Have you visited us before?

“Have you visited us before?” asked the receptionist at the Society of Genealogists in London.  I paused and said, “well, yes, but it was about 30 years ago!”.  The receptionist recorded that as a ‘no’.  My memories of that one visit are very vague, but the handwritten notes in my family history files are testament to the fact that I found some useful information on that occasion, in the days long before online access to data.

My investigation of sources relevant to my newly-found Mormon ancestors has continued apace since my last couple of blogs.   Last time I wrote of finding on Family Search that LDS membership records existed for East Dereham in Norfolk for the period 1848 – 1871.  I phoned the Portsmouth LDS Family History Centre to enquire, only to learn that they did not hold any microfilms.  The person I spoke to didn’t seem to know how I might find this record, which was very disappointing.  However, fellow family historians are wonderfully helpful, and shortly after posting my question on a family history society facebook page, I learnt that it was to the Society of Genealogists in London that I needed to direct my enquiry.  Apparently it stopped being possible to order microfilms at local LDS Family History Centres a couple of years ago, and all those held by the London Centre are now housed at the Society of Genealogists. http://www.sog.org.uk/ 

I had a very positive response to my phone call to the latter:  the person I spoke to went off to investigate and phoned me back with the good news that yes, they had film number 86996.  I couldn’t wait for an opportunity to get to London to view it!

The journey was not helped by the fact that no trains were running on the Circle Line, but finally I was there, loading the microfilm and scrolling through to find the documents.  “A record of births and baptisms of the Branch of the Church of Jesus Christ East Dereham Norwich Conference of Latter Day Saints.  Organised 24th Day of March 1849 on 18 Members at Conference in Norwich.”

The pages recorded the LDS baptisms of members:  for most it also gives the individual’s birth date, and says who baptized them and confirmed them.  Further columns sometimes indicate if an individual emigrated, died or was ‘cut off’.

I quickly spotted both James and Bartha Lina George, both baptized on 10 June 1849 by John Lickerish.  The entry for James includes the information that he was ordained both Deacon and Priest in October that same year.  Scanning through the records shows that James himself baptized members from around 1852 onwards, so it looks as though he became a significant leader in that local Mormon branch.  In fact, he subsequently baptized three of his own children:  Martha and James in 1860 and Ann in 1862.  John was baptized in 1866 and Alice in 1870.  I had read previously that the Mormon church did not (and I believe still does not) baptise children under the age of 8 years old:  Martha was 10, James was 8, Ann was 8, John was 10 and Alice was 12.

James’ wife Bartha Lina died in 1865 – before the baptisms of the last two children.  I was interested to see the baptism recorded of James’ second wife Frances Gathercole in December 1866 – about 6 months before they married.  A Mary Gathercole had already joined the church in 1852 and Harriet Gathercole would be baptized there in 1869.  The latter turns out to be Frances’ daughter by her first husband John.

So, apart from learning the baptism dates of James’ family, what else have I learnt from this particular document?  Well I had wondered whether many wider members of the family had also converted to the Mormon church even if they did not subsequently emigrate.  I think the answer to this is not really.  I did find three other George baptisms:  a Mary in 1851, born in Gressenhall in 1811, an Elizabeth in 1863 (unfortunately her date of is not birth given) and another Mary in 1864 (again no date of birth given). Now I think that the first Mary could be the wife of James’ oldest brother David.  Her maiden name was Burrell and there is also an entry for a Susana Burrell, born in Gressenhall, who could well be related.  Mary’s entry says that she was ‘cut off’ in June 1853, which I take to mean that she was excommunicated in some way.  Without dates of birth it is hard to work out who the other two women are, unfortunately.

In case you have any East Dereham ancestors yourself, some of the other family names which occur in this document are:  Johnson, Jones, Baker, Wright, Butter, Baker, Everett, Pooley, Savage, Thompson, Smith, Moore, Roberson, Taylor, Bowman, Gunn, Hill, Carr, Rawlins, Reynolds and Hayhoe.

The document entries cease in 1871, but James George is recorded as baptising people during that last year.  I do wonder whether the numbers in the church had dwindled by that time, with a number having emigrated to America including most of James’ children.  The same surnames crop up in the document again and again, so it looks like perhaps a relatively small number of families comprised the Branch.  This is speculation, but it could be another contributory factor to James’ decision to emigrate to Utah himself in 1878.

A book which I found on the open shelves at the Society of Genealogists is ‘A Norfolk Diary – passages from the diary of Rev Benjamin John Armstrong’.  He was vicar of East Dereham from 1850 – 1888.  Time did not permit a longer perusal, but it looked fascinating.  I subsequently found reference to it on the Hoe and Worthing Archive site http://www.hoeandworthingarchive.org.uk/church.html describing the vicar’s visit to parishioners in Hoe where he found “two families who are Mormonites”.  One of those families was that of Jeremiah Jones, whose name occurs frequently in the East Dereham document, frequently baptising people.  He was the same age as James and apparently Jeremiah and his family emigrated in 1862.

My visit to the Society of Genealogists was not quite a first, but my visit to a LDS Family History Centre a few days earlier certainly was.  I may not have been able to view microfilms, but I was able to view a document only available online at a LDS Centre as well as taking the opportunity to use Ancestry Worldwide.  My learning continues!

 

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The Utah Connection

The discovery of Mormons amongst my ancestors has certainly given my George research a new lease of life!  A whole tranche of hitherto untapped sources has been revealed, so I’m on a big learning curve currently.

Having established that James George, brother of my 2 x great grandfather John, most probably sailed from Liverpool bound for New York on 15 June 1878 accompanied by his youngest daughter Alice, I wanted to know when the rest of his children crossed the pond.

From a historical narrative on Ancestry it seemed that James Jnr was the first to go, in the winter of 1868, but what of Martha, Ann and John?

Not having a Worldwide subscription to Ancestry, I took myself off to our local library last Friday to use the library version (hooray for libraries!).  Firstly I looked for death certificates and found ones for all five of the children under Utah, Death and Military Death Certificates 1904 – 1961.

James George Jnr was the first to die, in January 1926 in Bountiful, Davis County.  The death certificates have two particularly useful questions:  “length of residence in city or town where death occurred” and “how long in US if foreign birth”.  Now this information is only as good as the knowledge of the informant.  In this case James’ wife Viola seemed to think he had been in Bountiful since 1869 and in the US since 1857.  However the 1910 census, which I looked at next and where James himself is likely to have provided the information, gives his “year of immigration” as 1869.  That would make him about 16 – 17 years old when he emigrated from England.

Next to die was Ann just three months later in Park City, Summit County.  In this case the informant was her son Joseph who stated that he believed his mother had immigrated in 1876.  At the time of the US Federal census in 1920 Ann was living with her daughter Mae, who had given her mother’s immigration year as 1880.  Another time I must look for a marriage date for Ann, but with her first child born in 1881, I’m speculating that her arrival in Utah might have been nearer 1876 than 1880.

After Ann was Martha, who died in October 1932 in Ogden, Weber County.  Her eldest son Fred was the informant and was way out on her birth date, giving that as 1844 rather than 1850.  He stated that she had been in the US since 1862.  However, in the 1920 census Martha herself had given the information that she immigrated in 1870, which should be the more reliable date except that she appears on the 1871 census in East Dereham, Norfolk, working as a dairymaid!   I found a marriage date for her on Family Search of 1874 in Salt Lake, so her immigration was sometime between 1871 and 1874.

Next to die was brother John, in June 1944 in Logan, Cache County, at the advanced age of 88.  His son Horten was the informant and he gave the immigration date of 1873.  John himself, on the 1930 census, gave the year as 1872.  That looks pretty reliable to me as the dates are so close.  He, too, was in East Dereham in 1871.

Alice outlived them all, dying in July 1948 at the age of 90 in Salt Lake City.  The informant’s signature is unclear, but may have been her daughter Alice.  She gave the immigration date as 1876, whereas Alice’s husband in 1930 had given the date as 1904, which was obviously inaccurate since her first child was born in Utah in 1883.

It would be great if I could find all of the above on a passenger list, but until I do my best guess is that their immigration dates were James 1868/9, John 1872, Martha 1872/4, Ann 1876 and then James Snr with Alice in 1878.  Quite probably all (with the possible exception of James Jnr) went by steamship to New York and then by rail to Salt Lake.  Prior to 1869 the journey was far more arduous, consisting of sailing to New Orleans and then by boat up the Mississippi before the wagon train or handcart route to Salt Lake.

I mentioned Family Search earlier, and this is just one source which I am just beginning to investigate.  I am embarrassed to say that I had no idea how much primary source material was on this site!  Till the last week I had only been aware of user-submitted material on there, often with no sources given whatsoever, and so had treated the information with a good deal of scepticism.  But, for example, looking up East Dereham I see there are scanned pages from Court rolls – definitely something to come back to.

I am beginning to work out how to use the Catalog search and have found some of the sources mentioned in ‘My Ancestor was a Mormon’, such as the Early Church Information File.  This appears to act as a signpost to other records, some of which I believe can only be accessed at LDS Family History Centres.  Though aware for many years of the existence of these centres, I have never had occasion to use one.  But this, I think, will be my next line of enquiry, since the Family Search site indicates that membership records exist for East Dereham for the period 1848 – 1871, which is just the period I need to potentially throw more light on my Mormon George family.  Who knows – it may just reveal other family members who also converted!

John George’s death certificate from 1944 (accessed from Ancestry 28/6/19)
John George and family probably taken in the late 1880s.
Photo originally shared on Ancestry by Summer Cooper.

They went to live in Utah

A 73 year old twice widowed ag lab from rural Norfolk dying in Utah, USA?  It seemed pretty implausible and so I had treated that particular Ancestry ‘hint’ with a good deal of scepticism.

However, it was another of Mark’s suggestions (the AGRA member I saw at Family Tree Live) to take a good look at the trees of others who might be interested in the George family from East Dereham in my efforts to break down my brick wall.  So I did just that, with my sceptical hat on, particularly looking at who had saved photos from other trees to their own.  What I discovered was a number of people with James George b 1818 and his five children ending up in Utah.  It was not, however, until I spotted a death certificate for James’ daughter Alice, that I got the proof I needed.  That certificate gave the names of parents matching those on my tree, plus her birth date in East Dereham.  It looked as though the family had indeed emigrated.

Alice George’s death certificate gave me the proof I needed

James is the younger brother of my 4 x great grandfather John George.  His first wife Bertholina (nee Hudson) had died in 1865 (I mentioned her in my last blog).  His youngest child, Alice, was then only 8 years old.  Two years later James married a widow, Frances Gathercole, and she subsequently died in January 1878.

Trawling through the information on these various trees on Ancestry with the ‘US connection’ revealed some astounding information:  that James appears to have converted to Mormonism whilst in East Dereham and then responded to the call to emigrate to Salt Lake City to help build the new Zion!  A couple of people have biographies of James on their Ancestry pages, which sound like stories passed down through the family.  I think there’s an element of oral tradition there, too, as there is more than one reference to ‘East Durham’.  If you say ‘Dereham’ with a Norfolk accent you could well hear it as ‘Durham’.  I think that helps to lend credence to the stories.

Now I have to say that until recently my knowledge of the Mormon church was pretty much limited to the Osmonds!  However, I got hold of an extremely informative book called ‘My Ancestor was a Mormon’, by Ian Waller, published by the Society of Genealogists.  It was published in 2011, and of course the digital age has continued apace since then, so I am hoping that even more of the sources might be available online than was the case then.  I’m learning a lot about the early history of the church and the early patterns of migration.

By the 1850s there were more Mormons in the UK than in the USA due to the evangelism that had taken place in this country and from the 1840s onwards there was positive encouragement of members to emigrate.  Initially this was by ship to New Orleans and then up the Mississippi to St Louis, before an overland journey by wagon train to Utah.  Later on, once the railroad was complete, the journey was much quicker, with emigrants sailing to New York and then by rail to Salt Lake.

The biographical information for James states that he “received his endowment in the Endowment House on 23 October 1879”.  This was a very sacred ceremony in the Mormon church and it indicates he was in Utah by that stage; he was also recorded on the 1880 US census.

One of the sources of information which I have looked at as a result of this book is the Castle Garden website www.castlegarden.org .  From 1855 to 1890 immigrants arriving in New York passed through this processing centre, the forerunner of the better known Ellis Island.  Though not conclusive evidence, I found on this site a James George, labourer, arriving on 26 June 1878 on board the Montana, having sailed from Liverpool.  He had paid for his own passage and was aged 59.  The age just about fits, but the fact that a 20 year old Alice George was on the same boat, makes it seem more likely that these are our people.  James was no spring chicken, so his resilience in making that journey at that time of life is remarkable.

Why did James choose to emigrate at that point?  Well it looks as though he made the journey quite soon after the death of his second wife.  Economically probably rural Norfolk was not a great place to be at that time, but probably just as importantly, it looks as though the rest of his children had preceded him to Utah.  According to his son John’s death certificate, he emigrated in 1873 and his eldest daughter Martha had her first child in Utah in 1875.  I need to do a bit more investigation to see when daughter Ann emigrated, but son James appears to have been the first to go, as early as 1868.   So I’m guessing that James Snr felt there was little to keep him in Norfolk with the rest of the family already in Utah and no doubt telling him about the opportunities there.

I’ve sent messages via Ancestry to two of the people who are descended from James and was thrilled when one of them replied.  I’ve found a 4th cousin in Utah!  Who’d have thought it?

James George b 1818, brother of my 4 x great grandfather

The Hudson report

I’m not quite sure why I had not realised it, but I had never got round to getting a copy of David George’s death certificate – not until last month, that is.  It was Mark, an AGRA member, who pointed out this omission.

I had taken the opportunity to sign up for a free 20 minute consultation at Family Tree Live to discuss my George ‘brickwall’.  Mark made a number of helpful suggestions as well as providing reassurance that my methods thus far were sound.  I believe that David George was born around 1786 in East Dereham, Norfolk, but so far I have been unable to find a baptism record for him in order to determine his parents or any other document which would give this proof.  And so I am stuck and have been for some time.

Mark suggested that one thing I might do would be to get David’s death certificate to see if that gave any further information.  Did he, for example, die in the workhouse, which could lead to Settlement papers?  I duly ordered a pdf straight away.

I had already found the burial entry for David on 30 April 1851 at East Dereham church, so I suppose it hadn’t occurred to me that I needed a death certificate too.

The death certificate revealed that no, David George did not die in the workhouse.  It indicates that he died on 26 April 1851 at North Hall Green, East Dereham (in other words, at home, since that was the address given in the 1851 census taken earlier that month).

The cause of death is given as “Peritonitis from perforation of the intestinal canal, 12 hours certified”.  The informant was George Walden “in attendance” of White Lion Yard, East Dereham, and the death was registered on 29 April.

My research into this cause of death indicates that the perforation could have been the result of an injury or the result of cancer or an ulcer.  The onset of pain is likely to have been sudden and the peritonitis (inflammation as intestinal contents seeped into the abdomen) is likely to have resulted in blood poisoning.  Today this would be treated with surgery and antibiotics.  Poor Great Great Great Grandfather David – it sounds awful.  It also sounds as though he didn’t suffer for long, and indeed the newspaper entry published a few days later says “very suddenly”.  What a shock to his family.

Norfolk News Sat 3 May 1851   Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

So who was George Walden and why did he register the death rather than one of David’s many children?

George was present when David died, so could he have been his best mate?  It wasn’t that George was literate (he made his mark).  But maybe George had registered a death before and knew what to do, offering to perform this service for the family while they all came to terms with David’s sudden demise.

George is most likely to be the one at Green Yard on census night 1851.  Green Yard was off Church St, and the White Lion pub was on the left of Church St as you look towards the Church.  No doubt the yard went up to one side of the pub.  Maybe they were actually one and the same place.  George was also 65 and a sawyer.

I then wondered what else I could find out about George.  I discovered that his wife Frances (Hudson) came from Yaxham as did David’s wife Elizabeth.  Perhaps the two women were great friends?  Frances and George married on 9 Feb 1812 in East Dereham.  Frances was born 28 Nov 1786, the daughter of Edmund Hudson and Mary Shilling, who, according to the Norfolk Online Record Search available through Norfolk Family History Society, had 6 other children, all born in Yaxham. https://www.norfolkfhs.org.uk/nors/about/ 

Now the name Hudson rang a bell.  I remembered that David’s son James married a Bartholina Hudson in 1845.  I looked her up and found she was baptised on 11 Jan 1818 in Costesey, father Edmund Hudson, mother Bertolina. One of Edmund and Mary’s children was an Edmund, baptised in 1792.  Annoyingly I have been unable to find a marriage for Edmund and Bertolina, but I think it quite likely that this Edmund (and therefore the father of Bartholina who married James George) is the brother of Frances who married George Walden.  So Bartholina could well have been Frances’ niece, therefore forming a connection between these two families which went beyond David and Elizabeth, George and Frances being good friends.

So yes, it was definitely worth getting that death certificate.  I learnt where David died, who was with him when he died and what caused his death.  More unexpectedly, I found the name of someone hitherto unknown to me which has given me a glimpse into the social interaction of the family.  Though some of this is a little speculative, it helps to create the picture of a real, living family.  I find it a little surprising that a humble ag lab family went to the trouble or could even afford to put a death notice in the paper.  But perhaps that indicates the extent to which David was indeed “much beloved and respected by all who knew him” as the notice says.

So what is next in my efforts to knock down that brickwall?  Well, manorial records look worth pursuing, but whether I wait some time for a possible visit to Norfolk or whether I pay a researcher I’m not sure.

Talking to the Family Search people at Family Tree Live confirmed my suspicion that the information on the Millenium File which indicates that David was the son of John George and Ann Gallant should be treated with caution since no source is given.

However, Mark did encourage me to take a look at other Ancestry trees which might include David (though of course proceeding warily).  I’ll let you know how I get on with that particular line of enquiry.  That vital clue may yet be out there somewhere!

 

 

 

Bob Smith’s

It must have been a combination of Diane Lindsay’s talk at Family Tree Live and then watching Gardener’s World in the evening which led to the stirring of distant memories overnight.

I was thrilled to hear Diane Lindsay in person on Friday 26th April at Alexandra Palace:  I have long been a fan of her regular column in Family Tree Magazine and enjoy her style of writing.  Her talk was entitled “Telling Your Family Story in Column Inches” and by way of encouraging the audience that everyone has something to write about, she shared a number of anecdotes.  One was a snatched, half-remembered memory of shelling peas with her grandma.  I’m sure we all have those sort of recollections:  we can’t quite place them in time, but there is a sudden vivid memory where sights, smells and sounds long-gone are suddenly re-kindled.

And then later in the day we were watching Gardener’s World and there was a chap doing his bit to reduce plastic use at his nursery by selling plants in cardboard ‘noodle’ pots and selling other materials loose, weighing with old-fashioned scales.

As I say, it must have been a combination of the two which brought to my mind a memory of visiting a nursery with my Grandad Wakefield, back in the 1960s.  We didn’t really have garden centres back then as we know them today, did we?  Grandad Wakefield (Jack) really loved his garden.  Perhaps it was when he was able to buy his own home in 1936, a semi with a decent sized garden, that he really got into gardening.  By the time he retired from his billposting job he was both growing vegetables and producing a reliably stunning floral display in the front garden.  My memory is particularly of the standard fuchsias, but the colourful bedding was immaculate.  Mum tells me he used to propagate plants and sell to friends and neighbours too.

Grandad’s front garden

But for his plant requirements his go-to nursery was Bob Smith’s at Mayford near Woking.  My snatched memory is of going there with Grandad and probably Dad too and of Bob Smith finding the plants Grandad required. Bob Smith had an intriguingly high-pitched voice and I picture him with a round, rosy, friendly face, calling Grandad ‘Mr Wakefield’.  They did Customer Service in those days!

I couldn’t remember where Bob Smith’s nursery was, but Mum was able to tell me that it was in Saunders Lane.  She remembered that in addition to the greenhouses there was also a shed where you could buy your compost, fertilisers and pest control products.  I suppose that’s how the garden centres began.

Well I googled the nursery, and lo and behold it is still there and still operating, albeit in a more limited way!  It would appear that the family business is still going, trading under the name of Briarwood Nurseries, and selling bedding plants for a short period from around now till they sell out in early June.  The nursery’s website says that Mr Smith developed the retail business after the Second World War, so maybe Grandad was a customer from very early days.  Interestingly, I found a George Smith on the 1939 register at Briarwood, Saunders Lane, a nurseryman – own account. Perhaps he was a father or grandfather of Bob.

Well there we are – a snatched memory that sprang seemingly from nowhere.  Maybe those early horticultural encounters helped to nurture my own love of gardening.  But certainly Diane Lindsay is right – let’s not underestimate those slightly hazy snapshot memories for telling our family stories.

PS you can find handouts from Diane Lindsay’s talk at https://www.family-tree.co.uk/ftre/show/family-tree-live/lecture-handouts  

Jack Wakefield in his greenhouse

All Is True

It was while driving home one day last week that my interest was caught by an item on the local radio station.  The ‘Drive at Five’ presenter was interviewing someone about the forthcoming ‘Shoreham Wordfest – Shakespeare Celebration 2019’, which happens during 25th – 28th April.  Of course, it ties in with the anniversaries of Shakespeare’s birth and also death this coming Tuesday.  The celebration includes talks and practical song and drama workshops as well as live theatre.  https://www.shorehamwordfest.com/whats-on/

The interviewer was asking his guest about the relevance of Shakespeare to a modern audience; I think you’ve only got to look at the myriad outdoor productions of Shakespearean plays which are put on across the country, at National Trust properties and many other locations, to see that the popularity of the enduring tales of love and loss still have great appeal.  And let’s not get started here on the many words and phrases, first used by Shakespeare, which have found their way into our modern vocabulary!

But the interview also reminded me of the wonderful film ‘All Is True’ which I saw a couple of months ago.  If you haven’t already seen the film – do!  It very cleverly meshes known biographical facts of Shakespeare and his family with imagined backstories:  why had daughter Judith not married by the time Shakespeare retired?  What did his son Hamnet die of?  Why did Shakespeare leave his wife his second best bed in his will?

The title of the film is the alternative title given to the play Henry VIII, which was the final play performed at the Globe theatre before it burned down in 1613.  It was after this event that Shakespeare is portrayed in the film returning to Stratford and picking up the threads of his domestic life.  He has to re-establish relationships with his close family, but the film looks in particular at how he finally comes to terms with the death of his son Hamnet 17 years previously.

Having visited all of the houses associated with Shakespeare’s life in the Stratford area I had learned something of his background along the way, and this was a help in seeing All Is True.  I thought that the weaving of fact and conjecture was very clever.  As a family historian, however, the stand-out moment for me was when Shakespeare went to the church to examine the burial records.  He reads for himself the entry for his son Hamnet.  His wife Anne tells him that Hamnet died of the plague.  But, as Shakespeare points out, the plague did not take isolated victims:  plague in the town would have led to many deaths.  The burial register tells a different story, and this leads Shakespeare to his discovery of the truth (at least in the film’s narrative) surrounding Hamnet’s death.  Very clever family history detective work on the part of Shakespeare and excellent research and writing on the part of Ben Elton.

How fortunate for Shakespeare that the burial had indeed been recorded in the register!  Not for him the great gaps in registers which all too frequently lead us to a seemingly impassable brick wall.  I have been re-visiting one of my major brickwalls this week in preparation for a short booked consultation with an AGRA member at the forthcoming Family Tree Live event at Alexandra Palace next weekend https://www.family-tree.co.uk/ftre/show/family-tree-live .  In this case it’s a missing baptism which has been my stumbling block for many years (specifically that of David George in East Dereham, Norfolk,  around 1786).  However, I must say that re-examining the evidence after some months pursuing other family lines does enable you to see things afresh.  I am hoping that perhaps another pair of (expert) eyes might see something that I have not or suggest a record set which I have not so far thought of.  I’ll let you know how I get on!  I’m sure I am equally guilty, but how I wish that other trees which you see online always had their sources clearly explained – All Is True (and all is written down) – how I wish it were!!

PS – this is my 100th blog!  I do hope you enjoy reading them!

The dressmaker’s apprentice

It was reading that the cost of ordering a pdf civil registration certificate was going up on 16 February to £7 which spurred me into action.  Ok, so only by £1, but even so, now was a good time to order any certificates that had been on my mind to get but hadn’t quite got around to.  You know how it is.  And one of those was for Feodore Sarah Bryant, youngest sister of my great grandfather Herbert Bryant and daughter of Sarah Bryant who I wrote about last time.

The poor child was only 6 years old when her father George died in Bethnal Green Asylum.  The 1881 census records her, now aged 11, with her mother and her older sister (by 15 years) Georgiana in Newhaven.  Quite possibly her mother Sarah was already displaying symptoms of mental illness as it was only 2 months later that she was sent to the asylum at Haywards Heath.  How did Feodore cope with a mother who threatened violence towards herself and her children? Georgiana reported that she had threatened to cut her throat and cut off her children’s heads.

Whether or not both sisters then moved back to London is unclear, but certainly by 1891 Georgiana was living with William and Harriet Wise in Brighton, at 9 Pelham Street.   She is described as their niece, but I have so far failed to work out this relationship.

However, researching what happened to Feodore revealed a death entry for her in the December Quarter 1885, Pancras Registration District, aged just 15, so I was curious to know what brought about her early death.

When I downloaded the certificate it revealed that she died of Cerebral Meningitis on 16 October 1885 at 134 Leighton Road.  Her brother Arthur registered her death. This was over 5 years before her mother’s death – I wonder whether Sarah was told the fate of her younger daughter?

The Leighton Road address was not familiar to me as having been the residence of either Arthur or Herbert.  But fortunately The Genealogist has a unique tool whereby you can search censuses by an address.  I therefore looked it up in both the 1881 and 1891 censuses and found that the house was occupied during this period by Harry and Margaret Goodbody.  Margaret was a ‘court dressmaker’ and in 1881 had 3 other Assistant Dressmakers working for her and another 2 apprentices, aged 15 and 16.

So my guess is that at the time of her death in 1885, Feodore was working and living at this address as an apprentice dressmaker, making high end clothes for those mixing in upper class circles.  A bit of internet research indicated that a ‘court dressmaker’ was probably not making dresses for the royal family but for those who would be appearing at court or at formal occasions when royalty might be present.  Harry Goodbody’s occupation was given as ‘habit maker’.  Now this immediately conjured up in my mind images of clothing for monks, but again looking on the internet revealed that this was more likely to be riding costumes or ‘habits’ – specialist coats, skirts and waistcoats.

134 Leighton Road on Google Street View looks quite a sizeable property, so even considering the number of people living and working there I do hope that the living conditions for Feodore were tolerable before she contracted the disease that would prove fatal.

And what of the unusual first name of Feodore?  Although Feodore Bryant’s death was registered in this name, I have been unable to find a birth registration in this name and have so far not found a baptism record for her. The 1871 census records her just as ‘Sarah Bryant’, so did she somehow ‘acquire’ the name Feodore between then and 1881 when that is how she was enumerated? I’ve certainly not come across any other ancestors with this name.  www.behindthename.com told me that Queen Victoria’s youngest daughter Princess Beatrice (born 1857) had Feodore as one of her middle names.  This name was in reference to Princess Feodora of Leiningen, who was Queen Victoria’s older half sister (and who has coincidentally just made an appearance in the latest TV series ‘Victoria’).  Well, it somehow seems quite apt that this young girl who was named after royalty should be making dresses to be seen by royalty; but what a short and hard life she had.

The Fashion House 1885