Although the burial note describes Charles Blackwell as aged 28, no trace could be found including a Death Certificate. Searching under Blackwell in the relevant quarter, a Death Certificate can be found for a Cecil Charles Blackwell aged 38. Searching under this uncovered the following story.
1850s to 1860s
Cecil’s parents were George Blackwell, a shoe/bootmaker, and Emma Saunders, both from Great Tey, Essex. They were married on 29th April 1855 at St Barnabas Church. George’s father was an agricultural labourer as was Emma’s father. Emma was described as a tambour worker in the 1851 Census. This was a popular form of quick hand embroidery on dresses and shawls.
In 1861, the Census finds the family at the “Cottage in the Street” in Great Tey. George is aged 27, occupation a shoemaker, and Emma is aged 26. Their children are shown as Sarah (5), Emeline (3), and Augusta aged 5 months.
In 1862 Emeline died and is buried at Great Tey. The following year another daughter is born with the grand title of Ethelinda Emmeline. She is known as Ethel.
1860s to 1870s
By the time their next child Ernest Henry is born in 1865, the family had moved to 8 Grove Lane in Hackney. George’s brothers Alfred and Samuel had both moved to London around 1861 working as gardeners. Alfred was living at 10 Grove Lane in 1865. The Census records show that Alfred’s sisters also moved to Hackney, so it seems likely most of the family still lived close to each other in London. Their opportunities would have been wider and diverse and probably incomes better than in the parish of Great Tey. There was only one brother who remained there.
In April 1871, the family are still living at 8 Grove Lane Cottages, with Uncle Alfred’s family living at 10 Grove Lane Cottages. George, aged 37, was working as a boot and shoemaker and Emma was aged 36. The children living at home are Sarah (15), Augusta (10), Ethel (7), Ernest (5), Ellen (2) and George (1).
Cecil’s birth and his father’s death
Cecil Charles Blackwell’s birth was registered in the July to September quarter of 1872 in Hackney. In the same quarter, his father George’s death was registered in Hackney. What came first for poor Emma is unclear without having the certificates but it must have been a traumatic time for the family so it was probably helpful that Emma had her husband’s family close at hand. No record of a baptism can be traced for Cecil Charles Blackwell.
At the time of the 1881 Census, the family remained at the same address. Emma, aged 45, was head of the house working as a dressmaker, with the remaining children at home: Ernest (15), a cable and telegraph messenger, Ellen (12), George (11), and Cecil (8). There were also two boarders, William and Thomas Mills. Extra income to make ends meet.
In 1891, the family still lived in 8 Grove Lane Cottages. Emma is now 56 and just Ellen (22) and Cecil Charles (18) are at home. Cecil was working as a warehouseman. The other children having left home. There was a lodger Arthur Aylon, who was a gardener.
On 6th December 1896, Cecil is a witness at his brother’s marriage at St Michael and All Angels in Stoke Newington. Here we have sight of Cecil’s actual signature clear and well written. This is quite touching.
By 1901, Cecil and his mother had moved to 138 Gladstone Road in Walthamstow. Emma is now 65 and Cecil is working as a cook in a shop. There is no indication of illness or problems to come.
Nothing further is known about Cecil Charles until the Hackney Union Settlement Papers show an entry for him relieved by Horton on 9th February 1910, this is supported by the Lunacy Register confirming his admission to Horton Hospital on that date. There is no indication of what had happened to him. On 21st October 1910, poor Cecil Charles died and was buried on 25th November 1910 in Grave 933a at Horton Estate Cemetery.
Cecil/Charles did not have a good start in life, he was the youngest child in a family of eight children. He did not have a chance to know his father as George died at the time he was born. Strangely Cecil/Charles died at exactly the same age as his father, 38 years later!
Fortunately, the family did have the comfort that most of their Blackwell relatives lived locally. His Uncle Alfred lived two doors away for his first 10 years of life, so one can only assume he had close contact with that family. His Uncle Alfred never seemed far away, even when he moved from Grove Lane he only went around the corner. Alfred had the distinction of being the caretaker for Clapton Hall which was opened in 1880 for the Plymouth Brethren, an impressive place for the Brethren and he held that post for 20 years. One wonders whether that had any influence on Cecil/Charles’s life? He must have been close to his brother George as he was a witness at his wedding on 6th December 1896 and George gave one of his sons the second name of Charles in 1903.
Emma Blackwell, his mother, was a constant in his life and he was still living with his mother in 1901 at 138 Gladstone Road in Walthamstow. He was working as a cook so there was no apparent sign he would become ill and end up being sent to Horton Hospital some nine years later. The only record we have of his last journey is the removal and settlement papers of Hackney Union showing he would be sent to Horton on 9th February 1910. How he came to this situation is unclear but within nine months he had died at the same age as the father he never knew.