Mrs Sophia HIGGINS, née Randell (1808–1873)
Her daughter Miss Jane HIGGINS (1837–1858)
Her niece Miss Elizabeth TUBB (1817–1858)
St Paul section: Row 18, Grave E9½ [St Paul ref. L15]
WIFE OF CHARLES HIGGINS
OF NEW ROAD, OXFORD
WHO DIED JULY 17, 1873
AGED 68 YEARS.
ALSO OF JANE
DAUGHTER OF THE ABOVE
WHO DIED MAY 13, 1858
AGED 21 YEARS.
ALSO ELIZABETH TUBB
WHO DIED APRIL 13, 1858
AGED 41 YEARS
This grave marker was evidently erected following the death of Mrs Sophia Higgins in 1873, as the names of the daughter and niece who predeceased her are added at the end of the inscription. No mention is made of the earlier burial of John Beesley recorded in the sexton's notebook (see below0
Sophia Randell (later Mrs Higgins) was born in Oxford in 1804 and baptised at St Giles's Church on 27 July. She was the daughter of George Randell and Elizabeth Hall, who were married at St Giles's Church on 10 September 1796. Three of Sophia's siblings were also baptised at St Giles's Church: William Randell (1801), Thomas Randell (1806), and Mary Randell (1808). Sophia's eldest sibling Elizabeth Randell, who was baptised at Holywell Church in 1797, was the mother of Miss Elizabeth Tubb, the first person buried in this grave.
On 3 August 1835 at St Giles's Church, Sophia Randell married the wheelwright Charles Higgins of St Mary Magdalen parish, and they had two children:
- Jane Higgins (born in St Thomas's parish, Oxford in 1837 and baptised at St Thomas's Church on 6 September)
- George Randell Higgins (born in Oxford in St Thomas's parish, Oxford in 1844 and baptised at St Thomas's Church on 10 November).
At the time of the 1841 census Charles and Sophia were living with their daughter Jane (3) at Park End Street in St Thomas's parish, where Charles presumably had his wheelwright's shop.
In 1851 Sophia Higgins (46) was still at Park End Street with her husband Charles (45), who now described himself as a wheelwright employing two boys, and their children Jane (13) and George (6), who were still at school. Sophia's niece Miss Elizabeth Tubb (33), an annuitant, was paying them a visit.
Sophia's husband Charles Higgins died in St Thomas's parish, Oxford in April 1853. His burial on 22 April is recorded in the parish register of St Giles's Church, so he may have been buried in an existing grave in that churchyard.
Mrs Higgins moved with her children to Union Street in Jericho, and her niece Miss Tubb went with them.
Miss Elizabeth Tubb
Elizabeth Tubb was born in Oxford in 1817 and baptised at St Giles's Church on 13 July. She was the daughter of James Tubb of St Mary Magdalen parish who married Elizabeth Randell (the older sister of Mrs Sophia Higgins above) at St Giles's Church on 15 August 1816. Her three younger siblings were also baptised at St Giles's Church: James (1818), Maria (1822), and Sophia (1825).
At the time of the 1841 census Elizabeth Tubb (24) was living in Union Street in Jericho with her father James (50), who was a schoolmaster, her mother Elizabeth (43), and her younger sister Sophia (15), who was a dressmaker.
At the time of the 1851 census Elizabeth Tubb (33), an annuitant, was paying a visit to Charles & Sophia Higgins at Park End Street in St Thomas's parish.
She moved with them to Union Street, where she died in 1858:
† Miss Elizabeth Tubb died at Union Street, Jericho at the age of 41 on 13 April 1858 and was buried at St Sepulchre’s Cemetery on 18 April (burial recorded in the parish register of St Paul's Church).
The sexton's notebook shows that Elizabeth Tubb was indeed buried in this grave in the area that St Paul's described as L.15, but it was not the first burial here, as John Beesley, who died at Union Street at the age of 59, had been buried in this grave seven years earlier on 21 July 1851 at a depth of 7ft 6 in. Born in Oxford in c.1791, at the time of the 1851 census he was living at Union Street with his wife Elizabeth. It is uncertain how he is connected to Mrs Higgins.
Sophia Higgins's daughter Jane died less than a month after Miss Tubb, and was buried in the same grave:
† Miss Jane Higgins died at Union Street at the age of 21 on 13 May 1858 and was buried at St Sepulchre’s Cemetery on 16 May (burial recorded in the parish register of St Paul's Church).
At the time of the 1861 census Mrs Sophia Higgins, a widow of 56, was working as a nurse at the Industrial School at Cowley, and her son George (17) was an apprentice draper in Deddington.
Her son was married in 1870:
- On 7 September 1870 at Stoke Newington Church, London, Charles Randell Higgins (26) of Camberwell married Mary Ann Prince (23), the daughter of the plumber Henry Prince.
In 1871 Mrs Higgins (66) was lodging at a house in Worcester Street, Oxford and stated in the census that she was supported by her son.
Mrs Higgins must have moved to Camberwell to live with her son George soon after that census, as she died there in 1873, and her body was brought back to Oxford for burial with her daughter:
† Mrs Sophia Higgins née Randell died in Camberwell, London at the age of 68 in mid-1873 and was buried at St Sepulchre’s Cemetery (burial recorded in the parish register of St Paul's Church).
According to this grave marker, the date of her death was 17 July 1873; but her burial is recorded in the St Paul's parish register as having taken place on 21 June, so obviously one of these is wrong. As dates are consecutive in the register, it seems likely that the grave marker should read “17 June”.
The surviving son of Mrs Sophia Higgins
- George Randell Higgins (born 1844) was a draper aged 26 in 1871, living over his shop at 3 Rye Lane, Peckham, London with his wife Mary Ann (23), two assistants, two apprentices, and their servant: this shop was to become the Jones & Higgins department store, Peckham's most prestigious shop. They had nine children: Charles Henry Higgins (1872), Jane Alice Higgins (1874), Kate Constance Higgins (1876), Rachael Higgins (1877, died 1881), George Herbert Higgins (1879), Douglas Stanley Higgins (1880), Gertrude Higgins (1882), Eleanor Mary Higgins (1887), and Mabel Annie Higgins (1888). At the time of the 1881 census George and Mary Ann were living in their own house at Elms Lodge, Clapham with Rachael (4), George (2), and Douglas (1), plus two servants. By 1901 George (56) described himself as a director of a drapery business, and was living at Court Lane, Camberwell with his wife and their sons George (22), who was a barrister's assistant, and Douglas (21), who was a draper, and their daughter Gertrude (19), plus a cook and three housemaids. In 1911 he and his wife were on holiday at the Empire Hotel in Bath, and had brought their own two servants with them. Their son Douglas was killed in France in 1917 in the First World War. George Randell Higgins died at The Croft, Burcot, Oxfordshire at the age of 75 on 29 August 1920. His effects came to £183,856 2s. 11d.