Great Grandmother Jemima: Freedom of the city

035 Jemima Mary Ann Blackburn 1852 - 1944Great Grandmother Jemima became a second wife for my great grandfather Samuel John Allery in 1884. At the age of 32 she took on the task of parenting the 5 children from his previous marriage to Mary Ann Hall, and during her 30’s and 40’s gave birth to six boys of her own. Just two years between each of them, her band of young men were her greatest legacy. Her boys all lived to a great age, served their country in the first World War and built their own businesses and dynasties.

This story is about two significant periods of her life; her role as a mother to six boys to Samuel, and her role as a widow for 20 years after his death.

The first part of the story is set in 1889 when her third son Frank Joseph was born. By this time they were living in Camberwell, an elegant suburb south of London.

Letter from Samuel:

0014 London Freedom of the City Admission Papers Samuel John ALLERYI discovered the Freedom of the City of London certificate for my great Grandfather Samuel John Allery dated 3rd September 1889. I wondered if Samuel would need to collect this certificate after signing it and then considered how such a trip would impact on his wife Jemima who had given birth to their third son on 13th October 1888, just a year prior to the award. A letter describing how important this award was for the Allery Tailoring business was something that I imagined him writing to his wife, at the time.

3rd September 1889

Dear Jemima,

I am sorry to be away so long from you, especially so soon after the birth of our new son. I hope that you are in good health. Is Rosina looking after the little ones for you?

My journey to London was worth it and I am proud to have received the Freedom of the City of London certificate. Quite an accolade for a middle-aged tradesman, and one that my father would have been most proud of.

Our certificate will be displayed in our premises at 59 Carter Lane, but I would also like it to be a special gift for our children. I want to encourage them to become tailors too. I have such dreams for Dave Bertie, Benjamin Robert and now Frank Joseph.

There is much to look forward to as we build our little empire. Rest assured I did see our solicitor today too and the new will now lists each of our sons as heirs to the Allery & Sons Tailoring business.

Soon my travels will be over for a while and I am looking forward to a few days at home with you my love! Give my love to the children and tell them I have small gifts for them, if they are well behaved.

Please ask Rosina to send the carriage to meet me at Camberwell Station. I will be home by the end of the week.

All my love

Your loving husband


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