Hmm… Maybe… Possibly… Yes… But… The doubt was there even though everything pointed to having found the correct man who was assigned the grave marker number 42 when he was buried on 11 September 1902 in the Horton Estate Cemetery.
The only available definite snippets of information were that George Carpenter was admitted to Horton Asylum on 14 May 1902 and that when he died on 6 September 1902, he was aged 64. This would give him a birth year of 1838. And that was all there was.
Having spent many hours over many days over many weeks, I thought I had found him in the available online records – George Carpenter, born on 20 January 1839 in St Pancras, the son of George Frederick Carpenter and his wife Tryphena, née Bartholomew, a house painter by trade married to Hephzibah Davey, and the adopted father of Alfred Martin Carpenter. With names like that, tracking the family should have been easy, but misspelling of their names hampered my search. Still, his life unfurled itself and I found that by 1888 this George was going in and out of the Islington Workhouse in Cornwallis Road, and the St George’s Union Workhouse in Fulham Road, Westminster. But doubt still clouded my mind, was this the right George Carpenter?
Having shelved my research for a couple of months, I returned to it and decided the only way to resolve my gut instinct was to send for George Carpenter’s death certificate. And there it was – confirmation that I was on the wrong track completely. George was a watchmaker, not a house painter.
And so, the following is, I believe, the correct history for George Carpenter, the man who was buried on 11 September 1902 in grave 42 in the Horton Estate Cemetery.
According to the censuses, George was born c1837 in Clerkenwell. His father Henry had married George’s mother Jane Cole in Christ Church in Newgate Street, London, on 2 December 1819. The couple had six known children: Mary Jane Martha (known as Jane) born 1820, Henry born 1824, Elizabeth born 1828, Caroline born 1831, Emma born 1832, and George, who was their youngest child. The 1841 Census recorded the Carpenter family as living in Macclesfield Road, St Luke, Finsbury, Middlesex. George’s father worked as a watch finisher to support his wife and their children Henry, Caroline, Emma, and George.
George’s apprenticeship as a watch finisher
George was aged 14 when the 1851 Census was taken and he had begun his apprenticeship as a watch finisher with his father Henry. This precise job entailed putting all the various parts of a watch together. George, his parents and sisters Emma and Caroline, who were both in the ‘fur business’, were living at the time in 36 Gee Street, Clerkenwell.
The 1860s and the 1871 Census
At some point over the next ten years George would have completed his watch finisher apprenticeship. When the 1861 census was taken on the evening of 7 April, George was recorded as being at 37 St John Street Road, Clerkenwell, Middlesex. Meanwhile, his family were living a mile away at 31 Windsor Street. His father and brother Henry were recorded as both being watch finishers, while his sisters Emma and Caroline were recorded as being dressmakers.
George remained unmarried and was living with his parents at the same address ten years later when the 1871 census was taken.
The 1880s, 1890s and the 1901 Census
The 1881 and 1891 censuses recorded that George had left home and was lodging with journeyman watchmaker Henry G Hamilton and his family at 67 Waldo Road, Hammersmith; he was still working as a watch finisher.
By 1901 Henry G Hamilton and his family had moved to 24 Kenmont Terrace, Hammersmith, and George it seems, still unmarried, had moved with them but was not working. There was nothing recorded on the census as to George being unwell at the time.
George’s admission to Horton and death
As far as I can ascertain, there are no admissions of a watchmaker named George Carpenter into the Fulham Workhouse in Westminster, but on 14 May 1902 George was admitted from there to the Horton Asylum in Epsom, Surrey. Here George would spend his last 115 days before he died there on 6 September 1902, and was buried on 11 September 1902 in grave 42 in the Horton Estate Cemetery.
Information from his death certificate records that George Carpenter, aged 64, was a watchmaker of Fulham Workhouse and that the post-mortem revealed he had died from a cerebral haemorrhage of a few hours