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b.1837 – d.1911

Mary Ann Wood neé Pearce was born abt.1836 in Hackney, Middlesex, England. Her birth is too early to locate on the GRO but after further research I have found her parentage, father Joseph Pearce and mother Mary Ann Stephens; this finding was made possible solely on researching Mary Ann’s nieces, M.A. Botten and L.C. Pont, who were listed in the patient address book (6282-13-56).

Patient Address Book

6282-13-56, Patient Address Book #287 Mary Ann WOOD

Mary A. BOTTEN is listed as niece from Yew Tree Lane, Walnut Tree, Benchley. Research shows she was born in 1855 as Mary Ann PEARCE, who then married a William PONT in 1876 in Hackney, Middlesex. According to their marriage certificate, Mary Ann’s father is listed as James Pearce, a Policeman, who we can assume to be the brother of Mary Ann Wood neé Pearce. Mary Ann PONT re-married Alfred James BOTTEN in 1901, again recording her father as James PEARCE.

You can see the full research into these two nieces at the bottom of this story.

Mary Ann Wood’s other relative mentioned is brother Henry Pearce from 6 Churchyard, Hackney. So far we know that Mary had at least two brothers James and Henry.

Ensuring the right family

Mary Ann Pearce was baptised on the 22 January 1837 at St John, Hackney, Middlesex, England to parents Joseph Pearce and Mary Ann Stephens, address recorded as Newington and father listed as Labourer.

Baptism of Mary Ann PEARCE, Daughter of Mary & Joseph

Joseph Pearce was born ~1801 in Hackney, Middlesex, England and worked as a Labourer, he married Mary Ann Stephens on the 13th January 1822 at Saint Leonards, Shoreditch, London, England, from the research I could locate it appears they had 5 children James born ~1831, Joseph born ~1833, Mary born ~1836, Stephen born ~1840 and Henry born ~1845, although it is likely they did have several other children but just not located as of yet. I have a very strong possibility that this is the correct family of Mary Ann, brother Stephen is a mystery at the moment but it seems that James became a Police Officer, Joseph immigrated to NSW Australia around 1857 and Henry stayed in the Hackney area.

Further confirmation that I have the correct family for Mary Ann is her brother Henry is located on the 1891 census living at Churchyard, the same address as listed on the patient address book records. Henry married Ann Essex CORNISH in 1877 in Hackney, and Henry’s father on his marriage record is recorded as Joseph PEARCE, a Labourer. Henry was 37 years of age at the time and Ann aged 47 years, no children can be located. Henry passed away in Hackney ~1900 aged 55 years old.

Census Information

In 1841 Mary Ann was recorded as a 4 year old living at Sandford Cottages, Hackney, London, England with parents Joseph and Mary, and her siblings James (10), Joseph (8), and Stephen (1).

1841 census

The 1851 census has Mary Ann recorded as a 14 year old scholar living at Worlds End, Hackney, London & Middlesex, England with her parents Joseph and Mary and her siblings Stephen (11) and Henry (6). Both Stephen and Henry’s births are located on the GRO Index, listed with mothers maiden name of STEPHENS.

The 1861 census shows Mary Ann as a single 23 year old servant working for the Robinson Family at 6 Loddiges Terrace Loddiges Road, Hackney, England.

In 1871 Mary Ann was recorded as a single 33 year old living at Church Yard Walk, St John Hackney, London, with her widowed mother Mary Ann and her mother’s granddaughter Alice Palmer (3) born ~1870. Note that this is the same address as mentioned in the patient address book; they are actually living next door to Mary Ann’s brother Henry’s future wife Ann CORNISH at the time.

1871 census

Marriage – Pearce to Wood

Mary Ann is admitted under the name of Mary Ann Wood, a widow from Hackney but there is no mention of her husband’s name. However, I found a marriage of Mary Ann PEARCE to Edward WOOD in 1881, and the document confirms that Mary’s father was Joseph Pearce a Labourer. Edward was much older than Mary at the time of their marriage.

Mary Ann Pearce spinster married widower Edward Wood a Messenger on the 6th March 1881 at the Parish Church in Hackney, Middlesex, England, both full age from Jerusalem Square, Edward’s father was David Wood a Bricklayer and Mary Ann’s father was Joseph Pearce a Labourer.

1881 Marriage, Edward Wood to Mary Ann Pearce

Records indicate that Edward had married several times, Edward was listed as a widower employed as a Messenger, and appears to have had several children by his former wives. It looks like no children were born to the marriage of Mary Ann.

The 1881 census shows Mary Ann recorded as a married 44 year old living at Elan House, Jerusalem Square, Hackney, London & Middlesex, England with her husband 67 year old Edward a Licensed Messenger and children, Samuel (13), Alice (11), Joseph (9), Elizabeth (5), and Albert (3).

I have confirmed all births to children on the 1881 census to be from Edward’s previous marriages, except for Alice Wood (11). I now believe this is in fact Mary Ann’s daughter to father unknown previously mentioned in the 1871 census as Alice Palmer (3) and could also be the daughter that passed away mentioned in Mary’s case files in 1900. This is further supported by a GRO entry for Alice Palmer b.1870 in Hackney to mother Pearce.

Case notes, Aug 17 1900

I have been unable to locate Mary in the 1891 census and we know by 1901 she had been admitted to the Manor Asylum.

Manor Asylum

According to the Manor case notes (6282-14-04), Mary Ann WOOD is admitted to the Manor Asylum on the 1st September 1899 aged 61 years old, a widowed Charwoman. Her next of kin listed was her brother Henry Pearce of 6 Churchyard, Hackney.

She is rambling and Incoherent in her conversations, her ideas of time, place and dates are quite confused. She says she hears strange voices??

Facts indicating insanity observed by myself (J.J. Gordon) viz:-

Her appearance is melancholic & she is depressed. She continually cries without cause saying she is thinking of her daughter who died over a year ago.

Mental State: DIAGNOSIS: Melancholia-Senile

Mary remained at the Asylum until her death in 1911 with not much improvement to her mental health, often being documented as childish and simple minded as well as aggressive at times. She started to suffer from seizures and became unsteady on her feet which resulted in a fall causing a bruised eye which was noted on the coroner’s report. It stated that she accidently fell whilst coming in from the exercising garden.

Throughout her time at the Asylum Mary often mentions her daughter who passed away not long before she was admitted, I do wonder if the passing of her daughter was the start of her mental decline.

Mary Ann passed away on the 17th January 1911 at the Manor Infirmary, Epsom, Surrey, England aged 73 years old, a Charwoman, and widow. Her cause of death was recorded as Senile Decay, Heart Disease (Valvular and Fatty Degeneration).

Death certificate 1911

Mary Ann was buried 6 days later, on the 23rd January 1911 at the Horton Estate Cemetery in Epsom, Surrey, England in Grave 971a.

The visiting niece ‘BOTTEN’ Connection

Information below is confirming the connection of Mary Ann Wood nee Pearce to niece Mary Ann Botten.
Mary Ann Botten nee Pearce was born abt 1855 in Brixton, London, England to James Pearce and Unknown, unable to find a birth / baptism for her, was hoping by locating further information regarding her father James it may 100% confirm the connection to Mary Ann Wood nee Pearce but nothing further can be found for James.

Mary Ann born 1855 is first located on the 1861 census as a 5 year old living with Joseph and Mary Pearce at Fox Cottages, 6 Morning Lane, Hackney, London & Middlesex, England, birth place recorded as Brixton, Mary Ann is listed as daughter to Joseph and Mary but going by their ages at the time I believe she is in fact their grand-daughter, possibly the daughter of their son James. Also living with the family is Joseph and Mary’s 15 year old son Henry Pearce born ~1845 which I believe to be the brother mentioned as patient address book in Mary’s case file.

Mary Ann married William Pont on the 11th August 1876 at the St Andrews Parish Church in Hastings, Sussex, England, their first daughter Catherine Mary Ann Pont was born in 1879 but by 1881 it seems William is in prison and Mary Ann is located working as a Servant for the Burr Family at 5 Comberton Terrace Mount Pleasant Lane, Hackney, their daughter Catherine recorded as a 2 year old (Nurse Child) is living at Battle RD, 2, Greenleaf Terrace, Hollington, Battle, Sussex, England with Edwin and Annie Wickens.

It seems that William Pont was in and out of prison over the years but they did go on to have other children, William Corbridge born 1882, Louisa Cordelia born 1887, Mary Ann Elizabeth born 1889 and Henry Alexander born 1896. Louisa is the L.C. PONT mentioned in the address book.

Next located on the 1891 census Mary Ann (place of birth Brixton) was recorded as a married 36 year old living at Priory Road, Hastings, Sussex, England with her husband William aged 50 years and their children William aged 9, Catherine aged 12, Louisa aged 4 and Mary Ann aged 2.

1901 saw Mary Ann recorded as a single 46 year old (place of birth Brixton) working as a Servant for the Botten Family, head of house Alfred James Botten was a 35 year old Widower living with his children Elizabeth, Minnie and Alfred, Mary Ann’s son Henry Alexander aged 4 years was also listed and address was Walnut Tree, Brenchley, Tonbridge, Kent, England. (This address matches the address listed in the Case Files for Mary Ann Botton niece of Mary Ann Wood).

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