Matilda and Her Visitor

When Jane Maria CORTIS married  45 year-old John Would PARKER in 1876 she still had fifteen years or so in which she might have borne his children. There is a third reason why none appeared. If you look at the two photographs of John posted a couple of days ago he doesn’t appear to be full of the joys. He had cause.

Matilda was his little sister, appearing when he was three years old. They lived on the family farm together for 25 years before she married George ROSE, who also farmed in Ludborough. She gave birth to three children in three years, Matilda Alice (1859), George Byron (1860) and John William (about August 1861).

Shortly after John William’s birth, Matilda Alice caught an infection caused by the Corynebacterium diphtheriae and she died in the middle of November. Diphtheria is a respiratory illness transmitted by droplets. Neither of her brothers contracted the disease. Her father did, and he died a couple of weeks after his daughter.

George Byron died two months before his third birthday. It is not clear if widow Matilda took her surviving boy with her when she crossed the Humber to Hull. Her state of mind may have been such that her mother and older siblings considered her unfit to look after him. In September 1864 she married John Henry LEE , a timber merchant three years her junior. The marriage was ended within a year – by divine intervention.

Had she not been taken, Matilda would have had to nurse her husband through a lingering illness until his death in January 1867, aged 31.

So much misery. But, back in Ludborough, Sarah Parker née WOULD, her eldest daughter Sarah Elizabeth, and yet to be married John Would Parker, gave infant John William Rose a home. The boy was at Manor House Farm in 1871 but when John married and brought Jane Maria home, he moved with Sarah Elizabeth to another house in the village. Sarah, a 57 year-old spinster in 1881, would surely have received help from her mother and brother in guiding the the young man towards adulthood, and perhaps Jane was an influence on him too. Whoever was responsible for his upbringing, they did a good job. He was an undergraduate at Cambridge University in 1881 and later worked as a solicitor for a number of years in London and Brentford. It appears he wasn’t a great success in his chosen profession. The 1911 census finds him at 63 Windsor Road, Ealing, working as a Merchant’s Clerk (in Condensed Milk and Starch). With him are wife Caroline Matilda and their son Wilfrid. (A second child had died in infancy.)

I have made some connections on FamilySearch. You can find John William on the Shared Tree and make your way back to John Would and Jane Maria. I think, maybe, that Jane’s husband had been so traumatized by Matilda’s experiences that he chose to remain childless. (He was executor of brother in law George’s will.) We can only guess what Jane thought of all this but it is understandable that, as a widow getting on in years, she traveled to the other side of the world to be with what was left of her birth family.

When I did some work on the Cortis family a few years ago, I thought John Would had gone to Australia with Jane and suggested as much in a note on the Shared Tree. I should have paid closer attention to the newspaper notice of her death in a Sydney newspaper.

Found at Trove

PARKER, John Wold (sic), Age at Death (in years): 63. GRO Reference: 1893 D Quarter in LOUTH Volume 07A Page 429.GRO Index Deaths

Nature Morte 15 · Seal

The Well-Behaved Embezzler

Eight years separated Henry SPINK and his wife Martha DOUGHTY but a few months after he reached his allotted span in 1858 Henry died. Martha followed suit in 1867.Mid-way between their passings, in December 1863, daughter Sarah Doughty died in London. She is remembered on her parents’ stone but was buried in South Hackney, London.


Sarah left six children, aged five up to 20, and a husband in Wakefield Jail. Convicted of embezzlement in April that year, he was transferred to Portland in the summer of 1864.

Sentences for embezzlement in Victorian Britain varied from less than a year with hard labour to 7 years or more – with transportation.

John Hendry NORTH was sentenced to 5 years penal servitude and because of the rocky nature of Portland, I expect there was a hard labour component. His quarterly reports indicate that his behavior as a prisoner ranged from Very Good to Exemplary, which may account for him marrying Frances Ann Elizabeth SHAILER almost a year before he was due for release.

His sentence may initially have been a stiff one because he stole a lot of boodle. He had worked for the Hull Banking Company for 20 years, “had always borne a good character” and confessed to the crime the moment he was challenged about “the deficiency”. He wrote the following memorandum to his employers:-

Sir, With great regret and sorrow, I beg to inform you that my cash account as assistant cashier to the Hull Banking Company is deficient to the extent of £3163 15s. 2d., which sums I have at various times surreptitiously extracted from the company’s cash drawer, which is under my charge and control, and applied to my own purposes, – Yours, &c., J. H. NORTH.

The purposes specified were “the education of his children, the support of his family, and to meet losses by railway speculations”. The sum taken is today worth from about £260,000 (real price of commodities) to £2.4 million (income value).

I wonder if Sarah or her parents had any suspicions. Martha’s death was registered in the same quarter as John Hendry North’s marriage to a woman 23 years his junior. I hope the old lady was unaware of his liaison, 250 miles or so away in the Great Wen.

In 1871 John’s occupation was given as “Verger of St Paul’s Church, Old Brentford”. Ten years later he declared himself a “Retired Banker’s Clerk”. Frances rose a little from Milliner and Dress Maker to Dress and Mantle Maker, giving board to two dressmakers, who were perhaps her employees.

John and Frances had two children, Arthur Guildford and Ethel. The few records I have accessed so far give no indication that the children from his first marriage played a part in his life after release from prison.

John had a presence on FST already. I have added his second wife and a few sources but there are quite a few duplicate IDs to merge.

Today at Speakers’ Corner

Tommy Robinson hasn’t made the BBC News web pages yet but amidst a certain amount of chaotic pushing, shoving and shouting he managed to read Martin  Sellner’s speech, as he had promised to do. As far as I could tell from the rough video footage available (as I write), nobody was hurt, and nobody was arrested. A hard-won victory for Free Speech then. Thanks be to God, Allah, the British police, the government – and all the people who turned up to listen and support ‘oor Tommy’.

Meanwhile, the BBC is informing its viewers/readers that the Russians are stockpiling chemical weapons in Syria. Boris Johnson says so. Chemical weapons will be deployed in Gouta soon, I expect. Russia and Assad will get the blame but the perpetrators will, more than likely, be the terrorists that the Syrian government is trying to remove from the country. Something the United States is doing its worst to prevent.  What a crazy world we live in.