b.1877 – d.1927
Had it not been for the Manor address book, we would never have unravelled this story. The addresses gave us the information required to be sure of what we found.
Agnes Elizabeth Sullivan was born 1877 at St Paul, Depford, Greenwich, Kent England to parents William John Sullivan and (officially) Charlotte Watkins Larkins. Address recorded as 6 North Kent Terrace, Nunhead. William and Charlotte married on the 31st of December 1875, both 21 years of age, William’s father Cornelius Sullivan a Plasterer and Charlotte’s father Edward Larking, Agnes was born 15 months later followed by William John in 1878 and Sarah Naomi in 1880.
The asylum records show that Agnes’ mother is listed as Mary, not Charlotte. From the addresses given, we find Mary Robinson, who is a 19yr old dressmaker at Kirkwood Road, Nunhead in 1881. At the time of Agnes’s birth, Mary would have been 15 in 1877 (and father William J, a married 21-yr old) so it’s conceivable that William in fact got a 14yr old girl pregnant and then had to take in the daughter Agnes, when she was born. It appears that he and his actual wife took in the child as their own, registering her as their own. Kirkwood Road is a 13minute walk to where William Sullivan was living at the time (both in the area of New Cross which is given as birthplace on later documents). The true mother may have had contact with Agnes throughout, we’ll never know, but a 14/15yr old pregnancy in the 1870s would have been scandalous and require a cover up.
During the 1881 census Agnes was recorded as a 4-year-old living at 15 Canterbury Road, Camberwell, London, England with parents William and Charlotte and siblings William aged 2 years and Sarah aged 1 year. Father recorded as a Plasterer.
Between 1881 and 1891 three more children were born, Emily Rose Hannah in 1886, Alice Maud in 1888 and Henry Isaac in 1890.
During the 1891 census Agnes was recorded as a 14-year-old Domestic Servant living at Masen Court, St Paul Deptford, Greenwich, London & Kent, England with her parents William and Charlotte and her siblings William 12 years, Sarah 11 years, Emily 4 years, Alice 2 years and Henry. Father recorded as a Plasterer.
By 1901 the family had moved to Howbury Rd in Camberwell, Surrey and this is where the family stay for many years, Agnes would continue to live with her parents never having married or had children of her own but as her siblings got older and moved on they are located on cencus records living next door to each other in Howbury Rd.
The 1901 census has Agnes recorded as a single 24-year-old underlinen machinist living at 62 Howbury Road, Camberwell, London & Surrey, England with her parents William and Charlotte and her siblings Emily aged 14 years, Alice aged 12 years and Henry aged 10 years. Father recorded as a Plasterer.
On the 26th of July 1906 Agnes is admitted to the Camberwell Workhouse, Constance Rd in the Parish of St Giles, observation at the time was recorded as having Delusions, she was then eventually discharged on the 20th of August 1906 and sent to the Ewell Epileptic Colony (St Ebba’s) in Epsom where she was diagnosed with Suffering from Epileptic Insanity.
Next of Kin recorded as her Mother Mary Sullivan (not Charlotte) of 14 Kirkwood Rd, Nunhead, stating that Agnes was first born of a family of 6, 2 brothers and 4 sisters, 4 still alive in 1906, mother and father married at age 20 years, Agnes born 15 months after marriage, she became weak minded aged 9 when diagnosed with Epilepsy and had at one time threatened to drown herself aged around 14 years old. Epileptic since 12 years of age.
Described as dull, depressed, and strange in her appearance and behaviour, does not seem to know what she is doing and takes no interest in anything, she is very depressed and says her thoughts make her miserable, she feels better when working as it helps ease her thoughts.
Described as childish, weak minded, slow but very thorough in her work but requires constant supervision, she is recorded as a feeble-minded woman whose memory is impaired but not to an extreme extent, she is usually depressed but occasionally becomes maniacal, partly due to aural hallucinations. She hears voices teasing her telling her that her father is doing wrong.
She gives a history of alcohol in her father and mentions an accident that happened to a child that she was taking care of, her attacks usually start by her making a noise as if she’s being hurt and then walks backward, if seated she will push her chair backwards and start to breath heavily.
Agnes was still at Ewell during the 1911 census where she was recorded as a single 33-year-old Inmate admitted to the Ewell Epileptic Colony (St Ebba’s) in Epsom, Surrey, England.
On the 19 March 1912 Agnes was sent to Laurel Ward due to being mentally disturbed and hopes things are not going wrong at home since her dear Aunt died.
Agnes mother passes away abt. 1920 in Camberwell and it is then at some point Agnes is sent to the Asylum in Bexley as she is next located during the 1921 census recorded as a single 44 year old patient admitted to the London County Mental Hospital in Dartford, Kent, England, near Bexley, place of birth listed as New Cross, London, from Bexley she is then again transferred back to the Ewell Epileptic Colony (St Ebba’s) where she eventually passed away on the 28th of September 1927 at The Forest, Hook Rd, Epsom, Surrey, England, aged 50 years old, a spinster, no occupation from 14 Kirkwood Rd, Nunhead. Informant was L H Wootton occupier of same address.
Agnes was buried on the 3rd of October 1927 at the Horton Cemetery in Epsom, Surrey, England in Grave Ref. 1070a.
Cause of death recorded as Broncho Pneumonia, Endocarditis, Pericarditis and Myocardial Degeneration.