John and James Elmy

John and James Elmy subscribed to Kirby’s Historical Account. The Elmy family has a long history in East Anglia. John and James were from the Beccles branch, sons of William Elmy, a tanner. William’s father, and his father before him had also been tanners. However, William’s brother John was a woolen draper and married into the Folkard family. John the woolen draper took one Thomas Rede as an apprentice and Rede then married his daughter Martha. They had a son Tomas, who in turn married Theophilia, the daughter and heiress of William Leman.

Of the two sons, John {1705-1756}, the eldest, was a surgeon in Beccles. He was one of the people signing the notices whenever a smallpox outbreak occurred in Beccles. James followed his father into the tanning business and married, around 1747 or 1748, Sarah Tovell of Parham, where Kirby was born. When James and Sarah were engaged, William Leman was one of the people noting his receiving a dowry.

James Elmy’s business ended in bankruptcy in 1758 and all his property was sold at auction to recover his debts. He went out to the West Indies and is supposed to have gone to Guadeloupe and died there, although there is some evidence that he worked at Roseau in Dominica through the 1760s at least. Fortunately for his wife, her son, and three young daughters, the Tovells had money and they moved to Parham near the rest of the family. There Sarah (1751—1813) became friends with Alethea Brereton. Alethea’s fiancé, William Levett, introduced her to his good friend George Crabbe (the poet) and they married in 1783.

6 thoughts on “John and James Elmy

  1. Julia Taylor

    Very interested to know wether your information is based on family tradition or something else. Sarah certainly seems to have been the daughter of James Elmy (who married Sarah Tovel) and later she married George Crabbe and had children.
    I am interested in the early Elmy family, and can trace them before Henry Elmy moved to Beccles circa 1600. He had 3 surviving children john, Edward (who I think moved to Norwich where his father had done a tanners apprenticeship) and Briget Henry died in 1614 and his will is in the Suffolk Records Office. John married and had 8 children (1604 Bridget, 1606 John, 1607 Alice, 1609 Henry died1612, 1614 Mary, 1616 William, 1619 Henry, 1621 Mathew d 1630) his wife Margery died in 1629 according to the Parish Register. I could go on, but will spare you.
    Obviously the Elmys in the next century where descended from them. They were only in Suffolk before 1500, and it still remains a rare name in England.

    1. dmelville2012 Post author

      Thank you for your comment and additional information. I don’t have any connection with the Elmy family or an inside knowledge. It does seem clear from George Crabbe’s biographies that his wife was the Sarah daughter of Sarah Tovel. Incidentally, her friend Alethia Brereton became a successful author.

  2. Dawn richardson

    I am descended from the Elmy Family line Suzannah Elmy 1730 Southerton Suffolk daughter of James was my 5x Great GrandMother.. Related to the Moore’s and Cleveland’s /

    President Grover Cleveland Cousins.

  3. David Lindley

    You will find on the Internet details of a sale (below) of a piece of silver purchased in the year James Elmy went bankrupt, 1758, There is a photograph of the item too..
    Perhaps he had an extravagant nature which was the cause of his financial ruin.
    Lot Description
    Inscribed ‘Iames Elmy Beccles, 1758’, the silver rim struck three times with maker’s mark only, stamped ‘432’ on the bottom and with a paper label inside inscribed ‘15082’
    5¼ in. (14 cm.) high
    It was sold by Christie’s Sale 7561 the Simon Sainsbury The Creation of an English Arcadia
    on 18 June 2008 for £3750


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