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Edmund Spain

9 Lower Street

Occupation: Cabinetmaker, Upholsterer, House Agent & Auctioneer

9 Lower Street pre 1874

Edmund Spain was born in 1782 he was the third of the ten children of Valentine Spain and Judith Low Long. From Finches Directory, of 1803 and The London & County Directory, of 1811, we know that Valentine was one of the town’s Coal Merchants. He was also a church warden and in 1801 he was one of the Overseers for the parish and, as such, he ‘received’ the poor rates collected in April of that year, the total of which was £141.1.2d. In today’s money that would translate to approximately £6,216.85. These monies would have been used to provide the poor of the parish with either financial or domestic help such as shoes, clothing or food.   

 Edmund Spain 

 In 1796 the  fourteen year old Edmund was apprenticed to Cabinetmaker Samuel Hadley of Deal. He would have completed his apprenticeship, which was usually seven years, by about 1803 he probably then worked as a Journeyman before setting up in business on his own. He became a Freeman of the town in 1809 enabling him to trade in his own right. From 1810 onwards he was a very active auctioneer in the town. 

Illustrated London News – Saturday 25 September 1847

Looking through the adverts placed in the Kent newspapers we can see that he was auctioning a whole variety of items large and small. These auctions took place in or outside many of the pubs or when selling boats or fishing tackle, on the beach.  


 Mrs Sarah Spain  

In September 1810 Edmund married widow Sarah Clayson, nee Collman, she had married her first husband Mark Clayson in Stokenham Devon in February 1805. Why they married there we don’t know, though, the register says that she was “of that parish” and he was from Deal.  

Sarah was actually born in Deal in 1788 and was the fourth of five children born to Schoolmaster William Collman and his wife Sarah Dadd both of whom died within a year of each other in 1797 and 1798 respectively.  

In 1792, Elizabeth, Sarah’s elder sister, married John Clayson in St. Leonard’s Church, Deal. As he was Mark’s older brother it seems more than likely that the two families were fairly well known to each other.  

So quite what Sarah was doing in Stokenham for her to be married there we don’t know. Her mother’s maiden name was Rodd, an unusual name that has more prevalence in Devon than in Kent. So maybe following the death of her parents she was sent to live with family? If this were true we would expect at least one family member to have been witnesses to her  marriage, but they were not. The marriage was witnessed by William and Grace Valentine. To date, we have been unable to discover a link between the Valentines, the Collman’s or the Clayson families. The marriage was also by license which suggests they were in a hurry to marry and as Sarah was only seventeen at the time she would have needed her guardians consent to do so. 

Whatever the reasons or story behind this marriage they returned soon after to Deal where sadly by the end of the year Mark died. He was buried on 2 December 1805 in St. Nicholas’ Church, Ringwould. The Clayson family it seems had kept their links with Ringwould after they moved into Deal, in the late 1700s, as both Mark, his father and other Clayson family members were buried there. 

Whether Sarah, after the death of her husband, lived with her inlaw’s or returned to her own family we don’t know. But in 1808 her father-in-law, William Clayson, died and she is mentioned in his will which seems to say that on the death of her motherinlaw she would receive some form of inheritance of gift. Her motherinlaw, Ann Clayson, died in 1822 and Sarah, now married to Edmund Spain, gets no mention in her will. 

9 Lower Street 

Kentish Weekly Post or Canterbury Journal – Tuesday 20 July 1824

We know that from at least 6 April 1819 that Edmund was leasing 9 Lower Street which was both his home and business premises. The property was later to become today’s Nat. West Bank. 9 Lower Street and several other properties in the town were held in trust for Sarah Milner thus giving her an income to live off. The trust was managed on her behalf, as was common in those times, by male trustees. One of these was local surgeon William Hulke snr. In 1822 Sarah Milner died and as requested in her will all her properties were to be sold and the monies divided between her children. So it was in 1824 that Edmund found himself auctioning off Sarah Milner’s estate including his own home and business premises.  

 His lease still had nine years to run at this time, so it is fair to assume that this must have been an unsettling, if not worrying time, for Edmund. He must have been asking himself who would the new owner be and what sort of Landlord they would make? To make matters worse an adequate price on auction day was not reached.  

William Hulke snr  made an offer which was accepted and the freehold then stayed in the ownership of the Hulke family until 1875. Edmund must have breathed a sigh of relief as he was then able to continue to live and run his business from 9 Lower Street. 

In 1826 Sarah’s brother William Collman died and she is also mentioned in his will in which she would be entitled to receive a fifth of his estate, but only upon the death of his wife, Mary. Perhaps it is in recognition of this that Edmund and Sarah named their daughter, born in October 1826, Elizabeth Clayson Spain. William Collman also put in place trustees for his wife Mary’s benefit and William Hulke jnr along with her brother, John Oakley Burgess, were appointed. Mary Collman died in 1869 leaving £1,500.  

Signed Edmund Spain Invoice dated 1828 Deal Museum P/SP/1/2

Edmund throughout the 1820s, 1830s and early 1840s continued to work as an auctioneer and in 1841 he had two notable commissions. 

 Following the failure of the Hulke, Dixon & Co Bank in July 1841  Edmund was the auctioneer employed to sell off the estates of William Hulke jnr, his brother Benjamin and brother in law John East Dixon. When William Hulke snr died in 1838 the freehold of 9  Lower Street was put in a trust, administered by John Hardy and Robert Read,for the benefit of his wife Elizabeth Pollard Hulke. So, although owned by a Hulke family member, the bankruptcy did not affect Edmund.  

 Also in 1841 Edmund was employed to auction off  the contents of ‘Park House’. Park House was once the home of George & Hannah Smith the property itself was eventually sold in 1847 and demolished to make way for a new road named Park Street. 

Municipal Election 

In 1843 Edmund took part in the local Municipal Elections, standing as a Conservative. Perhaps he was unhappy with the way that the Burgesses were running the town so decided to put himself up for election to represent the South Ward. It seems that he took part in a lively debate with Richard SW Goymer who was standing for the Whigs. They were also known as Radicals. Edmund did not win the  debate but a fellow conservative John Hutchinson won the seat they were contending for. 


South Eastern Gazette – Tuesday 12 August 1845

Tragically, in 1845, Edmund committed suicide. On the evening of Thursday, 7 August one of his workmen found him hanging in his workshop. There are no records of what happened or to indicate why Edmund did such a thing. One newspaper report said that he had “… been in low spirits for some days past, but no cause can be assigned for the rash act…” The inquest held on Friday 8th brought in a verdict of “Temporary Insanity.”

Edmund was buried in St. George’s Church on 14 August 1845. 

Poor Sarah must have been devastated and dealing with her grief she was left to wind up Edmund’s affairs. The fact that one newspaper described her husband as an “…old and respectable upholsterer…” would have done little to help or console her. On August 29, 1845, Sarah became Edmund’s Executrix, swearing an oath that she was his wife and that, as he had died intestate, she would “…administer his goods, chattels and credits by paying his debts…” Then a few days later in September a notice was placed in the newspaper asking for those indebted to her husband to contact her with their details.  


123 Beach Street 

9 Lower Street, her home and her husband’s business premises, was taken over soon afterwards by The National Provincial Bank and was later redeveloped and eventually became the Nat. West. Bank we know today. Sarah and her daughters, Sarah , Mary Ann and Elizabeth, moved to 123 Beach Street where all her daughters continued to work as Upholsterers, a trade their father must have taught them. Sarah died there in early March 1851, aged 64. Sarah must have received some of the legacies from the two wills she was mentioned in, as well as the profits from the sale of Edmund’s estate as, in her will, she leaves money to her children plus instructions to her executors, James Barber Edwards and William Knight Woodruff, to make investments in “…public stocks and shares…” and set up a trust for the maintenance, advancement and benefit of her children. 

The census in 1851 was taken on the 30th March and lists Sarah’s three daughters living in the Beach Street house with their brother William’s children. The children’s mother had died in Calcutta in 1842 and their father William Collman Spain, a ships’ chandler, later died there in 1846. So it seems that the children were sent to live with their father’s family. 

Edmund and Sarah Spain’s Children 

 Sarah Collman Spain married John Dean a chemist in Dover in 1833, she was widowed in around 1844 and returned to Deal. She later moved to Walmer living in ‘Dean House’ where she died in 1893 

William Collman Spain moved to Calcutta where he married a widow named Mary Ann  Florence, nee Langridge, in 1836.William died in Calcutta in 1846.  

Allen’s Indian mail and register of intelligence for British and foreign and all parts of the East 1846

Mary Ann Spain did not marry. In 1861 she was staying with Sarah Solly in Park Street and her nephew Thomas Dean, a cabinet maker like his grandfather, was living with his wife and family at 123 Beach Street. Mary died in 1866. 

Elizabeth Clayson Spain married Stephen Hinds. At the time of their marriage, in 1853 in Walmer, he was a grocer but he soon became a House and Estate Agent. Elizabeth died at home in Lomea House, 123 The Strand. 

Edmund Spain became a master mariner and in Calcutta he too married a widow, Sophia Mary Munt nee Townsend in 1853. They continued to live in Calcutta where Edmund was the Commander of the Steam Tug  ‘Enterprise’.  He died in Calcutta of Bright’s Disease in 1883. 

Name Born Baptised Married Died Buried
Edmund Spain 1782 10 April 1782
St. Leonard’s
Sarah Clayson nee Collman
15 September 1810
St. Leonard’sBorn 1787 Deal
Died 1851 Beach Street, Deal
1 August 1845
9 Lower Street
14 August 1845

The Children of Edmund Spain & Sarah Clayson nee Collman

Name Born Baptised Married Died Buried
Sarah Collman 1812 4 March 1812
St. George’s
John Dean
29 October 1833
St. Mary the Virgin, Dover
17 December 1893
Dean House, Lower Walmer
21 December 1893
Hamilton Road Cemetery
William Collman 1814
Lower Street
2 March 1814
St. George’s
Mary Ann Florence nee Langridge
27 February 1836
11 July 1846
12 July 1846
Elizabeth 1816
Lower Street
28 December 1816
St. George’s
Lower Street
21 June 1817
Edmund Thomas 1818
Lower Street
18 October 1818
St. George’s
1826 3 July 1826
St. George’
Mary Ann 1821 4 February 1821
St. George’s
Beach Street
14 February 1866
St. George’s
Thomas Long 1822 22 September 1822
St. George’s
Lower Street
1 November 1825
St. George’s
Elizabeth Clayson 1826 4 October 1826
St. George’s
Stephen Hind
3 March 1854
St. Mary’s Walmer
Lomea House, The Strand, Walmer
31 December 1913
St. Mary’s Walmer
Edmund 1828 28 February 1828
St. George’s
Sophia Mary Munt nee Townsend
11 March 1853
18 August 1883 19 August 1883


Year Address Name Number of Males Number of Females
1821 Lower Street Edmund Spain 3 2


Year Address Name Relationship Occupation
1841 9 Lower Street Edmund Head Cabinetmaker
Sarah Wife
Elizabeth Daughter
Edmund Son

Trade and Street Directory

Directory and Year Trade or Occupation Address
 Pigot’s 1824 Auctioneer Lower Street
Post Office Directory 1838 Auctioneer & Cabinet maker 9 Lower Street
Auctioneer & Cabinet maker 9 Lower Street
Sources and further reading:
Newspaper image © The British Library Board. All rights reserved.
With thanks to The British Newspaper Archive (
London Illustrated News
With thanks to ©Illustrated London News Ltd/Mary Evans Picture Library
Deal Maritime & Local History Museum