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Edward’s story

The family history detailed in the census records and birth, marriage and death registers for Henry and Mary Golder might not be Edward’s family. Since he did not have an occupation listed upon his admission to the workhouse, I have nothing to crosscheck, other than his name and year of birth. With luck, a further visit to the London Metropolitan Archives, will provide proof that the following story is correct.

Family Background

Edward’s parents were Henry Golder (1823-1882) born in Lambeth, Surrey, and Mary Ann Gould (1826-1900) born in Hounslow, Middlesex. They were married on 14 July 1844 at the Parish Church of St Mary, Lambeth. Henry’s occupation was a Labourer, they were both literate and were both living in Mill Street, Lambeth.

1840s to 1850s

By the time of the 1851 census Mary had given birth to Henry, born in 1847, and William, born in 1849, and we find the Golder family living at 12 Queen Street in Southwark: Henry Golder aged 28, an Engine Driver, his wife Mary 25, and their first two children Henry 4, and William 2. Later that year Charles was born.

Sadly, on 8 Nov 1852 Henry and Mary’s first child Henry, died aged 5 and was buried four days later at the Southwark Chapel (Wesleyan) in Long Lane, Bermondsey. The family were still living in Queen Street as in the 1851 census.

Edward’s Birth

By the time of the 1861 census the Golder family have moved to 10½ Minto Street in Bermondsey. Two more children have been born, Alexander in 1855, and Edward in 1857. The record shows that Henry aged 38, is an Engineer and Mary is 35. William 11, Charles 10, and Alexander 5, are at school, and Edward is now aged 3.

Epilepsy rears its ugly head

Sadly for Edward, it is around this time in 1861, aged just three, that his epilepsy develops. The Patient Register of Admissions at Horton Asylum informs us that he developed epilepsy at this early age. From researching the causes of epilepsy in childhood it would appear that it is difficult to establish a definite cause. Seizures can be brought on by any number of reasons – the child having a very high temperature through illness, possibly a genetic cause, maybe a head injury due to an accident, hydrocephalus, a disorder of development. For Edward we will never know but he continues to live at home with his parents and finds employment as the records will show us. The story continues……

The 1870s

The Golder family have moved by the time of the 1871 census to 2 Valentine Place, Long Lane, in Bermondsey. The family remain here for many years. Henry aged 45, is a Stoker, Mary is 45, William 22, has found work as a Warehouseman, Charles 20, is a Light Porter, Alexander 16, has started work as a Carrier, a profession which he follows for the rest of his life, the younger children – Edward 14, Harry 9, and Mary Anne 4, – being at school.

Edward’s elder brother Charles marries Mary Greenwell Burnett at St Mary Magdalene church in Bermondsey on 12 Nov 1876. He sets up home just a few doors away from his parents and siblings in Valentine Place at number nine.

Edward’s elder brother Alexander is now also married to Amelia Ann Smith, interestingly at a church on the other side of the river at St James the Great in Bethnal Green, on 5 Mar 1878.

A short working life for Edward

Edward finds employment as a Porter, perhaps at one of the many markets in the area of Bermondsey, and in the 1881 census we find the Golder family still at 2 Valentine Place. Henry aged 58, is an Engine Driver, Mary is 55, William 31, has followed his father’s profession and is now also an Engine Driver, Edward aged 22, is a Porter, Harry 19, has found employment in the Ironmongery trade and Mary Ann is still at school at 14.

On 18 Jan 1882 Edward’s father Henry dies at home in Valentine Place aged 59. He left a will which was proved on 18 Mar 1882 with his estate passing to his widow Mary, the Sole Executrix the value being £173 17s. 6d., not an insignificant sum in the 1880s. Henry was buried on 25 Jan 1882 in Newham, across the Thames.

Tragically Edward’s only sister, the last born in a family of six boys, dies at the age of 19. She is buried on 5 Feb 1886 in Newham as was her father in 1882.

Edward’s health declines….

On 2 Feb 1891 Edward Golder, aged 34, was admitted to Saint Saviour’s Workhouse, Mint Street in Borough. His occupation was recorded as Nil, his faith as Church of England, the year he was born 1857. He was admitted from the Parish of St George, and his condition was recorded as ‘Alleged Lunatic’. Perhaps his seizures were becoming more frequent. Perhaps his parents had been able to manage Edward, and with the death of his father nine years previously, his mother was unable to cope, although Edward had an elder brother, William aged 41, living at home to assist.

Transfer to the first of three asylums

On 9 Feb 1891, after just seven days, Edward was discharged from Saint Saviour’s Workhouse and transferred to the Kent County Lunatic Asylum, in Barming Heath outside Maidstone, Kent. His age was recorded as 34. (The workhouse record spells Barming Heath as Barney Heath).

During Edward’s time in this asylum firstly his brother Alexander dies, aged 40, leaving his widow with eight children, and is buried in Southwark on 11 Jul 1895, then on 21 Jul 1900 his mother Mary dies, aged 74, in Bermondsey, and is buried in Newham on 21 Jul 1900. Why was Newham selected as the burial place for both Edward’s parents, and also his sister Mary and his brothers Henry and Charles?

Transfer to the next Asylum

After spending ten years at Barming Heath Edward is discharged on 8 Mar 1901. His condition is recorded as ‘Not Improved’. He is transferred directly to the East Kent County Asylum at Chartham outside Canterbury. Just over a year later, on 7 Aug 1902, Edward is moved again to Horton Asylum

The Patient Admittance record confirms that Edward originally entered the asylum system from the Workhouse in Mint Street. It actually records that Edward worked as a Labourer. His medical certificate and reception order are both dated 6 Feb 1891. Edward’s form of mental disorder is recorded as Dementia, and his supposed cause of insanity Fits. He had been experiencing fits for 41 years and 1 month from the age of three.

After living at Horton for 4¾ years, Edward does not improve, and dies on 7 Apr 1908, aged 51. Edward was buried on 15 Apr 1908 eight days later.

I will endeavour to find Edward’s case notes at the London Metropolitan Archives upon my next visit.

NB: I cannot prove that Henry and Mary Golder are the parents of Edward, or that he is indeed the Edward Golder found in the family history detailed above. This is the story of the rest of the family. 

The 1891 census finds Mary Golder, now widowed, aged 66, living on her own means at the same address in Valentine Place. Also with her is her son William, aged 41, single, an Engine Driver. Mary dies on 21 Jul 1900 aged 74.

In the 1901 census three of the Golder brothers are living together at 12 Maze Pond Terrace, Bermondsey. William the eldest is unmarried at 51 and works as a Leather Warehouseman. Charles 50 is an Ironmonger’s Packer, also living there is his wife Mary and their youngest son Henry, and lastly the youngest of the siblings Henry is unmarried at 36 and is an Ironmonger’s Porter.

In the 1911 census Edward’s two brothers have moved a few doors down from the census of ten years ago, and are living together at 18 Maze Pond, in Bermondsey. They are both single. William Golder aged 60, is still a Leather Warehouseman, and Henry aged 46, is still an Ironmonger’s Porter. Charles has moved away from Maze Pond and lives with his wife at 21 Studley Road, Stockwell. At the age of 59 he is still employed as an Ironmonger’s Packer.

Harry Golder dies in 1918, aged 54, and was buried, like his parents, in Newham on 3 Jan 1918. 

Charles Golder dies in 1922, aged 71, and was buried in Newham on 6 Nov 1922.

William Golder continues to live at 18 Maze Pond, as found in the Electoral Registers, until his death in 1925, aged 75, but was buried in Southwark on 31 Mar 1925.

The only record that I have found that might throw a spanner in the works is that I have found an Edward Golder in the Electoral Register of 1930 living at 114 Spa Road, Bermondsey but that might be a son of one of Edward’s married brothers, either Charles or Alexander perhaps, but upon further research neither brother had a son named Edward.

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