My DNA test taken earlier this year has resulted in the discovery of a couple of "new" 3rd cousins.  We all descend from Francis Caton Piper (born 1806) and his wife Hannah, which gives me the opportunity to show these photographs of the couple, very kindly provided by Janine, another descendent of the same couple.  (The picture of Francis may seem strange - he has his eyes closed and is looking downwards which prompted one of my new cousins, Roger, to suggest this might be a post mortem picture, but to say more on this would be going off at a tangent)

Francis Caton Piper
Hannah Piper

At least two of this new-found family have the belief that there is a connection or family tie with John Piper the artist who is probably best known for his work at and of Coventry Cathedral, a significant and influential British artist especially of the 1940s and 50s but through to the 1980s.  I thought it would  be interesting to explore whether there might be any truth in this.

Online research can be quick and straightforward, at least when answers are forthcoming, and with a candidate such as John Piper there are several sources of information to start from.  This is what Wikipedia says of him:

"John Piper - Artist

Born: 13 December 1903, Epsom
Died: 28 June 1992, Fawley Bottom

John Egerton Christmas Piper CH was an English painter, printmaker and designer of stained-glass windows and both opera and theatre sets. His work often focused on the British landscape, especially churches and monuments, and included tapestry designs, book jackets, screen-prints, photography, fabrics and ceramics.

John Piper was born in Epsom, Surrey, the youngest of three sons to the solicitor Charles Alfred Piper and his wife Mary Ellen Matthews."

Covehithe Church by John Piper

Covehithe Church, John Piper, 1983, Photo: © Tate, London [2018] 

The 1901 census, two years before the birth of their son John, confirms the existence of this couple and their then family as follows

1901 Census transcript - Ashley Road, Epsom, Surrey

Surname  Forename Born Relationship Profession
Piper Charles A 1863 Head Solicitor
  Ellen M 1867 Wife      
  Charles A M 1894 Son  
  Henry E G 1898 Son  


Charles A Piper was born in Westminster and being aged 38 was born around 1863
His wife Ellen was born in Hove, Sussex so being aged 34 was born about 1867

The General Records Office at
PIPER, CHARLES  ALFRED      Mother's maiden name JEFFERIES      
GRO Reference: 1862  D Quarter in WESTMINSTER  Volume 01A  Page 301

A Hannah Jefferies had married a Charles Piper in 1857
Marriages Sep 1857 Keynsham     5c    1105
Jefferies     Hannah Elizabeth          
Piper         Charles Christmas     

and given John Piper's unusual middle name of Christmas this would seem to confirm this couple as his Grandparents.

At the Census of 1881 Charles C Piper was living with his family in Westminster.  His son, Charles A Piper is listed but wife Hannah is not
Census Transcript Household    London    [Geographically Middlesex]    1881
Address    30 Bessboro Gardens
Parish    St John Westminster
Registration District    St George Hanover Square

Forename Surname Age Year Born Relation  Birth Place  Occupation
Charles C Piper 50 1831 Head Alresford, Hampshire Retired Shoemaker
Lucy E Piper 22 1859 Daughter Westminster, Middlesex  
Charles A Piper 18 1863 Son Westminster, Middlesex Scholar
Arthur H Piper 13 1868 Son Westminster, Middlesex Scholar
Martha E Soutten 32 1849 House Keeper  Alton, Hampshire  House Keeper
Fanny Caster 13 1868 Servant Westminster, Middlesex Domestic Servant


Neither was Hannah listed ten years earlier in the 1871 Census

Forename Surname Age Year Born  Relation Birth Place Occupation
Charles C Piper 40 1831 Head Alresford, Hampshire Boot & Shoe Maker
Lucy Piper 12 1859 Daughter Westminster Scholar
Alice Piper 10 1861 Daughter Westminster Scholar
Charles Piper 8 1863 Son Westminster Scholar


A search of the death indexes quickly and sadly shows why Hannah was not listed:
GRO Reference: 1868  S Quarter in WESTMINSTER  Volume 01A  Page 284         

She had died three years before the 1871 census, perhaps after the birth of son Arthur H Piper, who for some as yet undiscovered reason also is not listed in 1871.  However I am getting away from the main thread, namely the ancestry of John Egerton Christmas Piper. 

It is clear from the two Censuses that his Grandfather Charles C Piper was born in 1831 in or around Alresford, Hampshire and we can find his baptism here:

England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975
Name:    Charles Christmas Piper
Residence Place:    Alresford, Hampshire, England
Gender:    Male
Christening Date:    20 Mar 1831
Christening Place:    Alresford, Hampshire, England
Father's Name:    William Piper
Mother's Name:    Lucy

This confirms his parents' names too, so we now have another generation - William and Lucy Piper, John's great grandparents.

Their marriage is here:

England Marriages, 1538–1973
Name    William Piper
Spouse's Name    Lucy Christmas
Event Date    28 Mar 1826
Event Place    Alton, Hampshire, England

Indexing Project (Batch) Number    I03221-1
System Origin    England-EASy
GS Film number    1595976

and so now we know where the name Christmas came from.

As far as the Piper surname is concerned this is where the trail ends for the moment.  William Piper must have been born about 1805 or before, but whilst I can find baptisms for three different Williams in Hampshire at this time they are all at least 20 miles from Alresford, so nothing conclusive.

However if there is to be any connection with "our" Pipers then this William would have been of the same generation as Francis Caton Piper, who was himself born in 1806.  So far as I know he did not have a brother William, and in any event his father, Dean Piper appears to have spent all his life in Cambridgeshire.  If there is a connection between the Cambridgeshire and Hampshire Pipers then it will have been in the eighteenth century or before, and thus very remote for those "new" cousins who have a family belief that there is a link.

That having been said there is one strange coincidence which is that Janine, who kindly provided the photographs of our mutual ancestors (above) told me that her grandfather had the middle name Egerton, as did artist John Piper.  That is an unusual middle name so perhaps there is some other connection that is not as straightforward as the descendency I have detailed above.  If anyone knows please tell me!