Keir Starmer Family History
Keir Rodney Starmer was born on September 2nd, 1962 to Rodney and Josephine Starmer in Southwark, London. He was the second of their four children and grew up at Oxted in Surrey.
He did not particularly like either of his first names Keir and Rodney as he was growing up. His parents were Labour party supporters and named him after the early Labour leader Keir Hardie. Only later did he feel comfortable with the Keir name.
And Rodney was his father’s name. He was not close to his father, a toolmaker by trade. He described him as a difficult man who kept himself to himself and didn’t like to socialize. It was said that when Keir married in 2007 he left his middle name Rodney out of the marriage register.
Keir was just eleven in 1973 when he was warned about his mother Josephine and her Still’s disease The combination of Still’s disease and the steroids that she took had major long-term effects as she became unable to use her limbs and would frequently succumb to infection.
Keir was able to go on and study law at Leeds University, graduating with first class honours in 1985, and then to do postgraduate work at St. Edmund Hall in Oxford. He was the only one of their four children to advance to university and to have a career. This changed his life.
His younger twins without this education have had humbler occupations – Nicholas as a mechanic in the north of England and Katherine staying locally as a care-giver.
There have been two elements so far to Keir’s career:
- the first has been legal as a human rights lawyer
- and the second has been in politics.
After a decade working on human rights issues, Keir was appointed Queen’s Council in 2002. He subsequently advised the Police Service of Northern Ireland (set up as part of the Good Friday Agreement) on human rights. In 2008 he became the Director of Public Prosecution, for which he would receive a knighthood.
He was elected as the Labour MP for Holborn and St. Pancras in 2015. A year later he was chosen as its Shadow Brexit Secretary. In 2019, after the resignation of Jeremy Corbyn, he became Leader of the Labour Party.
Home for Keir is not Oxted in Surrey, but Kentish Town in London where he has lived for more than fifteen years. His wife Vic grew up in nearby Gospel Oak. She is of Polish Jewish descent and has set the family parameters. Their two children are brought up in the Jewish faith and they maintain a Friday night Jewish dinner tradition. Keir for his part protects the privacy of his family.
The Starmer Name
The Leicestershire place-name of Starmore-in-Westrill was probably the origin of the rather rare Starmer surname. There are only about 600 Starmers in England today, with a further 3-400 elsewhere. The place-name is thought to have derived from the personal name of Storm plus the Old English mor meaning “moor” or “marshland.”
Leicestershire and the neighboring counties of Northamptonshire and Lincolnshire accounted for about 70% of the Starmers in the 1891 census.
The town of Northampton had the largest numbers, possibly because of the shoe industry there. During the First World War its shoemakers supplied more than two-thirds of the 70 million pairs of footwear that were required at that time. Starmer occupations in 1921 showed a preponderance in that industry.
Notable Starmers before Sir Keir Starmer came along were:
- Sir Charles Walter Starmer. Born in Lincolnshire in 1870, he made his mark as one of the leading newspaper proprietors of the early 1900’s. He was knighted for his various public services in 1917.
- and the brothers William Austin and Frederick Waite Starmer. Born in Leeds slightly later and the sons of a shoemaker, they were from the 1910’s to the 1940’s well-known sheet music cover artists.
Farm Workers in Lincolnshire
Keir Starmer’s forebears were not Starmers who migrated to towns and to shoemaking. They came from Lincolnshire – John Thomas Starmer was born there in the village of Hundleby around 1787 – and their roots remained for a long time in the countryside.
In Keir’s line three generations of his family were farm workers at Mavis Enderby – John Thomas, his son George, and grandson George. They each had large families and struggled to make a living on farm worker’s wages (one son did emigrate to America).
When the elder George died in 1870 at the age of fifty-one, his wife Lucy and their six children remained in Mavis Enderby. She was working as a washerwoman in 1881 and in 1891 was receiving parish relief. She died there in 1906.
The younger George had married Matilda Buswell, a housemaid from Welford in Northamptonshire, in 1878. By 1891 they had moved to Fryton, northwest of Malton in Yorkshire, where George had secured a position of gamekeeper. He then farmed near Doncaster in Yorkshire. Many of his children remained in Yorkshire. George later moved to Surrey where his son Gustavus had settled.
And at Oxted in Surrey
This son of George – the curiously named Gustavus Adolphus Starmer – was born in Lincolnshire in 1883. By the early 1900’s he had moved to Liverpool where he had met and married Katherine Mitchell, the daughter of Irish immigrants, in 1905. Their son Herbert (or Bert) was born the same year.
By 1911 the Starmers were living at Oxted in Surrey on the border with Kent. This was a small rural place at the foot of the North Downs which had began to develop as a commuter town for London after the arrival of the railway in 1884.
Gustavus like his father George had employment as a gamekeeper. Bert was an agricultural wheelwright; while Bert’s son Rodney (Keir’s father) worked in a factory as a toolmaker.
Keir Starmer’s Family Tree
- John Thomas Starmer (1787-1860) from Hundleby, Lincolnshire m. Elizabeth Dawson (b. 1786) in Lincolnshire in 1807
- – John Starmer (1808-1891) m. Susanna Loughton
- – Thomas Starmer (1814-1899) m. Charlotte Baldock (they emigrated to America)
- – George Starmer (1819-1870)
- George Starmer from Mavis Enderby, Lincolnshire m. Lucy Webster (1824-1906) in Lincolnshire in 1847
- – John Starmer (1849-1905)
- – Jane Starmer (b. 1852)
- – George Starmer (1854-1945)
- – Eliza Starmer (b. 1857)
- – William Starmer (b. 1860)
- – Hannah Starmer (b. 1862)
- George Starmer m. Matilda Buswell from Welford, Northamptonshire (1849-1931) in Welford in 1878
- – George Starmer (1881-1972)
- – Gustavus Adolphus Starmer (1882-1974)
- – Reggie Starmer (1883-1979)
- – Servan Starmer (1884-1950)
- – Ashburn Starmer (1886-1957)
- – Lorraine Starmer (1890-1969) m. Archibald Van Ambergh
- – Arthur Starmer (1891-1978)
- Gustavus Adolphus Starmer m. Katherine Mitchell from Ireland (1885-1974) in Liverpool in 1905
- – Herbert Starmer (1905-1990)
- – Gustavus (Gus) Starmer (1909-1983) m. Nellie Tuffnell
- – Reginald Starmer (1914-1991) m. Violet Langford
- – plus Mary and one other sibling
- Herbert (Bert) Starmer m. Doris Parsons from Surrey (1907-2001) in Surrey in 1928
- – Rodney Starmer (1934-2018)
- – plus two boys and a girl
- Rodney Starmer m. Josephine Baker (1939-2015) in Surrey in 1960
- – Anna Starmer (b. 1961)
- – Keir Starmer (b. 1962)
- – twin Nicholas (b. 1964)
- – twin Katherine Swabey nee Starmer (b. 1964)
- Keir Starmer m. Victoria (Vic) Alexander in London in 2007
- – a son Toby Starmer (b. 2008)
- – plus a daughter (b. 2011)
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