How did Kate Driver end up in Essex?

23 Jan

It seemed quite likely that the Kate Driver who married Robert Cecil Allison in Beaumont, Essex in 1903 was my 2x great-aunt but so far I hadn’t found any conclusive evidence.

The 1911 census told me that Kate Driver had come from Framfield in Sussex, but how had she made her way from Framfield into Essex, and not just the outskirts of London but deep into Essex, even today Beaumont looks like a remote village not far from the east coast of Essex.

Using the earlier censuses I hoped to be able to better understand how this Sussex girl had ended up in Essex, if indeed it was her.

The 1881 census finds the one year old Kate Driver living at Blackboys in Framfield, Sussex, not unsurprisingly she is living with her parents. In 1881 she was their only child, but she was the first of six.

In 1891 whilst the rest of the family (Thomas and his wife Ellen and four children) were living in Waldron, Sussex (just down the road from Framfield) Kate was in London. She was in Wandsworth, with her uncle and aunt (her mother’s sister). She was only 11 years old and there are no clues to whether she was just paying a visit or was a permanent resident with her uncle and aunt. She seems such a long way from home to be just visiting, especially on her own.

School admission records might reveal whether Kate was a permanent resident (and for how long), but if this was the case they probably wouldn’t reveal the reason she was away from home. Perhaps Thomas and Ellen couldn’t cope with all five children or perhaps they didn’t have the space or money. Perhaps I was reading too much into it, perhaps she was just on holiday.

Finding Kate in 1901 wasn’t easy, there wasn’t really any other options but the only likely option didn’t really match satisfactorily. There appears to be only one likely individual, a 26 year old domestic servant living in Wimbledon, London. Of course the age doesn’t match, Kate should have been 21 years old not 26, and her place of birth was given as Lewes, Sussex not Framfield, Sussex.

Of course Kate wouldn’t have filled in the census, that would have been down to her employer, so that might explain the discrepancies but I can’t help wondering whether there was some deliberate motive for inflating her age.

In less than three years Kate was getting married to Robert Cecil Allison in Beaumont, Essex, and although it is not such a great leap from London to Essex as it is from Sussex to Essex, it still seems hard to understand how Kate and Robert got together.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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