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    Borough of Epsom and Ewell’s
     Michael Arthur
     David Smith
     Jean Smith 
     Michael Staples
     Jean Steer
     Keith Mann
     Robert Lewis
    Member of Parliament
     Chris Grayling
     Revd. David Fox Branch
     Janice Baker
    Polish Institute
      Dr Andrzej Suchcitz

SMITH, Emily Clara

b.1879 – d.1917

Emily was born on 6th August 1879 in Bethnal Green to William James – a brass finisher – and Fanny Adelaide Smith, nee Horsey, of 41 Monteath Road, who had married in 1871 in Hackney. She was baptised at St Thomas Bethnal Green on 14th March 1880. William and Fanny had at least one more child apart from those on the 1881 Census record– a daughter, Elizabeth,  who did not survive even a year


The family is at 45 Driffield Road . Parish of Bow, Tower Hamlets in the 1881 Census. I am sure this is the right family – close examination of the record shows the E  of Emily, but I admit the F is a mystery –  maybe a mishearing by the enumerator. Emily Clara has two sisters – Ada and Minnie. In view of her life after this date, this links well with  records of her later life.


Among the  documents of the Hackney Union one or other of the sisters is mentioned in various places. I traced Ada’s marriage to Charles Simmonds in 1890  when  her father was still a brass finisher. Both Ada and Charles signed the register and witnesses were Charles’ father and Ada Horsey. We know Emily’s mother’s maiden name was Horsey but I cannot find who this Ada is, maybe an aunt.

In the 1891 Census, Emily age 12,  is at ‘school’ in Dr Stephenson’s Children’s Home  and Orphanage – a home for orphan and destitute children. The note on the bottom of the page of the first record of the school states that ‘many of these children are friendless and destitute when received within and it is quite impossible to ascertain where they were born’.


In notes from Hackney Union ‘Mrs Smith, step-mother was seen’, so presumably, Fanny Adelaide must have died. There is a note that ‘mother – Fanny nee Horsey  died about 9 years ago’ but  I have not found her death  recorded.  (I say ‘presumably’ because if a couple split up, it was not uncommon for new partners to just claim to be married).

It seems that both her sisters were at times consulted about her care, and where she had been living. This may or may not mean they were in touch with her, likewise her step-mother. In most documents Emily is just recorded as a lunatic  (This was common parlance at the time) and in a couple her age was ‘about 24’.

Some 13  pages of documents from Hackney Union are about Emily – claiming expenses relating to her care from other places, assessing her condition and where she has been living. Whether she was working is hard to assess – in one place she is recorded as a servant. Emily seems to have moved around as  different lengths of time are recorded where just a place  is mentioned or a coffee shop. I am not sure whether she was living at the addresses or just working there and sleeping elsewhere. I believe Havelock Place and Wellington Road may be where her sisters were living.

Some places listed and time spent there.

Sleeping odd place2 weeks
8 Havelock Place3 weeks
Salvation Army Home3 weeks
8 Havelock Place5 weeks
82 Oswald St, Clapton Park6 weeks
Coffee shop, (Lawson’s)  Old Ford Rd2 weeks
Empress of India Coffee shop2 weeks
Rose and Crown, Bunhill Row3 weeks
11 Wellington Road1 year
46 Bradwell St Mile End Old Town2 years
Tower Hamlets Rd, Forest Gate2 years
In Leyton Union8 weeks

The Guardians of the Poor are the authors of  several items  – especially those seeking repayment of the 9 pounds, 4 shillings and 7 pence for one year’s lodging, medicine, maintenance , clothing and care. This equates to about £750 in present currency.

Looking at the Lunacy Admissions Records I found:

On 10th November  1903 she is recorded going to The Manor Asylum, Horton, in 1904 she is stated to be in the London Lunatic Asylum at Horton in the County of Surrey and on the 10th June 1911 she was admitted to Long Gove Hospital where she died just 6 years later. She was buried in Grave 1352a at Horton Cemetery.

We cannot guess what sort of illness befell Emily Clara Smith, whether from birth or one which developed, but at least through these snippets, her rather sad, hard and difficult  life is not forgotten.

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