Sarah’s story was brought to us by her family and they are happy for it to go on our website. They kindly provided the photograph of Sarah.
Sarah’s parents and siblings
Sarah was born in the December quarter of 1846 to William and Catherine Lloyd (née Jackson). She was baptised on 13 December 1846 at St. Bride’s church, Fleet Street. William is described as a stationer and they live in Hatton Garden. William and Catherine had married in the December 1840 quarter in the London City district. Sarah had an elder sister, Mary Ann, who was born in 1841 and baptised in the same church as Sarah. William is described as a clerk in the baptism register. A younger brother, William, was born in the December 1848 quarter in Clerkenwell. In the 1851 Census, the family are living at 22 Camden Street, Islington and William’s profession is given as county court clerk.
A death in the family
A younger brother, Edward Richard, was born in the June 1855 quarter in Shoreditch. Sadly, he was to die on 8 July 1858 at only 3 years old of Pertussis (whooping cough). The family were then living at 15 Tokenhouse Yard in the City of London. On the death certificate, William is described as a house porter. The family are still living there in the 1861 Census but William appears to be a railway porter. Both Sarah and her sister Mary Ann are working as book folders. This is the last record of William living with the family and he cannot be positively identified in the records after this date, having such a common name.
By the 1871 census, the family had moved to 53 Carter Lane, St. Andrew by the Wardrobe near to St. Paul’s Cathedral. Catherine is head of the household but it is uncertain if she is a wife or a widow as alterations have been made to the records. Catherine is also working as a laundress, perhaps pointing to a change of family fortunes as she has not been recorded as working in previous censuses. Mary Ann had left home, married and started a family. Sarah and William are still living with their mother. Sarah continues to work as a book folder and William junior is a clerk. In October 1875 William married but the following month, his elder sister Mary Ann was to die at only 34, leaving a husband and three children.
The next record for Sarah is the 1881 Census where she is still living with her mother but they have moved again to 1 Idol Lane, St. Dunstan in the East. Catherine is described as a widow and housekeeper. Sarah is a forewoman at a stationer’s. Living with them is Catherine’s six year old grandson, William Lloyd, but he is also shown as living with William junior and his family in Islington so it does not seem to be a permanent arrangement. William Lloyd junior died in the March quarter of 1883, aged 35, leaving a widow and three children.
Marriage and motherhood
Life was to change for Sarah in the December quarter of 1884 when she married Robert Hamilton in the City of London. Robert had been born in 1857 in Scotland but by the 1881 census he was living in London and working as a commercial clerk. Their only child, William Hamilton, was born on 27 August 1883 in Islington. Sarah’s mother, Catherine, was to die just a year later on 27 October 1884. Sarah had then lost both parents and all three siblings.
The next census in 1891 is rather puzzling. Sarah is living at 50 Poplar Street in the centre of Nottingham but is using the name Rebecca Hamilton. She describes herself as married but with no profession. Her son is listed as William Lloyd Hamilton aged 7 and a schoolboy. Meanwhile, Robert was living in Croydon as a boarder, single and working as an insurance clerk. Had the couple separated? Why was Sarah in Nottingham and using one of her middle names? A possible answer has come from Sarah’s family. They know that young William was educated in Scotland and his uncle, John Leggate Hamilton, acted as his guardian. Sarah could have been taking William to Scotland and stopped en route at Nottingham.
Sarah’s mental health problems
Sarah’s family also gave the information that her husband Robert was often abroad on business. They believe she may have been suffering from post-natal depression, a condition not recognised as an illness in those days. Whatever the circumstances, Sarah was to enter institutional care on 27 July 1894 where she was to remain for the rest of her life. The records show her movements through the care system.
|Date entered||Date left||Institution||Time spent|
|27 July 1894||13 October 1899||Bethnall||5 years 3 months|
|13 October 1899||8 March 1904||Bexley||4 years 5 months|
|8 March 1904||31 July 1906||Hellingly||2 years 4 months|
|31 July 1906||22 April 1908||Bucks – prob Horton||1 year 9 months|
|22 April 1908||1 December 1921||Manor or Hanwell||13 years 7 months|
Each time Sarah is admitted as a pauper inmate but there is a note stating that she was “transferred to private 26/9/1906”. Presumably her husband Robert paid for her care to enable this transfer.
Sarah’s family after her admission to the Manor
Sarah can be identified in the census records in 1901 as S S Hamilton, married and born 1846 London, residing at the London County Asylum, The Heath, Dartford, Kent. Her husband Robert and his son William are living in 2 rooms of a house in Carshalton. Robert is an insurance clerk and 17 year old William is an Office Boy. In the following census of 1911, Sarah is simply S L H, married and born 1846 Islington and is residing at The Manor Asylum, Epsom. Robert is living in 2 rooms of a shared house at 31 Kings Road, Belmont, Sutton describing himself as a widower and a retired insurance clerk. Their son William is living as a boarder also in Sutton and is a shipping clerk. Ten years later in 1921, both Sarah and Robert are still living at their same addresses. Sarah is listed as Sarah Lloyd Hamilton, married with birthplace unknown and no occupation. Robert is a boarder, widowed and a retired insurance clerk.
Robert was to die on 7 February 1928, leaving £113 to his son William (about £8,400 in today’s values). Sarah was to die two years later on 1 June 1930 after nearly 36 years of institutional care.
Sarah’s son William married in 1912 and the couple would have 8 children, one dying in infancy. Sarah’s modern family are descended from those children.