Monday, January 31, 2011

Bram Stoker and family in the 1881 English census

Bram Stoker, famous as the author of Dracula was born Irish but lived much of his life in England. Here is a snapshot of his family and household on census day in 1881.

The link to the census here is via and may only work if you are signed in to Ancestry. However, the information in this post is complete.

Reference: 1881 Census of England and Wales

London, Chelsea, Chelsea South, District 9a, Page 1, Household 4

Address: 27 Cheyne Walk
1 inhabited house at this address
Living there:

Bram Stoker, Head. Married, male, age 33. Theatrical Manager M.A. [I'm assuming the M.A. means Master of Arts - Jill]. Born in Dublin [Ireland].

Florence Stoker, Wife. Married, female, age 21. Artist. Born in Falmouth [Cornwall, England].

Irving N. Stoker, Son. Unmarried, male, 15 months. [Occupation is blank.] Born in London.

George Stoker, Brother. Unmarried, male, 26. Physician & Surgeon. Born in Dublin [Ireland].

Elizabeth Jarrald, Servant. Widow, female, 30. Nurse. [Place of birth is blank.]

Harriett Daw, Servant. Unmarried, female, 21. Cook. Born in Middlesex, Nottinghill. [Notting Hill, part of London.]

Emma Barton, Servant. Unmarried, female, 15. Housemaid. Born in Essex, Woodford. [Woodford, Essex.]


What does this snapshot tell us? What questions does it raise?

Beyond the obvious, here are a few things it makes me think about. And I will tell you right away that the answers to some of these questions are easily found with a Web search. However, I like to find things from scratch, for myself, and to make up my own questions. Then I can check with what others have done and see if we agree.

Of course, when I hit a dead end or get tired of looking, I cheat and search the Web like everyone else!

27 Cheyne Walk: This is a famous part of Chelsea. Who were the neighbours? Who lives there now? What was the house like? Is it still standing?

Bram Stoker's education: Does M.A. stand for Master of Arts or is it something else entirely? If it is the university degree, when and where did he get it? When and how did he become a Theatrical Manager? Who employed him?

Florence Stoker's occupation: What kind of art did she do? Is any of her work still around? Was she good? Was it unusual for a woman of that time to list her occupation as "Artist"? How did a young woman from Cornwall end up married to a Theatrical Manager from Dublin, 12 years her senior?

Irving N. Stoker's name: Was he named for Henry Irving, the actor?

George Stoker: A doctor, so we have two prominent men from the same family in Dublin. Was the Stoker family well-off? Prominent? Were there any doctors in the family already? And how long did George live with his brother? Did he get married, have children, do anything notable?

The servants: Three servants in a family of three adults and a baby, was this normal? What social class does this indicate? How did the servants get selected, hired, and trained? What was their pay? Where did they stay? What was the work like? How long did they stay with the family? Where did they come from, and was this job a step up or down for each of them? What happened to them after they left the Stokers?

Elizabeth Jarrald, the Nurse: She would have been there to care for the baby, Irving. She was a widow at the age of 30. What happened to her husband? Did she have children of her own? Would she have been working if her husband was alive? What was her maiden name? Was the baby attached to her as he grew a little older?

Harriett Daw, the Cook. At age 21, she was responsible for feeding everyone. Was that normal for a cook to be so (relatively) young? Was she a good cook? Did the Stokers have a lot of guests? Given the number of well-known people they must have associated with through the theatre, did Harriett play a role in maintaining their reputation as good hosts? Or were they?

Emma Barton, the Housemaid. If Harriett seems like a young Cook at 21, Emma at 15 is even younger to be out working. It's not that this is shocking, but it's not what we see done today. How old was Emma when she went into service?

So many questions, and this is only the beginning.

This article is one in an ongoing series, starting with Bram Stoker, author of Dracula in public records: BMD (Birth, Marriage, Death).

The next article is: 27 Cheyne Walk, Chelsea, London, former home of Bram Stoker (1881).

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Bram Stoker, author of Dracula, in public records: BMD

I have been tracking Bram Stoker in the public record. I'm actually doing it for another project but the genealogy part is interesting in and of itself.

My links will probably not work unless you have yourself signed in to Ancestry, but if not, don't despair. I will tell you what I've found so far.

I'm not an Ancestry tout, though I should be. I use them a lot!


His name was Abraham, but in the records I've seen, he's Bram in almost every place.

I am not looking at official biographies, and of course, there is much written about him, since he essentially created our version of what a vampire should be, Count Dracula himself. This is a look at a few of the easily-seen public records, some primary sources if you will.

There are some family trees online that other people have done. I'm glancing at them for hints but most things I am looking for are not in family trees.

The first thing to look at is BMD, or what some family historians refer to as "Hatched, Matched, Dispatched" – records of Birth, Marriage, and Death.

BIRTH: Family trees say November 8, 1847. This is supported by a ship's passenger list saying he was 55 years and 11 months old on October 20, 1903, and is consistent with his age as reported in the census of 1881, 1891, and 1901.

I don't have a birth registration record, and probably won't ever find one, because he was born in Ireland and Irish records are out of my reach.

MARRIAGE: Same, I gather from one or two family trees online that although Bram's wife, Florence Anne Lemon Balcombe, was from Falmouth, Cornwall, England, they were married in Ireland.

DEATH: April 20, 1912.

The information comes from the grant of probate. Link to England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Adminstrations), 1912, S-St, p. 28.

Stoker, Abraham otherwise Bram

of 26 St George's-square, Pimlico, Middlesex

died 20 April 1912.

Probate London 15 May to

Florence Ann Lemon Stoker, widow.

Effects 4723/5/11.

Resworn 5269/12/7.

I have also seen Florence's middle name spelled Anne with an e on the end.

Next: Bram Stoker and family in the 1881 English census