b. 1849 – d. 1913
Priscilla Blyth was born on the 16th August 1849 in the small community of Marlingford, Norfolk, England, to Emily Blyth, and father unknown. Her mother Emily was an unmarried 21 year old at the time and lived with her widowed father James and brothers, Robert and William.
The 1851 census has Priscilla (1), living at 11 Marlingford, Forehoe, Norfolk, England with her widowed grandfather James Blyth (49), her mother Emily (21) and Emily’s brothers Robert (14), and William Blyth (11).
Marlingford was a small farming community or less than 250 people, and less than 50 houses at this time. There are no street names, but numbered homes on common land. The only buildings to have something other than a number are the likes of the post office, the pub, farm house, and mill. We can also see from this census that next door lives Emily’s eldest brother James with his wife Mary Ann Blyth, with their children James and Harriett.
Priscilla’s mother Emily married John Goddard on the 16th November 1856, Priscilla would have been 7 years of age.
On the census on 1861, we learn that John has taking on the responsibility to care for Priscilla as his own, living at 68-Common Land, Priscilla recorded as an 11-year-old living with her stepfather John Goddard, her mother Emily and her Uncle Robert Blyth is visiting, listed with an occupation as a Higgler (a person who travels around selling small items – the origin of the word ‘to Haggle’).
Emily’s elder brother James (42), and his wife Mary Ann (36) are now at 91 Common Land, with their growing family, James (15), Harriett (12), George (10), and Elizabeth (7).
On the 24th of March 1867, some 17 years after birth, Priscilla was finally baptised in Marlingford. On the same sheet we see that Emily’s brother James baptised his two youngest arrivals on the same day, daughters Emily b1864 and Susannah b1866.
The 1871 census, shows Priscilla’s parents John (46) and Emily Goddard (42), with Emily’s brother Robert (40) still here, now his occupation as a hawker, which is just another name for a Higgler. There is no sign of Priscilla on this record but she is found elsewhere.
Priscilla had moved out of home and is found as a 21-year-old unmarried Housemaid for the Speth Family in Brixton, London. Head of house, George W Speth, was a General Merchant from Germany.
At sometime between 1871 and 1874 Priscilla was working at Stone Lunatic Asylum in Kent. She met and married a fellow attendant, William Tomlinson on the 21st July 1874 in Dartford, Kent, England. It took us a while to locate the marriage details as they were not online, but we discovered that it was due to the fact this was a register office marriage, something that was very, very rare in the 19th century.
We see from the certificate that William and Priscilla were both working at the Stone Lunatic Asylum, and further records from the wage books show they were there between 1873 – 1874 as Attendees. It is possible the marriage was rushed; Priscilla left the asylum around this time and returned to Norfolk, ~3 months pregnant; and a son, John William Tomlinson was born on the 18th Jan 1875 in Marlingford, Norfolk, England.
William appears to have remarried and led a full life; but the story is about Priscilla and we know that Priscilla went on to re-marry in 1878 where she is under the name of Priscilla Tomlinson, a 28-year-old, declared a widow.
Priscilla (Tomlinson nee. Blyth) married Frederick Jackson on the 2nd of January 1878 at the St Anne, Poole’s Park, Islington, England. Frederick a 32-year-old bachelor employed as a Clerk, Father Henry Jackson, deceased.
Priscilla a 28-year-old widow, Father John Blyth a Farm Labourer, both from Durham Rd, Islington. Witnesses Thomas Cousins and Ellen Kennedy. The following year son Frederick Jackson was born ~1879 in Norwich, Norfolk, England followed by the birth of another son, Montague Jackson born on the 25 May 1880, in St Pancras, Camden, England.
The 1881 census shows Priscilla’s mother Emily still with John Goddard, and they are living with their grandson, John W. Tomlinson, Priscilla’s 6-year-old son. Robert (the Hawker) has now moved to live with his widowed father John Blythe.
During the 1881 census Priscilla was recorded as a married 31-year-old living at 16 Wellington Street, Clerkenwell, Holborn, London, with her husband Frederick and their sons Frederick (2) and Montague (10m).
That same year saw the birth of their 3rd son Vivian Jackson who was born on the 29 Dec 1881 in Holborn, Middlesex, England, sadly Vivian died the following year on the 12th June 1882, in Holborn aged only 6-months-old, his cause of death was recorded as Diarrhoea and Convulsions.
A fourth son, who they also named Vivian, was born on the 10 Oct 1883 in Islington, Middlesex, England, sadly like his brother before him his life would be short. Vivian spent his last days at Islington Infirmary; He was originally admitted 29 Oct 1884, spending 3-months with his mother until discharged 5th Jan 1885.
It was during this time that the family fell on hard times and for the next several years found themselves in and out of the Workhouse, below is a short summary of some of their Admissions and Discharges.
Workhouse Admissions and Discharges
Priscilla Blyth alias Tomlinson aged 33 years and her children Fred aged 5, Montague aged 4 and Vivian aged 9 months were admitted to St Johns Rd Workhouse in Islington on Saturday 5th July 1884, her husband Frederick was admitted a little later on the 12th July 1884.
Frederick Jackson aged 35 years, Priscilla aged 33 years and Vivian aged 10 months were discharged from St. Johns Rd Workhouse on 7th August 1884 at their “own request, taking one child from infirmary and one child from school” (which accounts for all 5).
Priscilla aged 33 years and her children Frederick aged 5 years, Montague aged 4 years and Vivian aged 10 months were again admitted into the St. Johns Rd Workhouse on the 22nd August 1884 and then discharged to her husband Frederick Jackson at the Shadwell Rd Workhouse, sons Montague and Frederick discharged to School.
Sadly, youngest child Vivian entered the infirmary for the 2nd time on April 3rd, and died on the 16th of April 1885, aged 18-months old. His cause of death was recorded as Bronchitis.
Its yet unclear when, but sometime around now, Priscilla’s husband Frederick disappears, being such a common name means there are many options of death, imprisonment or abandonment. I don’t think we can speculate on this without evidence.
On Wednesday 15th July 1885, Priscilla Jackson alias Tomlinson (as she is now known) is discharged from Cornwallis Rd Workhouse (formerly known as Shadwell Workhouse) at own request taking 2 children from the school (Frederick and Montague).
Priscilla is next located on the 1891 census, recorded as a widowed 40-year-old working as a Wash Laundress living in a room at 58 at St. Johns Road, Islington Workhouse, with her sons Frederick aged 11 years and Montague aged 10 years. An interesting fact to note is that Priscilla is recorded as Deaf.
With 2 young children still to support Priscilla appears to have turned her life around at some point, and we find out from the following newspaper report, that she is running a lodging house on St. John’s Road, keeping the family financially secure.
Interesting to note that a death from misadventure occurred at Priscilla’s lodging house in July 1894 that made the newspapers. Priscilla, landlady of 58 St John Rd, Upper Holloway attended the Inquest held into the death of lodger Andrew Ramsey Gordon who died, aged 30, from the effects of Morphia Poisoning.
Mrs. Priscilla Jackson, landlady of 58, St. John’s road, Upper Holloway, stated that the deceased had only lodged with her for nine days prior to his death. On Tuesday, the deceased stayed in bed till two o’clock, and at night she saw him, and asked him why he stayed in bed, when he replied that he had a week’s holiday. She asked him why he had not eaten his breakfast? and he replied, because he was “dicky.” The next morning witness knocked at the door several times, but obtained no answer. Later she became alarmed, and sent for a police-constable, who, on forcing the door open, discovered deceased dead in bed.Islington Gazette – Tuesday 24 July 1894
Priscilla continued on as landlady until 1899 when according to her case notes (1899-1907) she was “obliged to sell her lodging house and was afraid she would be unable to keep herself and children, Worry seems to have unhinged her mind”, this appears to be a catalyst for depression and in turn saw her admission to the Manor Asylum in Epsom, Surrey, on August 9, 1899, her next of kin is listed as her mother Emily Goddard of 28 St John’s Rd, Upper Holloway.
She is irrational, mutters but cannot be got to reply to questions. She is restless, constantly swinging her body about and wandering about.Facts indicating insanity observed by myself at the time of examination viz :-
She is diagnosed with Acute Melancholia which is a mental health condition characterized by persistent and intense feelings of sadness and hopelessness.
Over the next several years Priscilla is recorded as depressed, emotional and tearful, and was still admitted to the Manor Asylum on the 1901 census recorded as a married 53 year old Pauper Patient, finally 8 years after her admission Priscilla is medically cleared, free of delusions, works well and is able to be home with relatives, she is officially discharged on the 27th June 1907 as Recovered. The photograph here was taken for her 1907 discharge.
Sadly this did not last and Priscilla was once again admitted, briefly to Norfolk asylum for just over 2 months, and then transferred to the Manor Asylum in December 1907. We do not have the case notes for this period at this time.
The visitor log shows that throughout her time at the Asylum family members stayed in contact and most visited annually. There is a note, from a cousin, Mrs. George Allison, stating that “Should anything occur to patient, Mrs Allison wishes information to be sent to John Tomlinson of Framingham Pigot, Norwich, Norfolk” who would be her first son, born to her marriage with William Tomlinson.
Priscilla is recorded on the 1911 census as a single 62 year old Patient, listed simply as a Lunatic.
Priscilla passed away on the 22nd of October 1913 at the Manor Asylum in Epsom, Surrey, England aged 64 years old. Her funeral was attended by her two sons, and cousin Mrs George Allison, who had travelled from Melbourne, Australia.
Her death certificate states her address of 10 Cottage, Marlingford, Norwich, and that she was the widow of Robert Jackson (occupation unknown). We’re guessing this may be an error as the informant was her son, Montague of Kitchener Rd, East Finchley, who may not remember his father well. The cause of death is listed as Valvular Disease of the Heart for many years.
Priscilla remains buried at Horton Cemetery, grave reference 779b.
And of the family…
Not much is known about Priscilla’s husband Frederick or what happened to him after his admission to Shadwell Workhouse in 1884, no further records can be located so far. Priscilla has recorded herself as widow on the 1891 census.
In 1911, Priscilla’s mother Emily, now a widow, is living with both her brothers, William and Robert.
Priscilla’s mother Emily passed away 2 years later in 1915 aged 85 years old.
Son Montague Jackson married Lucy Jackson on the 2nd October 1904, he served as a Private with the 12th Battalion during World War 2 where he sadly died of wounds on the 28th January 1918 in France aged 38 years old.
Son Frederick Jackson married Florence Emma Johnson on the 26th October 1901 in the Parish of Islington, London, no death located so far.
Son John William Tomlinson continued to live with his grandparents John and Emily Goddard until his marriage to Christiana Felham, on the 30th December 1895, working several jobs before becoming a Fruit and Vegetable Farmer, he stayed in contact with his mother during her time at the Asylum but unknown if he stayed in touch with his father or the Tomlinson side of the family, John William died on the 12th March 1950 in Norfolk aged 75 years old.