Emma Sears died at the age of about 49 whilst a patient at Manor Asylum, Epsom, Surrey. Her alleged age suggested a birth about 1865. Her death was on the 2ndSeptember 1914 and she was buried on the 7th September in the Horton Cemetery in Grave 1227b.
Research to identify Emma
Extensive research took place to trace the birth record for a likely Emma Sears in the UK but, although there were four such entries in a period from 1862 to 1867, none of those could be identified as this Emma.
Considering whether Emma Sears might be a married name led to research of marriages between 1880 and 1900 of a Mr. Sears marrying a spouse with the first name of Emma. This produced six such marriages but again none that could be established as our Emma.
However, during the early course of this research, it had been noted that in the 1901 census there was an Emma Sears who had been born in India. Further research and utilizing genealogy websites and public family trees on such sites, it is now clear that the Emma listed in 1901 is indeed the correct person.
Birth and Marriage
From the 1901 census it was shown that Emma was the wife of Arthur Sears. This led to the identification of a marriage certificate for an Arthur Sears and an Emma Park in India. This marriage took place in St John’s Episcopalian Church in Secunderabad, on the 14th August 1882, by license.
Arthur Sears, bachelor, age 28, Lance Corporal 2nd Battalion South Wales
Borderers. Father John Sears, Gardener and
Emma Park, spinster, age 16, no occupation. Father James Park, Pensioner(deceased).
Official Witnesses named on the certificate were F Henderson and Joseph Sears.
The information on this certificate was clearly of interest. With Emma’s age and her father’s name it was possible to identify Emma’s birth and baptism. The baptism took place at St George Cathedral, Madras on Christmas Day, the 25th December 1865.
The birth of Emma was listed in the baptism entry as being the 6th December. Her parents were recorded as James Park and Emma; their abode being Trimulgherry. James’s profession was shown as a Sergeant in the Royal Artillery, D Battery, 33rd Brigade.
Trimulgherry is a “suburb” of Secunderabad which is just north of the better known city of Hyderabad which is now the capital of the Indian State of Telangana. Secunderabad was a British Cantonment Town and troops had been present there for most of the 19th Century and it has been estimated that in 1860, the population, including the armed forces, was some 50,000.
Children of Arthur and Emma Sears born in India
1883 Mildred Clara Sears. Mildred was born on the 14th September and baptized the 3rd October at Secunderabad
1885 Arthur John Sears was born on the 12th September and baptized the 30th September at Fort St George, Madras
1889 Alice Emma Sears was born on the 4th January and baptized the 22nd January at Umbala, Bengal
The Military Career of Arthur Sears
It is known from the Service record of Arthur that he had enlisted in 1873. He had served in the UK, South Africa and in the Mediterranean before arriving in India in August 1880. He remained there for almost 6 years and was then sent to Burma in May 1886 and was involved in the Burma Campaign returning to India in November 1889. He remained there until in November 1893 he arrived back in the UK before leaving the Service in February 1894 at the age of 40 with the rank of Sergeant Drummer.
He was awarded a Medal and Clasp for involvement in the South African Campaign and another for the Burma Campaign. In addition, he was awarded a Medal for Long Service and Good Conduct.
Emma Sears and children between 1889 and 1893
Unfortunately, it has not been possible to determine the whereabouts of Emma during most of this period. We know that in January 1889 Emma had given birth to a child, Alice Emma, at Umbala (now Ambala) in Bengal. Arthur was still in Burma at that time, not returning to India until November 1889. Presumably during his over two years in Burma, he had been granted leave back to India.
Since Arthur returned to the UK in November 1893 it is likely that Emma and children returned to the UK about that time too. We know that Emma in 1895 gave birth to a son, Charles Thomas Sears in the 2nd quarter of 1895 in the District of Brentford.
1895 – 1901
During this period Arthur and Emma were being established back in the UK and we know by the birth record of children that in 1897 they must have been living somewhere in Kensington and indeed by the time of the 1901 Census they were living at 4 Longs Terrace, Kensington. Arthur Sears, aged 47, had found employment as a Park Keeper in a Royal Park. Emma herself, was 35, without employment. They had living with them the three children born in India, that is
Mildred Clara Sears, now aged 17, Domestic Housemaid
Arthur John Sears, now aged 15, Butcher’s Boy
Alice Emma Sears, now aged 13, Attending School (simply named as Emma in the Census).
However, in addition, there were three other children listed in the census.
Charles Thomas Sears, born Brentford District in 2nd Qtr 1895. Attending School
Florence Sears, born Kensington District in 4th Qtr 1897. Attending School
Walter Edward Sears, born Kensington District in 2nd Qtr of 1900.
Either in 1901 or 1902 the family appear to have moved to Fulham. Arthur and Emma’s family was not yet complete and there were two more children
Henry Bertram Sears, born Fulham District in 3rd Qtr 1902 but died in the 4th Qtr of the same year
Cyril Leslie Sears, born Fulham District in 4th Qtr 1903
Death of Emma’s husband, Arthur Sears
Sadly, Arthur died in the 4th Qtr of 1906 aged just 51. His death was registered in the Fulham District.
Emma Sears admission to Manor Hospital, Epsom
Unfortunately, due to Covid, we do not currently have access to the Manor Asylum records so have no information of her condition and the circumstances in which Emma came to be admitted to the Asylum.
We know from the UK, Lunacy Patients Admission Registers 1846-1912 that Emma Sears was admitted to Manor Asylum on the 28th May 1908. We also know from the 1911 Census that Emma was present in Manor as a patient in 1911. In this Census, full names of patients are not given, only initials, but we can locate a patient ES, aged 46, a charwoman born in India (Trimulgherry) (Resident). Infirmity listed as Lunatic 43.
Emma died on the 2nd September 1914 and was buried on the 7th September 1914 in the Horton Cemetery in Grave 1227b.
Thoughts of the author
It must have been devastating for the seven surviving children, particularly for the younger ones, when they lost, first their father in 1906 and then losing the love and attention of their mother when Emma was taken ill in 1908 and admitted to the Asylum. It must be likely that Emma was not herself for some time before her admittance.
This story is the story of Emma. It would be fascinating to explore the life stories of the children after 1908 but this is beyond the scope of this research.