Who are You?
As with all our stories you generally have to work backwards, and Emma’s story was no exception. Without her death certificate I could find no trace of her or indeed know whether she was single, married or widowed. Fortunately, the Death Certificate and Marriage Certificate helped me to trace who she was and find out a little bit about her before her untimely death at Long Grove Hospital.
Emma’s early life
Her parents were Thomas Charles Grey a bricklayer from Brixton and Mary Ann Poulter from Waltham in Essex who were married at St Jude’s church in East Brixton on 2 July 1882.
Emma was their first child born in the April to June quarter of 1883 in Lambeth. She was baptised as Emma Mary Elizabeth at St Jude’s church in East Brixton on 24 June 1883. The address given was 3 Arlington Street, Brixton Hill and her father was working as a labourer. I think this is Arlingford Road which was just around the corner from St Jude’s. Described by Booths Maps as a Mixed Area.
Over the next 20 years Thomas and Mary Ann were to have a further 9 children, listed below.
7 April 1885 Thomas George baptised 18 May 1887
1887 Elizabeth baptised 18 May 1887 alongside Thomas
1889 Sophia M born and died in the March quarter
1898 Sidney Ernest
1903 Ellen Caroline Beatrice
1905 Rosina Baptised 2 August 1905 and died March 1908
The 1891 Census finds the family at 5 Hamilton Road in Brixton. Thomas senior aged 29, a bricklayers labourer, Mary Ann aged 25, the children – Emma aged 8, Thomas aged 6, Elizabeth aged 4 and William aged 10 months.
There is also a lodger, Emily Foskett, who was a single lady working as a charwoman. Presumably this brought additional income into the household.
They shared this address with another family of 9 people. I have not been able to place this on Booths Maps or on the maps held online on the National Library of Scotland site but the census describes it as being in the area of Shakespeare and Milton Road off Railton Road in the Brixton parish of St Jude. It could be where Mumford Road is today.
During this decade the family continued to grow and as all the children born were registered in Lambeth, I assume they did not move far.
In fact the 1901 Census bears this out when the family are recorded as living at 15 Hamilton Road in East Brixton. Thomas aged 40 working as a bricklayers labourer and his wife Mary Ann aged 39. Now the family are shown as Emma now aged 18 working as a coffee shop assistant, Thomas aged 16 working as a fishmonger, younger siblings Elizabeth aged 13, William aged 11, George aged 9, Charles aged 6 and Sidney aged 3. They shared this address with one other family.
Emma admitted to Infirmary
On Monday 21st October in the same year Emma is admitted to Lambeth Infirmary into what looks like G2 ward. Her mother Mary Ann is listed as her relative and her address as 15 Hamilton Road, Herne Hill. The reason for her admission is not known. After 3 weeks on Saturday 16th November 1901 Emma is discharged at her own request back to the care of her mother.
The following year Emma was well enough to marry on 10th November 1902 at Lambeth Register Office Edward Thomas Hall a bachelor aged 25 who was a general labourer, the son of Charles Frederick Hall who was deceased. The witnesses were a Charles Bennett and Mary Ann Grey, the bride’s mother. This was confirmed by obtaining the marriage certificate.
Both the Bride and Groom gave their address as 4 Hamilton Road, Herne Hill as their address. This was where four of Edward’s brothers were residing at the time of the 1901 Census. Edward was also one of nine children just like Emma.
What made it difficult to find him was that Edward’s father appears under a combination of names such as Charles Henry, Charles Frederick or Charles but his mother was called Caroline nee Lambourne. So, this helped to narrow down the search. They were a Lambeth family living in Effra Parade in the same parish as Emma, so they possibly were long-time friends.
Four months after their marriage Emma and Edward’s first child was born on 12 March 1903. A daughter baptised on 15 June 1904 at St Jude’s who was named Caroline Emma. They were still living at 4 Hamilton Road. Edward was still working as a labourer. A second daughter Elizabeth was born in June 1905, followed by Beatrice in the July to September quarter of 1907. Sadly, baby Beatrice died in November 1907 and was buried in Newnham Cemetery on 30 November 1907. Finally, a son named Edward Charles was born in December 1909
Admission to Long Grove
Sadly, Emma was destined not to raise her family as the Lunacy Register shows she was admitted to Long Grove Hospital on 14 January 1910. Her youngest child being barely a month old. At present no admission records can be found so it is unclear as to the reasons.
She survived for 13 months at Long Grove until she died on 8 February 1911. The primary cause of death was dysentery which she appears to have had for about 6 weeks which brought on Bronchial Pneumonia which no doubt caused her already weak body to give up at the age of just 28 years old.
She is buried in Grave number 1093b in Horton Cemetry.
Emma’s address was given as 8 Peabody Buildings in Herne Hill which was different to that of her husband. Peabody Buildings were built in 1901 as a model building project but working people were slow to benefit as the project wanted to gain an air of respectability and workers like Edward Hall did not always have a regular wage and could fall into debt and be evicted. How Emma came to be here we will never know if it was her domestic home or that of a family member or friend.
The family – What happened when Emma died?
Edward Hall was left with 3 children at the time Emma was admitted to Long Grove. How did he cope with these young charges all under 10 and one just a babe in arms?
Initially, not well it would seem. The 1911 Census finds young Caroline aged 8 living at Lambeth Infirmary for Children at Crown Hill in West Norwood. Elizabeth seemed to fare a little better as she can be found living with her Uncle Arthur Hall and his family at 67 Regent Road in Herne Hill. Where was baby Edward? The 1911 census does not reveal his whereabouts but on 24 October 1911 he was admitted to Carshalton School from the Lambeth Infirmary.
It is clear that poor Edward did not cope with his young children at all. The 1911 Census shows he was living on his own at 51 Effra Parade aged 35 working as a builder’s labourer.
Infact there is little evidence to suggest he was able to provide a home for his children. By the time of the 1921 Census Edward was living with his unmarried brother Charles at 182, Railton Road, Herne Hill working in an Army Clothing Factory in Pimlico.
I found it difficult to trace him with any certainty after 1925 when he was a witness at his daughter Elizabeth’s wedding.
Caroline later moved to East Cliffe House in Margate which was a convalescing Home for sickly children specialising in Tubercular conditions. Generally, children spent an average of 6 months there enjoying the sea air. This might explain why after 3 months Caroline was transferred to Downs School previously known as Banstead School it was a children’s Hospital and Caroline stayed there until 31 July 1912 when she was discharged.
From these records it seems Caroline was an unwell child. However, she was well enough to be sent to Norwood School on 1 August 1912 where the register states her father Edward was living at 7 Peabody Buildings at Herne Hill. This was a Workhouse school in Elder Road, West Norwood. From there on 20 January 1913, she was discharged to the London County Council Residential Deaf School in Homerton. This reveals Caroline’s circumstances as to why she was in care. In February 1912 it was reported there were 46 children in residence at this establishment and there was also a Day school.
Happily, Caroline survived to adulthood and married Herbert Mills in 1927. She lived until 1996 when she passed away aged 93.
Prior to finding herself at her uncle’s house in 1911 Elizabeth spent some time at Lambeth Infirmary and then later Norwood School. One can only assume that perhaps her uncle felt he was able to support her.
Elizabeth went on to marry a man named Herbert. In her case Herbert Henry Good. They were married at Emmanual Church, West Dulwich on 26 December 1925. Her father Edward appears to be a witness at the wedding proving he was still involved with his family. Elizabeth was still living in Lambeth at the time of the 1939 Register with Herbert and his family. They do not appear to have had any children at the time.
As mentioned above Edward too went into care after being admitted to Carshalton School and he too found himself at Norwood School 6 February 1913 aged only 3 years old.
Sadly, Edward died aged 7 years old and was buried at Norwood Cemetery on 7 March 1917. I presume he was still at Norwood School and had spent almost all of his short life in care.
Emma came from a stable if poor background and married a man with a very similar background to that of her own. We can see she had a short spell in the infirmary before her marriage, and it is unclear what caused her to be there. She then goes on to have 4 children in 6 years, one of whom dies as a baby. Who knows how this affected her?
The fact that she was admitted to Long Grove very shortly after the birth of her 4th child leads me to wonder whether she had post-natal illness of some description. Her death certainly is pivotal to the wellbeing of her family, leaving her husband unable to cope and the separation of the children into the care system. Of the surviving two daughters one hopes that perhaps they were re united in later life.
Without further information we can only guess what lead her on her journey into Long Grove and hope that her family did spare a thought for her brief life with them.