KEMP & GIBBS

 

Kemp

The Reverend George Kemp, a Methodist parson, spent his working life in Cambridgeshire and East Anglia. His Father was a business entrepreneur and factory owner from North East London / Highgate who was famous for his ovens. Apparently he was not keen for George to join the church, but a parson he became nonetheless. George married the daughter of a farmer called Upton. He was an active liberal and supported George Newnes in his parliamentary campaign. When George Kemp was suffering from tuberculosis later in life, George Newnes (Liberal MP for Newmarket - see bottom of page) paid for him to attend a clinic in Switzerland - where he subsequently died in 1890, just before his sixth child was born on 15th June of that year.

After George's death, his wife and six children were supported by her father, as relations with George's Father were strained. They settled near Bromley and continued to attend church. One Sunday, on the way to church across the fields, her youngest son Stephen Nicholas Kemp entered a marquee which had been erected for impromptu Methodist services by William James Gibbs, a renowned Bromley philanthropist. William spotted the child, emerged from the marquee to find the child's mother, and invited them to join in. Thus began a very close friendship between them. Stephen went on to marry William's daughter, Mary Gibbs.

Stephen was the youngest of six. George emigrated to Canada and hasn't been heard from since. Mary married Bill Hutchins (professor of music at the Sydney Conservatorium) and they moved to New Zealand. Amy married Will Smith. Lewis - Nick Kemp's grandfather. Francis married William Rose and had three daughters; Molly, Mary and Phyllis. In a curious twist, Phyllis went on to marry William James Gibbs' youngest son, J Clifford Gibbs - an had seven children. This relationship makes for a very messy family tree, and interlinks the Kemp and Gibbs families still further.

Stephen Nicholas Kemp (b.1890 d.1968) and Mary Gibbs (d.1976) had two children, Patricia (Pat) and David (my Father)

John Gibbs, son of Clifford and Phyllis, is both my 'second cousin' and my 'second cousin once removed' depending on which relationship you follow. He taught me Latin at school.

Gibbs

 William James Gibbs as already mentioned, was a bit of a philanthropist. His Father was John Gibbs, treasurer of the Stock Exchange. Master of the Lorriners Company, and affectionately known as 'Honest John' in the City. He co-founded 'Boots' the chemist chain along with Jessie Boot. He lived in a large house in Bromley which was destroyed later in WWII, and was apparently the first man in Bromley to own a motor car. John Gibbs' Father was said to have been a 'hedger & ditcher' in Somerset, although this is hardly likely as he sent John to Public School (Queen's College, Taunton) - so I suspect he was probably quite a wealthy farmer.

W J Gibbs (b. 1864 d.1934) didn't need to work due to a considerable inheritance. Instead he committed himself to helping the less well heeled in Bromley. He built a large boarding house by the sea in Clacton (Clacton House), and heavily subsidised local poor to take holidays there with their families. Allegedly, Billy Butlin copied William's idea, but made his venture a little more commercial. He married Ada Rose (no connection to William Rose) whose Father ran several pubs.  She produced a child each year for four years: Mary Gibbs b.1900, William B Gibbs b.1901, Sidney L Gibbs b.1902, J Clifford Gibbs b.1903. Ada dies relatively young, and William married twice more.

William B Gibbs was Captain of the Kent Rugby Team, and then went into politics, becoming the youngest Mayor of Bromley aged 27yrs. He was quite a wild young man, and very fond of his whiskey. Whilst in office he used to keep a supply of it in an old brown tea pot, offering it to visitors with a knowing wink. He was once attending a party in London, where he became rather more inebriated than usual. His friends put him in a taxi back to Bromley, but the driver could not get much sense out of William, other than 'I'm the Mayor of Bromley'. He drove to the Police Station and explained he had a drunk in the back of his cab, claiming he was the Mayor of Bromley, and would the police put him in a cell to sober up. The police sergeant came out to the car, opened the door, and said, "Blimey, it is the Mayor of Bromley!"

William later promised the police a Christmas party for them and their families provided they kept the episode quiet. They kept to the promise and so did William. An enormously popular man with all parts of the community, later became President of the RFU in 1955/56, his funeral was a massive affair with huge numbers attending and oceans of flowers and wreaths.

Sidney was a stockbroker, and became quite wealthy. He had two sons, Jim and Tony, the former being a retired pilot with BA. 

J Clifford Gibbs was a famous Rugby player, for both the Harlequins and England. He married Francis Kemp's daughter, Phyllis, and had seven children. Veronica, Bill, John, Alison, Joanna, Charlotte and Robert, who is a famous singer having performed at Glyndebourne.

 

George Newnes

In 1880, George Newnes, a haberdasher, founded a weekly penny-paper, entitled Tit-Bits from All the Most Interesting Books, Newspapers and Periodicals in the World. Originally selling in the Manchester area, it was full, according to Jack Adrian, of 'all kinds of trivia--news items, sensational murders, strange coincidences, curious facts' often simply cut and reprinted from other sources. It proved remarkably popular, selling 40,000 copies a week and its circulation increased rapidly, rising to over 100,000 copies a week at the end of its first year.

Its success meant it was soon copied by other publishers: Pearson's Weekly and Harmsworth's Answers the most successful rivals in a large field of titles (others included Quick Bits and other similar-sounding titles).

John Carey remarks (The Intellectuals and the Masses) that while Tit-Bits and its readership of 'clerks' were the butt the intellectual snobbery; from May 1882, Tit-Bits featured extracts from Thackery, Eliot, Carlyle, Ruskin, Poe and others; and novels were serialized including Sign of Four and Study in Scarlet in 1893.

Newnes, now a wealthy publisher, became Liberal MP for Newmarket in 1885 and invested some of his Titbits profit into another venture: The Strand Magazine, hoping this would give him the respectability he craved and could not get from the downmarket Tit-Bits.

The Strand was aimed at the middle market, between the Titbits readers and the readers of the monthly shilling reviews and quarterlies (eg Cornhill). Stephen Knight describes The Strand as 'bourgeois, middle brow' and, at 6d, considerable cheaper than the reviews and quarterlies (Form and Ideology in Crime Fiction).

The Strand, Newnes promised, would have a picture on every page, like the successful American weeklies. The first issue of The Strand, dated January 1891, was sold out and reprinted twice, selling over 300,000 copies (it was in fact on sale before Christmas 1890, and had been heavily advertised, especially in Newnes' other papers).

The Strand was bought from railway bookstalls and borrowed from circulating libraries by a growing class of 'clerks', male, white-collar workers who consumed cheap literature to while away their journey, and which also found its way into the home with stories for women and children.

It was among this readership that Arthur Conan Doyle, a doctor with a practice slack enough to allow him to spend his time writing fiction, found an audience for Sherlock Holmes.

Despite the criticism levelled at Tit-Bits and the disdain upper middle-class critics reserved for The Strand, when George Newnes was made a baronet in 1895, Lord Rosebery commented that the title was conferred 'to commemorate not only your political service but the good work you have done in the cause of healthy, popular literature'.

Reginald Hill (Crime Writers) records that The Strand was very much a 'modern' magazine, with lots of photographs, free gifts (e.g: prints of Royal Academy paintings), celebrity interviews and general articles as well as fiction. Doyle's stories were of interest for their series form: self-contained stories rather than a continuous serial, so it didn't matter if a reader missed an episode.