Thomas Partleton (1831-1899)
Thomas, like his sister Rebecca, was born into a world wholly without any privileges, but in spite of this, and other difficulties which came his way, made a good life and he leaves behind a number of living descendants. Click here and use the ‘Search’ button in the PDF document if you wish to remind yourself where Thomas sits in the tree.
To know Thomas, you should first read the story of his mother, Ann Rebekah George (1802-1845)....
...Now that you are back with us, we may assume that you have seen the very difficult start to life which the unfortunate Thomas experienced, which we'll briefly recap:
Thomas was christened on September 11 1831; his father is Thomas George Partleton, a house painter, and his mother is Ann Rebekah [nee George]. Here we see Thomas' entry in the Parish Register of St Mary-at-Lambeth Church.
As Thomas grew up, four sisters came along:
Mary Ann (1834)
Ann Caroline aka Rebecca Ann (1836)
Then suddenly, on 17 September 1838, the family's whole world comes crashing down as Thomas' dad dies of a stroke aged just 35. Within a year, two of Thomas' sisters (Emma and Jane) have died, aged 4 and 1, and it seems almost certain that Mary Ann has also died since she disappears in the record. Thomas is still only 8 years old. Only his sister Ann remains. His mother is now a pauper with no income and two little children to feed.
Some time after 1841, Thomas' mum has no option but to enter the dreaded Newington Workhouse. Here she dies on 18 November 1845 leaving Thomas (aged14) and his sister Ann (aged 9) as orphans.
Ann is taken in by her uncle, Richard George, but Thomas is left to stay in the workhouse. Step into his shoes for a moment & we can imagine that he didn't feel too good about this. Life has been very tough for the young fellow. Newington Workhouse is in the centre of the map further down this web page. During his whole life Thomas never moves far from it.
So we proceed to the 1851 census, where we find the census record for Newington Workhouse:
And below we find the 1851 census entry in the Workhouse for our Thomas, aged 19, a 'Street Musician'.
The next major event we see in Thomas' life is the birth of his son, Thomas George Partleton in July 1858. This is a bit of a surprise because our Thomas is not yet married. The mother is Hannah Dalziel Bulbrook (1834-1918) of Ealing.
In October 1860, Thomas and Hannah produce a daughter, Hannah Bulbrook Partleton.
But let's take a moment to step back in Thomas' shoes, back to the Workhouse in 1851; how did he meet his future wife Hannah? In a once-only instance, our research has unearthed the answer to this question; below is Hannah's census record of 1851... we see that her dad, Joseph Bulbrook, was the "Shoemaker Superintendent of Newington Workhouse"! So now you know...
By the 1861 census, below, we see Thomas and Hannah and their family together. Though they are not yet officially married, Hannah gives her surname as Partleton and her relationship as Wife.
Their address is 20 Victoria Terrace, Camberwell. If you want to get your Monopoly board out, you'll find this is just off the Old Kent Road. Or you could see it by scrolling to the east side of the map below. The birthplace of baby Hannah (1860) is also just up the Old Kent Road at Alfred Place, also highlighted on the map.
On 7 December 1862 Thomas and Hannah are married at St Peter's Church, Walworth (west centre of map above). Hannah is heavily pregnant with her third child Henrietta.
More girls follow:
Clara Ann (1867)
And we come to the 1871 census. Thomas and his family are living at 43 Swan Place (top centre of map above)
Thomas, now 40, gives his profession as Violinist. Hannah is a Book Binder.
It is only after some detailed examination of the above census return that we notice that Thomas is now declared to be blind. This gives us cause to look back over his previous census returns (see above) but we find that he is not previously declared to be blind, even where on the 1851 census, another person on the same sheet is.
Life for Thomas and Hannah clearly proceeds as normal despite Thomas' disability. More children are born:
Amelia (1876) - baby Amelia died in 1878
Walter Benjamin (1881)
Here's a picture of Thomas' son Walter Benjamin (1881-1955) during WW1:
Frustratingly, most of the family can't be found in the 1881 census, but Clara Ann (b1867) can. She is a scholar at King Edward District Schools, Southwark. This is a charitable residential institution. Below we see Clara Ann in residence there:
The school had previously gone under the unimaginative name of 'Brideswell House of Occupation'... "occupation" here meaning of profession or trade because the school had originally trained children for tradesman's Guilds. Clara Ann may have been less than thrilled at the location of her school, circled in red on the top left of the map. It is in the grounds of the famous Bedlam Mental Asylum, slap bang facing it as can be seen on the map.
Here's a picture of Thomas' daughter Clara Ann (1867-1952) in later years:
During the 1880's, seven grandchildren are born and we may note a family tragedy in October 1885 when Thomas' daughter Amy Beatrice died aged just 16.
And so we proceed to the 1891 census; Clara is back at home:
Their address is now 46 Aylesbury Street, Newington (ringed blue on the map below).
In this map, ringed yellow, we also see East Street where Charlie Chaplin was born in 1889, and Barlow Street where Charlie was living in the same 1891 census as the Partleton family.
Thomas Partleton gives his profession as 'Employed at Blind School' but he is not recorded to be blind himself. The Blind School is probably the large 'Asylum for the Blind' at the top left of the map.
Thomas' daughter Phoebe had been married to George Luetchford in 1890, and we see in the 1891 census that they are living in Thomas' house. Phoebe is the third of Thomas' daughters to marry a Luetchford - presumably they are brothers:
Henrietta b1863 married 1883 to Albert Luetchford
Emily b1865 married 1888 to John Luetchford
Phoebe b1872 married 1890 to George Luetchford
At least 13 more grandchildren are born in the 1890's before Thomas passes away in January 1899 aged 68.
We know that Hannah Dalziel Bulbrook continued to live for a long time after this, but she proved difficult to trace in the 1901 census, and then she was found quite by accident. Below we see her living with her daughter Elizabeth who had married Walter Gray (a butcher) in 1894:
Hannah is incorrectly recorded by the enumerator as 'Hannah Patterson'. She is living at 38 Parkhouse Street (highlighted in the south of the map under its former name of Park Street) near to the Grand Surrey Canal aka the Croydon Canal. Constructed in 1809, below we see the canal in its early days...
It was a financial disaster, £100 shares falling in value to just two shillings in 1830, and closed for business in 1836... below we see it after a remaining section was drained in 1960. What a mess.
Back to the family of the late Thomas Partleton. In the 1901 census his Daughter Elizabeth Partleton (Gray) has two girls of her own; Elizabeth and Florence Gray.
Next door in the same census we find Thomas' daughter Clara with her husband Samuel Norman (whom she had married in 1898) and her two children Ernest and Ada.
But now if we look closer, we discover that Thomas' widow Hannah, aged 68, is blind. And further, we see that Samuel Norman is also blind. Samuel's occupation is a 'Chair Caner', typical for a blind person of the period.
So a clear pattern emerges that Thomas (1831) and his wife Hannah and family have existed in a domestic and work environment of partial-sightedness, probably for their whole marriage, eventually being declared as blind by some Victorian criteria which is not known to us. Thomas has earned a living as a street musician, and we might presume that he is a blind violinist though this is not stated, and has later found employment in the blind school.
Hannah lives a long life, eventually passing away in 1918 aged 84 in Camberwell. She and Thomas have at least 25 grandchildren and have many living descendants today.
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