Henry James Metcalfe.


1835 - 1906.


23 Feb 1835.


HJM born in St John’s Wood, London. His parents are Henry Metcalf (a hatter) and his wife Margaret Agnes.


1 Mar 1835.


Christened at Christ Church, Spitalfields, London.




For unknown reasons, HJM’s father Henry Metcalf is disinherited by his father Hugh, who both made his will and died in this year. Hugh, HJM’s grandfather, had been a successful businessman: his will involves investments exceeding £1,000, a very large sum at that time.


circa 1846


Henry Metcalf moves, with his family, to Oldham, Lancs. HJM would be about 10 or 11 years old at this time.




Henry Metcalfe dies, 10th February 1847, aged 38. He is survived by his 5 children and his wife Margaret, who is pregnant.




HJM’s younger brother Hugh Augustus Metcalf (born in London, 20th October 1840), dies of pneumonia on 18th November 1849.


1851 - Census (30th March).


HJM, age 15, is listed as a blacksmith, living with his mother in Browns Court, Walsall, Staffs., together with his two brothers and two sisters. His mother Margaret is 36 years old; her occupation is given as ‘Needlework’, as it is for her oldest child, also named Margaret, age 17. William Metcalfe is 13 years old, an errand boy. Benjamin is 6 years old and Sarah 3.




On the 28th of January, HJM’s 5 year old sister Sarah Ann is “accidentally burnt to death”. Three days later, age 17 years and 11 months, HJM joins the 3rd Regiment of Foot (‘The Buffs’) at Oxford, as No. 2983. Sarah Ann’s funeral takes place on the 2nd February.



19th Jul 1854.


HJM and Betsy Hickson Jackson are married at Newry, Ireland, by Dean Bagot. 


18th Apr 1855.


HJM, hitherto a private soldier, appointed a drummer in The Buffs. (He eventually becomes bandmaster of this Depot Battalion Band.)




25th May: HJM is discharged from The Buffs on health grounds, suffering from ‘Palpitations of Heart’ - ‘preventing him from playing any wind instrument’. (‘Drummers’ also played bugle and fife.)


Florence Elizabeth Metcalfe born at Winchester, Hants: HJM & Betsy’s first known child.


HJM, after first visiting London, returns to Walsall, Staffs., where his mother and siblings still live. Subsequently, he founds the ‘Walsall Brass Band’.


~1859 – 1862


HJM moves to Wolverhampton in 1859.


After some time, he returns to Ireland to become bandmaster of the Royal South Down Light Infantry Volunteers.


HJM & Betsy’s 2nd(?) child, Katherine Frances, born at Hillsboro, Ireland.



~1863 – 1864


HJM is back in Wolverhampton, where he remains for 42 years.


3rd(?) child, Margaret Agnes, born in Wolverhampton.


3rd Nov 1865


4th(?) child, Henry James Hugh, born in Wolverhampton.




Kelly’s Directory for Staffordshire: “Metcalfe Henry James, composer and arranger of music for brass bands &c. Grimstone St.”


5th(?) child, Annie Alice, born in Wolverhampton.




White’s Birmingham Directory: “Metcalfe Henry James, Musician & Bandmaster, Grimston (sic) St, Springfield.” There is no entry under ‘Music Dealers and Teachers’.




6th(?) child, Fredrick Charles J., born in Wolverhampton.


1871 - Census.


HJM is still living at 16 Grimstone Street, with his wife Betsy, and his children Henry J. (age 5); Frederick C. (age 11 months); Florence E. (age 14); Catherine F. (age 10, usually spelt Katherine); Margaret A. (age 7); and Annie A. (age 2).


White’s Birmingham Directory: HJM is listed under ‘Music Dealers and Teachers’ as follows: “Metcalfe Henry James (publisher) yard – Berry St.” 




7th(?) child, Walter William, born in Wolverhampton.


Post Office Directory for Staffordshire: “Metcalfe Henry James, professor of music, Great Berry St.” (sic)




8th(?) child, Caroline Mary B., born in Wolverhampton.




Kelly’s Directory for Staffordshire: “Metcalfe, Henry James, publisher of the ‘Brass Band Journal’. Great Hampton St.”




9th(?) child, John Wright (Jack), born in Wolverhampton.


The Wolverhampton Borough Band, under HJM, plays in Queen Square every Saturday from March to September, raising a total of £104 for charity.




Kelly’s Directory for Staffordshire: “Metcalfe, Henry James, publisher of the ‘Brass Band Journal’. 1 Great Hampton St.”


1881 - Census


HJM is living at 2, Church Street, with the last 8 children listed above. He is described as a ‘Music Composer & Band Master.’ Also living there are Georgina F Paris, age 19, a niece, born in Ireland, working as a ‘Warehouse Woman’; Harriet Cassidy, age 28, a ‘general servant’, and Charles Williams, born in Oxford, age 39, who is a ‘Litho Printer’.


1881 3rd qtr.


Charles Holder (born W’ton1856) marries Katherine Frances, 2nd(?) child of HJM & Betsy.


1884: 2nd qtr.


Joseph Jelfs Gold (born W’ton ~1864) marries Margaret Agnes, 3rd(?) child of HJM & Betsy.




Kelly’s Directory of Staffordshire: “Metcalfe’s Brass Band Express (Metcalfe, Sons & Co, printers publishers & proprietors, published fortnightly). Office, St. John’s Square.”


1891 - Census


HJM, age 57, is living at 13, St. John’s Square, and is described as ‘Music Teacher’. With him are living his wife, Betsy, age 56; son Frederick C.J., age 21, a ‘Music Printer’; son Walter W., age 19, also a ‘Music Printer’; daughter Caroline M., age 14.





Kelly’s Directory of Staffordshire: “Metcalfe’s Brass Band Express (Metcalfe, Sons & Co, printers publishers & proprietors, published fortnightly). Office, St. John’s Square.”




Kelly’s Directory of Staffordshire: “Metcalfe’s Brass Band Express (Metcalfe, Sons & Co, printers publishers & proprietors, published fortnightly). Office, St. John’s Square.”




No entry in Kelly’s Directory except: “Mrs Walter Wm Metcalfe, tailoress, 5 St. Marks Street.” This can only be the wife of Walter William Metcalfe, 7th(?) child of HJM, born in 1872 and who married Eliza Marian Kendal in 1897. Eliza was born in Wolverhampton in 1874.                  


1901 - Census.


HJM living at 60 Church Lane (near St. John’s Square), with his wife Betsy & son John W, now aged 21. HJM is still listed as ‘Band music composer & publisher’. Also living there is Arthur L. Daw, a nephew, aged 17. (Actual name Dawes.)


11th Jul 1906


HJM, age 71, residing in Summer Row (also near St. John’s Square), dies.


17 July 1906.



Funeral. HJM is interred in grave 18481, square 170, in the Merridale Cemetery, Jeffcock Rd., Wolverhampton. No marker for the grave (or indeed for the majority of the others around that time) survives. The general areas in which his grave might be located is shown here. My grandfather would tell me, with modest pride, that two bands played at HJ Metcalfe’s funeral. Alas, no report of the event was given in the ‘Express & Star’, the local newspaper; but then, my search in the ‘Express & Star’ for 10 days either side of the above date revealed but one report of a funeral. I imagine that if somebody died at that time, everybody ‘in the town’ knew about it anyway, so the local paper did not write it up. The announcement of his passing did appear in the ‘Deaths’ column though; and it was from this that we first learnt that HJM had been in the army…






Page revised 29th July 2009.