Camberwell, Dulwich, Southend-on-Sea 1904 - 1911
On January 12 1904 Maud married Gerald Osmond Hubert Mollett in the Camberwell Registry Office (looks very nice in the photo at right). He was the youngest son of a fairly prosperous stockbroker and chartered accountant who had died just the year before, and was an accountant himself. The bald facts of this, together with what subsequently happened have given rise to much speculation by their descendants.
First of all this is an unlikely marriage. Gerald was very definitely middle class - his grandfathers were both fairly rich men and his father was not poor. Maud, on the other hand, was the daughter of a humble policeman, now a church verger, whose parents died in the workhouse. It was not likely that the Molletts approved. So where did they meet? Well the possibilities range from Maud’s aunt’s lodging house - maybe Gerald was a friend of one of the lodgers - to the dance halls, the pubs, the streets even. If Maud was indeed a music-hall artiste as family legend might have it, maybe they met at the stage door. Or horrible thought - maybe she was a prostitute? Whatever the truth of the matter, let’s romantically assume that Gerald was smitten by her beauty, and fell hopelessly in love, and she - well maybe she loved him too, or maybe she liked him well enough and certainly saw this as an opportunity to better herself. The fact that they were married in a Registry Office rather than a church and that there were no relatives as witnesses, suggests that this was not a marriage that was approved of by either family, and they were both living at home at the time of marriage, so you would have expected a family member to be there. There were not even any brothers and sisters present. It all seems rather secretive and clandestine. I wonder how long they had known each other before they married? Did Gerald wait for a few months after his father’s death before going ahead with the marriage? Had his father forbidden it? One thing that is sure is that Maud was not pregnant - their first child was born nine months after the marriage, so even if there had been pre-marital sex and she had been pregnant, she would not have known she was, so this would not have been why they married. So maybe Maud refused her favours unless Gerald married her, which would maker her either a schemer or a modest young lady. Take your pick.
They both lied about their age on the marriage certificate. Gerald said he was 23, though he was actually 22 - a small piece of vanity or insecurity? Maud, however, was underage - she was only 20, so her saying that she was 22 was somewhat more understandable. These lies also reinforce the opinion that no family members were present at the marriage, and that parental permission had not been granted, as I believe, one could marry even if underage, if your father said you could.
And now plain Maud is suddenly Maude Beatrice. I love this and would like to think that it shows a romantic spirit. However, I do acknowledge that it could just be a bit of pretentious social climbing - or maybe it was a stage name? She kept it until she died.
They were probably happy for a while. They had three children, Florence Elsie, born September 16 1904, Hubert Stanley, born November 28 1906, and Roland Harold, born January 26 1911. Rather a large gap between Hubert (or Stanley as he preferred to be known) and Roland, but maybe there were miscarriages. Or maybe it is a sign of cracks. I cannot find any other births.
They began their married life in East Brixton, at 29 Cutcombe Road - at least this is where Florence was born. This is at the back of King’s College Hospital and near Denmark Hill, probably more properly called Camberwell than East Brixton. They can’t have been very well off as Gerald is described as an accountant’s clerk. Indeed we have investigated and he never became a chartered accountant - no time? No means to pay? Not clever enough? Why is that I suspect he wasn’t all that bright? It’s purely a feeling, and not at all based on any evidence.