Sarah’s birth was in Tweedmouth in 1841
Sarah was the daughter of Mary (nee Paxton) and James Unthank, a tailor, of Tweedmouth, Berwick-upon-Tweed, Northumberland. The Rev. William Ritchie of the United Presbyterian Chapel, Berwick-upon-Tweed baptised her and recorded her date of birth in the register as 4th December 1841. She shared her name with her father’s younger sister.
Sarah’s brothers and sisters
Sarah had many brothers and sisters. Some died young and later siblings were given the same names. Those that have been identified are listed below with dates of birth that have been taken from the United Presbyterian Chapel baptism register, where available. Several bear the second forename Burn which may be a family surname. However, its source has not yet been found.
Jane Burn b. 26th November 1837 Tweedmouth. Last record found is the 1851 census when she was a 13-year-old scholar living with her family in Western Lane, Berwick.
Thomas Burn b. 26th September 1839 Tweedmouth, Indentured as an apprentice in the Merchant Navy in June 1857. Died at sea on 27th June 1859. The UK Register of Wages & Effects of Deceased Seamen records that he ‘fell from aloft’.
William Paxton b. 24th March 1844 Tweedmouth. Died Q2 1849.
Elizabeth Burn b. 23rd October 1846 Tweedmouth. Married firstly John Rice, an Essex-born mariner, in Stepney in 1870 and secondly, following his death in 1885, widower Job Conquest, a Cambridgeshire-born labourer, in 1887, also in Stepney. Died Mile End Old Town in 1922.
James Alexander b. 11th July 1849 Tweedmouth and died nine days later on 20th July.
Mary Elizabeth b. 1851 Berwick. Last record found is the 1861 census when she was a 9-year-old scholar living with her family in Chapel Street, Berwick.
William Paxton b. 18th Aug 1854 Berwick. Married Jane Jefferson in 1874 in Berwick and following her death in 1904, widow Margaret Dixon nee Burgon in 1905, also in Berwick. According to census returns he was variously a labourer, a carter and a general dealer at premises in Spittal. He advertised herring nets and barrels of salt herrings for sale in the Berwick Advertiser.
The Berwick Advertiser also reports him appearing in court, in a number of capacities, including as the defendant in a case involving the illegal purchase of a pair of army boots. Died 26th November 1916 Berwick. In 1919 Margaret Unthank advertised that on the demobilisation of her sons from the army she was resuming her late husband’s business in Spittal as a Marine Store Dealer.
James Alexander b. 1858 Berwick. Apprenticed for four years as a merchant seaman in October 1873 aged 15. Deserted in November 1873. Enlisted in the British Army 1876 aged 18. Married in Cape Town, South Africa 1893. Died in South Africa date unknown.
Thomas b. 1863 Berwick. Baptised in Camberwell aged 7 in 1870. Recorded on the 1871 census living with his paternal aunt Sarah Ann Spinks in Camberwell. Recorded in the 1881 census as living with his sister Elizabeth in Mile End Old Town. Married Honor Edmonds in 1890 and, following her death in 1898, Eliza Williams nee Avery in 1899. Worked as a light porter, a train conductor and a photographer’s agent. Died 1922 Mile End Old Town.
1851-1871 Berwick and Tynemouth
Sarah appears in the 1851 Census as a 9-year-old scholar, living with her family in Western Lane, Berwick. By the time of the 1861 Census, they had moved to Chapel Street, Berwick and Sarah aged 19 was a seamstress. Sarah’s mother Mary died in 1866 and her father James married Mary Hindmarsh in April 1870. He lived on in Berwick until 1888.
On the 5th September 1870, Sarah married James Gooding, a 25-year-old seaman, son of Charles Gooding deceased, in Tynemouth about 70 miles south of Berwick. Apart from their marriage certificate, no other records have been found that can definitively be linked to James.
The death certificate for a James Gooding of the same age as Sarah’s husband who died in the Ipswich Borough Asylum in 1890 has been obtained and found to be that of another man. Neither Sarah nor James have been found in the 1871 census.
It seems that the first member of Sarah’s family to come to London was her paternal aunt and namesake, Sarah Ann Spinks nee Unthank who had married widower William Spinks in Camberwell in 1859, was living in Camberwell in 1861 and, as noted above, by 1870 was caring for youngest of the Unthank siblings, Thomas, and in whose household he appears in the 1871 census.
1881-1901 Mile End Old Town
By the time of the 1881 Census, Sarah had moved to London and was living alone in a shared house in George’s Street, Mile End Old Town. Her age is recorded as 39, her condition as married and her occupation as general dealer. Her husband James is not present. Her sister Elizabeth has also moved to London and is living a short distance away in St Thomas’s Road where she has been joined by Thomas. Elizabeth’s then husband John Rice is not present. He may have been at sea, as may James.
In 1891, Sarah Gooding is recorded living alone at 25 Silver Street, Mile End Old Town in a house shared with 70-year-old widower Thomas Boyce, a bootmaker. She is described as a wife, her condition as married and her age as 48. No occupation is recorded. James Gooding is not present.
Her birthplace is given as Ipswich but we can be reasonably confident we have the correct person as her sister Elizabeth is living a few doors away at number 27, now married to Job Conquest. Thomas has married and is living independently in Kennington.
The 1901 Census records Sarah now living with the Conquests at 40 Longnor Road, Mile End Old Town. Her age is given as 60 and her occupation as charwoman. Her condition is Widow.
1908 Workhouse and Asylum
On 4th May 1908 Sarah was admitted to Mile End Workhouse and transferred the same day to the infirmary.
She was admitted again to the workhouse on 2nd June 1908, described under ‘Observations’ as ‘charwoman insane’, and transferred to Long Grove Asylum on the 6th June.
She died in the asylum on 6th September 1908 and was buried in Horton Cemetery on 10th September, in grave 191b. The address given on her death certificate was her sister’s in Longnor Road and her occupation was given as ‘charwoman’. The fact that she was the widow of a man named Gooding was recorded.
However, his first name and occupation were not known to the person registering her death.
1 Berwick-upon-Tweed (also Berwick-on-Tweed or just Berwick) is the northern-most town in England on the east coast at the mouth of the River Tweed in Northumberland, a few miles from the border with Scotland. Berwick is on the north bank of the river with the associated smaller settlements of Tweedmouth on the opposite bank and of Spittal further south along the coast. Possession of Berwick was contested between the Scottish and English Kingdoms for more than 400 years, changing hands several times until it was finally taken by Richard of Gloucester for England in 1482. Berwick retains a close affinity with Scotland and is described as being in Scotland in some of the records found of members of the Unthank family.
Researched by Roger Miller and Linda Martin