James Kean was born in Ireland about 1812, he made his way to Wrexham and in 1850 married widow Jane Beirne in Wrexham. Jane had been born in Derby, her maiden name was Travis. She had married Timothy Bierne and for a while they lived in Chester where 3 children were born. William, Elizabeth and Anne. By 1844 they were in Wrexham and Timothy Beirne was listed in Pigots Directory as a Travelling tea dealer and draper. Timothy died in 1846 aged 55 and is buried in St Giles .
Jane married again in 1850 to James Kean, they lived in Vicarage Hill where James was a “hawker of cloth”, they were there for many years and eventually James became a pawnbroker. His stepdaughters Elizabeth and Anne worked as his assistants, William was a
book keeper in a brewery.
Jane died aged 69 and was buried on 21 January 1874; she was still at Vicarage Hill.
During his time as a pawnbroker there were a few newspaper reports concerning James and his business .
30th May 1863
TWO GAY SISTERS. There were two females, Amelia Fitzgerald and Eleanor Tomlinson, brought up at the Guildhall, on Wednesday last, before Dr. Williams, both of whom made a considerable display of gaudy millinery. Inspector Lamb gave the following evidence against them. From information received yesterday from Mr. McDonald I went in search of a pair of boots. I found a pair answering to the description given me at Mr. Kean, the pawnbroker’s. I fetched Mr. McDonald, and he identified the boots at once. I got a description of the prisoners from him and went in search of them. I found them on the road to the railway. I spoke to the elder, and asked her what her name was. She said Miss Evans, from Denbigh. I said I have a charge of felony against you stealing a pair of boots. She said: I have not. I took her to McDonald. On the way the young one wished to say something. I told her she had better keep what she had to say till she came before the magistrates. When they were by the bridewell door she said we did take the boots. We were short of money and had nothing to eat. James Kean, proved the pawning of the boots by the elder prisoner (Fitzgerald.) McDonald, manager to Mr. Hill, shoemaker, Town- hill, proved that both prisoners were in the shop on Tuesday, when the younger one bought a pair of boots and the elder one paid for them. While they were in the shop he saw the younger one take a pair of boots. He charged her with it, and she admitted it and gave them up. She fell on her knees and he forgave her. After they left the shop he learnt from his wife that they had been in the shop on Monday, and a pair of boots was missed as soon as they had gone. They were the boots found upon her by Inspector Lamb now produced. Both prisoners were remanded till Monday at the request of Inspector Lamb, who has since discovered a large quantity of jewellery at the refreshment room at the station, which he has traced to the shops of Mr Heywood, Mr Frazer, and Mr Scotcher. They consist chiefly of gold brooches, ear-rings, and silver pencil cases. More boots were also found. The prisoners are sisters and come from the town of Oswestry, and are said to be respectably connected.
On 1 June the sisters appeared in court and were charged with the theft of the jewellery.
“The sentence of the court is that for Mr. Scotcher’s robbery you be severally kept to hard labour for three months ; and for Mr. Heywood’s robbery, that you be severally committed to the house of correction without hard labour for six months, to commence at the expiration of the sentence in the other case.”
23rd October 1875
A WATCH CASE. Harriet Powell was charged with stealing a watch, value £5, and £10 in money, from the person of Mr James Kean, John Foulkes, charged with receiving the same, and John Barton, charged with being an accessory. The following evidence was given Thomas Cafferty , a boy about 14 years of age, said his father kept a public house in Abbot- street, and on Thursday night, about nine o’clock, he saw the prisoner Foulkes take Mr Kean’s keys out of his pocket and open his door, when the female prisoner pushed Mr Kean into the house, and went in with him, Foulkes walking up and down in front of the house while they were in. Mr Kean was drunk. Miss Kean, niece of Mr Kean, said she was going home, when the last witness ran after her and told her there was somebody in her uncle’s house robbing it. She then went back and found Harriet Powell in the kitchen, and on asking her what she was doing she said nothing. On examining her uncle’s pockets, she found his watch gone, the chain hanging loose down. She was housekeeper to Mr Kean She knew the watch produced to be her uncle’s. Sergeant Lindsay said he had been unable to produce any evidence against Barton in connection with the case, and the other two prisoners were remanded till Monday. The magistrate alluding to the custom of threatening witnesses, intimated that if any complaint were made to him, or any tampering took place with the witnesses, he should punish it to the fullest extent.
Harriet Powell, an “unfortunate” was sentenced to seven years penal servitude, and John Foulkes, painter, to nine months’ imprisonment for stealing and receiving on October 21. a silver watch and doorkey property of Mr James Kean, pawnbroker.
James remained at Vicarage Hill until his death, he was buried on 10 July 1878 aged 66. Only James is buried in Ruabon Road Cemetery as Jane died before it was opened. Both their deaths were announced in the Wrexham Advertiser. Later that year the property at Vicarage Hill was for sale.
VICARAGE HILL, WREXHAM. FREEHOLD HOUSES. To be Sold by Auction by MESSRS BAUGH, JONES, AND CO., at the Buck Inn, Hope Street, Wrexham, in the County of Denbigh, on Tuesday, the 3rd day of December, 1878, at 3 p.m. punctually, subject to conditions to be then produced. All those two MESSUAGES or DWELLING HOUSES, No. 3 and 4, Vicarage Hill, Wrexham, in the County of Denbigh, one of which Messuages was for some years used as a Pawnbroker’s Shop by the late Mr James Kean, who carried on a very successful business there, and the other is in the occupation of Mrs Elizabeth Ellis, widow. For further particulars apply to Mr John Allington Hughes, Solicitor, Wrexham, or at the Office of the Auctioneers, Temple Chambers, Wrexham.23rd November 1878 Wrexham Guardian
Researched by Annette Edwards. October 2019.
IN MEMORY OF JAMES KEAN, WHO DIED JULY 1878 AGED 66 YEARS. “MAY HE REST IN PEACE”Transcription
Grave ref: Wrexham Cemetery C-00958