Mary Ann Soar was born in the 1st quarter of 1861 to Josiah Paul Soar and his wife Maria (née Torond). Josiah, born in Deptford, Kent, in 1820 was the son of William and Mary Soar (née Atkins). Like his father, Josiah was a plumber and glazier.
Maria was born in Shoreditch, Hackney in 1826, the daughter of artist Charles Torond and his wife Elizabeth Mary (née Akers). Charles and Maria were married in Trinity Church in the parish of St Mary Newington on the 13th of May, 1856. Their wedding was a double ceremony with Maria’s sister, Frances and her husband Joseph Schofield.
Mary Ann was the couple’s third child, after Susannah Maria (born in the 4th quarter of 1857) and Josiah Charles (born in the 4th quarter of 1859). Sadly, Josiah Charles died shortly after his birth. In the 1861 Census the family is living at 48, Trafalgar Street in Lambeth, a house they share with two other families.
By the time of the 1871 Census Maria had given birth to three more children, Annie Jane (born in the 3rd quarter of 1863), Frederick William (3rd quarter of 1865) and George Atkins (3rd quarter 1868). The family is now living at 117, Trafalgar Street, a property of which they have exclusive possession and where they are still living at the time of the 1881 census. Josiah is now described as a painter.
It is at this point that the mental health issues which would come to dominate Mary Ann’s life first become apparent. We do not know the nature of Mary Ann’s mental health problems or exactly when they began but on the 26th of December 1888 she was discharged from Newington Workhouse (it has not been possible to find the date of her admission). She was transferred to Cane Hill Asylum in Coulsdon. After that her life becomes a series of admissions, discharges and readmissions to a number of mental health facilities.
There are periods between her stays in asylums and workhouses that are unaccounted for but that does not necessarily mean that she was well enough to return home: it may be that we do not yet have access to all of the relevant admission and discharge registers.
What we do know is that on the 24th of July 1889 Mary Ann was readmitted to Newington Workhouse. She is described in the register as a servant, though in the 1881 Census there is no mention of her being employed. Two days later she was transferred to Leavesden Mental Hospital in Hertfordshire.
In the 1891 Census Mary Ann, described as an imbecile, is still a patient at Leavesden and again she is listed as a domestic servant. On the 12th of February 1898 Mary Ann was admitted to Claybury Asylum where she remained until the 27th of November 1903.
She was admitted to Long Grove on the 10th of July 1907 and died there the following year on the 23rd of September 1908. Her death was due to dysentery and peritonitis of one day’s duration. She was buried in Horton Cemetery on the 29th of September in plot number 205a.