Biography for John Day Teall 1859-1929

The following biography was prepared by Adrian Louw Ackerman in June 2011. As noted in an earlier post, Adrian is from Sedgefield, South Africa. He has researched John Day Teall because he had been so kind to his mother and uncle. As will be noted in the article, John Day Teall had an assocation with the Flecher family during most of his life.

John Day TEALL was born in Lucea, Capital of the Parish of Hanover, Jamaica in 1859, on the 1st of May, most probably at the pastorate of Three Churches where his father was a Baptist Minister. His father, William Teall, the sixth Baptist Minister in Jamaica, was born at Chippings Norton Oxfordshire and married his mother, Hannah Eastoe, on 24 December 1845 at Barriffe Hall Oracabessa St Mary Jamaica. Hannah Eastoe was born at Norwich, Norfolk, in 1825 and died after 12 October 1865. She is buried at Morant Bay Jamaica with her youngest son Ernest Gordon Teall who died in infancy.

John Day Teall was one of thirteen children and the then family moved to Morant Bay to establish a Baptist Mission. This after the Morant Bay uprising of 12 October 1865. Only seven of the children survived infancy.

In about 1831, Hannah Eastoe immigrated to Canada and in about 1838, back to East Dereham, Norfolk, where her mother, Mary Phillippo, was born in 1796. She again immigrated in 1842 to Jamaica where she met and married the Reverend William Teall. Hannah’s father, Francis (Frank) Eastoe had Drapery shops in Fakenham and Norwich. After experiencing financial difficulties, the family moved to Canada in about 1831. In all probability they also owned drapery stores there. In 1834, both Francis and his wife, Mary Phillippo, died in Montreal Quebec from cholera.

The England Census of 1871 shows John Day Teall (12) as attending the Missionary School in West Keal, Kent, together with his brother, James Eastoe Teall (14). No street address noted. They were both boarders at this school, listed with other pupils as “Household Members”. The Civil Parish is given as Lee and that is where the Fletchers were also living in 1881.

The England Census of 1881 shows John Day Teall (22) as a “Warehouseman (Out Of Employment)”, and a visitor at the home of William Henry Fletcher, a retired colonial merchant. The address given for William Henry Fletcher is 46 Lee Terrace Lee, Kent, England. The same area as the Missionary School John Day Teall attended in 1871. It is not known why John Day Teall was staying at the home of  William Henry Fletcher at this time?

The England Census of 1891 shows John Day Teall (32) as a Warehouseman living at Aldermanbury/Dyers Court together with amongst others, six other Warehousemen. Given the proximity, of this residence, right next to Bradbury, Greaterex and Company I assume that this is where he was employed at the time.

Bradbury, Greaterex and Company was established in 1815 and in terms of capital they were the 7th largest textile warehouse in London circa 1880. In 1815 John Bradbury & Jeremiah Greaterex, travellers for two Manchester warehouses, resigned their jobs and moved to London to found the firm. Mr. Benjamin Hardwick Teal also became a partner. About 1820 Bradbury Greaterex & Teale start trading in King Street, Cheapside, then moved to larger premises at 6 Aldermanbury. In 1845 a fire broke out in the premises, resulting in the loss of property amounting to almost £300,000. Re-building and further expansion followed. The latter was assisted by the rapid expansion of the railways. Soon their travellers were covering most of the UK.  In 1892, the premises built after the 1845 fire were extended by the addition of 8 & 9 Aldermanbury. Five years later further development incorporated 2, 3, 4, 10 & 11 Aldermanbury, the whole of Fountain Court and much of Dyer’s Court. This is where John Day Teall was resident according to the 1891 census. Bradbury, Greaterex & Co. imported and sold Silk, Shawls & Handkerchiefs among other things.

In 1897, John Dean Cartwright established a company known as “Mansion House” (later known as Cartwright’s Corner), built in 1897 as shops, and situated at the corner of Adderley and Darling Streets Cape Town. The Architect was Charles Henry Smith. Sometime during 1897/1898, he was joined by William (Bill) Fletcher and the company Fletcher and Cartwright was formed, retailing men’s clothes and materials imported directly from Britain.

John Day Teall must have immigrated to South Africa, probably about 1892, as in his Executor’s letter of 16 May 1929 it refers to a friendship of more than 36 years. John Day Teall became a life long friend and confidant of his later employer, William (Bill) Fletcher for whom he must have worked as a Warehouseman at A.W. and W.H. Fletcher, the company started by brothers Anthony Woodward and William Henry Fletcher. At that time, trained and experienced warehousemen in South Africa must have been few and far between. The Fletchers owned various other companies and were also involved as partners in numerous other drapery stores as well as having stores in the country areas. It is believed that while on his travels in the Bredasdorp District for the Fletchers, John Day Teall came across the Ratelrivier farm. Ratelrivier is a historic farm property near Bredasdorp, Cape Province, South Africa.

Six years after the Census of 1881, on the 1st of May 1887, (which I am assuming was his birthday) John Day Teall was presented with a gift of a small religious booklet called “Heavenward”, by William Henry Fletcher’s daughter, Ethel Mary. The booklet contains 31 stanzas for each day of the month and is beautifully illustrated with lovely coloured pictures. I would presume that this type of present would be given by someone who must have had some sort of affectionate feelings for the receiptant. This is purely an assumption. It also shows that even after 1881, John Day Teall and the Fletchers were on friendly terms. In the booklet there is an inscription by Ethel Fletcher “J D Teall from E.M.F. May 1st 1887”. Also in the booklet is the signature of J C M Geldehhuys (Johanna Christina Magdalena born 16/12/1863 at Villiersdorp) who was most probably his housekeeper, he not being married.

The next signature in the booklet (undated) is that of my mother (Johanna Hendrina Geldenhuys 15/10/1908 – 16/06/1996) with her address as 69 Kloof Street Cape Town (1929), which at the time was Saasveld Training College where she studied as a school teacher. It would thus appear that my mother acquired the booklet shortly after the death of Mr Teall. Because her parents were very poor, Mr Teall helped to pay for my mother’s education as well as for her brother who also studied to be a teacher. For this she was ever grateful and always spoke of affection about Mr Teall.

My mother lived on the farm Ratelrivier where her mother worked as a domestic and cook in the main house and her father worked as a gardener. She relates that John Day Teall was instrumental in the purchase of Ratelrivier for the Fletchers and when they moved to the farm, he moved to Bredasdorp, travelling on their behalf between his home, the farm and the business in Cape Town as well as the stores in the country,  It must have been about this time that John Day Teall became the bookkeeper for the Fletchers as my mother remembered him and later for Anthony Stephen Fry who took over the farm in 1917 as manager for the widow Ellen Fletcher.

Mr Teall to all intents and purposes was a kindly and quiet sort of gentleman and a mentor to my mother. On meeting my father, my mother never practised as a teacher and Mrs Ellen Fletcher arranged for her to become the manageress of the tea room at Fletcher and Cartwright in 1930.

John Day Teall died on 28 April 1929 at Bredasdorp, Cape Province, South Africa and was buried there. The grave stone for John Day Teall was erected by Ellen (Nellie) Fletcher and reads: “IN AFFECTIONAL MEMORY OF JOHN DAY TEALL WHO DIED 28 APRIL 1929 AGED 70 YEARS.  AT REST.”   The words “At rest” perhaps indicate that his life was not really a happy one.

Picture of gravestone
Gravestone of John Day Teall in Bredasdorp, Cape Province, South Africa

The following is from a letter sent by WALTER HlNTON & PULKER, CHARTERED ACCOUNTANTS, Cape Town in 1929 to Harry Rees in Milford Haven, Wales:

It is my painful duty to acquaint you with the death of your uncle, Mr. John Day Teall, who died at Bredasdorp on, the evening of Sunday, 28th April. You were no doubt aware that he had been in failing health for some time past. May I be permitted to express my sympathy with you in the loss which you and your family have sustained. From a friendship which existed between us for over thirty six years I know well the fine character that he was and how very much he will be missed and his death mourned.

His last Will has nominated me as his Executor and it is in this capacity that I now write to you. The provisions of the Will are that his two sisters in Jamaica shall each receive the sum of £100 and a life interest in the residue of the Estate. Upon the death of either sister her half share in the life interest shall devolve upon the survivor and upon the death of both of them the said residue is to be distributed in equal shares, namely, one-third to be shared equally between your sister, Miss Dilys Rees, and yourself, one-third to Mr. Harry E. Rees and. one-third to Mr. A.J.W. Rees, You and the others whom I have just named are therefore the residuary heirs.

Adrian Ackerman acknowledged the information provided by Tommy Evans, Bill Eastoe, Jim Saunders and myself that assisted him in compiling this biography.


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