Hardly Tom Hardy, more Tom Egmore
Having recently been to see Mad Max, and having been a big fan of Tom Hardy for some time, Time Detectives decided to take a look at Tom’s family history to see if he had any Australian connections….and what do you think we found? Read On.
There is a distant cousin of Tom Hardy that won free passage to Australia in the 1800s, William Sidney Egmore a Postillion (outrider on a large train of horses pulling a wagon or stage coach) and Ostler (working in a Coaching Inn or Tavern) born in 1802. He was charged in 1835 with stealing a Gelding worth £5, (an apt crime for someone who looked after horses for a living) was convicted , sentenced to be transported for life (for a first offence) sent for holding to Kings Lynn Gaol, then the Prison Hulk Ganymede, then on the good ship Moffatt to New South Wales. He was 5ft 6ins tall, with brown hair turning grey, bald on top of his head, with brown eyes, his complexion is described as dark, ruddy, and freckled. He had had a hard time of it, as he has a tooth missing, and had a scar across his left knee, and apparently had a particularly hairy chest. By 1844 he earnes a ticket of leave (conditional freedom) only to die five years later. However this Egmore was a distant relative, not a direct ancestor of Tom Hardy.
Brickies and Coalmen
(Nicholas Egmore and Richard Eggmore and Great Great Great Great Great Grandfather, and Great Great Great Great Grandfather of Tom Hardy)
Tom Hardy, genetically should actually be Tom Egmore, his ancestors were the Egmores, which immediately gave us a mystery; why the Hardy surname? Well the story starts in Norwich, Norfolk in the mid 1700s, where there was the Eggmore family, eventually to become the Egmore family as their name was re-written over the years. Egmore is an extremely rare and distinctive Norfolk name, it comes from the Hamlet of Egmore, now called “Egmere”, lying in between Fakenham and the coast, a tiny quiet place, not that far from the aptly named “Little Snoring”. Egmore had forty seven people living in it in 1832.
From the 1760s into the early 1800s Tom Hardy’s Egmore ancestors were Bricklayers and builders of some standing, with Nicholas Egmore serving his apprenticeship from 1769, then training up his son Richard, he did some fine work, Snettisham Old Hall’s entrance porch, hall and north staircase with cast iron balusters and tented plaster ceiling and cornice of an 1817 date is associated in payment accounts as work by “Richard Egmore, builder”. Richard was declared Bankrupt in 1825 whilst carrying on businesses as a Builder and Inn Keeper at Snettisham, and he eventually turned his back on building to try his had at the trade of a Coal Merchant, and he was successful (there are still Egmores selling Coal in Norwich to this day).
Richard had two daughters and a son born between 1807 and 1821. The son was baptised Randal Egmore. Richard was ambitious and moved into speculating as a middle man, a Commission Agent for the Sale of Coals, but overreached himself, let down by his customers, in 1843 he was forced to apply for Bankruptcy, and ordered to travel to London to answer to the Commissioner Joshua Evans. This put Richard in a bad place, and the strain showed, by 1847 his wife Raechel had died, and he followed her a year later.
Mad, but as a Hatter
(Randal Egmore, Tom Hardy’s Great Great Great Grandfather)
While Richard’s business as a Coal Merchant had been doing well, he had earned enough to let his son Randal get into a more genteel trade of a Hatter, which in some ways was good, given Richard’s eventual downfall in the Coal business, but had a hidden downside not known at the time. The phrase “Mad as a Hatter” was not coined without good reason, and the Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland represented the worst case of industrial malady. Hatters spent a lot of time in enclosed workshops, treating beaver skin hats with mercury to give them a beautiful sheen. Unfortunately the fumes from mercury are poisonous, but take their time. A Hatter would breathe in the Mercury fumes for many years slowly being poisoned by them, which could ultimately end in madness and an early death.
Randal was a Methodist of the more politically active dissenting variety, and lobbied for the repeal of the Corn Laws in 1845, when there had been a failure of the potato crop (the same as in Ireland) and corn prices were being held artificially high to keep out cheap foreign imports of grain, whilst the poor were starving. Perhaps his own religius and political conscience, and his witnessing of the rapid demise of his father and mother once they fell on hard times, lead him to give up the Hatting trade and instead devote himself to Missionary work amongst the poor in Norwich. He became the Superintendent of the Norwich City Mission for over a decade from the 1850s to the 1860s, a responsible and charitable job for a solid middle class man of principle. The Mission did Missionary work within Norwich preaching the Gospel and bringing comfort to the sick and poor.
For all his good works The Lord showed little mercy, Randal’s years as a Hatter eventually caught up with him and he died in 1862 aged 48.
The Sons of a Preacher-man
If Randal was the epitome of a genteel middle class Christian Victorian, his sons were something else. Having lost their father when Edward joseph the eldest was 13, and his younger brother Arthur was 4, it seems that the loss of their Methodist Lay Preacher Father who spent his time organising the care of the poor and needy, robbed them of a responsible male role model, and both boys showed signs of going off the respectable rails as they got older.
Edward Joseph Egmore (Tom Hardy’s Great Great Grandfather)
Edward Joseph being the eldest boy, had a lot of responsibility put onto him to help keep the household above water, his Mother took up a School Teaching role to bring some money in, but Edward didn’t take well to the responsibility at such a young age put him in a difficult position. The boy was literate and wanted to make money for his family, and being personable, he became a commercial traveller selling stationary and other provisions.
Trying to do the right thing by his family opened up the door to a world of temptation he hadn’t known before. He was now independent, self reliant, and persuasive, travelling to places where he wasn’t known, and where there was no one to judge him, a heady mix for a young man with some money in his pocket. He thrived in the role, spending his twenties travelling and selling, and was still doing so into his early thirties, by 1881 unmarried and staying in a boarding house in London, he had a fairly carefree life, his wife and sisters back in Norfolk, and his younger brother by now off in the Army. However, on one of his trips back to Norwich in the summer of 1882, Edward hooks up with a young housemaid, Elizabeth Hardy, and she becomes pregnant. This was unwelcomed by Edward, and Elizabeth has the baby without his support, leaving the father’s name blank on the birth certificate. Elizabeth does however follow a convention adopted by many single mothers in the nineteenth century when the Father’s name is known, but he won’t take responsibility for the child, she gives the baby his father’s first name and surname as his first name and middle name, the boy born on 21st March 1883 and named “Edward Egmore” Hardy by Elizabeth. Whatever pressure Elizabeth could bring to bear, it obviously works as later in 1883 Elizabeth Hardy and Edward Joseph Egmore are married in Norwich.
The marriage is a difficult one, although it is obviously consummated as a daughter is born in the following year. But Edward had a wanderlust born of many years independence on the road selling, and a wife and children would be a burden to his independent spirit, so much so that in January 1884 Edward takes off for Australia. He lands in Victoria working as a Traveling Salesman. It’s possible that Edward intended to send for Elizabeth, but circumstances would suggest otherwise, as, spirited woman that she was, she follows him out there with their daughter as a babe in arms in September of 1884. This was a massive undertaking for a lone woman with a baby who had never left Norwich before, and smacks of desperation, especially as she leaves her infant son Edward Egmore behind. Young Edward Egmore Hardy is left with Elizabeth’s Brother Michael and his wife Annie, a reflection of Elizabeth’s desperation. She couldn’t leave her youngest child, and to take both children would have cost much more and been hard for her to cope with, so the decision was taken to leave little Edward behind.
Elizabeth was determined to find him and on 17th September 1886 the Victoria Police put out a warrant for his arrest on the charge of desertion of his wife. He eventually goes back to her and the warrant is dropped. The warrant is interesting as it describes him as having a slight build, fair complexion, brownish hair, a broken nose, with a moustache, and wearing a black coat, light trousers, and a boxer hat. They live for a while Geelong, Victoria, and they had five more children including twins between 1889 and 1894, a total of three girls and two boys, although one of the twins died as a baby.
After the birth of their last child, Edward again takes to his heels, and this time leaves the state fleeing to New South Wales, around the Darlinghurst area. Edward’s life goes downhill from there, without the steadying factor of his wife and children, he is arrested 5 times between 1894 and 1901, variously for being drunk, hawking without a license, and using obscene and insulting language (most likely to the arresting officer). For a little bloke of 5ft 6ins (his wife thought he was a little taller at 5ft 8ins) with a slight build who had already had his nose broken, he had an awful mouth on him, and seemed always up for trouble. He spends anything between a few days and a month in Jail, but is rollicking days were numbered, by 1900 he had a scar on his chin and was nearly blind in one eye from the drunken fights he’d had. He lasted a little longer, but in 1907 he died in Liverpool NSW Australia, aged 58. Elizabeth and the children stayed in Australia, Elizabeth would live into her seventies and died in 1928.
Arthur John Egmore (Tom Hardy’s Great Great Granduncle)
Edward’s brother had a slightly less raucious, but equally unpleasant story. Arthur joined army in 1878 and left in 1881 due to his showing signs of syphilis, notably giving him a perforated palate. According to the Army he’d contracted syphilis about 18 months before joining the army, so when he was about 18. This was a shame as he had a promising career in the army having risen to Sergeant on two years, and been posted to Cork in Ireland. but the Syphilis was a ticket out, so he was “invalided out” and sent back to Civvie Street. Within two years he was married, 1883 the same year as his elder brother Edward. His wife was a local Norfolk girl, Julia Reavell. The couple started a family straightaway.
Nothing daunted, Arthur took the example of his brother Edward and moved abroad in 1884, but in his case he took his wife and children with him and moved to the USA, initially to New Jersey, and then to Philadelphia. Interestingly he gives a false name to the shipping company as “Andrew” rather than “Arthur” Egmore, perhaps a clerical error by the purser, or an attempt to disguise his identity? In any case Arthur worked as a salesman in Groceries (Dry Goods) when he first went to the USA, no doubt his English accent and military bearing set him apart. He then found work as a Clerk for many years, and a manager in 1901, but there is an anomaly in as much as he listed himself as a solicitor in 1896, perhaps he was working as a Solicitor’s Clerk, or perhaps his Syphilis was affecting his brain, as was often the case in pre-antibiotic times, he may have been slightly delusional. This possible mental tension is backed up by the fact that his wife took the children and steamed back to England in 1893 and 1899, she returned after some months absence both times, in 1910 Julia was admitted to a sanatorium, most likely as a result of Tuberculosis, Arthur lives alone during this time, and claimed to be a widower. His health worsened, and in August 1910 he died of Pneumonia. Julia his wife returned once more to England in 1913, but went back to America and worked as a Housekeeper. A few years later her Tuberculosis flared up again and after three weeks in hospital she died. Their children had made their own lives in the USA and stayed there.
The Boy they left behind
In The Navy
While his father and mother, brothers and sisters were off on the other side of the world in Australia, young Edward Egmore Hardy, was left with his Aunt and Uncle rural Norfolk. Perhaps this was meant to be temporary until Edward could be brought out to join his parents, but given his father’s way of life, that would have been wishful thinking.
So Michael and Annie were left with their own two children as well as young Edward, a struggle, made worse when Michael his Uncle died in 1890 when Edward was ten. So his own parents having abandoned him, Edward now lost the man who had brought him up as a father.
Edward did what he could to help with the dire state of the household budget, but work was hard to come by and at the age of fifteen he was working as an errand boy, this hardly helped to cover his own keep, so on 31st August 1898, the 5ft 1ins fifteen year old boy with brown hair and blue eyes volunteered for the Navy. Three years later in 1891 he is onboard HMS Resolution anchored in the harbour at Gibraltar.
Edward only got to sea foreign shores in peacetime manoeuvres, he never had to fire a shot in anger, and steadily moved up through the naval gradings from boy 2nd class, to boy 1st class, to ordinary seaman and finally able seaman, his character was very good, and he made up for his diminutive stature by being bright. His brains were recognised as an asset by the Navy, and got him posted to home waters on various tenders and training ships culminating in HMS Vernon, where he learned the new technologies of Mines, Torpedoes, and Ships’ electrical apparatus, all for a war that didn’t come
Call The Fire Brigade
So on the 31st March 1905 after seven years before the mast, Edward left the Navy, and went back into civvy street. Edward had literally grown in stature by 7ins to 5ft 8ins during his time in the Royal Navy, reflecting on how poor his Aunt had been and how undernourished. Edward had also grown in professional stature given his extensive training, good character, and steady service, so it wasn’t hard for him to land a job within a month in the London Fire Service based out of Norwood in South East London as Royal Navy Tribe and the London Fire Service Tribe were closely tied, and the London Fire Brigade had originally been manned almost exclusively with ex-Royal Navy Sailors. It was considered that they were very able in the role due to their familiarity with climbing to heights, working with ropes, taking orders. A second major factor was that fires were common in the many of the warehouses and docks due to the storage of highly dangerous and inflammable merchandise that resided there, and due to the narrowness and crowded nature of the dockside streets often the only way to attack the flames was from the River Thames.
Edward spent his first month in Drill Training, then transferred between various Fire Stations in Central and South London, Holborn, Poplar, Battersea, Tooting, West Norwood. It was while living in South London in 1907 that Edward met and married an Irish girl from Tipperary, Catherine Theresa Sargent. Two years later they have a son Patrick. Tragically Patrick died at the age of two, to be followed a year later by his mother Catherine. Edward had lost his son and become a widower at the young age of 29. He threw himself into his work in the Central London Fire Stations, and finally ended up at the London Fire Brigade Head Quarters to study the Steam Class of Engines that were supplanting horse drawn engines. These machines replaced muscle power of animals and men to propel themselves, pump their own water, and even turn a dynamo to generate electricity for nighttime work with spotlights. But the year was 1914, and the War that Edward had trained for in the Royal Navy, had finally happened.
Years of training finally rewarded
All the time Edward is in the fire service he was also a member of the Royal Fleet Reserve (RFR) so liable to call up in the event of war. It is this call to arms in 1914 that must have given his life a new sense of purpose after his recent tragic family loss. It is no surprise therefore to see that he couldn’t wait to get back into the Navy to do his bit. But before he does, he marries his new sweetheart Maud Edith Samme at Portsmouth.
By August 1914 Edward had left Maud in Port and was serving on HMS Europa the flagship of the Atlantic Fleet, he spent seven months onboard her, but was transferred off when she steamed out to the Dardanelles. His experience is considered more valuable in a thinking role, and so instead of the heat of Turkey, Edward took his electro-mechanical knowhow to Portsmouth, spending more time in research on Torpedoes and other weapon systems, serving there through till he is demobilised in 1917.
Given the poor start he’d had as a boy, his Naval career was a great reward, giving him comradeship, skills, and, it must be said, a chance to do his bit in the war without too much risk, and good luck to him!
Fire Brigade Again, and again
Edward was qualified in the specialist area of Steam Class appliances in the Fire Brigade, and his service for King and Country was appreciated when he returned from active duty in 1917, so he went straight back into the Fire Service working in the Docks of Wapping, Shadwell, and Rotherhithe. He retired after nearly twenty eight years of service in 1932. His retirement was briefly interrupted at the start of WW2 when he went back onto the London Fire Brigade listings for a month in 1939. Edward would live a further ten years until 1949.
The quiet life
Edward and Maud had three children between 1916 and 1926, the middle child was a boy names Edward Thomas Hardy, born in 1918, he was Tom Hardy’s Grandfather who he was named after. Unlike his father, Grandfather, and others in his direct line of descent he lived a less adventurous life he worked as a Clerk in the Port of London Authority, the overseers of the Docks in London, living in Ealing West London from the 1940s through the 50s and 60s, before retiring to Devon.
So quite a story through the generations, and it explains why Tom is a Hardy rather than an Egmore, it leads to the intriguing conclusion, that if your surname is Egmore, you are most likely to be related to Tom Hardy, especially if your ancestors are from Norfolk, Australia, or the USA. Perhaps his character in Mad Max, and his own history of hell raising is an echo of a meme that was passed along with the Egmore genes?