Great Grandmother Eliza Wright (Goats)

#52 Ancestors 52 Weeks: LUCKY

Auto Biography (AI assisted)

I used Chat GPT 3 and 4 to assist in the research and writing of this auto-biography for Eliza.
This story is told by Eliza herself who considers herself lucky; lucky to have had employment as a young woman, lucky to have met and married her husband, lucky to have survived the ravages of war torn Britain, lucky to have her children and grandchildren around to support her and lucky to have witnessed some of the greatest changes in human history in her lifetime.

Eliza’s Memories

I was born in 1844 in Bishop’s Stortford, a bustling market town in Hertfordshire, England. Bishop’s Stortford was a small but growing town at the time, with a population of around 5,000 people. It was an important centre for agriculture and trade, and the railway station connected us to London and other nearby towns. I was one of seven children, and we lived in Apton Field with our parents, Joshua and Sarah. Apton Field was in a poor area of our town and we were struggling to make ends meet.

As a little girl, I spent my days playing with my siblings and other children in the town. We played with dolls, toys, and spent a lot of time outside, swimming in rivers and engaging in other outdoor activities. Girls like me were also expected to learn domestic skills like cooking, cleaning, and sewing, which would help prepare us for our future roles as wives and mothers.

I didn’t attend school regularly like children do today, but I did attend a Dame school where I learned how to read and write. From the age of 15, I worked as a domestic servant outplace, which was a common job for young women like myself. It was hard work, but it allowed me to earn a steady income and gain some measure of financial independence. An “outplace” servant was someone who worked for a family but did not live with them. Instead, I would travel to the family’s home each day to perform my duties and then return to my own home at night.

In 1865 I met my husband-to-be, Alfred, and we had a child together. Ellen was born in 1865 in Bishop’s Stortford. Ellen was a big help to me as the other children came along.

In 1868, I married Alfred Wright at Christ Church in Stratford, West Ham, Essex. Christ Church was a beautiful Gothic Revival church built in the mid-19th century. It was located on Broadway, just north of the High Street in Stratford. John Shaw Jr., an architect, created the design, and it became a place of worship in 1841. The church was built in the Gothic Revival style and featured a tall, slender tower topped with a spire. It was located in a densely populated area of West Ham and was one of the largest churches in the area, with a capacity of over 1,000 people. The church was an important part of the neighborhood because it had many social and educational programs. We did not have thousands attend our wedding but we are grateful for the few who did and in particular, we were pleased to have our parents attend.

Alfred and I had eight children, and we moved around a bit before settling in Stratford, Essex, by 1891. Alfred worked as a laborer, and I took in washing at home, as we faced many challenges during this time. We were in the midst of an industrial revolution back then, and it was transforming the country. Many small towns and villages experienced rapid growth and change. The growth of industry also led to the development of new transportation networks, such as the railway, which allowed people and goods to move more quickly and easily between towns and cities. I remember seeing the steam rising from the tracks as the trains came and went. I remember when we had our first train journey from Stratford to London, the children were so excited.

The Stratford West Ham station was one of the busiest railway stations in the area, connecting the town with London and other nearby towns. It was a memorable train journey as we had to stand in the aisles for the entire journey because it was packed with passengers. We met some interesting people on the train, the friendly conductors and fellow passengers with fascinating stories to tell. And we all marveled at the size and speed of the trains and of the beauty of the surrounding countryside as we passed through.

Then the world changed, the First World War had a significant impact on our community, and many men were conscripted into the armed forces, leaving families behind to manage on their own. Women like myself played an important role during this time, taking on jobs that had previously been reserved for men. I did my bit for the war effort and took in lodgers; even though the house at 5 Abbey Lane was a modest one; as well as providing a safe place for my family. I am glad that Alfred did not have to face the rigors of trench warfare in WW1; he died in 1900. Not sure if you would call that lucky!

After Alfred’s passing, in 1901, I lived with my son Benjamin and his family at 75 Lett Road in Stratford. The area had grown significantly since I was first married, and the Wright family had to adjust to the changing times. Despite the challenges and hardships we faced, we remained resilient and worked hard to build a better life for ourselves and our community.

In my later years, I found comfort in the love and support of my family. My grandchildren brought me great joy. In 1921, the household was always busy and lively with Arthur, Doris, and Cyril, Joseph and Ada’s children living with us at Lett Street. The familiar streets of Stratford have always provided a sense of continuity and connection to my past. My childhood and working life in Bishop’s Stortford were not privileged nor were they remarkable; rather, I would say, they were ordinary and unremarkable. Yes, there was poverty surrounding me back then, but I moved past all that when I married Alfred and moved to West Ham.

We survived the aftermath of the War and the huge changes that took place in our homes, in our streets, and in our communities. We remained a strong tribe and Alfred would have been proud to see our growing families around me. By the time I reached the age of 80 I was privileged to have a bevy of grandchildren and I want to say thank you to my children; my Ellen, Alfred junior, Joshua, Harriet and Benjamin for producing their offspring in my lifetime.

Looking back on my life, I am proud of the strength and resilience that I and my family exhibited in the face of adversity. I am proud of my children’s achievements and delight in the joy their children have brought me. I am now in my eighties, and I spend much of my time with my memories. I have seen the ravages and sorrows that war can bring; I have experienced the hardships and challenges in the wake of the war; I have wondered at the rapid changes of the new world and reveled in our newfound luxuries.

I may not be around to enjoy the children of my youngest in the Wright tribe, Herbert and Isaac, but I would like them to remember their family history.

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