St John Paliologus was something of a butterfly. Three sources give his occupation variously as business transfer agent, “formerly tea trade” and fine art dealer. Born in Calcutta but living in South East England in 1881, 1901 and 1911, it is not a stretch to imagine him briefly alighting in Wales to marry first wife, Martha Sarah HALL.
Without a church source or newspaper family notice, we can’t be sure of Martha’s origins. The marriage began and ended between the 1891 and 1901 censuses. Martha gave birth to Zoe and Irene in Reigate in 1895 and 1896 and died at Oak Cottage, South Nutfield just before Christmas 1900, aged 29. A family notice appeared in several newspapers. The Sussex Agricultural Press gave her name as Pattie, “the dearly-loved wife of St. John L. Paliologus”. Hmm.
The birth registrations of the girls give Hall as Martha’s maiden surname. In the three years, 1870 to 1872, the birth of only one Martha Sarah Hall was registered in England & Wales. What else could I do but accept her as the daughter of John Sanford Hall, a Leicester cotton manufacturer, and Elizabeth BUXTON?
Piecing together John and Elizabeth’s family was a harrowing experience. They brought eight children into the world and in short order the Reaper took six of them away. The first four, all boys, contracted scarlatina and in seven days from 29 October to 5 November 1870 they died. Their ages ranged from 2 to 6. A few weeks away from her first birthday, Hannah Elizabeth survived the bacterial infection.
Martha Sarah was born a year after the deaths of her brothers and was too young to remember the brief visits of sisters Mary Ellen and Susan Anne.
Hannah Elizabeth married estate agent Henry Walter John NUGENT in Hastings in 1891. The couple would have six children together, the last of them in utero when the Reaper called for Henry.
Spare a thought now for the parents who lost 75% of their children. Elizabeth didn’t make old bones, saying her last goodbyes in 1877 to Hannah, 7, and Martha, 5.
I have not been able to find John, or his two surviving daughters, in the 1881 census. He doesn’t appear to have been a notable manufacturer of cotton but in 1891 he was away on business in Europe and died “between Dresden and Cologne” that summer. (Perhaps one of his few happy days as a family man had been attendance at Hannah’s wedding a few months earlier.) He was 67 and his estate was valued at £57 19s (about £5,300 today).
Martha was living at Lydford House with her father and unmarried aunt when the enumerator called in 1891. Hannah was only about five miles away in Battle but maybe that was far enough away to spare her the task of executrix.
Hannah’s husband, an estate agent in January, was now a poultry farmer and a couple of years later he moved to Gloucestershire to raise chickens – and more children. Two girls and a boy were born in Aylburton – in Chepstow Registration District. It now makes perfect sense for Martha to have married from her sister’s home. How the match with St John had been made and her re-invention as Pattie continues to puzzle.