Mertens Family History

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My Mertens Links

Picture of Maria Emma Mertens The picture on the left is of my great grandmother Maria Emma Mertens (1864-1948) she was the daughter of William John and Sabina Mertens nee Dutillieul. On 25th Sepember 1888 she married my great grandfather James Southwood at Caterham Parish Church Surrey (see Southwood Family History Page for more details).
Maria Emma Mertens had one brother Frederick William Mertens(c1854-1920) and five sisters who survived infancy : Annette Mertens;Florence Medora Mertens;Charlotte Mertens; Matilda Maud Mertens and Ada Jessie Mertens. Two further sisters have been traced Sabina Annette Mertens (c1850-1851) and Eleanor Henrietta Mertens (c1852-1854)

Picture of Wilhelm (William) John Mertens
William John Mertens (Wilhelm John Mertens) was born according to the 1881 Census in Lambeth c1830 . He was a House Painter and it is allegedly while painting the outside of the house occupied by the Dutillieul (for more details please follow the Dutillieul link) family he met he future wife Sabina Dutilliuel they were married 7th April 1850 at St Marylebone Parish Church Middelsex. After they married the Mertens lived in first in Marylebone and later in Clerkenwell but 1881 William moved the family out of "London" to Caterham in Surrey and its here they stayed. William died at Caterham 16th August 1893 under the name Wilhelm John Mertens.

So far I've been unable to find a trace of William's/Wilhelm's baptism. His father as given on the marriage certificate of 1850 is William Mertens with occupation Harp Maker.

Signatures from Mertens Appenticeship Indenture - Please Click for Link for Transcript and Photographs

Luckily we still have in the family a copy of an apprenticeship indenture (a small part of which can seen on the left hand side) for Wilhelm Mertens son of a George Mertens of Wardour Street in the parish of St James Westminster Cabinet Maker dated 27th July 1809 to Jacob Erat a Harp Maker of 100 Wardour Street, Soho (my earliest reference to Jacob Erat as a Harp Maker, is from Holdens Triennial Directory for 1808, and the last is just prior to his death from 1820 in Kents Directory trading under the name of "Erat and son - patent harp makers"). The indenture period, incidentally, for Wilhelm or William Merten's to learn the Art of Harp Making, was for five years, and so his apprenticeship was completed in July 1814.

The Sun Office Insurance Records (Guildhall Library) show that Wilhelm, or Christian Wilhelm Mertens, was living at 99 Wardour St, Soho (next to Jacob Erat's premises) on the 4th July 1816, or two years after his apprenticeship had finished. He then appears at 36 Margaret Street, Cavendish Square in 1817 (probably the premises mentioned in the will of Elizabeth Warner below). And by 9th July 1818, he is insuring at 80 Berwick St. , when he is described as a Grocer and Oilman.

From another document held at the London Metropolitan Archive Ref MJ/R/P/012/048 dated 1832 (details kindly supplied by Mike Baldwin), William Mertens was required to keep the Peace, and his address has changed to Lambeth, Surrey.

Middlesex to wit.} William Mertens of Number 33 George Street, Grays Walk, Lambeth, Surrey, Harp Maker Acknowledges himself to be indebted to our Sovereign Lord the King in the Sum of twenty Pounds
William Powell of Number 37 Belton Street, Long Acre, Coal Dealer Acknowledges &c. ten Pounds.
Joseph Beasmore of Number 18 Regent Street, Kensington Square, Harp Maker Acknowledges &c. ten Pounds.
UPON CONDITION That the said William Mertens do keep the Peace and be of good Behaviour towards our Sovereign Lord the King and all his Liege Subjects and especially towards William Greenfield for Six months Then this Recognizance to be void or else remain in full Force.
TAKEN and acknowledged the fourteenth Day of March One Thousand Eight Hundred and Thirty two.

Jacob Erat, the Harp Maker to whom William was apprenticed, died in 1821. His will, dated 14th February 1821, names as Executors John Broadwood of Great Pultney Street, St.James Westminster, Piano Forte Maker, George Sharp, of Berners Street, St.Mary Marylebone, Musician, and Martha Erat, Jacob's wife. The will mentions, two sons Jacob Erat and James Erat, who were to take over the Harp Making business, and five daughters Catherine Erat, Mary Ann Erat, Martha Erat, Georgina Erat (born June 4th 1808), and Julia Erat (born June 27th 1811), all of whom Wilhelm Mertens is likely to have met while apprenticed. The witnesses being J. Hamilton, and Geo. Twining, both of Berwick St., Soho. However apparently (from the cutting below) a dispute appears to have arisen between George Sharp and Martha Erat, and possibly Jacob's financial affairs were in some difficulty, as the advertisement below illustrates.

The Times September 24th, 1825
(From the Thomson Gale online Index to the Times)

PURSUANT to Decree of the High Court of Chancery, made in a cause wherein George Sharp is the Plaintiff, and Martha Erat widow and others are Defendants, the CREDITORS of JACOB ERAT, late of Berners street. Oxford street, in the parish of St.Marylebone, in the county of Middlesex, harpmaker (who died in the month of March, 1821), are forthwith to come in and prove their debts before Francis Paul Stratford, esq. one of the Masters of the said Court, at his chambers in Southampton buildings, Chancery lane, London; or in default thereof they will be excluded the benefit of the said decree. C. SABINE, Plaintiff's solicitor, Carmarthen street, Bedford square

The final settlement of the financial affairs of the late Jacob Erat appear to have continued to drag on until 1831, ten years after his death (see advertisement below)


The London Gazette March 4th, 1831

TO be peremptorily sold, pursuant to an Order of the High Court of Chancery, made in a cause of Sharp versus Erat, with the approbation of Francis Paul Stratford, Esq. one of the Masters of the said Court, at the Public-Sale-Room of the said Court, in Southampton-Buildings, Chancery-Lane, London, on Tuesday the 22d day of March 1831, in three lots;
Sundry leasehold messuages and premises, situate in Berners-Street, Oxford-Street, and in Park Street, Camden-Town, and Perry-Street, Somers-Town, held for long terms of years, at ground rents, the property of Mr. Jacob Erat, deceased.
The place of sale will shortly be advertised, when printed particulars may be had (gratis) at the said Master's Chambers, in Southampton-Buildings, aforesaid; of Mr. Sabine, Solicitor, 21, John Street, Bedford-Row; and of Mr. Hamilton, Solicitor, Berwick-Street, Soho.

Hopefully at some time in the future I'll get the chance to obtain a photograph of a surviving Harp made by Jacob Erat the elder, in Regency Soho, in the early 1800's which I can add my site, and even better get chance to see and hear played and example of his craftsmanship.

By the time of England and Wales Census for 1841, Wilhelm or William Mertens can be found, with his family, living in New Bond Street, St.George Hanover Square, Westminster. (HO 107/733/3 11). And has returned to his craft as a Harp Maker (rather than Grocer and Oilman above)

NameMaleFemale ProfessionBorn inForeign
AgeAgesame CountyParts
William Mertens45Harp MakerF
Charlotte Mertens29Y
Edward Mertens20Carpenter AppY
William Mertens12Y
Frederick Mertens8Y
Maria Mertens3Y
Caroline Mertens1Y

And by combining the Census return above with the marriage certificates below, allows me to demonstrate that Wilhelm Mertens, the Harp Maker's full name was Christian Wilhelm Mertens. He married his first wife, Elizabeth Cross 29th July 1815 at St James Westminster, and his second wife Charlotte Duke on 16th June 1829 at St Martin in the Fields Westminster. Christian Wilhelm died in 1844 aged 50 described as a Mathematical Instrument Maker.

Charlotte Mertens his widow, re-married at St Pancras Church in the Parish of St Pancras in the County of Middlesex

When MarriedName and SurnameAgeConditionRank or ProfessionResidenceFathers Name and SurnameRank or Profession of Father
December 14th 1846John ReeveFull ageBatchelorSawyerKing StJohn ReeveDead
Charlotte MertensFull ageWidow D[itt]oRobert DukeDead

Witnesses : Richard Williams, Mary Hughes

I've also managed to trace to marriages of two of Christian Wilhelm Merten's daughters.

Christchurch in the Parish of St Marylebone in the County of Middlesex - Registration District Marylebone

When MarriedName and SurnameAgeConditionRank or ProfessionResidenceFathers Name and SurnameRank or Profession of Father
June 11th 1842William WarnerFull AgeWidowerEngraverCunningham PlaceWilliam WarnerIronmonger
Elizabeth Matilda Cross MertensFull AgeSpinsterCunningham PlaceChristian Wilhelm MertensHarp Maker

Witnesses : Edward Cross, Matilda Elizabeth Cross Mertens

St Pancras Church in the Parish of St Pancras in the County of Middlesex

When MarriedName and SurnameAgeConditionRank or ProfessionResidenceFathers Name and SurnameRank or Profession of Father
September 12th 1847Abraham StimsonFull ageWidowerShoemakerKing StAbraham StimsonDead
Emma MertensFull ageSpinster D[itt]oChristian William MertensDead

Witnesses: John Reeve, Charlotte Reeve's X Mark

Elizabeth Warners Will from 1851 mentions, among others, Matilda Elizabeth Cross Mertens above

To date I've managed to locate 5 baptisms and two GRO Births of the children listed in the 1841 Census above

St. Mary Lambeth Baptisms
25th Mar. 1821 Edward Willhelm s/o Christian Willhelm and Elizabeth Mertens of George Street, Harp Maker
23rd Feb. 1823 Emma d/o Christian Wilhelm and Elizabeth Mertens of George Street, Harp Maker
12th Aug. 1832 Frederick William s/o Christian William and Charlotte Mertens of George Street, Harp Maker
3rd Apr. 1836 George Wilhelm, born 9th Nov. 1833, s/o Christian and Charlotte Mertens, of 12 …ton Buildings, Harp Smith
3rd Apr. 1836 Charles Alfred, born 26th Oct. 1835, s/o Christian and Charlotte Mertens, of 12 …ton Buildings, Harp Smith

Saint James Westminster, Sub-district Golden Square, Middlesex
When and where bornName, if anySexName and surname of fatherName, surname and maiden surname of motherOccupation of fatherSignature, description and residence of informantWhen registered
7th Nov. 1839 [at] No.15 King St.Caroline EmmaGirlChristian Willhelm MertensCharlotte Mertens formerly DukeHarp MakerCharlotte Mertens Mother No.15 King St, her mark x6th Dec 1839

Saint Pancras, Sub-district Somers Town, Middlesex
When and where bornName, if anySexName and surname of fatherName, surname and maiden surname of motherOccupation of fatherSignature, description and residence of informantWhen registered
17th Dec 10 minutes past 11am the Morning at 12 Phoenix placeVictoria MariaGirlChristian Wilhelm MertensCharlotte Mertens formerly DukeHarp Makerthe mark of x Charlotte Mertens Mother No.12 Pheonix place29th Dec [1837]

The Mertens Family (from the 1881 Census Caterham Surrey)
William Mertens Head Age 51 House Painter Born Lambeth
Louise Mertens Wife Age 52 Born Marylebone
Charlotte Mertens Dau Age 23 Born St Pancras
Maria Mertens Dau Age 18 General Servant Born London
Florence Mertens Dau Age 15 Scholar Born St Pancras
Matilda Mertens Dau Age 11 Scholar Born St Pancras

Sabina Mertens nee Dutillieul
Sabina Mertens nee Dutillieul (see photograph on the left hand side) is one of those fortunately rare ancestors who appears to have evaded the 1881 census.
According to her death certificate she was born c1825 and according to the 1851 Census (when she was living in Marylebone with William) she was born c1828/29 in "Middlesex". So I'm still hopeful I'll find her on the 1881 Census with a more definative date and location to track her down! Sabina died at Caterham 9th September 1892.

Mertens Family in Caterham c1880
Almost to round off my Mertens Links I've attached a photograph taken in Caterham in the 1880's of the Merten's family. Click on the link for the full picture of Sabina and her six daughters gathered out of doors - plus the smartly dressed "lodger" .

By the 1890's the Mertens family was more widely scattered, my Great Great Aunt Maud for example became a teacher, in Cookham, Berkshire, where in 1897 she helped to organise the local school celebration for Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee.
I've scanned a copy of the programme for anyone with an interest in Cookham (click on the link)

There are a quite number of other Mertens family photographs (fortunately all identified - thanks for my Great Aunt Edna Crossman nee Southwood - I scribbled in pencil the names on the back of the photos when starting out my voyage family history of discovery)

Click on link to view