Edward Thurrell Tapley

3 Jews Harp Alley
The Boatman’s Reading Rooms, 114 Beach Street
114a Beach Street

The Boatmen’s Reading Rooms today.

Occupation: Boatman

Edward Thurrel Tapley was born in Crown Court which is just off Middle Street. He was the tenth of the eleven children born to James Tapley and Ann Wilkins. Edward, like his elder brother John and younger brother Thomas, was to follow his father and make his living from the sea.
In 1832 he appears with James and John in the lists of Deal Boatmen in the ‘Select Committees Report into Pilotage’.

This was a time of great hardship for the people of Deal, particularly the boatmen, so it no surprise that people then looked for employment elsewhere or that the young boatmen would have joined the navy when the opportunity arose and this included Edward who in 1834 has joined the Navy and was serving on His Majesty’s  Sloop, Raleigh.
Maybe the naval life didn’t suit him as he only served for 9 months, however, during that time he ‘allotted’ 14 shillings of his wages to be collected by his mother from the Customs House on Lower Street. She would have entered and left via the door on the left as seen in the image below.

Customs House Lower Street c1860


On the 9th May 1841, Edward married Sarah Ann Curling at St. Leonard’s Church. When they married Sarah was already expecting their first child who was born in Gravel Walk, now Anchor Lane, at the home of Sarah’s parents in July.

The census that year was taken on the 6 June and Sarah appears on it with her parents and Edward with his. Maybe they were just visiting or I think it is more likely that there just wasn’t anywhere else for them to live as a couple at that time, who knows?

Ticketed Seaman

On the 12th February 1845, Edward was registered, or ‘ticketed’, as a Merchant Seaman. This register gives basic descriptions of the men and tells us that Edward was 5 foot 6 1/2 inches with a fresh complexion, dark hair and grey eyes.

The seaman’s ticket system was introduced in 1845 and enabled a seaman to carry with him a note of his service and character. The system was replaced by the Third Register of Seamen in 1854.

Dover Telegraph and Cinque Ports General Advertiser – Saturday 25 January 1862

Britons Pride

Edward was part of the crew of the Britons Pride who took part in the rescue of the Belgian Schooner ‘Daniel’ whose crew had abandoned it during a gale leaving four men on board without means of escape. Two years later in 1862, they were awarded ‘Medals for Courageous Acts’ by the Belgian government.

Deal Regatta

Edward like most of the boatmen took part in Deal’s Annual Regatta. I found him in the local newspapers, mainly in the 1860s as a crew member taking part in races sailing on the ‘Dart’ and on several occasions winning prize money.

The 1880 Election Fraud

The Sandwich Borough (which included Deal) by-election of 1880 results was contested and an inquiry was ordered to “inquire into the existence of corrupt practices”. Bribes and treating had taken place on both sides. Some of the men of Jews Harp Alley as well as being paid, amongst other things, to make and hang flags and had taken bribes for their votes. 

Edward, probably because he had received a ‘certificate of immunity’, admitted he was one of the forty-two listed as ‘Bribers’ who were paid to ‘bribe’ men for their votes. He gave a short piece of evidence on the 15 October at the hearings held in Town Hall. It was estimated that 900 people took a bribe.

As a result of the report, Sandwich was abolished as a constituency and several men from Deal were imprisoned, including James Barber Edwards. James Barber Edwards held the lease to 3 Jews Harp Alley, Edward’s home leading me to think that he may have been coerced into his role especially as soon after he moves to The Mariners Reading Rooms on Beach Street where he remained until his death in 1893.

Wrong names on Death Certificate

Curiously he is named on his death certificate and registered as Edward James Farrell Tapleywhy this is I have no idea! He was buried in Hamilton Road Cemetery and their records show him correctly registered as Edward Thurrell Tapley.
After Edward’s death, Sarah moves to York Road to live with her daughter Hannah in Shanklin Cottage, York Road where dies in 1906.

Tapley Daughters

Hannah marries twice her first husband William T Moss died when the pilot vessel Pride of The Sea was wrecked in a gale off Shanklin. He and the rest of the crew are buried in Shanklin cemetery. Sarah Wilkins also married twice first to Lance Corporal David Cuell and then to Samuel Hyams. I only know about Samuel as in David’s will it says Sarah is now the ‘wife of Samuel Hyams’. Neither Sarah or Hannah appear to have had any children Amelia though had thirteen. She married George Forsdick a Sergeant Musketry Instructor. She travelled with him and their growing family around the country and then to Malta and Halifax Nova Scotia before returning to run a pub with her husband in Landport. After his death in 1910, she moved to live with her daughter Florence and her husband James Bell, in Leicester, who by that time had also retired from the army. Amelia died there in 1919.

Name Born Baptised Married Died Buried
Edward Thurrell Tapley 1815
Crown Court
29 November 1818
St. George’s
Sarah Ann Curling
9 May 1841
St. Leonard’sBorn 1818
Died 1902
29 April 1893
13 Beach Street
3 May 1893
Hamilton Road Cemetery

The Children of Edward Thurrel Tapley & Sarah Ann Curling

Name Born Baptised Married Died Buried
Hannah 1841
Gravel Walk
14 July 1841
St. Leonard’s
1) William Thomas Moss
26 November 1862
Old St.Marys

2) Richard Thomas Hogbin

63 York Road
June 6 1908
Old St. Mary’s
Sarah Wilkins 1844
Jews Harp Alley
24 January 1844
St. Leonard’s
1) David Cuell
9 June 1862
St. Leonard’s
2)*Samuel Highams
marriage date unfound
Amelia Jane 1846
Jews Harp Alley
28 October 1846
St. Leonard’s
George Forsdick
5 July 1863
St. Leonard’s
20 July 1919
30 Hazel Street, Leicester
Elizabeth Ann 1850
Jews Harp Alley
1 February 1850 1850 31 October 1850
St. George’s
Elizabeth Ann 1852
Jews Harp Alley
1 November 1852
St. Andrew’s
Jews Harp Alley
6 August 1859
Hamilton Road Cemetery
Edward James 1856
Jews Harp Alley
20 February 1856
st. Andrew’s
Jews Harp Alley
10 June 1858

Hamilton Road Cemetery

*Sarah’s second marriage as stated in David Cuell’s will.


Year Address Name Relationship Occupation
1841 Jews Harp Alley James Head Mariner
Ann Wife
Edward Son Mariner
Thomas Son


Year Address Name Relationship Occupation
1851 Jews Harp Alley Edward T Head Mariner
Sarah A Wife
Hannah Daughter Scholar
Sarah Daughter Scholar
Amelia Daughter Scholar
Thomas Brother Mariner


Year Address Name Relationship Occupation
1861 Jews Harp Alley Edward Head Boatman
Sarah Wife
Sarah Daughter Servant
Amelia Daughter Servant


Year Address Name Relationship Occupation
1871 3 Jews Harp Alley Edward Head Mariner
Sarah Wife


Year Address Name Relationship Occupation
1881 12 Beach Street, The Boatman’s Reading Rooms Edward Head Mariner
Sarah Wife Laundress


Year Address Name Relationship Occupation
1891 114a Beach Street Edward Head Boatman
Sarah Wife

Trade and Street Directory

Directory and Year Trade or Occupation Address
Kelly’s Directory 1882 Mariner’s Reading Rooms 114 Beach Street Deal

Poll Books (selected)

 Year Profession Residence
1870-1881 3 Jews Harp Alley
Sources and further reading:
Reminiscences of Old Deal by E C Pain
ADM 27/40/97 -Folios 278-279: Edward Thural Tapley; Ship’s name: HMS Raleigh; Pay book number: SB 49; Rank: Ordinary Seaman; Relation: Mother Ann
Newspaper image © The British Library Board. All rights reserved.
With thanks to The British Newspaper Archive (www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk)