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Brentford Surveyors - John Figg


Peter King has researched details of the first four Brentford Surveyors appointed following the Public Health Act 1875. See intro page for further details.

John Figg

Surveyor to Brentford U S D 1875-1881

When the first meeting of the Brentford Urban Sanitary District was held in October 1874, John Figg is shown as an elected Board member. He was 70 years of age.

Mr Figg had lived in Brentford for many years, appearing in censuses, directories from 1841 onwards as carpenter, builder, architect and in 1881 as “Surveyor Vestry Clerk”.

His time as a Board member was short. The sudden dismissal in September 1875 of Mr Gatward the surveyor, saw Figg as one of the 53 applicants for the vacancy.

From a short list of seven, he was appointed surveyor on 16th November 1875 at a salary of £120 per annum, at which time he resigned as a member of the Board. He was now 71 years of age.

Figg certainly had the right background to take on the duties of surveyor, and the Gatward problem ? may well have resulted in the Board looking for a not so young, but safe pair of hands.

On 12th Oct 1875 the Board had accepted the recommendations of a sub committee formed to establish the conditions of employment attaching to the post of surveyor. It is noted that the surveyor will “not be required to give the whole of his time to the service of the Board”. This possibly to take account of Figg’s other posts.

This was not the case with Figg’s predecessor Mr Gatward or Mr Lacey, his successor. They were expected to give their whole time, although in the case of Lacey he was later allowed to take on private work.

Mr Figg resigned on 15th Mar 1881, and F W Lacey filled the post.

It appears that Mr Figg assisted the new surveyor, as minutes for May 1881 show him receiving £30 as salary,plus £20 as a back payment for work carried out during the laying of water pipes for the GJ Water Coy. He also received £50 in Oct 1881, “two quarters salary”.

A surveyors report appearing in the minutes for 1st Nov 1881 is signed John Figg.
A payment for March 1882 to Mr Figg for extra services, refers to him as “late surveyor”.
Figg continues to appear in the minutes after 1882, but the entries refer to private planning applications.


John Figg's life

Born: Maidstone Kent 30th Jan 1804

Marriage: 22nd Sep 1833 to Lydia Howard Spinster
St Mary Newington “In the presence of Charles and Priscilla Howard”

1841 Census Brentford High St

  • John Figg 35 carpenter
  • Lydia Figg 40
  • John D Figg 3
  • Priscilla Howard 50
  • Jane Figg 65
  • William Howard 14
  • Mary Spencer 14
  • Harriet Thick 15

Death: 15th Dec 1844 Lydia Figg 49 Brentford

Marriage: 17th Nov 1851 Christ Church Southwark
John Figg Widower Carpenter Father shown as John Figg Excise Officer
Priscilla Howard Spinster Father shown as Thomas Howard Lath Vendor?

1861 Census Brentford High St

  • John Figg 57 Head architect
  • Priscilla Figg 39 Wife
  • John Charles Figg 8 Son
  • Jane Figg 6 Dau
  • Mary Figg 3 Dau
  • Priscilla Howard 75 Dressmaker
  • Sophia Howard 73 Dressmaker
  • Jane Howard 63 Dressmaker
  • Mary Spencer 20 Dressmaker
  • Mary A Hooper 17 Dressmakers apprentice

1871 Census Brentford High St

  • John Figg 67 Head surveyor
  • Priscilla Figg 48 Wife
  • John Charles Figg 18 Son
  • Mary Ann Figg 13 Dau
  • Arthur J Figg 2 Son

1881 Census 8 Kings Cottages Back Lane Brentford

  • John Figg 77 Head Surveyor/Vestry Clerk
  • Priscilla Figg 58 Wife
  • Arthur J Figg 12 Son
  • Georges E Nicoise 24 Lodger Chemist

1891 Census 44 Glenhurst Rd Brentford

  • John Figg 87 Head Vestry Clerk/Surveyor
  • Priscilla Figg 69 Wife
  • Frances J Collins 13 Servant General servant

Death: 22nd Jan 1892 John Figg 87 Brentford

Death: First Qtr 1898 Priscilla Figg 75 Uxbridge

On the 1881 census John Charles Figg ( the eldest son by Priscilla) age 29 is listed as living High St Uxbridge with his wife and child.

John Figg’s obituary in the Middx Ind 23rd Jan 1892 refers to his many years of service to the local community. He had served as church warden, overseer, assistant overseer, trustee of several charities and from about 1872 vestry clerk to Ealing. The obituary continues “substantially built houses in the town testify to the thoroughness with which he did the work entrusted to him”. Mention is also made of his knowledge of local history.

John Figg’s burial took place at Ealing Cemetery on Thursday 28th Jan 1892. The report in the Middx Ind states “that there were very few people present, but those that did congregate around the grave were old friends”

He left an estate of £1779.7.0


Page published September 2011