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On a summer's day in 1899...

When I see an old wedding photograph I always wonder who they are, the bride and groom, setting out on life together. Were they happy? Were they very much in love? Having made all those promises about till death do us part etc how did things work out for them.

I fell in love with this particular wedding photograph at my local antiques centre. I thought the bride and groom looked very handsome and also very happy. The price tag was very intriguing even though all it said was: wedding photo 1899. It was that precise date that made me buy the picture. There was nothing I could see in the photograph that could allow such a precise date so I harboured hopes that there must be something written on the reverse of the photograph.

I was so lucky, once I removed the back from the frame I was met by neat handwriting identifying each person in the photograph under the heading ‘My Mothers Wedding 16 August 1899’. After doing a little genealogy jig around the front room in celebration I settled down to see what I could find about this handsome couple.

The wedding of William George Fielder Child and Jessie Andrina Scott took place on 16 August 1899 at St Michael’s church in Willesden.

Marriage register entry for William and Jessie's wedding

According to the label on the reverse of the photograph. The best man in the picture is Claude Freshwater, he was the husband of Jessie’s sister Mary known as Minnie. The bridesmaids are: Minnie (standing right), Ella (seated right), Ruby – Ella’s sister (standing left) and Isabel Child – William’s sister (seated left).

A newspaper article on the wedding describes a large attendance at the church which had been decorated with palms and ferns. Jessie was given away by her stepfather, Eustace Booker. Her dress was white duchess satin trimmed with Chantilly lace and orangeblossoms. Her veil was embroidered and fastened with orangeblossoms. The reception, surely where the picture was taken given the chairs in the background, was held at the bride’s home, ‘Overcourt’ 18 Craven Park, Harlesden. The couple honeymooned on the east coast.[1]

Jessie was the daughter of Alexander Scott, an engraver, and Agnes Gentles Sharp. They had married at 6 East Buchanan Street, Paisley in Scotland on 29 October 1861.[2] Their first child Alexander Stevenson Scott was born in Duddingston in Midlothian on 1 July 1864.[3] At some point after this the family moved to London. On the census in 1871 they were living at 97 St Pauls Road, Lambeth. They had three children with them: Alexander, Robert and Helen.[4] The bride in our picture, Jessie Andrina, was born on 15 August 1877 and baptised on 7 December that year at St Paul, Walworth in London. Jessie never knew her father as he died in October 1877.[5]

St Pauls, Walworth baptism register entry for Jessie

Agnes could not support all her children as a widow so in 1881 we find her working as a housekeeper in London while her children are scattered.[6] Jessie who was 3 and her sister Mary who was 8 were boarding in a lodging house in Penge which appeared to have been run as a school.[7] Their sister Helen was boarding at King Edward School in Southwark.[8] Robert was boarding at King Edward School in Godalming in Surrey.[9] Agnes’s situation improved on 3 April 1889 when she married Robert Eustace Booker at St Stephens in Hammersmith. Robert was a divorced chartered accountant.[10] Controversially Agnes had been named as co-respondent in Robert’s divorce case.[11] By the 1891 census three of Agnes’s children were living with her again in New Malden.[12] Jessie though was boarding at a small school in Baschurch in Shropshire run by a Minnie Arrowsmith.[13]

The groom in our picture, the impressively named William George Fielder Child was baptised on 7 June 1874 at Vernhams Green in Hampshire.[14] His parents were Edwin, a GP and surgeon, and Julia Louisa Child. Edwin and Julia Louisa Rogers had married on 29 May 1873 at Gedney in Lincolnshire. Julia’s father was the vicar and he conducted the marriage ceremony.[15] William was their first child and he had three siblings, Cecil Edwin Criswick Child born in 1875 and baptised by his grandfather at Gedney,[16] Julia Isabel Child born in 1878, John Waller Lawrence Child baptised in 1880 in New Malden and Evelyn Sarah Louise Child was born in 1885. [17]

In 1881 and 1891 census William was living with his parents at Vernham House, Malden Road, New Malden.[18] Dr Edwin Child died in 1896 and was buried at Malden on 15 November.[19] Local newspapers reported the funeral was a large affair with around 20 carriages in the cortege and a large number of floral tributes, including one from Mr and Mrs Booker.[20]

Following their wedding, William and Jessie settled into married life. Their first child Alexander William Fielder Child was born on 25 September 1900 in Herne Bay.[25] The first census that William and Jessie should appear on as a married couple was the one taken in 1901 but I have not been able to find them. I have found Alexander, as a 6 month old living in Lewisham at 44 Carholme Road, he is listed as Son but there are no parents listed. The adults present are: Margit Torgessan, a Norwegian Lady’s Companion, Annie Hegarty a hospital nurse and Kate Harris a general servant.[21] So William and Jessie were not at home on the night of the census. I have not been able to find them anywhere else. There are no entries on passenger lists for Canada or the United States so perhaps they went to the continent.

In 1911 William was living at Newlands, Burlington Road, Altrincham, Cheshire. A ten roomed house, with a maid and a cook. There were two children in the house now: Alexander aged 10, born in Herne Bay in Kent and Evelyn Agnes Child aged 4, born in Willesden in London. William described himself as branch manager of an India Rubber Company.[22] On the night of the census Jessie was in Bournemouth with her mother, Agnes Gentles Booker.[23]

I was able to use the recently released 1921 census to find them still living at Newlands in Altrincham. William described himself as a Rubber Engineer. Their two children were also present. Evelyn was 14 years old and still in school. Alec who was 20 years old was not working, his father had written on the census that he had been in the army and had come out an invalid.[24] I found a record of Alec's enlistment in the Royal Air Force at the age of 17 on 27 August 1918. He was cleared as fit to be a pilot or observer. There was no mention of any injury on this service record other than appendicitis. He was discharged from hospital on 14 November 1918.[25] He later served in the Royal Army Ordnance Copes and the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers during the Second World War.[26]

Sadly for William the early 1920s was not a great time to be involved in the rubber

trade as prices slumped following overproduction and by 1923 William was declaring bankruptcy.[27]

18 August 1922, Aberdeen Press & Journal

Financially, William appears to have recovered as he and Jessie were living at 40 Tatton Road South, a substantial house, in Stockport when the 1939 National Registration Survey took place. William was a consulting acid engineer.[28]

40 Tatton Road South, Stockport

In their later life, they moved south. They both lived into their 80s. William died on 2 October 1960. He was buried at Little Horkesley church in Essex.[29] They had been married for a massive 61 years (17 prime minsters, 6 monarchs, 2 world wars). After being together so long they obviously could not bear to be apart and Jessie died a couple of months later, on 13 December. Their headstone reads: In loving memory, William George Fielder Child died 2nd Oct. 1960 aged 86 and Jessie Andrina his wife died 13th Dec. 1960 aged 83.[30]


Footnotes [1] Willesden Chronicle (1899). Wedding at St Michaels. Willesden Chronicle. 18 August. Page 5, Col D. British Newspaper Archive. accessed 23 December 2021. [2] Marriages. Statutory Registers. Scotland. Abbey, Paisley. 29 October 1861. SCOTT, Alexander and SHARPE, Agnes Gentles. 559/1 142. accessed 23 December 2021. [3] Births (CR) Scotland. Duddingston, Midlothian. 1 July 1864. SCOTT, Alexander Stevenson. [4] Census records England. St Mary Newington, London. 2 April 1871. SCOTT, Alexander. Class: RG10; Piece: 614; Folio: 115; Page: 36; GSU roll: 818914. accessed 23 December 2021. [5] Baptisms (PR) England. Walworth, London. 7 December 1877. SCOTT, Jessie Andrina. London Church of England Parish Registers; Reference Number: P92/PAU1/002. Collection: London, England, Church of England Births and Baptisms, 1813-1920. accessed 23 December 2021. [6] Census records England. Lewisham, London. 3 April 1881. HENLEY, Henry. Class: RG11; Piece: 739; Folio: 104; Page: 33. accessed 23 December 2021. [7] Census records England. Penge, Surrey. 3 April 1881. MORGAN, Henrietta [Head]. Class: RG11; Piece: 822; Folio: 100; Page: 41; GSU roll: 1341194. accessed 23 December 2021. [8] Census records England. Southwark, London. 3 April 1881. SCOTT, Helen Stevenson. Class: RG11; Piece: 531; Folio: 98; Page: 5; GSU roll: 1341120. accessed 23 December 2021. [9] Census records England. Godalming, Surrey. 3 April 1881. SCOTT, Robert P. Class: RG11; Piece: 780; Folio: 102; Page: 3; GSU roll: 1341183. accessed 23 December 2021. [10] Marriages (PR) England. Hammersmith, London. 3 April 1889. BOOKER, Robert Eustace and SCOTT, Agnes Gentles. London Church of England Parish Registers; Reference Number: P80/STE/015. Collection: London, England, Church of England Marriages and Banns, 1754-1936. accessed 23 December 2021 [11] Divorces. Wife’s petition. BOOKER, Sarah Jane. 1888. Divorce and Matrimonial Causes Files, J 77; Reference Number: J 77/396/2052. Collection: England & Wales, Civil Divorce Records, 1858-1918. accessed 23 December 2021 [12] Census records England. New Malden, Surrey. 5 April 1891. BOOKER, Eustace Class: RG12; Piece: 609; Folio: 27; Page: 47; GSU roll: 6095719. accessed 23 December 2021 [13] Census records England. Baschurch, Shropshire. 5 April 1891. ARROWSMITH, Minnie [Head] Class: RG12; Piece: 2122; Folio: 67; Page: 22; GSU roll: 6097232. accessed 23 December 2021 [14] Baptisms (PR) England. Vernhams Green, Hampshire. 7 June 1874. CHILD, William George Fielder. Collection: England Births & Baptisms 1538-1975. accessed 23 December 2021 [15] Marriage (PR) England. Gedney, Lincolnshire. 29 May 1873. CHILD, Edwin and ROGERS, Julia Louisa. Collection: Lincolnshire Marriages.; accessed 3 January 2022. [16] Baptisms (PR) England. Gedney, Lincolnshire. 14 September 1875. CHILD, Cecil Edwin Criswick. Collection: Lincolnshire Baptisms. accessed 23 December 2021 [17] Census records England. New Malden, Surrey. 5 April 1891. CHILD, Edwin [Head] Class: RG12; Piece: 609; Folio: 42; Page: 15; GSU roll: 6095719. accessed 23 December 2021. [18] Census records England. New Malden, Surrey. 5 April 1891. CHILD, Edwin [Head] Class: RG12; Piece: 609; Folio: 42; Page: 15; GSU roll: 6095719. accessed 23 December 2021. [19] Burials (PR) England. Malden, Surrey. 15 November 1896. CHILD, Edwin. Surrey History Centre; Woking, Surrey, England; Surrey Church of England Parish Registers; Reference: 2473/1/15. Collection: Surrey, England, Church of England Burials, 1813-1997. accessed 3 January 2022 [20] Surrey Comet (1896) The Late Dr Child. Surrey Comet. 19 December. Page 6, col d. British Newspaper Archive. accessed 3 January 2022. [21] Census records England. Lewisham, Kent. 31 March 1901. CHILD, Alexander W T. Class: RG13; Piece: 561; Folio: 45; Page: 33. accessed 3 January 2022 [22] Census records England. Altrincham, Cheshire. 2 April 1911. CHILD, William George Fielder. RG14PN21526 RG78PN1283 RD445 SD2 ED3 SN86. accessed 19 December 2021. [23] Census records England. Bournemouth, Hampshire. 2 April 1911. BOWKER, Agnes Gentles. RG14PN5849 RG78PN267 RD95 SD2 ED18 SN212. accessed 19 December 2021. [24] Census records England. Altrincham, Cheshire. 19 June 1921. CHILD, William. Class: RG15; Piece: 16808; Schedule: 254 E. District Ref: RD 445 RS 2 ED 4. accessed 6 January 2022 [25] RAF Service record. CHILD, Alexander William Fielder. Service number: 182390. Collection: British Royal Air Force, Officers' Service Records 1912-1920. accessed 6 January 2022 [26] Houterman, Hans & Koppes, Jeroen. British Army Officers 1939-1945. accessed 6 January 2022 [27] London Gazette. 27 March 1923. CHILD, William George Fielder. Page 2393. accessed 6 January 2022 [28] 1939 National Register. Stockport, Cheshire. 29 September 1939. CHILD, William. RG101/3942A/003/3 Letter Code: LCKA. accessed 3 January 2022 [29] Burials (PR) England. Little Horkesley, Essex. 9 October 1960. CHILD, William George Fielder. Collection: Essex, England, Church of England Deaths and Burials, 1813-1994. accessed 6 January 2022 [30] Monumental Inscriptions. Little Horkesley, Essex. 1960. CHILD, William George Fielder. Collection: Essex Monumental Inscriptions. accessed 6 January 2022

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