Note the name Ann, Anna and Annie are synonymous throughout the story.
Alexander Scott was born in Marylebone in the first quarter of 1861, the first child of William Cairns Scott, a tailor, and his wife, Anna Bella Scott (née McKenzie). At the time of Alexander’s birth, William and Anna were living at 8, William Street in Marylebone.
We know from Censuses that both of Alexander’s parents were born in Scotland. His father, William, was born in Edinburgh on the 30th of April 1838 to Alexander Scott, a labourer, and his wife Agnes (née Laurie). We do not know if the couple came to London together or if they met in the capital but on the 17th of June 1860 William and Anna Bella married at the Church of St John the Evangelist in the parish of St Pancras. At the time of their wedding the couple were living at 46, John Street, Clerkenwell.
According to the marriage certificate, Anna Bella was the twenty-one-year-old daughter of Donald McKenzie, an army surgeon. However, it has not been possible to find a surgeon of that name in British Army records. Neither has it been possible to find a record of Anna Bella’s birth.
On the 19th of June 1869, eight years after Alexander was born, when the family was living at 3, Denman Street in Westminster, Ann gave birth to a second son named, like his father, William Cairns Scott. William was baptised at the parish church of St James in Westminster on the 11th of August 1869.
In the first quarter of 1872, Annie gave birth to her first daughter, Marion, and on the 12th of September 1878, William and Annie’s second daughter, Annie Laurie Scott, was baptised at the church of St Luke in Berwick Street. At the time, the family was living at 77, Wardour Street in Soho. The following year, in the first quarter of 1879, Ann gave birth to a son, Paxton, who was baptised at St Luke’s on the 12th of February 1879.
According to the 1881 Census, William and Anna[bella] are living at 3, Seymour Row, St Pancras, with their children William, Marion, Annie, and Paxton. William, now aged 42, is still working as a tailor. Alexander, now aged 21, has left the family home and is living with his 20-year-old wife Annie B. Scott at 22, Coburg Street in Clerkenwell. Annie’s place of birth is given as America, New York. Alexander is an ‘ornamental engraver, gold and silver’.
It has not been possible to find a marriage certificate for Alexander and Annie who, if they had married before the age of 21, would have required the written consent of their parents or guardians. However, according to church records, on the 6th of May 1888 – seven years after the Census was taken – Alexander married Annie Hancock at the Church of St John the Baptist, Great Marlborough Street. At the time of their marriage the couple were living at 2, Great Marlborough Street and Annie was described as the daughter of John Hancock, a fisherman. Is this Annie the same Annie B who, according to the 1881 Census, was born in New York? Had the couple lied on the census about being married and about Annie’s birthplace and, if so, why?
It would seem that the Annie whom Alexander married in 1888 was the Anne Hancock who, in the 1861 Census, aged one, was living with her father John, an iron miner, and her mother Mary Ann (née Higman), a dressmaker, at Parkwoon, Roche in St Austell, Cornwall. This would appear to be confirmed by the 1891 Census where we find Alexander and Annie are living in two rooms at 29, Poland Street, Westminster and Annie’s place of birth is given as Cornwall, St Austell. Living with them is Alexander’s 14-year-old sister, Annie. She is described as an ‘apprentice, gold jewellery polishing’. Alexander’s occupation is ‘general engraving’.
We know nothing more about Alexander until the 17th of December 1898 when he was admitted to the Ishmael Ward for alleged lunatics at Liverpool Road Workhouse in Islington. He was seen by the magistrate on the 20th of December and detained but was then discharged by the Justice on the 31st of December 1898. At the time of his admission Alexander was living at 81, Hemmingford Road in Islington. Annie is named as his wife.
Less than two months later, on the 11th of February 1899, Alexander was admitted to the Hagar Ward for alleged lunatics at Islington Workhouse. The register shows that he was ‘brought by police’.
On the 24th of February 1899 Alexander was discharged from St John’s Road Workhouse, Islington, and transferred to Cane Hill Asylum in Coulsdon where he would remain until the 25th of June 1906, when he was transferred to Derby Asylum. On his discharge from Cane Hill his condition was described as ‘not improved’.
Alexander remained a patient in Derby Asylum until the 20th of November 1907 when he was admitted to Long Grove. Once again, his condition was described as ‘not improved’. As there is no date of discharge given for Alexander in Long Grove’s records it must be assumed that he remained a patient there until he died on the 11th of April 1918, having spent the last 19 years of his life in asylums.
It has not been possible to find Alexander’s wife Annie in the 1901 or 1911 Censuses, but we know that, by the time of the 1901 Census, she was no longer living at 81, Hemmingford Road.