Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Dracula's author, Bram Stoker, and family in the 1891 English census

If you have already had a look at the Stoker family in the 1881 census (link), you will know that they were living at 27 Cheyne Walk in Chelsea, London. Bram and Florence, their son Irving, and Bram's brother George lived there with three servants: a nurse, a cook, and a parlourmaid.

Some changes have come about, which you will quickly notice in the 1891 census.

Reference: Class:  RG12; Piece:  63; Folio  43; Page  12; GSU roll:  6095173.

1891 England Census for London, Chelsea, Chelsea South, District 2, Page 12, Household 103
Link to image of the census page (may only work if signed in to Don't worry, the information is all here.)

Address: 17 St Leonard's Terrace, Chelsea, London
1 inhabited house

Household 103 on census form

Abraham Stoker, Head, Married. Male, age 43. Barrister, Theatrical Manager, Author. Born in Dublin [Ireland].

Florence A. L. Stoker, Wife, Married. Female, age 27. Occupation is blank. Born in Cornwall, Falmouth. [Falmouth, Cornwall].

Mary A. Drinkwater, Servant, Single. Female, age 28. Cook (Domestic Servant). Born in Oxford, Milford. [Milford, Oxfordshire]

Ada V. Howard, Servant, Single. Female, age 22. House parlourmaid (Domestic Servant). Born in London.

That is the end of No. 17. However, at No. 18, there is no new Head of household, only two servants. It may be that the Stokers had both houses, particularly if these were side by side. In case this is of interest later, here are the details.

Address: 18 St Leonard's Terrace, Chelsea, London

Household 104 on census form.

Julia Abbott, Servant, Single. Female, age 25. Servant in charge. Born in Great Yarmouth.

Mary Kerr, Servant, Single. Female, age 22. Servant in charge. Born in Dumfries Lockabie [possibly Lockerbie, Dumfriesshire, Scotland].


The family has moved from Cheyne Walk to St Leonard's Terrace. Is that a move up or down?

Son Irving and Bram's brother George are both absent. George may very well have set up his own household, but where is the boy? He would be about 11 years old now.

Instead of three servants, there are only two, a Cook and a House parlourmaid. This is the same as in 1881, when the family also had a Nurse to care for the boy. The servants are new, though, not the same people as ten years ago. It makes me wonder whether there were very many others in between.

Bram's occupation was Theatrical Manager M.A. in 1881. Here in 1891, he is Barrister, Theatrical Manager, Author. Perhaps the M.A. is his law degree. Showing his occupation to include Author suggests he's already had some success in publishing his work. What has he written to date, and how well has he done as an author?

Florence was shown as an Artist in 1881. Why not now? Has she given it up? How does she spend her time?

There are the same questions about the servants as in 1881, boiling down to who are they, and how did they get here, and what became of them?

Finally, there is the question of the house next door. Has it got anything to do with the Stokers at all, or are the servants looking after it while the owner is absent?

And, a question that no census is going to tell us, has Bram started to think about Dracula yet?

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

Next: 17 St Leonards Terrace, Chelsea: Bram Stoker's family home in 1891

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