The Friends of St. Peter's Berkhamsted

Friends of St Peter's, Great Berkhamsted

George Loosley (1834 – 1921)


George Loosley was born on the 24th August 1834 at Alscot, Princes Risborough, the son of James and his first wife Sarah (formerly Darvill). By the 1841 census the family had moved to Longwick, and in 1851 George was lodging at a house in Lee Common, Great Missenden. By 1871 he was married and had moved his family to Berkhamsted.

George was a shoe maker’s apprentice in the 1851 census, but by 1861, aged 26, he had become a British Schoolmaster in Buckinghamshire. He married Charlotte Jane Kerry on 10th April 1862 at the Brook Street Chapel, Tottenham, London. They were Baptists and were later to became very involved with the Baptist Church in Berkhamsted.

By 1871, George was a Schoolmaster in Berkhamsted and had 3 children; James Sam aged 8, George William 6 and Mary Elizabeth 1. Some time between 1871 and 1881 he became the Headmaster of Park View School in Berkhamsted, with the family living in the High Street, but by 1881 George left the school and had opened a shop in Castle Street. He was now a newsagent and stationer, and also a journalist with the West Herts Observer. He was also publishing the Berkhamsted Times, which he founded in 1875. By now James was no longer living at home, George and Mary were 16 and 11 respectively, with George working in the shop, and there were 4 more children. They were Albert Edward 9, Edwin Livingstone 7, Annie Alice 4 and Nellie 1. The boys went to Berkhamsted School and Annie Alice was one of the first ten girls to attend the Girls High School.

By 1891 the family was living in Cowper House, Castle Street, and George was also now the Superintendent Registrar, a post which he held for many years. At various times he was also the Treasurer of the Chamber of Commerce, a Director of the Building Society, a Deacon and secretary of the Baptist Church and a Special Constable!

loosley2The children seem to have run the business from at least 1901, because in the 1901 census George and Charlotte were living at 9 Cowper Road with her brother and sister, and his occupation was given only as Superintendent Registrar. His second son George William, with his wife Caroline, were living at the shop at 164 High Street, were he was described as a stationer and bookseller. For many years the business published the “Berkhamsted Almanack and Directory”. Four of his other children, Albert, Mary (who died in 1905), Edwin and Nellie were all living at 12 Castle Street, with Albert described as a journalist, printer and stationer, and Edwin as a bookseller and stationer. It seems that the eldest brother James, with his wife Mary, was now in South Africa working for Coopers, of sheep dip fame. Later on it seems that Edwin went to Rhodesia (later Zimbabwe) to work on the railways, and may then have joined his brother in South Africa.

In the 1904 and 1906 Almanacks the shops were given as 12 Castle Street and 164 High Street. The High Street shop was roughly where W.H.Smith is today. The 1909 Almanack has an advert for “Loosleys New Shop” at 176-8, High Street, which is where the Oxfam shop is now. The address included the shop, the Servants Registry, Circulating Library and the Cowper Printing Works.

In 1901 George and Charlotte were living at 9 Cowper Road, with her brother William Kerry (who was head of the household) and her sister Jane. This was probably a temporary arrangement because at all other times George was head of his own household. Indeed by 1909 they were living at Bay House, Charles Street, which was the only house between Doctors Commons Road and Kings Road, where Bay Court can now be found.

loosley1An advertisement from the 1912 Berkhamsted Almanack shows that they sold, amongst other items, Goss china with local crests including Berkhamsted (spelt Berkhampsted by manufacturer), Hertfordshire, Berkhamsted School, the poet Cowper and Earl Brownlow. As well as printing a number of local books and pamphlets, they were also the official printers for the Inns of Court Officer Training Corps, who were based in Berkhamsted during the First World War. From 1915, two of the daughters, Annie and Nellie Loosley, managed a Servants Registry, based at the shop, which was very successful. The family also ran a Circulating Library.

Apart from their business interests the Loosley family were very involved with the Baptist Church in Berkhamsted, as mentioned earlier. George Loosley was the Church Secretary from 1878 to 1905, and was appointed a Trustee in 1896. In 1905 he was elected as a delegate to the Baptist Union World Conference. His son Albert Edward Loosley was Treasurer in 1921 and was elected a Life Deacon in 1948. Nellie Loosley held the Treasurer’s post for about 30 years, resigning in 1950. The family also presented two new hymn boards in 1904, and Raymond Loosley presented a Pulpit Bible in 1957 in memory of his father Albert Edward.

Daughter Mary Elizabeth died on November 16th 1905 at the early age of 35. George Loosley died on October 6th 1921, aged 87, and his wife Charlotte Jane followed on Easter Sunday March 31st 1929, aged 90. They are buried together in one grave.

Albert Edward died 12 March 1956, aged 84 and his wife Augusta died January 30th 1950, aged 76. They are also buried together. All can be found in this cemetery.

Ken Wallis

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