James Myall was born in Southchurch, Essex, on the 9th of October, 1810, to Joseph and Hannah (née Constable) Myall (sometimes Myal). To my knowledge, he was the third generation of the Myall family to have moved to the Prittlewell area from parts unknown in the late 18th century. My namesake is my 3rd great-grandfather; I'm the eighth generation of the family to be born in the area.
James's father, Joseph, was a mariner, or fisherman - like his father, Edward, and many of his brothers. They were apparantly not well off. In the 1841 census, James is living with his parents at Minerva Place, a building they shared with two other families . Minerva Place appears to have been a boarding house at 1 Eastern Esplanade in what is now Southend (then still a part of Prittlewell). This is most likely what became the Minerva pub, judging by the neighboring properties on the Census. 
|The Minerva, now Tiffany's Restaurant, appears to have undergone significant remodeling since the early 19th century. Image 2012 via Google Maps|
James, for some reason, did not follow in the family trade (perhaps it was becoming unprofitable) - instead he is listed as "M.S." or "male servant" in 1841. Things did not improve from there - James was described as a "jobbing man" - or odd-job man - in the 1851 census . Together with wife Rebecca ("Rachel") and three children, he's living a few houses down from another pub, the Blue Boar, on West Street in Prittlewell. The same building may still be standing in an area which, even today, is far from gentrified.
|West St, Prittlewell, 2014. Image via Google Maps|
The depth of the family's fortunes is reached in 1861 , with a stay in the Rochford Union Workhouse. Clearly things had become so bad for the Myalls that they could no longer support themselves. Interestingly, the Rochford Workhouse buildings reverted to the local council on its closure and the infirmary became the first building of Rochford hospital, the building in which I would be born more than 100 years later!
|Rochford Hospital, 2009. Image via Google Maps.|
However, the family's stay in the Workhouse was relatively brief. By 1871, James, Rebecca, and son Thomas, are living on North Street (now Victoria Avenue) in Prittlewell, somewhere in the vicinity of Priory Park . It seems likely (although I'm not certain) that this is the house later known as 1 Priory Cottages, which would remain in the family for many generations. James and his son Thomas (my direct ancestor) were both employed as house "painters". This would remain Thomas's profession throughout his life, and he would stay in the house until his death.
|Priory Cottages, 2014 (now 386 Victoria Avenue). Image via Google Maps|
To various residences of my namesake serve to reinforce the closeness of this story. Not only are many of the properties still standing, but they are very familiar to me. I walked past Priory Cottages on my way home from school; I misspent my youth in the Blue Boar, and the Minerva, playing the arcades at the Kursal behind the Minerva, and eating kebabs from the stores on West Street. Little did I know I was walking in the footsteps of another James Myall.
 Southchurch Parish Register, Baptisms, Jan 27 1811. Essex Archives Online, D/P 120/1/12.
 1841 Census of England, Essex, Rochford, Prittlewell, District 1, p3, "Joseph Myal" Household.
 1851 Census of England, Essex, Rochford, Rayleigh, District 2c, p35. "James Myall" Household.
 1861 Census of England, Essex, Rochford, Rochford, District 1 (Rochford Union Workshouse), p5.
 1871 Census of England, Essex, Rochford, Prittlewell, District 3, p25. "James Myall" Household.