P R O F I L
John Donovan lll (Jack)
1859 - 1935
241 Croydon Road
The Donovan family came from Cork in Ireland about 1850, likely as a result of
the Potato Famine when many immigrated to England via Liverpool. It looks as if
two generations of Donovan came over (J.D. I & II)who were to become the grandparents and
their son the parent of John Donovan III, also known as Jack. All three generations had the
first name John and so confusion is easy - hence the numbering.
The grandparents John I and Mary, by 1881 were in the Queens Road Workhouse in Croydon, testifying to the continued poverty of the immigrants.
Their son, John Donovan II ran a stall in Petticoat Lane, London and lived in
the vicinity, marrying a girl from Ticehurst, Mary Hayes in 1855. The couple moved with their family to Oxted sometime before 1871.
Jack (J.D. III) therefore was born in London, the eldest son. The family, having relocated to Oxted in Surrey circa 1870 then moved to 56 Chalk Pit, Caterham. This is believed to be cottages that were demolished in 1971 near where Tupwood Road meets the Godstone Road, Caterham Valley. The substantial chalk quarry there is now occupied by a modern office building. In 1879 Jack married Louisa Wheeler of Orpington. By then Jack had 4 brothers and 5 sisters.
After his marriage, Jack (John Donovan III) with wife and their first child moved to High Street Westerham where he is recorded as a plumber in 1881. The family then appears to have relocated for a while in 2 Clematis Cottages, Beechwood Road, Caterham and then to Mount Pleasant, Caterham about 1884. In 1891 the family was again recorded at Beachwood Road, Caterham Valley and then later at Mount Pleasant again. Here they had the northern corner premises where the road abuts the Croydon Road. Working as a plumber and builder by 1890 the family included 4 sons and a daughter Lydia and Frederick who had died an infant. Unfortunately Jack's wife died in childbirth in 1890 thereby terminating any ambition to have a family quite as large as that of his parents albeit still quite substantial.
It was not until 1906 that Jack remarried. He met and wedded Emily Robinson, a Yorkshire lady from Queen's Road, Royston. Their wedding was in
Caterham where she worked in domestic service at Rosenheath. They set about building Royston
Villas in Croydon Road, Caterham, initially building 243 and 245 and shortly
after adding 241 where they were to live with their dog Pat. Curly Sexton was a
partner of Jack Donovan in his building projects and reputedly did the brickwork for the
three houses. The couple were not destined to have children of their own. However Jack's daughter Lydia by his first wife was to suffer a fatal dentistry
accident in 1917. As a result their grandson Sidney was without adequate
parental care and so they took him in shortly afterwards to live at Royston
Villas, 241 Croydon Road, Caterham with them.
Emily herself died in 1927 of cancer and Jack and Sidney continued at
241 Croydon Road until circa 1930 when Sidney moved back to be with his father
in Croydon, which was much nearer to his work. Jack died in 1935 and
is buried in Upper Caterham church yard together with his second wife. He left a
not inconsiderable estate testifying to the success of his endeavours against a
family background of poverty.
In the 1920's, when living at Caterham, Jack and Sidney had been
repairing a sache window at the back of 241. Whilst trying to thread the sache
cord through the pulley they had used Jack's watch chain. Unfortunately it
dropped into the cavity and was lost. Many years later in the early part of the
21st century, when Sid's son Lionel took over the house and effected a major
renovation, lo and behold the watch chain was found and is now a family
heirloom. Jack's plumbing tools have also survived.
Click website below for more details of Royston Villas.
Website: Click Here
John Donovan 2nd
Mary Ann Donovan (formerly Hayes)
Louisa Donovan (formerly Wheeler)
John Thomas Donovan
Lydia Bertha Donovan
Emily Donovan (formerly Robinson)
19th CENTURY second half, 20th CENTURY first half, PAST, PEOPLE
England - Southern