Upstairs, downstairs in Forest Gate - 1881

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

The 1881 census provides us with the first chance to see a snapshot of how the recently developing Forest Gate was turning out, as a community.  As we showed in the Woodgrange estate - the early years (see here), the construction of this substantial middle class estate was begun in the 1870's.

Early photo of Claremont Road, 
c 1913, from Woodgrange Road
By the time of the 1881 census, the as yet unfinished estate occupied what is the western section of the area, from Woodgrange Road to just past Richmond Road.  There were a total of 66 houses in Claremont Road (1 - 67 and 2 - 64), then - 60 of them occupied.

Given the estate's recent construction and the relatively large size of its houses, not surprisingly its residents were predominantly middle class families with fairly young children (36, or 60% of the houses had under 10 years olds living in them).


Some interesting features emerge from the census details, of the 60 occupied:

Fifty  (83%) of them included domestic servants as part of the household (see below for details).  This was, of course, the main female paid occupation in the late Victorian period.  The "servant" would generally have been accommodated in the side annexes that are such a distinctive feature of the houses at the western end of the estate.  These female, as they all were, servants were all single, or at least lived without their husbands in the "master's" house.

The Forest Gate News, a decade and a half later, offered free adverts for "female domestic servants requiring situations".  The opportunity was taken up largely by young women, from Essex, who sought positions as "domestic servants" or "maid of all works", for an average pay of £16 per year. They would also receive free board and food and a uniform, for their six day week.

The indomitable Mrs Beeton in her best selling and legendary Book of Household Management, published two decades earlier painted a very vivid picture of the role of the female domestic servant:


The general servant, or maid-of-all-work, is perhaps the only one of her class deserving of commiseration: her life is a solitary one, and in, some places, her work is never done. She is also subject to rougher treatment than either the house or kitchen-maid, especially in her earlier career: she starts in life, probably a girl of thirteen, with some small tradesman's wife as her mistress, just a step above her in the social scale; and although the class contains among them many excellent, kind-hearted women, it also contains some very rough specimens of the feminine gender, and to some of these it occasionally falls to give our maid-of-all-work her first lessons in her multifarious occupations: the mistress's commands are the measure of the maid-of-all-work's duties.
 By the time she has become a tolerable servant, she is probably engaged in some respectable tradesman's house, where she has to rise with the lark, for she has to do in her own person all the work which in larger establishments is performed by cook, kitchen-maid, and housemaid, and occasionally the part of a footman's duty, which consists in carrying messages.

Maid of all works, from 
Illustrated London News 1875
Thirteen (22%) of the households had both a domestic servant and a "nurse", or similar, living in them. This generally speaking, is what today would be called a live-in nanny, although they had a variety of slightly different job titles/descriptions given them in the official record. 

Once again, Mrs Beeton provides a, slightly earlier, insight into what the role may have entailed:

The nursery is of great importance in every family, ... (the nurse/maid) washes, dresses, and feeds it (the young child); walks out with it, and regulates all its little wants; and, even at this early age, many good qualities are required to do so in a satisfactory manner. Patience and good temper are indispensable qualities; truthfulness, purity of manners, minute cleanliness, and docility and obedience, almost equally so. She ought also to be acquainted with the art of ironing and trimming little caps, and be handy with her needle.

In smaller families, where there is only one nursemaid kept, she is assisted by the housemaid, or servant-of-all-work, who will do the rougher part of the work, and carry up the nursery meals. In such circumstances she will be more immediately under the eye of her mistress, who will probably relieve her from some of the cares of the infant.
 A nurse should endeavour to make her room as cheerful as possible, and always keep it clean and tidy. She should empty the chamber utensils as soon as used, and on no account put things under the bed. Soiled baby’s napkins should be rolled up and put into a pan, when they should be washed out every morning, and hung out to dry: they are then in a fit state to send to the laundress; and should, on no account, be left dirty, but done every morning in this way. The bedroom should be kept rather dark, particularly for the first week or ten days; of a regular temperature, and as free as possible from draughts, at the same time well ventilated and free from unpleasant smells.
There was a mash mash of middle class occupations held by the principal breadwinners on the street, overwhelmingly male, of course.  But there were a few interesting exceptions.

Three of the four women who were heads of households were widows, or pensioners.  The only "economically active" woman householder was Elizabeth Lollard of number 48.  She was a school mistress.  A later edition of the Forest Gate News (see advert shown) suggested that the house (today's incarnation, pictured below) was, in fact, an academy for girls.


48 Claremont Road, today. 
 1880's and Academy for Girls
For the most part the heads of household had respectable middle class positions as merchants/commercial travellers or clerks in worth City institutions.  There were a few self made and business owning traders.

Woodgrange Academy for Girls, 48 
Claremont Road, one of only few 
houses in the street with female 
head of household in 1881



Residents of Claremont Road, 1881

Key to the listing below: @ = household with young children; + = household with domestic servant; * = household with "nurse", or similar.


Postcard of Woodgrange Road 
end of Claremont Road c 1900
Odd numbers
1. Clare Lancaster - a "wife" with two scholar/children and two teenage domestic servants. @ +

3. William Mallinson - master timber merchant, plus wife, two children one domestic servant and a nursemaid. @+*

5. John Akers - wholesale clothier and local Methodist preacher, plus wife, 83 year-old mother-in-law, one scholar/daughter and one domestic servant. @+

7. Charles Gassett - a house steward, plus wife and seven young children, a pupil/teacher niece and one domestic servant. @+

9. John Faucort - clerk at the Bank of England, plus wife and two children and one domestic servant. @+

11. Alfred Hardy - railway clerk, plus wife and three children, plus two in-laws and a clerk/boarder. @

13. Richard Colliyear - wine, spirit and beer merchant, plus wife, two children and one domestic servant and a nursemaid. @+*

15. Andrew Stephenson - chemical agent, plus wife, four children and one domestic servant. @+

17. Ebenezer Maxim - merchant tailor, plus wife and four children and one domestic servant ("lady help"). @+

19. Henry Bishop - furrier warehouseman, plus five children and two domestic servants (one housekeeper and one governess).@+*

21. William Thorpe - traveller to a brewer, plus three children, a visitor and one domestic servant. @+

23. Ebenezer Button - commercial traveller, plus wife and two children and one domestic servant. @+

25. Edwin Whitby - skin merchant, plus one child and one domestic servant and one nursemaid.@+*

27. John Radcliffe - clerk Colonial Brokers, plus wife, daughter and one domestic servant. +

29. Eliza Sherwin, widowed pensioner, plus sister-in-law and one domestic servant. +

31. John Allen - master manufacturing chemist employing 19 men and 3 boys, plus wife, four children and one domestic servant.@+

33. Louisa Craddock - wife of photographer, plus three teenage children and one domestic servant. +

35. David Thomas - drapery commercial traveller, plus wife one child, a nurse/visitor, plus one domestic servant and a nursemaid. @+*

37. Unoccupied.

39. George Booth - insurance clerk, plus wife, lodger (porter in trading firm) and one domestic servant. +

41. John Aitken - customs clerk, plus wife, son (commercial clerk), mother and one domestic servant. +

43. Hamilton Guernsey - fire insurance clerk, plus wife, two children and one domestic servant. @+

45. Alfred Whitby - manager drapery, plus wife, four sons and one domestic servant. @+

47. Thomas Barnes - ironmonger merchant, plus wife, six children, one cook and one domestic servant/nursemaid. @+*

49. Rouse Larter - certified schoolmaster, plus wife, five children and two domestic servants (sisters).@+

51. Gideon Gould - jeweller, plus daughter, two grand-daughters, one governess and two domestic servants. @+*

53. Anne Duckell - "income from railway dividends", plus one domestic servant.+

55. William Turner - linen draper, plus wife, two sons and one niece (companion/domestic servant).+

57. William Oryer - certified schoolmaster, plus wife, two sons and one daughter.

59. Robert Colbert - master cooper, plus wife, six adult children (two sons, coopers and four daughters, no occupations).

61. Hamlet Palmer  - pensioner, plus two daughters, two sons (an auctioneer and an analytical chemist) plus an architect/visitor and one domestic servant.+

63. Robert Wyatt - stockbrokers clerk, plus wife one daughter and one domestic servant.@+

65. William Bevan - brewery clerk,  plus wife and one domestic servant.+

67. Unoccupied.

Even numbers
2. Frank Edinburgh - wine merchant,  plus wife and four children, one nurse and one domestic servant.@+*

4. Peter Sharp - accountant in marine insurance,  plus wife and three daughters and one son.

6. Unoccupied.

8. Mathew Sumner - general superintendent accident assurance,  plus wife and three children and one domestic servant.+

10. Ralph Storey - solicitors' clerk, plus two children and one domestic servant/nursemaid.@+*

12. William Curlayne - colonial merchant,  plus wife and four children and two domestic servants.@+

14. Unoccupied.

16. Unoccupied.

18. Anna Baines - domestic servant.+

20. Robert Symington - cashier clerk,  plus wife and one domestic servant.+

22. Harry Main - clerk woollen trade,  plus wife and mother-in-law (visiting).

24. William Imray - commercial traveller paper trade,  plus wife, five children and one domestic servant.@+

26. John Paterson - member British insurance company,  plus wife and one domestic servant.+

28. Unoccupied.

30. John Cooper - commercial traveller,  plus wife and 76 year-old retired tanner uncle,  plus one domestic servant.+

32. Elizabeth Jones - supported by merchant seaman,  plus mother and three children and one domestic servant.@+

34. Thomas Taylor - commercial iron and scrap trade,  plus wife, three clerk sons and one daughter (apprentice dressmaker) and 81 year-old mother-in-law.

36. Samuel Dowsett - traveller, paper trade,  plus wife, two children, one nursemaid and one domestic servant.@+*

38. John Paulin - corn merchant,  plus wife, two children, one nursemaid and one domestic servant.@+*

40. James Stewart - commercial clerk, plus wife, two children one visitor and one domestic servant.@+

42. George Smith - commercial clerk, plus wife and six children.@

44. Edward Ivimey - master tailor employing four hands,  plus wife, six children, including a music-teacher daughter, plus one housekeeper.@+

46. Unoccupied.

48. Elizabeth Lollard - school mistress, plus one school mistress daughter, one drapers' assistant son, three younger children and one domestic servant.@+

50. Robert Clegham - artificial florist,  plus wife, two daughters one nursemaid and one domestic servant.@+*

52. Unoccupied.

54. Mary Albert - widow, income from railway shares,  plus son (insurance clerk) one daughter and one domestic servant.+

56. Charles Berry - general shipping agent,  plus wife, son, sister-in-law, one nursemaid and one domestic servant.@+*

58. Grice Mercer - stockbrokers' clerk,  plus wife and one domestic servant.+

60. Thomas Dowey - surveyor with H.M. Customs,  plus wife, two daughters one son (commercial clerk, china merchant), two grandsons and one domestic servant.@+

62. James Radcliffe - iron merchant,  plus wife, two daughters and one son (accountant).

64. Frank Harwood - retired draper,  plus wife, daughter and one domestic servant.+

Next week - the first of two exciting episodes of the life and times of the Upper Cut in Woodgrange Road (1966 - 67).  Not to be missed!!

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