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JOBLING, Sophia

b.1866- d.1910

Sophia’s parents and siblings

Sophia Jobling was born Sophy Ann Buttery in the 2nd quarter of 1866 to John Thomas Buttery and his wife Mary Ann (née Denton). Although born in Plumstead, her birth was registered in Lewisham. Mary Ann was also born in Plumstead in 1826, the daughter of John and Ann Denton.

John Thomas was born in Sheffield in Yorkshire in 1826. We do not know exactly when or why he moved south but in the 1841 census he was still living with his shoemaker father John, mother Hannah and siblings Richard, Mary and William in Hope Street in York. Although 15 year old Richard was working as a coach builder, John – also aged 15 in the census – was without employment, so it is likely he came to Kent to find work.

He and Mary Ann were married in the Church of St John the Baptist in Erith, Kent, on the 15th of December 1848.

  • Sophy Ann was the couple’s seventh and youngest child. Her siblings were
  • John Everitt, born in the 1st quarter of 1849
  • Margaret Ann, born in the 4th quarter of 1852
  • Jane Hannah, born in the 1st quarter of 1857
  • Francis William, born in the 1st quarter of 1859
  • Matthew Henry, born in the 1st quarter of 1861
  • Albert Edward, born in the 3rd quarter of 1863.

Three deaths in four years

In the 1851 Census John Thomas was working as a pattern maker and he, Mary Ann and their eldest child, John, were living at 71, Manor Way Gardens in Plumstead.

At the time of the 1861 Census the couple and their, by then, five children were living at 39, Camden Terrace, Burrage Road in Plumstead and John Thomas was still working as a pattern maker. Sadly, Albert Edward died in the 2nd quarter of 1869, aged just five, and a second tragedy befell the family the following year when Mary Ann died in the 4th quarter of 1870 aged 44.

In the 1871 Census John Thomas and his six remaining children – including 4 year-old Sophy Ann, now called Sophia – were living at 27, St James Place in Plumstead. However, John Thomas died just two years later in the 1st quarter of 1873 aged 47. We do not know if the younger children were looked after by their older siblings after their father’s death or if they were taken in by other members of the family.

The next time we see Sophia is in the 1881 Census when, aged 14, she is working as a domestic servant in the home of Isaac Stephens and his family at 17, Broad Hinton Road in Clapham.

Marriage to John Ratcliff Jobling

In 1888 in Woolwich, Sophia married engine fitter John Ratcliff Jobling. John was born in Sheerness in the 3rd quarter of 1862 to John Ratcliff Jobling senior and his wife Alice (née Whitnall). John Jobling senior was born in Monkwearmouth, Sunderland in about 1839.

As with John Buttery, we do not know when John moved south but in the 1861 Census he was still living in Sunderland and working as a mason. Later that year, however, on the 4th of August 1861, he married Alice in Minster in Sheppey. Alice was the daughter of agricultural labourer John Whitnall and his wife Elizabeth Ann.

In the 1871 Census we find John and Alice living at 58, Maxey Road in Plumstead with their two children, John Ratcliff junior and Emma (born in 1864). John Jobling senior is working in the ‘Royal Gun Factory’ at Woolwich Royal Arsenal. On the 6th of February 1878, however, John senior was admitted to Kent County Lunatic Asylum where he died less than three months later on the 27th of April.

In the 1881 Census John junior is working as an engine fitter and living with his mother at 70, Pattison Road in Plumstead.

The birth of a son

Following their marriage, Sophie and John lived at 25, Vicarage Park in Plumstead. Sophie gave birth to the couple’s only child, a son called John Frank, in the 1st quarter of 1893. By the time of the 1901 Census the family had moved to 94, Flaxton Road in Plumstead. John senior, like his father, was working at Woolwich Arsenal as a fitter on gun carriages.

Mental health problems – and death in Long Grove

We do not know the nature or severity of Sophia’s mental health problems or, indeed, when they began, but on the 17th of March 1908, at the age of 42, she was admitted to Medway Union Workhouse in Chatham. According to the register, Sophia was admitted from 7, Corporation Road in Gillingham. (We can only assume that Sophia and John were living at this address at the time: the electoral registers of 1905 to 1907 show John living at 22, Heathfield Terrace in Woolwich.) Two days later she was transferred to Kent County Lunatic Asylum in Barming Heath near Maidstone, where she was to remain for the next four months.

On the 3rd of July 1908 Sophia was admitted to Long Grove. She died there on the 12th of March 1910 aged 44 and was buried in plot 771b in Horton Cemetery five days later.

John Ratcliff Jobling after Sophia’s death

In the 3rd quarter of 1910, just a few months after Sophia’s death, John Jobling married Elizabeth Jane Holt in Medway, Kent. In the 1911 Census the couple are living at 6, Wyles Street in Gillingham with John and Sophia’s 18 year-old son, John Frank, who is now working as a fishmonger.

On the 19th of April 1915 John senior was admitted to the Medway Union Workhouse where Sophia had been admitted seven years before. We do not know why John was first admitted to the workhouse but although he was discharged on the 13th of May he was readmitted on the 17th of December. John remained in the workhouse until his death on the 12th of January 1917 aged 55.

John Frank Jobling

On the 8th of January 1912 John Frank enlisted in the army. After serving in France during the First World War in the Royal Army Ordnance Corps and reaching the rank of sergeant he was discharged on the 29th of April 1920. However, on the 19th of December 1919 he had married Louise Josephine Angelina Lebrument in the Town Hall in Le Havre. His address at the time was given as 9, Rue de l’Arsenal, Le Havre. Unfortunately, it has not been possible to trace John Frank after his discharge from the army.


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