John Corbet Anderson was a leading historian of Croydon in the nineteenth century. He was educated in Rothesay on the Isle of Bute. Showing a keen interest in art from a young age, Anderson submitted a cartoon sketch to an exhibition in Westminster Hall in 1843 called ‘The Plague of London 1655’. He moved to Liverpool in 1846 and worked as a portrait painter. Anderson moved to Croydon in 1852, living with his sisters on Duppas Hill. He married Frances Goddard in 1855 and following her death in 1861, married Sarah Goddard in 1864 with whom he had seven sons. Anderson contributed cricketing lithographs in ‘Sketches at Lord's’; between 1850 and 1860 he drew lithographs of 39 different players. In 1859 he published 'To India and Back by the Cape by a Traveller', despite having never visited India. Five years later he published 'Shropshire: its early history and antiquities'. He also contributed to ‘English Landscapes and Views’ (1883) by Roberts and Leete, wrote the footnotes for the updated version of Joseph Nash’s 'The Mansions of England in the Olden time', illustrated ‘Biblical Monuments’ by William Harris Rule, wrote ‘Old Testament and Monumental Coincidences’ (1895), and edited ‘The Family of Leete, with special reference to the genealogy of Joseph Leete’ (1881).
Anderson’s first book on Croydon – ‘Monuments and Antiquities of Croydon Church in the County of Surrey’ – was published in 1855. The book traced the history of the parish church from the 14th century to the restoration undertaken in the 1850s. In 1871 he wrote ‘Monuments and Antiquities of the old parish church of St John Baptist of Croydon, in the County of Surrey, which was destroyed by fire on the night of January the fifth’, and ‘The parish church as it was rebuilt during the years mdcclxii-ix after the design of G. Gilbert Scott, R. A.’ He also wrote ‘Chronicle of the Parish of Croydon’, the first volume of which was ‘Croydon: Pre-Historic & Roman’ (1874). The second volume was ‘Saxon Croydon’ (1877) which covers finds such as human remains in Park Street, under Whitgift’s almshouses and at Farthing Downs. The third volume was ‘Croydon Old Church: Parish Register and the Whitgift Charity’, followed by the final volume on ‘The Archiepiscopal Palace at Croydon’ (1879). Anderson’s next book on Croydon was published in 1882, ‘A Short Chronicle concerning the Parish of Croydon’, followed by ‘A Descriptive and Historical Guide to Croydon Surrey’ in 1887. His final book, ‘The Great North Wood: with a Geological, topographical and Historical description of Upper Norwood, West & South Norwood, in the County of Surrey’, was published in 1898.
Anderson died on 3rd January 1907 and was buried five days later in Queen’s Road Cemetery in Croydon, where his grave still stands.