Updated: Nov 29
I never know where these family history blog entries are going to take me. Some are straightforward – a story of a life - while others bring particular subjects to my attention, like this one did, making me think about domestic service in the early 20th century.
The starting point was a pair of lovely photographs of two small children, nicely labelled, William Alfred Corderoy (left) born in 1904 and Stephen Corderoy born in 1906 (below)
The first stop was therefore the 1911 census. Where I found William and his younger brother Stephen living at the very impressive looking 10 Sussex Place, Regents Park. They had two older brothers: George and Edward and a younger sister called Stella. Their parents were George and Lydie Rachel, who had been married for 10 ½ years. George was a surveyor, born in London in around 1860 and Lydie was from Alderney in Guernsey, born there in around 1878. There were also several servants: Fanny Watts, Daisy Pallant, Dorothy Emily Harris, Ada Emily Hogben and Helen Matthews.
A step back in time finds that George Corderoy married Lydie Rachel de Mouilpied in Bolton, Lancashire on 27 October 1900 at Park Lane Methodist church. There is a detailed description of the wedding in a Guernsey newspaper which provides an insight into the household William and Stephen would grow up in. I love the image of the bridesmaids dressed in lavender with black hats.
Wedding of Miss R.L. de Mouilped to Mr G Corderoy.
The Wesleyan Methodist Church in Park-street was filled to overflowing on Saturday afternoon, Oct 27, on the occasion of a fashionable marriage to which numerous relatives and friends had been bidden from near and far. Mr George Corderoy was the bridegroom, and the lady of his choice Miss Lydie Rachel de Mouilpied LRAM ISM. The bride is the daughter of the Rev. D.A. de Mouilpied, the much-travelled Superintendent of the Park-street Wesleyan Circuit, residing in the villa fronting Chorley New Road and Park-street; and Mr Corderoy is senior partner in the firm of Messrs Corderoy, Selby, and Corderoy, surveyors of London. Great interest was evinced in the ceremony, and outside the spacious chapel, as well as inside, there was a very large assembly. The bride was attended by four bridesmaids – Miss Hilda de Mouilpied, her sister; Miss Nannie Scott, a friend from Ireland; Miss Hilda Green, daughter of the Rev Walford Green, of London, ex-President of the Wesleyan Conference; and Miss Flitch, of Leeds. Mr William Corderoy, brother of the bridegroom, officiated as best man, and the service was conducted by the Rev D A de Mouilpied, father of the bride, and the Rev T Kirkup, of Liverpool, brother-in-law of the bridegroom…The bride was given away by her brother, Mr Alfred T de Mouilpied, MSc. The service over, the happy couple received the most cordial congratulations on all hands, and subsequently departed on their honey-moon, which will be spent in the Lake District and on the Continent. Their future abode will be 10, Sussex Place, Regents Park, London.
There was a very large number of guests at the reception held in Park-street School, amongst them being, in addition to the member of the two families, Mr Ernest Collas, Deputy to the Guernsey States (Mr de Mouilpied being connected with an old Channel Island family).
The bridal presents numbered between 150 and 160, and they were pretty and exceedingly valuable, betokening the highest degree of respect and affection. The bride wore a lovely gown of white bengaline, her head-dress comprising her mother’s wedding veil and a spray of real orange blossom. Her shower bouquet was exceedingly handsome, lilies of the valley and heather predominating; and her ornaments included a jewelled pendant and a exquisitely designed chain, the offering of the bridegroom. All the bridesmaids were attired alike in lavender voile, with black hats; their bouquets were of parma violets, and they wore lovely brooches with amethysts, a crystal in the centre containing the monogram of the bridal pair. These were also the gifts of the bridegroom. The dresses and costumes of many of the guests were charming, and needless to say attracted a good deal of attention. Awnings were erected from the roadway to the residence of the father of the bride and also in front of the main entrance to Park-street Chapel. Amongst the presents were a grand piano from bridegroom to bride, and a series of handsome silver dishes to the bridegroom from a few friends connected with him in the work at Lady Margaret Road.
In preparation for her son’s life as a married man his mother advertised in the Morning Post in October 1900 for domestic staff: Wanted in the middle of December, Cook, House-Parlourmaid, and Young Girl as Under Housemaid, in a Christian family in a London house (Regents Park) – Apply by letter to Mrs Corderoy, 167 Camden-road, London, NW.
Evidently there were no satisfactory candidates as in December she ran the same advert again.
George and Lydie’s first child, George, was born at Sussex Place on 10 September 1901. His birth was announced in the Finchley Press: On September 10th, at 10 Sussex Place, Regents Park, the wife of George Corderoy, of a son.
Their son, Edward was born in the final quarter of 1902.
In February 1903, Lydie advertised for a new cook. Cook (good Plain) WANTED – Apply first by letter, stating age, wages and experience to Mrs Corderoy, 10 Sussex Place, Regents Park London.
William Alfred was born on 4 February 1904 at Sussex Place. The Morning Leader carried news of his birth. On 4 Feb, at 10 Sussex Place, Regents Park, London the wife of George Corderoy, of a son.
In July 1904, Lydie was once again advertising for a cook, the immediate start showing perhaps the previous cook gave or received little notice. Cook (good plain) wanted immediately in Christian family. Housemaid and Parlourmaid kept – Apply by letter stating age, experience, and wages required, to Mrs George Corderoy, 10 Sussex-place, Regents Park, London, NW.
There were reports in the Globe on 29 December 1904 of several fires having broken out in London, one of these was reported at 10 Sussex Place. No other details were provided. It must have been scary though for Lydie and George as parents with two small children.
In April 1905, with three boys aged under three Lydie needed a hand. She advertised for a nurse. Nurse wanted, for three young children. Experienced, good needlewoman, Wesleyan Methodist preferred. Nursery maid kept – Apply first by letter, giving full particulars of experience to Mrs George Corderoy. 10 Sussex-place, Regents Park NW
In October 1905, there was a cook required again. Cook (good Plain, experienced) Wanted, for family. Housemaid and Parlourmaid kept – apply by letter stating age and wages asked, to Mrs G Corderoy. 10 Sussex Place, Regents Park, London
On 8 March 1906, their son Stephen was born at Sussex Place. The Globe birth announcement: Son: On the 8th inst, at 10 Sussex Place, Regents Park. NW the wife of George Corderoy.
In February 1907, there was another advertisement for a cook at 10 Sussex Place. Cook (Good Plain) Wanted: accustomed to nursery cooking; good references indispensable; Apply by letter stating age and wages asked, to Mrs G Corderoy. 10 Sussex Place, Regents Park, London.
Their daughter Stella was born on 2 January 1911.
So we are back in 1911 where we started with the family on the census living at 10 Sussex Place. Shortly after the census they moved to 22 Montpelier Road in Ealing (in 1954 the site of a double murder – nothing to do with the Corderoys.)
Between 1911 and the next census in 1921 Lydie advertised four times for a new cook (1912, 1917, 1918 and 1919), six times for a housemaid (twice in 1912, 1914, 1915, 1917 and 1918) and five times for a house parlourmaid (1915, three times in 1917 and once in 1919). Given that 5 cooks had also been appointed between her marriage in 1900 and the 1911 census this seemed like a high turnover of staff. Leading me to wonder whether the Corderoys were difficult to work for, the wages they charged were too low or whether this was just the normal state of affairs in the world of domestic service in this period. I reminded myself (not for the first time) that Downton Abbey wasn't real life.
I turned to The Rise & Fall of the Victorian Servant by Pamela Horn who said that during the war many people left domestic service (men to serve in the armed forces, women to take advantage of all the new opportunities offered them) and demand was so high for domestic staff that those who remained in service could pick and choose their employers. Horn quotes an example of one family having four different house-parlourmaids between 1914 and 1918, one of whom only stayed a few weeks so that seems similar to the Corderoys. As for wages, Horn to the rescue again, in 1906 the average annual wage of a cook was between £12 and £30 so the Corderoys were offering £24 to £26 in 1912 so that seems reasonable. It would seem that a high turnover of staff in this period was normal.
On the 1911 census Daisy Pallant was the Corderoy’s cook. What happened to her after she left in 1912? She married in 1918 and in 1921 she was living at 13 Station Grove Wembley with her husband Charles Joseph Gay. Fanny Watts was the house-parlourmaid in 1911 and appears to have been replaced in 1915. In 1921 she was living at 32 Maresfield Gardens in Hampstead and working as a parlour maid for Mr James Macalister. Dorothy Emily Harris was the Corderoy’s nurse in 1911, she married Eugene Pearl Erskine in 1915. Eugene was American and had come to the UK to enlist in the army. Once discovered he was discharged and he returned to the US taking his new wife with him. In 1920 they were living in Boston, Massachusetts. Ada Emily Hogben was the between-maid in 1911, in 1921 she was working as a children’s nurse for a Major Henry Ferguson Brace, Fittleton Manor near Salisbury.
Back to the Corderoys, on Easter Monday in 1920 Lydie gave birth to another son, who they called Oliver.
In 1921 they were living at 22 Montpelier Road in Ealing. Edward and Stella were living at home. They had two servants: Emma Richards, a cook and Lilian Osborne, a house parlourmaid.
I have not been able to find their eldest son George on the 1921 census. William Alfred was boarding with farmer Ernest George Warren on Wick Farm, Downton near Salisbury and learning all about farming. His younger brother, Stephen was boarding at Leys School in Cambridge. One year old Oliver, the youngest of all and the one you might expect to be home with his mother was away on census night with his nurse Elizabeth Marion Jones visiting the Manthorpe family in Horsham in Sussex.
In 1922, Lydie advertised for a young lady to come and help her for a few weeks with Oliver who was now 2½ years old.  Young lady wanted daily, 10 to 6, for 3 weeks, to help with small boy (2 ½) – Write or call before 10.30. Mrs Corderoy, 22 Montpelier-rd, Ealing.
George senior died on 3 March 1923 at the Evelyn Nursing Home in Cambridge. According to newspapers, he had not been well for a few years, he had been visiting his sons in Cambridge when he had a seizure at his hotel. He was taken to the nursing home where he died surrounded by his family.
At his funeral he was described as “A faithful comrade in the service of Christ, and a rare and ardent spirit…His was a life rounded to a true completion in 63 years. Every year of it, from childhood upwards, was full of purposed activity. He was a remarkable man, and he found happy and useful service in many directions. His life was full of purpose and achievement, brightened by home joys, a very happy married life and the love of beautiful things. He was large-hearted and generous to a degree, chivalrous in his dealings alike with high and low, a staunch friend, unsoiled by meanness or resentment.” He was buried at Hanwell Cemetery in Westminster, Lydie purchased the grave and specified it was to be for two interments only.
George and Lydie’s sons were spreading their wings: eldest son George was admitted to Kings College Cambridge on 4 October 1923. On 19 October the same year, William set sail for South Africa from Southampton on SS Kenilworth Castle. He was 19 years old.
On 27 November 1924, Lydie remarried. Thomas Mawson Harvard was a widower from Malden in Surrey.
On 26 September 1925 newspapers reported that William Alfred Corderoy who had gone to South Africa to farm had died on 6 September at Kwekwe in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) at the age of 21 following a motorcycle accident.
On Sunday 10 January 1926, Thomas Mawson Harvard died of heart failure at Montpelier Road, they had been married just over a year. He was buried in Ladywell cemetery in the grave of his first wife, their headstone memorialises their two sons who were killed in the First World War.
Even more sad news was to follow. Stephen died on 13 October 1929, aged 23 years old. Probate for both William and Stephen, was granted to Lydie in 1931. It is hard to imagine losing two husbands and two sons in the space of six years.
Lydie left Montpelier Road in around 1927, not surprising, all those those memories! Through the electoral rolls we can follow her movements: from 1928 to 1934 she was living with Stella at 23 St Mary Abbots Court in South Kensington. In 1935 she was at 3 Bishopswood Road in Highgate in London. From 1936 to 1939 she was living at 2 Abbey Gardens with Stella. From 1946 she was living at 2 Abbey Road Marylebone.
Lydie died on 10 June 1953 at 40 Charles Street, London W1. Probate was granted to her children Stella and Oliver. I have not been able to find confirmation of where she was buried but I would hope she was buried with George as she intended.
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