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.