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FRESTON nee EDWARDS, Catherine Louisa

b. 1829 – d. 1914


Catherine Louisa Edward’s precise date of birth is not known but she was baptised on the 24th August 1829 in Stroud, Gloucestershire. It is likely her birth year was also 1829. Her parents were George Edwards and Sarah Sophia.


On the 16th May 1848 Catherine Louisa Edwards married William Antony Freston at the Stroud Parish Church. Catherine was only 18 years of age without an occupation. Her father is shown as George Edwards, a Solicitor. William Freston was aged 22, a bachelor, an Attorney, his father being Thomas Gordon Westphaling Freston, a Clergyman.

There were several witnesses named in the record. John Edward Willis, John Willis, Agnes Kate Wilton, Mary Ann Edwards, Sophia C Freston and Mary Willis.


In the 1851 Census we find that William and Catherine Freston are living at Hawthorne Cottage, Painswick, Gloucestershire. William is aged 25, and listed as head of the house. He is an Attorney and Solicitor, born in Brockworth. Catherine is 21 without occupation. Also in the house are a daughter, Margaret, aged 1 and a son, William, aged 5 months. Both children were born in Painswick.

There is another relative Louisa Saunders, a widow, aged 72, shown as a Grandmother, presumably to the head of the house, William. Louisa Saunders was born in Stoke Newington in London. There are 5 other occupants. All listed as servants. A Nurse, a Cook, a House Maid, a Page and a Groom.

This was obviously a substantial Cottage with a substantial household.


By 1861 William and Catherine have departed Gloucestershire as they are located in the Census at 17 Abbey Gardens, Marylebone, London.

William is now shown as aged 35 and still an Attorney and Solicitor. Catherine is 31 without occupation and now with 2 children, Margaret G L Freston, aged 11, a scholar (She did not marry and eventually died in 1888 aged 36), and a son, Reginald H B Freston, aged 9 also a scholar (who eventually also became a solicitor and died in Monmouth in 1931).

The household has reduced in size as there are now only 2 servants, a Nursemaid (who had been born in Switzerland) and a Cook.


Ten years on in 1871 the family have moved and are living at 6 Lee Place, Lee in South East London. William is now 45 with the same occupation. Catherine is 40. They have 3 children living with them, Margaret, 21, Reginald, 19, who is a clerk to his father, and Arthur Wilkinson Freston, who was born in Marylebone and is now age 8 (Arthur became a Cook. He emigrated to Arizona in 1885 via New York with his wife Ann and they subsequently had four children.  He became a naturalised American in 1908 and died on the 22nd December 1927 in Los Angeles).

William and Catherine now have just one member of staff and she is listed as a Domestic Servant.


In 1881 there has been another change of address and William, 55, still a solicitor, and Catherine, 50, are now found to be living in a multi occupied building at 164 Hampstead Road, Marylebone. There are no children or domestic staff living with them.


In 1891 we catch up with Catherine again although her name is shown as Catherine Fredlow. She is found living at Instit House for Invalids at an address of 10-12 North Street, Wandsworth, London.

She is listed as a patient, married, age 65, born Stroud, Gloucestershire, and is shown as being “partially paralysed”.

The UK Lunacy Patients Admission Records 1846-1912 show that on the 17th November 1897 Catherine was admitted to the Northumberland House Asylum in Green Lane, Stoke Mandeville.


By 1901 the census tells us that under her correct name of Catherine Louisa Freston she is still a patient at Northumberland House Lunatic Asylum, in Green Lane, Stoke Newington. She is listed as married, aged 71, living on own means, and that she was born in Stroud, Gloucestershire.

The next year i.e. 1902, on the 19th June, Catherine is discharged from Northumberland House but on the same day she is admitted to the Hanwell, West London Asylum, where she remains until she is discharged from there on the 22nd November 1907. However she remains in an Asylum as on that same date she is admitted to the Manor Asylum at Epsom, Surrey.


In the 1911 census she is still in Manor Asylum and her details record her as an 81 year old widow, with no occupation listed and with a birth place of Stroud, Gloucestershire.

Catherine dies at the Manor Asylum and is buried in Grave 823A on the 12th January 1914 in the Horton Estate Cemetery, Epsom.

Authors Comment

It does seem a shame that after what appeared to be comfort in her early life, her fortune changed as she aged. Certainly in the 1850’s no one would have forecast that for the last 25 years or so before her death she would have been in a Care Home or Asylums. We do not know her precise health problems other than in 1891 when she is recorded as “partially paralysed”. There is nothing there to suggest a mental problem but nevertheless she is shown as a “lunatic” from 1897 onwards. If in fact her medical condition was just as being “partially paralysed” then residence in a Lunatic Asylum would seem entirely inappropriate by modern standards.

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