Thursday, 9 January 2014

Edwardian Family

I have made various New Year resolutions concerning my writing. More on that in a future post, but one of those resolutions was to revive this blog.

I've been doing some local history research in the 1911 census, and I found this splendid family.

John Thomas Dale, head of household, aged 46,  plasterer, and his wife Mary Elizabeth, aged 47;

Their daughters:
Elizabeth Martha, aged  23, photographer's assistant;
Ethel Blanche, 21;
Daisy Violet, 19, school teacher;
Hilda, 17;
Grace Louise, 14;
Lily Dorothy, 12;
Ivy Ethel, 8;
Minnie Florence,  6;

John Thomas, their son,  aged  2.

The daughters' names are typical, even fashionable, for their generation. A much greater variety of Christian names was in use by the end of the nineteenth century, reflecting the fact that more infants were surviving. 

The house the Dales lived in was fairly new in 1911, but it was quite a small three bedroom terrace, with the front door opening directly onto the parlour. There was of course no bathroom in 1911. One has to wonder how this family of eleven fitted in. 

I wonder why no occupations were given for Ethel and Hilda. Elizabeth and Daisy had good jobs, but I don't know if their earnings, plus their father's, would have been enough to support the whole family 

Unless there was an older boy who had already left home, the Dales would not have had a son or brother fighting in the Great War. But I wonder whether any of the young women lost a sweetheart in the war, and whether any of them did war work in factories or hospitals or on the land. Even Lily would have been old enough by 1918. 

What was it like for young John, growing up with a houseful of older sisters? His mother would have been 44 or 45 when he was born  - a very late baby. Were she and her husband delighted to have a son at last, or did this baby come as an unwelcome surprise?

Sometimes an apparently very late baby was in fact the child of an unmarried daughter, and was brought up by the grandmother as her own, to avoid scandal. But even knowing no more than their names and ages, one has the impression that the Misses Dale were good, respectable girls and young women. 

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