For the descendents of Richard Dearie and his son John Russell

Robert Fox

1 November 1869 - 6 August 1954

Compiled by Claire Grey with information from Honor Newman, Truda and Martin McNeill

Robert Fox was the third son of Charles and Annie Fox. He was born on 1 Nov 1869, but says says in his own biography he was born in 1867 at 4.15pm . He was christened at St David’s Balls Pond.

He had to walk his brother Frank to school 5 miles there and back. He always had to fight Frank’s battles.

He was educated somewhere in Stoke Newington by Mr Vasey. He was considered very handsome and is said to have proposed to two girls on the same day.

He went on to the Stock Exchange, then in 1888 aged 19 to Canada and America and returned to take over the furniture business about 1891/5? He lived in America as a cowboy. He went to Oregon as a younger man to escape his tyrannical father. He returned on the behest of his mother after 3 years. He arrived in the middle of the night and did an Indian whoop on the lawn. Annie, his mother knew immediately it was Robert.

Right: Robert with his mother Annie


He married Nellie Smart on 14 October 1902 at St Johns Church, London. She was his third cousin.

They had two daughters Gertrude and Honor, and lived at 43 Granville Road, High Barnet. Later they lived at Hall Croft, Letchworth. He was a special constable during the First World War and watched from the top of Barnet Church for Zeppelin searchlights.

He was a very jolly man, and as can be seen from his intended biography interested in modern technology like bicycles and escalators and also in architecture and history.

He enjoyed playing golf all his life and in his later years, during World War 2 he worked for Stevenage and Letchworth Council.

Left: With Nell


The Furniture Business.

Robert took over the family furniture business in Eldon Street and ran it successfully for many years. The factory was in Glover Street, Shoreditch.

On the 26 March 1924 Hilda Russell bought all her furniture from him. It is interesting to see the sort of furniture the firm was selling. The receipt's heading says: C and J Fox and Co Cabinet, Upholstery and Furniture Warehouses: Nos. 7,8,9 and 10 Eldon Street and 6 Queens Square , Finsbury EC2 Factory 2 &3 Glover Street EC2


Above: Tennis party at Roslin. Back row, second left :Frank Fox in the boater, Nell's father Henry Wells Smart, and Charles Fox. Front row, from left: Nell's sister, unknown, Nell's younger brother Eric, Gertie Fox sitting sideways and Robert with the tennis racket on the right.

Notes: (1)

It is unlikely that his mother was one of 26. 26 children appears to be an exaggeration. Annie had four brothers fighting for the South in the Civil War. None of them were killed at Gettysburg. One was killed at Fredericksburg. One was captured at Gettysburg. It was the Hogg not the Dearie family who descended from the Grahams. The Claverhouse Grahams died out in 1700 neither of the last 2 brothers had any children. Annie’s Scottish grandmother would be Helen Graham, who married John Hogg weaver, it is not known if her grandmother had an affair with her cousin the Duke of Montrose, since our research has not been able to reach that far back. No Duke of Montrose can be found who was executed in Edinburgh or for plotting to put Charles II back on his father’s throne.

He typed up the introduction:

“ Title page: Off my Chest, being the Casual chronicles of an octogenarian. By Robert Fox.” (He was 84 in 1953 but thought he was born 2 years earlier so it may have been written 1951)

“Chapter 1 Preamble

Eighty-four. I don’t believe it. Yet a certain John William Snaggs Registrar of Cannonbury, in the County of London signed certificate recording my birth in 1867, further stipulating that I first saw the light at 4 15 in the morning. Old Bismarck, I suppose, was fast asleep at that time, having worked late on his plans for the Franco Prussian War. And here you find me, eight four years after – when my meat ration for a week is eight pennyworth of carcass meat plus two pennyworth of corned beef- starting on a great sheaf of white paper to write down what I think of it all. Where shall I start? I could, in the manner of some biographers, start with the bogey I got on the thirteenth last Thursday, at the Letchworth Golf Club. But if I didn’t go rambling on about my three pals who make up our regular four -ball on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Does it interest you to know that our combined ages come to three hundred and seven years? Eighty-four! Not bad going. Of course, like all octogenarians, I have a secret for longevity, but if you think I’m going to divulge it on the first page, you’re mistaken. Be patient and read on.

Going away back. I am standing between the knees of a very sweet old lady. She has corkscrew curls covering each ear, and a piece of purple velvet ribbon contrived into a bow o the top of her head. And what shall we do today, Bobby? She asked and goes on to tell me about the soldiers. I was a bloodthirsty lad and loved soldiers. “Well she says when I first saw them I was looking through the bannisters down into a big hall. They were filing into the ballroom with lovely ladies on their arms. The uniforms were bright red and blue with lots of gold…” That was how Lady Sophia Cecil told me of the ball given by her father, the Duke of Richmond, for Wellington and his officers on the eve of Waterloo.

I suppose that was one of my very first memories. But there were others, and time has not faded mental pictures. My faculties are good. At the time of writing nothing is on the blink. For a lifetime of good health I thank God, and my mother whose maiden name was Dearie. She was one of 26, and had 9 brothers fighting for the South in the American Civil war. Eight were killed at Gettysburg. The Dearie family descended directly from Graham of Claverhouse, and although it is nothing whatsoever to do with my yarn I do remember her saying that her grandmother remembers her grandmother having an affair with her cousin the Duke of Montrose later executed in Edinburgh for plotting to put Charles II back on his father’s throne.(1)

Well, if I can recall things like that you’ll probably aware? that there are sure to be other titbits worth getting down. Eighty-four is a lot of years and during them I’ve come across affair number of oddities. What applies of course to anyone who has kicked around, but circumstance has dropped me into more kettles of fish than most. At least I think so. Can you for instance imagine anything queerer than this? A train stops in the Rocky Mountains, just over the Canadian border; I get out and chat with the only Mountie I’ve ever met before or since. His name is also Fox and by chance I met the same fellow ten years afterwards in Pall Mall! This is the sort of thing that constantly happens to me Can you wonder that I’ve got to get it off my chest?”


Towards the end of his life he turned the factory over to a manager. Other furniture makers undercut the business and there was very little left at the end according to Truda.

The property and land was transferred to his daughters Truda and Honor in 1937.

At that time it consisted of Nos. 7,8 9 and 10 Eldon Street, 6 and 7 Queens Square and land on the corner of Queens Square and Finsbury Avenue.

Part of this agreement refers to a Thomas Moore Fox, deceased; who is possibly the cousin who is a partner referred to in No. 10 of his Chapter headings. (See below)

The firm didn't have a trademark but Truda said they were the only manufacturers in London whose first productions were then antiques.

Robert's Intended Biography

He made some notes for his own biography, which sadly he never wrote.

These were the chapter Headings:

1. Childhood my mother's family with threads from the battle of Waterloo to Gettysburg.

2. School comparisons then and now getting there and River days.

3. Commerce Reasons for quitting it and becoming a cowboy

4. On board the SS Etruia a near thing on the Banks and how I changed from first class emigrant.

5. Arrival at ranch start work. Indians and their habits

6. I seek other masters. Adventure in a paddock a slight love affair with its consequences.

7. I try sheep herding What loneliness really is and adventures with ?catamount

8. Homesick decide to use money for ship home

9. Home again My fathers wish and his early life, garrotters in the City Road and my present ?poked

10. Commerce My partner cousin and many tales

11. Cycling From bone shaker to present day, causes of road accidents

12. The Castle at Cookham. Tuns of money

13. Golf clubs I have belonged to tales of then and now

14. Buying and selling a strange purchase and stranger sale.

15. The supernatural Alarming experiences

16. The old City churches Rambles amongst the chop houses courts etc return of C.I.V.s

17. The old Cheshire Cheese, Pinero, Myra Holme and the Old actors

18. Central London Tube First moving stair case and what can happen on it

19. War 1914 Gunrunning? In G.R.s and Specials destruction of first Zep

20. Retirement Stevenage Council work Letchworth during 2nd world war

Above: Robert on the left at Ockershotts including Hilda Mossop, Nell and Philip Russell on the right. Left, with Nell and the children.

Above: Photographs of Eldon Street in 2010 show that it has been completely redeveloped and no trace remains of the shop today.
Above: 43 Granville Road, High Barnet in 1908
1914-1918 Robert in his Special Constable uniform, with wife Nellie and daughter Gertrude, ( Truda), in the back garden of their house in High Barnet.
Above: Geoffrey Newman who married Robert's daughter Honor in 1937 with Robert. Undated but possibly late 1930s or early 1940s.
Robert, Nellie, Gertrude and Honor at Gertrude's wedding in 1936

Nellie died in 1948. Robert died on the 6 August 1954.

They were both cremated at Golders Green.

Above: Robert Fox at the wedding of his daughter Gertrude in 1936.