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Ann Kenward   Before marriage

London, Brighton, Portslade 1837-1894

As I mentioned earlier, 1841 found them in Lewes at 26 Cliffe High St. with Jireh Kenward and his apprentice.  But I now think they were merely visiting.  Their little girl, Wilhelmina who was 2 1/2 had not been born in Sussex and their next child, Frederick, was born in London.  Indeed Ann may well have been pregnant when they visited.  So I think it likely that after the wedding the young couple returned to London, where Charles worked as a woollen warehouseman in the Finsbury part of London.

In 1843 Ann would have still only been about twenty years old.  And here she was a wife and mother, soon to have live-in servants as well.  The children came regularly every couple of years or so - after Richard came Caroline Margaret (1845), Barbara Henrietta Louise (1847), Mary Ann (1850), Charles Mollett Sundius (1851),  Jane Vizeille (1854) and Wilhelmina Aitken (1857).  In 1857 Ann would have been just 35 and the mother of eight.  I wonder if she ever felt that her youth had disappeared - for really she had none.  The best years of her life (if you consider your best years to be your late teens and early twenties) were taken up with the perils of childbirth and the responsibility of running a large and very middle-class household.  One of the servants was a cook, so she can’t have done anything much in the way of practical housekeeping, other than managing others.  Maybe she decided what they would eat.  But I guess that mostly she would have been pursuing genteel things like taking tea with friends (who were they?), shopping for clothes and maybe reading.  It is hard to imagine her doing things like drawing or playing the piano - they don’t seem to be likely things she would have learnt as the daughter of a harness maker.

At some point between 1841 and 1843 Charles and Ann returned to Brighton where Charles started his new career as a miller.  I have no idea what decided them to move.  Also at some point between these two censuses. their little girl, Wilhelmina, must have died for there are no further records of her, and there is a later child also called Wilhelmina.  Try as I might I cannot, at present find a death for Wilhelmina which is curious because we are now into the period of official registrations.  Whatever the reason for her death maybe this was the catalyst. for leaving London  Around the same time, Charles’ father went bankrupt I think - maybe this was also a contributing factor.  Or maybe Ann, or both of them had a hankering to return to the fresh sea air of Brighton where they first met.  Whatever the reason, although Frederick Sundius (the Sundius is Charles’s mother’s surname) their second child and first son, was born in London, their next child - Richard - was born in Brighton in 1843, so by that time they had settled there.  I think that Charles worked the Trafalgar Steam Mill there, although I am not sure when he started doing this.

But what happened then?  Her husband was moving ever onwards and upwards with his career and the family were now settled as pillars of the local community in Portslade where they ran the Britannia Steam Mills. The older boys were drawn into the business too.  The girls were growing up and no doubt their social lives needed managing, although it seems that some of them at least were also sent away to school.  But there don’t seem to be any more children after 1857  Thirty five seems a little young to stop, although, of course there could have been all sorts of reasons for not having more.  Or were there more?  Intriguingly in 1891 she is visiting her now married daughter Mary Ann, with what looks to be another daughter in tow.  The first name is indistinct (Jane? Ann? Lorna? Diane?) but the second name is clearly Myra and she is twenty five years old, so born in 1866 - almost ten years after her last ‘known’ daughter, Wilhelmina Aitkin.  Ann would have been 44 at this point.  I cannot find this person anywhere else - births, deaths, marriages, censuses, including those for which she should have been at home with her parents - if Charles and/or Ann are her parents.  Who is she?  Is she one of those late babies in a marriage?  Some time between 1861 and 1871 Charles retired, so maybe they had time on their hands to indulge in a new baby.  Or did Charles and Ann separate (she is away visiting in 1881 and 1891 - could be just coincidence of course).  Did she have a late fling with somebody else?  The daughter was born in Brighton, not Portslade but then the 1871 record also shows that both Ann and Mary Ann were born in London - different from other census records.  I will continue to try and find this mysterious ‘daughter’ but confess that at the moment I do not really know where else to look.  If there was a late child, then it would have changed her life radically at a comparatively late stage in her life.  Just when you think child raising is over (Wilhelmina would have been 13 or so when the baby was born) it would be back to babies and toddlers - although doubtless Ann would not necessarily have had much hands-on experience - this would have been left to the servants.

I am not exactly sure when she died - maybe in 1891 in Lewes, but more likely in 1894 in Brighton.  I have yet to get her death certificate, and once I have decided which one to choose I shall send for it.

Her ‘baby’ would still have been in her twenties. 

So life entered a pleasant round of visiting married children and grandchildren, visiting friends, and entertaining in the rapidly expanding village of Portslade, with occasional trips to the nearby cultural and entertainment centre of Brighton.    Her daughter Mary Ann lived in Yorkshire, so a trip there would have been a pleasant change of scenery.  


Before marriage

After marriage

The children


Ann Kenward

William Kenward

Charles Richard Smith

Caroline Margaret Smith



None of the facts, of which there are a goodly number, really give us any idea of what kind of person she was - although perhaps there are hints of an impetuous, impulsive personality - the incredibly early marriage, the late child (if late child there is), but really these are the only indicators we have.  A genteel, comfortable life at a time of great prosperity and change, from relatively humble, small-town origins.  A lucky life, at least materially speaking.  Let us hope that it was lucky in other ways too.  Maybe Charles retired early to spend more time with her!  Wouldn’t it be nice to think the romance lasted all their lives.

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