Catherine Downing: The life of a lunatic

Catherine was the older sister of my ancestor Henry Downing. Like many young women of her time, she went into service at a very young age. At the age of fourteen, she spent five months in Surrey Lunatic Asylum. On her discharge, she found another position as housemaid with a family near Chelmsford. Her next employer, however, was a step up. Horace Lloyd was a wealthy barrister and counsel, living in Sussex Gardens, Paddington. Horace Lloyd was so posh that he even has a Wikipedia entry. This environment must have been very unnerving for a poor girl from rural Essex and could have tipped her fragile mental health over the edge. Read more...

James Dorr: Transported to Australia

When I first read the 1819 will of the Southminster Downing patriarch Joseph, one thing stood out.  Joseph had stipulated that upon his wife's death, his capital should be divided equally amongst his children, "except my daughter, Sarah Daw [Dorr], the wife of James Daw [Dorr], who has before been provided for". Read more...

Angelina Appleton: A Victorian Bigamist

Angelina Appleton, born 1848 Bigamist of Southend-on-Sea, Essex, and my 4th great aunt  Angelina Appleton was baptised on 30th April 1848, the fourth child of William Appleton, gardener of Leigh-on-Sea, and his wife Elizabeth.  Her older sister, Harriet, was my great great great grandmother, and the wife of Henry Downing, the subject of my last … Continue reading Angelina Appleton: A Victorian Bigamist