#52Ancestors #10 The struggles of Emily Keast

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.

The mark of Emily Falkner

The mark of Emily Falkner

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.

52ancestorsBit 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:
https://starryblackness.wordpress.com/2014/03/08/52ancestors-10-emily-keast/  ‎

5 thoughts on “#52Ancestors #10 The struggles of Emily Keast

  1. Pingback: #52Ancestors #10 Walter Glover – life is not a soap opera | starryblackness

  2. Pingback: #52 Ancestors #12: Ann Keast – fallen women in the home of her family | starryblackness

  3. Su Leslie

    It does sound like Emily had a very hard life. It’s possible that she was in a lunatic asylum because she had syphilis – especially as her first two husbands were at sea/in the military where syphilis contraction rates were very high. The disease was extremely common in the 19th century; and often led to patients in advanced stages being institutionalized. One of my 2x great grandfathers was a merchant seaman who contracted the disease when he was very young. He spent time in the Fife Lunatic Asylum, then 12 years in the poorhouse – where he died. Apparently one of the things to look for in the records for women is a pattern of miscarriages and children dying young. I’m enjoying your blog very much btw.

    1. starryblackness Post author

      Thanks Su for your kind words 🙂

      As for the syphilis idea – EW! But yes that’s a really interesting idea and I hadn’t thought of that. I believe a lot of records were lost in the war but when the 1921 census census comes out I’ll maybe find her again then if she lived that long. Poor thing.

  4. Pingback: #52Ancestors #25: Henry Alfred Glover, docker and amateur vet | starryblackness

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