Life story retold by Di Rayburn
Born in Reading in 1839 to Richard and Eliza Ann Griffin who were staunch supporters of the Kings Road Baptist Church, George and his three brothers John, Henry and Richard all became Baptist ministers.
George married and was widowed, then married Elizabeth Freshwater in London shortly before emigrating to Canada. They weren’t in Canada for long before they left for Michigan and from there finally settled in Chicago Illinois where a son, Victor, just seven months old, died of cholera.
Unfortunately, George had a fondness for drink and then became addicted to opium.
In Chicago he sank to his lowest point and sold all his wife and children’s clothing and personal possessions, even Elizabeth’s wedding ring, in order to feed his habit. He borrowed money from people who were trying to help them settle, and shocked the people who were trying to help by being discovered in a seedy bar treating his ‘friends’ , while his family were in the direst straights. Elizabeth his wife was taken to hospital and his children looked after by friends until she was well enough to take them back..
George was booked into The Washingtonian Home for inebriates but there are no records that might tell us if they were able to help him.
Elizabeth his wife divorced him in 1885. There is an article about the divorce in the New York Times which can be found on Google titled ‘A Baptist Clergyman’s Fall’.
How George ended is days is unknown.
His ex family moved to Kankakee in Illinois where his wife Elizabeth is listed on a census as a book keeper. His son Herbert worked for American Oil and of his two daughters, one remained in Kankakee where she married and became a teacher, and the other also a teacher, married and moved to Kansas where she had two sons. One of them became a doctor who moved to California and is now deceased. The other – still living and in his nineties is an engineer and has patents for improvements to Chinook helicopter engine systems.
The youngest son born in 1844, was it seems, a fiery preacher who frequently upset members of his congregation.
He married Tabitha Fookes Taylor in Pangbourne His last post in England was The Church on the Seafront at Weymouth.
In early 1871, he emigrated to the US and settled in Mass where he became a Congregationalist and had a long settled life in the church. He had five children. Wilfred, Gilbert, Percy, Frederick Robertson and Annie.
Of Richard Andrews five children, Frederick Robertson followd the family tradition of entering the church. He graduated from Harvard, was ordained into the Unitarian Congregation in 1901 and became pastor of a large Unitarian church in Philadelphia from 1917 – 1946. Details on his successful career can be Googled.
When he was younger, he founded The Men’s Club of Braintree Mass. All Souls Church. It was formed in 1907, “Where all men might pause on their way home for a meal together, a sharing of views and the news of the day and a speaker to activate their mental abilities”. Framed by Frederick the club still exists and meets once a month from Oct to April. Members eat the never varying roast beef, mashed potatoes, coleslaw and vegetables with ice cream for afters and end the evening by singing. Members say it’s the easiest club to belong to. All you have to do is turn up and eat. It was Griffin’s idea to offer a monthly dinner meeting free from politics, solicitation and responsibility.
Henry Frances born 1846. Obituary.
We regret to announce the death of the Rev. Henry Francis Griffin of Petersfield Nuneaton. Mr Griffin has been for the past year minister of the Webster St Baptist Church in Coventry He was paying a short visit to his family at Grimsby and on Saturday last was taken ill with influenza. Complications ensued and after a very short illness, Mr Griffin passed away on Wednesday. The deceased gentleman was born in Reading and was about sixty years of age. He leaves a wife and several sons and daughters.
Mr Griffin has had wide experience in the ministry. He entered the Canadian Ministry in 1872, but returned to England in 1881, and became a pastor at Victoria St Church Crewe. He was then called to the important pastorate of Zion Chapel Cambridge —- After detailing the various ministries the obituary ends — During his residence in Nuneaton and in connection with his work in Coventry, Mr Griffin has won for himself not only great esteem but affection, and his loss will be greatly felt especially by those who have been closely connected with him in his labour at Webster St. It is expected that his funeral will take place at Bridlington tomorrow.
John Amos Griffin (1833-1905)
John was a Student teacher.
He moved north and met and married Elizabeth Hamer in Stockport. They moved south and John had various positions in the poorer areas of London including Camberwell, Lambeth and Brixton. He and Elizabeth had fifteen children of whom twelve survived to adulthood.
His daughters took up careers as nurses or teachers, his sons leant towards the Foreign Office and banking. One of his daughters Eva and her husband died when their home received a direct hit from a German bomb. Another daughter Lucy, newly married and on her honeymoon in Lucern Switzerland, tragically died from a burst appendix.
One son, George Cromwell, married in London and shortly after emigrated to the US. He was a bookkeeper and he, his wife Susan and their growing family lived in the Bronx. Then he popped up in New Jersey, married, had a child and moved to Texas where he died. From the records, the family went through hard times with many of them working in factories in Philadelphia.
John Amos died in 1905 at his home in Brockley Grove, Kent. His wife Elizabeth who lived to the grand old age of 92, was granted probate and inherited the grand sum of three hundred and thirty six pounds twelve shillings.
Richard is buried in an unmarked grave in Reading Old Cemetery