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TREVAIL, Gertrude

b.1845 – d.1910


Gertrude Augusta Shepherd was born in the June quarter of 1845, in the south Devon village of Colaton Raleigh. Her unmarried mother, Eliza Shepherd, worked as a Honiton lace maker.

At six years old, Gertrude is in the 1851 census living with her maternal aunt and uncle, Benedict and Matilda Toby and an elder brother, Tom Shepherd (born 1837). By 1861, Gertrude is living with her mother in the village and both are lace makers. The census shows that the majority of women in the village worked in this trade.


Gertrude moved to London and in the March quarter of 1871 married Joseph Rundle Trevail in the parish of St. George, Hanover Square. Joseph was born in Luxulyan, Cornwall in 1845, the son of a farmer. In the 1871 Census, they were living in Denbigh Street, Pimlico which was part of the parish of St. George, Hanover Square.

Living with them are three of Joseph’s younger siblings and a visitor who was probably a relation as her surname, Rundle, is Joseph’s middle name. Joseph is working as an engineer fitter.


Gertrude returned home to Colaton Raleigh to give birth to her first child, Charley Joseph Trevail in the December quarter of 1872. Two daughters followed, Annie Gertrude in March 1875 and Kate Olivia in December 1880.

In the 1881 Census, they are all living at 6 Meadow Terrace, Lambeth and Eliza Shepherd, Gertrude’s mother, is also living with them. Gertrude is not shown to have any occupation. In December 1884, a third daughter, Gertrude Augusta, was born but she sadly died in September 1885 before her first birthday.


By the next census in 1891, life had begun to go wrong for Gertrude. Joseph had left her and on 21 September 1890, he bigamously married Eliza Thursby at St. Mary’s church, Lambeth. The address on the marriage certificate is very near Meadow Terrace where Gertrude continued to live.

The new couple took steps to keep the marriage secret by marrying by licence so that banns were not announced in church. They also chose a church about half an hour walk from their home and five days after the ceremony they left the Port of London bound for Sydney on the vessel ‘Ormuz’.

In the 1891 Census, Gertrude is still living at 6 Meadow Terrace and is now working as a mender of fine lace. Her mother and two daughters are living with her. In 1881, they shared the house with two others but by 1891 there were four other people sharing the house and they were reduced to two rooms only.

Also in 1891, her son Charley enlisted in the army medical corps and gave his next of kin as Joseph Trevail of 6 Meadow Terrace. By this time his father was settling into a new life in Australia. Charley would only serve until November 1895 when he was discharged as unfit for further service, having been diagnosed with tubercule of the lung. He died in a military hospital in Eastbourne in July 1896, aged just 24.

In the same quarter, Gertrude’s mother Eliza died. Annie was to marry in December 1898 to Louis Waymark, a warehouseman.


In the 1901 Census, Gertrude has moved and is living in two rooms at 153 Kennington Road, Lambeth with her youngest daughter Kate. Gertrude is stated to be a ‘Honiton lace manufacturer on her own account at home’.

Kate was to marry in September 1903, to Frank Edwards, a pawnbroker’s assistant. Annie and her husband had three children between 1901 and 1904 but she died in October 1906.

Institutional life

On 1 April 1908, Gertrude entered the Newington workhouse and is described as a charwoman. Three days later, she is admitted to Long Grove asylum. She died there on 30 October 1910 of ‘fatty degeneration of the heart, chronic Brights disease and epilepsy of 1 year 8 months’.

Gertrude is buried in Horton Cemetery in grave 919b.

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