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)
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."
|Charles A M
|Henry E G
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
Neither was Hannah listed ten years earlier in the 1871 Census
|Boot & Shoe Maker
A search of the death indexes quickly and sadly shows why Hannah was not listed:
PIPER, HANNAH ELIZABETH 34
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
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!