P R O F I L
1854 - 1891
Farmer - Upper Barnhorn Farm
George was the eighth child of Mary and William Souter Osborn. He was born on their Telscombe farm in 1854 and moved to the Gore Farm, Eastdean with the family in 1863.
The 1880s was a time when George was carving his own destiny. The diaries of their niece Ruth Morris, nee Verrall, have survived in East Sussex Record Office (AMS6572/61-4). The Morris's lived locally and socialised with the Osborn's, particularly George who was in his late 20s.
On Friday 26 May 1882 we learn that George Osborn brought Mademoiselle up to introduce her to Rodmell This was of course his future wife.
On Wednesday November 8th 1882 Mrs Ellis called about Geo Osborne coming to manage the farm for Mr Ellis.
No doubt only seeking the best opportunities, on the 11th: Geo Osborn came to see Mr Ellis. He is not coming to live here as the salary is not high enough 1 pound per week and house. This does not appear to have caused major problems. On the 29 November it is reported that Mr Ellis has a manager coming, a Scotsman.
Undaunted the next day, Thursday 30 November: Geo Osborn drove up and bought dogs for a hunt at Southease.
Still seeking a remunerative post, George, the diary records: Friday 19th January 1883: Jake gone to Eastdean this afternoon to offer Geo Osborn the birth at Chailey 70 pounds per annum + house etc.
The following month George's father declares bankruptcy and George takes a house at Pelham Place, Seaford. George's mind however is obviously on other matters and it is recorded that on 14 May 1883: Heard that Geo Osborn went in a hurry to London to meet Mademoiselle who has left Westmorland. on the 13 June he fails to visit as planned and then on the following day he arrives late when they are at dinner.
The reason for the haste is revealed when on the 1st August 1883: Geo Osborne married very quickly in London, none of his family were present but Joe who was best man. Joe is presumably Joseph Osborn, George's brother. George was married on 1st August in St Matthews Parish Church, Bayswater to Josephine Gay, daughter of Mark Leopold Gay, Jeweller. She was a 29 year old Swiss Governess who went by the name of Jenny. She had formerly resided at 24 Devonshire Place, Eastbourne (1881) and then 49 St Petersburgh Place before the wedding. He is at 43 Bank Place. His age on the wedding certificate is incorrectly put at 35, he was of course 29 years old. According to the 1881 census she would have been about 29 years old, they were thus similar ages. Did his father's plight prompt George to quickly marry, perhaps before her family found out?
The same week it is mentioned that: they moved into 12 Pelham Place. This was George and wife occupying their new home. George's sister Mary was also later living here in 1885/6.
Pelham Place is a row of 4 storey, once prestigious, terraced houses in Pelham Road. Situated on the far right beyond the hotel, numbers 1-8 survive but the rest have been the subject of redevelopment.
On the 8th August 1883: I came up from Seaford with Mrs and Mr Geo Osborn who had hence and paid a visit of a few hours to Mary and Pathe. Mrs G is very busy getting her house in order and has a French maid who can (not) speak a word of English. This entry is confused but confirms that Geo Osborn is living at Pelham Place, Seaford, although Mary referred to is likely George's mother.
The social interaction with George and wife continues albeit somewhat less than before his marriage. Thursday 24 January 1884 records: a shooting party Joe Osborn, George and his wife. It was a busy day and they got 21 rabbits.
Joseph, George's brother is now a focus of attention and on Wednesday March 26 1884: letter from Lydia - Joe Osborn has taken Miss Woodberry to 12 Pelham Place and introduced her. A lady fell over the dividing rail of 13 Pelham Place into next doors area and is badly hurt. She is the divorced wife of a jewellery maker?... (rest unclear - was this Josephine's mother?).
On the 6th May: Hear that Mrs G Osborn's sister is staying with her. However by next month it is reported that: The Osborne's here had scarlet fever. In the ?ool Willie Ruderick and the servants had it. They have not let them out all this season.
The following entry typifies the ongoing social interaction: Wednesday October 8 Jake went to Eastdean with George Osborne for a days shooting, they had no sport, it was lovely in the morning and poured in the evening.
George became a Farm Bailiff at Warningore Farm, Hamsey by 1884 but this was not to last for long as can be ascertained from the diaries. However while in Hamsey, George and Josephine have a son, John William Osborn. Born on the 17 October 1884 to Josephine and George, the birth is duly registered in Lewes.
In 1885, the year of his parent's death, George is till joining hunting parties. On the 19th February in spite of only three dogs, they had fine sport and got 27 rabbits and 3 hares.
On the 2nd January 1886 we learn that Jake went to Court House to see George Osborn. Again on the 13th May Jake went to Court House but this time found George's baby very ill with whooping cough. J (Josephine) also had a bad cough.
And then on the 1st July 1886 we learn that George has sent in his resignation.
The week of 23 October 1886 brings the news that George has taken a farm at Bexhill and Annie Osborn is going to keep house for him. Annie is George's sister in law. Court House appears to be the name of Josephine and George's house in 12 Pelham Place, Seaford and so they presumably all lived together, it being a substantial 4 storey premises.
George's move to Bexhill does not appear to be without problems however. A barely legible entry of 30 November 1886 sees him demanding one years salary to make room for the new bailiff. The delay in moving appears to have been resolved by 1887 however.
On the 19th June 1887, a party including George go up to Mount Caburn (Lewes) to see the illuminations for the Queen's Jubilee. And on the 3 July Jake drops a kitten off at Court House. It is revealed that George is trying to leave St? Georges in September. He will then live at Barnhorn, a farm of 250 acres at Bexhill where Annie is already resident. She will manage the dairy. George and brother Joe are partners in the venture. The move is confirmed on 11 September when Mr and Mrs George Osborn attend chapel for the last time as they leave Court House in a week or so.
Map: Barnhorn Farm lies to the west of Bexhill and overlooks the Pevensey marshes. The site is shown on the first edition OS map of early 19th century
1887 saw the Osborn family formerly take over as tenants of Upper Barnhorn Farm, which lies between Bexhill and the Pevensey Levels. It overlooks Normans Bay and has outstanding views to the sea. Comprising a flint two storey farmhouse and outbuildings, it is now known as Barnhorne Manor. The farm was owned by the Duchess of Cleveland and dates back to the 16th century. It is principally pastural being used for rearing sheep and dairy cattle. Hops were grown there up to about 1890 and the nearby hop kiln forms part of a 20th century residential conversion. The G & J Osborn tenancy lasted until 1891.
Josephine and her son John W turn up in East Dean in 1891 living with sister in law Grace Osborn and husband Edward Adamson and their 6 children. George Osborn is not with them and so likely has already gone to the US. The Adamson family appear on the 1871, 1881 and 1891 census for East Dean. From the diaries we know that earlier in April 1886 a small party including "Esther" headed off from Southampton for far away places. In April 1891 there is mention of a letter from "Esther" advising George Verrall not to go to California. On the 31st July 1891 it is recorded that "Geo Osborn is gone to California and supposed to be near Esther".
The incentive for going to California can be deduced from the contemporary poster. Described as the cornucopia of the world, a million farmers were sought. In addition to the 43 million acres of goverment land, the railroad and private land for farmers offered the prospect of riches beyond belief.
From the diaries and other evidence, it is apparent that the family and friends are establishing themselves in the United States and that George and family have gone too. However all is not well. On the 6th September 1891 we learn that George Osborn is dead. He died in San Francisco of brain fever.
On the 13th October 1891 a letter from Esther makes it apparent that she is unaware of George's death and so they were not in close communication in California. A letter is duly dispatched from England with the news. Esther wrote in December 1891 mentioning Mrs Osborn's boy, implying that the ladies had now made contact in the US. and that Josephine's son John W was with her.
This is confirmed by the 1910 census where Josephine and son John William are both to be found living in Berkeley, Alameda, California, which is located across the water from San Francisco. Coincidentally Osborn Adamson, a nephew, is also living in San Francisco in 1910. He joined his aunt and cousin there from England after the 1906 earthquake in SF.
In the 1910 census Josephine's occupation is private instructor. From the 1911 street directories mother and son are living at 2509 Ellesworth, Berkeley. Josephine is also confirmed at an Ellesworth address in subsequent street directories for 1915 and 1917, albeit 2009 being the house number. The 2509 Ellesworth address is a modest semi detached house near the centre of the township that survives to this day, albeit now merged with the next door property as a single house. Here in 1911 Josephine was a music teacher and her son John W Osborn, by now 27 years old, is listed as a clerk. Josephine again appears in the same locality in 1920, by now aged 65 and no sign of her son, but by now she appears to be a patient, possibly in a care home. Her son by now has been drafted into the US Army. More details can be seen by clicking on "Son" below.
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William Souter Osborn - farmer
Mary Osborn (formerly Verrall)
Josephine Jenny Gay
John William Osborn
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