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HOLLIMAN, Emma

b.1858 – d.1909

Early life 1858 to 1871

Emma Holliman’s birth was registered in the March Q of 1858. The transcription of a Baptism Record for Emma Holliman has been found giving Emma’s birth date as 20/10/1857.  The church was Holy Trinity, Vauxhall Bridge Road, which is very close to Bessborough Place, where Emma is found living in the 1861 Census.

In the 1861 census Emma (3) is living with her father and mother, Daniel born in Birmingham in 1828, a house painter by trade, and Emma her mother born in Lambeth in 1830.  She has 2 brothers, Thomas age 8 and Arthur age 6 months. They are living in BessBorough Place, Westminster. (In 2018 the average price for a house in Bessborough Place was over £2 million).

5 Bessboro Place

In September Q 1870 Emma’s brother Thomas dies age 17.  This must have been a very sad loss for the family losing the eldest child.  This could also have been an economic loss as he was probably working and adding much needed income to the family budget.

The 1871 census shows the family are living at 2 Aylesford Street, in Westminster, which is less than 200 metres from where they were living in 1861.  The family has grown somewhat, Emma’s father is still a painter, Emma now 13 has 4 other siblings, Charles 8, Harriet 6, Andrew 4 and Edgar 2 along with her brother Arthur.

1871 census – aged 13 (birth~1858)

30 years lost?

1881 No definitive record found at this time. She does not appear on the 1881 census with the rest of family but would have been 23 by this time so could be working elsewhere.

2 Aylesford Street

1891 No definitive record found at this time. The 1891 census shows her parents have returned to Bessborough Place, with Andrew and Edgar.

43 Bessborough Place

Emma’s father Daniel, died in 1892, and was buried on December 3rd.

Burial Record: Daniel Holliman

1901 census Emma is now 43 years old and she is a general servant to John Lawrence, coffee house keeper and his wife Eliza, they have 5 children.  The residence, 5 Kinnerton Street, is in the very fashionable area of its time of St George Hanover Square.  The house where she lives and works in is about 600 metres south west of Hyde Park Corner.

The Workhouse

1906, December 17th, Emma is admitted to the Westminster, Fulham Road Workhouse with a given age 43 (in fact she is 49), she is registered as a servant and her Master referred Emma to the Work House.  Emma’s next of kin is listed as her sister-in-law M Holliman, of Sutherland Street.   

Next of Kin: Sister-in-law M Holliman of Sutherland St.

A search reveals her brother Andrew is living at 73 Sutherland Street.

On the 27th December Emma is discharged at her own request. In 1907, January 16th, Emma is again admitted to the Westminster, Fulham Road Workhouse, she is registered as a servant.  On the 19th January Emma, given age 50, is discharged from the Work House at her own request.

16 Jan 1907 – Admitted
19 Jan 1907 – Discharged at Own Request

Emma is admitted to the Fulham Road Workhouse on 4th February 1907 by her Master. On the 26th March,  Emma is discharged at her own request, with a given age of 44. 

Admitted 04 Feb 1907
26 Mar 1907 – Discharged at Own Request

On the 28th March Emma is admitted to Fulham Road Workhouse, she is listed as “charring”.

Admitted 28 Mar 1907

St George’s Union register of inmates shows a summary of the number of times Emma had been admitted and discharged from the workhouse.

1908  Emma is admitted to the Fulham Road Workhouse on 17th February. She is discharged on 27th Feb 1908 to Long Grove Asylum.

Long Grove

Admitted Long Grove 27 Feb 1908 – Discharged ‘Died’ 13 Feb 1909

On the 27th February 1908 Emma is transferred to Long Grove Hospital.  On her case notes it is noted that Emma has been in the Workhouse since 1906.  Her condition notes ‘scratch marks on neck and left hand.’ 

The document also says Emma is “lost and simple, she wanders about. 

Case notes on Feb 20-27th reveals she is “violent at times. Gives age as 16, is very childish and foolish. Very inquisitive.”  The document also mentions Emma having “delusions of having got good posts waiting for her and being engaged to be married”.

Emma, having survived less than 1 year in the asylum died on 13 February 1909, actual age 51.

Emma was buried in Horton Cemetery, grave 303b, 5 days later on 18th February 1909 with an assumed age of 44.

Author’s thoughts

To date it is a mystery as to why we cannot find details of Emma in the 1881 and 1891 census or any other records during these periods.  We lose sight of Emma after 1871.  Was she in service? Or facing hardships which have not been recorded.  Where was Emma and will finding her help to explain why she was in and out of the Workhouse from 1906 up until when she is admitted into Long Grove in 1908?  Did she have some sort of mental health condition from birth that gradually worsened or was there a sudden collapse of her mental health state around 1906?  The observations from the Fulham Road Workhouse are very similar to the symptoms of what we today call Alzheimer’s disease but in those times would have probably been known as Dementia.


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