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YAXLEY, Alice

b.1873 – d.1915

Alice Gray/Grey was born in 1873 in the village of Ashill, near Swaffham in Norfolk. Her mother was Sarah Gray and she was unmarried when she gave birth to Alice. At her baptism on 10 August 1873, only Sarah is listed and she describes herself as a spinster. However, in October of the same year

Alice’s mother, Sarah married a labourer from the village by the name of William Cock. He may or may not have been Alice’s father. In 1881 Alice and sister Charlotte are living with grandparents Isaac and Lydia Cock in Ashill.

In 1891 there is an Alice Cox (sic) working as a servant at High Farm, West Bradenham.

1900s

We next pick Alice up in 1901 in the census where she is living with her sister Charlotte and brother-in-law George Osborough. With them is living Alice’s son, William, aged 7. Later in the year Alice marries Frederick Yaxley, born in 1872. Fred comes from a village called West Bradenham just four miles from Ashill where Alice has been working. Fred is now living at Harris Street in Camberwell, but Alice’s address is still Ashill. We assume Fred left for London first to get established and Alice followed on. Fred has managed to find himself stable work as a tram conductor. Both husband and wife are literate and sign their names clearly on the marriage certificate.

Marriage of Frederick Yaxley and Alice Gray

A family of children steadily followed: Emily Jane (1902). Hilda Maria (1903), Florence (1905), Gladys Evelyn (1907), Frederick John (1909) and Alexander (1911). Tragically Emily Jane died in 1903, Hilda Maria in 1904 and Florence in 1905. The emotional toll of losing her three baby girls would have taken an enormous toll on poor Alice.

1910s

The census of 1911 lists William James, 17 years old, the son from Ashill as having joined Alice and Frederick. He has made a start in life because his trade is listed as picture frame maker for the chain store Home & Colonial Stores.

Census 1911

By 1911 Frederick has graduated from tram conductor to tram driver and the family are now living in Pentney Road, Balham. His employer was London County Council. This address was significantly more upmarket than Camberwell. However, the catalogue of tragedy continued when little Alexander died in 1913. Only Four years later Alice had died in April 1915, at the age of 41. She was a patient at Long Grove Hospital in Epsom and was buried in a pauper’s grave in Horton Cemetery.

Sometime between the 1911 census being taken and April 1915, Alice was admitted to Long Grove. Online admission records only go up to 1912 at this time.

Alice Yaxley is buried in Horton Cemetery with grave reference 1785b.

We will have to wait to review Alice’s admission file to better understand what happened in her life after 1911 that culminated in this tragic mother’s hospitalisation and premature death.

A year after Alice’s passing her husband Fred remarried to Harriet Green who was also a widow and who worked as a parlour maid. Besides William, the other surviving children would have been young and this may have been a factor in Fred’s haste to the altar so soon after losing his first wife.

In 1939 daughter Gladys Evelyn is listed living 12 Kenbury Street in Lambeth. Her trade is a “book index cutter”. She eventually died in 1964 and she left her £250 assets (circa £16,000 in 2021 prices) to her brother Frederick John who is a warehouseman.

Author’s Notes

A curious footnote to this story is an entry on the register of deaths records in 1932. Here is a Frederick Yaxley born around 1872 and his place of death is Epsom. Did Alice’s husband spend his final days in one of the Epsom Cluster hospitals too?


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