Willie and Annie had nine children in all according to the 1911 census, seven of whom were still alive at the time. The unknown family in the photo above has seven. Imagine feeding all of those mouths every night! I have found eight children, but I do not know when the ninth one was born. With a surname of Richards, and no baptisms found so far, it is virtually impossible to find this lost child. So let us assume there was one baby or infant who died very very young. I guess this is a pretty average sized family for the times. Although not wealthy, I imagine their lives were difficult but not impossible. Of the children, I personally knew three of them - my grandmother and two of her sisters. Maybe I knew more but can’t remember them. This is what I know of their lives.
The problem with looking into the lives of our more recent ancestors is that the last census available is 1911 and unless there is something notable about them it is very difficult to track down their later lives. So I suspect this summary of Annie’s children is going to be a bit sparse.
My grandmother. Her picture is at right and her story can be read here.
Flora Annie 1881-1958
I vaguely remember my Great Aunt Flo - I think that’s what we called her. But I have no memory of her husband. But then I think he was long dead. Now that I think of it, she may have been living with her sister May, when I knew them. Like her sisters she worked as a seamstress - specifically in her case as a stay maker for corsets. Now there’s a job that has almost disappeared from view. But I believe there was a successful factory in Portsmouth, like the one shown at right.
Flora was a twin - the FreeBMD database clearly shows the two girls born in the same quarter,and my uncle has them as twins on the family tree also, but whether they were identical or not I do not know.
She lived at home until she married in 1912 - Walter George A, Stone was the lucky man. I think he was an engine fitter in the Dockyard, but I’m not sure about this. I also think he was a little younger than his wife. When I first looked for children I found three possibles, but I now think there were just two from this marriage. They were married in 1912. In 1914 WW1 began and I have no doubt Walter was called up There are three Walter G. Stones listed in the medal rolls, so no way of knowing which he was and what kind of war he had. But I am guessing that one of them is him. So there would not have been a huge amount of time for children before the war, or maybe there was a stillbirth, an infant death or a miscarriage. The other two that I found - Ivy, born in 1921 and Frederick born in 1926 both have the surname Stone and a mother’s maiden name of Richards. However, it looks as if Walter died in 1922 - a young man, just 36 years old (well the index says 38). Was this the result of war wounds I wonder? The other Walter Stone deaths listed are not the right person, so this must be he. Which leaves us with an interesting dilemma over Frederick born in 1926, for I can find no second marriage for Flora. Curious and no way of looking into this further from distant Australia. Another family scandal - or another family altogether? It could just be that he belongs to another family Stone in which the mother’s maiden name is Richards. Frederick is the name of her father of course, but I guess it is also a fairly common name.
In her later life I think she lived with Auntie May and her husband. Flora herself seems to have died in 1958 at the age of 75.
Edith Jessie 1881-1941
Edith Jessie is the second twin. Like the rest of the sisters she lived at home, although unlike the others she does not seem to have worked. The 1911 census describes her occupation as ‘At home’. Was this because she was unable to work or was it to assist her, by now, aging parents? In 1912 I think she finally married, at the age of 30 which must have been quite old for the times. Her husband was Albert John Wilkins. In the 1901 census Albert was a carter at a factory, but I do not know what he was in later life. They seem to have had four children - all girls - Hilda, Elsie, Doris and Ivy, born every two years. Elsie alas died before her first birthday, around nine months old I think and Ivy too who may have been even younger. So half of Edith’s little family died.
My aunt remembered her as Auntie Edie and told my cousin that she lived with Hilda and Dolly (Doris?) at Annie and Willie’s house, over a tailor’s shop. My aunt did not mention Edie’s husband though. Maybe she was talking about wartime and he was away? Maybe he was a sailor and often away?
Edith died, relatively young at the age of 59 in 1941. This was the middle of the war, but whether her death had anything to do with the war or not I do not know. Her husband outlived her - living on until 1958.
I wonder why May only got one name? There is also a fair gap between her and the twins, so I am wondering if there is a dead baby or miscarriage in between. These are not the only questions to ask about Auntie May though. I remember her as being always associated (and therefore married?) to Uncle Sid. I also remember her as a largeish, jolly kind of lady. I now begin to wonder about Sid though, because the only marriage I can find - and confirmed by my Uncle’s family tree - is to John Keast Saunders in 1908, when May was 22. I suppose you could create a nickname of Sid out of Saunders, but ... John Keast Saunders served in WW! in the Army Service Corps. I think he was a milkman and this does ring a vague and distant bell in my memory. There seem to be no children of the marriage, but then he might have been away at WW1 for most of May’s childbearing years. John Keast Saunders died in 1971 in his eighties. Oh and like her sisters May worked in the corset factory. For most of their married life they lived at 9 Sultan Road.
I can’t find a death for Auntie May. Well there is a death in 1968 but this May Saunders is said to be 67 and Auntie May would have been 82! This is quite a gap so I am suspicious. So a bit of mystery here, but maybe not. Maybe it was just a typo in the index.
The picture at right bears no relation to anything really, but it is a rather nice portrait of a woman of about the same period, so I couldn’t resist!
I wonder if they were running out of ideas for girl names for this is another daughter with just one name. They must also have been wondering if there were ever going to be any sons. But this is a very short and tragic story because Jessie died at the age of 12. I do not know why, but most likely from one of those diseases we no longer die from. How tragic - just on the verge of adulthood like the child in the portrait at right.
William George 1890-1975?
At last a son. William is an obvious choice of a first name - it was his father’s, grandfather’s, great-grandfather’s - maybe more. And George was, his great-grandfather on his paternal grandfather’s side. So a return to tradition in naming, of sorts. After five girls (maybe more) it would have been wonderful to have a son. And ironically there were to be no more daughters.
Like all of this family it is difficult to trace what happened to them. Partly because of the time period and therefore the lack of valuable census information, and partly because of the common surname. The first question being whether he was involved in World War - there are so many William G. Richards on the Medal Roll Index that it is impossible to tell.
I also do not know what he worked at for most of his life. In 1911, at the age of twenty he was a stay cutter in Corners Stay Factory where his sister Flora worked - and probably other sisters too. Whether he continued here after the war or did something else I have no idea.
I do know that he married Mary F. Brice in Portsmouth in 1919, which is just after the war. Had he returned home to his sweetheart, or had he met her after the war? I cannot find her birth, so don’t know if she is also a Portsmouth girl. I can also only find two births of children - Frederick in 1921 and Doreen in 1927. Tragically Frederick died as an infant before his second birthday, so Doreen may have been an only child.
I think he died in 1975 somewhere in the New Forest area at the age of 84. I’m not sure when his wife died.
Ernest Edward 1893-1923?
Yet again we face the same problems as with his older brother. Did he serve in WW1 and if so where? My guess is that all three boys must have because they would have been of the right age to be conscripted. How awful for Annie to have three sons away in this most dreadful of wars. We do know, however, that in 1911 Ernest was a carpenter’s apprentice, so I am assuming that this is the trade that he pursued after the war, although, of course, the war may have put an end to this plan.
He married Clara - a name confirmed by my uncle. I think the only candidate is a Yorkshire girl and that they married in 1913 on the Isle of Wight, which is maybe where she lived. Ernest was only 19 and we can assume that Clara was not much older. I can find no children, but I also think that Ernest died in 1923 at the very young age of 30 on the Isle of Wight. The other possible deaths are not for people of the right age. How tragic. I think that Clara outlived him by a long way and did not remarry. A sad story, especially for Annie who would still have been alive if he did indeed die in 1923.
Thomas Francis 1896-?
The baby of the family is not listed in my uncle’s family tree, which implies to me that he was long dead before my uncle was born, and that he just didn’t know of his existence. Yet there he clearly is in the 1911 census, aged 14 and still at school. I can’t find a marriage and I can’t find a death, so I think I am assuming that he either died of some disease (though this would mean I should be able to find a death), or that he went off to WW1 and was killed in action. There are four Thomas F. Richards on the medal roll and many many more Thomases. The Commonwealth Graves Commission has just one Christian name in their records, so it is impossible to tell if any of the dozens of Thomas Richards listed is he. I think it probably was one of them. So another tragedy for Annie. It’s ironic isn’t it, that it is the most recent ancestors about whom one knows the least. In this case I just have a birth and two censuses - nothing more. Tantalising.
a corset factory