Martha Ellen Vennell was born in the June Qtr of 1885 in the Pancras registration district to Stephen Charles Vennell (1859 – 1921) and Mary Ann Hewer (1865 – 1908). She was baptised on 7th February 1886 at Southwold, St Peter, Essex.
Her father seems to have been known as Charles and earned his living as a house painter, apart from a short while working for the Metropolitan Railway from 26th November 1883 until he resigned on1st March 1884.
However, in 1879, we discover that Charles deserted from the Military at Chatham and his name appears three times in the May editions of the Police Gazette. Although there was no photograph there is a good description of him.
He was with the 31st Regiment of Foot, regimental number 1388. He was 5ft 8.5inches tall, with brown hair, grey eyes and a fresh complexion
On his right foot, his second toe was contracted. He was wearing his regimentals – jacket and trousers. A shoemaker by trade from Marylebone.
A half sibling?
Martha was the eldest of eleven children – all except the youngest, Emily May reached adulthood. However, there is the possibility of an older half brother called Charles, born in the September quarter in 1877. In the 1881 Census he was registered as Vennell, with his mother’s surname Twigg and was residing with his maternal grandparents.
Charles, Martha’s father had married Jessie Twigg on 10th June 1877. So far I have not been able to find any divorce, but Jessie married in 1885 to Ernest Tom Parham; they had no children. Charles junior cites Ernest as his father on his marriage certificate.
Martha’s father Charles lived with Mary Ann Hewer and I can find no record of a marriage. She died in 1908.
Martha and her siblings
Martha Ellen 1885 -1918
Rosa E 1887
Frederick William Henry 1888 Harriet Edith 1890
Lilian Alice 1892
Harriet Daisy 1893
Edith Mary 1895
Henry George 1899
Charles Robert 1901
William George (Henry) 1904
Emily May 1906 – 1906
Charles went on to marry Marion Elizabeth Jermey née Edwards (1869 – 1948), a widow, on 5th July 1914.
Martha appears in the workhouse records
Martha appears to have lived an uneventful life as I cannot find a reference to her except in the census. At some point she was admitted to the Epileptic Colony in Epsom from Paddington Workhouse, where she was at the time of the 1911 census. In the far right hand column the word ‘epileptic’ is written but is scored through.
Her mother had died in 1908 and several of her siblings were still very young. It is likely that as she had suffered from epilepsy since about 1909 and her Father was unable to care for her.
She died on the 17th January 1918 at St Ebba’s (the Ewell Colony). Epilepsy of nine years was given as the cause of death. There was no post mortem. She is buried in grave 908b in Horton Cemetery.