b.1861 – d.1910
The Long Grove records show that a woman known as Emily Caroline Posford was admitted to the institution in June 1909, who sadly died there less than a year later. However, it has not been possible to establish the details of her earlier life with any certainty, despite considerable research.
It would appear, however, from her baptismal record, that Emily was born Emma Perry in St Pancras on the 30th of October 1861, to Richard Perry, a servant, and his wife Ann Caroline.
Emma’s birth record suggests that her mother’s maiden name was Williams but it has not been possible to find a marriage certificate to confirm this. (An Ann Caroline Williams was born in 1836 to solicitor Henry Williams and his wife Caroline of the parish of St Clement Danes. However, we cannot assume that this is Emma’s mother.) Although Emma was registered at birth with just a first name, her baptismal record gives her name as Emma Caroline Perry.
Up to now, it has not been possible to determine where or when Richard was born, but Emma’s baptismal record, dated the 30th of November 1868, states that he was deceased. We do not know when he died, but the death of a Richard Perry, aged 50, was registered in St Pancras in the 1st quarter of 1869. This post-dates Emma’s baptism. While it is possible there was a delay in registering the death, we cannot be sure that this is, indeed, Emma’s father.
At the time of her baptism Emma’s address was given as Charles Street in St Pancras, although the family cannot be found at this – or any other – address in the 1861 or 1871 Censuses. Neither has it been possible to find Emma or her mother in the 1881 census, although Ann could have remarried after her husband’s death and changed her name.
A 10 year-old Emma Perry was admitted to the St Pancras Workhouse Infant School in 1871, but research has cast doubt on this being our subject, as the same name appears in the workhouse register for a number of years after Emma Caroline had married.
Marriage, motherhood and the death of four children
The next time we have a positive sighting of Emma is on the 27th of December 1882, when she gave birth to Frank William John Posford, her son. The father was Frank Posford, a 21 year-old cabman. Frank had been born in 1861, the oldest child of James and Sarah Posford of St Pancras. He had seven siblings, Emily (born in 1863), John (1865), Sarah (1869), Emma (1870), George (1872), Florence (1879) and Charles (1880).
At the time of the birth, Emma and Frank were living with Frank’s parents and siblings at 27, Bridgewater Street, Somers Town, St Pancras. The baby was baptised on the 7th of March 1883, at the Church of St Mary the Virgin in Somers Town. The following year, on the 3rd of March 1884, Emma Caroline and Frank were married in St Pancras Old Church.
Over the next four years, Emma was to give birth to four more children but, tragically, none of them lived to see their first birthday:
- George Alexander was born on the 24th of June, 1884 and baptised on the 9th of July at the Church of St Mary the Virgin in Camden. He died in the 4th quarter of that year.
- James was born and passed away in the 3rd quarter of 1885.
- Mary Ann was born and passed away in the 3rd quarter of 1886.
- Emma Annie was born on the 25th of July 1887 and baptised on the 12th of October at St Michael’s Church in Camden. She died in the 1st quarter of 1888. At the time of Emma Annie’s birth, Frank and Emma were living at 147, Bayham Street in Camden.
One can only imagine how devastated Emma must have been to see her four children die so young and the effect it must have had on her mental health.
The couple’s sixth child, a daughter named Emily Louisa, was born on the 20th of March 1890 and baptised on the 25th of April at the Church of St Mary the Virgin. In the 1891 Census, we find the family living at 23, Sidney Street in Somers Town. Frank is working as a Hackney carriage driver.
A further downturn in the family’s fortunes
By 1901, the family’s fortunes had deteriorated considerably. In the census of that year, we find Frank senior is an ‘inmate’ at St Mary’s Infirmary, Islington. We do not know the reason for his admission, when he was admitted or how long he stayed, but Frank’s life was clearly in a downward spiral.
Between 1901 and his death in Islington, in the first quarter of 1910, Frank was admitted to and discharged from either Holborn Workhouse or Islington Workhouse on no fewer than thirty occasions. Sometimes he stayed for as long as seven months.
Long Grove and death
Unfortunately, it has not been possible to find Emma in the 1901 Census. However,her daughter Emily was a pupil at Leavesden in Watford Rural, ‘a school for the maintenance of Poor-Law children from the Parish of St Pancras’. Emily’s presence in the school suggests that Emma could have been a patient at the nearby Leavesden Imbeciles Asylum but it has not been possible to confirm this.
The next we hear of Emma is when she was admitted to Long Grove on the 14th of June 1909. She died there the following year and was buried in Horton Cemetery – under the name of Emily Caroline – on the 10th of May 1910.
On the 1st of January 1901 Frank junior, then aged 18, was admitted to St Pancras Workhouse from Hanwell Ophthalmic School. The school was built in 1890 to isolate and accommodate children suffering from ophthalmia (conjunctivitis) of which there was a high incidence amongst children at workhouse schools. (A particularly serious outbreak in 1862 affected 686 children with several of the younger ones losing one or both eyes.)
We do not know how or when Frank junior contracted ophthalmia or when he first attended a workhouse school. However in the 1901 Census, he is lodging with the Killoran family at 11, Harmood Place, St Pancras and is described as ‘blind’. He has no occupation.
We do not know how long Frank remained at this address but, on the 13th of November 1909, he was readmitted to St Pancras Workhouse, described as a ‘blind man’s guide’. The register informs us that his mother, Emma, is a patient at Long Grove and his ‘daughter’ (actually, his sister) Emily, is a pupil at the Industrial School in Poole, Dorset. This was a school, founded in 1864, to train girls for domestic service.
Frank’s address is given as 49, Litcham Street, St Pancras. On the 8th of June 1911 and again on the 18th of July he was readmitted to the workhouse, on each occasion staying for just one or two days. We learn from the register that 49, Litcham Street is the home of a ‘friend’, James Willis Skeate, a 52 year-old widower and street vendor.
On the 13th of January 1913, Frank, this time described as an organ grinder, spent another night in the workhouse. His nearest relation is given as Sarah Carlier, his father’s married sister, of 27, Bidborough Street, St Pancras. Unfortunately, we then lose sight of Frank for the next 26 years until we find him in the 1939 register, living at the Salvation Army Men’s Hostel in Marylebone. He is described as a ‘general labourer (blind)’. Frank died in Paddington in the 4th quarter of 1946 aged 64.
We do not know when Emily Louisa left the Dorset Industrial School and it has not been possible to trace her in the 1911 or 1921 Censuses. On the 24th of May 1908, aged 18, an Emily Posford married boot-maker Charles Tucker at St Mark’s Church in Battersea. She is described as a domestic servant. However, her father’s name is given as James Posford not Frank. Frank’s father and brother were called James but they both died in 1895, so we cannot be certain that this Emily is indeed the daughter of our subject.