Narrative by (DS):
John Matthew James GUMMET, born on the 18th August 1811, would have been 11 years old when his father died and 16 when his mother remarried. Unsurprisingly John took after his father and became a Mariner.
He did not, however, stay in Wapping. Could it have been that his mother's remarriage precipitated a step out into the world on his own? Whatever the reason, it is clear that John's maritime life soon led him to the north-east. There would have been regular sea traffic from Newcastle and its environs down and back to London. In some fashion, John GUMMET joined it.
Furthermore, on his journeys north, he met and married a Geordie lass. On the 29th November 1835, John married Ann KIPPING in Wallsend. They were both 24 years old. John's links with Wapping may well have been severed by now and he made his home in Tynemouth, on the estuary of the River Tyne, for the rest of his life.
His first child, a daughter, he named Henrietta. Was this after his mother? Henrietta was christened on the 10th September 1837. They came to live in Stephenson Street in Tynemouth and John became a 'Pilot'.
The tough fortunes of this, the mid-nineteenth century, were soon to hit John GUMMET. Firstly, on the 4th July 1852, Henrietta died. She was fourteen years old and had been suffering from Phthisis for two years. Then his wife, Ann, died. They had had no other children and so John GUMMET, now in his fifties, found himself alone in life.
John remarried. His second wife was Elizabeth SMITH, a 36 year-old unmarried woman from Scotland. They married at a Wesleyan Chapel in Tynemouth on the 19th August 1866.
Although a little late in life perhaps, John began a second period of fatherhood but sadly with equal tragedy. Their daughter, Elizabeth, died soon after her birth in 1867. In 1869, a son, John William GUMMET, was born.
The family moved to Bell Street in the Anchor Quay area of Tynemouth, close to John's previous address. In 1871, a second son, Alfred Elias GUMMET, was born but he too died in that same year. In 1875, another son was born and he was given his unfortunate elder brother's name but he too died in the year of his birth. So, John had fathered five children of whom four had now died. There would be no more - Elizabeth was in her late forties. Their son, born in 1869, would survive.
In January 1872, John Matthew James GUMMET was the victim of some petty theft when one Margaret COOK stole a quanity of wearing apparel and some bed clothes. The trial was reported in the Sheilds Daily Gazette in February 1872. (CRK)
John Matthew James GUMMET died in the Union Workhouse in Tynemouth, aged 80, on the 23rd December 1893. He was suffering from 'Senectus' (basically old age). His widow, Elizabeth, many years his junior, lived until she was 76 but she too had gone to the Workhouse and she died in the Infirmary on the 18th December 1910.
The ensuing tale of this branch of the GUMMET family stems from John and Elizabeth's one surviving son - John William GUMMET.