LIFE GOES ON: AN INTRODUCTION

MY GRANDPARENTS - I - MY GREAT-GRANDPARENTS - I - MY GREAT-GREAT-GRANDPARENTS - I - MY GREAT-GREAT-GREAT-GRANDPARENTS

THE SIXTEEN FAMILIES

KNOTT - I - BOWLES - I - WATERS - I - HARRALL - I - PAGE - I - WISEMAN - I - CROSS - I - CARTER

CORNWELL - I - HUCKLE - I - MORTLOCK - I - MANSFIELD - I - REYNOLDS - I - CARTER - I - ANABLE - I - STEARN

CHRONOLOGY - I - DRAMATIS PERSONAE - I - WHERE PEOPLE CAME FROM - I - CALENDAR

MAP OF ELY - I - MAP OF MEDWAY
MAP OF CAMBRIDGE AND DISTRICT

THE WORKHOUSE

WORLD WAR I - I - WORLD WAR II

simonknott.co.uk I home I e-mail

LIFE GOES ON




Annesdale and Victoria Street from the river Waterside


The Wiseman family: the Waterside's labouring poor

My Father's Mother's Father's Mother's family
The narrative can be read in conjunction with
the Page family tree. You can see places significant to the Wiseman family on the site map of Ely.
This family story includes material from, and links with, the stories of the
Page, Cross and Carter families. My direct ancestors are highlighted in bold the first time they appear in the narrative.

The Waterside district of Ely was, until well into the 20th Century, one of the poorest areas of housing in Cambridgeshire. Four of my sixteen great-great-grandparents lived and died there, and many of their descendants were born in the same small group of streets beside the river, including my father. What brought William Wiseman, a labourer from over the border in Mildenhall, Suffolk, to the Waterside district we will never know, but on 4th February 1841 he married Ely girl Elizabeth Appleyard in the Lady Chapel of Ely Cathedral. They were my great-great-great-grandparents. They both gave their address as Ship Lane, off of Broad Street, in the Waterside district. This was probably an address of convenience, because the census of a month later finds them living in Hatch's Cottage at Stuntney, just outside the city but still in the Holy Trinity parish.

Elizabeth Appleyard was from an Ely Waterside family of long standing, related to the boatbuilding family of the same name. The Appleyard boatyard still exists in Ely today. But it is likely that Elizabeth was from a poorer branch of the family, as her husband William is not shown on any census as anything other than a labourer - indeed, by 1871 he is described as an unemployed labourer.

Elizabeth was six months pregnant at the time of the marriage, and in April she gave birth to a child. The couple called him John. Sadly, the little boy lived for just two weeks, and William and Elizabeth would have four more children who would die in infancy. In the poverty of the Waterside, this was not an unusal occurence, and soon after the death of the child William and Elizabeth moved back into the city slums, athough they would be recorded at various addresses in the parish registers, including out in the fen. Their seventh child, born in 1853 in the unfortunately named Common Muckhill on the Waterside, was my great-great-grandmother Alice Wiseman. William and Elizabeth had eleven children altogether:

   
John Wiseman
Born Stuntney, Cambridgeshire, in May 1841. He was baptised in Holy Trinity parish on 5th of May, but buried in the Holy Trinity graveyard in the cathedral close on 12th May. At the time of his birth and death, his parents were living in Hatch's Cottage, Stuntney.

Abraham William Wiseman
Born Ely, Cambridgeshire, in 1842, and baptised in Holy Trinity parish on 5th of May, exactly a year after his now-dead brother. A labourer, he was still living unmarried at home with his parents as late as the 1891 census, when he was 49 years old. As his father was unemployed, perhaps Abraham was the breadwinner of the family. He died in the last quarter of 1901, after the death of his father, in the Chesterton registration district, which included much of south Cambridgeshire.

Thomas Wiseman
Born Quesney Fen near Ely, Cambridgeshire, in 1844. He was baptised in Holy Trinity parish on 28th July. Thomas was at home with his parents in 1851, but his death was recorded in the Chesterton registration district in the first quarter of 1861.

Susan Ann Wiseman
Born Ely, Cambridgeshire, in 1846. She was baptised in Holy Trinity parish on 13th September, when the family address was given as Newnham Common, showing that they had moved back into the city. Susan died at the age of five, and was buried in the Holy Trinity graveyard in the cathedral close on 12th October 1851.

Emma Wiseman
Born Ely, Cambridgeshire, in 1849, she appears on the 1851 census at the age of two. However, she was not baptised in Holy Trinity parish until 11th October 1851, exactly nine months after her younger brother. I can find no reason to account for this, unless Emma died and a child after Benjamin was also named Emma - but if this is so, it is not reflected in the BMDs or parish records. The 1861 census for Ely is lost, and by 1871 Emma was most likely probably either married or dead, although again no record for either appears for her in the Holy Trinty PRs. However, in 1911 an Emma Wiseman appears in Reading as the Ely-born unmarried sister of the Ely-born married Susan Youngs, who is the correct age to be Emma's sister Susan. However, Emma's age is given as 41 instead of the 61 it should be. A mystery.

Benjamin Wiseman
Born Ely, Cambridgeshire, in 1851, and baptised in Holy Trinity parish on 11th February, when his parents were recorded as 'of Bull Lane'. Benjamin died at the age of eight, and was buried in the Holy Trinity graveyard in the cathedral close on 10th February 1859.

Alice Wiseman
Born Ely, Cambridgeshire, in 1853, and baptised in Holy Trinity parish on 22nd October. my great-great-grandmother - see below.

Susannah Wiseman
Born Ely, Cambridgeshire, in 1855, and privately baptised in Holy Trinity parish on 20th October, when her parents were back in Bull Lane. She was buried just four days later, when her age was recorded as 'one week'.

Susan Ann Wiseman
Born Ely, Cambridgeshire, in 1857, and baptised in Holy Trinity parish on 6th December, when the family were living in Bull Lane. In 1871 she was a live-in servant at the Fountain public House on Silver Street. Susan married Frederick Youngs, probably in the 1890s, and she may have been a widow at the time. In 1911 they were living in Reading, Berkshire, and a sister, who may be Susan's sister Emma, was living with them.

Benjamin Wiseman
Born Ely, Cambridgeshire, in 1859, and baptised in Holy Trinity parish on 9th October, when the family were still living at Bull Lane. Benjamin was given the same name as his brother who died earlier the same year. At home with his parents in 1871, he was living in London in 1881 as an engine fitter, and soon after this went to live in Canada, where he married a London-born girl called Millicent Howes. They lived in Waterloo, Ontario and had six children, some of whom lived into the last years of the 20th Century. There are many Wisemans in Ontario today who are their descendants.

There is then a gap of eight years until

James Wiseman
Born Ely, Cambridgeshire, in 1867, and baptised in Holy Trinity parish on on 7th April, when the family were still living at Bull Lane. James was still living at home in 1891 when he is shown as a boiler maker, but by 1911 was a 44 year old farmworker lodging in the household of the inn-keeper Richard Gibson at Little Downham. He died in Ely in 1929. There must be a possibility that James was actually his 'sister' Emma's child, registered as belonging to her parents.

Alice Wiseman, my great-great-grandmother, was baptised in the Lady Chapel of Ely Cathedral on 22nd October 1853. The 1861 census for Ely is lost, but in 1871 she was still living with her parents in Victoria Street, which runs between Broad Street and the River Ouse. Just around the corner in Broad Street, a 22 year old man was living in lodgings. His name was Henry Page, and he was my great-great-grandfather. On the 5th July 1873, Henry Page and Alice Wiseman were married in the Lady Chapel of Ely Cathedral.

Henry Page was a stone dresser from Great Shelford in the outskirts of Cambridge. His work must have been in demand in the 1870s when Cambridge, and its colleges in particular, were undergoing a building boom, and there were several stoneyards in the town. Many colleges were adding new stone buildings in the gothic style, but perhaps Henry's work took him further afield, because It is likely that it was the restoration project at Ely Cathedral which had brought Henry to Ely. In fact, Henry had still been living in Shelford at the time of the 1871 census, but Alice was pregnant at the time of their marriage. After their marriage, Henry and Alice moved into a house in Broad Street, the main road through the Waterside, where their first child, also called Henry, was born in January 1874. The family would remain in this part of Ely for the rest of their lives. Several of Alice's great-grandchildren, including my father, would be born in the Waterside. Even today, it is possible to find Henry and Alice's descendants living in this small group of streets beside the river.

The following year, Henry and Alice and thier infant son had moved around the corner to Annesdale, which runs at the other end of Victoria Street to Broad Street, for the birth of their second son William, and on 31st March 1879 their third son, my great-grandfather Arthur Page, was born in the Annesdale house. Henry and Alice would have thirteen children in all. They were still living in Annesdale at the time of the 1881 census. Henry was no longer a stone dresser, declaring his occupation as an agricultural labourer. The restoration of the cathedral was complete, and there was little other work for a stone dresser in the Isle of Ely. Henry and Alice and their family were back on Broad Street by the census of 1891, and their address makes it clear that they were living next door to the Cutter Tap public house. After 1891, the family moved to Newnham Street, possibly then to Ship Lane, and then to Willow Walk, where the last Page child, Ellen, would be born in 1899. All these streets are very close together.

A few weeks after the 1891 census, Henry's father Robert died in Great Shelford. His mother Eliza died there three years later. Alice's father William died at home in Back Hill, Ely in 1896. After a funeral service in the Lady Chapel of Ely Cathedral, he was buried on 17th October in Ely Cemetery in plot D601. Alice's mother Elizabeth, formerly of the poorer strand of the Appleyard family, survived her husband. Most curiously, she is to be found on the 1901 census at the age of eighty living as a boarder in Fulham, west London. I cannot account for this, but it seems to be her. There do not appear to be any of her relatives in the same house. She died there in 1906, aged eighty-three.

These are the thirteen children of Henry and Alice Page:

   
Henry Page
Born Broad Street, Ely in January 1874. He was baptised in the Lady Chapel of Ely Cathedral on 4th February. In 1901, Henry is shown as a railway labourer, and in 1911 as a labourer in the jam factory. He lived at several different addresses in the Waterside area in the years after the 1891 census. He was still unmarried in 1911. On Boxing Day 1916, Henry was a witness at his brother Thomas's marriage to Emily Price in the Lady Chapel of Ely Cathedral. Henry died at the age of 62, and was buried in Ely cemetery on 3rd November 1936, in plot G140.

William Robert Page
Born Annesdale, Ely on the 26th May 1875. He was baptised in the Lady Chapel of Ely Cathedral on 20th June. William left home fairly early, because at the age of 14 he is a bricklayer's apprentice lodging in a house on St Mary's Street, Ely. William was a witness at the marriage of his sister Emma to Arthur Moate in the Lady Chapel of Ely Cathedral in September 1897. William himself married Margaret Annie Melton in the parish church at Swaffham in Norfolk on 4th August 1900. In 1901 and 1911 they were living at addresses in the Waterside district of Ely. By 1911 they had no children. William was a bricklayer. Neither William nor his wife appear to have been buried in Ely.

Emma Page
Born Annesdale, Ely on the 19th July 1877. She was baptised in the Lady Chapel of Ely Cathedral on 19th August . Emma was a visitor to the household of Frank and Ruth Catchpole in Springhead Lane on the night of the 1891 census. She was 14 years old, and was probably helping look after the Catchpole children, both under 2 years old. Emma married Arthur Moate, a horsekeeper, on the 4th September 1897 in the Lady Chapel of Ely Cathedral. Her brother William was one of the witnesses. She was 20 years old, and her address was given as Ship Lane. They lived at Manea near Ely. By the time of the 1911 census, when she was 34, she'd had ten children, eight of whom were still alive. Emma died in Wisbech in 1951.

Arthur Page
Born Annesdale, Ely on the 31st March 1879. My great-grandfather. See below.

John Page
Born Annesdale, Ely on the 24th February 1881. He was baptised in the Lady Chapel of Ely Cathedral on 20th March. John was born five weeks before the 1891 census. On the 2nd January 1909, at the age of 27, he married a widow, Lillian May Kidd, in the Lady Chapel of Ely Cathedral, and inherited two stepsons. His brother Arthur and his sister Susannah were witnesses to the marriage. In 1911, John was a farm labourer living at Reed Street, Stretham, just outside of Ely. John is mentioned on his brother Robert's service record in a list of next-of-kin as serving in the Suffolk Regiment, but I have yet to find out more details. When Lilian was buried in Ely cemetery in November 1950 the family were living in New Barnes Avenue.

Herbert Page
Born Annesdale, Ely on the 12th February 1883. He was baptised in the Lady Chapel of Ely Cathedral on 14th March. Herbert seems to have been the great character of the family. In July 1900, Herbert signed up as a Boy in the Reserve of the 4th Battalion of the Suffolk Regiment, when he claimed to be a month short of his 15th birthday. In fact, he was 18. The reason may be that he was just four feet eight and half inches tall. His hair was brown, his eyes were grey, and he had a mole above his right buttock. He claimed to be a Wesleyan Methodist. However, in 1903 he was
punished for being drunk on duty, and there would be six further charges of being either drunk on duty or absent without leave over the next four years. At the time of the 1901 census, Herbert's occupation was given as errand boy. When he officially reached the age of 21 in 1907 (in fact, he was 24) he re-enlisted with the Suffolks. Now, he claimed to be a member of the Church of England, and had a tattoo on each forearm! He was assigned to the reserve of the 3rd Batallion of the Suffolk Regiment.

Herbert married Eliza Woodbine in the 4th quarter of 1908, possibly at St Mary's in Ely. They moved into a house in Back Lane. Their first child was called Herbert after his father. He was born in Back Lane, Ely on the 12th December 1908, and baptised in Holy Trinity parish on the 20th January 1909, probably in St Peters. Their next child, Charles Henry, was born in Back Lane on 29th May 1910, and baptised in St Peter's on 22nd June. During the course of the next year, the growing family moved to a house in Harlocks Lane. Their third son Harry was born in Harlocks Lane on 14th June 1912, and baptised at St Peter's on 6th July. Their first daughter Alice was born in Harlocks Lane on the 5th May 1914, and baptised at St Peter's on 27th May. Herbert had been discharged from the army reserve with a good character in January 1914, but he re-enlisted with the Suffolks as soon as the Great War broke out. A keen musician, he was a drummer boy in the 2nd Battalion (12th foot) of the Suffolk Regiment, and he was wounded in October 1914 at the First Battle of Ypres.

He returned to England where he would spend the next six months joining the Battalion band. By early 1916, Eliza was pregnant again, but Herbert was called back to duty in France. I have heard a story from several sources that, the night before embarking, Herbert did the rounds of the pubs of the Waterside, drumming out a tattoo on the tables to say goodbye to his friends. It was the last time they would see him. Returning to Flanders, he was killed on the 2nd of March 1916 at St Eloi, on the Ypres Salient in Flanders, while engaged in bomb-throwing duty. He was 33 years old. He is remembered on the Menin Gate Memorial in Ypres. On the 1st September 1916, almost exactly six months after his death, Herbert and Eliza's daughter was born in Springhead Lane, Ely, home of the Woodbine family. Her name was St Eloi Souvenir Felixstowe, a grandiloquent name for a child of the Waterside, but a perpetual memory of her father's final resting place, and perhaps a clue to his residence while recovering from injury the previous year - did Herbert and Eliza spend time on the Suffolk Coast? St Eloi was baptised in Holy Trinity parish on the 20th September 1916, two months to the day after Herbert's brother Arthur had been killed in the Battle of the Somme.

Robert Page
Born Annesdale, Ely on the 19th June 1884. He was baptised in the Lady Chapel of Ely Cathedral on 30th July. By the age of 16, Robert was a servant living in the house of Charles Bent, a shoemaker, on the Green at Manea, near to his sister Emma and her husband. He signed up to the Suffolk Regiment on April 8th 1902 when he was 18 years old. He was five feet four inches tall, his eyes were blue and his hair was brown. He claimed to be a member of the Church of England, but on 6th September 1906 his record was amended because he had become a Wesleyan Methodist (his brother Herbert made a move in the opposite direction). In 1905 he extended his service, joining the 2nd Battalion of the Suffolk Regiment, and becoming a Corporal. He would remain in the army, either as a reservist or an active soldier, until 1920, thus fighting throughout the whole of the First World War.

On July 22nd 1908, Robert married Frances Louisa Baker at Norton in Suffolk. However, a few weeks before this he had been accused of fathering the child of Harriet Rose, probably the girl shown at the age of 17 at Lawshall on the 1901 census. When interviewed, Robert denied making any agreements, and also denied being the father of the child, but by February 1909 he had relented, and agreed to start paying from next pay day, at the rate of seven shillings a week. However, in July 1909 the Relieving Officer of the Sudbury Union workhouse wrote to Robert's superior officers demanding that Robert make maintenance payments for the child, including any arrears, reminding them that Robert had admitted paternity and even signed an agreement to pay.

Robert was discharged from the army in 1910 after eight years service. He was living with his wife Frances in Annesdale, Ely, for the birth of their son Edwin Robert on 27th August 1910. Edwin was baptised in Holy Trinity parish at St Peter's church on 21st September. However, by the time of the census in April of the following year, Robert, Frances and Edwin had moved to Norton, Suffolk, where they had been mairred two years previously. Robert was employed as a swine herdsman. Edwin is too young to be Robert's child with Harriet Rose, but intriguingly Robert and Frances declared on the census form that they'd had another child who died. Meanwhile, at the same census, Harriet Rose was working as a cook on a farm at Rougham, near Bury St Edmunds. There was no child with her.

Robert re-enlisted with the Suffolk Reserve in 1914, and was shortly after transferred to the Northamptonshire Regiment. He was wounded in 1916 and invalided out in 1917 when his discharge papers noted he was fit to work. He joined the Labour Corps after the War in 1919, being finally discharged as surplus to military requirements in March 1920, when he returned to Long Melford in Suffolk to live with his wife and children Edwin, Arthur, Herbert and Frank.

In about 1920, a photograph was taken outside of Melford Hall of all the local men who had fought in the War and survived it, and it is likely that Robert is in this photograph. Robert died in Sudbury in 1935 at the age of 51.

Susannah Page
Born Ely 1886. Curiously, there is no record of Susannah's baptism in the Holy Trinity parish registers, but her birth was registered in Ely in the third quarter of the year. Susannah was shown as Susan on the 1891 and 1901 censuses. She was a witness at her brother John's marriage in Ely in January 1909. Susannah married Robert Easey in the last quarter of 1910. In 1911, they lived in a house on Back Hill with Susannah's younger brother Charles and younger sister Ellen, and this may very well have been the house of her mother, who was in hospital on the night of the census. Susannah's husband was a market gardener. Susannah died in Bristol in 1971 at the age of 85.

Sarah Page
Born Annesdale, Ely, on the 21st June 1888. She was baptised in the Lady Chapel of Ely Cathedral on 1st August. Shortly after this, the family moved to Broad Street. However, Sarah died at the age of 15 months, and was buried, after a service in the Lady Chapel of Ely Cathedral, in plot cb1246 of Ely Cemetery on the 5th October 1889. In the Holy Trinity registers her address is recorded as Broad Street, but the cemetery records note that she died at Waterside.

Thomas Page
Born Broad Street, Ely 1890. Thomas was baptised in Holy Trinity parish, probably at St Peter's church, along with his brother Charles and sister Sarah on 5th October 1895. By 1911 he was a Private soldier in the 3rd Battalion of the Suffolk Regiment, based at Bury St Edmunds. He married Emily Ann Agnes Price in Ely in the Lady Chapel of Ely Cathedral on Boxing Day 1916, three months after the death of his brother Arthur in the Battle of the Somme. The witnesses were his sister Sarah Flack and his brother Henry. So far, I have found no WWI record for Thomas. At the time of the burial of their still-born son in Ely on 5th September 1931, Thomas and Emily were living at 35 New Barns Road. When Emily died in 1949 they were living in Littleport.

Charles Page
Born Broad Street or Newnham Street, Ely on the 15th January 1893. Charles was baptised in Holy Trinity parish, probably at St Peter's church, along with his brother Thomas and sister Sarah on 5th October 1895. Charles was a boat cleaner working for a boatbuilder in 1911, and living with his sisters Susannah and Ellen. Charles was 21 when WWI broke out. He is mentioned as serving with the Suffolk Regiment in reports of his brother Herbert's death, but I have yet to find out more details.

Sarah Page
Born Newnham Street, Ely on the 27th September 1895. She was given the same name as her sister who died as a baby in 1889, and baptised in Holy Trinity parish, probably at St Peter's church, along with her brothers Thomas and Charles on the 5th October 1895. In 1911, Sarah appears to have been the 15 year old Sarah Page living as a domestic servant at Pegg's Yard, Cherryhinton in Cambridge. Unfortunately, the person who filled in the form omitted her place of birth. It would seem that she was lodging in the house rather than working in it. On the 13th October 1913 Sarah married Harry Flack, of the Wheel public house in Broad Street, in the Lady Chapel of Ely Cathedral. This was a week before the death of Sarah's father Henry in the Ely Workhouse. One of the witnesses was her brother Arthur. The other was Daisy Rodgers, daughter of the landlord of the Wheel - there is a turn of the century photograph of the young Daisy standing outside the pub in the book Ely Inns by Patrick Ashton. On Boxing Day 1916, Sarah was a witness at her brother Thomas's marriage to Emily Price in the Lady Chapel of Ely Cathedral.

Ellen Page
Born Willow Walk, Ely on the 25th June 1899. Ellen was the last of the Page children. She was baptised in Holy Trinity parish, probably at St Peter's church, on 19th July. She is shown as Helen on the 1901 census. By 1911, she is living with her sister Susannah and brother Charles on Back Hill. She may well be the Ellen Page who married Fred Bradfield in the Chesterton registation district in the 3rd quarter of 1918.


Arthur Page, my great-grandfather, was born on the last day of March 1879 at the family home on Annesdale, beside the river. His father Henry gave his occupation as a farm labourer. Arthur was baptised in Holy Trinity parish on 27th April. His father again gave his occupation as an agricultural labourer at the time of the 1881 census, when Arthur was two years old. At the age of twelve, Arthur was the second of seven children at home on the night of the 1891 census in Broad Street, where the family had moved after June 1888. By 1895, the family had moved again, to Newnham Street. They had completed their journey to the northern end of the Waterside by 1899, when they were living on Willow Walk, later to be the road where Arthur's grandson, my father, was born.

On the 12th January 1901, a few days before a remarkable period in English history drew to a close with the death of Queen Victoria, Arthur Page married my great-grandmother Sophia Cross in the Lady Chapel of Ely Cathedral. Sophia's surname was probably the most common of all surnames in the poor Ely Waterside area. She was born on Broad Street on 9th January 1882, the eldest of nine children and the daughter of a railway worker. Her mother was Sarah Carter from Prickwillow, just outside of Ely, but her father Thomas Cross was from a Waterside family of long standing. A few weeks later, at the time of the 1901 census, Arthur and Sophia were living in Bull Lane, today called Lisle Lane, off of Waterside. The 22 year old Arthur gave his occupation as a baker's labourer. Sophia was already pregnant with their first child, who would be a boy, and was born on 22 November 1901. He was named Arthur Thomas Harry after his father and his two grandfathers. A few hundred yards off in Broad Street, Arthur's mother Alice was living with seven of her children, but her husband Henry was not with her. In March 1901 he had been sent to prison for six months for cruelty to Alice and the children. However, although they had apparently been living apart for a long time, Henry's wife Alice's relationship to the head of the household was described as Wife rather than as Head on the 1901 census.

Soon after their son Arthur's birth, Arthur and Sophia themselves moved to Broad Street, where their eldest daughter Violet Eleanor was born on 6th August 1904. Soon after Violet's birth, Arthur got a job as a railway porter with the Great Eastern Railway, and the family moved some 20 miles to 7 Goodyers Yard, Narrow Street, Peterborough, where their third child Beatrice Sophia was born on the 30th January 1906. Arthur and Sophia were back in Ely and living on Back Hill for the birth of Florence May on 28th May 1907. It was recorded that Arthur was still a labourer for the Great Eastern Railway. In January 1909 Arthur was a witness at his brother John's marriage to Lilian Kidd in the Lady Chapel of Ely Cathedral. Arthur and Sophia's second son, Percy, was born in Back Hill on 10th May 1909. By the time of the census in April 1911, Arthur was a general labourer working for the Co-op.

It is difficult to trace what happened to Arthur's father Henry during these years. In 1908, Arthur's brother Herbert gave both their parents names as his as next-of-kin on his army attestation papers. But Henry and Alice were recorded as living at separate addresses. Henry was lodging at the Queen's Head, Waterside, Ely, while Alice was living at Back Hill, Ely. Arthur and his wife Sophia were also now living on Back Hill.

By the time of the 1911 census, Arthur and Sophia had five children in the Back Hill house, but Arthur's mother Alice was not there. She was ill with stomach cancer in Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge. Arthur's father Henry was also not in Back Hill, but at least he reappeared on the 1911 census, and he was close to home, living in the Ely Workhouse. A few months after the 1911 census, Arthur and Sophia had a sixth child, Dorothy Louisa, known as 'Doll', who was born in Back Hill on 26th August.

Then, on the 4th March 1912, Arthur's mother Alice died of cancer at the Back Hill house. She was notified as the wife of Henry Page, labourer. Alice was buried in Ely cemetery on 7th March, in plot F1138. A year later, on 26th April 1913, Arthur and Sophia's last child was born, a girl, my grandmother Phyllis Alice Page. She was given her recently deceased grandmother's name as a middle name. Arthur's father, Phyllis's grandfather Henry Page, died of a stroke six months later, on the 21st October, in the Ely Workhouse. His occupation was given as general labourer of Back Hill, although there is no evidence that he ever lived there. He was buried in Ely cemetery on 24th October, in plot F954.

These are the seven children of Arthur and Sophia Page:

   
Arthur Thomas Harry Page, born in Bull Lane, Ely on 22 November 1901. He was baptised in Holy Trinity parish on 18th December, probably at St Peter's church. His middle names were those of his two grandfathers, Thomas Cross and Harry Page. As the eldest child, Arthur must have been aware of the death of his grandfather Harry Page in the Ely workhouse in 1913, and he became the man of the family when his father was killed in the Battle of the Somme in July 1916, when he was just fifteen years old. Arthur was living and working in Yorkshire in the 1920s, and in the second quarter of 1926 he married Ethel Gertrude Elizabeth Payne in Wortley, to the north of Sheffield. Ethel was pregnant at the time, and their son Arthur Percival was born in Peterborough on 24th September 1926. I'm not sure how long they lived together as man and wife, or if they stayed in Peterborough or returned to Sheffield, but my grandfather Joe Knott met Arthur in the early 1930s in Sheffield before returning home with him to Ely, where he met Arthur's sister who would become my grandmother, so he certainly stayed in the area. It did not become clear to Arthur's family for many years that he was married and had a son. The boy, Arthur Percival, married Dorothy Irenea Brooks in Poplar, London in 1946. They had five children. Arthur Percival died in 2003, Dorothy in 2010.

Arthur Page was the one of my grandmother's siblings that I knew best. In later life he lived in Ely. He would often call around to my grandparents' house while I was visiting, and I remember him as a gentle, quiet man who always had time for me. My father photographed him in the early 1980s. He died in Ely in 1988.

Violet Eleanor Page was born in Broad Street, Ely on 6th August 1904. She was baptised in Holy Trinity parish on the 31st August, probably in St Peter's church. On a photograph taken in the 1920s she is strikingly beautiful. She married Frederick William 'Bill' Cooper in the Lady Chapel of Ely cathedral on 30th November 1929. Violet's brothers Arthur and Percy were the witnesses. Violet and Bill lived at Stuntney. She was a witness at my grandparents' marriage in August 1932, and was photographed holding me as a baby in 1962. I remember her in later life as rather eccentric, given to wearing what I thought of as unusual hats. She died in Cambridge in 1978.

Beatrice Sophia Page, known as Beatie, was born in Peterborough on 30th January 1906. Her father's occupation was given as a railway porter. She was given her mother's Christian name as her middle name. Beatrice appears to have given birth to an illegitimate child called Ronald Page in the Holborn registration district in London in 1925, when she was nineteen. Presumably, she was in service. She then married Frederick Pepper in Ely in 1928, probably in the registry office. However, she returned to London, and a second child, a girl, was born at Wandsworth in south London in the 3rd quarter of 1931. The baby was registered under the surname Midwinter. The father appears to have been one Wilfred Midwinter, and the maiden name of the mother was given as Page, with no mention that Beatrice's legal surname was actually Pepper.

In the early 1930s, Frederick Pepper was living in the Round House, Mepal, Cambs. And then, on 11th July 1934, he died in hospital in Chatteris, Cambs. In his will, proved on the 28th August 1935, he left his entire estate to his estranged wife, Beatrice Sophia Pepper, the value being £200. In the fourth quarter of 1935, Beatrice Pepper married Wilfred Midwinter in the Mid Surrey registration district. Does this mean that the news of her legal husband's death had taken some time to reach Beatrice? Or was she waiting for the will to be proved? A third child followed, another girl, in the 4th quarter of 1939 in the Mid Surrey registration district, and the mother's maiden name was now given legitimately as Page. Curiously though, when the fourth child, a third girl, was born in the Mid Surrey district in 1941, Beatrice gave her maiden name as Pepper. Is it possible that the registrar had asked the wrong question, or, intriguingly, that Beatrice wanted to hide her real name at this stage? It is also intriguing that all three of the girls were given the same middle name, Violet, the name of Beatrice's older sister. Was she remembering the terrible time after the death of their father in the Battle of the Somme, and paying tribute to the way that Violet looked after the younger children? When Beatrice died in the Sutton registration district in south London in the 3rd quarter of 1973, her death was registered correctly under the name Beatrice Midwinter.

Florence May Page was born in Back Hill, Ely on the 28th May 1907. She was baptised on the 9th of June in Holy Trinity parish, probably at St Peter's church, when her father's occupation was shown as a labourer on the Great Eastern Railway. She died in Addenbrookes Hospital Cambridge at the age of 17 in 1924.

Percy Page was born in Back Hill, Ely on the 10th May 1909. He was baptised in St Peter's church in Holy Trinity parish on the 31st May. Percy was one of the two witnesses at my grandparents' marriage in August 1932. He died in Silver Street, Ely at the age of 27 in 1937.

Dorothy Louisa Page, known as Doll, was born in Back Hill, Ely, 26 August 1911. She married Kenneth Long in the Lady Chapel of Ely Cathedral on the 8th June 1932, and they lived in Stuntney.

Phyllis Alice Page, born in Back Hill Ely on 26th April 1913. My grandmother. See below.

   

In October 1913, their father Arthur was a witness at his sister Sarah's marriage to Harry Flack in the Lady Chapel of Ely Cathedral. Soon after, Arthur, Sophia and their family moved to a house on Waterside. But storm clouds were gathering across Europe. Arthur Page was 35 years old when the First World War broke out. He volunteered, signing up as a Serjeant in the 2nd Battalion of the Suffolk Regiment, and his medal record shows that he arrived in France on the 26th January 1915.

The 2nd Battalion spent their first winter and spring bogged down in the trenches of the Vierstraat area of Flanders, before being returned to Billet at Westoutre on 11th April. They spent the latter part of the spring building the network of trenches in the Ypres salient,and then on June 16th they were part of the force which attacked and consolidated its hold in V Wood and Sanctuary Wood to the east of Ypres. It seems that the Battalion came under what were the first prolonged and sustained gas attacks by the Germans on British troops. During July they returned to billet in Ypres again, but spent the rest of the summer consolidating the hold on the splendidly named Spoil Bank and Bellyache Wood, again to the west of Ypres.

In general, the 2nd Suffolks seem to have spent an uneventful 1915 in Flanders, with few casualties, except for one major incident when, on September 8th, the battalion sustained more than a hundred deaths trying to capture a crater in Sanctuary Wood. Shortly after this, Arthur's brother Herbert Page, who had signed up with him but had previously been in the Reserve, was injured, and returned to England. He rejoined the Battalion at the start of 1916, when they were moved south towards St Eloi. Shortly after arriving in the area, Herbert was killed. Newspaper reports suggested that he died on the way to hospital, but in fact it seems his body was never recovered, and he has no known resting place. He is remembered on the Menin Gate memorial in Ypres.

In June 1916, Arthur Page and the 2nd Suffolks were removed completely from the fighting and returned to depot at St Omer for training in open warfare. They did not know it, but the Generals were preparing for the Big Push, designed to distract the Germans from their assault on Verdun. It would be known as the Battle of the Somme. On July 1st, the first day of the battle, the 2nd Suffolks set out from St Omer for the Somme. They arrived at the front on July 8th, and were placed in reserve, and then on July 14th they were moved into the southern end of Caterpillar Wood, to the east of Albert. Not far off, on July 18th, the Germans attacked and, at great cost to them, overran Delville Wood and part of the town of Longueval. Two companies of the 2nd Suffolks were sent to support the counter-attack, and among them was Serjeant Arthur Page.

Shortly before first light on what would be a warm, sunny day, at 3.35am on Thursday 20th July 20th, the Third Division of the British Army attacked Delville Wood. Chris McCarthy, in The Somme Day-by-Day, records that Early in the morning the Division made an attack on Delville Wood and village using 2nd Suffolks and 10th Royal Welsh Fusiliers. At 3.35 am the Suffolks advanced from the west, but the two leading companies were almost entirely wiped out. The Fusiliers went astray, and came under fire from a British machine-gun barrage, losing most of their officers, only to press home a fruitless attack.

The casualties in the 2nd Battalion were heavy, and among those killed in the attack was Arthur Page. He was 37 years old. It seems to have been a spectacularly foolhardy action: the two companies lost no less than ten officers in the attack, one of them, a Major Congreve, later being awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross. Arthur's body was recovered, identified, and buried at Delville Wood cemetery in Longueval.The Ely newspapers reported the Page family's plight. On 28th July the Cambridgeshire Times, which was incorporating the Ely Standard for the duration of the War, reported that Yesterday (Thursday) morning Mrs Page of Waterside, received a letter from the Chaplain to the 2nd Suffolk Regiment, informing her of the death in action of her husband, Sergt A. Page. He leaves a wife and seven children, for whom great sympathy is felt. On the same day, the Cambridge Independent Press reported that Mrs Page, Waterside, Ely, has received news that her husband Sergt A. Page, of the 2nd Suffolks, has been killed in action. The Chaplain of the Regiment has written a letter of sympathy to the widow, who is left with seven children.

It is said that when Sophia opened the letter from the Chaplain telling her of her husband's death, she immediately lost her hearing, and was deaf for the rest of her life. Every street in the Waterside would have had members of the Page and Cross families living in it, and the whole district must have felt a reaction to Arthur's death. Seventy years later, Arthur and Sophia's son Arthur, who had been fifteen at the time, told me it was 'a terrible time, just terrible'. My grandmother, who was three, and who had in any case probably not seen her father for a couple of years, was too young to know what was going on. The oldest girl, thirteen year old Violet, looked after her, and between them there formed a strong bond which lasted for the rest of their lives.

There was more bad news to come. As 1916 became 1917, Sophia's brother Herbert Chapman Cross and the 5th Suffolks were moved north from the Suez Canal to engage in what would become known as the First Battle of Gaza in Palestine. There would be three battles in all, but between the First and Second there was a minor skirmish involving the 5th Suffolks, and on 18th June 1917 Herbert Chapman Cross was killed. He was twenty-seven years old. He was buried in the British War Cemetery in Gaza City, which is today in the Palestinian State. Arthur and Herbert Page and Herbert Cross are all remembered on the City of Ely war memorial, and Arthur and Herbert Page's names were also proudly inscribed on the Holy Trinity parish war memorial now reset in Ely Cathedral.

In 1924, Phyllis's sister Florence died in Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge. She was just 17 years old. The following year, Phyllis's sister Beatrice gave birth to an illegitimate child in London, where she was presumably in service. She returned to Ely with the child, where she married Frederick Pepper in 1928, who may have been the father. At about this time, the eldest child Arthur left Ely looking for work in Yorkshire. In 1926, he married Ethel Gertrude Elizabeth Payne in Wortley, to the north of Sheffield. Ethel was pregnant at the time, and their son Arthur Percival was born in Peterborough on 24th September 1926. Arthur kept this marriage and child a secret from the rest of the family, and they did not find out about it until many years later.

By the end of the 1920s, Phyllis was living with her mother at 29a Fore Hill, a short distance from the Waterside house. They lived behind a shop called Oxford House, and shared a yard with the Clark family. Sophia and Phyllis both worked as fruit factory hands. Beatrice appears to have left Ely and Frederick Pepper behind, because in 1931 she had a child with Wilfred Midwinter in Wandsworth, London. After her estranged husband's early death, Beatrice married Wilfred Midwinter in 1935. Two more Midwinter children would follow.

In the early 1930s, Phyllis's brother Arthur was still in Yorkshire, working on a road-building scheme. There, he met the Kent-born Joe Knott, and brought him back to Ely where he met Phyllis. Joe went to work for British Sugar at Cantley in east Norfolk, but he married Phyllis at Ely Register Office on 15th August 1932, when he was 24 and she was just 19. The witnesses were Phyllis's brother Percy and her sister Violet. Joe and Phyl went to live at 9, Council Cottages, Cantley, and then in 1933 they moved to Ipswich, Joe firstly living in lodgings in Tacket Street in the town centre, before they both moved into rooms in Cavendish Street, the same street that I would live in almost exactly half a century later. They moved to 20 Fletcher Road on the new Gainsborough Estate in Ipswich, where their first child and only daughter was born.

They returned to Ely in 1935, where they would remain. They lived in Willow Walk off of Waterside, where Phyllis's grandmother Alice Wiseman had been born almost eighty years earlier. My father and his brothers were born in the house at 25 Willow Walk, but it has since been demolished. Some of her siblings were nearby. Violet married Bill Cooper; they lived at Stuntney, where he was a farmhand on Cole Ambrose's farm, and later at Ribes Court in Ely. Violet was the cook at the Bishop's Palace for many years, and Phyllis worked around the corner at the Palace School. Their sister Dorothy married Ken Long, and they also lived nearby, first at Stuntney and then at Nornea. Their elder brother Arthur eventually returned to settle in Ely. Phyllis's brother Percy died at 31 Silver Street, Ely in 1937; this house, almost opposite the Prince Albert public house, has also since been demolished.

In 1937, a great street party was held on Waterside to celebrate the Coronation on George VI. The official photograph of the occasion shows Sophia and Phyllis among the smiling crowd, as well as two of Phyllis's children: her daughter and her eldest son, my father, aged two. And then the Second World War came. It must have been with some trepidation that Phyllis waved goodbye to Joe, who went to serve as a motorcycle dispatch rider in Italy. After he returned at the end of the War, the family moved to a new council house at 37 Chief's Street in 1947. Phyllis and Joe lived in the house for the rest of their lives. Several of their children married in the late 1950s, and their first grandchild, a girl, was born in 1958. And that year Phyllis's mother Sophia died, at the age of seventy.

Phyllis is remembered by my parents' generation for being ahead of her time. Although she came from an extraordinarily poor working-class background, one where few families had aspirations, she was a great believer in education, especially for girls. She ensured that all her own children worked hard at school, all five of them winning scholarships to grammar schools. She was very proud when the first of her grandchildren went to university.

Phyllis Alice Knott née Page died of a heart condition in Addenbrookes Hospital, Cambridge, in 1990, a few weeks after she had attended my wedding. She was seventy-seven years old.

 
AT A GLANCE: DETAILS FROM REGISTERS AND CENSUS DATA
 
 
My great-great-grandparents Henry and Alice Page and their family

  Birthplace 1881 census 1891 census 1901 census 1911 census married to
  (date registered) age address age address age address age address date of marriage

Henry


Shelford, Cambs (1851)


26


Annesdale, Ely


38


Broad Street, Ely

 
I have not yet found Henry on the 1901 census


67


The Workhouse, Ely


Henry married Alice Wiseman in the Lady Chapel of Ely Cathedral on 5th July 1873.


Alice
(Wiseman)

Ely, Cambs (1853)


26


Annesdale, Ely



36


Broad Street, Ely


44


Broad Street, Ely


56


Addenbrookes Hospital, Cambridge


Alice married Henry Page in the Lady Chapel of Ely Cathedral on 5th July 1873.

                     


Henry


Ely, Cambs (1874)


7


Annesdale, Ely


16


Broad Street, Ely

 
27

 
Ouse Cottages, Ely

 
37

 
Victoria Street, Ely

 
Henry was still unmarried at the time of the 1911 census.


William


Ely, Cambs (1875)


5


Annesdale, Ely

 
14

 
St Mary's Street, Ely

 
25


Victoria Street, Ely

 
35

 
Annesdale Cottages, Ely


William married Margaret Annie Melton at St Peter and St Pauls' church, Swaffham, Norfolk on 4th August 1900.


Emma


Ely, Cambs (1877)


3


Annesdale, Ely

 
14

 
Springhead Lane, Ely (visitor)

 
23

 
Clay Pitts, Manea

 
33

 
Clay Pitts, Manea

 
Emma married Arthur Moate in the Lady Chapel of Ely Cathedral on 4th September 1897.


Arthur


Ely, Cambs (1879)


2


Annesdale, Ely


12


Broad Street, Ely


22


Bull Lane, Ely


32


Back Hill (1), Ely

 
Arthur married Sophia Cross in the Lady Chapel of Ely Cathedral on 12th January 1901.


John


Ely, Cambs (1881)


0


Annesdale, Ely


9


Broad Street, Ely


20


Broad Street, Ely

 
30

 
Reed Street, Stretham

 
John married Lillian May Kidd in the Lady Chapel of Ely Cathedral on 2nd January 1909.


Herbert


Ely, Cambs (1883)

   


7


Broad Street, Ely


18


Broad Street, Ely

 
28

 
Harlocks Lane, Ely

 
Herbert married Eliza Woodbine in the 4th quarter of 1908.


Robert


Ely, Cambs (1884)

   


5


Broad Street, Ely

 
16

 
The Green, Manea

 
26

 
Norton, Suffolk


Robert married Frances Louisa Baker in Norton, Suffolk 20th July 1908.


Susannah


Ely, Cambs (1886)

   


3


Broad Street, Ely


14


Broad Street, Ely


24


Back Hill (2), Ely


Susannah married Robert Easey in the last quarter of 1910.


Sarah


Ely, Cambs (1888)

     
Sarah was dead by the time of the 1891 census
         


Thomas


Ely, Cambs (1890)

   


0


Broad Street, Ely


10


Broad Street, Ely

 
21

 
Barracks, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk

 
Thomas married Emily Ann Agnes Price in the Lady Chapel of Ely Cathedral on 26th December 1916.


Charles


Ely, Cambs (1893)

       


8


Broad Street, Ely


18


Back Hill (2), Ely

 


Sarah


Ely, Cambs (1895)

       


6


Broad Street, Ely

 
15

 
Pegg's Yard, Cherryhinton, Cambridge

 
Sarah married Harry Flack in the Lady Chapel of Ely Cathedral on 13th October 1913.


Ellen


Ely, Cambs (1899)

       


1


Broad Street, Ely


11


Back Hill (2), Ely

 
     
   
   

 
My great-grandparents Arthur and Sophia Page and their family

  Birthplace 1901 census 1911 census
  (date registered) age address age address   date of marriage

Arthur


Ely, Cambs (1879)


22


Bull Lane, Ely


32


Back Hill (1), Ely




Arthur married Sophia Cross in the Lady Chapel of Ely Cathedral on 12th January 1901.


Sophia
(Cross)

Ely, Cambs (1882)


20


Bull Lane, Ely


29


Back Hill (1), Ely


 
Sophia married Arthur Page in the Lady Chapel of Ely Cathedral on 12th January 1901.

               


Arthur Thomas Harry


Ely, Cambs (1901)

   


9


Back Hill (1), Ely

   


Violet Eleanor


Ely, Cambs (1904)

 

 

 


6


Back Hill (1), Ely

 
Violet married Frederick William 'Bill' Cooper in the Lady Chapel of Ely cathedral on 30th November 1929.



Beatrice


Peterborough, Cambs (1906)
   
5


Back Hill (1), Ely

 
Beatrice married Frederick Pepper in Ely in 1928, probably at the registry office, but later married Wilfred Midwinter in London in 1935.


Florence May


Ely, Cambs (1907)

   


3


Back Hill (3), Ely

   

Percy


Ely, Cambs (1909)

   
1


Back Hill (1), Ely
   


Dorothy Louisa


Ely, Cambs (1911)

           
Dorothy married Kenneth Long in the Lady Chapel of Ely cathedral on 8th June 1932.



Phyllis Alice


Ely, Cambs (1913)

         
Phyllis married Vincent Helgia Knott at the Register Office, Ely, Cambridgeshire on 15th August 1932

     
   
     
Ages are as shown on census.
(name) after name indicates different given name on some censuses.
(number) after street name indicates more than one Page household in that street.
 
       

 

LIFE GOES ON: AN INTRODUCTION

MY GRANDPARENTS - I - MY GREAT-GRANDPARENTS - I - MY GREAT-GREAT-GRANDPARENTS - I - MY GREAT-GREAT-GREAT-GRANDPARENTS

THE SIXTEEN FAMILIES

KNOTT - I - BOWLES - I - WATERS - I - HARRALL - I - PAGE - I - WISEMAN - I - CROSS - I - CARTER

CORNWELL - I - HUCKLE - I - MORTLOCK - I - MANSFIELD - I - REYNOLDS - I - CARTER - I - ANABLE - I - STEARN

CHRONOLOGY - I - DRAMATIS PERSONAE - I - WHERE PEOPLE CAME FROM - I - CALENDAR

MAP OF ELY - I - MAP OF MEDWAY
MAP OF CAMBRIDGE AND DISTRICT

THE WORKHOUSE

WORLD WAR I - I - WORLD WAR II

simonknott.co.uk I home I e-mail

LIFE GOES ON