Sarah Emma Allibon was born in Marylebone on the 16th of February 1843. She was the first (and, it would appear only) child of farrier James Allibon and his wife Sarah Susannah (née Bubb).
James and Sarah had married on the 16th of October 1842 in St Pancras Parish Chapel. Based on their marriage certificate and the 1851 Census we know that Sarah was born in Cheltenham in about 1825, the daughter of carman John Bubb. James was the son of Henry Allibon, an engineer, and was born in Hanworth, Middlesex in about 1815.
At the time of their marriage James and Sarah were living in University Street in St Pancras. However, when Sarah Emma was baptised in All Souls Church, Marylebone on the 23rd of May 1847, the family was living at 23, Brown Street in Marylebone.
The 1851 Census
In the 1851 Census we find James, Sarah and 8 year-old Sarah Emma living at 41, Park Crescent Mews West in Marylebone, accommodation that one may assume was in some way connected to James’s job as a farrier (someone who makes and fits shoes to horses). Unfortunately, we do not know the name of James’s employer.
Living with the family is 6 year-old Ann Allibon who is described as a niece. However, in the following census her name is given as Ann Bubb. Interestingly, both Ann and Sarah Emma are said to be ‘at home’ whereas other children of that age in the same census are described as ‘scholars’. One wonders what sort of education, if any, Sarah Emma and her cousin were receiving.
The 1860s and 1870s
By the time of the 1861 Census the family had moved again, this time to 24, Charlotte Street in Marylebone, a property they share with two other families. James is now described as a ‘shoeing smith’ and 18 year-old Sarah Emma is a ‘fancy needle worker’. The older Sarah and her niece, Ann, now aged fifteen, do not work.
In the 1871 Census we find Sarah Emma, described as a ‘needlewoman’ visiting 62 year-old widow Caroline Carnell and her daughter, also called Caroline, at their home at 33, Castle Street, Marylebone. The younger Caroline is a tailoress and the same age as Sarah Emma so it is possible they became acquainted through their work.
It has not been possible to find Sarah Emma’s parents in the 1871 Census but we know that her mother died later that year aged 47. She was buried on the 3rd of November 1871 in Brompton Cemetery.
On the 26th of May 1878 James married widow Elizabeth Amelia Copeland in Trinity Church in Marylebone. He died on the 4th of January 1900 aged 83. It would appear that he spent the last months of his life in St Pancras Workhouse.
Unfortunately, it has not been possible to find Sarah Emma in the 1881 Census but in 1891 she was working as a theatre attendant and lodging with insurance agent Percy Arthurs and his family at 84, Albany Street, St Pancras.
Sarah’s fortunes appear to have improved by 1901 when we find her living at 20, Tedworth Square in Chelsea, employed as a companion to the younger Caroline Carnell (from the 1871 Census). Caroline is ‘living on (her) own means’ though it has not been possible to discover the source of her wealth. (In 1891 Caroline, described as ‘tailoress – retired’, had been lodging with 28 year-old Henry Smith and his family at 78, Charlotte Street, Marylebone. Mr Smith was a metal worker who made dairy utensils.)
Tedworth Square is a garden square whose former residents have included Lily Langtry and Mark Twain. The average price of a property in Tedworth square in 2019 was £2.4 million.
In the 1911 Census Sarah and Caroline are living at 64, Talgarth Mansions, West Kensington. However, while Caroline is said to have a private income, Sarah is described as a working housekeeper. Both women are now aged 68 and while it would appear that Sarah is financially dependent on Caroline, one would like to think that, after so long, the two women are as much friends as employer and employee.
Admission to Horton Asylum and death
Sadly, we hear nothing more about Sarah until her death in Horton Asylum in August 1914. We do not know when she was admitted as her name cannot be found in the Lunacy Patients Admission Register, nor do we know the nature or severity of the mental health problems which necessitated her admission. Sarah was buried in grave 1227a in Horton Cemetery on the 21st of August 1914.
Caroline Carnell died on the 6th of July 1923 aged 80. She left an estate valued at £3,908, the equivalent of over £300,000 today.