John Wall Grimley – A Man On Both Sides of the Law

A few days ago I wrote a post about Lucy Wall Grimley in The Mysterious Case of the Woman Who Died Twice. Today I am going to focus on her father John Wall Grimley, he was my husband’s 3x great grandfather and he certainly left a rather interesting paper trail behind him!

John was born on 26th August 1806 and christened on 14th September of that year in Edmonton, Middlesex, the second of 11 children of John Grimley and Mary Ann Wall. He followed in his father’s trade as a plumber and glazier at Fore Street, Edmonton. He married a Lucy Robinson on 8th September 1832 at St. Pancras Old Church. It seems that John and Lucy did not appear to have had any children and sadly Lucy died in 1839 aged just 36 and was buried in Edmonton All Saints churchyard on 25th October that year. As yet I do not know her cause of death but at some point I will order her death certificate to find out why she was taken from John at such a young age.


The marriage of John & Lucy


Lucy’s burial entry

During his marriage to Lucy, John was mentioned as a witness at The Old Bailey on 10th April 1834 in the trial of John Champkin, Samuel Lake, and Michael George who were indicted for feloniously breaking and entering the dwelling-house of Thomas Newsom, on the 9th of March, and stealing therein, one watch, value £1, and two time-pieces, value £13., his goods. The evidence he gave was – “I am a glazier at Edmonton – I went to mend Mr. Newsom’s window on the Monday morning after the robbery – I found the broken panes shattered very much, and on parts of the glass were spots of blood.” Eventually they were all found not guilty.


From an 1842 trial at The Old Bailey (from

John was also an officer – perhaps a  part-time police officer or possibly an officer of the poor law union, and was mentioned at The Old Bailey on 4th April 1836 in the trial of Sarah Field who was indicted for stealing, on the 19th of March, one spoon, value 1s., the goods of Edward Aviolet.

Edward Aviolet: “I am a cork-cutter, and live at Edmonton—the prisoner was in my employ occasionally as a char-woman—she was employed on the 19th of March, and on the 20th we missed a silver spoon—I sent for her and questioned her about it—she said she did not know where it was, unless she had thrown it with the dish-water, down the drain—I said the thing was impossible and I should send for a constable unless she acknowledge where it was—I found it at Mr. Hart’s from what she told me.

Cross-examined by Mr. Phillips: Q. “You told her she might as well tell you where it was?” A. “I said if she told me where it was, I would not deal so harshly with her.”

Aaron Hart: “I live at Tottenham. The prisoner brought this spoon to me to know if I would buy it, on Saturday, the 19th of March — I detained it and gave it to the officer.

John Wall Grimley: “I am an officer. I took the prisoner.”

Sarah was found guilty but recommended to mercy by the jury and the prosecutor, who promised to employ her again. She was confined for five days. It seems quite charitable of her employer to keep her on.

There was a previous mention of a Grimley to do with an Old Bailey trial of a crime committed in Edmonton on 21st September 1835 in regards to some coining offences – counterfeit coins. Although it doesn’t specify whether it was John Wall Grimley, it seems likely to have been him, there were not many people with that surname in the area. The constable involved – John Camp, stated:

I am constable of Edmonton. On the 28th of August, I was passing Mr. Crank’s door, and saw a great number of people there—he is a miller and flour-dealer—a person stopped me, and said I was wanted—I went in and saw Mrs. Jelf, the last prisoner, they gave me 1s.—I gave instructions to Grimley to stop there—I got information; and proceeded to Tanners-and—I went to the house that the last prisoner had described—I knocked at the door, it was opened, I stepped in—I saw the two prisoners in the house, the son and father together—I asked Richard Jelf to give me leave to look over his house; he said yes, he had no objection what was the matter?—His son then jumped up and ran up stairs—I caught up the candle and ran after him—when I got up into the room, which was small, the lid of a box which was standing near the window fell down—I saw William Jelf go to the window and throw something out of his hand—I saw William Jelf go to the throwing out there? “—he said something which I could not understand—another officer came up stairs with Richard Jelf—I told that officer to go down stairs, which he did—I then took the candle, and in the garden, under the window from whence William Jelf had thrown something I found a bag with six bad shillings in it, and one good one—the father was standing near the back window—I did not see him do any thing—I turned round, and said to the two prisoners, “This is what I was looking for”, showing the shillings—I put them into the bag, and took them both into custody—Richard Jelf then asked me if I knew where his wife was—I said, “Yes, in custody at Mr. Crank’s”—I took them in my cart to the watch-house—I went next day to the prisoner’s house, and saw Canning who gave me another counterfeit shilling, which I have here—I went to the watch-house that afternoon, and asked Jelf how he was—he said he was pretty well, but not very comfortable, being in such a place—he said he was pretty well, but not very any thing about that being bad money, for I found it last Monday morning, 19s., in a paper, near stamford-hill gate, and he did not know but that it was all good.”

Cross-examined by Mr. Payne. Q. “When you knocked at the door you asked Richard Jelf how he did?” A. “Yes; when the son ran up stairs I did not hear him say he was shutting the window.”

John Canning: “I keep the Two Brewers, Tanner’s-end. On the 28th of August these prisoners were taken into custody—next morning I found a bad shilling on my shed adjoining their house—they are tenants of mine—It was in a piece of white paper—I marked it and gave it to the constable—the back window is adjoining the shed.”

Cross-examined. Q. “Is there a way for passengers along there?” A. “It is no thoroughfare at all.”

Mr. Payne to John Camp. Q. “How long was it after you took the candle to go into the yard before you came in again with the bag?” A. “Directly; I was but just outside where I had seen the swing of his arm out of the window.”

John Field: “I am an inspector of counterfeit coins to the Mint. These six shillings are all counterfeit—this other one is good—three of them are cast in one mould; the other three are cast in another mould—this other shilling is also counterfeit, and resembles three of the others in the bag.”

Richard and William Jelf were both found guilty and sentenced to 18 months in prison. Richard was aged 48 and William was 24. Richard’s wife Mary had been previously brought before the court on a charge of a misdemeanour but was found not guilty, no further details were given as to what she had been accused of.

The records of The Old Bailey can be found using this great website – Old Bailey Online. Not only does it have the transcribed records of the cases, but you can view the digitised images of the printed books of the trials.

John appeared in the 1839 Pigot’s London Directory as John Grimley Wall, Fore Street, Edmonton – listed under Painters, Plumbers and Glaziers.

He was mentioned in an advertisement from The Times of Monday 29th April 1839:

School premises to be let – A very desirable commodious house to be let at Upper Edmonton. The house contains excellent bed rooms, a handsome entrance hall, three parlours, large school room, school dining room, kitchen, scullery etc, a large play ground and extensive garden well stocked with fruit trees; the whole about two acres. For particulars apply (if by letter, post paid) to Mr Grimley, plumber, Upper Edmonton.”

It sounds like a rather nice property!

John then married Mary Elizabeth Brown on 21st December 1840 at All Saints, Edmonton. Mary was the daughter of a Thomas Brown – described as a Gentleman. Notice of their marriage was reported in the London Standard on the 28th December.


In the 1841 census John and his new wife were living at Fore Street along with a 17 year old servant Eliza Lane, John’s occupation was given as Painter. Several months later he was finding himself in the papers again, but this time he was on the other side of the law!

From The Times – 22nd December 1841:

Worship Street – Yesterday Mr John Grimley, a plumber and glazier at Edmonton, was charged with driving over and injuring policeman George Millard, 126 N. About 9 o’clock on Monday evening Sergeant Peck, 6 N, was proceeding from the station-house at Kingsland with a file of constables, and they were marching along the road near West Hackney Church, when the defendant, who was intoxicated came driving along the road in his chaise behind them, and, although there was ample room to pass, drove in among the constables, and knocked down and injured Millard.
The defendant in answer to the charge, said he had been drinking but was not very drunk, and when he saw the policemen marching upon the road he thought they would have got out of the way but they did not.
Mr Bingham sentenced the defendant to pay £3 fine for the assault, and £2 for being drunk and misconducting himself, or to be imprisoned.
The defendant immediately paid the £5, and was discharged.


I have to admit, I found it quite amusing that a. John had been an officer (possible police officer) and here he was ploughing into a whole line of them while drunk and b. that he thought they would move out of his way and that none of them did. I would imagine the chaise he was driving was perhaps used for his business to get about to his customers.


Image of a Chaise from Wikipedia

I found a reference to him on the National Archives catalogue as being involved in a Chancery case in 1848 – Grimley v. Pratt. John being the plaintiff and Samuel Pratt being the defendant. I had previously contacted the National Archives for an estimate for copies of this but they said they couldn’t give me an estimate as it would take them too long, but I have sent another request, so we’ll see if waiting two years and trying again makes a difference!

John then found himself giving evidence at The Old Bailey again on 7th January 1850 in the trial of William Charlton, accused of stealing 46lbs. weight of leaden pipe, to the value of 4s. 3d.; the goods of the Guardians of the Poor of the Strand Union. His evidence was “I am a plumber of Edmonton. I received this pipe produced from the prisoner, on 19th Dec.- I gave him 4s. 9d. for it – I gave at the rate of 14s. a cwt. for it.” After all the evidence had been given, William Charlton was found guilty and confined for four months in prison. These days John might have been arrested for handling stolen goods too!

He was listed in the 1851 Post Office Directory of Edmonton as Grimley, John Wall, Plumber & Paperhanger, Fore Street.

The 1851 census then found him still at Fore Street with his growing family, by then he was described as a Plumber employing 4 men. He had a 16 year old apprentice – John Smith and a 21 year old general servant Mary Ann Webb. He and Mary Elizabeth had three children living with them out of the five who had been born since 1841. Their eldest daughter Mary Anne – aged 9, their third daughter Anne Selina Brown aged 2 and second son Frederick Pouncey aged just one month. Their second daughter Sophia Emilia aged 6, was with her maternal aunt Anna Maria Brown just a few doors down. Their first born son John Thomas had died in 1848 aged 1.

The family remained at Fore Street and by 1861 all their children were back with them, along with the new additions to the family since 1851, Charlotte Elizabeth aged 7, Cecilia Eleanor Woods aged 6 (down as Amelia for some odd reason), Louisa aged 3 and Lucy Wall aged 1. They also had two lodgers – sisters Rosa and Phoebe Stepto.

John again had an advertisement in The Times on Saturday 7th September 1867 for property:

“Angel Place, Edmonton – A good old-fashioned house to be let or sold, in capital repair, with shrubbery in front; contains large drawing room, dining room, and study, five bed rooms, offices and garden. Rooms well fitted, with plate-glass windows. Rent only £48. Apply to Mr Grimley, plumber, near the Bell; or to Mr Rumney, Enfield Town.”


The ad mentions The Bell Inn – this is what it would have looked like circa 1883 (image from


A view of Angel Place, Edmonton today. (Image from

In 1871 John was down as being a Plumber Employing 2 Men and an Apprentice. Still living and working out of Upper Fore Street, he had since been widowed – Mary Elizabeth having been buried at All Saints, Edmonton on 19th July 1865 aged just 44 years and her burial had been shortly followed by that of their youngest child Clara Eliza (buried as Clara Emily) on 18th August that year aged 2. By the 1871 census just Frederick, Charlotte, Cecilia, Louisa and Lucy remained at home.

John was again the plaintiff in a chancery case in 1872 – this time against a George Arnold, John Dawson and his wife Mary. John must have had some quarrel about wills to have been involved in two chancery cases. Again I have requested another estimate for copies of these documents from the National Archives so hopefully I might get a positive response this time!

The London Electoral Registers have John at Fore Street, Edmonton from 1847 to 1877. Between 1847 and 1852 he is described as owning leasehold houses for 60 years of four cottages on Scotland Green, Edmonton. Then between 1856 and 1862 it states he owns freehold land on Duck Lane, Edmonton. According to some information Duck Lane was another name for Lower Fore Street. Between 1869 and 1877 the address is further defined as Upper Fore Street and just states he was the occupier as tenant of Upper Fore Street. His son Frederick then takes over at that address. It is likely that the leasehold houses were ones he had inherited from his father.


Map of Edmonton area from 1805 (from

John didn’t make it to the 1881 census – he died on the 8th January 1880 and was buried at All Saints on 14th January aged 73. His probate was granted to his only surviving son Frederick Pouncey Grimley, who had taken over the family business.


John Wall Grimley

1806 – 1880


7 thoughts on “John Wall Grimley – A Man On Both Sides of the Law

    • He sure did. I really hope the National Archives actually come back with a proper estimate this time. Seems pointless to offer the service if they can’t do it! I would be keen to find out more about the chancery cases.

      • I appreciate that the records might have many pages to wade through before you find what you want but surely that’s the point of it having been catalogued so that not only can people find that the archive holds it, but that it can be located without too much trouble! Anyway, we’ll see what they say this time!

    • Wowzers! Had the estimate back from The National Archives for both chancery cases – will cost me close to £160 to get copies of them! It would be cheaper to travel to London myself to look at them!

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