I’ve been writing about my paternal grandmother’s Yorkshire ancestors, but I’ve not had much time recently to find out about new people, at least not enough information to blog about.
Actually I had worried that I wouldn’t have enough Yorkshire family to write about into February, let alone March so I’m glad to have discovered so much. I’ll return to blogging about my Yorkshire family them later in the year when I have more information.
But for a few weeks my blog posts are going to feature my Devon family, mainly based in Plymouth, as I did a lot of research last year about my maternal grand-father’s family. I’d wondered about doing this anyway as it’s the centenary of the merging of the three towns of East Stonehouse, Devonport and Plymouth and the timing seems neat. I had the chance to visit Plymouth and chat with my 96-year-old great-uncle last year which was amazing, to hear of his life and of the family and stories he remembered. I was so inspired that I wrote about that in my first blog post last summer: Memories and interviews
Devon, then. And I will start with my great-great-grandmother Emily Keast.
Emily was confusing to track down. Born c 1847 in East Stonehouse, I eventually worked out she’d been married twice before she married my great-great-grandfather.
She’d had an difficult start to her life, being the illegitimate daughter of Ann Keast and a ‘Pianoforte maker’ called John Pool who didn’t stay around; she was brought up by her mother and grandmother.
Her first husband was John Roston and they married when she was only 19; their son Albert Thomas was born in 1867 when she was only about 21; John, a seaman, died in 1872 leaving her a 26-year-old with a young child.
She married William Faulker in December 1874. Later census records list her son by John as Albert Thomas Roston Falkner so hopefully things worked out and William was happy to have a step-son living with them. William was a private in the Royal Marines; he was stationed at their barracks in Stonehouse when they married. What’s curious is that Emily had a daughter, Maud Ellen Falkner, in March 1874, 9 months before she and William married. The order of events are unusual, but he was certainly listed on the baptism register in 1875 as her father. Earlier in 1875 they’d had their second child, William Ernest Falkner. Sadly William senior died in 1875, and young Maud died 18 months after him.
Emily was left with a 10-year-old, and a new baby. By April 1881 she was working as a laundress in Plymouth and Albert, aged 13 by then, was working as an errand boy.
Two years later in August 1883 she married my great-great-grandfather Walter Glover. Within 6 years they had 3 sons [or possibly 4, depending on the record you look at – Thomas on one record could well be a mis-transcription of James Glover]. Their second son Henry Alfred is my great-grandfather.
Poor Emily had a sad end. I was shocked to find her in Plymouth Asylum, aged 65, in the 1911 census listed as a lunatic. Sadly I’ll maybe never know what happened to her: a lot of records were destroyed by fire in the war, Plymouth being a key target.
Perhaps I’ll find her in 1921 when the census records are released. But because of events in her husband’s life (more of that next week!) I suspect she didn’t live long after 1911. Poor woman. Sounds like she had some exceptionally trying circumstances to cope with in her life, if they led to a mental breakdown it would hardly be surprising.
Bit of a bleak story I know, but I thought I would not leave her story untold. As a happy-ending Sponge-Bob kind of a girl it was sobering for me to hear her story. The past is definitely not all rose-tinted, and I definitely got lucky with my personal circumstances.
It’s International Women’s Day today, by chance. So I’ll dedicate this post to all the hard-working women of history, whose stories often remain untold and often their names un-recorded.
© Text copyright Lynne Black 8 March 2014: