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 Ancestry.com 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
RG11/74/78/0656

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).



No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for your comment.

There was an error in this gadget