b.1861 – d.1918
Maurice (or Morris) Bunce was born in Lambeth in the first quarter of 1861, to Maurice Bunce, a labourer, and his wife Johanna. Both of Maurice’s parents were born in Ireland, Maurice senior in 1821 and Johanna in 1831.
Maurice was the couple’s fourth child after:
- George (born in 1854),
- John (1856) and
- Ann (Annie) (1858).
At the time of Maurice’s birth the family was living at 7, Spring Gardens in Lambeth. According to the General Register Office record of Maurice’s birth, it would appear that Johanna’s maiden name was Dulan. However, it has not been possible to find this name in the birth records for any of George, John or Ann Bunce born between 1854 and 1858. While this could suggest that Johanna was Maurice’s second wife, there is no apparent record of a marriage.
In the 1871 census, the Bunce family is living at 1, Lion Court in Lambeth. Maurice (written here as Morris) senior is working as a gasworks labourer and both sons, George and John, are working as unemployed potters. Ann and the younger Maurice (again written here as Morris) are still at school. Maurice’s mother’s name is now written as Ann but her estimated birth year (1831) remains the same.
Maurice’s criminal record
On June 4th 1878 Maurice and another man, James Bradshaw, both aged 18 and described as labourers, were sentenced to 6 months imprisonment in Wandsworth prison for ‘feloniously stealing 6 pocket handkerchiefs, the property of Edward Ready’. From the Prison Commission records, we learn that Maurice was five feet two inches tall and had brown hair and blue eyes. He also had a scar on his forehead.
In the 1881 census, the family is living at 23, Vauxhall Square in Lambeth. Maurice, his father and his brother, John, are all working as bricklayers’ labourers. His sister Annie is living nearby at 13, Vauxhall Square with her husband George Mack, a bricklayer, and their three children. Maurice’s brother, George Bunce is now working as a hammerman and he and his wife, Isabel, are living at 8, Grosvenor Street in Westminster.
In this census, the name of the elder Maurice’s wife is Mary Anne and her age is 58, which would mean she was born in 1823. It has not been possible to determine if this is an error and Mary Anne is indeed Ann (Johanna) or if Mary Anne is Maurice’s second (or maybe third) wife. Ann next appears in the 1891 census as a widow and, as there is no Mary Anne Bunce in the 1891 census, we might assume that they are the same person. We do learn from the 1881 census, however, that Maurice senior was born in Dublin and Mary Anne in Cork.
On February 13th 1888 the younger Maurice, now aged 27 and described as a labourer, married Norah Hickey at St Peter’s Church in Vauxhall.
Norah was the daughter of labourer William Hickey and his wife Johanna, a laundress. Like Maurice’s parents, Norah’s mother and father were from Ireland but Norah and her siblings were all born in London. The marriage certificate states that Norah was aged 28 when she married but as she was three years old at the time of the 1861 census, she was, in fact, about 30. At the time of their marriage, the couple were living at 180 (or 186) Wickham Street in Lambeth.
On December 5th 1889, Maurice Bunce senior, described as a labourer and a Roman Catholic, was admitted to the Prince’s Road Workhouse in Lambeth. He remained there until March 11th 1890 when he was admitted to the infirmary. According to the Civil Registration Death Index, Maurice senior died in the second quarter of 1890 aged 65. However, if he had been born in 1821, as suggested by the previous three censuses, he would have been about 69 when he died.
In the 1891 census, we find Maurice senior’s widow, Anne, lodging with the Barrett family at 55, Wickham Street in Lambeth. Her son George, Maurice’s brother, is living next door with his wife Anne and their children John, George, William and Ann. George senior is working as a bricklayer.
Maurice, described as a labourer, is living at 4, King’s Street in Lambeth with his wife ‘Laura’ (one may assume this is, in fact, Norah) and their son, Robert aged 13. This would mean that Robert was born in 1878, ten years before Maurice and Norah were married. There is no birth recorded for a Robert Bunce between 1876 and 1879 so we do not know if Maurice was Robert’s natural father or if Robert was Norah’s son from another relationship. Unfortunately, it has not been possible to find Norah or Robert in the 1881 census but we do know that Norah was no longer living with her widowed mother and her siblings who, at the time, were resident at 2, Smith’s Place in Westminster.
In the 1901 census Maurice, Norah and Robert are living at 14 Laud Street in Lambeth. Maurice is now aged 40 and is working as a ‘labourer bricklayer’, while 22 year-old Robert is a labourer in a pottery. Unfortunately, we have no further information about Robert after this census.
On November 3rd 1904, Maurice was discharged, at his own request, from Lambeth Workhouse in Renfrew Road. We do not know when, or for what reason, he entered the workhouse but as his name appears on the register of paupers, we might assume that he was destitute.
1910s and Maurice’s death
We next find Maurice and Norah in the 1911 census where they are living at 3, Auckland Street in Kennington and Maurice, now aged 50, is described as a ‘waterside labourer’.
The couple’s 22 year-old niece, Ada Perry, who works as a packer in a black lead factory, is living with them. Unfortunately, we hear nothing more about Maurice until his death in Long Grove on the 14th of May 1918. He is buried in plot 2177b in Horton Cemetery.
Sadly, it has not been possible to determine the nature of Maurice’s mental decline yet or when he was first admitted to Long Grove. Online asylum records only go to 1912 at this time.