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SCHMIDT, Ethel

b. 1887 – d. 1910

On 26 September 1870 Hanrich Frederick Ferdinand Schmidt married Sophia Hutchings at Christ Church, Somers Town, Pancras. Ferdinand, the name he seems to have used, had been born in Celle, Hanover and had arrived in London at some time after 1861 as he does not appear in the census for that year. In the 1871 census the couple are living in John Street, Islington and Ferdinand is a coachman. They went on to have the following children:

  • Sophia Adolfine, born 1871 in Islington
  • Ferdinand Ralph, born 1873 in Marylebone
  • Ernest Hermann, born 1875 in Chelsea
  • Mabel Hermine, born 1877 (Twin) in St. George Hanover Square
  • Hilda Magdalene, born 1877 (Twin) in St. George Hanover Square
  • Florence Dorette, born 1879 in St. George Hanover Square
  • Albert Sidney, born 1884 in St. George Hanover Square

Sadly, the younger Ferdinand was to die in 1875 and Mabel in 1883.

Ferdinand, Aged 2, buried in Common Grave

1880s

In January 1887, their youngest child Ethel Schmidt was born. She was baptised on 26 January 1887 at St. Barnabas church, Pimlico and lived at the nearby Lumley Buildings, part of the Peabody Estate.

Unfortunately, when Ethel was just over a year old, her father Ferdinand died. He was buried in a common grave at West of London & Westminster cemetery, Earl’s Court, Old Brompton on 29 February 1888. Sophia now had to care for her 5 youngest children alone.

This was to prove difficult as on 5 December 1888 Ethel Schmidt aged 1 year 11 months was admitted to the Fulham Road workhouse. Her mother Sophia gave two addresses, 5 Ebury Square and 118 Marina, St. Leonards on Sea. There is no sign that the other children went into the workhouse. The fact that Sophia gave two addresses may indicate that her housing situation was not settled. Four months later on 21 April 1889 Ethel was discharged from the workhouse with the poignant comment ‘to mother who came’. This was to be the last time in the records that Ethel can be linked to her family.

1890s

The 1891 census has Sophia, Ernest and Albert sharing 2 rooms at 19 Cumberland Street, St Georges Hanover Square. Sophia is a cook, Ernest a ‘clicker’ (a term used either in boot making, printing or shop trades) and Albert a scholar. Hilda and Florence, aged 13 and 12, are schoolgirls at Ealing House Girls’ Industrial School. There is no sign of Ethel in the 1891 census but at just 4 years old, she was not living with her family.

On 14 July 1892 Sophia married William Thomas Halls, a widower and coachman, at St. John’s church, Chelsea. Both gave their address as Oxford House, Dartrey Road. William died 7 years later in March 1899.

1900s

By the 1901 census Sophia is living at 18 Tornay Road, Fulham. With her is her daughter Hilda and son Albert. Sophia is a shirt ironer, Hilda a daily housemaid domestic and Albert is an electrical assistant. Again they occupy just 2 rooms in the house. There is no sign in the census of Ethel who would have been 14. There is a possibility that she was employed in domestic service and living/working away from home with her surname anglicised to ‘Smith’ but there is no conclusive proof.

The next trace of Ethel is on 8 January 1910 when she is admitted to the Camberwell Constance Road workhouse. She is described as a servant from Camberwell and ‘alleged insane’. Her employment as a servant was at 86 Albert Road, Peckham where her employer would have been Emma Hoar, a teacher of music.

On 21 January 1910 she is admitted to Long Grove asylum where on 10 October 1910 she dies of pulmonary tuberculosis at just 23 years old.

Admitted 21 Jan 1910, Discharged (Died) 10 Oct 1910
Death of Ethel Schmidt, aged 23, 10th October 1910

Ethel is buried in Horton Cemetery, with grave reference 909b.

Life After Ethel

In the 1911 census Sophia is living at 28 Suffield Place, Newington along with daughters Hilda (a counterhand at Lyons) and Florence, herself now a widow with a 6 year old child, Dorothy. Sophia states that she has 5 living children at this time but it is difficult to know if she knew about the death of Ethel as both Ernest and Albert disappear from the records before 1911. It could be that they changed their names to ‘Smith’ as anti-German sentiment grew. Hilda married in 1914 as ‘Hilda Smith’ the daughter of ‘Frederick Henry Smith’. In the 1939 Register she and her husband are living in West Brompton and Sophia, at 91 years old, is living with them. She was to die later that year aged 92.
Sophia managed to keep most of her family together in widowhood but unfortunately Ethel was the ‘lost’ child who disappeared from the records for over 20 years.


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