Thursday, 30 April 2009

Elizabeth Saddington (1828 - 1863): Trying to tie up loose ends

This post relates to Elizabeth Saddington, eldest child of my 3x great grandparents, Thomas Saddington and Hannah Deacon, and demonstrates how incomplete information can lead to wrong conclusions. The research involved in this post has taken place over a twenty year period.

Elizabeth Saddington, daughter of Thomas and Hannah, was born in December 1828 in Great Bowden, Leicestershire, and was baptised on 29 December 1828 in the Parish Church.

Her life is then conjecture until the 1841 census, due to the lack of official documentation. In 1841, Elizabeth, now aged 13, was living in Great Bowden with her parents, Thomas and Hannah, and six of her siblings, namely Thomas (1830), John Jonathan (1831), William (1834), Joseph (1836), Ann (1838) and Jonathan (1841).

Over the next ten years, Elizabeth appears to have remained at home, helping out with the housework and the younger children. In the 1851 census, she was still living in Great Bowden, aged 22, with her now widowed father and seven siblings, being the six present in 1841 and a further brother, Henry (1843). Elizabeth's occupation is given as 'housekeeper'; her mother, Hannah, having died only about six weeks before.

When the 1861 census was taken, Elizabeth, aged 32, was still living at home at Middle Green, Great Bowden with her father and her three youngest brothers, Joseph, Jonathan and Henry. However, her occupation is now given as 'charwoman', so she was presumably working outside the home, cleaning other people's houses. Her father had not remarried, so it is reasonably safe to assume that she was also still keeping house for him and her brothers.

After that, I could find no record of her in the 1871 and 1881 censuses, so at that stage in my research I presumed that she had probably moved away and possibly got married. Elizabeth is a fairly common name amongst Saddingtons at the time, so tracing her marriage would not be easy, and so I let it ride.

Research later showed that, at the time of the 1871 census, her father, Thomas Saddington, was living alone at Lucas Yard, Great Bowden; all of his children had seemingly left home. And in 1881, he was living in Foxton with his next youngest and unmarried brother, John, and their youngest and spinster sister, Sarah. But when Thomas died on 28 May 1883, he was back in Great Bowden and his death was registered by "E. Saddington, Daughter, Present at the death, Great Bowden". When I bought his death certificate back in 1998, I assumed that this meant that his daughter, Elizabeth, had not married after all and had come back from wherever she had been for the 1871 and 1881 censuses to care for her father in his final illness.

Recently, however, I went back through the notes that I had originally taken from the Great Bowden parish registers. There, amongst the burials, I found an entry for an Elizabeth Saddington, aged 34, being buried on 26 February 1863. I did the maths and the dates were right for Elizabeth Saddington born in 1828. So I bought the certificate to make sure one way or the other.

When the certificate arrived, it stated that Elizabeth Saddington, aged 34 and a charwoman, had died on 22 February 1863 of chlorosis and exhaustion. The death was registered by one Sarah West, present at the death. Further research was called for. Going back to the 1861 census, I found a Sarah West, wife of Samuel, living two doors away from the Saddington family. I can now be almost 100% certain that the Elizabeth Saddington on the death certificate is the same as Elizabeth Saddington, daughter of Thomas and Hannah Saddington. The only other Elizabeth Saddington of a similar age known to be living in Great Bowden in 1863 was the wife of Thomas Saddington, Elizabeth's oldest brother, but she is known to have lived until 1914 and is buried with her husband in the Great Bowden cemetery.

This means that the conclusion I reached in 1998 regarding which Elizabeth Saddington had registered Thomas Saddington the elder's death was completely wrong. It had been his daughter in law, Elizabeth Saddington (nee Smith), not his own daughter, Elizabeth. I had been misled by the custom of referring to sons and daughters in law as sons and daughters, something which happens frequently in historical documents.

To tie up the final loose end, I investigated the cause of Elizabeth's death. According to Wikipedia, chlorosis is a form of anaemia (iron deficiency), one of the symptoms of which is lack of energy - which probably led to exhaustion being given as a secondary cause of Elizabeth's death. It may have been hereditary, and today it would have been treated with vitamin supplements. In Elizabeth's day, it was also known as green sickness, because a sufferer's skin developed a pale green tinge. An academic article about chlorosis can be found here.

So Elizabeth Saddington died relatively young and unmarried, having spent most of her life looking after her family. The possibility of her cause of death being hereditary has now made me look more closely at her mother, Hannah, who died at the age of 42.

Any comments on this post will be gratefully received.

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Update - Lewis Bryan Saddington, the Habitual Criminal (1860 - 1921)

Following the release of the 1911 census and the arrival of the Board of Guardians records from the London Metropolitan Archives and the Guildhall Library on Ancestry, I can now update you on the life and times of Lewis Bryan Saddington, the habitual criminal.

Having been sentenced to prison on 28 March 1911 for "feloniously uttering" a forged cheque, the 1911 census taken on 2 April 1911 found Lewis incarcerated in HM Prison Wandsworth. As stated in my previous post, I am unsure whether Lewis was to be imprisoned for five or eight years on this occasion, but he must have been used to the system by then, having definitely been in prison for the 1881 and 1901 censuses and probably for the 1891 census as well.

Whether Lewis was in prison for the 1921 census, we shall have to wait and see. However, 1921 was the year that his story came to an end.

The Register of Deaths for the St Pancras South Infirmary, Pancras Road, London states that Lewis Saddington died on 17 November 1911 in Ward 4 of the Infirmary. He had been admitted to the Infirmary on 11 November 1921. His age was given as 61 and his last place of abode had been 6 Kenton Street, Camden. His occupation was given as builder's labourer and the cause of death was bronchitis. The Register also states that Lewis Saddington was buried by his Parish, presumably in a pauper's grave somewhere.

So a misspent life came to an ignominious end. What set Lewis Saddington on the path of crime will probably remain unknown. It would be interesting to find out what crime he committed to be in prison in 1881 at the age of 18. Any further information about Lewis Bryan Saddington would be gratefully received.