Alfred Albert Suggate: Loddon’s musical maverick

Amongst the Parish records for Loddon we find a hand addressed envelope containing a printed letter dated 1847, detailing the work of a Mr A. A. Suggate. Who would have thought that this ordinary letter held at the Norfolk Record Office could provide research of such richness and curiosity?

NRO PD595.240

Alfred Albert Suggate of Yarmouth – a recent student under Mendelssohn, offering pianoforte and violin tuition in 1847, with fees. Dated 1847. NRO: PD 595/240



The letter proposes that Mr A Suggate has been a pupil at the Leipzig Conservatory and that he can be contacted in Jetty Road Gt Yarmouth.

Looking at the wonderful collection of maps at the NRO we find that Jetty Rd is mentioned in Historical Yarmouth book 27 (today we know it as St Peters Road off King Street), and Whites Norfolk Directory, page 289, has an entry for music Dealers – Suggate Wm. King St.

Research has shown that Alfred was born in Islington, Middlesex in 1822, son of William and Harriet Suggate, who moved their family of 4 boys, (Robert /William/Alfred/Henry Ezra) and 4 girls (Charlotte/Emily/Sarah/Margaret) to the east coast. Robert became a sea farer and wrote a journal, he describes his first voyage delivering flour to London and, in 1830, boarded the East India merchant ship “William Lowther” to sail to China for a cargo of tea. Henry Ezra was a Chemist and Druggist on St Peters Rd, Yarmouth.

So it seems fair to postulate that Mr Suggate was in Gt Yarmouth…..but was he an accomplished musician and did he go to Leipzig? Documentation about Great Yarmouth reveals that Mr A Suggate was the leader of a band. On the “21st Nov 1842 First concert of the Gt Yarmouth Amateur Musical society given at the Town Hall. Leader of the band Mr A Suggate” (1).

After contacting the historical department at the Leipzig we received proof of the enrolment of Alfred Suggate. In August 1846, Alfred travelled to the Conservatory – admission was based on a musical examination and the tuition cost was 80 thalers annually (scholarships were available for worthy students). Between the spring of 1843 and 1847, 17 British students received instruction by Mendelssohn. There is an account of 15 negligent students and Alfred was given a “sharp warning” for missing a class (2).


An archive document from Leipzig, reads that Suggate didn’t pay his debts (the tuition fees) and went back to England in 1847. The historian at the Record Office in Leipzig thinks this might be the reason for not having a certificate for him.

So, yes, Alfred Albert Suggate must have been a musician of notability.

Suggate travelled throughout the Waveney valley as a “professor of music” offering music lessons. In 1848 he married and moved to Lowestoft, where he had a shop in Lowestoft High Street from 1850. Then in 1855 he moved to a new and larger property in London Rd North. He had 4 children and one child is given Felix Mendelsohn as middle names!

Interestingly he composed a number of pieces of music. These include The Royal Tune Book for Beginners on the Piano Forte, and 3 pieces which are held at the British Library, including the Lowestoft Quadrille c. 1854.


Little is known about Albert Suggate’s later life. Following a high profile divorce case in 1859 between Albert and his wife Sarah, the contents of their home on London Road, Lowestoft were put up for sale. The Suffolk Record Office, Lowestoft has a copy of the Public Auction Sale poster (SRO: 1117/276/78) and many documents about the Suggate family of Beccles and Lowestoft for those interested in pursuing the life of this family further.

This research project has shown that a small advertising leaflet can provide a colourful story.

Let’s hope that despite his imperfections, Alfred Albert Suggate can be remembered for his music, examples of which can be heard by listening to the audio clips below.

With thanks to Sally Smith for playing and recording these for us.


The Lowestoft Quadrille Part 1: North Cliffs and Light House



The Lowestoft Quadrille Part 2: Esplanade and Pakefield Cliffs


The Lowestoft Quadrille Part 3: The Railway and Lake Lothing


The Lowestoft Quadrille Part 4: The Pier and Harbour


Compiled by a NRO Research Blogger



  1. Chronological Retrospect of the History of Yarmouth and neighbourhood from A.D. 46 to 1884
  2. “Mendelssohn: A Life in Music by R. Larry Todd (ISBN: 9780195179880)”
This entry was posted in NRO Research Bloggers, Snapshots from the Archive and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Alfred Albert Suggate: Loddon’s musical maverick

  1. Lesley Suggate says:

    Thank you for this very interesting article which I have just ‘picked up’ scanning the web. Albert is a distance member of our ‘Suggate’ family and as you say he vanishes after his divorce. I have spent many hours trying to find him but without luck.

    You mention his brother Robert Suggate. His journal can be found at

    It is available to read ‘on-line’ and I have been spending the last 2-3 years transcribing it – still not finished! There are pages of family dates as well but some are not correct. Anyone wanting a copy of what I have done so far, as welcome to contact me.


    • Valerie Tranfield says:

      I am delighted to have found this record and Robert’s journal. My family history connection to this family is via Henry Ezra Suggate, surgeon to the Royal Navy. I am hoping that you might have completed transcribing the journal and if so would it be possible for me to acquire a copy from you?


      • Lesley Suggate says:

        Hi Valerie

        How great to hear from you. I would love to hear further from you. I have not completed the transcription but would be happy to share what I have done. Please send me your email and also I would be interested in your connection to the family.



      • margaret Ford says:

        Hi Valerie
        I have just seen your message on this site and was very interested in your mention of Henry Ezra Suggate. He is on my family tree as GGG grandfather. I should be keen to know who is he on yours?


    • craftylibrarian says:

      Hi Lesley, Thank you for this link. I am slowly working on a one name study of Southgate, and Suggate fits into that. One day I’ll link them all together!


      • victoriadraper24 says:

        Good luck with your research.


      • Lesley says:

        Gosh that sounds interesting. The names do interchange from time to time within the family. In one case, a ‘Suggate’ changed his name by deed poll to ‘Southgate’. Could never understand why.

        Would love to hear more in due course. Please contact me if you think I can help. I have so many family members in my database. Lesley Suggate


    • Jon says:

      We have a family link with Emily.


  2. Thank you for getting in touch with us Lesley and for the link to Robert’s journal. We are glad you found this article of interest and good luck with your transcription.


  3. LesleySuggate says:

    Hi. Margaret Ford

    Would love to be in touch, Our family is descended from Robert’s Brother William born 1785 Westall. Lesley Suggate


  4. Margaret Ford says:

    HI Lesley
    Have only just seen your reply of over a year ago on this site. My apologies and am not sure how I missed it. The furthest I have got back is to Robert Suggate who was born in 1760 in Sotherton. He was Henry Ezra’s father born in Beccles in 1781 my GGG grandfather. How frustrating that you cannot trace Alfred Suggate after his divorce. I was amazed to discover that Henry Ezra lived about 100 yds from where I live now in London!


    • Lesley Suggate says:

      Hi Margaret

      Thank you for your reply. I can trace you back a little further. I will try and see if the records office can forward my email to you and we can then communicate privately.

      Lesley Suggate


      • victoriadraper24 says:

        Hi Lesley and Margaret,

        Sounds like you have lots of information to exchange.

        If you both send your email addresses over to us at and mark them for the attention of Education and Outreach we can help you to get in contact with each other.


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