Download the Wilson Family Tree here
Download the Linden Wilson Family Tree here
Adapted from notes written by Joan Goddard
Martha Mary Herriott, was my grandmother. She was baptised on 4th June 1865 in the school house, as the church was under repair. She married Henry John Wilson a blacksmith, on the 24th September 1887. By 1891 they were living at 26 Washington Street with Henry’s father who was also called Henry, and with his brother George.
Their first daughter, Elizabeth Mary was born on the 11th December 1890 but didn’t survive. Alice Daisy, (Penny Jenkins grandmother) was born on the 29th October 1891, the following year. Another child, Harry was born in 1893 but died the following year. William Joseph (Bill) was born in 1895, and photos show that he had a deformity of the spine. Following Bill, came Maud in 1897 and Charles in 1898 but they both died within three weeks of each other in 1900. Finally Fed was born in 1901 and Rose, who was my mother, was born on the 6th December 1903. It must have been such a terrible blow having four children die within such a short space of time.
Life didn’t get any easier when Henry died aged 48 on the 21st May 1906 and left my grandmother Martha in difficulties, with a young family. Daisy (Alice) would have been fifteen when her father died and Rose, my mother, was only three.
Martha had to go out and find what work she could to support the family. My mother’s sister Daisy, was fifteen and working. She had quite a good job, and was determined that her sister Rose wasn’t going to go into service as a result of their difficult circumstances. In fact I think that my mother did go into service, I believe she was taken out of school and put into service the next day. However, it didn’t last long, my Aunt Daisy wasn’t going to have anything like that! Aunt Daisy paid for her to go to a secretarial school and learn bookkeeping and short hand typing.
Washington Street was a working class area, the houses being terraced and small. No. 26 was typical. It had six rooms – two on the ground floor, two bedrooms above, and two in the basement. The basement was reached by steep, narrow stairs, with a rope instead of a banister rail. The room below the street in the basement was a dreary dungeon, with only a little light coming in through a window high on one wall, which was level with the pavement. It was here that the cooking, washing etc was done.
The room at the back was the living room of the house, and was more pleasant, opening onto the small garden. There was an open fire, with a mantelpiece laden with ornaments, and a large kitchen table taking up most of the room. The only water in the house would have been a cold tap in the kitchen. The WC was down a brick path at the end of the garden.
Photos taken of Martha during the latter part of her life show here to be a very large and rather jolly lady, however she was housebound and would have been very frustrated at not being able to negotiate the steep stairs down to the living room in the basement.
I would imagine that Martha lived in the front room on the ground floor, with Rose (my mother) having the back room at the back as a bedroom, and the boys William and Fred upstairs.
Martha died on the 15th April 1931 from myocardial disease and arterio sclerosis. She was buried in the Brighton and Preston cemetery (plot ref XC 724). There is a granite headstone and kerbstone. Her son Bill was buried in the grave with her, and her daughter Rose’s ashes were later scattered on it. Both their names appear on the headstone.
Fred Wilson and Nellie Tattersell
When Fred the older boy married Nellie Tattersell in 1931, they took over the two rooms upstairs to make their home together (as was quite customary in those days), so where poor William (Bill) slept I am not sure, probably Rose had to share her mother’s room.
Fred and Nellie continued to live in the house after Martha died and within a short while Rose, who had promised not to marry all the time her mother was alive, married George (Jim) Linden.
At the time of my birth, a year after their marriage, Rose and Jim were also living in Washington Street, presumably sharing the house with Fred and Nellie. Eventually Rose and Jim moved on, and Nellie’s parents moved into Washington Street with Fred and Nellie. Bill lived with Rose and Jim and died in their house in Roundhill Crescent, Brighton in 1938.
Fred and Nellie had no family, and they both died in the 1970s.
Here is Fred talking in 1961
Daisy Wilson and William Ransom
Daisy married William Ransom in 1915, when he was on leave from the war. After the war William worked for the post office and they moved when William was promoted, to Bromley. They had one daughter Kath, born in 1916. She later married Eric Underwood and lived in Windlesham Gardens, near the seven dials in Brighton.
Here are Kath and Eric Underwood speaking in 1961
Memories of Brighton at the turn of the century
William was born on the 7th June 1884 and died on the 13th April 1967. He married Daisy Wilson in 1915 whilst on leave from the War.
In 1962 he wrote down his memories of his childhood in Brighton. At one point he lived at 43 Middle Street, which is in the South Lanes. The house still stands, although it has now part of the Victory Inn pub, which was next door. Although he doesn’t give his exact age at the time (he says he was ‘still very young’), we can guess that the years he was referring to must be about 1890 – 1900.
His reminiscences are very interesting, although the document itself is quite long, you can download the whole document here: Download Will Ransom's memoirs here
Here is Will speaking in 1961
Here is an extract of Will’s reminiscence about Middle Street in Brighton
Whilst I was still very young, we moved to 43 Middle Street where I began to get a clearer picture of mother and father and sister and brothers. At that time there were my younger brother Tom, my sister Alice and my brother Sam. My brother Arthur must have been born about this time but whilst in Windsor Street or Middle Street I cannot say.
My purpose in giving the following details is to furnish a basis for comparison with present day ideas of what are decent standards of living accommodation. I wonder what a housing committee would say to the following: –
43 Middle Street is a five-roomed house. There is or was an underground kitchen, one sitting room on the ground floor, and on the first floor, two bedrooms, and the second floor was an attic. The front door leads straight off the street into the sitting room, opposite the front door on the right is a door leading to a flight of stone steps giving access to the kitchen. At the head of these stairs was a cold water tap; the only one in the house. In the underground kitchen was a copper for boiling washing; a kitchen stove with oven, and in one wall was a cubbyhole for storing coal. On the street side was an ‘area’ about 4 feet by 1 ½ feet. The only daylight entering the room came by way of this area and through a window.
In the sitting room on the left of the wall opposite the front door was another door, which leads to the upstairs rooms.
At the top of the stone steps leading to the kitchen was another door which lead into the side entrance to the Victory Inn; the Public House next door. There was also a back entrance to 24 Middle Street and at the bottom of the passage was a small cottage No 44. It had, I think three rooms. There was a communal dust hole, and a small open space where mother used to dry our washing.
In the underground kitchen mother cooked, washed our clothes, gave us our meals, and when the weather was bad this kitchen was a playground for us children.
The family consisted of mother, father, my sister Alice and by brothers Tom, Sam and Arthur. In addition we had a male lodger. Albert and Frank arrived during our stay at No 43. Mother and father occupied the larger of the two bedrooms, and my sister the smaller. There was a small landing on this floor with a small winding staircase leading up to the attic. Under these stairs was a small cupboard, which was at one time used by my brother Tom as a photographic dark room. In the attic was a dormer window in the sloping ceiling. There were two single beds for brother Tom and the lodger. The remainder of us boys slept together in a large bed. At one time I think that there must have been a maximum of six sleeping in the attic. However, by the time Frank was old enough to be relegated to the attic, the lodger had left.
So much for the accommodation. As regards neighbours mother and father were always, as far as I know on good terms with them. There was a Mrs White living at No. 45. She was in some way connected with the laying of the first Atlantic cable. The family had probably seen better days and has an air of decayed gentility about them.
At 44 lived a Mr. Picket with his young son and windowed mother. I always assumed Mr Picket was a widower. On the other side of our house was the ‘Victory Inn’ kept at that time by a Mr and Mrs Cowey who were the typical publicans of the period. I seem to remember Mr Cowey with oiled hair, waxed moustache and fancy waistcoat. Mrs Cowey comes to my memory in black satin, ample bosom adored with a brooch and a chain and a ‘Queen Alexander’ hair do, not forgetting a display of rings on her fingers. I think the Victory Inn was rather a lively pub. We boys used to sit at the foot of the stairs with our ears close to the dividing wall and listen to the faint strains of music and singing.