Charles Joseph George Smith
1848, Winchester, Hampshire – ????
Organist from c. 1897

He was the eldest of at least six children born to the police superintendent Charles Viner Smith (1821, Brockworth or Hucclecote, Gloucestershire – 15th September 1883, Yeovil, Somerset), son of Daniel Smith. Charles Viner married his first wife on 25th October 1843 at St Paul’s, Portland Square, Bristol – she was Sarah, daughter of John Collins. She had died by 19th January 1847, when Charles Viner married his second wife Betsy Elisabeth Cockbill (1820, Birlingham, Worcestershire – late 1871, Yeovil) in Birlingham. She was one of five children born to the agricultural labourer Joseph Cockbill (1795, Worcestershire – 1868, Birlingham) and his wife Diana (1796, Worcestershire – 1855, Birlingham).

Charles Joseph’s siblings were Jessie or Elizabeth Jessey (1852, Ringwood, Hampshire), Laura Ann (1854, Ringwood), Alfred Harry (1855, Chichester, West Sussex), Daniel Orlando (1857, Chichester) and Ralph George (1858, Somerton, Somerset). Judging by their children’s varied birthplaces, Charles Viner and his wife seem to have moved around frequently, probably to follow his work in the police. Charles Viner was widowed late in 1871 and remarried again late in 1873 in the Alderbury district of Wiltshire to Ellen Hill (1836, Ash Martock, Somerset). The couple were living at the police station in Yeovil in 1881, though it had moved from Wine Street to Union Street since 1871. By 1881 all of Charles Viner’s children had died or moved out. He was still working in 1881 and on his death two years later was buried in Yeovil.

The Western Gazette reports on a ‘local boy made good’, March 1878.

Charles Joseph was christened in Winchester on 26 April 1848. In 1851 and 1861 he was living with his parents at the police station in Ringwood and Yeovil respectively. On 16th February 1870 he was advertising music lessons and the sale of his own music on the front page of The Western Gazette and Flying Post, stating he was a “Professor of Music and Organist at St Bartholomew’s Church, Crewkerne”. Soon afterwards he seems to have moved to the Lincolnshire port of Grimsby. He was already recorded as an organist there by March 1870, though the press in south-west England still kept track of his compositions1 He is also recorded as conducting part songs from the piano at a garden concert in the village of Scartho just south of Grimsby on 9th August 1870, raising money for the village to buy an organ – the songs included one of his own compositions, “Come o’er the sea”. 2 By 1871 he had moved back to Crewkerne, where he was recorded as an organist and the music director of an entertainment at the George Assembly Room on 10th February and as one of three lodgers in a retired baker’s household on Mount Pleasant on 2nd April3. In the census that year he gave his profession as “Professor of Music”.

The news report of the Assembly Room concert.

Charles Joseph married Elizabeth Salter Lane (1847, Winkleigh, Devon) in 1875 in the Chard district of Somerset. She was the grand-daughter of the machine maker William Salter (1778, Winkleigh – before 1861) through his daughter Sarah (1810, Winkleigh – late 1888, Torrington district, Devon). Sarah had married William Lane sometime before 1843 and the couple had two children, Elizabeth and George Salter Lane (1843, Winkleigh). However, William Lane died before 1851, by which date Sarah and both their children had moved in with her retired widower father William Salter at his household on North Street in Winkleigh.

Also in William Salter’s household in 1851 was his younger spinster daughter Grace (1818, Winkleigh – early 1893, Crediton district, Devon), then working as his housekeeper. Elizabeth was a schoolmistress in both 1851 and 1861 and by the latter date had moved to Hunstham in Devon to run a small school there, with Grace as an assistant schoolmistress and Elizabeth as one of the school’s pupils. All three women were living in a cottage attached to the school in 1861 and Sarah and Grace were still there in 1871, still working as schoolmistress and teacher. The pair had moved into the School House in Huntsham by 1881, when they were stated to be Mistress and Assistant Mistress for “Infant[s] and Sewing”. Grace then retired from teaching and by 1891 was living in Coldridge in Devon in the household of Samuel Vicary (1838, Bondleigh, Devon), husband of her niece Elizabeth Salter (1842, Winkleigh).

News report of the birth of the couple’s short-lived son in 1884,

Elizabeth Salter Lane took on her mother’s profession and by 1871 was lodging with an agricultural labourer and his family at Stratford House in Oxlinch, now part of Randwick, a village near Stroud in Gloucestershire. She seems to have continued in this profession after her marriage, since in the 1911 census she is recorded as a teacher employed by the London County Council. Charles Joseph and Elizabeth had eight children born alive before 1911, but three of these had also died before 1911, namely May Flora (May 1879, Perth – 30th September 1879, Perth), a son (20th July 1880, 1 or 3 Charlotte Place, Perth) and a daughter (July 1884, New Road House, Forfar). They also had a still-born son in July 1880 in Perth. The five survivors were Helen M (1878, Perth), Edward Salter (1881, Scotland), Charles A (1883, Forfar), Edith C (1886, Forfar) and Norah B (1888, Forfar).

The late 1870s saw Charles Joseph and his family move to Scotland. In March 1878 he conducted a concert by the Amateur Musical Society in Brechin, Scotland, at which time he was already recorded as the “accomplished organist” of St Ninian’s Cathedral in Perth.4, a post he seems to have held until the late 1880s. In 1881 he was appointed conductor of the Choral Union in Forfar, a town in which he is also recorded as organist at St John’s Episcopal Church in 1882 and 1886. On census night in 1881 his wife Elizabeth was living at 3 Charlotte Place in Perth with her daughter Helen, whereas Charles Joseph himself was boarding at the Royal Hotel on Castle Street in Forfar.

Two adverts for Smith’s various musical services (Western Gazette, 9th September 1870 and Alloa Advertiser, 2nd October 1880). He was clearly aiming at a comfortable or even wealthy clientele – 4 shillings would be just over a day’s wages for a common labourer in London, whilst 3 guineas (ie £3 3 s) represented half a year’s wages for a live-in maid.

On 25th September 1890 Charles Joseph was recorded as the organist at St Mary’s, Hornsey Rise, which is also borne out by the 1891 census, which shows him, his wife and children living at 18 Hornsey Rise. On 14th February 1899 Charles Joseph was recorded as attending a bell ringers’ guild supper in Broadwindsor in Dorset as the organist5, though he and his wife were back in Hornsey Rise by the time of the census in 1901, when they were living at 65 Hazelville Road with Charles A, Edith and Norah. By then Charles A and Edith were both already in employment as a clerk and an apprentice milliner respectively. In 1891, 1901 and 1911 Charles Joseph gave his occupation as organist and music instructor or teacher, showing that he was continuing to give private lessons rather than work at a school.

Helen was out of her parents’ house on census night in 1901. Instead she was living and working as a music teacher at Lindisfarne College, a private boys’ school in Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex. By 1911 she had moved back in with her parents and two of her siblings (Charles and Norah). In the census that year they were all living at 28 Claremont Road, Highgate. Helen was had switched careers to work as a musical accompanist and Charles had become a clerk at Lloyd’s of London. Sometime between 1901 and 1911 Norah had also followed her mother, grandmother and sister into teaching.

  1. The Western Gazette and Flying Post, 5 March 1870, page 7
  2. The Lincolnshire Chronicle, 12th August 1870, page 5
  3. The Western Gazette and Flying Post, 17th February 1871, page 7
  4. Dundee Evening Telegraph, 6th March 1878, page 4
  5. Western Gazette, 17th February 1899, page 7