Mercy TROWER was my 3x great-aunt and the story of her life is increasing becoming something of an obsession for me. This post is partly for my own benefit, an attempt to get the known (and unknown) facts clear in my head.
Mercy was born in 1852 in Henfield, Sussex (probably Harwoods Farm), the fourth child of Henry and Jane TROWER. Her birth was registered in Q3 1852 in Steyning Registration District. A record of her baptism, like those of her younger siblings, has not been found.
On the 1861 census Mercy is shown as a scholar, living with her parents and grandfather (William TROWER) at Harwoods Farm, Henfield. By the 1871 census the 19 year old Mercy has left home, she is a servant in the household of Eliza GRAY, the widow of a solicitor, in Church Street, Reigate, Surrey.
Mercy was one of the witnesses at the marriage of her brother Abraham TROWER to Jane BATCHELOR in Henfield on the 9th November 1878. This doesn’t mean she is living back in Henfield, but by the 1881 census Mercy is back home at Harwoods Farm, Henfield, back with her parents again, and still working as a servant.
Banns of marriage were published on the 21st May, 28th May and 4th June 1882 in Henfield. Mercy was preparing to marry a bachelor, also from Henfield, by the name of George BARLEY. There is no record of the marriage taking place in Henfield, or anywhere else in England and Wales according to the GRO marriage indexes.
On the 14th October 1884, Mercy gives birth to a son, who was named Ernest John. She was still at Harwoods Farm at the time. His birth was registered on the 20th November 1884 in the Steyning Registration District, no father was mentioned on the birth certificate.
No baptism record has been found for Ernest John TROWER, and in the 1891 and 1901 census Ernest John is living with his grandparents, not with his mother.
The next record I have for Mercy is the 1891 census, she is at 25 Compton Avenue, Brighton, Sussex as a servant in the household of Francis John MAY, a civil engineer and Borough Surveyor of Brighton. Mercy is recorded as a widow and her surname is STEADMAN. There is no record of a marriage taking place in England and Wales according to the GRO marriage indexes.
Her name and marital status remains the same for the 1901 and 1911 census. In 1901 she is living with Emma C BROWN at 24 Hove Park Villas, Hove, Sussex, employed as a cook. In 1911 she is at 5 Selbourne Road, Hove and is a cook in the household of Emma SCARLETT.
The next record I have for Mercy is her will, it was written on the 14th August 1928 at Whitesmith near Chiddingly, Sussex. She left everything to be divided equally between her son Ernest John TROWER and her sister Ruth TROWER, who was named as executrix.
Mercy died on the 21st March 1929 aged 74 of a cerebral haemorrhage, there was no post mortem. Her address was given as 97 Wellington Road, Portslade, Sussex. Although it appears that her death actually occurred at the Steyning Union Workhouse in Ham Road, Shoreham, Sussex (although this probably is not an indicator that Mercy was a pauper, merely receiving medical care).
Mercy was buried in Henfield Cemetery on the 25 March 1929, in consecrated ground, there doesn’t appear to be a headstone. The event was mentioned in the diary of Percy Ebenezer TROWER, her nephew, "To-day Aunt Mercy
died was buried at Henfield Cemetery, she died on Thursday at Shoreham Infirmary". The burial register records her surname as STEDMAN.
Probate was granted to Ruth TROWER on the 17th May 1929 at Lewes, Sussex. The estate was valued at £404 12s 2d. Going forward from the 1891 census, all records refer to Mercy as Mercy STEADMAN, widow (with the exception of the burial register mentioned above). Her death certificate records her as the widow of ___ STEADMAN, occupation unknown.