Ryves, Anthony Thomas (1798 SRY - 1873 SRY)


Ryves, Anthony Thomas


Father: Thomas Ryves
Mother: Harriet Randall

Birth: 24 Jun 1798, Southwark, Surrey
Birth Source: England Births & Baptisms 1538-1975

Death: 31 Mar 1873, Camberwell, Surrey
Death Source: England & Wales Deaths 1837-2007

Spouse1: Lavinia Janetta Horton de Serres
Mistress: Elizabeth Aldridge


Children of Anthony Thomas Ryves and Lavinia Janetta Horton de Serres
  1. Olive Lavinia Noel Ryves. b.c.1823
  2. Sophia Lavinia Ryves, b.1825
  3. Lavinia Janetta Ryves, b.1827
  4. Harriet Jane Ryves, b.1829
  5. Anthony Thomas Ryves‏‎. b.1832
  6. William Henry de Serres Wilmot Ryves, b.1833
  7. James Stafford Ryves, b.1836

Children of Anthony Thomas Ryves and Elizabeth Aldridge
  1. Robert Ryves, b.1831
  2. Elizabeth Ryves, b.c.1833
  3. Harriet Ryves, b.c.1836
  4. Thomas Ryves, b.1836
  5. Frederick Ryves, b.1842
  6. James Ryves, b.1846
  7. Mary Jane Ryves, b.c.1853

Anthony Thomas Ryves was baptised on 7 Jun 1799 at the Parish Church of St George the Martyr, Southwark when his date of birth was noted as being 24 Jun 1797. His mother is recorded as Harriot Jane RYVES and his father as Thomas RYVES. His older sister Harriot Sophia Ryves was also baptised (for the second time) on the same day. While their father Thomas is named on both 1799 baptismal entries, it is likely he is the Thomas Ryves whose burial took place on 26 Nov 1797 at St Marylebone, Middlesex.
Anthony was the illegitimate son of Thomas Ryves and Herriett Randall. Anthony has been described as having been the 'virtually adopted son' of William Combe the author and 'adventurer'. See Research Note 1 below. Anthony inherited his grandfathers interest in art and is said to have become a portrait painter in early adulthood.

Anthony Thomas' possibly most notable claim to fame was that on 22 November 1822 he married Lavinia de Serres at St George the Martyr, Southwark. Lavinia was the daughter of John Thomas Serres, a successful and highly regarded marine artist and Olive (Olivia) Wilmot, also a talented artist was appointed landscape painter to George, Prince of Wales in 1806. See Research Note 2 below.

Anthony's marriage to Lavinia was not a lasting success and she divorced him in 1841 on the ground of 'cruelty' & 'bigamy' (presumably with Elizabeth Aldridge as co-respondent - although, as there was no marriage, adultery would seem to be more accurate). In later years she became known of as the 'little old lady in black' in the neighbourhood of Havestock Hill.

Anthony's own life was not without incident, and despite being a Sergeant in the GWR Railway Police he fell foul of the law. In March 1847 he was sentenced to 'Transportation' for 7 years for the offence of malicious wounding. The story goes that he stabbed a Mr Henry Plumbe, a solicitor's clerk who had been chasing Anthony's son (who the said Mr Plumbe had called 'Buttons') for looking at him with an 'impudent grin'. Anthony claimed that he had come to the defence of his son and just happened to have a knife in his hand as he had been pruning honeysuckle. He stabbed Mr Plumbe in the left hand side of his back resulting in a wound 'four inches below the inferior angle of the scapula and three and a half inches from the spine'. The wound was some two inches deep. At the time of Anthony's trial, the surgeon who had treated Mr Plumbe could not positively say that he was yet 'free from danger at the present time'. Anthony was therefore incarcerated in the the prison hulk 'Defence'. He received a Royal 'free' pardon on 29th December 1868.

By 1832 Anthony had started a relationship with Elizabeth Aldridge with whom he had a further 7 children. It is noted that 4 of these were born while he still married to and having children with Lavinia. At about the same time as he started this relationship he abandoned his interest in art and took up the role of Police Officer.

Research Notes

(1) William Combe's most famous works were the The Three Tours of Doctor Syntax: In Search of the Picturesque, The Second Tour in Search of Consolation and Third Tour in Search of a Wife. Mrs Ryves, Anthony's mother, was Combe's landlady. Combe presented Anthony with a number of inscribed first editions of his works.

The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography entry for William Combe [fomerly Combes] notes
Debts owed to his tailor, harpsichord makers, the painter George Romney, the madhouse keeper Stephen Casey, and others, led to Combe's arrest on 4 May 1799 for just over £350.

Hack work for both John Debrett and John Wright enabled Combe to gain permission to live again ‘within the rules’ by February 1800 and rent an apartment from a Mrs Ryves at 12 Lambeth Road, London.
and further notes
....and his desire for society necessitated his frequent breaking of the ‘rules’ of the prison, leading inevitably to his arrest on 28 June 1808 for their violation. Until mid-1812 he was restricted by the ‘day rules’, which required him to return to the prison by nightfall each day. His income enabled him to afford one of the best private rooms in the prison's state house. To maintain appearances he continued to use his Lambeth Road quarters as his mailing address.

(2) Antony's mother-in-law Olive caused a much publicised scandal by claiming to be the legitimate daughter of Henry Frederick, the Duke of Cumberland and son of George II, and that her mother was Olive Wilmot (Payne). Olive Wilmot was, in fact, her aunt and the papers she produced to prove the 'secret marriage' had taken place were later found to be forgeries. It is thought that these documents had been forged by Olive's lover William FitzClarence who was a calligrapher. Nevertheless, Lavinia made her life's work the attempt to have her mother's claim to 'royal birth' recognised and she herself styled herself as the Duchess of Cumberland. Lavinia's mother Olive was undoubtedly a fantasist and her claims to 'royal blood' were just one of a series of flights of fancy she indulged in - one of which (a concocted story of a burglary) resulted in the execution of two innocent men. Lavinia appears to have inherited her mother's delusional nature and pursued her mother's claims through the courts including Ryves v. Duke of Wellington (1845) and culminating in 1866 where her case was dismissed by the jury for having a 'lack of merit' even before the Crown had finished presenting its case. The case caused significant interest in the first half on the 19th Century and was extensively covered in the press.


Baptism:     FamilySearch (transcript only) https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:NVQW-NRH
                    FamilySearch (transcript only) https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QGZR-ZCX4
1841 Census:   HO107, Piece 0015, Book 6, Folio 14 reverse Page 23 and Folio 15 face, Page 24
1851 Census:  
1861 Census:  
1871 Census:  
1881 Census:  

1797 Burial - father - Thomas Ryves - FamilySearch https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:682T-BMNF
1799 Bapt - sister Harriot Sophia Ryves - FamilySearch https://www.familysearch.org/tree/person/sources/9K2H-LJL
Notes & Queries, Oxford University Press, 1875
Royal Household Index 1660-1901
The Gentleman's Magazine, Volume 92, Part 2; Volume 132
Chapters from Family Chests, Edward Walford, 1887. Hurst and Blackett, London
Oxford Journal - 20 March 1847
Bucks Herald - 22 August 1846
Prisoner Ledger entries 1846 - 1868
England & Wales, Crime, Prisons & Punishment, 1770-1935
Dundee Courier, Monday 04 June 1866
Re: Lavinia Janetta Horton de Serres: numerous from newspaper articles of the time.
William Combe - Oxford Dictionary of National Biography https://doi.org/10.1093/ref:odnb/6022