Frederick Lefevre died at the young age of 24 years, having suffered epilepsy for 16 years. It is possible that he suffered with status epilepticus, a condition where the patient suffers several seizures in a short space of time which can lead to brain damage or death. We will need to access his medical records to be sure. His family life was a sad one with five of his siblings dying at a very young age.
Frederick Edmund Lefevre was born in the second quarter of 1884 in the St Saviour Southwark, London registration district. Lefevre is a French name, an occupational name for an ironworker or smith and was one of the most common names in France from an early date. It was taken to Britain and Ireland by the Normans. He is recorded on the burial register as Edmond Frederick Lefevre.
His parents were George Charles Lefevre (1860-1928) and Emma, née Barnes (1859-1923). George and Emma had married on 14 August 1882 at the Trinity Church in Lambeth, London, both aged 23. George’s occupation was a lamplighter. George was the youngest of at least 16 children as his father, Edward (1801-1883), had married three times. I say at least, as I believe there were more children born to his first wife Charlotte, née Anderson, but as they were born prior to 1837 I am not able to confirm as the online GRO records begin in 1837 (some I have been able to confirm via Census records). Frederick’s grandmother was his grandfather George’s third wife, Elizabeth Sarah, née Horne (1830-1910).
Another Ancestry member’s family tree has provided a lovely black and white formal photo of George, Frederick’s father, I believe taken circa 1910 when George would have been around 50 years old.
Frederick was baptised in the Parish of St Mary, Lambeth on 6 April 1884 (baptised as Frederick Edward, rather than Frederick Edmund). Frederick was the eldest of ten children.
In the third quarter of 1885, Frederick’s first sister, Lilian Clara, was born, also in the St Saviour Southwark, London registration district. This was the first indication of differences in spelling of the family name, Lefevre. On the GRO website, the birth record of Lilian shows Lefevre, but on the register itself, it is recorded as Le Fevre. She quickly becomes known as Clara, though she was baptised as Lily Clara on 29 July 1885. As early as the 1891 Census, when she was 6 years old, she is recorded as Clara and not Lilian or Lily. Clara married Stephen Vanson on Christmas Day 1909, both aged 24, at St John’s Church in Newington, London. Stephen was a fruiterer and Clara was a box maker. They have two children together: Stephen George born in 1910 and Clara Emily born in 1915, both in Southwark. Clara dies in the first quarter of 1942, aged 57, in Colchester, Essex.
Frederick’s second sister, Lydia Blanche, was born in the second quarter of 1887 (again in the St Saviour Southwark, London registration district). Sadly, she died at just 2 years old in the second quarter of 1889 in the same registration district.
In the fourth quarter of 1888, a third sister, Elizabeth Ellen, was born in the St Saviour Southwark, London registration district. But again, sadness quickly followed when she died at 3 years old in the first quarter of 1892 (in St Saviour Southwark).
A fourth sister, Edith Daisy, was born in the fourth quarter of 1890 (in St Saviour Southwark). However, the family’s luck did not change, and she died, aged 2, in the third quarter of 1893 (in St Saviour Southwark).
In the fourth quarter of 1892, Frederick’s first brother was born, named Charles George in St Saviour Southwark. On Christmas Day 1917, he married Eleanor Martha, née Lee, at Christ Church in Poplar, London. Charles was age 25 and his bride was 22. Charles’ occupation is given as soldier, so possibly he fought in World War 1. Eleanor was a painter. They had at least eight children (possibly 9 but I have been unable to confirm the birth of the eldest child, a daughter): Vincent George Albert born 1919, Charles Robert born 1921, Stephen William born 1922, Albert Sydney born 1924, Eleanor Alice Emma born 1926, twins Alfred Thomas and George Redvers born 1933 and Arthur C W born 1936. The children were registered in Poplar, Lambeth, Southwark, and Camberwell. Charles lived to the age of 60 when he died in the fourth quarter of 1952.
George and Emma (Frederick’s parents) welcomed a third son in the first quarter of 1894. His name was William John. But for the fourth time, they were to lose a child too young, and he died, aged 6, in the first quarter of 1900. Both registrations took place in St Saviour Southwark.
Frederick’s third brother, Henry Joseph, was born in the first quarter of 1895 in St Saviour Southwark. Though born Henry, he was baptised as Harry on 3 February 1895 in Walworth All Saints Church in Southwark. In 1919 he married Edith, née Dowdall, in Wandsworth. They had one child together: Stephen Harry, born in 1920 in Wandsworth. It is possible they had more children, but it is harder to search the GRO database from 1921 onwards as you cannot filter by the mother’s maiden name. Henry enjoyed a longer life than many of his older siblings and died, aged 67, in the first quarter of 1962 in Surrey.
A fourth brother followed in 1899, named Albert Ernest John. He was born in the second quarter in St Saviour Southwark. Albert married Ellen, née Newton, on 12 November 1922 in the parish church of Christ Church, Southwark. Albert was 23 years old and a printer, Ellen was 21 years old with no recorded occupation. Research suggests they had one child, Emmeline Annie Lefevre born 1923 in Southwark. Albert lived to the age of 57 when he died in the fourth quarter of 1956 in Tonbridge, Kent.
Last but not least of Frederick’s siblings was Vincent George born in the first quarter of 1902 in Southwark. Unfortunately, he too did not survive to adulthood. He died aged 9 in the fourth quarter of 1911 in Southwark. It must have been terribly hard on the family to lose five of 9 children at such an early age.
Frederick first appears on Census records in 1891. At this time the family, recorded as Le-Feve, are living in three rooms at 22 Loman Street in Southwark. There is one other family in the house who have one room. Frederick’s father George was 31 years old and was an employed lamplighter; his mother Emma was also 31 years old. Frederick was 7 years old and a scholar; his sister Clara (born Lilian Clara), age 6, was also a scholar. His two youngest siblings are Elizabeth, age 3, and Edith, age 1. Elizabeth was to pass away the following year in 1892, and Edith passed away the year after in 1893. There are also two lodgers living with the family: Frederick Barrington, age 36, an unmarried musician; and Edward Barnett, age 42, an unmarried porter.
By the time of the 1901 Census, Frederick and his family were still living at 22 Loman Street in Southwark. However, they now occupied the whole house. Their surname has been mis-transcribed as Le-Fevre (almost correct!). Frederick’s father George is now 41 years old (though his age has been recorded as 47 in the Census which is incorrect) and is employed as an engineer labourer. His mother Emma is also 41 years old. Frederick is now 17 years old and is employed as a van guard. He also lives with his siblings Clara (aged 16 and a box maker), Charles aged 9, Harry aged 6 (born Henry) and Albert aged 2. In addition, George’s aunt Ellen Rugg, aged 50 and living on ‘own means’, is also staying with the family. It is unclear if she is visiting or living with them permanently.
Workhouse and Asylum Admissions
On 25 February 1904, there is a record of admission to St George’s Workhouse in Southwark for Edmund Frederick Lefevre, aged 19 (birth year 1885). These details do not exactly match the subject of this story but are potentially a match. As far as I can tell there are no other workhouse admissions in the immediate family. Some of Frederick’s younger siblings attended Orange Street School on Union Street in Southwark. Orange Street School was one of the first London Board Schools and one of several built in the area to meet the needs of the local population.
On 7 March 1904, there is a record showing the admission of Frederick to Cane Hill Asylum in Coulsdon, Surrey. He was discharged marked ‘relieved’ (sufficiently well to return home or to an ordinary hospital) on 22 December 1906.
I can locate no other records between 1906 and when he died at the Epileptic Colony in Epsom (also known as St Ebba’s) on 11 January 1909. His death certificate shows that he died aged 24 (not age 23 as recorded on the Burial Register) from epilepsy which he had suffered with for 16 years. His sister Clara was the informant to the Registrar which suggests she may have been present at the time of her brother’s death. Epilepsy, at the time of Frederick’s death, was treated as a mental health condition, hence his admittance to at least two asylums.