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Emma Eliza Brown   Motherhood

Enfield 1854 - ca. 1881

Maybe the confused vicar finally persuaded them to marry - or maybe her father did.  Maybe she had been holding out against marriage, maybe James had.  Whatever the reason, the third pregnancy - after a gap of three years (was there a falling-out, or a dead baby or miscarriage, in between?) - instigated the marriage of James Dearman and Emma Eliza Brown.  They did not marry in St. Andrews church, where the children were baptised, but in St. James church, which is slightly odd, though it may simply have been the closest church.  So on Sunday March 5th 1854, less than a month before the birth of James John Dearman, James Dearman, bricklayer and Emma Eliza Brown, servant, were married.  Neither had been married before and James does not give his father’s name, simply says he is ‘deceased‘ as indeed he was.  Maybe he did not know anything much about his convict father.  But that also is another story.  The witnesses were Eliza’s father and Fanny Brown, who may be her sister Frances, or I suppose, may be her mother Mary Anne.  The bride and groom are both able to sign for themselves, though Eliza’s sister (or mother) cannot.

The oldest child, Henry William, was six when his parents married and nineteen by the time the last baby, Alfred, was born, so I guess all of the children would not have been at home all the time.  Then, maybe three, definitely two, of the children did not survive childhood.  The most tragic of these deaths, though they must all have been tragic, was the death of her daughter, Sophia Annie at the age of three months.  She was Eliza’s only daughter.  Eliza had at least five, maybe six sons who survived into youth although there was a five year gap between the youngest, Alfred, and his closest surviving brother, George.  He, at least must have had relatively more attention from his mother, and one would assume also that by the time he was born the family might have been more prosperous, as their father would be more skilled, and presumably paid more, and the oldest children Henry and Frederick, at least would have left home.

And at the same time, like most of the mothers and wives in this family tree Eliza had to feed and clothe the family on probably not a lot of money, and certainly without any labour-saving devices like those we take for granted these days.  Just let us hope that her husband was a rock throughout all of this and that he was not drunk or abusive, and that she was able to sit and share her troubles with her neighbours in the village.  And she might have had some help from her parents, both of whom lived into their old age.

I do not know how long Eliza went on working as a servant after her marriage, or indeed, whether the marriage meant that she could no longer work as a servant, and she just dedicated herself full-time to husband and children.  And I have to say I really do not know how any unwealthy woman of the time would have been able to find time to work as well as do the housekeeping chores without the assistance of either machine or servants.  For, once married, Eliza and James’ children came at a regular one or two years - a total of nine in all (as in the photograph at left)

Poor Eliza.  After the births of her first four sons the next one died  The last child, Alfred who was born in 1867 must have been much loved and cherished.  She was forty one at the time.  Such a pity, that ultimately, it seems, he turns out to have been the rotten apple of the bunch.  (See The children.)

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