What Happened to Ada?

She didn’t make the cut for remembrance on the family headstone in St Oswald’s churchyard.

Doris and Phyllis Ida are two of the four daughters Ada had with Frederick Herbert. In 1911 the family was complete and living together in Abbeydale Road, Sheffield. Frederick, 44, was working as an Assurance Superintendent and Ada, a year younger, had her hands full with six children, from Sidney, 18, down to Marjorie aged seven.

Thirty years earlier, Ada WHEATLEY, 13, was living with her parents in Daniel Hill, Sheffield, less than two miles from the HORRABIN family. Ada isn’t given an occupation but Frederick, 14, is said to be a “school teacher”. At the end of the year, though, Ada is a witness in the case of The Crown v. Dover. Described as a servant, it isn’t clear whether she was in the full-time employ of Thomas SKINNER, who had died of arsenic poisoning. There is an account of the case on Wikipedia with several photographs, including one of the modest house in which the killing took place. It looks too small to have needed a housekeeper and servants. Thomas has an interesting back story – and a Wikipedia page – but no place on FamilySearch Shared Tree. His killer, under her full name, can be found there, but she only has her father for company.

Ada may have acquired a taste for drama from her participation in the murder trial. She found herself in the newspapers again in 1888.

The Stuart Wortley Working Men’s Club, Daniel Hill – The first entertainment was held at this club on Monday evening. Mr. R. Gleadhill presided, and a very excellent programme was gone through. Mr. Harris, Miss Ada Wheatley, and Mr. J. S. Marshall, assisted by a portion of the Society Minstrel Troupe, gave every satisfaction in rendering their songs, readings, and ballads.

Sheffield Daily Telegraph, 19 April

I wonder if this is where Frederick first set eyes upon Ada. They were married three years later.

Ada died in the spring of 1941 in Sheffield, aged 73. I don’t know how long Frederick stayed in the city before moving to the coast. His last address is given as 38 The Crescent in the burial register. His spinster daughters died from the house they shared in West Avenue, Doris in 1968 and Phyllis in 1973. I wonder if anyone remembers them – and knows what happened to Ada.

(The guilty Kate Dover didn’t serve her whole of life sentence. She was released from Woking Female Prison about 1895 and must, therefore, have done time with the innocent Florence MAYBRICK. Though the two women had arsenic in common, I can’t imagine them being friends.)

Mark of Man 67 · Churchyard

St Oswald’s, Filey

Who’s Afraid of Justice Stephen?

Adeline Virginia STEPHEN was seven years old when her Uncle James put on the black cap and addressed Florence Elizabeth MAYBRICK:-

Prisoner at the bar, I am no longer able to treat you as being innocent of the dreadful crime laid to your charge. You have been convicted by a jury of this city, after a lengthy and most painful investigation, followed by a defense which was in every respect worthy of the man. The jury has convicted you, and the law leaves me no discretion, and I must pass the sentence of the law:

‘The court doth order you to be taken from hence to the place from whence you came, and from themce to the place of execution, and that you be hanged by the neck until you are dead, and that your body be afterward buried within the precincts of the prison in which you shall be confined after your conviction. And may the Lord have mercy upon your soul.’

‘My Fifteen Lost Years’, Florence Elizabeth Maybrick

“The man” referred to above was Sir Charles Arthur RUSSELL, who would become Lord Chief Justice of England five years later. He was, I think, convinced of Florence Maybrick’s innocence from first meeting her and presented all the arguments that should have brought her acquittal. But on this occasion “the first advocate of his age” was no match for Justice Stephen who, reflecting on his service in India, once said:-

It is far pleasanter to sit comfortably in the shade rubbing red pepper in some poor devil’s eyes, than to go about in the sun hunting up evidence.

Sir Charles came from a family of middling circumstances in Ireland and this is reflected in his pedigree on the FamilySearch Shared Tree. As if to underline the unfairness of human existence, Justice Stephen’s pedigree comes close to falling into the “super” category.

Early in her memoir, My Fifteen Lost Years, Florence refers to “Mr Swift” visiting her in Walton Jail before her trial began. I so wanted Thomas to be part of her defence team but he was for the prosection, supporting Mr ADDISON QC and Mr McCONNELL. Sir Charles was assisted by “Mr PICKFORD and Messrs CLEAVER”. (Apologies for giving the wrong book title on Monday.)

At least three of Thomas Swift’s sons became lawyers. A while back, I wrote about Ernest William facing a judgment of sorts in 1890 (Swift Action).

Rigby Philip Watson SWIFT was Thomas’ first child born to second wife Emily Mary DAFT.

Sir Rigby Swift, Elliott & Fry, National Portrait Gallery, CC-BY-NC-ND 3.0

Following Ernest William’s death in 1927, 37 years after he was Pasteurized, probate was awarded to wife Frances Isabel and half-brother Sir Rigby.

More facets of the miscarriage of justice here.

Mark of Man 58 · Lime Hole

North Cliffs