Samuel’s parents and siblings
Samuel’s parents, William Skillings and Elizabeth Nunn, had been married by banns in St Peter’s and St Paul’s, the parish church in Edgefield, Norfolk, on 19 January 1837. Samuel had three older siblings: Suzanna born 1838, William born 1840 and Sarah born 1841.
Samuel’s parents and older siblings were recorded on the 1841 Census as living in North Street, Edgefield where Samuel’s father worked as an agricultural labourer.
When Samuel was baptised on 1 September 1844 in the same church that his parents had married in, his surname was recorded as ‘Skillans’. His younger siblings, Hannah Elizabeth, born in 184,7 and William, born in 1850, were also later baptised there.
The Skillings family was still recorded in the 1851 Census as living in Edgefield. Sadly, on 3 April 1855, Samuel’s deceased sister Hannah was buried in the parish church’s graveyard.
A move to London and marriage
By 1861 only Samuel, then aged 16, and his 11-year-old brother William were still living with their parents. Both brothers were working, like their father, as agricultural labourers. Possibly wanting to better himself, Samuel eventually moved to London and on 23 September 1867 he married spinster Mary Alice George in Trinity Church in St Marylebone. He gave his address as St George’s Square and stated that he worked as a servant, while Mary, the daughter of James George, a labourer, gave her address as St Andrew’s Place. Both the bride and groom signed their names on the marriage entry.
Samuel and Mary had four children:
Born on 5 April 1868 [GRO birth found] and baptised on 26 April 1868 while living at 44 Lillington Street.
Born on 5 September 1870 [no GRO birth found] and baptised on 2 October 1870 while living at 72 Drummond Street.
Albert James 1872-?:
Born 7 July 1872 [no GRO birth found] and baptised on 4 August 1872 while living at 68 Euston Street.
[GRO birth found] No baptism found to establish her birthday.
When the 1871 Census was taken on the evening of 2 April, Samuel, his 31-year-old wife Mary and their two sons William and Arthur, were living at 72 Drummond Street, St James, London. Samuel was then aged 27 and was working as a warehouse porter to support his family. Samuel and Mary’s son Albert was born the following year on 7 July.
On 16 August 1880 all of Samuel’s sons were admitted into the Cold Blow Lane Temporary School in Lewisham. The school records show that the family address was 9 Kenwood Avenue, and that they all had left the school by 12 November 1880.
By 1881 the family was living at 1 Hatchem Park Road, Deptford St Paul, London. Samuel was by then working as a potman [barman]. Later that year Samuel and Mary’s only daughter, Rose, was born but, unlike her brothers, does not seem to have been baptised.
Samuel’s wife Mary was aged 51 when she died; her body was buried on 11 July 1890 in Lewisham. The 1891 Census recorded widowed Samuel as still working as a potman and that he and his son Arthur and daughter Rose, were living at 29 Faulkner Street, All Saints, St Paul Deptford, London. The whereabouts of Samuel’s son Albert is unknown, but his eldest son William was living along the road at 34 Faulkner Street. He appeared with his ‘wife’ Susannah, one-year-old son William and one-month-old son George but he did not marry Susannah Fitzall until 11 December 1895.
After becoming sick, Samuel was admitted to the Havil Street Infirmary in Camberwell before being transferred on Thursday 27 January 1898 to the Constance Road Workhouse that was in the Parish of St Giles in Camberwell. There are no records of Samuel leaving the workhouse and, recorded as a pauper, he was still there when the 1901 Census was taken.
Meanwhile, his daughter Rose was lodging with Edwin and Amy Bell and working as a tea packer. Also living there was Joseph Carter, the man she would later marry on 5 January 1902. Her brother Albert married Ann Rolle later that year on 24 September 1902.
Horton Asylum and death
Samuel was transferred from the workhouse to the Horton Asylum in Epsom, Surrey, on 1 October 1902. Whether he knew of his children’s marriages earlier that year is unknown. Shortly after his admittance, Samuel died on 18 October and was buried on 23 October 1902 in grave 62 in the Horton Estate Cemetery, Epsom.