John James Magee The children
What I know of the children in most cases is frustratingly little. Comes of having a surname like Magee and then calling your children by the popular names of the time. The children in the picture look fairly carefree, if poor. It is called Street Arabs, which is no doubt what the Magee children were for a time. Did being a policeman make their father a bit of a disciplinarian I wonder? Several of the children died as infants, which maybe is a reflection of the social class to which they belonged - poor living conditions and lack of medical assistance would have been mostly responsible I feel. As far as I can tell a total of three of the nine children that Catherine bore, died as infants - a fact confirmed by the 1911 census. Interesting that John’s father’s name - Roger - was not used for any of the children.
Another tragic first-born baby who died. This one must have been conceived out of wedlock too, and her parents were so young - Catharine was only 19 and John a year older. The child was named after both of their mothers - both Anns - and she lived for less than a year. Catharine must have been already pregnant with her second child, however, when she died, so maybe this did something to ease the pain - or maybe it made things worse. If they only married because she had been pregnant, there was still no escape as she was pregnant again. More questions. Elizabeth is the name of one of John James’ sisters, and it is, of course, another version of Eliza, the baby’s mother’s middle name.
Elizabeth Anne 1867-1868
John James Magee +
Catharine Eliza Warner
Catherine Eliza 1869-?
So they tried again, and this time they celebrated the baby’s mother’s name. But my trail runs cold with Catherine after 1881. Then she is eleven and obviously still living at home with her parents. After that, nothing. I thought she married one Charles Baxter, but then, when Ancestry published their London parish records, I found the marriage, and saw that this was a different person (wrong father). There seem to be no other likely marriages, and I cannot find a death either, so I am a little bemused. Well there is a Catherine Magee who dies aged 43 in the Greenwich Registration District in 1912, but where this lady is in between I do not know. If this is her, then she obviously never married.
Then John James had his turn and the first boy was named after him - and indirectly after the grandfather, whose middle name (sometimes used as his first nam)e was James. I know a little more about him than his older sister, but not a lot. In 1891 aged 21 he is a soldier - a gunner, in fact in the Royal Artillery - then at the barracks in Woolwich. This was the time of the Boer Wars, so one suspects that he was sent off there to fight for a year or so. I do not think he died there though, as he doesn’t seem to be listed on their casualty list. However, I am not at all sure what happened to him after the 1891 census. My possible outcomes are that he married Mary Ann Clark in 1898, but I have no real evidence for this. I cannot find them again, so maybe he did die overseas in the war. When more datasets become available online I will have another look. In the meantime if anyone out there can enlighten us do email us.
John James 1870-?
Ann Elizabeth (Anny) 1872-?
Free bmd has a birth in December 1872, so I am guessing that this is John and Catherine’s second attempt at honouring their mothers’ names. The child is almost always listed as Anny, or Annie on the census records we have though. She stayed at home with her parents for some time. In 1891 at the age of 18 like many, many young girls of her station she was working as a domestic servant - obviously not a live-in servant but one who came in each day, the daily help who would have done all the heavy cleaning and other menial tasks. In 1901 she is found at her aunt Elizabeth’s house with her sister Maud. Now Elizabeth ran a boarding house for young clerks, so I imagine that Maud and Anny were there to help out, and maybe find a husband too! Did she marry? I do not know, I cannot find a marriage, or any more trace of her, so like her three previous siblings, the rest is silence.
Perhaps, named after his mother’s father. In 1901 at the age of sixteen, he like Anny was working as a domestic servant. What did boys do as servants? Well male servants were more prestigious than female servants because they cost more, so there tended to be fewer of them. I am not absolutely sure what they did and it probably depended on the grandeur of the house. In the very grand households they were footmen and butlers, dressing very properly and performing an almost ceremonial role. But more likely they did the heavy work, lifting heavy things like sacks of coal and wood, heavy cleaning, gardening and jobs associated with horses and coaches. Further research tells me that they generally had responsibility for cleaning all the shoes, running errands, and heavy or dangerous jobs around the place, as well as the gardening and the jobs associated with the family coach and horses. The picture at left shows the shoe cleaning part of the job - which could take all day. Maybe he worked in the same household as his sister, Ann. However, whether William remained as a servant I have no idea. World War One was just around the corner and it is just possible that he served in the war, although he would have been in his early thirties when war broke out. In 1916 conscription was introduced, and he did fall into the age group that was liable for conscription. However, it is just too difficult to decide whether any of the William Magees who participated in the war were him, without a lot more dedicated time. Sorry William, I guess you are just a side interest, and so not high on my list for investigation. Ditto for his possible marriage to either Rose Eves or Matilda Kay in the Woolwich district in 1904. Did he too join the army like his big brother I wonder? One day when all my more pressing mysteries are solved ... In the meantime, if you know anything I would love to hear from you. Send us an email.
Henry Thomas 1877-1877
Named after his grandfather- his mother’s father’s second name, and his mother’s grandfather. Another tragically short life. As his short life falls between censuses, I suppose it is possible that this Henry Thomas Magee is not from the family - but the names and the dates fit, so I am assuming that he is. Life was hard for mothers in those days.
Florence was the sister, closest to my grandmother, Maude. She was born after what must have been a difficult time for her mother, who had recently lost a second child. Let us hope that she brought a little light into their lives. Her profession seems to have been as a barmaid, at least this is what she is doing in 1891, when she is found living with her parents still, aged twenty two. Maybe she was also there to help care for her parents. Her two other sisters, Ann and Maude were at their aunt’s, although I suppose this could have just been a short visit. But she does seem to have been a caring sort of person, for it is she who is with her sister, Maude when she dies. I used to wonder whether she took charge of Maude’s two potentially illegitimate children, but I now know it was actually Maude's aunt who did. Florence did marry, but not until the ripe old age of forty two, although she only admits to thirty eight on the parish register. The wedding photo at right, may be her wedding, but then again it may not. The timing is about right and some of the right people (her sister Maude and niece Florence). The date is December 19 1921 she married Sidney Edward Steer, a photographic stock keeper, whatever that is, in the church of St. Mary Magdalene in Peckham. The witness from her side of the family was her niece, Florence Elsie Mollett, my aunt, who, I suspect, had been named after her (and her father’s sister too). Maybe Florence’s little sister, Maud, my grandmother was there too. )If this is her wedding, then Maude was - in the back row with my father.) Florence and Sidney do not appear to have had any children, but this is not all that surprising considering their age. I think Florence died in 1938 at the age of 59, which is not all that old and only a few years after her mother. Most likely she and Maud were close - they seemed to have been there for each other at significant moments.
The tragedies just kept on coming for John and Catherine though. Another baby who lives for a tantalising year or so and then dies. Named after her mother’s mother, and, as I do not have the birth certificate or a baptism record, I suppose I do not have absolute proof that she belongs to this family. I think it highly likely though - like her dead baby brother Henry, the name and the dates fit.
Maude(e) Beatrice 1884-1925
And last, but definitely not least comes my mysterious and possibly flamboyant grandmother. The baby of the family. Her story is written here. Her birth certificate has her as plain Maud, but by the time she died she was Maude Beatrice. Known to her family as Maudie I think - she is entered this way in one of the census records.