Jemima is a name of Hebrew origin meaning dove, a bird often given as a symbol of peace. We can only hope when researching that the people whose stories we write did find some peace in their lives.
The first research carried out to identify Jemima went completely down the wrong path, pursuing a very different Jemima who had spent much of her life in institutions. An astute eye of a fellow researcher spotted a key detail in the evidence, which discounted the earlier evidence and in turn helped to lead us to the correct Jemima. Since then, her true story has flourished. There is a complex relationship in this family, which makes it interesting.
In the 1851 census, Jemima’s parents are living in 6, Bath Row, Peckham. Her father Alfred Morgan is aged 38, born in 1823 is a farm labourer. His wife Margaret was born in 1827 in Mountfield Sussex. They have three children at this stage: Caroline born in Robertsbridge (Salehurst, Sussex) is aged 6 years, Alfred aged 5 years and Emma aged just 3 months, both born in Peckham. Our Jemima has yet to be born.
Jemima is born in 1857 in Salehurst, Sussex and on May 17th 1857 and she is baptised at St. Mary’s Church. It is interesting how the family move between south London and the countryside of Sussex.
In the census in 1861, Jemima and her large family are living in Hart Lands, Salehurst, Sussex; her father, Alfred b.1823 and her mother Margaret b. 1827. The siblings present are Caroline, now aged 16 years, Alfred aged 13 years and Emma aged 10 years. Next, we have William aged 8 years born in Otford, Kent, then Edward aged 6, Jemima aged 4 and finally Ann aged 3, all of them born in Salehurst.
In the 1871 census, we find Jemima living with her mother and siblings at 142 Goathurst Common, Sundridge. While it might seem that the family move around a bit over the years, the locations in Sussex are relatively close to each other.
By 1871, Jemima’s father has died and her mother, now calling herself Mary Margaret has remarried Edward Reeves who is 60 years old. You can imagine that, once left with several children, women needed support which led them to remarry. Mary Margaret has given birth to another child also named Mary Margaret. She would have been 48 years old when the daughter was born.
Jemima is listed as a daughter in law born in 1858, but this must be a transcription error and it should read step-daughter. Her younger siblings are James, aged 9; Horace aged 7 and her older sibling, Alfred George Morgan is there too. There is a 3-year-old visitor to the house called Kezia Reeves. Kezia turns out to be the granddaughter of Edward Reeves.
Jemima’s sister Caroline and the double Reeves marriage
When Kezia was staying with Jemima’s family as a visitor in 1871, it predated an interesting turn of events. Of relevance, Caroline Morgan, Jemima’s sister, is not married at this stage.
In 1873, the records hold a surprise for us. Caroline aged 29 years marries Edward Reeves Junior on July 20th 1873. Their marriage banns appear for June 22nd 1873 at St Mary’s Lambeth. He is a widower and he has children, of which Kezia, who stayed with the Morgan family for the 1871 census, was a daughter. We can speculate that when Edward Reeves Junior’s wife died, his father Edward Reeves senior suggested that his step daughter Caroline step in and marry him, taking on his three children. Edward Reeves Junior’s first wife had been Maria nee Faulks and they had been married on February 15th 1863 in Sevenoaks.
We know nothing about Jemima at this time, whether her health or mental state were an issue. What we know for certain is that, at 2.30pm on December 7th 1878, Jemima enters the Greenwich Asylum on Woolwich Road. Her occupation is ‘fieldwork no home’ and ‘destitute, by which we assume she is homeless. She is 20 years old. Her mother’s names is given as Mrs Reeves of Hyde Hill (Ide Hill), Hanging Rock, Sevenoaks, Kent.
The 1881 census happened on April 3rd. Where is Jemima? She is still an inmate in the Greenwich workhouse. Unlike others listed, she does not have an occupation or a birthplace listed.
Also in 1881, we know that Jemima’s mother Mary, now a widow, was living in Lambeth in 25 Cornwall Road, with two of her children Horace and Mary. Horace is an eighteen-year-old carman’s assistant and Mary, a scholar.
Furthermore in the 1881 census, Caroline, sister to Jemima is living at 25 Cornwall Place Lambeth with her husband Edward and their five children, Edward aged 17, John aged 15, Kezia now 13 and two children born by Caroline, namely Alfred W aged 6 and George T aged 4.
On October 15th 1881, Jemima transfers from the Woolwich Road asylum to the Kent Asylum at Barming Heath. Other records on the same page suggest that other people entered and left the same day.
In 1886, Kezia Reeves marries a glass blower called Edward Kirkman. A witness to the wedding is Elizabeth Ann Cable who goes on to marry Jemima’s brother, Horace Morgan on April 1st 1888. Now aged 24, Horace is a carman. His descendants are apparent in the Ancestry records. It is interesting to see that the family remain intertwined. We can only wonder at what they might have been saying about Jemima at the time. Did they visit her?
The county records indicate that Jemima stayed in the Barming Heath Asylum in Kent for twenty years and when she finally leaves on March 13th 1901, she enters the Bexley Asylum which had opened in 1898, and was London’s 7th asylum. Built on 750 acres of land next to Dartford Heath, it was also called Heath Asylum. She leaves there on November 2nd 1906 and the register shows she went to York. . There she stays until October 7th 1907 when she finally goes to Long Grove.
|Asylum||Date Admitted||Date of Discharged/Death||Discharged/Died|
|Barming Heath, Kent||15 Oct 1881||13 Mar 1901||Rel’d|
|Bexley||13 Mar 1901||2 Nov 1906||Rel’d|
|York||2 Nov 1906||7 Oct 1907||Not Improved|
|Long Grove||07 Oct 1907||28 Jan 1910||Died|
Her entry record to Long Grove, seen at the Surrey History Centre, says that she is a ‘field worker’. She is recorded as being 48 years old on entry and we are told that the onset of her current attack began when she was just 22 years old. Jemima’s present attack had lasted 26 years although her current condition is given as fair. Her condition is dementia with ‘adolescence’ as a contributory factor.
As with perhaps most cases of this nature, family life went on as normal with Jemima’s siblings going on to marry and have their own children, while her life went into limbo with thirty plus years of life in an institution.
Very sadly, on January 28th 1910, the records incorrectly state aged 51, Jemima and is buried a few days later on February 1st 1910 at the Horton Cemetery in plot 766a. Rest in peace, Jemima.