Charles DOE was the second child of William DOE (b.1820) and Ann CLARK (b.1827). He was born on 20 February 1850 in the village of Stapleford Tawney in the county of Essex. Both Charles’ parents were born in Essex, Theydon Mount and Great Chesterford respectively. Charles and his elder brother James were baptised in the parish church of St Mary the Virgin in Stapleford Tawney. Whilst living in the countryside of Essex William Doe found work as an agricultural labourer.
Moving to London
When Charles was about two years old the family moved from the countryside of Essex into central London around St Pancras and St Giles. Four more siblings were born – Mary Ellen (1852), Charlotte (1854), William (1857), and Frederick (1860). The 1861 census finds the family living at 52 Chenies Mews in Bloomsbury. Charles’ father has found occupation as a Carman. Charles is now 11 years old. The spelling of the family name is now DOW.
By 1871 the DOW family have moved to 23 Upper Gower Mews near Tottenham Court Road. Charles at 21 years of age has found occupation as a warehouse porter whilst his father is still a carman. Three more siblings have been born – Henry (1864), John (1866), and Annie (1869). Charles now has eight siblings.
Married life in London
Charles marries Mary Ann Williams on 25 May 1973 in All Saints, Gordon Square. Both the bride and groom are literate. They may have met through their respective fathers who are both working as gardeners.
Although Mary Ann was living locally in Bloomsbury at the time of their marriage she was born in Ross, later known as Ross-on-Wye, in the county of Herefordshire.
Charles and Mary Ann’s first child, Charles Alfred Dow, is born on 22 December 1874. It is assumed that they were living in Ross at the time since both the baby’s birth registration and baptism were recorded in Ross, Herefordshire. By the time of the birth of Charles’ daughter, Annie Ellen Douglas Dow, born on 18 January 1879, the family are back in London with her birth being registered in Camberwell. At the next census in 1881 the family are living in Walworth at 1 Williams Grove, Aylesbury Street. Charles still earns his living as a porter.
Early in 1881 a baby boy, William Isaac, is born. On 27 March 1882 Charles’ eldest child Charles Alfred starts school at Flint Street School in Walworth. Charles’ occupation is given as a railway porter and the address is as the 1881 census. Neither the baby nor his elder sister have been baptised yet.
On 21 March 1884 Charles’ son Frederick, born earlier that year, is baptised at St John the Evangelist in Walworth. The family have moved to 9 Ann’s Row in Walworth where they will reside for many years. Two years later Annie Ellen aged 7 and William Isaac aged 5 are baptised at the Wellington College Mission in the parish of St Peter, Walworth. Quite why these two siblings were baptised as children rather than as babies, as was more common, remains a mystery. Charles’ last two children, Philip George and Ernest were baptised as babies at the Wellington Mission on 9 March 1887 and 10 January 1890 respectively. The family are still living at 9 Ann’s Row, Walworth.
At the time of the 1891 Census the family are found at 23 Ann’s Row (maybe the street had been renumbered since their former residence at number 9 disappears from later listings). Charles, still a railway porter, is now aged 40, Mary Ann 38, their six children being Charles 16, Annie 13, William 10, Frederick 7, George 4, and Ernest 1. Sadly, Ernest dies in infancy in the same quarter as the census return.
Tragedy strikes with Charles’ wife dying in 1896 at the age of 44 leaving Charles with his five children Charles 22, Annie 17, William 15, Frederick 12, (Philip) and George 9.
The 1901 census finds Charles 50, railway porter, living at 12 Thurlow Street, still in Walworth, together with his youngest surviving child (Philip) George, 14.
The Workhouse then the Asylum
Three years later, on 29 September 1904, Charles is admitted to St George’s workhouse in Mint Street, Southwark. He gives his age as 50 but he is actually now aged 54. The observation recorded as to Charles’ condition at the time of his admission is simply given as ‘mental’. Within three weeks, on 19 October 1904, Charles is discharged from the workhouse and transferred to Horton Asylum.
After living at Horton Asylum for four years Charles dies two days before Christmas on 23 December 1908. The death registration gives his age as 60 but Charles is aged 58. He is buried in Horton Cemetery.
Charles spent his life as a Railway Porter. He came from a humble background, worked hard all his life, yet succumbed to mental illness at a comparatively young age.
Charles’ only daughter Annie married Henry William Walters in 1897, had two children in quick succession, and shortly before completing three years of marriage, by March 1900, ended up in Newington Workhouse with her babies Annie and Henry. Her husband Henry William Walters was serving time in HMP Wormwood Scrubs for an unknown crime. Annie’s life improved and she married Richard Joseph Hobbs in 1906 and is found on the 1911 census with her new husband and her two children from her first marriage.
The imprisonment of his son-in-law, and indeed the crime which he committed, may have contributed to the deterioration in Charles’ mental health. I have discovered no further clue.
Charles’ sons Charles Alfred and Philip George both married and raised families. I like to think that Charles’ spirit lived on through his many grandchildren. Charles Alfred lived most of his working life in Carshalton residing in Green Wrythe Lane, Philip George in Tooting, and Annie Ellen in Tooting, then Sutton residing in Sutton Common Road. Charles’ father William lived to the ripe old age of 78.