b. 1874 – d.1914
Sarah Elizabeth Norris was born in the 4th Quarter of 1874 in the District of Eastry in Kent. Eastry is a town slightly inland at the far east of Kent and the District includes the seaside towns of Deal and Sandwich. Sarah was baptised on the 1st day of 1875 at St Andrew’s Church, Deal. Her parents are listed as Henry Thomas Norris and Rosa Norris. Henry Thomas and Rosa had married on the 12th January 1871, also at St Andrew’s Church.
Henry, who had been born in the 2nd quarter of 1843 in Eastry District, was at the date of marriage aged 27. He was living at 15 Dolphin Street, Deal and was a “boatman” by occupation. His father was a George Edward Norris, also a “boatman”. This was not Henry’s first marriage as he is listed in 1871 as a widower. Records show that in 1856 he had previously been married to a Harriet Wellard. Harriet had died in Eastry District in the 2nd Quarter of 1870, aged just 28.
Rosa had been born in 1838 and was 32 at the time of the marriage and living at 89 Middle Street, Deal. No occupation is listed. Rosa’s father is shown as John Ralph, a “blacksmith”. Rosa had also been married before as she is shown as a widow at the 1871 marriage. Her name at the marriage to Henry was Rosa Dean. Tracing back through records it appears that Rosa Ralph had 2 previous marriages. In 1856 at Lewisham, Kent, Rosa Ralph married a David Cairncross and in 1862, Rosa Cairncross married a William Dean at Greenwich.
Following the marriage of Henry Thomas Norris and Rosa Dean they had 4 children all born in Eastry District.
- Rosa Emma Norris born in 1873
- Sarah Elizabeth Norris born in 1874
- George Edward James Norris born in 1878
- Emma Elizabeth Norris born in 1880
In 1881, at 9 Dolphin Street, Deal, Sarah aged 6 is living with her 3 siblings, Rosa, George and Emma, and with their parents Henry (listed as a “mariner”) and Rosa, her mother. Also present in the house are 4 other children who had been born during the previous marriages of Henry and Rosa. Finally, Harriet Ralph, the 75 year old mother of Rosa (senior).
By 1891 the family had moved to 15 Silver Street, Deal but with a much smaller household. George Edward had died in 1884. Henry and Rosa now have just daughters, Rosa, Sarah and Emma living with them. Henry is now listed as a “fisherman”. Rosa, the daughter, is shown as a “dressmaker” and Sarah as a “general servant (domestic)”.
In the 1901 census Frederick Albert Alais (listed as “Alias”) is lodging at 9 Oxford Terrace, Guildford described as a “Clock Jobber”. He may have been following work around the south of England, is that how he met Sarah?
On the 28th June 1903 Sarah Elizabeth Norris marries Frederick Albert Alais at the Wesleyan Church in West Street, Deal. Sarah is shown as age 29, a spinster. No occupation is shown and her residence at the time of marriage is Clyde House, Sondes Road, Deal. Her father is Henry Thomas Norris, a “boatman”.
Frederick is aged 41, a bachelor, a “journeyman clockmaker”, with an address of 24 Arundel Road, West Croydon, Surrey. Frederick’s father is shown as William John Alais, a “portrait engraver”. There are 4 witnesses named on the marriage certificate Clement Atkinson Alais, Ethel Mary Alais, Henry T Norris, and Emma Elizabeth Norris.
There are records of William, his father ‘William Wolfe Alais’, and grandfather ‘John Alais’, all being portrait engravers of note; their work can be viewed at the National Portrait Gallery in London).
1904 sees the birth of their first child, Constance Rosa Alais, listed in the 3rd Qtr at Croydon.
1905, then sees the arrival of Albert Norris Alais, listed in the 3rd Qtr at Wandsworth.
1911 census shows Frederick, Sarah and their 2 children living at 6 Osborne Cottage, Church Lane, Sholden, Deal. Frederick, aged 49, is shown as a “clockmaker” and Sarah, aged 35, as a “dressmaker”.
The Manor Hospital
On 10th December 1913, Sarah was admitted to the Manor Asylum at Epsom. She is listed as a married dressmaker, aged 38, of Weslyan faith and this is her first attack. The records state she was suicidal, and suffering from prolonged mental distress, and the contributory factor being ‘Privation’, a state in which food and other essentials for well-being are lacking.
The notes state that whilst cheerful and hopeful, she had “7 days ago become moody and brooding. Threatened the lives of the children and others near her”, and “threatened to cut her throat“. The cause was noted as a prolonged worry due to lack of necessities of life.
The address book entry for Sarah lists several relatives, although it would appear that only husband Frederick actually visited on a regular basis, once or twice a week. Her parents visited once, 2 days after her arrival, and a sister in law, “Mrs G.H. Panting” visited once in January 1914.
Sarah died at Manor hospital on 17th February 1914, just two months after being admitted, and she was buried in the Horton Estate Cemetery 6 days later on the 23rd February 1914 in grave 989b.
Sarah’s Statement of Death, which is sent to he coroner, stated that the cause of death was due to “Softening of the brain”.
The visitor book also shows that Sarah’s funeral was attended by her husband Frederick, her step brother with his wife “Mr & Mrs Deane”, and her brother in law “HP Alais”.
Family after her death
He is to be found in a Family Tree in Ancestry, listed with his parents, who seem quite well to do, and siblings. This Family Tree has an entry for a Frederick Alais born 1861 being discharged from Northumberland Street Workhouse, Marylebone at his own request on 21st September 1920. Is this Sarah’s husband and had he fallen on hard times or become ill?
Frederick Albert Alais died and his death was registered in the 1st Quarter of 1922 at Lambeth, aged 60. Their son Albert Norris Alais lived until 1969.