brother in law, William Henry Emeris Burke, is convicted for the murder of his daughter, and Joseph’s niece, Aileen Ethel Oonagh Burke. It was William’s wife – Katherine Jane – that Mary Margaret had been visiting in 1881. Was there a deep connection?

Some little while after Joseph disappears and May dies, Johanna and her five children start to appear in UK records in 1891, aged 47, 29, 27, 23, 20 and 10. Were they forced to leave the island, either due to financial or emotional pressures? Did they choose to leave the island due to embarrassment relating to the actions of Joseph or Johanna?

And what took them to London, and not to Yorkshire or Lincolnshire? Frederick Charles Lambert (Joseph’s brother-in-law) was living in Marylebone at this time. It’s only a stone’s throw from Marylebone to Chelsea. Did he offer some support? Had Johanna been ostracised by the Lamberts and Longleys?

London sees generally poor fortunes for Johanna and her 5 children as they move between workhouses, with some employment.

1891 March 23rd

Workhouse admission for Johanna and Robert at Fulham Palace Road Workhouse.

1891 Census April 5th

Both Mary Margaret and Alice Anne are listed in the 1891 census (5th April) as servants at #1 Neville Street, Kensington, London. This is a very nice end-terrace property. The fact that they’re servants together suggests that their circumstances were unsettled, and that they chose to stick together.

Johanna and Robert are both recorded as Inmates/ Paupers at the Fulham Union Workhouse. Unhelpfully, Johanna’s surname is mis-transcribed and both have their place of birth recorded as Fulham.

There is a census record for an Augusta Lambert aged 26 and born in St Helena 1865, shown as visiting 36 Elm Park Gardens in Chelsea. She is listed as a general servant, and the family name is Broyd.

Neville Street is little more than a 5 minute walk from Elm Park Gardens, and a relatively short walk from the Fulham Union Workhouse. All the evidence (location, place of birth, name, and age) point to this Augusta Lambert being one of our family.

1891 May 1st

Workhouse admission for Johanna and Robert (which workhouse, and need image).

1891 June

Workhouse admission for Augusta at Chelsea workhouse, aged 27. Noted as pregnant.(Need image).

1891 July

Workhouse admission for Augusta at Britten Street workhouse, aged 27. Need image.

1891 July

Workhouse discharge for Augusta at Chelsea workhouse, aged 27. Noted as pregnant. Need image.

Late 1891/ early 1892

Unless she loses the baby, there should be a record of the birth of a baby Lambert, mother being Augusta Lambert.

1892 March 7th

Workhouse admission for Alice(Need workhouse name and image).

1892 April 23rd

Workhouse admission for Robert (need workhouse name and image).

1892 April 26th

Workhouse admission for Johanna, Alice and Robert at Britten Street workhouse. This is the last record that shows Johanna with two of her children.

1892 May 27th

Workhouse admission for Johanna and Robert at the Exmouth Training ship and RC schools (no image).

1892 June 25th

Workhouse discharge for Johanna and Robert at the Exmouth Training ship and RC schools (no image).

1892 April – June

The death of an Alice Jane Lambert (age 25) is recorded in Chelsea in Q2 1892. The age and location tie up with the last known record for Alice Jane (above), as does the age.

Whatever the circumstances of Joseph’s disappearance, living in a workhouse as a pauper with 2 of your children must surely have been a humbling and upsetting experience for Johanna.

1892 June 25th

Workhouse admission for Robert. Need workhouse name and image.

1892 July 18th

Workhouse admission for Johanna and Robert at Britten Street Workhouse.

1892 November 30th

Workhouse admission for Robert. Need workhouse name and image.

1893 April 30th

Augusta Mary Lambert and William Castle are married in Kensington at the Church of Sorrowful Hearts of Jesus and Mary. A church by this name no longer exists, having been re-dedicated as Our Lady of Dolours Servite Church. The church is located at 264 Fulham Road. The marriage certificate records this as a Catholic church. The choice of church is an interesting one given dearly departed Joseph’s role in the Church of England.

William (father James) is a general labourer living at 56a ?Upcerne? Road, Chelsea, while Augusta is at 164 Lots Road, Chelsea. If this is the correct name for his address, the property he was living at no longer exists, and neither does hers. The roads are within a block of each other.

No family are listed as witnesses, which seems a little sad given that her family were living within range of the bells of the church at which she is married. Was there a division in the family due to religious reasons?

Augusta’s husband William is an employed labourer – a job that’s unlikely to pay too well, and probably not enough to support a new family as well as his wife’s existing one.

1893 August 29th

Workhouse admission for Johanna and Robert. Need workhouse name and image.

1893 September 2nd

Workhouse admission for Robert at Marlesford Lodge. His mother is listed as Johanna Mary (in house), and his father as Joseph (in house). This is either the wrong people (almost inconceivable), an error, or Joseph is “alive and well”!

1894 May 25th

The admission papers for Marlesford Lodge, Hammersmith show a Robert Lambertat this workhouse. His parents are listed as Johanna Mary Lambert (in house) and Joseph Lambert, listed as “Deserted”. Does this mean deserted from Marlesford (given he was seemingly recorded at the lodge 6 months earlier), or simply “gone”?

Marlesford Lodge, Hammersmith, is described as:

Marlesford Lodge “intermediate” school opened in 1883 at a site on King’s Street in Hammersmith, opposite the southern end of Ravenscourt Park. It accommodated around 132 children.

The establishment was conceived as a stepping stone or filter for the Banstead Cottage Homes. This was both to prevent unsuitable children from being transferred there, and also to minimise the time children spent in the main workhouse — any child admitted to the workhouse before 2pm was washed and despatched to Marlesford the same afternoon. It dealt with:

    • “Ins-and-Outs”
    • Children of parents in custody
    • Those suffering from slight non-infectious ailments
    • Those awaiting transfer to Banstead, including those falling below its minimum admission age of four

So, on the face of it, Johanna and Robert are living at the workhouse, and as we see shortly, his sisters are servants locally. Things look quite bleak for our family.


By 1901, things are very different, with most of the family recorded as living in Eastbourne.

The census shows Johanna living as a lodger at 127 Ashford Road, Eastbourne (East Sussex) (born “Africa”), with the Grayett family (George H and Sarah A). Neither of the Grayett’s were born in St Helena, so there doesn’t appear to be an island connection.

Robert  (aged 20) is working as a “garden boy” at Westdown, 9 Selwyn Road, Eastbourne. This is a well-to-do road and property.

It’s a mystery as to what has led and Robert to Sussex. Friendly relatives maybe? Did the Fitzpatrick line find its way here? Was it for health reasons after several years in London? Why just strike out from the capital to the coast?

Mary Margaret (recorded on the census as Margaret Mary) is 37 years old, and is listed as a servant at 6 Howard Square, Eastbourne. Place of birth St Helena. If she’s not married by now, it seems unlikely that she will get hitched, but hope springs eternal.

Augusta is living at 8 John Street, Wandsworth:

William Castle / General Labourer / 36 (1865) / born Chelsea

Augusta Castle / / 36 (1865) / born Lincolnshire

Mary Castle / / 7 (1894) / born Chelsea

James Castle / / 4 (1897) / born Chelsea

Matilda Castle / / 1 (1900) / born Battersea

Why has Augusta started declaring her place of birth as Barrow-in-Furness / Lincolnshire? As found earlier, Joseph appears to have spent time in Barrow-in-Furness (Lancashire) as well as Lincolnshire (Sleaford). Did Augusta simply find it easier/ simpler to declare her birth place as England?

The family has truly split now, with Johanna and 3 children moving to the coast, while Augusta stays in London, moving South of the river with William.

1902 Q1

The birth of Augusta Johanna Castle is registered in Wandsworth. The combination of the names, date, and location make it highly probable that this is a daughter of Augusta Castle (nee Lambert).


On the 8thDecember 1902, an article appears in the London standard appealing for the Rev Joseph Christopher Lambert to make himself known to a firm of solicitors in London (Sparks and Rickards of 32 Walbrook, City of London). As part of this, there is an equal appeal to people who know of his death to come forwards for a reward.

The nature of “something to his advantage” may well be a share of the estate from his father’s passing.


Unhelpfully all round, the partnership of Sparks and Rickards was dissolved on the 23rd May 1903.


On the 27th May 1903, probate is granted to Johanna Mary Lambert (widow).

The place of death is blank. £700 is a relatively modest sum of money by 2018 standards, however life as a missionary and churchman was more of a vocation than a career.

The probate record throws little further light on the situation, other that probate is granted intestate. In other words, Joseph had left no will.


The admission of Augusta Johanna Castle into the Raywood Street School, Wandsworth is recorded on the 3rd September 1906. Her date of birth is shown as 5th December 1901. It would seem that the registration of her birth was delayed a little.


The census shows Johanna Mary (widow) living at 8 Noakes Cottages, Polegate, Sussex (just North of Eastbourne) with her son Robert C A Lambert (aged 29 and born in St Helena). His occupation is listed as a “gardener”, she is simply “widowed”.

Has the award of probate released funds from Joseph’s estate, allowing Johanna to buy a property?

A census record from 1 Seymour Street, Wandsworth lists:

William Castle / Labourer / 48 (1863) / born Chelsea

Augusta Castle / / 48 (1863) / born Barrow in Furness, Lincolnshire

James Castle / / 14 (1897) / born Chelsea

Matilda Castle / / 11 (1900) / born Battersea

Augusta Castle / / 9 (1902) / born Battersea

This must be the same family as the 1901 census, with Mary having been married, or died. Something is odd about Augusta’s place of birth, as Barrow-in-Furness is in Lancashire… We looked this earlier, and it appears to be an amalgam of two places that Joseph spent time.


A death record for Johanna Mary Lambert (aged 71) is recorded in Hailsham in Q2 1916. This ties in very closely with her addresses in the 1901 and 1911 census records. She was buried in Hailsham Cemetery, plot 2017.

71 is a fair innings, especially given the tough time that she had experienced on her return to the UK.


Robert served in the 2/4thRoyal Sussex under regimental/ role number 4258, having undertaken his training in Milford, Surrey.

In 1916, Robert is serving as a Private in the 11th Battalion Royal Sussex regiment, service number G/115841 (G/15841). The 11th and 13th Batallion were collectively known as Lowther’s Lambs – named after MP Claude Lowther.

They fought battles in the Somme on the Ancre, The Battle of Thiepval Ridge, The Battle of the Ancre Heights, and the capture of the Schwaben Redoubt and Stuff Trench, as well as the Battle of the Ancre.

On Friday the 3rd of November 1916 Robert dies in the Somme, being buried in the Puchvillers Cemetery. Grave reference V. E. 38.

The regimental diary shows that the days leading up to his death were spent supporting the Schwaben Redoubt, with injuries being sustained as men were being moved to and from the line near Thiepval. On the 21st October, the capture of the “Stuff Trench” results in the injuries of 185 ORs. Later, on the 1st November as they are being relieved, 23 O.Rs (other ranks) are injured.

His military record showed that he “Died of his wounds”, so he may have been injured before the 3rd November, and possibly been in a field hospital. Injuries and deaths for “Other ranks” rarely carry the names, so there’s unlikely to be any more information.

His war record shows an amount being awarded to “Niece solely Augusta J Castle”. My assumption is that this is Augusta Johanna Castle – the daughter of Augusta Mary Lambert, born in 1865 on St Helena/ Barrow-in-Furness.


Wandsworth Electoral register : (2 Seymour Street) Augusta MCastle, William Castle


Wandsworth Electoral register : (2 Seymour Street) Augusta Johanna Castle, James William Castle, William Castle

Between 1923 and 1927

Death of spouse William Castle, unless they were divorced. This should be in Wandsworth.

1927 Q4

Death of Augusta M Castle in Wandsworth. It seems likely that this is Robert’s sibling, and mother of Augusta Johanna (the beneficiary of Robert’s war pension).

1927 November 25th

Burial of Augusta Martha Castle, b1865. Buried at Morden Parish, Surrey County Council. Reference P.63, L 502

1927 Q4

Marriage of Augusta J Castle with Ernest Yeomans in Wandsworth. Assume this is Augusta Johanna.


Wandsworth Electoral register (2 Seymour Street) : Augusta Johanna Yeomans, Ernest Yeomans, William Castle, James William Castle


Bexley Electoral register (129 The Green) : Augusta Johanna Yeomans, Ernest Yeomans, William James Castle


Dartford Electoral register (129 The Green) : Augusta Johanna Yeomans, Ernest Yeomans, William James Castle


Bexley Electoral register (129 The Green) : Augusta Johanna Yeomans, Ernest Yeomans, William James Castle

1939 Census

129 The Green, Bexley.

Augusta J Yeomans (5/12/1901) (nee Lambert)

Hazel P Holmes (nee Yeomans) (20/04/1929)

Reginald E Yeomans (24/06/1931)

Where was Ernest? Was he serving in the military?


Bexley Electoral register (129 The Green) : Augusta Johanna Yeomans, Ernest Yeomans, James W Castle, Stanley Holmes


Bexley Electoral register (129 The Green) : Augusta Johanna Yeomans, Ernest Yeomans, James W Castle, Stanley Holmes


Bexley Electoral register (129 The Green) : Augusta Johanna Yeomans, Ernest Yeomans, James W Castle


Bexley Electoral register (129 The Green) : Augusta Johanna Yeomans, Ernest Yeomans, Reginald E Yeomans, Enid Muriel Yeomans, James W Castle


Bexley Electoral register (129 The Green) : Ernest J Yeomans, Augusta J Yeomans, Reginald E Yeomans, Enid Muriel Yeomans


Ernest Yeomans of 129 The Green passes away on 18thJune 1956. Probate is granted on 11thJuly to Augusta Johanna Yeomans.


Bexley Electoral register (129 The Green) : Augusta Johanna Yeomans, James W Castle, Reginald E Yeomans, Enid Muriel Yeomans (nee Stallard)


Bexley Electoral register (129 The Green) : Augusta Johanna Yeomans, James W Castle, Stanley Holmes, Hazel P Holmes (nee Yeomans)


Bexley Electoral register (129 The Green) : Augusta Johanna Yeomans, James W Castle, Stanley Holmes, Hazel P Holmes (nee Yeomans)


Bexley Electoral register (129 The Green) : Augusta Johanna Yeomans, James W Castle, Stanley Holmes, Hazel P Holmes (nee Yeomans)


Bexley Electoral register (129 The Green) : Augusta Johanna Yeomans, James W Castle, Stanley Holmes, Hazel P Holmes


Bexley Electoral register (129 The Green) : Augusta Johanna Yeomans, James W Castle, Stanley Holmes, Hazel P Holmes

1980 June 6th

Probate for Augusta Johanna Yeomans of 6 Acworth Place, Dartford. Declared date of birth 5thDecember 1901. Probate granted 18thAugust 1980.

1984 January 9th

Death of Ernest J Yeomans. Buried 18thJanuary 1984. Greenwich.


As it stands, Joseph’s early life appears to have been one of travel, achievement, sacrifice, and hopefully contentment, marred only by the passing of young Alfred.

He appears to have travelled extensively, moving between Lancashire (Barrow-in-Furness), Lincolnshire (Sleaford), County Durham (Gainford), West Yorkshire (Hemsworth), Oxford University, Cambridge University, India (Madras), and St Helena (Jamestown). In the 21st century, the distances covered, and the time taken to cover these journeys would be manageable via air travel. In a time when sea travel was the only option, voyages would take weeks or months – aboard commercial ships.

Beyond his occupation as a clerk on holy orders, the DNA strand that ties his life together is his association with the Freemasons, and it is these records that help tie his movements together. Without these, it would be almost impossible to conclude that such seemingly disconnected places were indeed him.

His association with the Freemasons is unusual and unexplained, but it could explain differences between him and his deeply religious family. For reasons probably known only to him, wherever he went, he joined the local lodge. What support or assistance did he gain from this?

Life changed for the whole family in 1886, for reasons unknown. After all my research, and the kind help of a number of individuals, no account of his disappearance has come to light. The only practical conclusion to draw is that he took his own life, with the question being “Why?”

There is absolutely nothing concrete to suggest that the actions of Johanna were a catalyst for Joseph to disappear, however the speed with which she fell pregnant again (while he was still missing) do raise something of a flag. At the time of Joseph’s passing, she already had 5 living children, so it’s not as if she needed to bring another child into the world in order to preserve the family line. Was the pregnancy accidental, or was it calculated – designed to provide security for her and her children through a new head of the house?

Johanna then gives birth to an illegitimate child, sadly losing this child within 4 days. At some point between 1887 and 1888 she leaves her home island, her friends and her family, and arrives in London with her 5 children in tow.

While she had extended family in England, the decision to leave her home island and head for London hints at problems at “home”, and given that she didn’t seemingly gravitate towards Yorkshire equally points to not being embraced by her extended family.

For several years she and her children bounce between poor-houses. This time of rough living brings about the un-timely death of Alice, and the daily existence for the family must have been bleak.

By 1901, Augusta has married and moved to Wandsworth, while Johanna and the others have extricated themselves from the workhouse system, and moved to Eastbourne, where they are variously employed. While not glamorous, this appears more settled all round.

Once Joseph’s death is confirmed in 1905, and anything from his estate is disbursed, things look up, with a property in Polegate, near Eastbourne, until Johanna and then Robert die within 3 months of one-another in 1916.

Augusta’s line of the family appear to live a settled and conventional life in South and East London, and there’s every suggestion that there are living relatives to this day in the form of Yeomans or Holmes.


I’m sad that I haven’t found a photo of Joseph, as this would truly bring the story to life. Photos will, I am sure, exist from the 1860’s to 1886, and these will be found in family shoe boxes in the homes of Saints – from weddings, baptisms or possibly funerals. He’ll be standing there – not really the subject of the photo, but there none the less.

I don’t have a clear picture of Joseph in my mind, in terms of him as a person. I cannot help but feel that he is something of a Black Sheep in the family. I wonder if the more conventional members of the family struggled to accept him, and his constant movement was in pursuit of something. His association with the Freemasons, coupled with what appears to be a foot-loose nature lead me to think that he was unsettled for much of his life. There is little doubt that his intentions were good – with his time in the church, working as part of the SPG and as a teacher.

Unresolved points/ queries

  • First and foremost is where, when, and how did Joseph die?
  • Related to the first question, assuming he committed suicide, is why did he take his own life?
  • If the workhouse record for Augusta Lambert is “ours”, what happened to her baby?
  • Where and when was Augusta Mary Lambert born?
  • What became of Mary Margaret Lambert? Did she marry, die, or leave the country?


This page is the text taken from a substantial document about The Rise and Fall of Joseph Christopher Lambert that I have compiled over the last 6 months regarding the life of Joseph and his family. It has only been made possible by the very kind help of a number of individuals that I have not met, and do not know, including:

  • Chris Hillman
  • Ian Mathieson
  • Ian Bruce

My sincere thanks to each of these individuals.

I have a large number of images that have taken many hours to locate, and where I have had to pay to purchase them. In the spirit of genealogy, I am more than happy to share these with people who take the time to say “Hi”, and to introduce their interest in this small part of world history.