Maps and mapping are only loosely associated with this story of my Great Aunt Edie; you might say that I have been ‘mapping’ the relationship between sisters from my family tree. The map displayed in the featured image is that of Edith Mary’s Local Area. This was obtained from FindMyPast as I researched her location in the early 1900s. I found that there was more to just the census record itself; below was a map of the person’s local area. I could zoom in to find the actual street where they lived. In this case, the map is of the Croydon area showing Edie’s location in Gloucester Road.
Below the map is a description of the area in The Gazetteer from England and Wales from 1895. By clicking into that resource you can read a history of that location. In this case the area is described as:
Croydon, an ancient town and parish, and a municipal and parliamentary borough in Surrey. It is 10 miles south of London.
It was from the 1911 census transcript that I began to query the household of my Great Aunt Edie. Below you can see that she is married to Charles Howells and they are living at 70 Gloucester Road, Croydon. Her nephew George Frank and niece Violet are listed on the record.
The story about why my Uncle Frank and Aunt Violet were here with Edith and Charles sparked this story. Here is part one.
The Mary Letters: Part One
An imagined dialogue between my Great Aunt Edith Mary and her sister, my grandmother Mary Jane. I can imagine they had a close bond and communicated by letter frequently.
Time period: 1901 to 1903.
Purpose: Bond between sisters.
May 1901. Dear Mary, well, my dear sister, we are both soon to marry! It still amazes me we both chose a Charles, and they are both skilled carpenters. I understand you had to leap before you show; June is a lovely month for a summer wedding. Edmonton sounds like a perfect place, far enough away from Croydon to avoid gossiping neighbours. It was so lovely that Ernest and Elizabeth said yes to you and Charles staying with them in Southbury Road, Enfield. I hope you can still come to my wedding in August. I really look forward to the day when we both have little ones!
October 1901: My dearest Edie, I cannot tell you how wonderful yet terrifying it was to give birth to my twin boys. My labour pains began on the evening of Friday 18th October, and nothing prepared me for the ferocity of these. Perhaps I won’t share the details with you. I know you are only just pregnant with your first. I was so glad to have Elizabeth with me during this time. It’s grand here in the Cottages. We are located nearer to Ponders End, and it’s a bit out of town, but we love the seclusion here. We have one of the Bedford Cottages to ourselves. The babies are thriving now, and we hope to return to Kingston next year. My Charles has put in a bid for the house at number 6 Borough Road, Kingston Hill.
December 1901: Dear Mary, I am excited to know that you are coming home. I know you are only 30 miles away, but I am worried about my baby, and cannot risk a journey to you. This pregnancy has been so difficult for me. I am at my wits’ end. Something does not feel right. I know you are busy with your two baby boys, but I wonder if you could come and visit me in the new year. My Charles is attentive and kind, but I cannot tell him about my concerns. He is doing well with the new business and recently took on another carpenter apprentice. Lately, he has also been making more frequent visits to his family in St Hilary, Glamorgan. His father, Daniel, has not been keeping well of late.
January 1902: Dearest Edie, I am sorry you are apprehensive. I do want to come and see you. I can come and visit in February. I thought I would need to bring the twins with me. But as they are a bit of a handful, I have arranged for Elizabeth to take care of them, and I can focus on you. The house at no 6 Borough Road is not yet ready for us. So, it would be great if I can stay with you at Gloucester Road. Elizabeth and Ernest are doing well. Ernie now employs 16 men in his building firm, and they are moving soon to a bigger house in Mayfield Road, Enfield. I am amazed at the housing development up here, such a grand location for a builder like Ernie.
May 1902: Dear Mary, thank you for being with me when I needed you most. Life’s challenges are a little easier when the family is there to support. Thank goodness for you and Elizabeth. But now I am heartbroken. I am so lost without her. Little Alice Mary did not live for long; I won’t get to see her first steps; I won’t see her grow from infant to teenager; and she will only have that lonely headstone to mark her brief appearance in this world. Charles and I so wanted this child. What am I to do?
December 1902: My dearest Edie, I just weep for you and your loss, and I know you are grieving over Alice. Such a sad short life for her and, I suspect, a lifetime’s burden for you. But I think you could help me if you would take Frank to live with you. He is a lovely little boy, the quieter of the twins, and he is now walking independently and chattering away like a monkey. My next child is due in March and now in my 6th month of pregnancy, I am finding it difficult to look after the two boys. Can you find it in your heart to have Frank in your family? I know it is a big ask, and it might not suit you. However, if you say yes, now would be the best time before the bond between the twins becomes unbreakable. And it may not be forever.
March 1903: Dear Mary, congratulations on the birth of your daughter. I am just delighted to know that you included my name as her second. Winifred Edith will be a godsend to you. How lovely to have a daughter? I still miss my Alice – I visit her grave each month – and I spend a little time with her that way. Little Frank has grown quite chubby in the last few months and is happy with us. His presence has made the world of difference to our small family. It was most thoughtful of you to give Frank into my keeping; I know you were trying to help me more than yourself. However, lately, he is missing his brother Reginald as I see him looking in the mirror and reaching out to the child on the other side. We will bring him over soon to Borough Road, so you can see him again and he can play with his brother. So glad you are back in town and closer to me.
Come back for Part Two of this story, as I delve deeper into the archives and explore the journey of my Aunt Edith Mary Howells [Robinson] and her sisters Mary Jane Cutting [Robinson], and Elizabeth Ann Goodall [Robinson].