Male portrait placeholder image

Name: Robert Chignell

Burial Number: 1191

Gender: Male

Occupation: Barrister; Head Teacher; Author

Distinction: J.M.W. Turner Biographer

Born: 30/05/1837

Died: 10/02/1925

Buried: 14/02/1925


Robert Chignell 1837 – 1925


Barrister, Robert Chignell, was also a school principal and the author of two biographies. The Life and Paintings of Vicat Cole by Robert Chignell was published in 1898. Chignell was Vicat Cole’s brother-in-law. Written in 1902, the biography of J.M.W. Turner was described as having a “modern approach” towards the artist. 


Robert Chignell was born on 30th May 1837 in Colchester, Essex to accountant, Thomas Chignell and his wife Elizabeth Slythe.  He lived in Mile End, Colchester with his 5 brothers and 2 sisters and Robert was still a scholar at the age of 23.

Robert married Marion Street in July 1863 at St. Pancras, London. Marion was the daughter of George Horatio Street, a bookseller and Elizabeth Arthur.

By 1871 they were living in the Priory, St. Mary’s, Dover with daughters, Marion and Ethel. Robert was the principal of a private school called St. Martin’s Hill House. He prepared the sons of noblemen and gentlemen for Eton, Harrow and other public schools. Robert moved his school to Castlemount Dover, a school specially built by Mr. Adcock. Robert frequently opened this school to the public on Sundays and work hard for amenities in Dover. He was responsible for the laying out of Connaught Park and pioneered the building of housing for working people. He also financed the Pier’s Workmen’s Recreation Room.

By 1991 Robert had moved to East Grinstead and worked as a barrister until his retirement when he became the biographer of two great artists. In 1898, after the death of his brother-in-law, Vicat Cole R.A., he carefully collated his work in a 3 volume biography. The biography was a great success which prompted Robert to write the biography of the much lauded landscape painter, J.M.W. Turner in 1902.

In the early 1900’s, Robert moved to St. Martens, Bath Road, Worthing. Marion died in 1908 and in 1911 the widowed Robert lived with his daughters, Marion and Mildred in Bath Road.

Robert died in 1925 and was buried in Heene Cemetery alongside his wife, Marion. His daughter Marion, was also buried in the family plot at Heene in 1927.


Researcher: Pat Brownbill

The Grave

No headstone image available

Location in Cemetery

Area: SES Row: 9 Plot: 24

Exact Location (what3words): feed.likely.vines

Ashes or Urn: Unknown



EndowedGrave: Cut grass and keep tidy. Supply spring and flowering plants among roses


Here rests the body of Marion the beloved wife of Robert Chignell born May 24 1840, married July 28th 1863, died December 10 1908."Vivit Semper anima beata" "I know that my redeemer liveth" And here the body of her husband Robert Chignell sometime of Castlemount, Dover. Later of Stoneleigh. Last of Heene. born May 30 1837 died February 10 1925 "Much loving, much beloved"

Further Information


Name: Robert Chignell

Gender: Male

Born: 30/05/1837

Town: Colchester

County: Essex

Country: England


Maiden Name: Not applicable

Marriage Date: //

Spouse First Name: Marion

Spouse Last Name: Street

Town of Marriage: Unknown

County of Marriage: Unknown

Country of Marriage: Unknown

Information at Death

Date of Death: 10/02/1925

Cause of death: Unknown

Address line 1: St. Martens

Address line 3: Bath Road

Town: Worthing

County: Sussex

Country: England


No obituary has been entered.

Personal Effects

Money left to others: £19373 17 s 5 d

Current value of effects: Not calculated

Census Information


Living at Botolph Street, St. Botolph, Colchester,  Thomas (40) baker, Elizabeth his wife (41) , Mary Ann (12) daughter, Sarah (10) daughter, Heindrick Agnis (8) , George (6), Albert (4) and Alfred (2).


Living at Botolph Street, St. Botolph, Colchester,  Thomas (50) a clerk and master baker, Sarah (21) daughter, Heinrick (18) son a student, George (16) son and baker, Robert (14) son and scholar, Alfred (11) son and scholar and Rhoda and Joseph Winfield (both aged 18) servant and errand boy.


Living at Farm House, Mile End, Colchester, Robert (23) a tutor, his mother, Elizabeth (61) and father Thomas (60) and servant Eliza Kettle (15)


Living at Stoneleigh, Grinstead Lane, East Grinstead, Robert ( 53) barrister, Marian, (50) wife, Marian E (24) daughter, Ethel A (22) daughter, Mildred E Cole ( 25) niece, Lizzie A Jell (25) servant, Emily E Apps (19) servant.


Living at 58 Clifton Road, Brighton with his son in law and daughter, Robert (63) barrister, Thomas H Fowler (32) managing director, Ethel A Fowler, (32) and Elizabeth Elphick (23)


Living at St. Martens, Bath Road, Worthing, Robert (73) widowed retired barrister, Marion Elizabeth (44) daughter, Mildred Eleanor (39) daughter, Florence Lidbetter ( 26) servant, Mildred Holder (25) servant and Elizabeth Budgen (22) servant.

Miscellaneous Information

Castlemount School