Cook & Tovell

Family tree: Robert Tovell descendants

Fred Brett’s mother was Alice Mary Cook, with whom my mother shared a strong family resemblance. Alice was a book folder while she lived with her widowed mother Emma née Thurlow in Waddington St, West Ham; this crossed Waddington Rd, where her future husband George was lodging. Alice’s father Alfred was also a railwayman.


Alice Mary Cook (left) most likely with her two sisters Edith & Emma

Prior to the days of the railway, Alfred’s father George Tovell Cook, born 1822 in Ipswich, was a master coach builder; later in life, he became a fireman carpenter with Great Eastern Railway (GER). George was one of six children of Thomas Cook and his wife Lydia née Godbold / Godball.

Thomas’ parents were Thomas Cook and Mira Tovell who married in 1796, also the year Mira’s father Robert Tovell died.

I am indebted to Jane Walsh (my third cousin once removed) for her enthusiastic assistance with tracing the family via some impressive gravestones in Ipswich cemetery and Thomas Cook’s Bible, dated 1799.

George Tovell & Thomas Cook_burial

George Tovell Cook & Thomas Cook
(photo by Jane Walsh)

The mission was to discover the link between Mira’s father Robert (mentioned in the Cook Bible) and the stonemason of Ipswich whose descendant George Tovell, cement manufacturer and member of the Dock Commission in the mid-1850s, was commemorated when Tovell’s Wharf was built in the 1920s. Evidence was gleaned from parish registers transcribed by Suffolk Family History Society, the National Burial Index and the British Library newspaper archive.

Snippets from the Archives…

Ipswich Borough Archives 1255-1835 A Catalogue, 18 Dec 1758:
C/5 Town Responsibilities and Services, p.545
Water supply to messuage in which ROBERT TOVELL stonecutter, dwells in MG [St. Margaret’s]
Lease to THOMAS SINGLETON of Bury St Edmunds stonecutter, for £10 fine and 6s 8d annual rent (numbered 15)

Essex Chronicle, 1779:
(found by Jane Walsh in the Essex Chronicle, 1929)
A few days since [24 Aug 1779], Mr Isaac Woods of Dedham was married at St Margarets, Ipswich to Miss Mary Tovell, eldest daughter to Mr Robert Tovell, stone mason of Ipswich, a young person of such amiable qualifications as to foretell felicity in the married state.

Tales, Poems and Masonic Papers, 1782:
by Emra Holmes (published 1877)
On St John the Evangelist’s Day, December 27, 1782, it is recorded that this evening Bro. ROBERT TOVELL, Secretary [of the British Union Lodge, No.114, Ipswich], was raised to the degree of Past Master, being found worthy.

Ipswich Journal, 1792:
Returns sincere Thanks to his Friends, for the great encouragement be has met with since in Co-partnership with Mr. Singleton, and respectfully informs them, and the public in general, (the Co-partnership is dissolved) that he has taken the above Premises and Stock in Trade on his own firm, and hopes, by a strict attention, to merit their favours and support.
All orders in the above business will be thankfully received, and executed with punctuality and dispatch.
[Edward was employed by architect Robert Mylne II to build Woolverstone obelisk]

Bury and Norwich Post, 1853:
IPSWICH. The storm of snow and rain at the beginning of last week was unexampled for severity and duration… Between nine and ten in the morning, as MR. G.S. TOVELL, stonemason, was passing along the upper embankment, between St. Peter’s Foundry and the Flint Wharf, he felt the ground yielding under him. Perceiving something was amiss, he instantly turned round and ran back as fast as he could, and did not slacken his speed until he felt assured that he enjoyed a firm footing. In the meantime, a large portion of the massive wall, about thirty yards in length, sustaining the embankment on the outer side, subsided several feet, carrying down with it nearly one-half of the roadway.