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Home: Surnames: Tagg Family Genealogy Forum

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Re: Tagg's of Thames Ditton/Molesey area
Posted by: Peter E C Jeal Date: November 06, 2001 at 13:58:19
In Reply to: Re: Tagg's of Thames Ditton/Molesey area by Ray Mitchell of 198

I am descended from plain Harry Tagg, the twin brother of Thomas George Tagg, both of whom were children of Thomas Tagg and Harriet (née Rose). Most of the Taggs were watermen and lightermen, fishermen (for hire, I think), and some became boatbuilders. Those I am related to hail mainly from the East Molesey-Kingston-Thames Ditton stretch of the Thames in the 19th Century.

Thomas and Harriet were married at Thames Ditton on 5 Nov 1838. They had at least six children (by 1881 Census): Harry, Thomas George, Alfred, Charles, John William and Samuel. Harry and Thomas George may have been twins, but were certainly christened on the same day.

I believe they were rivals because both built successful boatbuilding businesses and both built a hotel. Thomas established his business on Walnut Tree Island, just above Kingston bridge and Molesey Lock, and that is how it came to be called Tagg's Island.

Thomas was so successful that he even had a branch in Cairo, exported skiffs to Rangoon and built two electric launches for the Czar of Russia.

My maternal grandmother, Evelyn Alice Welland (née Tagg) was the only daughter of Harry Thomas Edwin Tagg, boatbuilder son of Harry Tagg, the other twin. Unfortunately, HTE died young, in 1898. His wife, Mary Maud Alice (née Lawrence), left UK for Australia, and died there soon after. She took her son, also Harry but left my grandmother with her own father, George Lawrence ("Grand Old Man Of Weston Green", according to 'Surrey Comet' obituary of 1929).

Harry Tagg, my ancestor, was also renowned as a boatbuilder, though not so successful as his brother. He built his hotel close by Kingston Bridge, and it survives to this day, as 'The Steets of London'. In one bar, my wife and I found a photo of the hotel, taken in the late 19th Century. Between the chimneys, in wrought iron, is the name, 'Taggs Hotel'. Harry's business was close up against the bridge, on the upstream side, but nothing remains of it today.

When I was a small boy, my mother remarked that the Taggs had two boatbuilding business, both of which were lost through drink! Both my grandmother and my mother were embittered by this, for when my grandmother went up to London to enquire about an expected legacy, she found it had gone. I do know that Harry married a second wife later on and it may be that he adjusted (as often occurs)his earlier will.

Harry built everything from skiffs to steamers and, in 1902, launched 'The King', in honour of Queen Victoria's successor. This 80' steam launch survived until the 1980s at least, when it plied as a water taxi at Westminster. In WWII, though designed for river conditions, it took part in the Dunkirk evacuation, and I once glimpsed it in a TV documentary, with 'Harry Tagg East Molesey' displayed prominently on its hull.

I'm actively pursuing Tagg origins and seem to have joined this forum quite late, but am happy to muck in. I have a list of Tagg waterman and lighteran apprenticeships if anyone is interested. I've long had a passion for Thames sailing barges and have a copy of a painting which shows two of these craft moored by Kingston Bridge. I should like to know whether the Taggs ever built craft like these.

Looking forward to hearing from anyone interested and/or related.

Peter Jeal


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