1880s & 1890s
Frederick (born Edward Fred) Prestridge’s parents were George Prestridge and Mary Ann Lewis who were married at Holy Trinity Church on the edge of Clapham Common on 14th August 1878. George was a bachelor aged 24, who was a gardener, and Mary Ann was a spinster aged 23 from Monmouthshire in Wales.
By the time of the 1881 census the family was living at 44 Freke Road, Battersea with two other families. It was a fairly comfortable area with average earnings according to Booths Maps. George, aged 27, is described as a manservant from Norwood, Surrey. Mary Ann was aged 26. They now have two children, a daughter Ethel (1) and George (4 months).
According to his school records, Edward Fred was born on 3rd April 1882. He was the couple’s third child and was baptised at St Stephen’s Church on 23rd July 1882. Oddly his baptism is also recorded in the Baptism Registers of St Mary’s Church, Balham. His home address is given as Grove Road, Clapham Park which may be where his father was working as a gardener.
In the quarter for April 1884, a younger brother Harold William is born and according to the 1911 Census, there was a fifth child of the marriage but I have been unable to identify this child accurately.
On 26th August 1889, Edward Fred and his brother George Lewis were both admitted to Tooting Graveney Boys School.
In the 1891 Census, the family was living at 90 Rossiter Road in Balham. They were the only family living at this address and are listed as follows: George Prestridge, aged 38, a gardener, his wife Mary Ann, aged 37, described as a caretaker, and the children Ethel (11), George (10), Edward (9), and Harold (7).
In 1901, the Census shows a change to the family dynamics with the absence of George Prestridge senior. The family is living at 226 Lavender Hill, next to Felix High School in Battersea. This was a middle-class area which is quite surprising considering what is later revealed of the family fortunes. They are the only family living at this address. Mary Ann is described as married, aged 46, and a housekeeper. The children are now adults and are all in gainful employment: Ethel (21), a typist, George (20), a furniture warehouseman, Edward (19), a law solicitor’s clerk, and Harold (18), who was also a law solicitor’s clerk.
Their father, George, is living at 2 Holderness Road in Upper Tooting, described as a visitor working on his own account as a gardener. This is not unusual by itself but a newspaper article dated 7th October 1902, reveals there is much more to it. This brief article gives a huge insight into the Prestridge family life.
Mary Ann claimed her husband had deserted her and George senior was summoned to the South Western Police Court. She admitted when she was cross examined that she had in fact deserted her husband on two occasions, taking some furniture that she said belonged to her. The couple reconciled only for George to desert her. George in his defence said “his home was made a sort of hell upon earth, his children on suggestion of his wife were hostile to him and as she told him to go, he went”. Apparently, some months later when her finances were not so good, she requested that he find a home for her. The case was dismissed as it was felt the wife could not do as she pleased.
Suddenly, age 22, (Edward) Frederick is admitted to the Epsom Epileptic Colony (later called St. Ebba’s) in 1904 and dies there in 1910.
According to the Lunacy Registers, Frederick Prestridge as he is now called, was admitted to St Ebba’s Colony on 18th August 1904. There is no sign in his earlier records that he was epileptic so this possibly developed between the ages of 19 and 22. He would have been considered well behaved and sane to enter the newly built Colony. This was where he lived until his death, age 27, on 4th May 1910 and he was buried in Grave 747b in the Horton Estate Cemetery on 9th May 1910.
Frederick’s family at the time around his death
His parents remained estranged and indeed by 1911, his father states he is married to Daisy Prestridge, née Church, aged 24, and they have a son called Henry born in 1909. There is no record of a marriage. His mother was living in a fairly comfortable area with Ethel and George, who were both single. This is where Mary declares she had five children, of whom two died. One of whom was Edward Fred and another that I cannot accurately identify. His brother Harold had married in 1909 and had left home.
Edward Fred Prestridge was born into a family with a father who was in good regular employment but from the small window we have into the home life of the family, it is revealed that Mary Ann Prestridge clearly did not have much love for her husband for whatever reason, and she made sure his life was made very difficult by encouraging her children to be hostile to their father and that would have included Edward Fred. The life of the family after 1910 shows that Mary Ann seemed to have a hold on her remaining three children and their parents’ unhappy marriage may have influenced them. George lived with his mother for a few years and never married, living with Ethel from time to time. Ethel never married. Harold, although he married in 1909, did not remain with his wife. She married another man in 1920 but I cannot trace a divorce from Harold. He then died in 1924. The electoral registers show they did not move far from their roots, staying in the area all their lives.
Edward Fred had a good job in 1901 as a law solicitor’s clerk but how long he held onto it before he became unwell is unknown. Perhaps it was considered better for him to be at the Epileptic Colony in the fresh air and away from the rest of the family. It will never be known how fond he was of his mother, although it is clear he was brought up to despise his father. The newspaper article does not show her in a good light. Edward spent a few years at the Colony before he passed away six years after being admitted. Perhaps it was good thing based on his family background.
Searches for Frederick Prestridge are misleading as the Find My Grave site shows Frederick Prestridge from Bristol, born in 1882. This is incorrect as this particular Frederick Prestridge is still alive in 1911, and the Frederick Prestridge in Horton Cemetery was buried in 1910. I have therefore searched every Frederick Prestridge or Prestige/Prestage and found no relevant match. However, I found a good match to an Edward Fred Prestridge and this is his story.