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  • Writer's pictureWendy Percival

Aftermath & Mystery

On #AncestryHour this week (Twitter, Tuesdays 7-8pm BST) I mentioned my blog post, Tragedy & Loss, about the death of my 2x great-grandmother, Eleanor Hick (nee Williams) in 1872 shortly after giving birth, leaving her husband James Hick with a young family of 6 children, including a baby girl.

Extract of 1871 census showing Hick family children

The conversation turned to what had happened to the children afterwards, and also to whether James had remarried – a common, and practical, solution in such circumstances in those days. So this week I’ve been digging around on the 1881 census to see what I could discover.

1881 census

Unfortunately, 8 years would pass before the next census of 1881 and a lot can happen in that time. The older children would likely have reached an age where it was likely they’d no longer be living in the family home.

As I mentioned in last week’s post, I’d already tracked down Eliza, the baby born when her mother died. Now age 8, she was living in Little Witley with her “aunt and uncle”, Diana and George Hill. Diana’s maiden name was Rowley and she’d been born in Little Witley. But so far I’ve found no family connection to the couple, so perhaps describing Eliza as “niece” may have not been their literal relationship, though it may indicate some sort of family link which I’ve yet to discover.

The next youngest in the family was Josiah, aged 2 when his mother died. I found him, aged 10, living with his father in Great Witley. You’ll note on the image below that a little further down the same page, my great-grandmother, Jane, now 20, is recorded as a servant, living with Charles Goode and his wife, Elizabeth.

Jane’s younger brother Ernest, now 16, is working as a groom and living as a boarder with Stephen & Mary Hill (related to Diana & George Hill, perhaps? Something I’ve still to check out). But of the two parents’ namesakes – Eleanor aged 8 on the 1871 census and her brother James, who was then 7 – I can find no record.


As for James senior, it seems he didn’t remarry. He’s recorded as a widower in 1881 and the same on the 1891 census, and I can find no record of a marriage in between those dates, so no evidence that he remarried and then lost his second wife too.

James died aged 67 in 1900 of “heart disease and syncope”. And in a cruel echo of his wife’s death 28 years previously, it happened close to Christmas. His death certificate records the date of death as 20th December, registered the following day by George Norton who was a near neighbour and present at the death. I’ve found nothing so far to suggest he was a family member.

More mystery

My search to establish family connections with Eliza’s “aunt and uncle” has only been possible on Jane’s mother’s side. Her father James’s past is proving rather elusive. I can find no conclusive evidence of his existence prior to the census of 1861, when he was a lodger at Jane’s grandparents’ home. The search continues…

As for young Eleanor and young James, perhaps I should be looking back before I look forward. Had something happened to them since the 1871 census, even prior to their mother’s death? It’s next on my To Do list!


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