Susan Ann Pirie (1864-1929)
Susan Pirie is my mum's granny, or to put it another way, I am 1/8th part Susan Pirie. As you can see, her photograph has been preserved for us to know what she looked like, though no pictures of her husband Charles 'Wag' Partleton (1868 - bef1921) survive.
She died on 1 December 1929 when my mum (Joan Lilian Partleton) was just one year old.
At the end of this story we will rewind, because Pirie is a Scottish name, an Aberdeenshire name, and I'm interested to see where that leads. It's an interesting journey, but let's start with our Susan.
Susan Pirie was born on 9 June 1864 in the parish of St George-in-the-East:
Place names associated with Susan's upbringing are always from the East End of London. Bethnal Green. Mile End. Tower Hamlets. Shoreditch.
St George-in-the-East Church is in the East End; docklands. Built 1714, it is very distinctive. Here's how it looks today:
Below we see the location of St-George-in-the-East, south of the Whitechapel Road, at the bottom of the map:
But before we move on, I want to go back to Susan's birth certificate because we'd really like to see where she was born. The birthplace is hard to read; it looks like Bally Street or Bully Street. Actually it is 18 Batty Street. There it is, circled on the map above.
So far so good. From here I'd like to try to find a photograph. It's a small street, but you never know, so we go to search in Google...
And, amazingly, we find hundreds and hundreds of hits...
Why? Because it emerges that in the year 1888, at no. 22 Batty Street, a bloodstained shirt was found. Evidence in the case of Jack the Ripper. And in the previous year, 1887, another infamous murder, not connected with the Ripper, took place at no 16 Batty Street. And the next street along, connected by a maze of alleys, Berner Street (circled on map), was the scene of the murder of Elizabeth Stride, the Ripper's third victim, who had lived at Devonshire Street (circled). Bucks Row, at the top of the map, above Whitechapel Road, is the scene of the Ripper's first murder.
Let's start with Batty Street - below is how it looks today, still well-preserved in its Victorian look I think:
The picture above is seen from the green arrow in the map below:
And here's the house where Susan was born, assuming the building has survived from 1868, which I think it probably has. It's at the point of the yellow arrow in the map above:
Below is another photograph of the same section of Batty Street. We are looking north towards the Commercial Road:
It's at No. 16 - the house with the white front - that the infamous Lipski murder happened in 1887. A failing umbrella stick salesman named Israel Lipski forced nitric acid down the throat of a fellow boarder, Miriam Angel, as she lay in bed on the second floor.
The trial was a sensation and, even with intervention from rabbis and MPs, Lipski was hanged within a month. This murder set off a wave of anti-Semitism and the name 'Lipski' became a anti-Semitic slur throughout the east end.
We know that in 1887 Susan Pirie is still living in the neighbourhood.
And from a Partleton Tree correspondent named Ann, we learn how Batty Street got its name:
The connection of Batty Street with Jack the Ripper is a shirt, severely bloodstained at the cuffs, one of several left in the possession of the landlady of no. 22 by her lodger who disappeared immediately after the murder of Elizabeth Stride in 1888 in adjacent Berner Street. The mystery man is believed to have been Francis Tumblety, an American who was a prime suspect of Scotland Yard in the Ripper inquiry. But why would a murderer leave bloodstained shirts with his landlady? That's a good question, and this line of investigation was dropped by the police. Forensic blood tests did not exist in 1888.
Below is a picture [c1920] of Berner Street which is circled in the map above. This is the scene of the murder of Elizabeth Stride. The point of view of the photograph is shown by the red arrow on the map above. We are looking north up Berner Street. The building on the corner is The Nelson pub. The exact location of the murder is Dutfield's Yard, indicated by the yellow arrow in the photo below:
Victim Elizabeth Stride (Left)
All of the above relate to the house where Susan was born and its immediate neighbourhood. But our Susan was raised in many different East End Streets: where was she during this furore many years later?
To do this, we need to go back to Susan's birth certificate. Her mum is Frances Salter her dad is David Pirie, a journeyman wood sawyer. Below we see David's entry in the marriage register of 1864 and we note that this is yet another of those Victorian just-in-time weddings; April 1864 at Bethnal Green. (Susan was born in June):
Going back 3 years in time before Susan's birth, we find Susan's dad David Pirie (1842-1887) aged 18 in the 1861 census at 8 Samuel Street, circled in the map above:
If we examine the above census sheet carefully we see that Susan's dad David (aged 18) has a sister Susan (aged 14). This is our Susan's aunt. The reason I mention this is that we have been sent a wonderful Victorian photograph of Susan's aunt Susan with her husband Frederick Smith:
Compare Susan [right] with her aunt [left] & I think there's a clear resemblance. Thanks to Karen Welbourn, who is descended from aunt Susan Pirie (b1847) for sending us that fantastic picture which I guess was taken in the 1870's when our Susan (b1864) was a little girl.
So let's return to our Susan (b1864)... we seek her in the census of 1871...
We find her, (eventually!) in her first census, aged 6. I say eventually because the enumerator has her listed not as 'Susan Ann' but as 'Susannah'. Clearly, he wasn't a very careful listener:
Note also that the enumerator, having spelled the husband's surname as Pyrie, on the very next page spells the wife's surname as Pirie. That's mad.
They are living at 4 Thomas Street, circled in the map below:
Also from the above we may note that my great-grandmother Susan had two younger brothers, Joseph and John Pirie. Also of interest is that Susan's mum Frances [nee Salter] has a relative, Joseph Salter, staying with her and that there is evidence that Salter family appears to be from Ireland.
Susan is growing up in the area of Commercial Road, designed to carry good from the docks into the city, busy with cart traffic. Below are two pictures of the Commercial Road taken in the late 1800's as Susan would have known it - so step into her shoes into the hustle & bustle of the horses & carts:
In the first picture we are looking east. We see the Duke of Clarence pub on our left. Batty Street is a turning on the right, some distance past the Duke of Clarence:
The picture above is seen from the purple arrow in the map below. The Duke of Clarence pub is in Langley Place, outlined in purple:
Below we have moved further east down the Commercial Road:
By 1881, Susan Pirie is living at Baker Street:
Above we see that Susan, now aged 17, has an occupation - furrier (fur sewer), quite a common job in East London. The East End was, and still is, noted for the 'Rag Trade', clothing manufacture. Every other shop along the Commercial Road is a clothing manufacturer or importer.
The location of Baker Street can be seen on the east side of this map:
History fans among our gentle readers may observe that the next street along from Baker Street is Sidney Street, the scene of the famous Sidney Street Siege of 1911. A bunch of Latvian communists killed several policemen when they were caught in a robbery, and subsequently hid-out in Sidney Street. They were heavily armed and consequently the army were called in:
Eventually the building caught fire and the anarchists burned to death. Home secretary Winston Churchill was criticised for over-reacting to the situation.
Back again to Susan. In 1884, aged 20, it is time for Susan to be married. At Stepney, she marries George William Smith:
This took a bit of finding because the registrar mis-spells her name as Perie.
So our Susan is now Susan Smith, and believe me, it is hard to trace Smiths. If you want to hide a tree, put it in a forest. Anyhoo, we know Susan had a baby son William Smith in Hoxton, Shoreditch, about 1887, & there are 28 William Smiths recorded born in Shoreditch between 1886 to 1888, so take your pick. 1887 is also the year that Susan's dad, David Pirie, died aged just 45.
Next Susan has a baby girl, Rosetta Edith Smith ("Aunt Rose" to my mum). Rosetta Smith (1888-c1961) was born in Lambeth, so we know that Susan has moved south of the river in 1887/1888:
Living at 148 Tyers Street Lambeth, Susan has moved into the Partleton stamping ground.
Below is a photograph of what remains of Tyers Street in 1965:
Susan's husband George Smith died very young. He is probably the George William Smith who is in the death index for Lambeth in July 1893 aged 31.
Three years later, 1896, we see widow Susan remarrying - to a younger man - my great-granddad Charles "Wag" Partleton (1868-aft 1932):
Charles is a soldier who has returned from service in India, now a labourer / painter. Susan has her daughter aged 8 and son aged 9. We are sprung a surprise, because, contrary to all the records, Susan names her father as "John" Pirie. But we know with a fair degree of certainty that he is David Pirie, so we must assume that John was perhaps a name David preferred to use in preference to his given name.
Immediately after the marriage, Charles and Susan begin to have children of their own:
The first, in June 1897 is Dorothy (1897-1986)
Susan's next baby is Frederick Charles (1898-1987), my granddad:
Frederick (1898-1987) is born in Neville Street near to Vauxhall Bridge and Kennington Oval cricket ground:
Here's a picture of Frederick with my mum Joan in 1983. His son Tom is also in the background:
Susan's next baby is Olive (b1900) who married Edward Perry in 1921.
The next child is Charles (1903-1987), and we know that Susan is very ill in 1903/1904, requiring hospital treatment for cancer.
Money is also very tight for Susan. In 1904 her husband Charles has a serious but failed suicide attempt at Vauxhall Station, shaded red in the map below, prompted by the fact that they are completely skint. This is fully documented in his own page on this website. You can find it by returning to the 'In Their Shoes' home page.
Susan's final baby was born in 1906; Alfred (1906-1971):
Susan Pirie passed away in December 1929 at 27 Burtop Road, Wandsworth - the informant is Frederick:
So, now that we have seen the journey of Susan's life, we should track back the other way to investigate her roots. To do this we need to bring back the census sheet for her dad, David Pirie (1842-1887), three years before Susan's birth, the year 1861:
Above we see that David Pirie's (1842-1887) dad is also David Pirie (1809-1893) of St George-in-the-East, a sawyer, as his son was to become. The are so few Piries in London in the 1800's that they are quite easy to find.
David Pirie Sr (1809-1893) was married three times, which can be rather confusing:
Just to remind ourselves what we are looking at above, it is the marriages of Susan Pirie's Granddad. All of his children, including Susan's dad, were born by his first wife Sarah Todd.
And to go further back in time, we find the birth of this David Pirie (1809-1893), at St George-in-the-East, 16 November 1809:
So, looking at the Parents above, we now see that Susan's great-granddad is yet again David Pirie (born bef 1789); his wife is Mary.
Looking for David Pirie (1809-1893) in the 1841 census, I eventually found him miss-spelled as David Price.
But this does produce interesting results, because when we search for the name David Pirie in the 1841 census, there is only one man of that name in the whole of England, and he's in the St George-in-the-East Workhouse... this is more than just coincidence:
The age of this David Pirie has been rounded to the nearest 5 years as has that of everyone on the sheet, but we see that at 75 years of age, he was born in approximately 1766 - and since there are no other Piries in London, clearly he's almost certainly the grandfather of David Pirie (1809-1893). Also revealed is that he is a former shopkeeper and that his place of birth is "S", meaning Scotland.
Laid out below is Susan Pirie's lineage. I highlight the first one in red because the connection between the first and the second, though the evidence points at it, is not proven:
David Pirie (1766-aft1841) - born Scotland
David Pirie (born bef 1789)=Mary Unknown
David Pirie (1809-1893)=Sarah Todd
David Pirie (1842-1887)=Frances Salter
Susan Pirie (1864-1929)=Charles Partleton
It seems likely that Susan's great-great grandfather (my 5-times-great grandfather) came down from Scotland in the late 1700's. In the 1841 census, over 90% of Piries are in Aberdeenshire and Banffshire, which is where the author of this web page lives and where his children were born.
Finally, I will say thanks again to Terry Partleton who provided all the Birth, Marriage and Death certificates without which this page would have been impossible.
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