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GODFREY, Susannah

b.1860-d.1914

Introduction

Susannah Godfrey. This is the name recorded in the Burial Records of Horton Estate Cemetery. It shows that Susannah, who had been a patient in Manor Asylum, was buried on the 12th of January 1914 in grave reference 825a. Death age is indicated to be 55. That would suggest a birth about 1859/1860.

However, research has shown that whilst the surname is correct at her death, there is a missing first name as well. Her first name was in fact Eliza, and it was her second name that was Susannah, although this is sometimes shown without the “h”, i.e., Susanna. Eliza had been married twice.

The early years

Eliza was born in 1860. Her maiden name was Eliza Susannah Portsmouth. Her birth was recorded in the Kensington Registration District in the 3rd quarter. We know that her parents were Henry Nathaniel Portsmouth and Elizabeth Portsmouth, née Chamberlain. Henry and Elizabeth were married in the 1st quarter 1858 also in the Kensington District. When the 1861 Census took place on the 7th of April, Eliza was only eight months old and is the only child mentioned but there had in fact been a son, William Henry Portsmouth, who had been born in the 2nd quarter 1858 but sadly died in that same quarter. The full entry of the Census shows the family was living at 6 Prospect Place in Fulham.

• Henry Portsmouth, head, married, age 21, occupation Matting Weaver (it appears the enumerator then added the words Mat Maker). Born Fulham, Middlesex
• Elizabeth Portsmouth, wife, married, age 27, no occupation, born Chelsea, Middlesex
• Eliza S Portsmouth, daughter, age 8 months, born Fulham, Middlesex

During the next few years Henry and Elizabeth Portsmouth parented three more children as new siblings for Eliza.

• 1963 1st quarter Alice Maud
• 1865 2nd quarter Henry Frederick (sadly Henry died in 1968, aged just 3)
• 1868 2nd quarter William John

These births were registered at Kensington District, other than that of William where the Registration District was St Saviour, Southwark.

By the time of the Census in 1871, the family had relocated to Southwark and from the births of the new children above, this probably took place between 1865 and 1868. They are now living at 69 Orange Street, St Saviour, Southwark.

• Henry N Portsmouth, head, married, age 30, Matting Weaver, born Fulham, Middlesex
• Elizabeth Portsmouth, wife, married, age 35, born Chelsea, Middlesex
• Eliza S Portsmouth, daughter, age 10, born Fulham, Middlesex
• Alice M Portsmouth, daughter, age 8, born Fulham, Middlesex
• William J Portsmouth, son, age 3, born Christchurch, Southwark

1879 was the year when Eliza married for the first time. The wedding took place in the Lambeth District in the 3rd quarter. Eliza Susannah Portsmouth married Edward Scott Bennett and shortly thereafter we find them in the 1881 Census living at 42, Hayles Street, Southwark.

• Edward S Bennett, head, married, age 20, French Polisher, born Croydon, Surrey
• Eliza S Bennett, wife, married, age 20, no occupation, born Fulham, Middlesex

There is no birth record of any children from this marriage.

The middle years

No information about Eliza can be found after the 1881 Census during the 1880s and nor can she be traced in the 1891 Census, which is strange. However, her husband Edward does feature in the records, and it is clear the marriage to Eliza has collapsed. We find in the 1891 Census that Edward Scott Bennett is living at 145 Princes Road, Lambeth and the content is rather revealing and confusing.

• Edward Scott Bennett, head, married, age 30, French Polisher, born Croydon, Surrey
• Edward Scott Bennett, son, single, age 26, born Bloomsbury, London
• Francis Powell, housekeeper, single, 1, born Kennington, Surrey.

The data about the son and housekeeper is in error and has been reversed on the Census. It is Edward, junior, who is one and born in Kennington, and Francis (probably Frances and also known as Fanny) who is 26, born in Bloomsbury. Further research into birth records show that the birth of the son, Edward, was registered in the 1st quarter of 1890 in Lambeth District under the name of Edward Scott POWELL. There is no mother’s maiden name given so this was an illegitimate birth. Frances Powell was clearly a little more than a housekeeper! From the Census document in 1891, Edward Junior has been clearly accepted as the son of Edward, senior.

There is no record found to show any divorce of Edward and Eliza, nor any record of a subsequent marriage of Edward to Frances Powell. Nevertheless, Edward and Frances do go on to have three more children.

• 1892 Thomas Edwin Bennett, born 22/2/1892
• 1894 Henry John Bennett, born 13/8/1894
• 1896 Ada Louisa Bennett, born 9/10/1896

Birth dates shown are taken from Baptismal records at St James, Kennington. Mother is identified as Fanny. Address is shown in 1894 as 10 Clayton Buildings. But, of course, none of these children are related to Eliza Susanna.

Edward Scott Bennett, Eliza’s husband died in the 2nd quarter 1899 at Lambeth. He was 38 years old.

We at last find Eliza again also in 1899. On 5th November 1899, bonfire night, she marries at St John’s Church, Newington.

• William Godfrey, 45, bachelor, occupation Mat Maker. Father John Godfrey, Mat Maker.
• Eliza Susanna Bennett, widow, occupation Mat Maker. Father Henry Nathaniel Portsmouth, Mat Maker.

Both William and Eliza gave their residence at the time of marriage as 2 Turquand Street, Walworth. Whilst Eliza was able to sign the certificate, William had to do so by making a Mark. The witnesses were Eliza’s father and E F Hutchins.

It is possible perhaps that Eliza and William had lived together for some time but could not marry whilst Edward, Eliza’s first husband, was alive. His death earlier in 1899 allowed them the right to do so legally.

At the time of the Census on the 31st of March 1901, William and Eliza are still at 2 Turquand Street.

• William Godfrey, head, 47, Door Mat Maker, born Hackney, London
• Eliza Godfrey, wife, 41, no occupation, born Fulham, London

The final years

Shortly after the submission of the 1901 Census, life changes again for Eliza. Her husband, William Godfrey, dies. His death occurs on the 8th of July 1891 in the Southwark Infirmary. On the death certificate William is shown as a 47 year old Mat Maker. He dies from an aneurism of the aorta. Eliza Godfrey, widow of deceased of 2 Turquand Street, is listed as the informant. Eliza is unable to sign her name on this occasion and it is signed with her Mark.

She has no children to support her and in 1903 she starts to need the support and help of the Workhouse. There are three episodes in the first half of the year when she is admitted to the St George Workhouse in Mint Street, Southwark. Her occupation is shown as either Mat Maker or, on one occasion, as Charwoman. Her stays seem to be for about two weeks each time and she is shown as being discharged at her own request.

We know that at some time Eliza is admitted to Manor Asylum in Epsom. We know she was there in 1911. That being the case it would be expected she would be listed in the UK Lunacy Admission records, but she has not been traced. In the 1911 Census the names of patients at Manor Asylum are not given but initials only. Eliza can be positively identified.

• ESG age 52, Widow, Mat Maker, born Fulham, London, Lunatic 43

The reference to Lunatic 43 is to indicate that Eliza was diagnosed as a lunatic when she was aged 43. This suggests 1903, the year of her Workhouse visits and would suggest that Eliza was at Manor from about that time. Perhaps when more records are available this might be determined. In the meantime, we know nothing about Eliza’s time at Manor.

Eliza Susannah Godfrey passed away in early 1914. She was buried in the Horton Estate Cemetery where deceased patients from the Epsom Cluster of Asylums were buried unless relations of the deceased wished to deal with the burial in their own way and at their own expense. Sadly however, most patients were buried at Horton. Eliza’s burial took place on the 12th of January 1914, and she was buried in grave 825a.

The General Register holds the death record as Eliza Susannah Godfrey, 1st quarter 1914 Epsom. Volume 2A Page 53. Age at death 55.


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