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Annie Tier  After marriage

Portsmouth 1878-1927

I have to confess that I find it difficult to say much, let alone say it interestingly, about Annie’s life.  I’m not quite sure why this should be.  Maybe the lives of women of all classes were just not that interesting - just a long grind of children and housework without the help of birth control and labour-saving appliances.  I don’t remember my grandmother talking of her mother, though she well may have done.  Alas I wrote down nothing of what she said.  The only thing I know is that she sometimes came and looked after my grandmother’s children on washing day.

Grandma Richards.jpg

Washing day would have been a major event in a Victorian household.  It was pretty major in my own childhood, so I can imagine that in Victorian times it would have been even more all consuming.  Washing was done by hand - and you had to heat the water first - no hot and cold running water then.  Then you had to rinse it, put it through a mangle to squeeze out as much of the water as possible, dry it - also not easy in England’s not very wonderful climate.  It was probably draped around the house for days.  And finally it needed to be ironed - on the table with a flat iron that had to be heated on the stove.  I remember my grandmother doing this.  The whole operation took several days and the washing part would have taken most of one of them.  Annie had nine children, seven of whom were still alive in 1911.

I know of eight of them from the various census records, and as yet I am not sure which of these died.  I do not know who the lost baby was.

Maybe Annie and William’s first child died - for my grandmother - the oldest child we know of, was born two years after the marriage, which is perhaps a little unusual.  But it is difficult to find other children when you have a surname like Richards.  Also adding to the difficulty is that the family were nonconformist and those records are not currently easily available online.  I have found no baptisms at all.  Indeed Willie was a member of the Salvation Army - a conviction that he passed on to his oldest daughter, my grandmother, who, herself, married a Salvation Army officer.

Through the various census records I have found eight children, so the missing child must have been born and died between one or other of them.  My grandmother Alice Maud, was the first born in 1880, she was followed by twins Flora Annie and Edith Jessie born in 1882.  Then came May (1886), Jessie (1888), William George (1891), Ernest Edwin (or Edward, I’m not sure which) (1884) and Thomas Francis (1896).  So roughly every two years there was another mouth to feed, another set of clothes to wash, another child to house.  No doubt her dressmaking skills would have helped with clothing them, and, it has to be said, that William had a reasonably well-paid job.  A shipwright at the Dockyard was a fairly high-up position and then he moved to being a draughtsman, which is maybe even more high up.  It certainly entailed further exams and qualifications .  It would be nice to think they were prosperous enough to be like the family in the Christmas dinner painting at the top of the page and it is possible.  The family in the painting are neat and clean, but are not in a particularly wealthy set of surroundings.  The census records show several different addresses, but they did live in Barnes Road (shown at left) for two censuses, though in different houses.  I am not sure how old the houses in the picture are.  But they are very modest looking and not very large, so it would have been a squash with eight children.  No bedroom for each child as we strive for today!

In his Salvation Army mode, William seems to have travelled around a bit.  In 1901 he was in Brighton.  I suppose I am assuming he was there in his capacity as a Salvation Army officer, but if I am honest I have no evidence of this.  Did Annie join him in his conviction I wonder?  You would think it would be difficult not to be involved.  My grandmother, her first child, certainly was.  It would certainly have meant an adherence to Salvation Army values at home I would think, though I never was conscious of Salvation Army philosophy in my grandmother’s house.  I just remember the bands!

washing day 2.jpg
barnes road.png

They seem to have been a close family.  The children generally seem to have lived at home until they married, or in the case of the boys, I suspect they went off to war.  They were the right age for conscription in World War One, so must have gone.  Again, because of the common name it is impossible to tell.  I remember my great-aunt May and Flora, who I think was known as Flo, but I do not remember the others.  I shall investigate them for my page on the children.

For Annie it would have been dreadful to have three sons away in the war, and if any or all of them were killed then it would have been heartbreaking.  Again I do not know but I do not remember any member of the family talking about them.  The photograph is not Annie, and I guess it's rather presumptuous of me to use it, especially as I do not know whether any of the sons were involved, but it was so poignant.

So Annie and William moved into comfortable old age.  For William would have had a pension from the dockyard.  There were grandchildren to fuss over and everyone lived nearby.  Portsmouth people do not seem to travel much - unless it is on the sea and it is their job.


In 1921 at the age of 66 William died.   Annie lived on until 1927 to the ripe old age then of 71.  She died of heart disease (aortic valvular sclerosis and fatty degeneration of heart), but the cause of her death was sufficiently unclear for there to have been a post-mortem, though not an inquest, which is interesting.  Her son William George registered the death, so at least one son came back alive from the war.  I wish I had a photograph of the couple.  There must be one somewhere, so if you have one do let me know.  Email me.  I am sure there are various distant cousins out there who may well have photographic mementoes.

old lady 3.jpg

They were married for a long time - over forty years, so you would hope that they at least learned to get along with each other.  And what tumultuous times they lived through.  They were both born mid nineteenth century when railways were only just beginning, cars were in the distance, no electricity, a very restricted life if you were female.  The changes were massive.  But then I guess we all live through this kind of change and almost don’t notice it.  Nevertheless for me the change from Victorian to the roaring twenties seems enormous - crinolines to skimpy dresses, horses to aeroplanes.  Unimaginable - not to mention the horror of world war one in the middle of it all.  A strong woman I suspect.

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