George Spicer

George Spicer

7 August 1854 – 8 March 1911

George Spicer

He was born on the 7th August 1854 in Brixton in Surrey into a wealthy family of Stationers; his Grandfather John Edward Spicer heading the family business.  On John’s death in 1864 George’s father James split from his brothers and started James Spicer & Sons of 50 Upper Thames Street, London.  George was involved in this business after he completed his education first at Mill Hill School and then in 1878 with a Master of Arts Degree from Trinity College, Cambridge.

He was granted freedom of the Fishmongers’ Company by Patrimony on the 11th November 1875 reaching livery on the 9th December 1875 and then court.  He was Renter Warden from 1908 to 1909 and there are many ‘Times’ articles of his dining and greeting dignitaries in this capacity but would appear to have died before being able to take up office as Prime Warden. 

He married Mary Scott on the 6th July 1881 at Brechin East Parish in Scotland.*

They had six children all born ‘Dunraven’ at in Enfield:

  • Douglas born on 14th July 1883 died Great Chart in Kent on 13th May 1943.
  • Ronald born on 7th January 1886.  He married Eileen Gundry on the 28th April 1917 at St Andrew’s Parish Church.
  • Irene born 1888 died 10th January 1861.
  • Monro born on the 29th March 1890 died 6th April 1953.
  • Marjorie born 1892 died 28th May 1967.
  • Eileen born 1895.

They family was at ‘Dunraven’ The Ridgeway, from 1882 being there on the census night of 1901 but the house and the family do not appear in that of 1891; perhaps the sheet has been lost.

In 1889 he is mentioned in ‘The Times’ as being Treasurer of the Band of Hope and his daughter Marjorie presented Princess Henry of Battenberg with a bouquet when she opened a Band of Hope Industrial Exhibition in Dalston.

In the late 1890s he was President of the English Congregational Chapel Building Society.

In 1902 he chaired a meeting of The Friendly Female Society’ an association to help widows, single women in need of residential care.

We know that in1903 George was Chair of the Enfield Education Committee.  He was also heavily involved with The London Congregational Union; London Missionary Society; British & Foreign Bible Society; Young Men’s Christian Association and was a Great Western Railway shareholder, as he is listed as being Executor to various people from 1907 to 1910.

A brave man, this is from the ROYAL HUMANE SOCIETY BRONZE MEDALS CITATIONS TAKEN FROM THE ANNUAL REPORT 1903

Spicer, George. Paper Merchant.   Case 32967

On the 12th August 1903, two men who were bathing in the sea at Bedruthan, Cornwall, got into difficulty, and were swept out 60 to 70 yards by the strong tide. Spicer, at great risk, swam out and saved them, a third man who was in the water drowned.

Bush Hill Park Congregational Church is [The George Spicer Memorial] church and we think this was because of his work with the local education board rather than personal sponsorship for the new venture which had been founded by the Baptist Church in Enfield, although George was a deacon at Christ Church Congregational Church in Chase Side. The new church building had been opened by Mrs George Spicer on the 5th March 1910.

‘These Fifty Years’ a booklet of the first fifty years of Bush Hill Park Congregational Church written by Mr Henry S Hardman has an entry:

March 8th, 1911 was a very sad day for us, and Enfield sustained a great loss in the sudden death of Mr Spicer at the comparatively early age of 57.  Although not a member with us he was from the first closely associated.  It was agreed that the best manner to perpetuate his worth was to dedicate the Church to his memory, in addition to placing a brass memorial in the Church.’

This was done: 

In the 1911 census taken on the 2nd April, Mary and the family are staying at the Gordon Hotel in Southbourne, Christchurch, Hampshire.  The records should have shown ‘widow’ rather than ‘married’ as George had passed away on the 8th March that year.  His obituary in ‘The Times’ of 9 March 1911 reads:

The death took place yesterday at his residence, Dunraven, The Ridgeway, Enfield of Mr George Spicer a member of the firm of Messrs James Spicer and Sons (Limited), paper merchants of Upper Thames Street, youngest son of the late Mr James Spicer of Woodford Green, and brother of Sir Albert Spicer MP and Mr Evan Spicer. 

Mr Spicer was educated at Trinity College, Cambridge.  He took an active part in the affairs of the British & Foreign Bible Society, and of the London Congregational Union, and he was a generous supporter of the London Missionary Society.  He held many local offices; he served for a long time on the Education Authority at Enfield, and he also acted as Treasurer of the Cottage Hospital and was prominently connected with the Enfield Liberal Association.  He was a magistrate for Middlesex.  Mr Spicer was a warden of the Fishmongers’ Company, having been placed on the livery in 1875, and he joined the court of the Company in 1902.  His family has been for a long period connected with the Fishmongers’ Company, previous Prima Wardens having included Mr Christopher Spicer in 1732, and the late Mr Spicer’s father in the year of 1864, and, a second time in 1872.

Mr Spicer leaves a widow and three sons and three daughters.

The funeral will take place on Monday next at Enfield Cemetery, and will be preceded by a service at Christ Church, Enfield, of which Mr Spicer was treasurer and one of the chief deacons.

Copyright 1911, The Times.

His death of natural causes was pneumonia.  He had been ill for some time following the incident in 1903.  Probate was granted on the 11th May 1911.  His Will is somewhat complicated with shares and trusts for his children but there were many bequests to the various associations he supported.  His Estate was valued at     £125,915 7s 7d.

The George Spicer School opened in 1912 and took his name.

This is their memorial but the memorial tablet in brass on marble at Bush Hill Park United Reformed Church sums up the man:

In Memory of George Spicer, Esq J.P.

Who contributed liberally towards the erection of this church and was the first president of the Bush Hill Park Men’s PSA Brotherhood

This tablet was erected by the members of the church and brotherhood

The unselfishness and generosity of his character
His unvarying courtesy and wisdom, and his never failing kindness won for him the respect and love of all classes. He lived the life of a noble citizen and a Christian gentleman.

[Think PSA simply means Pleasant Sunday afternoon - a time without alcohol!]

So what of his family:

Douglas and Ronald continued with the family firm after schooling at Mill Hill.

Douglas married Agnes Ivy Beazley in 1910 and moved to live in Kent.

Ronald gained the MC with a rank of Captain from WW1.  He married Eileen Winefred Cuthbert Gundry on the 28th April 1917 at St Andrew’s Parish Church in Enfield.  They had two sons.  Antony George became Company Manager of James Spicer & Sons and married Ursula Mary Hearn (or Heather-duplicated registration) in 1952.  Nigel Ronald married Joan Elizabeth Larritt at St John’s Church, Toorak, Australia on the 17th February 1956 and his mother Eileen is found as a passenger on the ‘Orion’ in 1958, presumably making a visit, or was it to migrate there?

His son Monro died at 84 Windmill Hill, Enfield but his address is given as 70 The Ridgeway.  He did not marry and is buried with his parents in Lavender Hill Cemetery.

His daughters did not marry but following the death of their parents, they moved to 8 Knole Way, Sevenoaks in Kent and there remained.

Sylvia M Page
Prepared from research E & O E March 2011

* Information from the Fishmongers’ Company


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