The Family Origins of Arthur Thomas Savell Grigsby, Joan's husband

Photos of the Grigsby family

The father of Arthur Thomas Savell Grigsby, William Ebenezer Grigsby was born  on 3 April 1847 in Chelmsford, Essex, the son of a schoolmaster,  David Grigsby (1814-99) who was later a Congregational minister in the village of Henham, Essex, 1862-87.
Arthur's mother was born in the village of Barley, Royston (Hertfordshire) on February 27, 1850 as Catherine (later known as Kate) Savell, the daughter of Thomas Savell (1808-1874) and his second wife Esther. An internet page centered on the sale of Thomas Savell's estate held on September 3-4 1874 after his death on 29 July 1874 reveals that he was a builder "employing 25 men 3 boys; as well as a "farmer employing 3 men 1 boy - 50 acres, Landowner." The family counted 11 children, Catherine being the second of four by the second wife, Esther Dorrington, whom Thomas Savell married in 1846. Esther Dorrington was born 23 Aug 1816, was christened 17 Nov 1816 in Henham, Essex, and died 24 Mar 1876 in Barley. She was the daughter of John Dorrington and Catherine Regina Fessenmeyer. Her first child, born in 1847, was baptized John Fessenmeyer Savell; he died 13 August 1861. It is worth noting that the contents of the house included 300 books. The sale of "furniture and cattle at Barley" fetched £770 15s 2d while another sale of a "Villa, beer shop, grocer's and draper's shop, 3 tenements, Barley and 10 cottages at Great Chishill for Executors of Thos. Savell" raised £1915 at an auction on 3rd March 1875. It is unclear why everything was auctioned off, rather than being bequeathed to the various children.

Kate Savell's family was presumably far more wealthy than that of her husband, although the studies he undertook suggest a certain level of wealth. The question as to how they met might best be answered by the fact that Kate's mother was born in Henham, Essex, where William Ebenezer's father was the Congregational minister at the time of their marriage.

William Ebenezer Grigsby studied in several different institutions.
In 1866 he passed the First B.A. examination in Latin (3rd class) at the University of London and in the list recording that he is indicated as being from the University of Glasgow. On April 19, 1869, he entered ("matriculated" in) the University of Oxford, entering Balliol College, where he took a first class in the final classical school in 1872 and a first in Law the following year, which earned him the Vinerian Scholarship for that year. At the same time he seems to have taken an external degree at the University of London, being awarded a Bachelor of Laws on February 5, 1874 after taking 2 exams, one in 1871, the second in 1874.  One online source says that he held the following university degrees and honors: "LL.D. London Univ. 1880, LL.B. 1879, BCL Balliol Coll., Oxon, MA Glasgow, Vinerian law scholar Oxford 1873." He was a barrister, a member of the Inner Temple.  He produced a new edition of a famous text book, Commentaries on equity jurisprudence, by Justice Story. In the mid-1870s, he was invited to Japan to teach in the newly established law school at the University of Tokyo. He and Kate Savell were married from her home in Barley, Royston, Hertfordshire in March 1874 according to the marriage records, and must have left England at once

The department of law at Kaisei School provided a three-year preparatory course and another three-year professional course. Originally, the school had only first-year and the second-year students in the preparatory course. William E. Grigsby, a British citizen, was appointed as a professor of the professional course in 1874. The University of Tokyo Yearbook Vol. 1, includes twenty names of foreign teachers at the end of December 1874 and one of them is Grigsby. He arrived in Japan in May 1874 to teach international public law and British law, and until he left Japan in July 1878 it is recorded that he taught private international law, commercial law, guild law, ship law, marine insurance law, commercial mandate law, and court law.19 Grigsby reported in the University of Tokyo Annual Report that his students were able to understand British legal theory and develop their own academic understanding through the careful reading of judicial reports in his class on court law. He also noted the eventual establishment of a law library. Returning to history of the University of Tokyo’s Faculty of Law, the Ministry of Education ordered the Kaisei School to change its name to Tokyo Kaisei School in May 1874, when they invited Grigsby as the first law professor of the faculty.

In September 1874, there were nine new students in the department of law. They studied the above subjects, namely an Anglo-American legal education. It is easy to imagine the scene of only nine serious-faced students in a class with a foreign professor. By July 1878, when Grigsby left Japan, thirty-six students were attached to the Faculty of Law: seven fourth-year students, eleven third-year students, ten second-year students and eight first-year students. (From “O-yatoi Gaikokujin in the Meiji Era to the American Law Programme of Summer 2004,” by Keiko Wada, Co-ordinator and Editor at the ICCLP. The International Center for Comparative Law and Politics Annual Report 2004)

  Kate Grigsby loved her time in Japan and brought back two trunks of Japanese objects to decorate their home in London.

William Hugh Savell Grigsby, their first child, was born in Japan 14 Oct. 1874. Bill Grigsby, his grandson, writes: He died in Colchester, Essex in 1915 at the age of 41, from a brain tumour, having lapsed into a coma at the Santo Domingo mines, Nicaragua, a place in the central part of the country at that time covered with dense jungle.    My grandmother somehow managed to transport her comatose husband by canoe, following the rivers, from that mountain location to the tiny Caribbean port of Bluefields where she was able to get berths on a steamer carrying bananas, bound for England.

            Of their first son, William Hugh Savell Grigsby, his grandson (who bears the same names) writes: "my paternal grandfather and namesake was working in mining in the California gold fields in the 1890's, but was hired to manage some gold mines in Nicaragua by my paternal great-grandmother, Fanny Elizabeth Rogers, neé Theobald, recently widowed through the murder of her husband, William Arthur Rogers.  A few years after his arrival in Nicaragua, in 1900 William Hugh Savell Grigsby married Fanny´s daughter, Gertrude Katherine Rogers and from this union my father, Arthur Hugh Savell Grigsby was born in 1904 in Granada, Nicaragua and named Arthur after his uncle, and Joan Grigsby´s husband.   My father, in turn, named me after his father (and I followed by naming my first son after him, - and there the Savell name ends, as none of my grandsons bears it).  As Joan Grigsby was a poet, you may like to learn that I have a grandson, Carlos Fonseca, who this year (2008) won the "Fundación Löwe" (Löwe Foundation) of Spain annual poetry competition at the age of 19.  Since the custom in Spanish is always to use both the father´s and the mother´s last name, he is known as Carlos Fonseca Grigsby."
            Their daughter Ethel Agnes was born in what was then Ceylon (during the return journey from Japan?) some years later, and seems to have married William Le Poer Power, from an aristocratic Irish family, in 1895. A military man, he was deployed (when?) in Jamaica, where there were some riots and in the actions to quell them he was thrown off his horse and killed. His widow was for a time an Anglican missionary in Guyana (at that time British Guyana) to an Indian tribe in the interior up-country,  lived to an old age, and died in 1968(?) in Bournemouth, England. She had inherited her mother's Japanese treasures, including a fine sword and dagger given to her father by his students when he left Japan. Bill Grigsby frequently visited her and then corresponded with her after he returned to Nicaragua. Joan Norris Boothe also visited her twice.

              Arthur Thomas Savell Grigsby, their third child and Joan Rundall's future husband, was born in Islington, London on December 2, 1886.

The National Archive of India has two letters from William E. Grigsby, in the first  he “requests particulars of the post of President of Madras Law College,” it is dated 23 Dec 1890. The second is his application for the post of Principal, Madras Law College, dated  6 Jan 1891.  He did not get the job, it seems, and there are several other similar letters of application in the same archive. The story told by Faith Norris that he stood for Parliament is true. He was a candidate in a bye-election for the Chelmsford division in 1892. The winning candidate Thomas Usborne received 4168 votes while he only received 2779 votes. 

                William Ebenezer Grigsby finally became president of the District Court, Paphos, Cyprus. The date of his appointment is not known. He published another book, The Medjellè or Ottoman Civil Law. Translated into English in 1895 and in 1896 published an article “Cyprus Law and its Adminstration” in the Law Quarterly Review, so he was already there by 1895. He was also the author of "The mixed courts of Egypt." (Law Quarterly Review. London, 1896. v. 12, p. 252-259.)

He died suddenly at Platres, Cyprus, on August 11th, 1899, aged 52. Arthur Grigsby was just thirteen, with little education since (Faith Norris says) he had had to learn Turkish and Greek in order to follow classes in the schools in Cyprus. He spent a lot of time wandering round the Roman and Crusader ruins. His mother returned to a little flat in the Inner Temple. Arthur was offered a job as an office boy with the P&O shipping line through a ship’s captain she knew.