A family tree of the Randell family originating in North Norfolk
Thomas Randell ~ The Randell Warm Seawater Baths ~ Clockmakers ~ Ironmongers ~ Postmasters ~ Sailors ~ Victorians

home | individuals | family trees [pre-1841] [post-1841] | early randells | north walsham | search | links | facts

John Ephraim RANDELL 1866

John Ephraim Randell was born in 10 November 1866 in Cromer. He was the second child and only boy born to John Randell and his wife Sarah Kirby. He was born two years after the death of his grandfather Thomas Randell the clock maker and at the time of his birth his mother was aged 28 and his father 34 years. John Ephraim is something of an riddle, he may be the classic black sheep of the family. Either way the retelling of our family history hasn't been kind to John E. My grandfather, his son, remained singularly unimpressed.
As a boy John Ephraim lived with his parents and sisters in Brooke Street before moving to West Street. In 1881 aged fifteen he was recorded employed as a groom. However, in West St. the Randell's lived next door to George Pull a prominent local butcher and this may have influenced his later career as a butcher.
According to my Grandmother, at least part of his actives as a butcher included travelling to small holdings or local farmers to slaughter and dress meat for the owners own consumption. In the late Victorian period most rural communities would have allotments or gardens growing fruit trees, vegetables, dairy and pigs. My Great Aunt Lily recalled her brothers would assist in slaughtering pigs. She also recounted that he worked mainly in his 'own' high street butchers shop. He certainly worked in a shop, whether he owned it, I'm unsure.
On the home front John Ephraim married Charlotte Phebe Durrant in the October quarter of 1885. The wedding was registered in the Erpingham District but is not recorded in any local parish register. Charlotte was an 18 year old bride and their first child Frederick Thomas was born 19 December 1885. Frederick was baptised at the Church of St Peter and St. Paul, central Cromer and our groom John, nineteen at the time, was identified as a butcher.
As to why the wedding doesn't appear in the same church register, I really don't know. It also seems likely that Charlotte's father, John, had died by 1885 and her mother, Mary Ann (Abbs) Durrant was similarly missing in action.
durrant sisters
Charlotte Phebe and Martha Durrant
John, Charlotte and their expanding family lived most of their lives in Chesterfield Villas, an apparent haven for Randells, at different times as many as five Randell families lived there.
John Ephraim and Charlotte Phebe ultimately had eleven children together but the 1911 census shows that three died. Sons, James Ephraim and John Ephraim both died before their first birthday and Edith May died as a two year old.
John Ephraim Randell, who is my great grandfather, is something of an enigma because his children offered widely differing views of his personality. On the positive side his sister named one of her children after him, suggesting that at one point he was inspirational. The first significant indication of his decline is possibly hidden in the 1911 census. Besides the fact that he was no longer a butcher, the form was filled out and signed in a very rickety hand by Charlotte, who for what ever reason had a great deal of difficulty with many aspects of the form.
The details reveal that in 1911 John Ephraim was working as a general labourer. (Two other sources suggest he was still a butcher in 1914.) It also shows that in 1911 they were celebrating 25 years of marriage and their youngest child was born within the last seven years.
1911 census

John Ephraim Randell killed himself aged 62, 8 July 1928 in the care of Beckham House, the hospital wing of the one time workhouse. His death certificate states "Drowned himself in a water tub whilst in a state of unsound mind". An inquest, which referred to him as 'John E Randall, Butcher" was held two days after his death but no post mortem was carried out as it was concluded his death was suicide. He was buried in Cromer New Cemetery, sharing a grave with his eldest son Frederick Thomas, who died some years before whilst a patient of Suffolk County Asylum.
A report on page 12 of the Eastern Daily Press, 11 July 1928 elaborated on the circumstances of his demise. It stated he had entered at West Beckham, 4 August 1927 and was seriously crippled with a diseased bone in his foot. This had left him on crutches with little mobility and bed bound for several months prior to his death. In fact, he was re-admitted on the 4 August, having been discharged three days earlier. Minutes of the West Beckham House Committee, 9 July 1928 reveal he was originally admitted 18 June 1927 and significantly his sister Mrs Sarah England, not his wife Charlotte, filled the roll as 'next of kin' and later organised the funeral.
Resident physician, Dr King, said "Mr Randell was cheerful at first, but later became depressed and thought he would never get better." On the morning of his death Olive Turner, Sister in charge of the Infirmary, had dressed his foot at 9.00am and helped him to a seat overlooking the gardens. About 9.13 he was found head first in a half filled water butt, one of his crutches was against the wall and the other was on the ground.
The Coroner concluded he "could not have fallen into the tub accidentally and undoubtedly he had been worrying and took his life on an impulse." Typically less than 2 percent of all suicides involve drowning.
By the time he took his own life he had been in hospital almost 13 months.
The newspaper article doesn't make any reference to his wife, family life or a funeral, yet they also refer to him as "a butcher of Cromer".
The "Pillow of Shallots" asserts he was a butcher for 29 years and of good character, despite of course, being found guilty at the end of the 'Pillow case'.
It's not entirely clear but I understand that Charlotte & John were separated at the time of his death. Anecdotally, John was said to be a difficult or erratic character whilst Charlotte having raised the children, had left both her husband, Cromer and followed her daughters to London.
Rather disturbingly, two of their children also took their own lives, another died whilst in the care of an asylum and three died as infants. Stating the obvious, John Ephraim seems to have been suffering clinical depression at the point of his death. It's equally possible that depression played a significant role in the breakup of his marriage and the decline in his career. On the up side his remaining five children, which included my grandfather, lived full, happy, productive and 'normal' if not slightly eccentric lives.

John Ephraim and Charlotte Phebe had the following children:

Frederick Thomas RANDELL 1886 Cromer, Norfolk.
James Ephraim RANDELL 1887 Cromer, Norfolk.
Ernest Henry RANDELL 1889 Cromer, Norfolk.
James Albert RANDELL 1891 Cromer, Norfolk.
Edith May RANDELL 1893 Cromer, Norfolk.
William RANDELL 1895 Cromer, Norfolk.
Pheobe Margaret RANDELL 1896 Cromer, Norfolk.
John Ephraim RANDELL 1898 Cromer, Norfolk.
Harold Walter RANDELL 1900 Cromer, Norfolk.
Gladys Mary RANDELL 1893 Cromer, Norfolk.
Mabel Lilian RANDELL 1905 Cromer, Norfolk.

ANCESTRY ~ Clement / Thomas / John / John Ephraim

Charlotte Phebe DURRANT 1867

Charlotte Phebe Durrant was the daughter of farmer and carter/carrier John Durrant and his wife Mary Ann Abbs. She was born 18 August 1867 in West Street, Cromer.
Her mother, Mary Ann Abbs, was born 13 November 1828 and christened in Runton, three days later. Mary Ann was the daughter of Thomas Abbs, a farmer/smallholder and Phoebe Clark. Mary
Ann Abbs became the mother of Charlotte Phebe by a circuitous route. Before marrying John Durrant, Mary Ann Abbs had married another carter/carrier called Edwin Beasy, 30 July 1855 in Cromer. Edwin was the son of Priscilla Chestnutt and Fishmonger John Beasy.
The union of Mary Ann and Edwin produced a child, Phoebe Priscilla Beasy, born 3 August 1856. Phoebe Priscilla were the combined first names of her two grandmothers.
Unfortunately, Edwin Beasy died 1 November 1856, only months after the birth of his daughter. The situation degenerated further when baby Phoebe Priscilla Beasy also died, 12 April 1857. They are buried together in the graveyard of The Church of St Peter & St Paul, Cromer. The grave is easy to identify to this day.edwin
Enter John Durrant. Mary Ann Beasy (formally Abbs) married John Durrant, 7 May 1857 at St Peter Church, Norwich. This appears to be only 25 days after the death of her daughter and just over six months after the death of Edwin. The newly married couple returned to Cromer and almost exactly one year later, 2 May 1858, their eldest child Martha Jane Durrant was born. It was another nine years before Charlotte Phebe Durrant appeared in September 1867.
John Durrant was a farmer, living in West St but managing modest 8 acre property in Holt Road. There was a large well on his land, and when it rained heavily the overflow water would run down the centre of West St. He also had a carrying or carting business which transported general freight from Cromer's recently opened train station. This would have undoubtedly been a simple horse drawn wagon.
John was considerably older than Mary Ann. He was born in Alby, Norfolk around 1813, the son of farmer Thomas Durrant who also hailed from Alby. There is a wonderful insight into the horizons of Thomas Durrant in the 1851 census. Thomas recorded his eldest children as been born in Alby and the younger children as born in Thwaite. Today the area is called Ably with Thwaite and extends the length of Goose Lane, a walk of five minutes at most. However, Thomas clearly had a taste for exotic women as his wife Mary, came from far flung Erpingham well over two kilometres away.
Charlotte grew up in West St, very close to the Randell's home. Charlotte, Martha and their mother Mary Ann were listed as washerwomen in an early census but this was later amended to laundresses, a more gentile interpretation perhaps.
Charlotte Phebe married John Ephraim Randell in October 1885. She was 18 at the time and Frederick their first child was born within weeks of the marriage.
Charlotte's sister, Martha or 'Aunt Martha' married farmer Henry Cook Ransome but remained very central to the family of John Ephraim, she appears to have occupied the role of matriarch. My grandmother recalled that Christmas and significant events were invariably held at Aunt Martha's. Martha and Henry had no children of their own but Charlotte's eldest boy Frederick, was recorded in the 1901 census staying at the Ransome's home. In that same 1901 census, both Henry and Martha are recorded as employers in their separate enterprises, Henry a Farmer and Martha a Laundress. My experience has been that neighbours can provide invaluable insights or at worst a broader understanding of the circumstance of the area. In the case of "Aunt Martha" several of her immediate neighbours are interestingly employed as laundresses. Other neighbours are Farmers, Grocers , Drapers, a Schoolmaster, a Photographer (very impressive) and finally a Parish Missionary, who it seems travelled from Hackney, London to bring some salvation to the Godless souls of Runton.
My grandmother recalled that Charlotte Phebe was "not well", had a nervous disposition and suffered from "heart burn or ingestion". Given that she bore eleven children, three of which died as infants, that her eldest son Frederick was institutionalised and her husband killed himself, it's a difficult observation to interpret with any clarity. I also so feel the photograph of the two Durrant girls has something of a pet and owner feel.charlotte

Charlotte Phebe Randell's Last Will & Testament.
The Will was drawn up in 1933 by solicitor Stanley Evans & Co of Camden. Charlotte's home address was stated as 'Bramber', Granville Road, Barnet, Hertfordshire. The two witnesses to sign the document were Lucy Madgett and Catherine Wright? And both lived in Granville Road, with Lucy at the same address as Charlotte. Granville Road still exists and comprises of luxurious six bedrooms detached period homes, from which we can perhaps conclude Charlotte Phebe was a house maid or housekeeper.
Charlotte's entire estate valued at 141 pounds, 6 shillings and 5 pence was left to her youngest daughter Aunt Lilly, this would equate to the value of a house.
The death certificate records the location of death as 35 Gilmore Road, Lewisham, the home of Aunt Lilly, but her son James Albert completed all the documents and was present at her death. His address was recorded as 132 Downton Avenue, Streatham Hill some 6 miles from Aunt Lilly in Lewisham and 19 miles from Barnet.
Charlotte Phebe Randell died, 4 April 1934, aged 66 years, Widow, late of Granville Road, Barnet.
There is no indication in the Will of what form the Estate takes i.e. cash, property, chattels etc. And significantly no explanation of why Lilly (Mabel Lillian) was the sole heir whilst her similarly situated spinster sister, Cissy (Phoebe Margaret) was entirely omitted.
The circumstances surrounding the suicide of John Ephraim are rather hazy, but my grandmother gave the impression that the Randell family had fallen on hard times, but in defiance of this view, Charlotte's Will show assets that would comfortably buy a good house in Norfolk in 1935, it was after all the end of the Great Depression.
Aunt Martha, matriarch and potential benefactor was still alive at the death of her younger sister Charlotte, and just to confound things even further, she left her money, well over a thousand pounds, to her spinster niece on her husband's side. So presumably we have to conclude the money came from the estate of her late husband John Ephraim, who it must be said, had the misfortune to die in impoverished circumstances.
To quote Ned Kelly at his execution, "Such is life".


John Ephraim Randell was charged with larceny of 12lbs of shallots.
PC Barker, on duty on Holt Road, 1 November, (1921) at 3.15am, saw a man pushing through the hedge surrounding the allotments. PC Barker suspecting him of possessing stolen property made a search of his bag finding the shallots.
Mr Gregory, Ironmonger of Cromer said he held the allotment and had hung some shallots in the shed which were now missing. At the police station he was shown a bunch of shallots similar to those grown by him. He valued them at 4s.
Mr Randell told the bench, he had missed the last train from Sheringham opting reluctantly to walk home but becoming tied had laid down to rest in the shed putting the shallots in a bag for a pillow. He had no intention of stealing the shallots and would have taken them from the bag had he not been scared by the noises which turned out to be PC Barker.
Mr Randell a butcher in Cromer for 29 years was of good character, with no previous convictions. The Bench took a lenient course fining him ten shillings and warning him to not prowl about other people allotments.
Friday, 18 November 1921, Norfolk Chronicle.

Hi, I would love to hear from you. I would be thrilled to receive any contributions or even corrections.
If you are connected to this family tree please say hello, Martin -