John Robert Box

John Robert Box was my Great Grandfather. He was Born on 17 August 1849 at  21, Upper Charles St, Clerkenwell, and died Died on 17 June 1926 at Lynwood, Emsworth , Hampshire aged  76.


He went to Highgate School, which was known in those days as Roger Cholmeley School, after is founder, Sir Roger Cholmeley. He was a pupil from September 1860 to April 1868.

He was awarded a copy of Richard Whatley‘s commentaries on Bacon’s Essays as School Mathematics  Prize in 1868.


He was a nurseryman, Begonia specialist, Seed Merchant.
In the 1861 Census he is visiting his Great Uncle, George Braund, who was a Linen Draper in Dartford, Kent at the time.
In the 1871 Census he would have been 21, but is not in his parents household and is probably at the home of Robert Bryson, his uncle in Edinburgh.
In the 1881 Census he was 31 and living with his parents, in Hornsey,  at 1 ??Caln Terrace, and his occupation is “Seedsman, Nurseryman and Florist at 7, ??Dest (possibly Forest??) Hill, Kent employing 50 men and boys”
His advertisement in The Gardeners Chronicle of 1887 says

BEGONIA SEED.- Box's Jubilee varieties,
choicest from latest prize singles, per packet, ls. and
2s. 6d; double, the most reliable, very special, per packet,
2s. 6d. and 5s; very extra pure double white, per packet, 5s.
and 10s. Sow now. See other Advertisement of Tubers.
J. R. BOX (for last ten years J. Laing's partner), Surrey
Seed Warehouse, Croydon.

John Laing (whose catalogue from 1894 is shown below) was another Begonia specialist.

Note that this would tie in with John Box 1881 Census entry being Forest Hill as that is where John Laing’s nursery was.
John Box advertised in The Gardeners Chronicle of January to June 1894 where his advertisement reads

BOX'S BEGONIA SEED.— For germination
and quality of flowers superior to all others. Per
packet, single mixed, 1s. and 2s. 6d. ; larger packets, 5s. ;
double mixed, packets. 1s. Qd. and 2s. 6rf. ; larger packets, 5s.
Sow now. Ask for PRICE LIST of Tubers, and Pamphlet
on Culture.
JOHN R. BOX, Seedsman and Begonia Grower, Croydon.

Begonia culture for amateurs says

I have never been able to obtain such good results, either in germinating power or in quality, from bought seed (single or double) as from that of my own saving ; but I may perhaps be allowed to say that by far the best Begonia seed, double especially, I have ever obtained was from Mr. J. R. Box, of Croydon ; both in quality and germinating power nothing better could be desired.

It is possible that the Begonia Rosie Box was named after his eldest daughter Rosina.

In the 1891 Census he was living at 65, Wellesley Road, Croydon, Surrey, England, with Ada, Rosina, Leonard, Dorothy and Margaret, as well as Margaret Waller (22), a Nurse, and Jessica Giles (18), a general domestic servant.

In 1918 he was living at 80, Northampton Road, Croydon (OSM), as  The Scottish Women’s Hospitals for Home and Foreign Service writes to him at this address, reassuring him about his daughter, Margaret, who had gone off as  a volunteer nurse in Serbia.


He married Ada Webster on 6th February 1894 at He had one son, my Grandfather – Leonard Box (1886 – 1967) and five daughters, Rosina Janet Braund Box (1884-1969), Dorothy Box (1887-?), Edith Mary Box (1889-1959), Margaret Ada Box (1890-1986), Norah Constance Box (1898-1987).

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