Thomas and Sarah Sanders were the parents of seven known children of whom their daughter Sarah was the eldest. Thomas (1803-1860) had been born in Staffordshire and his wife Sarah, née Cordery, (1812-1882), had come from Henley on Thames, Oxfordshire. The couple married on 1 May 1836 in St John of Wapping Church, Tower Hamlets, Middlesex.
Their daughter Sarah was born on 25 April 1837 and when she was baptised on 15 May in St George in the East Church in Canon Street Road, the baptismal entry recorded that the family abode was in Foxes Lane, Shadwell. It also recorded that her father Thomas was a ‘coal whipper’, a manual job that involved labourers raising coal out of the hold of ships that were docked in the wharves of the Thames River in London’s East End. Foxes Lane ran south, straight down to the river and Thomas’ place of work when he was able to get taken on for the day.
A growing family
By the time the 1841 census was taken, the family had moved and was living in Bere Street, Stepney, Middlesex. Sarah’s father was still working as a labourer, while his wife Sarah looked after Sarah, aged 4, and her younger sister Elizabeth, who was 2 years old. Over the next ten years Sarah’s mother gave birth to Emma, Jane, Mary Ann, and Thomas Henry.
The 1851 census was taken on the evening of 30 March while the family was living at 6 Jones’s Rents, St George in the East, Middlesex. It recorded that Sarah’s father was still working as a ‘coal whipper’ while his wife Sarah was looking after their children Sarah aged 13, Elizabeth aged 12, Emma aged 8, Jane aged 7, Mary Ann aged 5, and 1-year-old Thomas Henry. The following year Sarah’s youngest sibling Charles was born.
The death of Sarah’s father
A year before the census was taken in 1861, Sarah’s 57-year-old father died. The census recorded that his widow and children were then living at 8 Sun Tavern Row, Stepney, Shadwell, Middlesex. Sarah’s 49-year-old mother was working as a dressmaker, while Sarah, Mary and Emma were working as domestic servants, and Jane as a tailoress. Her brothers Thomas, aged 12, and Charles, aged10, were not recorded as being scholars or as working.
Sarah gives birth to a daughter
Sarah was aged 28 when she gave birth to her daughter Alice Louisa on 12 April 1866. No marriage has been found for Sarah, and no GRO birth has been found for her daughter, but the father appears to have been Charles Edis. Charles had been born on 19 November 1831 and was the eldest of seven children born to Joseph and Elizabeth Edis. He eventually became a master butcher like his father Joseph.
Charles had been working with his father and brother in their butchers’ shop at 13 ½ Shoe Lane, but following the death of his father in 1869, he traded solo from number 14 ½ Shoe Lane. Charles was the administrator of his father’s estate valued at under £200.00.
A family tree on the Ancestry website has information from court records stating that Charles had been living with Sarah for 7 years, but they had never married. Apparently, three months after his father’s death he abandoned Sarah and their child, and the courts ordered him to pay 2/6d weekly plus 4 shillings costs.
Why Charles abandoned Sarah is unknown, but when the 1871 census was taken on 2 April, Sarah was living at number 115 Lucas Street as Sarah EDIS with her ‘husband’ Charles Edis and their daughter Alice Louisa. Her mother and brothers Thomas and Charles were living along the street at 91 Lucas Street, St George in the East, Tower Hamlets.
Sarah gives birth to a second daughter
On 1 November, seven months after the 1871 census had been taken, Sarah gave birth to their second daughter, Ada Florence. Again, like her sister, no GRO birth has been found for Ada. It would seem though, that both girls were known by their middle names of Louisa and Florence.
Charles is admitted to the workhouse
The Hamlet of Mile End Old Town’s Porters Admissions book records that Charles was admitted at 10.30 on Tuesday 29 March 1881 into the Mile End Old Town Workhouse, Bancroft Road, Mile End, London. The reason given for his admittance was recorded as him being of a ‘weak mind’. Charles was still an inmate of the workhouse when the 1881 census was taken on the Sunday evening of 3 April. Sarah was living in their home at 73 Jubilee Street, Mile End Old Road, Tower Hamlet, with their daughters, Alice Louisa aged 15 who was working as a book folder, and 9-year-old Ada Florence. The following Friday, at 12.20, Charles’ ‘wife’ Sarah collected him from the workhouse.
The 1881 census had recorded that Sarah’s mother and brother Charles had moved from number 91 Lucas Street to number 42 Lucas Street. Sarah’s mother died the following year.
Marriage to George Munro
Also living in Lucas Street was George Munro (1832 -1913), along with his wife Ann and their two sons George and James. Ann died two years after the census had been taken and was buried on 5 March 1883 in the Manor Park Cemetery in Newham.
On 30 August 1885, Sarah and Charles’ daughters, Alice Louisa aged 19 and Ada Florence aged 12, were both baptised in St Anne’s Church, Limehouse, Tower Hamlet. Their address was given as 4 Northey Street, and their father Charles’ occupation as a butcher.
George Munroe was a merchant seaman from Aberdeen, and in the September quarter of 1885, two years after the death of his wife Ann, he and Sarah Sanders/Edis were married. What had happened to make Sarah and Charles separate can only be speculated.
Without sending for a copy of Sarah and George’s marriage certificate, it is uncertain whether Sarah’s daughters were baptised before or after her marriage to George.
Sarah’s daughter Alice Louisa Edis married Charles Melener, an omnibus conductor, on 1 October 1888. Over the next ten years the couple had four children.
The 1891 Census
Due to his work, George Munro was often away from home, and in 1890 he was sailing between London and Oporto in Portugal on the City of Cork steamship. When the 1891 census was taken Sarah was living at 47 Grosvenor Buildings, Manisty Street, Poplar. Her husband George’s name had been started to be written down but was crossed out, so he was probably away at sea. Sarah was recorded as the wife of the head of the family, and visiting that evening was her ex-partner Charles Edis, a retired butcher, and their daughter Ada Florence Edis, a book folder. Ada married Ernest Albert Kerlin, a German seafaring engineer, on 1 January 1894. Ernest had also served on the City of Cork steamship.
The 1901 census noted that George and Sarah were both at home at 2 Woolmore Street, Poplar, and that George was still a seaman. Sarah’s daughter Alice Florence and her family were living at 15 Winthorpe Road, Putney, while Charles Edis was living with his daughter Ada Louisa at 138, Liverpool Road, West Ham, Essex.
On 11 July 1902 George was aged 70 when he once again signed an agreement to be an Able Seaman aboard the City of Cork steamship. He gave his last address as 84 St Leonards Road, Poplar. He was discharged from this agreement on 2 September 1902.
Sarah dies in Horton Asylum
Sarah was admitted into the Poplar Workhouse, Tower Hamlets, on 16 October 1902. The admission entry records that Sarah had come from the Bromley parish, that she was married, and that she had been insane for three days.
Four days later, on 20 October, she was transferred to Horton Asylum in Epsom, Surrey. Sarah was aged 65 when she died there ten days later on 30 October 1902. Her body was buried in grave 70 in the Horton Estate Cemetery on 5 November 1902.
Information from her death certificate confirms that she was the wife of George Munro, a seaman in the merchant service, who lived at 84 St Leonards Road, Bromley. Her post-mortem revealed she had had pneumonia and had died after a few days of the infection. The informant of her death was her married daughter Louisa Melener of 15 Winthorpe Road, Putney.
The 1911 census recorded that her husband George was living at 78 Tetley Street, Poplar. Her ex-partner Charles continued to live with his daughter Ada. Both gentlemen died two years later in 1913.