Skip to main content

Henry Helsham 1767-1806 Doctor of Stoke Ferry

Born: 1767, baptised 21 May and died 22 March 1806 and was buried 27 March.
Only child of: Henry Linhooke Helsham (1736?-1805) and his wife Ann Helsham (nee Harvey) (1731?-1793). 
He married: Catharine Helsham (nee Crowe) sometimes spelt Katharine, 17 September 1795 at South Creake, daughter of Rev Henry Crowe and Elizabeth Crowe (nee Hazlett).
They had issue:
1. Catharine Helsham, born 2 February 1797, baptized 3 February, died unmarried 24 October 1818.
2. Ann Helsham, baptized 2 November 1798, died unmarried 12 July 1822.
3. Elizabeth Jones (nee Helsham), (1801-1866) who married Dr Richard Jones (1814?-1888).
4. Henry Helsham BA, born 12 February 1804, died unmarried at Bath (15 Grove Street) 14 March 1828 and was buried 21 March beneath St James Church.  All the bodies buried inside the church were later removed and reburied at the northern end of the Abbey Cemetery in Prior Park Road.  After this the church was demolished and a Tesco store now occupies the site. 
5. George Helsham, born 25 January 1806, died unmarried at Woodbridge, Suffolk, in May 1836.

The information I have about Henry Helsham comes from the following sources:
1. The diaryof his daughter Elizabeth Jones (nee Helsham).  This gives a lot of information about Henry.
2. The back of his miniature portrait (now stolen).  Engraved on the rim at the back is "Henry Helsham died Stoke Ferry 1806".
3. His portrait in pastel by the French artist Jacques-Gabriel Huquier.
4. He is also mentioned in the book "Stoke Ferry, The Story of a Norfolk Village" by "Doris Coates", Harpenden Press 1980. 
5. General notes written by his grandson Col Henry Helsham Helsham-Jones.
6. His will which is in the Public Record Office at Kew PROB11/1444.

Elizabeth Jones (nee Helsham), in her diary, makes a number of mentions of her father Henry Helsham as follows:

"My father was an only child and I have just been unfolding a tiny lock of his hair which, with other treasures, was presented by his fond and good mother, specially his christening cap which might have figured in one of Sir Joshua's pictures. A school letter too dated "Lyne July 31st 1778" and a list of his school fellows which contains many names I remember hearing in early days, and a few of the country family names still remaining in Norfolk. There is likewise a scrap of letter from his cousin Robert Forby whose apology for not writing "more and better" is that "Henry was by his side and calling him off every other moment to mend his pen..."
"My father received his professional education at Edinburgh and was a friend of John Hunter. I should think he was early engaged to my mother as the miniature taken when a student there was evidently meant as a present to her..."
"...I have few traditions of the ten years of my parents marriage. That they were happy in each other I have always understood. The medicine practice at Stoke was, in those days, a very good one but the fatigue and exposure to weather which it occasioned proved injurious to my father's health..."
"I have a dim recollection of being in my fathers sickroom and of his giving me a sweet from the bureau, and likewise of a funeral procession seen through a venetian blind but whether his or my grandfather's, who died the previous year, I cannot say..."

Henry died relatively young in 1806, aged about 39, leaving his wife a widow with six young children.

In his will Henry describes himself as "Surgeon and Apothecary" of Stoke Ferry.  He appointed Rev Robert Forby of Fincham and Rev George Miller of Ely to be his executors and left everything to his wife Catherine.  His will was dated 13 May 1806 and witnessed by John Reeve, William Barnard and J Houchen, all of Wereham, Norfolk.  His will was proved 4 June and 6 September 1806, effects under £3,500.

The above miniature of Henry Helsham was stolen in November 2000.  I would very much like it to be returned to my family.  A reward of £1,000 (one thousand British pounds) is offered for its safe return.  If you have any information regarding this miniature please contact me on the UK telephone number 01962 761 565 or email me on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



If you have any further information please do contact me.

 (Diary of Elizabeth Jones)  (Huquier Portrait)  (Miniature Portrait)  (Stoke Ferry Church)  (Will)