Deaths by Pandemic and Natural Causes

Alan, my source for Skipsea COLLEY information, explains how George Toyn met Charlotte WARLEY.

My great grandfather, George Toyn Colley, now orphaned at the age of three, was packed off to live with his cousin, Robert Pape of Beverley. He was a Master Builder and the £600 G.T.C. had inherited from his father was left in his trust. Robert Pape brought G.T.C. up as if he were his own child. At age 21 then, my great grandfather came into his father’s bequest, and set upon moving to London to start up a bicycle business. Before leaving Yorkshire, he had occasionally to stay the night at Middleton on the Wold. He was unable to find lodgings and was directed by staff at a local public house to try at the grocers. Here he met the daughter of the house, Charlotte Warley. He fell instantly for her, exclaiming that she was the most beautiful lass he had ever seen. He stayed much longer than intended, and eventually leaving for London, vowed that once his business had been established, he would return to marry her. This he did, marrying on 26 December 1885 at Middleton on the Wold. They returned to London and had four children, adopting another: George (born 11.05.1886).

WARLEYcharlotte_portrait_ah

Alan has provided this photograph of a portrait painting of Charlotte. The artist is unknown and one can only guess at the painting’s date.

Charlotte married at eighteen, gave birth to her first child aged 20 and her fourth (and last) at 35. If a hundred people were asked to guess her husband’s occupation on the evidence of this image, I would be surprised if any would hazard “bricklayer”, his trade in 1901 and 1911.

In 1911, the family is at 103 Whitehorse Lane, South Norwood, Croydon. It seems that the house has been demolished to make way for a Sainsbury’s supermarket and petrol station, but other properties in the immediate vicinity are modest – two up, two down at a guess.

The most lethal pandemic in human history, until now, began in military camps in the United States and came to Europe in the lungs of soldiers. It seems odd, though, that Spain was the first old-world country to be seriously infected. The “Spanish ‘Flu”, soon spread to Britain where peak deaths occurred in October and November of 1918.

Charlotte was 51-years-old when she succumbed to the infection. Find her on the Shared Tree.

The “most beautiful lass” (and handsome woman) was, perhaps, not all that she seemed. In the last year of her life, she was a witness at a Coroner’s inquest into the death of her younger sister.

THE DEATH OF AN IMBECILE

An Inquest was held by the Croydon Coroner on Tuesday on Foly Warley, 40, a spinster, who died in Croydon Infirmary. Mrs Charlotte Colley, of Whitehorse Lane, South Norwood, sister of the deceased, said she was an imbecile, and had been so all her life. Witness had not been advised by any doctor to send her to the infirmary. “I liked to keep her for company,” said the witness. “She was no good to me, but she was not quite helpless.” The Guardians contributed 4s. weekly to her maintenance. By Dr. Passman’s directions she was taken on Saturday to the infirmary, and died the next day. Ellen E. Wing, an adopted daughter of the last witness, assured the Coroner that the deceased was well cared for. Dr. R. W. Wilson, medical superintendent of the infirmary, said he received her as an imbecile. She was in a verminous condition, and had bronchial pneumonia, to which death was due. The Coroner thought the deceased was not so clean as she might have been. Dr. Wilson added that the deceased was well nourished and apparently had not been treated unkindly. A verdict of “Natural causes” was returned.

Norwood News, 25 January 1918

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